Surrealism – chance and revolution

Terry Winters, Parallel rendering 2, 1997


It is a mistake to think that this movement is buried and has nothing more to teach

“Transform the world”, said Marx; “change life”, said Rimbaud: for us these two watchwords are but one” (André Breton[I]).

No movement took dreaming and imagination as seriously as surrealism. It is a mistake to look at it exclusively as an avant-garde artistic movement, an even bigger mistake is to think that it is buried and has nothing more to teach. From the perspective of its founders, surrealism was an aesthetic and, above all, ethical-political movement, and in that they took themselves very seriously. I imagine they would be surprised and disapproved of the use of surreal as an adjective that serves to stamp any situation that is considered absurd, incomprehensible or simply unfair, from any stupidity to, for example, high prices in the city.

Very demanding and ambitious in its intellectual project, surrealism did not give up on the truth and thus sought a deeper way of understanding reality. In this way, he intended a realism that was more radical, that took the super-real as its object, the whole that cannot be reduced to mere given factuality that leads to alienation. As Breton wrote in the first The Manifest of surrealism, in 1924, “will it be possible to reduce these two apparently contradictory states, which are dream and reality, to a kind of absolute reality, of super-reality [surrealité], if it is permissible to call it that” (2001, p. 28 ). Of course, some experiments that the movement valued, especially in its early hours, were responsible for a reputation as an irrationalist that confused some – a confusion that still exists today. Undoubtedly, the commitment to free manifestations of the unconscious as a value in itself contributed to this, in a reading that differentiated them from Freud (and of which the method of automatic writing was an aesthetic expression) and the belief in the power of scandal as a way of protest against official bourgeois morality.

Added to this is a curiosity for astrology and the tarot, an aspect that displeased Walter Benjamin (1994, p. 23/24), an admirer of the movement. In their duels against the entire established order, the surrealists chose positivism in philosophy and the human sciences and naturalism-realism in the arts as intellectual targets, but claimed to be materialists (and atheists), since what they denounced was the limitation of a method of thought that sticks to the factual description, while the radical understanding of the real would deserve another approach. Here, taken freely and not as systems, the Freudian and Hegelian references of the surrealists come together: the science that focuses on the unconscious in search of the repressed desires that determine the neuroses and disturbances of the Self and the philosophy that conceives the real as a totality that it includes the contradiction between immediate reality and the repressed potentialities of being.

Surrealism intended to bring together Marxism, Hegelian dialectics, psychoanalysis, romanticism and the new languages ​​brought by Symbolist poetry and Dadaism, and without a doubt it was, as a project, the greatest synthesis of revolutionary thought that was ever imagined and dared to risk. . It's in Second Manifest (1929) that the group explains and justifies its option, in thought and militancy, for Marxism, which would be linked by “elective affinities” with the other intellectual trends that constituted them. They soon became aware that, in order to carry out “absolute non-conformism” (Manifesto of Surrealism, P. 63) that moved them, it was necessary to fight to overthrow the prevailing capitalist social structures. It was not, however, a simple adhesion, but a perspective of joint enrichment, as surrealism added that the Revolution “problems of love, dreams, madness, art, religion” (Second Manifesto of Surrealism, P. 169). The surrealist proposal was not easily assimilated by restricted visions, which generated strangeness within the French Communist Party, misunderstandings that resulted in mutual losses. However, I agree with the point of view that “surrealism was not a dogma incompatible with Marxism, but a method of liberating the spirit” (GIMENEZ-FRONTIN, 1991, p. 87).

However, the misunderstandings on the part of interlocutors were not restricted to the ranks of the militant left. Freud himself, in an exchange of letters with Breton between 1932 and 1933, would end up confessing, with great delicacy and all the intellectual honesty that characterized him, that he could not be clear about what surrealism was and what he wanted (FREUD, 2005, p.137).

