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poem on absurdity

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  • Bobconkawi@aol.com
    Here is a poem written by a college mate of mine. We graduated in the 60 s, about the time Camus died, so you know we are old. It sounds like Existentialism to
    Message 1 of 11 , Jan 20, 2009
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      Here is a poem written by a college mate of mine. We graduated in the 60's,
      about the time Camus died, so you know we are old. It sounds like
      Existentialism to me. -Bob Miller



      Entropy
      All things fall to disorder.
      It’s what’s called entropy.
      Scientists insist it’s true
      And all the signs agree.
      The globe is a closed system
      So things must fall apart
      And everything is going to hell
      From environment to art.
      It is a time of pointlessness,
      No use trying anymore.
      It is the age of culture’s collapse
      And the era of endless war.
      Gun heavy soldiers,
      All swagger and strut,
      Watch a hot rocket
      Explode a mud hut.
      The brilliant red flash
      Lifts debris in the air.
      Who lies under the rubble
      They don’t know and don’t care.
      Art is bizarre or abstract,
      And natural forms passé.
      Novelty stands in for meaning
      Since there’s nothing left to say.
      Paint randomly splattered
      Is considered great art.
      But there’s no intrinsic meaning.
      Just like a Rorschach blot.
      The shapes are nice
      But what does it mean?
      Oh, it really doesn’t matter.
      It fits my color scheme.
      It’s obvious that madam
      Has acquired some expertise.
      It’s certain to impress your guests.
      Just sign here, please.
      And the poets are no better,
      With neither sense nor sound.
      They dribble words across a page
      And the critics cry, ‘Profound!’
      Young people feel they’re worthless
      With no reason to survive.
      They’d be relieved to leave it all.
      But instinct keeps them alive.
      They see their elders all engaged
      In wars and hates and crime.
      They do not think it but they sense
      It is the end of time.
      We cannot blame the kids
      If they view life with disgust.
      We have given them a legacy
      Of only debt and dust.
      I could have joined the army
      But, like, I might get shot.
      I don’t know what else to do
      And I don’t care a lot.
      I could’ve been a waitress
      But I don’t have much hope.
      You want me to give you sex?
      Why not? We’re out of dope.
      The earth is surely dying,
      Physicians would agree.
      There’s a sign that reads For Rent
      Bobbing on a barren sea.
      We have here a terminal case,
      Said the doctor, most austere.
      The patient can’t get oxygen.
      Necrosis is very near.
      There’s no way to save her.
      Forget the tubes and pills.
      Someone has strangled her rivers
      And mangled up her hills.
      The circulation system
      Is full of junk and sludge.
      She can’t last much longer
      If I am any judge.
      The planet’s now a garbage dump,
      A pile that’s overheating,
      And the rotting will not stop
      As long as we keep breeding.
      We are like the parasite
      That feeds upon its host.
      And when the nutrition’s gone
      They both give up the ghost.
      I know, yes, I know
      You’ve heard it all before.
      Every generation thinks
      The next don’t know the score.
      But this time I think,
      And scientists agree,
      We’re in the final stages
      Of fatal entropy.
      I fear the world is ending
      And the end will set us free.
      But do I fear the end of us
      Or just the end of me?
      Vargo
      Jan 09
      El Puerto de Sta Ma

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    • eupraxis@aol.com
      Sounds Beat . Wil ... From: Bobconkawi@aol.com To: existlist@yahoogroups.com Sent: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 3:29 pm Subject: [existlist] poem on absurdity Here is a
      Message 2 of 11 , Jan 20, 2009
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        Sounds "Beat".





        Wil


        -----Original Message-----
        From: Bobconkawi@...
        To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 3:29 pm
        Subject: [existlist] poem on absurdity

























        Here is a poem written by a college mate of mine. We graduated in the 60's,

        about the time Camus died, so you know we are old. It sounds like

        Existentialism to me. -Bob Miller







        Entropy

        All things fall to disorder.

        It’s what’s called entropy.

        Scientists insist it’s true

        And all the signs agree.

        The globe is a closed system

        So things must fall apart

        And everything is going to hell

        From environment to art.

        It is a time of pointlessness,

        No use trying anymore.

        It is the age of culture’s collapse

        And the era of endless war.

        Gun heavy soldiers,

        All swagger and strut,

        Watch a hot rocket

        Explode a mud hut.

        The brilliant red flash

        Lifts debris in the air.

        Who lies under the rubble

        They don’t know and don’t care.

        Art is bizarre or abstract,

        And natural forms passé.

        Novelty stands in for meaning

        Since there’s nothing left to say.

        Paint randomly splattered

        Is considered great art.

        But there’s no intrinsic meaning.

