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April 29, 1939 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1939-04-29
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I' ge Eight.


T~ I'! T~ L' TI E7 I' 'T' T '11 r~ C


their ranks by the surrealists since
1929. Picasso's interest in the irrational
began in native Negro art, turned next
to cubism. the origin of which he shares
a~rgumentatively with Braque, then, be-
coming more free and unconventional
than the cubists, developed into surreal-
ism. The coming of Picasso to their
ranks has brought much prestige to the
surrealists and their movement. Picasso
is now painting propaganda pictures for
the Loyalist cause in Spain, as many
other surrealists are also doing.
Max Ernst has blue-grey hair, youth-
ful eyes and is "rapid and instructive
as a bird and pretends to hate birds."
He paints with great masses of vibrating
color, combining the child's approach
with an adult's perfection. Marcel Du-
champ. is a very precise, steady and
accurate painter. He was first a futurist,
then a cubist, then a surrealist. He
seems always to be a jump ahead of the
next movement. Abandoning painting
for chess. at which he is an expert, Du-
champ returned to art in 1934.
Giorgio de Chirico objects to being
included among the surrealists. However,
his paintings bear a marked resemblance
to those of the surrealists and they con-
sider him one of them on these grounds.
In his earlier days he was greatly en-
couraged by the surrealists, but now he
goes out of his way to avoid them. Pierre
Roy is another artist whose works are
similar to those of the surrealists, yet
objects to being included by them in
the movement.
Other artists active in the movement
are Rene Magritte, Yves Tanguy, Joan
Miro, Hans Arp and Man Ray. Magritte
is a Belgian painter, the leading artist
of the Brussells Surrealist Group. Miro
and Arp have a tendency to over-simpli-
fy their work to the point of pure ab-
straction, and have been attacked on
that ground as not being true surreal-
ists. Ray is an American, born in Phila-
delphia, both a painter and a photog-
rapher, better known as the latter. He
now lives and works in Paris. His mar-
velous understanding of the camera en-
ables him to obtain very strange effects.
Unclean night, night of flowers,
night of death-rattles, spirituous
night, lo! the hand thereof is but an
abject kite that is caught in a mesh
of strands, black strands and
shameful! Oh, champaign land of
white bones and red, where hast
thou stowed thine impure trees, and
thine aborescent candour, and thy
fidelity that was a purse of sevried
pearls., with flowers, with so-so in-
scriptions, with pansignifications?
And lo! it is thou the bandit, the
bandit, ah! assassin, thou water
bandit thou sheddest thy knives in,
mine eyes, thou art then quite piti-
less, radiant water, lustral water
that I cherish! My imprecations,
ever as a terrifyingly pretty girl-
child brandishing her broom at you,
shall pursue you at great length.
Such is true surrealist prose, quite as
unintelligible as a true surrealist paint-
ing this particular sample being from
Andre Breton's "Poisson Soluble." The
surrealist' cannot be a stylist. He can-
not ponder his works, write and re-
write, correct and adjust to suit him-
self. He must obey the directions of
his- unconscious mind, and write as it
directs, without consciously giving the
matter any consideration. He must
write fast, so as to keep up with his un-
fettered mind; in fact, many surreal-
ists dictate to secretaries, rather than
go through- the- distracting process of
writing down their thoughts. The
poetry is as fantastic as the prose; as
can easily been seen by. Paul. Eluard's
She-had in the tranquillity of her body
A little snowball the color of an eye.
She had on.her shoulders.

A stains of silence, a stain, of. rose.
Covercle of her aureole
Her hands,.their supple-and singing arcs
Broke the light
She-sang for minutes.without sleeping.
Foremost among the surrealist writ-
ers is Andre Breton, leader and- co-
sounder of. the movement. He is now
43 years old. He studied medicine which