Surrealist thought seeks the sublime, the spirit of childhood, all the magic that hides under the crust of reified life and that gives us the hope of a “re-enchantment of the world” (LÖWY, 2002, p. 9). This “wonderful” are the discoveries for which the wandering surrealists yearn, because, as Breton said in the final words of the 1924 manifesto, “living and ceasing to live are imaginary solutions. Existence is elsewhere” (2001, p. 64). Therefore, the surreal moment is when absolute reality presents itself directly as a condensed totality beyond the mere factuality of the social reproduction of the world of commodities. It is when the repressed desires and the possibilities of another becoming (real) cut off the immediate reality (unreal). That is, the surreal carries a double meaning: it is both absolute reality, which includes the internal and external to being, materiality and the dream, and the marvelous that emerges in everyday life or in history and which is the most radical movement of this absolute. That is why, in the reflection of the movement, the great surreal moments par excellence are love and revolution.

The problems of revolution and love are of the same nature. And surrealism claims the subversive character of truly exceptional moments because it is aware of all the misery and horror in the world. Even the praise of Sade – so often cited in surrealist texts and characters in Luís Buñuel's films – must be understood in the context of this radically critical position. In a first point of view, nothing is further from the literature of the Maldito Marquês than the surrealist writings on love and revolution, and indeed they are. However, even if Sade was also claimed to be an author who scandalized and because of his relentless attack on religion, it is certain that his extreme pessimism in the face of humanity and of all order allowed an access point to the social criticism of the surrealists.

This celebration of love may sound ridiculously corny nowadays, given the expansion of the market for disposable affective exchanges, times of “liquid love” (BAUMAN, 2004). Even more out of fashion is the hypothesis of revolution. In its time, the courageous surrealist exaltation of love meant both a clear position of socio-political criticism in the face of the prevailing order, and a rejection of the prejudice that many revolutionaries carried, that total surrender to love would be a petty-bourgeois sentimental deviation, as if the type of the best proletarian revolutionary were those capable of strengthening themselves by emptying a substantial part of their own subjectivity[ii].

However, the adoption of this perspective does not mean that there was a discourse of the “revolution through love” or the “politics of affectivity” or anything like that among the surrealists, including many of them engaged in the divisions of the effective revolutionary movement of the period. They knew that if the problems of love, dreams and madness are also relevant to the revolution, it is because the social barriers (commodification of life, machismo, racism, etc.) that prevent conditions of existence fully favorable to the realization of amorous encounters between people. But it is not a question of referring everything to an idealized future, emancipation is the conquest in a process and, thus, in the course of the struggle, it is possible and necessary to build a new sensitivity and attitude towards everyday life, as anticipatory moments of freedom , albeit quite partial. In the constitution of the revolutionary subject, reason should not be opposed to sensitive experience, as a new “radical sensitivity” of recognition and non-repression is the source of a “new (socialist) rationality, freed from the rationality of exploitation” (MARCUSE, 1973 , p. 66/68).

Surrealism, through its sources and constituent parts and through the synthesis movement it produces, presents philosophical elements and artistic expression that are contributions to this revolution in sensibility as a necessary moment for the process of any communist revolution that is consistent as such, in itself. and for itself, in the sense of transforming social structures and everyday life in qualitatively different ways and not as the mere progress of what exists.

Without any hesitation, the surrealist historical group zealously assumed the legacy of romanticism. When this was the object of an official commemoration promoted in 1930 by the “powers constituted in France”, the Second Manifesto denounced the falsity of this appropriation, claiming surrealism as being of romanticism its “highly prehensile tail, by its very essence”, to whom he began “to make known his desire” (BRETON, 2001, p. 183/184). It was time for one of those celebrations that the powers that be use not infrequently use to express an attempt to manipulate and appropriate an empty image from which any subversive content has been eliminated, as surrealism itself later became an object (and it is not no wonder that the great advertising-media image of surrealism was associated with Salvador Dalí/ Avida Dollars – precisely who was expelled from the movement for being a mercenary and sympathizing with fascism). Surrealism's response to that official celebration was to assert itself as a continuation of the romantic worldview, which it intended to contribute to its self-awareness.

