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Mattias Forshage & Aase Berg
SURREALISM IN THE ULTERIOR TIMES
After a completed first years issue of Stora Saltet with abstract themes we are now going to turn ourselves inside out by making surrealism our theme. And it is not a question of defending a tradition. Self defence is nothing but a way of escaping challenges. As if we wouldnīt want to be torn apart! We only seek the way to trace and widen the cracks of the still really unknown, to penetrate the gap between the absolute opinion of all damn opinions, to reproduce like some kind of unexpected sexes, invent the digit three - and we have chosen to put these questions to surrealism. We want to discover how problematic, upsetting and perhaps scandalous surrealism is in these sad times, where the threshold of the end of the world seems to get pushed just before us and we are filled with daily despair in the face of how the world is administrated.
In Sweden the word crisis still functions to make people accept that everything rightfully belonging to them are taken away from them, in spite of the fact that the economic depression is over and the big companies make record profits. But the socialdemocratic governmentīs classically rightist politics are just a facet of the fact that the currently unchecked barbarism of capital globally assumes ever more 19th-century-like and brutal forms. Whether one chooses to see this desperate cynicism as merely the latest developmental form and advance of ultrapragmatic old capitalism, or as a way of cramplike squeezing the last coins out of a disintegrating order, anyway it remains a crisis in totally other terms and on an entirely different level than the cheap crisis propaganda claims.
But even though were living in a world consisting to an increasing degree of appearance, history will not end. Itīs probably just in the interest of those who collect that we - who fork out - are to believe that there can only be one economic system, that the ideologies are dead, that no major change can occur anymore.
It is a time where the trading with human beings is more widespread than ever: almost all human expressions having become compromises, attempts at managing ones value on the social and economical market. What earlier has been referred to - with a partly figurative expression - as the personality market , has become ever more literal. Whoeverīs not a "dynamic person" actively marketing himself on the labour market, runs his personality as a business concept, isnīt worth a jot, and has resigned from the right to participation in society; the right to material support, the right to solidarity etc, exactly the things one thought society was there for providing in the first place. Whoeverīs not such a "dynamic person" with a value countable in hard cash, is according to the current terminology referred to as a "loser". Itīs probably here one could search for traces of humanity. Here the wounds boil and here a silence reigns: here the venom gets to talk.
And itīs more evident tha ever in our time: surrealism is rather to be searched for in containers, in the dirty parks, in the third-rate bars, on the windy lake or the clayey forest, than in books, exhibitions, journals.
Donīt get us wrong. Itīs true that weīre publishing a journal, that a few of us even get to publish books at "proper" publishing houses. We are thereby balancing on the edge of an abyss, and there is no reason to underestimate the risk of one or all of us stumbling and falling into the culture marketīs vapid circus of commerce and prestige. With this journal we want to keep the distance - disgustedly rather than angrily - to that sphere. Take it as a promise: gladly we will give our little support to voracious life in its devastating aims. Rather the roaring of hordes of desperate zombie losers than rhymed verse or political retoric.
But what is surrealism in the ulterior times? Every now and then we get disappointed and feel the urge to reject its conceptions; automatism, objective chance, absolute divergence, love beyond all reason etc; probably just because we once embraced them as if they were solutions. And of course one might allow such a naivety sometimes, but as the years go by it turns out that existence and civilisation are problems that remain. The surrealist conceptions do not solve anything, but they remain zones where something interesting can emerge.
At the prospect of this issue we pondered over the basic themes of surrealism together, in the form of a study circle. It appeared that several of them had stiffened into immovable truth signs or flat myths in a certain version of surrealism that we ourselves to a great part originated in, subscribed to, cultivated. However the intentions of the early surrealists seemed to have been other than ours. In those days the achievements of surrealism appeared to be threats to the bourgeois order in themselves, with among other things a polemical power to immediately replace the esthetical and ideological sphere on the whole, art, litterature, views of life. Unfortunately this proved far too optimistic, and these spheres survived, to the extent that we today has made big compromises with them. We no longer think that surrealism is capable of replacing and dispersing them; we might even ourselves get absorbed in pre-surrealist or post-surrealist questions and activities. We accept artists and writers pursuing individual oeuvres, we accept personal reservations, we accept internal textual questions, semantical gibberish, semiotical pottering, relativisations from viewpoints of historical materialism, psychoanalysis, feminism etc. And nevertheless our wretchedness is an important advance. We stress the importance of slaughtering prestige, staining our names and sabotaging the whole system of defense mechanisms; roll stones at personality to make humanity possible. But that doesnīt provide any guarantees: in our time refusal can be a lucky pose, self destructiveness a successful spectacle, entire unrulyness a winning business concept. Donīt trust us - we definitely donīt ourselves. But still weīre not fooled by the growing number of subscribers to Stora Saltet : we are not brilliant. The only thing we have to offer, beside a theoretical and political grumbling that might be a good deal more brutal than that of the others, is a modest reminder of what could be glimpses of a human way of life; play, creativity; the reenchantment of the world in falling in love and in objective chance; the never ceasing nagging from dreams and automatism. And perhaps this journal is capable of introducing some tickling ants in the mind of one or two half dead guinea pig brains (ourselves not excluded), implant one or two disturbances or shortcircuits.
The ulterior times: raging and unintelligable, but still remarkably banal and predictable. Surrealism in the ulterior times unreasonable, compromising, conspiratory, confused, singleminded, bloodthirsty. Meet it by the lemures or on the blood stained back streets or in the parks that still are ugly!
(From Stora Saltet # 5, 1996)
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