The Dispassion of Surrealism: Or, Why I’m Not Voting in the Election
One of the things that has never clicked with me about Breton and surrealism is its investment in political discourse. Granted, it posits poetry as political discourse, even as this is an absurd proposition. What clicked for me (again) this morning is that my attraction to surrealism is part and parcel of my ambivalent political attitude. (Or is my attitude about politics ambivalent because of surrealism?)
I have never voted and have no intention to. The easy explanation is that it makes no pragmatic or moral sense to me. What’s at stake is vastly overstated. The presidential election will make little concrete difference largely because of the debilitating effect of the two-party system. In fact, by voting in the context of a two party system, one is feeding the paralysis that makes change practically impossible.
But the larger issue is philosophical, metacognitive, existential—political language (by definition) assigns positive or negative value to everything that comes within its reach. And American politics has a disgustingly far reach and an insatiable appetite.
Perhaps the most attractive thing about surrealism is its resistance to political interpretation—because it resists moral and even psychological value judgements and distances the reader from familiar frames of references, and thus evaluation. In the best of surrealist praxis there is a resilient neutrality that vigilantly counteracts the all-consuming passion for moral-political categorization. It is human to seek justice and goodness, but justice also entails an obligation to treat the world with integrity, to leave unspoken what cannot be said: “What we cannot speak of, we must pass over in silence.” —or, at least, to leave open what cannot be closed, complex what cannot be made simple. The banality of political rhetoric comes from the inadequacy with which it speaks of experience. Surrealism remains a most prescient counter-example, both in its radical presentation of the world and its complex treatment of consciousness.
We tried to excerpt this post, but every word that the Surrealist poet behind the Uut Poetry blog has to say about voting is worth your time. Not only does he raise questions about the two-party system and noncompliance, he connects his deliberate political quietism to his surrealist aesthetics. Gosh, we like you.
- lustermuse reblogged this from uutpoetry
- fennels reblogged this from uutpoetry and added:
- thementaculus likes this
- cordeliagablewrites likes this
- unspecializeart reblogged this from uutpoetry and added:
- zenotaku reblogged this from uutpoetry
- zenotaku likes this
- unspecializeart likes this
- jtrece likes this
- shwardo likes this
- birdsjustbirds likes this
- uutpoetry likes this
- uutpoetry reblogged this from wonkistan and added:
- fuckingmultiverse likes this
- wonkistan reblogged this from uutpoetry and added:
- hopesanddreamsofapen likes this
- never-let-her-go likes this
- never-let-her-go answered: interesting……
- theaxeandthenoose answered: I totally agree that the stakes are overstated & surrealism is antithetical to political moralism & pragmatically: tinyurl.com/c74bpwq
- rubyvroom answered: pseudointellectualism as lazy rationalization. go learn some things.
- kaostography likes this
- atbalbec likes this
- bdreid-writing answered: I feel like Breton’s politics were a case of “cat got your tongue” - which were explained (in time) through the Situationalists in his case.
- stardustwasteland likes this
- rumirumirumirumi answered: I think write-ins fit the absurd politics of the surreal. Romney and Obama are too similar to Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse to be coincidence.
- iran-ed answered: The political system is absurd, but for some this is the only way they feel they have come control over their existence.
- little-notches answered: to be honest, i feel like not voting encourages the two party system to abuse its power even more. not acting won’t lead to change.
- uutpoetry posted this