The Vice of Surrealism

Andre Breton:

Let us not mince words: the marvelous is always beautiful. anything marvelous is beautiful, in fact only the marvelous is beautiful.
Andre Breton, 1924

And ever since I have had a great desire to show forbearance to scientific musing, however unbecoming, in the final analysis, from every point of view. Radio? Fine. Syphilis? If you like. Photography? I don't see any reason why not. The cinema? Three cheers for darkened years. War? Gave us a good laugh. The telephone? Hello. Youth? Charming white hair. Try to make me say thank you: "Thank you." Thank you.
Andre Breton, Manifesto of Surrealism

(Surrealism) declares that it is able, by its own means, to uproot thought from an increasingly cruel state of thralldom, to steer it back onto the path of total comprehension, return it to its original purity.
Andre Breton, Second Manifesto of Surrealism

The simplest Surrealist act consists of dashing down into the street, pistol in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd.
Andre Breton, Second Manifesto of Surrealism

Surrealism, as I envisage it, proclaims loudly enough our absolute nonconformity, that there may be no question of calling it, in the case against the real world, as a witness for the defense. It could only account, on the contrary, for the complete state of distraction which we hope to attain here below. Kant's absentmindedness about women, Pasteur's absentmindedness about "grapes," Curie's absentmindedness about vehicles, are in this respect, deeply symptomatic*.
Andre Breton, 1924, Manifeste du Surrealisme

*There is an ascending gradation here in the consequences of absentmindedness. Kant was a confirmed bachelor who completely ignored women all his life. Pasteur on the other hand was involved once in a rather ridiculous incident when, during a meal, he carefully washed grapes in a glass of water, explaining to his guests the importance of eliminating germs from food--and then, distracted, drank the soiled water in the glass. As for Curie, his absentmindedness caused his death: he was run over by a carriage and killed while crossing a street.
Marcel Jean, The Autobiography of Surrealism, p. 125

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