Romanticism, more than an artistic and literary style, is a vision of the world and an expression of protest against the modern process of disenchantment and commodification of life, which it does from the claim of values ​​and affections inherited from the memory or imagination of experiences of pre-capitalist cultures[iii]. This does not necessarily result in a perspective of returning to some past, and this heritage can assert itself as a utopian placement of a new sociability (LÖWY, SAYRE, 1993 and 2015). Since Rousseau, Fourier or William Blake, there is a whole radical and living tradition of left-wing romanticism, including in Marxism, elective affinities between blue and red, within which surrealism is inserted. Therefore, it is not surprising that the comparison and approximation between romantic love and revolution is such a strong presence in surrealist discourse.

A comparison that appears, for example, in Nadja's pages when the street riots are commented in solidarity with Sacco and Vanzetti ("that the most absolute meaning of love or revolution is at stake and implies the negation of everything else", BRETON , 2007, p. 140) or in Louis Aragon's response to the poll on love published in the last issue of the magazine La Révolution Surréaliste, on December 15, 1929 (where Aragon's comparison takes the idea of ​​limit as reference). Surrealists liked polls, which had very little to do with what became popular in the mass business media and which today can be found daily on the major internet portals. What moved the surrealist historical group in that direction was an ideal of transparency in the face of life and a provocation to open dialogue based on their very own reading of the instrument of self-analysis based on Freudian theory.

The aforementioned poll on love contained questions such as “what kind of hope do you place in love?” and “Do you believe in admirable love winning over sordid life or sordid life over admirable love?”[iv] From Inca America, José Carlos Mariátegui dedicated a small and beautiful essay to this survey under the title Surrealism and love (2005, p. 246/249), which demonstrates the universality present in the theme posed by the surrealist movement.

From romanticism, surrealism carries the idea of ​​total love, unique love, named “mad love” by André Breton or “sublime love” by Benjamin Péret. In Jacqueline Lamba's drawing, from 1944, which receives the title of Crazy Love, there is a paradoxical sensation of non-differentiation and at the same time individuation, because total love is the intimate, narrow and unmeasured unity of spirit and body, between two beings. Liame that goes through the notion of “convulsive beauty” (“Beauty will be convulsive or it won’t be”, says Breton in Nadja’s famous passage) and that in no way refers to a fixed aesthetic standard that perhaps an individual naively wants to believe that admire, but its surprising and surplus psychic effects, as Breton makes a point of explaining when he takes up and develops this formulation in the magazine Minotaure and replaces it in Crazy love. More than forty years later, Nicos Poulantzas formulates, in his last book, a maxim clearly inspired by surrealist thought: “socialism will be democratic or it will not be” (2000, p. 271). For surrealism, revolutions must also be total and historically desired in all their liberating effects.

This critique of reified life in capitalism and the search for elements of negation that appear in surreal moments are placed, in terms of aesthetic form in prose, by presenting the use of photographs as alternatives to long textual descriptions. The function of these photographs, in addition to attesting to the veracity of the events narrated by referring to existing locations that served as the setting and questioning the limits of the novel itself as a style, is also to express criticism of the descriptive character of certain naturalist-realist literature. "I'm just saying that I'm not in the habit of boasting about the null moments of my life", said the Surrealist Manifesto (p. 21). On the contrary, the surreal moments would deserve all the attention in his written narratives. There is, for example, no economy in the descriptions of landscapes of the Canary Islands in O amor loco and of the coast of Gaspésia in Arcano 17, but surrealist literature is not limited to merely physical reports, as the environments are intertwined with oneiric manifestations. And since everything that is placed in the surrealist text is somehow related, the very use of photographs also ends up complementing the sensitive representation of some of these moments, as in the example of the photo O ar de quem nada in O amor loco. It is undeniable that much of the best in critical literature happens precisely in attention to the null moments of alienated life, but the surrealist romantics were interested in the explosions of enchantment in everyday life and in the paths and clues capable of leading to these exceptional moments.