led him to psychoanalysis. With head-
quarters in the Cafe Cyrano, later in
the Cafe de la Place Blanche, he led the
first surrealist experiments with Desnos
and Crenel as subjects. In these ex-
periments, he tried to "isolate the germ
of inspiration and examine its charac-
teristics." He is the guiding hand of
the group and keeps interest high by
continually presenting new problems
and projects. Breton's house is filled
with rare and curious items of art and
literature which he has gathered. He
frequently dresses entirely in green,
smokes a green pipe and drinks a green
liquor. "He writes but little, for with the
rest of the surrealists he has a fear of
drowning his imagination in ink and
feels that life is to be lived, not made
a slave to words. This attitude, which
is held by all the surrealists, while it
does not make for mass production, does
make for intensity, vitality and sin-
The other two co-founders of surreal-
ism are Paul Eluard and Philippe Sou-
pault. Eluard has been spoken of as
the heart and soul of surrealism, in con-
trast to Breton as the head and sinews.
His poetry is of a very plain and simple
type, very melodious. Soupault was
first associated with dada, then with
surrealism. He writes poetry and prose.
Other surrealist writers are Louis
Aragon, Joseph Delteil, Guillaume Ap-
pollinaire and Tristan Tzara. Though
Appollinaire is not one of the surrealist
group proper, since he died in 1918, he
is credited with first applying the word
surrealist in its present meaning. Tzara
was the creator of dada, but later turned
to surrealism. He is a Roumanian and
became an active member of the Com-
munist Party along with Aragon and
Naville, while Breton and the rest are
in sympathy with the Party but do not
wish to be disciplined by subscribing
Dali and Picabia are writers as well
as painters, though are better known as
painters. The latter's writing played an
important part in the dada movement.
The genesis of surrealism depends to a
great extent on what the historian sees
in the movement itself. The observer
might find its origin in DaVinci, the
philosopher in Bergson, the psychologist

in Freud. It is more than likely that
each of these played a part, to a greater
or less extent. As a matter of fact, sur-
realism has been blamed on everything
from Plato to the New Deal.
Plato probably never dreamed of sur-
realism, but in "The Republic" he ar-
gued that dreams may give a clue to
some of the subtle and elusive appetites .
and instincts of man. Thus Plato an-
ticipated psychoanalysis, four centuries
before Christ. DaVinci, too, anticipated
the style of the surrealist painters, or
so the sketches in his notebooks would
seem to assert. Whether or not he
had the surrealist point of view is
doubtful, but' the London critics like to
. think so. Other predecessors have been
pointed out in the persons of Lautrea-
mont, Rimbaud, the Marquis de Sade
and Lewis Carroll.
These might be predecessors, but it is
certain that they were discovered to be
so well after the movement was on its
way, and that the movement did not
grow out of their efforts. Perhaps the
first thing which had a direct effect
ultimately on surrealism was the coming
of the machine age and its correspond-
ing change in the art world. More di-
rectly concerned with war time and
post war movements in France was the
reorganization of the French secondary
school in 1902. Up to that time the em-
phasis had been on the classic, and the
reorganization eliminated them to a
great extent in favor of. the sciences and
living tongues. The significant part, of
this is that the first generation taught
in the new French secondary school was
just coming into its own and taking its
place in the world at the time of the
war, and the effects of the-revolutionized
training were beginning to make them-
selves apparent.
Then, in 1907, Bergson published his
masterpiece, "L'Evolution creatrice"
(Creative Evolution) and almost over-
night became the most popular figure
in the philosophical world. H-is theories
received widespread attention, especial-
ly in France. Then Freud came with
his doctrine, and the result was wide-
spread interest in the problems of in-
dividual psychology, the psychoanaly-
tical novel and the use of the dream-
world as a mine for subject matter in
painting and writing.

Through this ran the "great era of the
'isms'.'' In the eighteen-nineties Cez-
anne and Serriat led a movement known
as neoimpressionism, and Gauguin spon-
sored synthesism. In the nineteen hun-
dreds came cubism, with Braque and-
Picasso, which developed into suprema-
tism, and constructivism. Therewasor-
phism, neoplasticism, purism, futurism
and symbolism. The Manifesto of Fu-
turist Painting in 1910 urged artists to
"Exalt every kind of originality, of bold-
ness, of extreme violence," and to "Rebel
against the tyranny of the words 'Har-
mony' and 'Good Taste'." Then came
the discovery of native Negro art, and
expressionism was born. At the height
of this period the World War came.
It was during the war times that dada,
surrealism's immediate forerunner, ap-
peared, flourished and died. Since many
dada writers and painters later turned
to surrealism, and since dada reflected
the primal effects of the chaotic war
period, that movement deserves special
attention here.
In a Zurich cafe a group of men sat
drinking and talking of a new idea of
theirs. Among them were Tristan Tzara
and Joan Miro. Tzara took up a diction-
ary, opened it at random, and haphaz-
ardly pointed with his pen knife. His
knife hit upon the word'dada, so dada
their idea was called. Translated, dada
means hobby-horse.
At the Movement Dada, Zeltureg 33,
Zurich, they began publishing their
first magazine in 1916. After the Armis-
tice they moved to Paris, setting up
headquarters at 32, Rue Charles Floquet,
publishing there the "Bulletin Dada."
'Iherethey held performances at which
four or five simultaneously read their
own poetry with an accompaniment of
clanging bells that drowned out their
Besides Tzara and Miro, dada attract-
ed many others who were later :to be-
come surrealists, including Arp, Ernst,
Picabia, Duchamp, Man Ray and
Dada, like surrealism, was a state of
mind rather than a school. It was a
deliberate appeal to the irrational and
absurd, in a profound and sincere pro-
test against the ghastly irrationalities
and absurdities of war. Outwardly, dada
ridiculed the arts. That was evidently its
main purpose, laughing at literature,
music and painting.
Some of the best examples of the dada
methods of ridicule are those of Marcel
Duchamp. In 1917 he sent to the Salon
des Independants in New York a simple
marble urinal with the title "The Foun-
tain." In 1920 he sent to an exhibition
a copy of the Mona Lisa with a mustache
painted in, which he called LHOOQ.
People began to sit up and take notice
and wonder what this parasite of art
was, and Picabia answered them, in one
of the many dada manifestos,
Manifesto of the Dada Movement:
You haven't the faintest idea, I tak
it, what we are up to! Ah, well, olt
dear, we know less about it than you
do.-So, congratulations, you're right
after all! I'd love to sleep with the
pope once more! That's greek to
you? Sad, but the same here!
Signed: Francis Picabia
Dada was termed dead soon after the
war, as early as 1920. It died because of
its lack of system and coherent phiIoso-
phy. The dadaists began to tire of their
aimless clowning, seeking something a
bit more serious and mature, Tzara, at
the end, denied starting the dada move-
ment. Later, he claimed to be the first
to resign from it.
Before. the coming of surrealism, an,
like a voice from the grave, thed dais1
were heard once more. Anatole France
died in October, 1924. On the day-of his
funeral there was published in Paris A
collection of briefs under the title "Un

