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Douglas Lain
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 06:48 pm:   

Why am I going on about Surrealism when I don't write surrealist fiction? It's mostly because I hold out hope. I hold out hope for surrealism, not as an art form, but as a praxis.

Here's a description of surrealism as revolutionary praxis from the USA Surrealist Group in Chicago:

Poetry as Praxis

The first surrealists in Europe, South America and Japan were poets who became revolutionists—without, of course, ceasing to be poets. For the Chicago surrealists—in vehement opposition to the dominant literary cliques and ideologies—poetry and revolution have always been inseparable. Dialectically developing Marx's insight that capitalism is inherently hostile to poetry, surrealism demonstrates that authentic poetry is inherently hostile to capitalism. Indeed, it is poetry, more than anything else—"the supreme disalienation of humanity with its language," as Philip Lamantia has put it—that prepares the climate of expectation and readiness for the actualization of the Marvelous without which revolutionary change is unthinkable. Poetry is erotic affirmation, the call of the wild, analogical thought at its most uncompromising, the refusal to submit, the antithesis of Literature. It ignites desire, affirms negation, expands the possible, advances freedom, foments rebellion, provokes action as well as dreaming, and brings us closer to a life in which action and dream are no longer regarded as being in irreconcilable conflict. For us, poetry is itself revolutionary praxis, and revolution is the process by which poetry is realized in everyday life.

http://www.surrealistmovement-usa.org/pages/forecast02.html
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JV
Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2005 - 07:32 pm:   

Admirable, but out-of-date. Sure, poetry can be revolutionary. But it's probably the most elitist form out there right now besides opera, just by default. Most of the population doesn't ever read a poem unless they have to.

If you want to be revolutionary, write a thriller from that point of view that'll be in every airport in the U.S. Better yet, write a song. But then you'll hear a hundred thousand reactionary right wingers humming it as they walk down the street, oblivious to the so-called "revolution".

JeffV
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AliceB
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 08:11 am:   

Although I have my doubts about the revolutionary power of poetry, I'd have to disagree with you Jeff that it's the most elitist form out there. That once may have been true, but it's more and more in the mainstream, especially with the advent of hip-hop. Just in the last two weeks both our local and alternative papers have featured poetry, poets and poetry happenings in the area, not for the first time.

Best,
Alice
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JV
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 10:54 am:   

Congratulations that poetry readings have been listed. So what? (He said in a friendly voice.)

Perhaps elitist is the wrong word--it doesn't carry a negative value for me--but "relevant" might be more...relevant. Poetry is less and less relevant even as it becomes more and more necessary, if you see what I mean?

Re hip-hop: see comment above re songs.

I'm not saying literature and poetry shouldn't strive to be revolutionary, if it is something organic to the artist producing the work, but that these forms may no longer be relevant in terms of speaking to large numbers of people in way that causes revolution.

JeffV
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AliceB
Posted on Friday, March 18, 2005 - 12:06 pm:   

Okay. I see what you're saying. But hip-hop, although mouthed by suburban white boys, can provoke controversy and dialogue in the communities where it's originally from--sometimes making headlines as the dialogue devolves to posturing and becomes violent. There's power in those words, even if, at the moment, they seem dedicated to the venal.

Alice
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Carole C
Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2005 - 01:03 pm:   

So why does saying Bob Dylan was a poet get you deleted?
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Douglas Lain
Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2005 - 12:50 pm:   

I don't know. I didn't delete you. Maybe you didn't click all the way through?

I agree that Dylan was a poet:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
 
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
 
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
 
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
 
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
 
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Oops. I thought you were talking about Dylan Thomas.
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Carole C
Posted on Sunday, March 20, 2005 - 03:08 pm:   

Oh, well, there's a connection anyway (as you probably know already!) as Bob Dylan took his name from Dylan Thomas.

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