        Just like a Rorschach blot.

        The shapes are nice

        But what does it mean?

        Oh, it really doesn’
        t matter.

        It fits my color scheme.

        It’s obvious that madam

        Has acquired some expertise.

        It’s certain to impress your guests.

        Just sign here, please.

        And the poets are no better,

        With neither sense nor sound.

        They dribble words across a page

        And the critics cry, ‘Profound!’

        Young people feel they’re worthless

        With no reason to survive.

        They’d be relieved to leave it all.

        But instinct keeps them alive.

        They see their elders all engaged

        In wars and hates and crime.

        They do not think it but they sense

        It is the end of time.

        We cannot blame the kids

        If they view life with disgust.

        We have given them a legacy

        Of only debt and dust.

        I could have joined the army

        But, like, I might get shot.

        I don’t know what else to do

        And I don’t care a lot.

        I could’ve been a waitress

        But I don’t have much hope.

        You want me to give you sex?

        Why not? We’re out of dope.

        The earth is surely dying,

        Physicians would agree.

        There’s a sign that reads For Rent

        Bobbing on a barren sea.

        We have here a terminal case,

        Said the doctor, most austere.

        The patient can’t get oxygen.

        Necrosis is very near.

        There’s no way to save her.

        Forget the tubes and pills.

        Someone has strangled her rivers

        And mangled up her hills
        .

        The circulation system

        Is full of junk and sludge.

        She can’t last much longer

        If I am any judge.

        The planet’s now a garbage dump,

        A pile that’s overheating,

        And the rotting will not stop

        As long as we keep breeding.

        We are like the parasite

        That feeds upon its host.

        And when the nutrition’s gone

        They both give up the ghost.

        I know, yes, I know

        You’ve heard it all before.

        Every generation thinks

        The next don’t know the score.

        But this time I think,

        And scientists agree,

        We’re in the final stages

        Of fatal entropy.

        I fear the world is ending

        And the end will set us free.

        But do I fear the end of us

        Or just the end of me?

        Vargo

        Jan 09

        El Puerto de Sta Ma



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        075x1215855013x1201028747/aol?redir=http://www.freecreditreport.com/pm/default.aspx?sc=668072%26hmpgID=62%26bcd=De

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        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






















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      • mary.josie59
        Bob, What a sharp contrast to the optimism expressed this day by a new generation and the recognition of lives sacrificed by previous generations. Camus wrote
        Message 3 of 11 , Jan 20, 2009
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          Bob,

          What a sharp contrast to the optimism expressed this day by a new
          generation and the recognition of lives sacrificed by previous
          generations.

          Camus wrote that absurdism is living in the tension between nihilism
          and hope. The struggle is meaningful. Martin Luther King, Jr. was well
          acquainted with existentialism.

          Mary
        • mary.josie59
          How so? Mary ... Sounds Beat .
          Message 4 of 11 , Jan 21, 2009
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            How so?

            Mary

            --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eupraxis@... wrote:

            Sounds "Beat".
          • eupraxis@aol.com
            It has the style and gait of beat poetry. Not a criticism. Wil ... From: mary.josie59 To: existlist@yahoogroups.com Sent: Wed, 21 Jan
            Message 5 of 11 , Jan 21, 2009
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              It has the style and gait of beat poetry. Not a criticism.

              Wil




              -----Original Message-----
              From: mary.josie59 <mary.josie59@...>
              To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Wed, 21 Jan 2009 9:37 am
              Subject: [existlist] Re: poem on absurdity

























              How so?



              Mary



              --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, eupraxis@... wrote:



              Sounds "Beat".






















              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Bobconkawi@aol.com
              Will--I understood that. I live just south of San Francisco and when I was a senior in high school I would spend every Saturday at the Coexistence Bagel shop
              Message 6 of 11 , Jan 21, 2009
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                Will--I understood that. I live just south of San Francisco and when I was a
                senior in high school I would spend every Saturday at the Coexistence Bagel
                shop listening to Lawrence Ferlingetti and Allen Ginsberg read their stuff.
                John showed up in this area around 1959, so he knew the Beat poetry scene, too.
                Kerouac's On the Road was my favorite. I actually wrote a stream of
                consciousness novel, of sorts, while I was stationed in Fort Berry, near SF.--Bob
                **************A Good Credit Score is 700 or Above. See yours in just 2 easy
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              • Bobconkawi@aol.com
                Mary--Not exactly a contrast, rather a start on the way to making meaning. If we desire life in the face of absurdity, as The Stranger discovered while he
                Message 7 of 11 , Jan 21, 2009
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                  Mary--Not exactly a contrast, rather a start on the way to making meaning.
                  If we desire life in the face of absurdity, as The Stranger discovered while he
                  awaited execution, then we can start to make our own meaning, our "climb to
                  the heights".
                  **************A Good Credit Score is 700 or Above. See yours in just 2 easy
                  steps!
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                • mary.josie59
                  Bill, et al I think the poem criticizes the art of the Beat generation and excludes its more manic, joyful aspects. It expresses the angst typical of
                  Message 8 of 11 , Jan 22, 2009
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                    Bill, et al

                    I think the poem criticizes the art of the Beat generation and
                    excludes its more manic, joyful aspects. It expresses the angst
                    typical of existentialism without any appeal for the future. However,
                    it certainly seems authentic.