Thus, surrealism ceaselessly sought a theory of events in history, in which the categories of “objective chance” (hasard objectif) and “capital encounter” (rencontre capitale) were fundamental. Interest in what is hidden under the apparent unpredictability of major historical events is present in the most astute revolutionary thought, as exemplified by the famous metaphor of the “mole of the revolution” in Marx. Crossroads where the contingent, the necessary, the possible and the desired pass. The surrealist debate on the subject begins with a poll launched by André Breton and Paul Éluard to the readers of the magazine Minotaure: “Can you say what was the capital meeting of your life? – To what extent did this meeting give you, and does it, the impression of being fortuitous? or necessary?”, having been the capital encounter defined as “the encounter subjectivated to the extreme”. After receiving the answers, an attempt by the two authors to present some reflections follows, where Aristotle, Cournot, Poicaré are visited, to finally propose a provisional conclusion, inspired by the combination of Engels and Freud, that objective chance “ it would be the form of outer need manifesting itself, by making its way through the human unconscious. This overview is resumed in the pages of O amor loco (BRETON, 1971, p. 27/30). However, the category of capital encounter is not of the strict order of encounters between two individuals, it is also manifested in politics, it is a matter of friendship and love and of protests and revolution:

On the individual level, friendship and love, just as, on the social level, the links created by common pains and convergent demands, are the only things capable of favoring this sudden and resounding combination of phenomena belonging to causal series independent of each other. (BRETON, 1971, p. 45).

In the interesting surrealist vision of the dialectic, the capital encounters are moments of negative totalization of phenomena that move under different causal impulses and that become subject to a subjective attribution of meaning.[v]. These are moments of negative totalization in the face of the current order and which point to the real possibility of building new positivities. While Hegel mentions the much controversial “cunning of reason” in history (HEGEL, 2008, p. 35), surrealism adds elements to what could be called a “cunning of desire”. Although Hegel's philosophy is not alien to the question of desire, through which reason is expressed in history, surrealism presents another emphasis and other developments.

The term “objective chance” had already appeared in two previous works, The communicating vases, from 1930, with a mention of Engels' thought, and in the conference entitled “Surrealist situation of the object”, from 1935, with reference to Hegel's Aesthetics. In the case of The Communicating Vases, the bibliographic source is not cited by Breton, but it is possible that it had as reference the text Ludwig Feuerbach and the end of classical German philosophy, more specifically the passages in which Engels addresses how the structural contradictions of society go paving the way through and despite the apparent contingencies and intentions of the subjects and that, on the other hand, it is the contingencies themselves that meet for the conformation of what is necessary for a given historical course (1985, p. 406/411). It is a reflection on more general determinations of the movement of history, on which surrealism is inspired to add the discoveries of psychoanalysis about desire and the unconscious and with that think, from the most singular level, the encounters that represent a rupture or a possible rupture with established factuality.

Therefore, objective chance is more than mere contingency. Contingencies are in the world and are presuppositions, conditions, from which real possibilities and necessity develop as the presence of all the conditions that found a movement (HEGEL, 1988, § 142/149). But objective chance is not only the conditions external to the subjects, but also the responses, where the determinations of desire and desire are present as a determination, including the constitution of the subject itself. The manifestations of the unconscious, which so often appear as absolutely contingent, and which are not, as Freud finally demonstrated throughout his work (let us think, for example, of slips and dreams themselves), are included in this complex category that is objective chance, which is so important to surrealism. The whole that imposes itself on the subject and demands responses from him is the movement of nature and the result of the various human interactions that constitute social reality, as well as the objectivations transmitted by previous generations (the weight of past history). In this way, the encounters between people take place in some space-time of intersection between multiple causalities and affinities, on which the activity of the subjects attributes meanings and meanings, and objective chance, according to André Breton's metaphor, "is the geometric locus of these coincidences” (1994, p. 140).

The chance that produces capital encounters is a break in the course of expectations of reproduction of reified life. In a society dominated by the power of capital, in which there is a tendency to commodify all aspects of life, the non-mercantile close connection between two desiring beings is indeed unlikely, but even so it is possible and necessary in its temporal and spatial interstices. The same can be said of genuine movements of protest and social revolt in which one observes the insubordinate communion between the many individuals normally oppressed by the instrumental rationality of capitalist calculation and coerced into competition for sale in the market.

