Collective Adventure (Tract 1 2004)

Poetry is the only truly practical attitude to life – at least if by life one means something more than survival and by poetry something more than the writing of verse. This poesis is not an escape from reality, but a drive towards the recognition of our creative forces as a necessary part of reality, whether expressed in art, love or life. The most complete expression of this tendency to date is Surrealism. Not an obsolete art movement of the inter-war era, but “the desperate attempt of poetry to incarnate itself in history” (Octavio Paz).

Surrealism is an active movement existing now, with a history and continuing aims and perspectives. It can never be reduced to the level of an artistic or literary school, much less a free-for-all label for commercial illustrators and stand-up comedians. Surrealists react creatively to the poetic impulse in whatever form is appropriate at the time. We do not forget our history, nor are we confined by it, unlike the wannabees we are not hung-up on Dali, Magritte, Ernst or any other predecessor. There is no surrealist style and no definitive medium – these are only tools, not to be confused with the purpose they are used for.

We are creating a new focus for surrealist activity in and around London. Specifically, we are a new surrealist group in London, using whatever means are best suited to our circumstances; games, provocations, the publication of tracts and poetry broadsheets, exhibitions, whatever is most effective for disseminating surrealist ideas.

Any surrealist activity worthy of the name can not be limited to the creative acts of various individuals, but needs a context in which those acts are developed. A form of collective activity is needed, finding its nexus, but not its limits, in London. Looking one way, it should reflect the individuals that constitute the group and in the other direction looking to the many groups and individuals who constitute the movement internationally.

Surrealism has been defined as an open system. It is a system in as much as its principles form a network of co-ordinates that define the outlines of surrealist endeavour, open in as much as these co-ordinates are to be questioned. The renewal of surrealist activity is to be found through the development and investigation of those principles, not through the mere repetition of old gestures or of mere abandonment to the irrational. We do not seek dissolution within the irrational, but the fullest exploitation of the dialectical tension between the rational and irrational and of their eventual resolution.

This quest must be undertaken in the streets as much as in the art gallery, in the social sphere as much as on the written page, for Surrealism is, and always has been, a movement for the total revolution of life, a different conception of existence, in both the individual’s inner life and society as a whole.             

Consequently, we desire the interpretation and critique of the existing social order and its replacement by a society in which the free imagination at last has its proper place in a world of free people. Though this modest demand may seem to many too idealistic and utopian, we consider it stupid and cowardly to wish for less. If the world is not ready for such a revolution, it is, nevertheless, in dire need of it. Meanwhile, we shall attempt to subvert the given, the dominant ideology of our time, and to pin it down like an asphyxiated butterfly.

Those who find in this tract an echo of their own desires, their sense of poetry and revolt, are invited to write to us.

London Surrealist Group


~ by londonsurrealistgroup on March 22, 2006.

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