                    The Beats were more interested in "religiosity," a beatific experience
                    (Catholic and/or Buddhist) fueled by drugs. The Beats had much in
                    common with the Left Bank as an interesting amalgam of criminal and
                    artist, saint and sinner who wanted to chronicle contemporary
                    experiences. Both were considered "counter-culture" by their
                    respective mainstream societies. Both included political and human
                    rights activism and experimental artistry, bookmarked by the
                    surrealists and the hippies.

                    Camus would probably agree with the Beats in that quantity of
                    experiences IS quality. The Road ends, and there you have it.

                    Thanks to all,
                    Mary

                    --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, Bobconkawi@... wrote:
                    >
                    > Here is a poem written by a college mate of mine. We graduated in
                    the 60's,
                    > about the time Camus died, so you know we are old. It sounds like
                    > Existentialism to me. -Bob Miller
                  • tom
                    Mary This is a brief quote on surrealism An excerpt from History of the Surrealist Movement by Gérard Durozoi Translated by Alison Anderson Chapter Two
                    Message 9 of 11 , Jan 22, 2009
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                      Mary

                      This is a brief quote on surrealism
                      An excerpt from
                      History of the
                      Surrealist Movement
                      by Gérard Durozoi
                      Translated by Alison Anderson





                      Chapter Two
                      1924-1929 Salvation for Us Is Nowhere

                      On October 11, 1924, the existence of a surrealist group was publicly confirmed by the opening at 15, rue de Grenelle (the premises were on loan from Pierre Naville's father) of a Bureau for Surrealist Research, whose aim was to "gather all the information possible related to forms that might express the unconscious activity of the mind." The press was notified of the opening and of the imminent publication of a new periodical, La Révolution surréaliste-an undertaking Breton had decided on by the beginning of July, while he was correcting the proofs of the Manifeste du surréalisme. Word of the opening spread quickly enough for the Journal littéraire to publish an account of the event the very same day: "The promoters of the surrealist movement, in their desire to appeal to the unconscious and to set surrealism along the path of greatest freedom, have already begun to organize a Bureau to unite all those who are interested in expression where thought is freed from any intellectual preoccupations; . . . all those who are closely or remotely concerned with surrealism will find all the information and documentation relative to the Mouvement surréaliste." The same commentary in Les Nouvelles littéraires: "No domain has been specified, a priori, for this undertaking, and surrealism proposes a gathering of the greatest possible number of experimental elements, for a purpose that cannot yet be perceived. All those who have the means to contribute, in any fashion, to the creation of genuine surrealist archives, are urgently requested to come forward: let them shed light on the genesis of an invention, or propose a new system of psychic investigation, or make us the judges of striking coincidences, or reveal their most instinctive ideas on fashion, as well as politics, etc., or freely criticize morality, or even simply entrust us with their most curious dreams and with what their dreams suggest to them."

                      Not only did such announcements emphasize the collective nature of the movement, they also indicated the bureau's primary intention of remaining open to all those who dared venture into the vicinity. The bureau was indeed organized in such a way that a daily presence was assured by two people, who were responsible for greeting visitors (journalists, writers, onlookers, even students) and for taking note of their suggestions and reactions in a daily "Notebook"; the office would also guarantee a regular amount of daily publicity for the movement (press relations, various mailings), while in another room, on the first floor, other members of the group could meet for discussions, or exchange ideas and projects, or work on their own texts, or help to edit the first issue of La Révolution surréaliste.

                      The premises were "decorated," as captured in a famous photograph by Man Ray, with a few paintings (De Chirico: Le Rêve de Tobie; a watercolor by Robert Desnos; a canvas by Max Morise), posters, and, before long, a headless plaster statue of a boar in a stairway. The surrealists archived works that had already been exhibited, as well as the notebooks in which they would jot down their automatic texts and manuscripts. An atmosphere of effervescent research reigned, where the gifts of chance were always welcome (a poster glimpsed on a wall might be pointed out or the ludicrous content of a classified advertisement), along with the marvelous, thought to be ever latent in everyday life and ready to suggest incongruous juxtapositions of objects and arouse the imagination by reinforcing the victory over mental habits. But the bureau was anything but a simple place for accomplices to gather, even if their affinity was confirmed daily by the communication of dreams and fantasies and by shared laughter, spontaneous exchange, and the joy of the ongoing discovery: the bureau, like the Manifeste or La Révolution surréaliste, also served a strategic purpose.