The capital encounters are counterfactual in relation to the repressive forces (economic, ideological, political) that dominate everyday life, but, in view of the mechanisms of conformist social integration, this is a reality that cannot be admitted so explicitly. Desires for social interaction need to be satisfied somehow, even if through manipulated images, transformed into a branch of the capitalist market like any other. Faced with the difficulties imposed by the social conditions at work, Guy Debord, agitator of a movement notoriously influenced by surrealism, mentions a “systematic organization of the 'failure of the faculty of encounter'” in advanced capitalism and its replacement by an alienated “illusion of encounter”. (DEBORD, 1997, Thesis 217).

It is not difficult to deduce that on the individual level this includes all sorts of deceit, self-deception and lack of communication, because the capital encounters are of the order of intersubjective relationships and not unilateralities (obviously, it is not denied here that love can be unilateral and so often it is, but not the real capital encounters). On the collective level, the illusions of the encounter concern all cases of reified gatherings that are devoid of emancipatory meanings (both subjectively and objectively). At the time of Debord's text, in the second half of the 1960s, the paradigm for him was that of the passive television spectator. The social networks on the internet would develop this illusion some time later, which involves manipulating the sensations of closeness, initiative and activity of the spectators, in a space also crossed by large corporations and divided into privately owned monopolies (although, as another aspect of the contradiction, the possibilities of subversive uses of communication in networks are real and not negligible). However, it is a mistake to restrict Debord's work to a critique of culture or just a critique of the media.

It is the point of view of the social totality itself that is taken as a reference, including in its urban and temporal spatial configurations, where the individual is reified as a mere function of the capital appreciation movement. Still in Thesis 217 of The Society of the Spectacle, Debord concludes, with pessimism, that “in a society where no one manages to be recognized by others, each individual becomes incapable of recognizing his own reality”. Despite the extreme pessimistic tone (and only exaggeration should be discarded), the diagnosis is placed in the tradition of thought that dialectically links the process of social knowledge to intersubjectivity.

An observation, however, must be made about desire, a very fashionable word in the philosophical vocabulary of the moment. The surrealists lacked desire as the alpha and omega of their approach. Surrealist radicalism is not in the consideration of desire itself. Any advertiser knows that desires are subject to manipulation by the ideology of directed consumption, as a basis for the realization of goods and the reproduction of consumption itself, either by the intrinsic qualities present in use values, or by the fetishism of goods (and brands) . Increasingly, the current capitalism of the flexible accumulation regime depends on the induction and manipulation of tastes, styles, identities, in short, desires and the corresponding serial mercantile production of differences through just-in-time production. Surrealism asserts the sovereignty of desire in the (dis)measurement of capital encounters and, therefore, exalts love and revolution, that is, encounters in which desire is not channeled as a power to accumulate things or to dominate others. wishes.

The caveat above is still important to understand that it is impossible to conceive of a capital meeting that is fascist, because, although fascism has historically gathered and organized masses from the primacy of certain passions, it is clear that, in view of all its repressive character, fascist mentality and practice are inimical to any principle of alterity. Despite the fact that fascism is a resource for the defense and development of the capitalist system through the hypertrophy of the mechanisms of direct physical coercion and the anomie of power, its concrete affirmation was not possible without the ideological reference to communitarian discourses (whether of nation, soil, race , blood, religion), as there has not yet been a fascism based purely on “capitalism as religion”, to recall a term that gives the title to an essay by Walter Benjamin. In the context of societies with masses made up of individuals placed in isolation and competition, these identity-based communitarian references, always accompanied by the paranoid selection of some internal or external “enemy”, function as elements that receive the social symptoms of anxiety/fear and the desires for social connection (NEUMANN, 1969, p. 296/329). It is the “illusion of the encounter” totally managed by the political and ideological power of the ruling classes.

It should always be noted that the chance that interests surrealism is what produces the capital encounters, because they are the ones that bring the authentic charge of the unpredictable, of the leap out of the temporality of reified life. Time in the order of capital is irreversible in its circularity of expanded reproduction, which materializes in the rhythm of production and mercantile circulation, of work and rest days (increasingly diluted to the detriment of the latter), of consumption, of the administration of the leisure, and is also irreducible from its appearance of ahistoricity. However, this does not allow us to conclude that every break in the sequence of this circularity is a crisis, nor that every crisis represents an upheaval in the order of domination.

