viernes, 15 de abril de 2016

Michael Löwy: surrealismo y romanticismo

Michael Löwy, Descartes cogitando

Hemos tenido acceso a una traducción inglesa de la entrevista que Analogon hizo a Michael Löwy. Aunque toda ella es de uniforme interés, seleccionamos la parte final, sobre las relaciones entre el surrealismo y el romanticismo.


«Surrealism is, of all the modern cultural movements, the one which has carried to its highest expression the romantic aspiration to re-enchant the world. It is also the one which has incarnated, in the most radical fashion, the revolutionary dimension of romanticism, and its revolt against the industrial/capitalist civilization. Of course, the Surrealist reading of the romantic heritage of the past is highly selective. What attracts them to Hugo, Musset, Aloysius Bertrand, Xavier Forneret, and Nerval is, as Breton wrote in “The marvelous against the mystery”, the “will to the total emancipation of man.” It is also, in “a good number of Romantic or post-Romantic writers”—like Borel, Flaubert, Baudelaire, Daumier or Courbet—the “completely spontaneous hatred of the bourgeois type,” the “will to absolute non-compliance with the ruling class”.
As revolutionaries inspired by the spirit of the Enlightenment, of Hegel and above all of Marx, the Surrealists were, at the same time, the most resolute and uncompromising enemies of the values at the core of romantic-reactionary culture: religion and nationalism. As the Second Manifesto states: “Everything must be done, every method must be available to destroy the notions of family, nation, religion.” At the gates of the Surrealist paradise can be found, in flaming letters, that well-known libertarian inscription: Neither God nor Master!
What the Surrealists shared with the other Romantics is the passionate interest for pre-modern, pre-capitalist cultural forms of the past, as manifestations of an enchanted way of life. But, unlike most Romantics, there is for the Surrealists no closed and static “Golden Age”. What they searched for in Celtic culture, Alchemy, the Kabbala, Astrology, Magic art, the legends of the Mayas, the Navajo’s kachina puppets, or the rituals masks from Oceania, was the Gold of Time (l’or du temps). In the Surrealist view of history, radically opposed to the western Grand Narrative of Progress and Civilization, these golden moments are irruptions of the Marvelous, that either precede or resist the modern capitalist disaster. To borrow Walter Benjamin’s well known image, Surrealism brushes against the grain the dominant view of history, and privileges the magical cultural forms that break the continuum of the empty time of “progress”.
The Surrealist had no intention to reproduce these pre-capitalist forms, or to imitate the art and the life of the so-called “primitive” cultures: they drew inspiration fron them in their poetical/revolutionary attempt to re-enchant the world. For Breton (Arcane 17) and his friends, the aim was not to restore the “Lost Paradise” of the past, but to re-invent, in the present and the future, the rebellious gesture of Lucifer, the fallen Angel of Light,»