                      In 1924, a specter haunted Paris-at any rate, the specter of surrealism-and it was up to Breton and his friends to prove that they did not intend to allow anyone else to clarify its significance (or, inversely, to trivialize it). An evening at the Comédie des Champs-Élysées was the occasion for a first skirmish: "surrealist dances" were scheduled to be performed by Valeska Gert, whose impresario was Ivan Goll; the group disrupted the performance with a concert of whistles, and then a row broke out between Goll and Breton, and the event ended abruptly with the arrival of the police. On August 23, Breton and ten of his friends printed a collective text in Le Journal littéraire, "Encore le surréalisme," in response to Goll's declarations maintaining that a surrealist school had existed at least since the time Apollinaire first used the adjective to describe Les Mamelles de Tirésias, and among its proponents were not only Goll himself but also Pierre Albert-Birot and Paul Dermée. The collective declaration affirmed that "Monsieur Dermée involuntarily exploited the grotesque usefulness of Dadaism and his activity was always foreign to surrealism"; also, it stated that "surrealism is something quite different from the literary wave imagined by M. Goll," before introducing texts that were soon to be published (La Révolution surréaliste, the manifesto, texts by Desnos, Péret, Aragon, and Roger Vitrac) that would reinforce their claim that they had "nothing to do with Mr. Goll, or with his friends either." Le Journal littéraire then published Goll's replies (reiterating the definition he put forward in 1919, to describe playwrighting: "The surrealist poet will evoke the distant realm of the truth, by keeping his ear to the wall of the earth") as well as those of Dermée (who, in the journal L'Esprit nouveau went back over his efforts to "ensure that the term surrealism is still in force" and "keep it separate from petty cliquish quarrels"; he also reproached Breton for wanting to "monopolize a movement of literary and artistic renewal that dates from well before his time and that in scope goes far beyond his fidgety little person"). Breton responded with countersignatures from his close collaborators: "One cannot get into a discussion with such phonies and nitwits," followed by an excerpt from the manifesto that outlined the history of the issue. The quarrel did not bring an end to the debate: Le Figaro and L'Intransigeant, on October 11, both confused the opening of the bureau and the publication of a journal edited by Ivan Goll whose title alone, Surréalisme, continued to feed the confusion. The unique issue of Surréalisme opened with a "Manifeste du surréalisme," followed by an "Exemple du surréalisme: Le cinéma" (Goll cited as a model La Roue by Abel Gance); among the contributions were pieces by Albert-Birot, Dermée, Pierre Reverdy, Joseph Delteil, Marcel Arland, Jean Painlevé, René Crevel, and Goll himself (an interview with Robert Delaunay). Though such eclecticism might have seemed spicy or even, from a distance, in good taste, in the actual context of the era it only contributed to the obscurity. At almost the same time, a special issue of L'esprit nouveau was devoted to Apollinaire; Dermée brought together a good number of writers who were opposed to Breton (Albert-Birot, Céline Arnauld, Goll, Picabia, Tzara, and Ungaretti, among others) to remind people of the fact that surrealism did indeed begin with Apollinaire. As proof, he published the letter sent to him by Apollinaire, the author of Alcools, in March 1917: "All things considered, I believe

                      On October 11, a letter was sent from the Bureau for Surrealist Research to Pierre Morhange, a collaborator on the periodical Philosophies, where he had recently evoked surrealism in terms that were particularly vague: "This art form, invented by the genial Max Jacob . . . finds beauty only when rounded out by a lively lyrical painting, in other words, instinctive and natural." The letter is brief: "We would like to notify you once and for all that if you give yourself the right to use the word 'Surrealism' spontaneously and without notifying us, more than fifteen of us will be there to cruelly set you right." The response this provoked was Messianic in tone: "Unfortunate gentlemen, I will not address you with words of hate. You are coming forward for me to fight you. I will fight you. And I will vanquish you with Goodness and Love. And I will convert you to the Almighty," and so on. This letter hardly improved their relations.

                      These skirmishes show just how much Breton and his friends sought to disengage surrealism from any narrowly literary, or even poetic, significance-if one persists in seeing poetry as nothing more than a somewhat refined form of literature. The bureau, from this point of view, was also the place where this principle could be periodically reasserted-because it needed to be-within the group itself: preparations for a first issue of La Révolution surréaliste, noted in the logbook, showed the efforts made to gather texts, illustrations, human interest stories, and anonymous information. Such heterogeneity would assure a multifaceted relation with life in all its aspects rather than with the aseptic, inefficient world of literature.