Both the movement of capital and everyday life under its rule are crossed by opposing trends, discontinuities and breaches of expectations.[vi]. It is even verified that the function of law – as a social form – consists of stabilizing expectations in social relations, hence every growth in levels of destabilization of expectations, insecurity, forces the limits of law itself, promoting struggles for transformations, enlargements and deletions[vii]. Much more than all these factors, objective chance means a break in the probabilities of reproduction according to the expectations of accumulation, in which it opens the way, albeit in brief parentheses, for the practical disclosure of other possibilities of association. The capital encounters point to a “true state of exception”, to use an expression of the Benjaminian theses that is in vogue, being, therefore, capable of creating their own rules and founding a new existence. In this aspect, references to the unity between love and revolution are understandable, as they are analogous in the relationships they assume with time and space.

The revolutionary task, in theory and practice, is to constitute a break with the temporality of exploitation and oppression, with their movements of progress (or regression) around what already exists. What is sought is a total intervention in the face of time, which is to modify in the present, for the future, the catastrophic course of history, but which, according to Benjamin in his Theses, also turns to the past, because it redeems all the oppressed who succumbed. Comparison with love is more than appropriate. Love is based on the force of Eros (which, according to Freud, is the drive that unites everything), but as a concept, romantic love – as we know and imagine it – is a social construction, a historical development. And in this sense, a love encounter that is fully realized in its potency has a universal principle that emerges from that singular reality that was constituted between two beings, which is to do justice to all the prevented and failed loves of the past, in all times. of oppressive systems. Abelardo and Heloísa are redeemed, for example, as well as all lovers, anonymous or not, in history.

The geography of spaces, especially urban ones, is also fundamental for discovering the objectifications of chance and surrealist thought, Baudelaire's heir, is especially interested in the city.[viii] In the encounter between two individuals, the gaps in the corners and shortcuts of the given urban geography allow for other sensations and interpretations and in them can unfold games and games without competitors. In turn, in mass meetings, all urban space acquires new meanings, as the masses assume, even if momentarily, control over the plane in which the production and circulation of capital and the production and circulation of their own alienated lives take place. . With the capitalist development of the urban space, in the sense of the primacy of the automobile and loneliness among people inserted in masses, the places favorable to meetings appear more and more as gaps.

The surrealists will therefore defend a search, in errancy, for the signs that anticipate the capital encounters, because these are affirmation of the materialistically possible magician. Surrealist attention turns both to the waking state and to dreams and, in this sense, Breton defended the possibility of the “prophetic dream”, otherwise, it would be “denying the value of the movement” (2005, p. 20). In the dialectic of the surreal, external necessity makes its way through the unconscious, and subjectivity travels and opens its way in external reality. In this poetic journey of encounter, a praxis is required: “lyrical behavior” (BRETON, 1971, p. 72). It is a state of mind and a form of conscious intervention in reality that consists of attentive observation and openness to the reception of all these signs. The lyrical behavior allows the subject who lives the unique experience of a capital encounter to exercise a sphere of freedom in the face of determining social constraints (NADEAU, 2008, p. 158).[ix]

On the ethical-political level, the lyrical behavior could be translated and adapted as a combination between the effort of knowledge and being attentive and willing to solidarity and engagement in the various struggles of the exploited and oppressed that allow revealing the most frayed points of social contradictions capable of exploding and affirming new possibilities. In short, lyrical behavior as a radical unity of sensibility and reason, and the basis for the formation of a revolutionary virtù. Considerations that are easy to put into words, but difficult to carry out in the face of the totalitarian power of capital. But it is interesting to note that, in its heterodox ways, the surrealist perspective ends up being in this respect very consistent with Marx's thought, as it affirms a method that takes place in relation to a unity of theory and practice.