Cadavre" (A Corpse). Among the con-
tributors were Louis Aragon, Paul Elu-
ard, Joseph Delteil, Philippe Soupault
and Drieu La Rochelle. Aragon's piece
was entitled "Did You Ever Slap a
Corpse?" The whole was a protest
against Anatole France, his country's
worship.for him, and the. acclaim given
his school of writing. .
Then,, on the first of December, 1924
"La Revolution Surrealiste" appeared in

TO THE YOUTH of America the
belief that we are born and
cradled in struggle is a pulsing
reality. To the post-depression
generation-a generation which has
known little else but decay, frustration
and repression-human existence has
been narrowed down to a matter of
sheer survival.
Understanding is essential in th
efforts of all men to safeguard them-
selves from the uncertainties of a pur-
poseless and apparently malignant
world. Consciousness of the real prob-
lems, in any intellectual exercise, leads
directly to a real solution. For young
people, however, the attainment of
knowledge and consciousness is especi-
ally essential: they are in the unique
position of being able to rescue the
creative forces of our national life from
the pseudo-intellectualism of the obscur-
antists, the academic corpse-keepers and
the tin-horn patriots.
This essay is no private adventure.
In it is reflected, it is hoped, the char-
acteristic reactions of a large number of
the young people who will constitute the
next Younger Generation-the genera-
tion of the Forties, Young America is
on a voyage of discovery. All over the
land new groups of well-equipped,
schooled, and experienced young men
and women are taking the lead in creat-
ing a new consciousness of American
life. They are engaged in the task of
blasting through the many lies, plati-
tudes and boasts that are passed off
as the authentic American spirit or
culture or aspirations or reality. They
are reaching down into the hidden vitals
of the "turmoil'd giant" in order to dis-
cover the true qualities of - America:
America, to these young adventurers, is
more than a slice of a continent, it is
more than a vast and bewildering jungle.
America is also a concept to be created.
The drama of American life is for us
the struggle for the assertion of life
itself. We go forth to seek and in seek-
ing we create.-
It is undoubtedly true, as Lewis Mum-
ford insists, that American culture was
formed largely by two events: the break-
down of the Medieval synthesis in the
centuries that preceded America's settle-
ment, and by the transfer to this soil of
an abstract and fragmentary culture,
given definite form by the Protestarits
of the sixteenth century, the philoso-
phers and scientists of the seventeenth,
and the political thinkers of the eigh-
teenth century. The important things
for us, however, are the psychological
and institutional differences engendered
by indigenous American conditions.
Psychologically peoples are what their
respective environments have made
them, and the American people are the
strange amalgam that they are, dis-
tinct from every other people, because
their social heritage, although similar
to the European, has been sufficiently
different to be significant.
Viewed in a long perspective certairh
imposing figures and movements can be
discerned as having enduringly in-
fluenced- the development of American
institutions and the American psychol-
ogy: the pioneer and the westward-mov-
ing frontier; the puritan and the sub-
mergence of the creative human spirit;
industrialism and the rape of a conti-
nent; the growth of a megalopolitan
city culture; individualism and its de-
generation to exploitation and accumu-
lation; equalitarianism and the persist-
ent resurgence of the democratic idea.
Our American heritage is one that
springs directly from the land. There
is no need to belabor this point, as the
Southern Agrarians do, to realize its
importance. There can be no doubt that
the effect of the pioneer tradition upon
the psychology of the American citizen