                      The Surrealist Manifesto

                      Breton's work, the subject of much discussion in the weeks before its publication, was published on October 15, 1924, in a volume with Poisson soluble by Simon Kra's Éditions du Sagittaire. Although it hardly took the author's close friends by surprise, it immediately took on the significance of a global challenge for the intellectual public. Initially conceived as a preface to Poisson soluble (traces of this initial intention can still be felt in its composition), the manifesto quickly acquired the status of an independent text, delineating the goals and challenges of surrealism, even if its insistence on the supremacy of the poetic image was due to its originally intended application.

                      The manifesto begins with a defense of the rights of the imagination (even as far as the limits of madness) as being the only rights capable of helping the individual avoid a "fate without light " and of compensating for the burden of "imperious practical necessity." The text establishes a relation between the imagination and a taste for freedom: "Dear imagination," says Breton, "what I love most about you is that you are unforgiving," and he added right away that "the word of freedom alone is all that still exalts me."

                      It was vital, therefore, to reevaluate the realistic attitude born of the positivist tradition, which was "hostile to any intellectual and moral uplift." In passing, this reevaluation seemed to criticize the novel, guilty of preventing the reader's imagination from taking flight because of its descriptive nature and also of stifling emotions by the use of psychological analysis, perforce simplistic and sterile. To the professionalism of novelists-always ready to fill pages in order to conceal the lack of necessity of what they were writing, Breton opposed a categorical objection: "I want one to be silent, when one ceases to feel . . . I'm saying only that I do not report the vacant moments of my life, and that it might be unworthy for anyone to crystallize those moments that do seem vacant."

                      But realism was also the fetishism of logical procedures, which were in fact incapable of solving the authentic problems of existence, while their overestimation had banished from the mind "anything that could be rightfully or wrongfully accused of being a superstition, a chimera . . . any means of searching for truth that does not conform with standard usage." Given such an ossification, Freud's contributions naturally deserved the highest praise, thanks to which "imagination may be about to regain its rights."

                      Subsequently, the importance of dreams was emphasized, because they reinforced the idea that thought, in humankind, had a much wider scope than the dominant tradition. Breton formulated four questions to try to define a terrain for research: What are the possibilities for the continuity of dreams and their application to life's problems? Do dreams explicitly harbor the causes of our preferences and our desires? What form of reason "broader than all others" gives dreams their "natural allure," where everything seems possible, for as long as the dream lasts? How can one conceive the "future resolution" of dreams and reality, apparently so utterly contradictory, in "the surreal?"

                      And here is one of my poems about surrealism

                      The Surrealist

                      The surrealist believed in the dreamer within.

                      The surrealist believed that mind over matter was sure to win.

                      The surrealist believed that repression was the only sin.

                      The surrealist believed that it was time for a new age to begin.

                      The surrealist believed the subconscious mind could be transformed from a pain in the neck Mr. Hyde, to a redeemer and a friend.

                      Groovy man

                      by the Cool Cat

                      www.thecoolcat.net





                      I think a discintion can be made between schools of thought which see life as inherently meaningless and absurd and those that envision humanity's adsurd history as a bad dream from which it is possible to awaken to untold possibilities. Lets hope the latter are more nearly correct.

                      I heard that Breton when staying in a hotel room for the first night would leave the door ajar hoping for the woman of his dreams to show up. Realist would assume that from past experience more likely a robber would show.

                      Tom


                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: mary.josie59
                      To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 10:25 AM
                      Subject: [existlist] Re: poem on absurdity


                      Bill, et al

                      I think the poem criticizes the art of the Beat generation and
                      excludes its more manic, joyful aspects. It expresses the angst
                      typical of existentialism without any appeal for the future. However,
                      it certainly seems authentic.

                      The Beats were more interested in "religiosity," a beatific experience
                      (Catholic and/or Buddhist) fueled by drugs. The Beats had much in
                      common with the Left Bank as an interesting amalgam of criminal and
                      artist, saint and sinner who wanted to chronicle contemporary
                      experiences. Both were considered "counter-culture" by their
                      respective mainstream societies. Both included political and human
                      rights activism and experimental artistry, bookmarked by the
                      surrealists and the hippies.

                      Camus would probably agree with the Beats in that quantity of
                      experiences IS quality. The Road ends, and there you have it.