In this way, an effort to theorize about events in history must correspond to a praxis, an ethics, that interprets them and gives them meaning. Or, as Paul Éluard said, “surrealism is an instrument of knowledge and for that very reason an instrument of both conquest and defense” (apud BRETON, 2007, p. 124). And for the Surrealists, the fundamental ethical-political question is always the following: what kind of hope do you place in the revolution?

And as history is processes and events, capital encounters are the cause of profound transformations when they are more capable of establishing themselves in political forms with a strategic sense of permanence in a historical cycle. Capital mass meetings can establish themselves as founding moments and developers of political forms. This is the trajectory of the parties and radical movements of the masses, whose existence will always take place in struggle against impulses of repression and co-option emanating from the powers in force in the order of capital. The specters of those who fell by the way are a warning of dangers.

By thematic correspondence, Nadja (1928), The communicating vases (1930) and Crazy love (1937) form a trilogy. Chance and encounter were already the themes present in Nadja, even if only later theorized. At the moment when Breton, after leaving the L`Humanité bookstore and walking at random, exchanges glances with the passer-by coming in the opposite direction and with his attention taken by her eyes (in maiden hair), such as he had never seen, and by the dark makeup that outlines them, speaks to her and “she smiles, but very mysteriously and (…) with knowledge of the facts” (BRETON, 2007, p.65), a very significant encounter takes place from then on. Nadja is revealed to us as the surrealist heroine herself, “the wandering soul”, who by her behavior and sensitivity recognizes Breton with “knowledge of the facts”. Or is it with knowledge of causes? The narrative continues with the unfolding of this meeting between the city's environments, however love is not fully realized and the outcome presented is unhappy.

In her analysis, the poet Alejandra Pizarnik, after highlighting the signs of recognition immediately present in that first scene of rapprochement between the two, raises a very pertinent question when mentioning that this later non-realization occurred because the meeting would not have taken place when the arrival of Nadja was “necessary, but much later. Thus, instead of an exceptional meeting, a late meeting took place” (2016, p. 266). And it is Nadja who observes in a dialogue with Breton that “time is implicating because everything has to happen at the right time” (BRETON, 2007, p. 97). Late encounters or, what amounts to the same thing, encounters that come too soon, that get lost, by chance, outside the right time. The exact hour would be the exception, which would be true for love and for the revolution.

Just as love is a necessary encounter, does it not also somehow need to be invented (and reinvented, as Rimbaud said?[X])? And built? Because, as Alain Badiou (2013, p. 51) points out, “there is a labor of love, and not just a miracle”. And if for surrealism the capital encounter is the one “subjectivated to the extreme”, this essentially means the affirmation of subjects and their consequent capacity for intervention in reality. Only those who, to some extent, self-determine and establish interactions are subjects of their history, even if inevitably inserted in social and psychic conditions, external and internal, which they do not choose. And a new revolutionary subjectivity does not oppose sensibility to reason. If the meeting is just the beginning of hope, as Nadja pointed out very early on, which can be considered a complement to her statement about the right time, perhaps something more is required than adapting to events, not least because the tendency is for the mechanisms of reproduction and social repression return things to their normal order.

I'm not saying that invention can do anything in the face of the absence of the right time, but the identity between absolute necessity and absolute possibility is equally an idealist abstraction. In turn, so much more complex because they concern the struggles of social classes inserted in totalities of many unequal determinations and developments, revolutions, as a process and events, are their necessary conditions, their possibilities and their acts of political creation, realization of virtù . In terms of political militancy, a lyrical behavior towards life cannot be limited to opening up to the perception of what is only posed to us by the course of events.

According to Daniel Bensaïd: “Revolutions never come at the right time. Divided between “no longer” and “not yet”, between what comes too soon and what comes too late, they do not know the right time: “If the Commune [of 1793] arrived too soon, with its aspirations of fraternity, Babeuf arrived late”. And “if the proletariat could not yet govern France, the bourgeoisie could no longer do so” (Engels). In this gap between what is necessary and what is possible, tragedy strikes, that of the days of June 1848 and July 1917, or even that of January 1919 in Germany, in which Rosa Luxemburgo and Karl Liebknecht, the two great characters, lost their lives. of the young German Communist Party. Art of mediations, politics is also the art of the precise moment and the setback (2013, p. 63).