THFORTIES, .. by Elliot Mal

is provided f
writers have
chaos which
and uniform,
social qualiti
erance," a pr
ism, and an
which arises
gruity betwee
lief." Waldo :
ago initiated
tutions whic
down to a :
fifty years a
puritanism a
ated while w
Twenty year
dolphe Bour
tuals into ac
tions of the
acquired fror
Since the
cans have pE
outlook of y
task is to wc
vision of a"
tainment of
debt to the
Twenties, ar
that precede
and it would
we are still 1
tive world; tl
are still with
and standar
and exploita
the feeling pi
paigns again
American lif
reflected dee
acter. They
and sophisti
cynicism, bri
of the Wor
Lost Genera
tic, but the r
still filled b3
that they ar
youth and li
To young
in the Thirt
far-off past
of our diffic
less to act.
the palpable
barism, the
liberties, th
form of exp
the imminen
and cynicism
we cannot a
mism, in th
our souls dry
one lives in
doom and d
world in wh
and hunger
becoming thi
lesser tribu
cynicisms, t
and the ex
small and un
and we must
as simple an
It would be
before the '
nature of tl
"you can't ci
there is som
present state
that is divir
condition of
for those w-
continued ex
racy in the r
task of tran:
change, of
leadership a

has been of far-reaching significance.
The conditionsthat evoked the faith in
America's manifest destiny to fashion a
middle-class utopia have long ago been
changed by the advance of the times.
But the myth remains. The fact that
economic and social classes, almost as
rigid as those in Europe, are rapidly
taking shape in this country is of little
or no importance to the American who is
still thinking in terms of the equalitar-
ianism of the frontier-an equalitarian-
ism, it is pertinent to note, that even
in, the halcyon days of free land and ex-
panding frontiers meant nothing more
than the right of each individual to "get
ahead" and make his "place in the sun."
It would be easy for us to dismiss the'
entire course of development of the
American democratic tradition with the
simple statement that it was merely a
progression of romantic illusions exist-
ing only in the wishful minds of sensi-
tive men. We too, could cry aloud with
the tender-minded reformers, who, dis-
illusioned by the pragmatic acquiesence
of the New Freedom liberals to Wilson's
"humanitarian" war, and humiliated by
the witch-hunting raids of the Depart-
ment of Justice, either lapsed into a
discreet and deadening silence or jumped
agilely onto the Great American Band-
wagon. We could, with easy justifica-
tion, indulge in the same low-grade
rationalizations of the F. Scott Fitz-
geraldian youths who condemned man
as an insatiably malicious demon-and
tlien proceeded to drink themselves
merrily and cynically to hell. Skepticism
could very well be our only guide and af-
firmation: more than any previous gen-
eration in American history the young
people of the post-depression generation
have the right to voice semi-mystical
protests against the tendencies of
modern society; or heavily inveigh with

Mr. Mencken against the vulgar Demos;
or cynically resign ourselves with Mr.
Krutch to the belief that, in this world
in which we live, unresolvable discord
and individual conflict are the funda-
mental facts, and then try to make such
individual peace as we can. The Little
Men of our time can eve:i find, without
too much difficulty, plenty of good reas-
ons for a man on horseback.
Never has the abyss between the cold
facts of American experience and the
surging optimism of American idealism
been more apparent. Our America is a
country with 12,000,000 unemployed,
with roving bands of jobless youths; a
country of hunger, poverty, destitution
and despair. In our America small pro-
ducers can no longer envision a small
man's paradise, the middle-class is a
vanishing race, the independent farmer
is rapidly becoming a tenant tied to
the land.
Since 1929 the American people have
been living under a maddening national
neurosis, the neurosis of fear: they are
a people living in deadly fear of want,
insecurity and war. These are not factors
that we can dismiss with vague indict-
ments of the cosmos, or with glib refer-
ences to Progress and Evolution and the
Beneficence of Nature. They cannot be
disposed of by voicing jeremiads against
modern industrialism or panegyrics of
a perfect commonwealth in our simpler
past. These contemporary difficulties
are more than passing phases of dais-
location, pathological outgrowths that
faith and patience will cure: we have.
read Thorstein Veblen's diagnosis and
the witch-doctors haven't got a chance.
Previous generations have complained
that the most striking trait of American
life is that it is so frequently a tragedy
of frustration involving a futile waste
of human material, of desires and aspir-
ations that are thwarted for the reason
that in our chaotic system no medium

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