                      Thanks to all,
                      Mary

                      --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, Bobconkawi@... wrote:
                      >
                      > Here is a poem written by a college mate of mine. We graduated in
                      the 60's,
                      > about the time Camus died, so you know we are old. It sounds like
                      > Existentialism to me. -Bob Miller





                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • tom
                      Excuse me for saying quote was brief. I thought I had only pasted one paragraph. Tom ... From: tom To: existlist@yahoogroups.com Sent: Thursday, January 22,
                      Message 10 of 11 , Jan 22, 2009
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                        Excuse me for saying quote was brief. I thought I had only pasted one paragraph.
                        Tom
                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: tom
                        To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 11:12 AM
                        Subject: Re: [existlist] Re: poem on absurdity


                        Mary

                        This is a brief quote on surrealism
                        An excerpt from
                        History of the
                        Surrealist Movement
                        by Gérard Durozoi
                        Translated by Alison Anderson

                        Chapter Two
                        1924-1929 Salvation for Us Is Nowhere

                        On October 11, 1924, the existence of a surrealist group was publicly confirmed by the opening at 15, rue de Grenelle (the premises were on loan from Pierre Naville's father) of a Bureau for Surrealist Research, whose aim was to "gather all the information possible related to forms that might express the unconscious activity of the mind." The press was notified of the opening and of the imminent publication of a new periodical, La Révolution surréaliste-an undertaking Breton had decided on by the beginning of July, while he was correcting the proofs of the Manifeste du surréalisme. Word of the opening spread quickly enough for the Journal littéraire to publish an account of the event the very same day: "The promoters of the surrealist movement, in their desire to appeal to the unconscious and to set surrealism along the path of greatest freedom, have already begun to organize a Bureau to unite all those who are interested in expression where thought is freed from any intellectual preoccupations; . . . all those who are closely or remotely concerned with surrealism will find all the information and documentation relative to the Mouvement surréaliste." The same commentary in Les Nouvelles littéraires: "No domain has been specified, a priori, for this undertaking, and surrealism proposes a gathering of the greatest possible number of experimental elements, for a purpose that cannot yet be perceived. All those who have the means to contribute, in any fashion, to the creation of genuine surrealist archives, are urgently requested to come forward: let them shed light on the genesis of an invention, or propose a new system of psychic investigation, or make us the judges of striking coincidences, or reveal their most instinctive ideas on fashion, as well as politics, etc., or freely criticize morality, or even simply entrust us with their most curious dreams and with what their dreams suggest to them."

                        Not only did such announcements emphasize the collective nature of the movement, they also indicated the bureau's primary intention of remaining open to all those who dared venture into the vicinity. The bureau was indeed organized in such a way that a daily presence was assured by two people, who were responsible for greeting visitors (journalists, writers, onlookers, even students) and for taking note of their suggestions and reactions in a daily "Notebook"; the office would also guarantee a regular amount of daily publicity for the movement (press relations, various mailings), while in another room, on the first floor, other members of the group could meet for discussions, or exchange ideas and projects, or work on their own texts, or help to edit the first issue of La Révolution surréaliste.

                        The premises were "decorated," as captured in a famous photograph by Man Ray, with a few paintings (De Chirico: Le Rêve de Tobie; a watercolor by Robert Desnos; a canvas by Max Morise), posters, and, before long, a headless plaster statue of a boar in a stairway. The surrealists archived works that had already been exhibited, as well as the notebooks in which they would jot down their automatic texts and manuscripts. An atmosphere of effervescent research reigned, where the gifts of chance were always welcome (a poster glimpsed on a wall might be pointed out or the ludicrous content of a classified advertisement), along with the marvelous, thought to be ever latent in everyday life and ready to suggest incongruous juxtapositions of objects and arouse the imagination by reinforcing the victory over mental habits. But the bureau was anything but a simple place for accomplices to gather, even if their affinity was confirmed daily by the communication of dreams and fantasies and by shared laughter, spontaneous exchange, and the joy of the ongoing discovery: the bureau, like the Manifeste or La Révolution surréaliste, also served a strategic purpose.