* Marcus Giraldes he holds a doctorate in law from PUC-RJ.

Text of the first chapter of the book Chance and mismatch: from the 2013 demonstrations to the 2016 coup, (Garamond).



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Jules and Jim. 1962. Screenplay: François Truffaut and Jean Gruault. Directed by: François Truffaut.



[I] Speech at the Congress of Writers, Paris, June 1935 (BRETON, 2001, p. 285).

[ii]. The testimony of a fine example, among many others possible, of someone who did not fall into this error is given by the letters of Rosa Luxemburgo.

[iii]. Surrealists were interested in the artistic expressions of traditional peoples outside Europe and in the ideal of medieval courtly love. Benjamin Péret, when he lived in Brazil (the first between 1929 and 1931, when he was politically active alongside Mário Pedrosa and was expelled by the State, and the second between 1955 and 1956), was fascinated by indigenous myths, candomblé and the history of Quilombo dos Palmares.

[iv]. To consult this poll, see the website of the National Library of France: , accessed on 99/17/01. A reflection on love in surrealism based on this survey can be found in Sergio Lima (2016, p. 1995/205). Still on the same subject, Buñuel (232, p. 2009) said: “One of the most famous surrealist polls began with the question: “What hope do you place in love?”. My answer was: “If I love, all hope. If I don't love, then none. To love seemed indispensable to life, to any action, to any thought, to any search.

Today, if I believe what they tell me, the same thing happens with love as with faith in God: it tends to disappear – at least in certain circles. It is tacitly considered a historical phenomenon, something of a cultural illusion. It is studied, analyzed – and, if possible, cured”. Since Buñuel's testimony, in 1982, the growth of fundamentalisms has contradicted the trend towards the end of religions, while the invention and widespread dissemination of clonazepam, among other drugs, is yet another step in the development of the technique of medicalizing love.

[v]. “It is as if, suddenly, the profound night of human existence were unveiled, as if natural necessity had accepted to form a single whole with logical necessity, all things acquired complete transparency, everything was linked together like a chain of links. glass with not a single ring missing” (BRETON, 1971, p. 55).

[vi]. I was recently able to see the impressive exhibition by the artist Marco Paulo Rolla, “Radical Daily Life”, which thematizes the breaks in everyday life surrounded by objects/merchandise.

[vii]. This sociological observation that law has the social function of stabilizing expectations is developed in authors such as Max Weber (1999, Chap. VII) and NiklasLuhmann (1985; 2016).

[viii]. According to Claudio Willer “objective chance is inseparable from availability, and from its consequence, the magical relationship with the city. The urban wandering of flâneur, transformed into value, a sign of willingness to restart life every day, is already propitiatory magic” (2008, p. 328).

[ix]. A different interpretation is presented by Peter Burger (2012, p. 121/122), who develops the criticism that the category of objective chance contains a kind of resigned view of the subject towards objectivity, as if, in the face of disillusionment with the reification of life in bourgeois society, the only alternative would be to surrender to the chance of an exceptional situation, which, although it is qualitatively foreign to the logic of rationality-oriented-for-the-purposes of mercantile production, is already present in reality itself, no room for invention. For him, objective chance should be interpreted only as an ideological category, important in terms of the position it occupies for the surrealist movement, as it contributed to the understanding of its intention to discover the unpredictable.

[X]. Incidentally, this is Jim's melancholy observation of Catherine: "she wanted to invent love" (Jules and Jim). The lyrics of the film's theme song are a beautiful image of the encounters and disagreements in the “whirlpool of life”. And, without a doubt, the verses of Vinícius de Moraes have a surrealist spirit: “life is the art of encounter, although there is so much disagreement in life”. Or even in the lyrics of Carta ao Tom which, by opposing the memory of the genesis of bossa nova with the criticism of the violent urban transformations promoted by capitalist development during the military dictatorship, launches the call: “It is necessary to invent love again”. Every romantic movement is an attempt to recreate subjectivities and intersubjectivities.


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