Forbidden Games by Darren Thomas

~ by londonsurrealistgroup on June 20, 2010.

2 Responses to “Forbidden Games by Darren Thomas”

  1. As the author of the text referred to in the third note here I would like to make clear that term ‘queer surrealist film’ was one that was a product of some editorial reductions that I did not fully support. If you had attended the screenings (or indeed the conference at West Dean) rather than analyzing promotional literature written against tight deadlines as if they were doctrinal manifestos, you would have had the opportunity to take part in the discussion surrounding the application of the term to the films we showed. As Michael Richardson has discussed in his book on Surrealism and film, the boundaries of what constitutes ‘Surrealist film’ were always debated within the group and there has never been any suggestion that the term be reserved always solely for those made by members of the group itself. As for Cocteau the discussion at Tate made more than clear that he was a figure despised by the group, but that nonetheless in the United States in the 1950s his films were often screened by the misinformed as ‘Surrealist’ – this misinterpretation was terribly productive and resulted in a number of films which wedded the scenarios of Cocteau to ideas and ideals taken directly from Surrealist texts being translated during those years.

    • Dear James

      Thank you for your comment on our blog, however, from the surrealist point of view this makes little difference to our argument, also, you are obviously harbouring a misconception or two of your own. You say “If you had attended the screenings…” which supposes that none of us were there, but in fact there were three members of the London Surrealist Group present at the screenings, so our comments are somewhat better informed than you apparently suppose.

      We were not present at West Dean for the simple reason that none of us could afford the extremely high fees, (approximately double the normal fees of other conferences we believe?) but we have had some feedback from our friends Michael Richardson and Krzsyztof Fijalkowski who both considered that Svankmajer’s statement was greeted with incomprehension by the audience and the discussion was very much a token. Why a simple statement of surrealist principle could not be understood by a group of academics specialising in surrealism we could not say, perhaps because they had attended only to the dead letter of surrealism rather than the living flame of the surrealist spirit.

      You say that you disagreed with some of the statements in the promotional literature, what specifically please? If you disagreed, why did you allow your name to be associated with those statements? How can you expect to profit by these statements and then refuse responsibility for them? If you disagreed with them, why did you allow them to be used? If they are misleading with regard to your, and the Centre’s intentions, then surely they should be amended to more accurately reflect these intentions. The extraordinary claim concerning Cocteau is inscribed on the Centre’s homepage apparently as a mission statement. Either it reveals a curious ambition to co-opt surrealism for a specific ideological aim that remains outside of surrealism or it is not seriously meant. If the former, then possibly it means that surrealism is being treated, once again, as a purely historical subject, subject to any arbitrary interpretation, rather than as a living movement. If the claim was not in any way serious, then why make it? Perhaps the Centre needs to refer to the Trades Descriptions Act!

      Obviously we’d be happy to see any clarification, even more, some modification, on these issues. Meanwhile, we are looking towards producing a collective text on surrealism and queer theory, a relationship that we consider problematic in several ways, but most of all in the way that surrealism appears to be presented in academic analyses from the queer theory side of things.

      Stuart Inman
      On behalf of the London Surrealist Group

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