                        In 1924, a specter haunted Paris-at any rate, the specter of surrealism-and it was up to Breton and his friends to prove that they did not intend to allow anyone else to clarify its significance (or, inversely, to trivialize it). An evening at the Comédie des Champs-Élysées was the occasion for a first skirmish: "surrealist dances" were scheduled to be performed by Valeska Gert, whose impresario was Ivan Goll; the group disrupted the performance with a concert of whistles, and then a row broke out between Goll and Breton, and the event ended abruptly with the arrival of the police. On August 23, Breton and ten of his friends printed a collective text in Le Journal littéraire, "Encore le surréalisme," in response to Goll's declarations maintaining that a surrealist school had existed at least since the time Apollinaire first used the adjective to describe Les Mamelles de Tirésias, and among its proponents were not only Goll himself but also Pierre Albert-Birot and Paul Dermée. The collective declaration affirmed that "Monsieur Dermée involuntarily exploited the grotesque usefulness of Dadaism and his activity was always foreign to surrealism"; also, it stated that "surrealism is something quite different from the literary wave imagined by M. Goll," before introducing texts that were soon to be published (La Révolution surréaliste, the manifesto, texts by Desnos, Péret, Aragon, and Roger Vitrac) that would reinforce their claim that they had "nothing to do with Mr. Goll, or with his friends either." Le Journal littéraire then published Goll's replies (reiterating the definition he put forward in 1919, to describe playwrighting: "The surrealist poet will evoke the distant realm of the truth, by keeping his ear to the wall of the earth") as well as those of Dermée (who, in the journal L'Esprit nouveau went back over his efforts to "ensure that the term surrealism is still in force" and "keep it separate from petty cliquish quarrels"; he also reproached Breton for wanting to "monopolize a movement of literary and artistic renewal that dates from well before his time and that in scope goes far beyond his fidgety little person"). Breton responded with countersignatures from his close collaborators: "One cannot get into a discussion with such phonies and nitwits," followed by an excerpt from the manifesto that outlined the history of the issue. The quarrel did not bring an end to the debate: Le Figaro and L'Intransigeant, on October 11, both confused the opening of the bureau and the publication of a journal edited by Ivan Goll whose title alone, Surréalisme, continued to feed the confusion. The unique issue of Surréalisme opened with a "Manifeste du surréalisme," followed by an "Exemple du surréalisme: Le cinéma" (Goll cited as a model La Roue by Abel Gance); among the contributions were pieces by Albert-Birot, Dermée, Pierre Reverdy, Joseph Delteil, Marcel Arland, Jean Painlevé, René Crevel, and Goll himself (an interview with Robert Delaunay). Though such eclecticism might have seemed spicy or even, from a distance, in good taste, in the actual context of the era it only contributed to the obscurity. At almost the same time, a special issue of L'esprit nouveau was devoted to Apollinaire; Dermée brought together a good number of writers who were opposed to Breton (Albert-Birot, Céline Arnauld, Goll, Picabia, Tzara, and Ungaretti, among others) to remind people of the fact that surrealism did indeed begin with Apollinaire. As proof, he published the letter sent to him by Apollinaire, the author of Alcools, in March 1917: "All things considered, I believe

                        On October 11, a letter was sent from the Bureau for Surrealist Research to Pierre Morhange, a collaborator on the periodical Philosophies, where he had recently evoked surrealism in terms that were particularly vague: "This art form, invented by the genial Max Jacob . . . finds beauty only when rounded out by a lively lyrical painting, in other words, instinctive and natural." The letter is brief: "We would like to notify you once and for all that if you give yourself the right to use the word 'Surrealism' spontaneously and without notifying us, more than fifteen of us will be there to cruelly set you right." The response this provoked was Messianic in tone: "Unfortunate gentlemen, I will not address you with words of hate. You are coming forward for me to fight you. I will fight you. And I will vanquish you with Goodness and Love. And I will convert you to the Almighty," and so on. This letter hardly improved their relations.

                        These skirmishes show just how much Breton and his friends sought to disengage surrealism from any narrowly literary, or even poetic, significance-if one persists in seeing poetry as nothing more than a somewhat refined form of literature. The bureau, from this point of view, was also the place where this principle could be periodically reasserted-because it needed to be-within the group itself: preparations for a first issue of La Révolution surréaliste, noted in the logbook, showed the efforts made to gather texts, illustrations, human interest stories, and anonymous information. Such heterogeneity would assure a multifaceted relation with life in all its aspects rather than with the aseptic, inefficient world of literature.

                        The Surrealist Manifesto

                        Breton's work, the subject of much discussion in the weeks before its publication, was published on October 15, 1924, in a volume with Poisson soluble by Simon Kra's Éditions du Sagittaire. Although it hardly took the author's close friends by surprise, it immediately took on the significance of a global challenge for the intellectual public. Initially conceived as a preface to Poisson soluble (traces of this initial intention can still be felt in its composition), the manifesto quickly acquired the status of an independent text, delineating the goals and challenges of surrealism, even if its insistence on the supremacy of the poetic image was due to its originally intended application.

                        The manifesto begins with a defense of the rights of the imagination (even as far as the limits of madness) as being the only rights capable of helping the individual avoid a "fate without light " and of compensating for the burden of "imperious practical necessity." The text establishes a relation between the imagination and a taste for freedom: "Dear imagination," says Breton, "what I love most about you is that you are unforgiving," and he added right away that "the word of freedom alone is all that still exalts me."

