What is Surrealism and What Does It Mean?July 1, 2021
It is possible to answer the question of what is Surrealism: Surrealism is a contemporary art movement based on making art with spiritual automaton. This art movement, which emerged in France after the First World War (in the 1920s), is based on a completely irrational philosophical thought, with a hopelessness arising from the inability to scientifically solve the social crises brought by the war.
The French poet and thinker Andre Breton is the founder of surrealism, which rises on rotten foundations such as Dadaism, Freud’s erotica, Bergson’s intuitionism and Husserl’s phenomenology. Surrealistic thought reduces the world to absurdity; indeed, it eventually gave birth to the absurdity of Albert Camus.
As in the phenomenology of the German thinker Husserl, Breton, who said that “we must not start from nature to understand ourselves, but from ourselves to understand nature”, describes his method that he calls pure spiritual automaton:
“Sit in a place most convenient for your thought to shut itself up, so that thought can reveal itself as it is, without any control of reason, without any moral or aesthetic considerations. Have paper and pencil in front of you. Get rid of all your knowledge and talents. (Husserl, in his phenomenology, He expresses this with the phrase “Put all the earthlings in brackets.) Write as fast as you can, without thinking about a topic beforehand, without hesitation and without reading and correcting what you have written. Arrange the words in a random order without adding any intellectual order. The work you will obtain will be a surreal work.”
Breton states the following in his second paper published in 1929:
“There is a place in our soul where, from this point of view, life and death, the past and the future, reality and design, the articulated and the inexpressible, up and down are not contradictory. This place is surreal.”
Of course, the conclusion of the thoughts that cannot realize the scientific solution of social crises can be nothing other than this. The purpose of the irrational understanding of art is to give the pleasure of the absurd, as Camus puts it. Because, in Camus’s words, there is a climate of nonsense around us.
It is true that there is a climate of nonsense around us, created by unscientific people. However, the problem can be solved not by praising and following this climate, but by opposing and fighting it. The truth is that with the pleasure of the absurd, it can only be made absurd, and that soon vanishes, like surrealism. It leaves no trace behind.