                        It was vital, therefore, to reevaluate the realistic attitude born of the positivist tradition, which was "hostile to any intellectual and moral uplift." In passing, this reevaluation seemed to criticize the novel, guilty of preventing the reader's imagination from taking flight because of its descriptive nature and also of stifling emotions by the use of psychological analysis, perforce simplistic and sterile. To the professionalism of novelists-always ready to fill pages in order to conceal the lack of necessity of what they were writing, Breton opposed a categorical objection: "I want one to be silent, when one ceases to feel . . . I'm saying only that I do not report the vacant moments of my life, and that it might be unworthy for anyone to crystallize those moments that do seem vacant."

                        But realism was also the fetishism of logical procedures, which were in fact incapable of solving the authentic problems of existence, while their overestimation had banished from the mind "anything that could be rightfully or wrongfully accused of being a superstition, a chimera . . . any means of searching for truth that does not conform with standard usage." Given such an ossification, Freud's contributions naturally deserved the highest praise, thanks to which "imagination may be about to regain its rights."

                        Subsequently, the importance of dreams was emphasized, because they reinforced the idea that thought, in humankind, had a much wider scope than the dominant tradition. Breton formulated four questions to try to define a terrain for research: What are the possibilities for the continuity of dreams and their application to life's problems? Do dreams explicitly harbor the causes of our preferences and our desires? What form of reason "broader than all others" gives dreams their "natural allure," where everything seems possible, for as long as the dream lasts? How can one conceive the "future resolution" of dreams and reality, apparently so utterly contradictory, in "the surreal?"

                        And here is one of my poems about surrealism

                        The Surrealist

                        The surrealist believed in the dreamer within.

                        The surrealist believed that mind over matter was sure to win.

                        The surrealist believed that repression was the only sin.

                        The surrealist believed that it was time for a new age to begin.

                        The surrealist believed the subconscious mind could be transformed from a pain in the neck Mr. Hyde, to a redeemer and a friend.

                        Groovy man

                        by the Cool Cat

                        www.thecoolcat.net

                        I think a discintion can be made between schools of thought which see life as inherently meaningless and absurd and those that envision humanity's adsurd history as a bad dream from which it is possible to awaken to untold possibilities. Lets hope the latter are more nearly correct.

                        I heard that Breton when staying in a hotel room for the first night would leave the door ajar hoping for the woman of his dreams to show up. Realist would assume that from past experience more likely a robber would show.

                        Tom


                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: mary.josie59
                        To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 10:25 AM
                        Subject: [existlist] Re: poem on absurdity

                        Bill, et al

                        I think the poem criticizes the art of the Beat generation and
                        excludes its more manic, joyful aspects. It expresses the angst
                        typical of existentialism without any appeal for the future. However,
                        it certainly seems authentic.

                        The Beats were more interested in "religiosity," a beatific experience
                        (Catholic and/or Buddhist) fueled by drugs. The Beats had much in
                        common with the Left Bank as an interesting amalgam of criminal and
                        artist, saint and sinner who wanted to chronicle contemporary
                        experiences. Both were considered "counter-culture" by their
                        respective mainstream societies. Both included political and human
                        rights activism and experimental artistry, bookmarked by the
                        surrealists and the hippies.

                        Camus would probably agree with the Beats in that quantity of
                        experiences IS quality. The Road ends, and there you have it.

                        Thanks to all,
                        Mary

                        --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, Bobconkawi@... wrote:
                        >
                        > Here is a poem written by a college mate of mine. We graduated in
                        the 60's,
                        > about the time Camus died, so you know we are old. It sounds like
                        > Existentialism to me. -Bob Miller

                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • mary.josie59
                        Tom, I meant to say that the Beat generation and existentialism had surrealism and the hippie movement as bookends. What might be an interesting conversation
                        Message 11 of 11 , Jan 23, 2009
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                          Tom,

                          I meant to say that the Beat generation and existentialism had
                          surrealism and the hippie movement as bookends.

                          What might be an interesting conversation would be to compare
                          surrealism with existentialism in terms of rebellion, or nihilism vs.
                          activism, or perhaps why Breton broke from the Marxists.

                          Most idealist/artistic movements fail because of absolutism and
                          orthodoxy promulgated by their leaders. Camus had a problem with their
                          negation of life. He preferred the Rimbaud the tortured poet, to
                          Rimbaud the businessman. And strangely I recall Camus' praise for
                          Rimbaud's ambiguities is also his very criticism. Perhaps I need to
                          read that section in The Rebel again.

                          All these movements seemed to have the creative arts as part of
                          everyday life, but when one starts the nihilist's path, well you know
                          the rest. Totalitarian policies and artistic hegemony, etc.

                          Mary
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