Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Festival is over!

Or is it?

Manifesto by Alexandre Fatta & David Nadeau
of the group La Vertèbre et le Rossignol
Quebec City

Who are we to invoke the spirit of surrealism, now, in the twenty-first century? Just a few poets and artists whose spiritual survival instincts first led them to reject the cynicism and impotence which hold sway in today’s so-called culture, and who then found in their dreams the best, perhaps the only weapons with which to struggle against the alienation of the neo-liberal society which grinds us down.

While we fully recognise that capitalist-spectacular society has added surrealism to its repertoire, we still do not believe that this (purely aesthetic) recuperation has neutralised the liberatory power of that human desire of which dreams and poetry are the messengers. We remain intransigently committed to this desire, in opposition to the despicable intellectual and moral forces of this sorry age which seek to render it obsolete.

And while recent decades seem to us to have been more cynical than those that went before, we are under no illusions about the impotent scepticism which has been with us for much longer. As early as the Surrealist Manifesto of 1924, André Breton summed it up: “This time, my intention was to do justice to the hatred of the marvellous which holds sway in certain men, to the ridicule to which they wish to condemn it. Once and for all: the marvellous is beautiful, anything marvellous is beautiful, indeed only the marvellous is beautiful.”

For surrealists, this “marvellous” is not limited to the artistic oddities which might emerge from the studio of this or that individual and which can still be found in museums nowadays. For us it is above all about that atmosphere of feverish discovery which animates our various collective experiments, and that peculiar complicity which allows us to play with the unconscious.

The marvellous, as a special practice of friendship, is the soil in which our utopias germinate and grow.

What all this meant in 1924, what it still means today, is a fight against the alienation of a society whose workings constrain the development of the individual. Surrealism has never presented itself as an artistic avant-garde whose only goal was to surpass previous artistic and literary styles. Its programme from the outset was to place artistic means in the service of inner discovery, of the development of “visionary” human faculties for the benefit, in the long run, of the whole of society; to give society the wherewithal to free itself from the ideological shackles which for too long have limited the creative potential of the majority, in order to make them serve the comfort and the excesses of an all-powerful minority.

We therefore affirm our revolt against the “realistic” attitude which has been forced on us since birth and which is based on a stunted vision of reality.

We affirm our hope for a world where the pleasure principle will take up its rightful place, increasing its influence in every sphere of life and society, from urbanism to chance encounters, from architecture to love.

Translated by Merl

Monday, July 30, 2007

- Vem är du?
- Jag är döden.
- Kommer du för att hämta mig?
- Jag har redan länge gått vid din sida.
- Det vet jag.
- Du fick svart!
- Det passar ju bäst så. Inte sant?

Friday, July 27, 2007

"if the work of another translates my dream, his work is mine"

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Chance Report: Official Call for Submissions

Chance Report: A Zine of Coincidences

Brandon Freels

Ever had a chance event, a fortuitous encounter, the noteworthy alignment of two or more events or circumstances without obvious causal connection?

Chance Report will be a zine/project devoted to the documenting and collecting of such coincidences.

I am currently looking for reports on such encounters.

The reports can be as short as you want, but please nothing more than 1000 words. E-mail them to me at bjf97267@yahoo. com with "Chance Report" as the subject title or snail mail them to me at 747 NE Webster, Portland, Oregon, 97211.

The zine will appear whenever the cup is full.

For those of you who don't quite understand just what a "chance event" is I give you this straightforward example I received many years ago from my friend Jessie:"So anyway, night before last i was hanging out with my neigbor and I mentioned in a whimsical wine-happy sort of way how nice it would be if we had a pot belly pig to take into the forest and hunt for mushrooms. Well interestingly enough, last night a fucking pig ran through my yard snorting. Now is that magical or what?!!!"

MERL: Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The Flying Saucers Have Landed

Eagle-eyed blog watchers among my friends will have been as surprised as I was this week to learn that I am a stalinist, a trotskyist, a defender of religious dogma, an apologist for murder, a fascist sympathiser, a gendarme, a sur-(neo)realist, a boy scout, a moustique domestique demistock, an eco-fascist, and (apparently) a torturer. Who knows? If we get lucky I might turn out to be an illuminatus, a member of a worldwide jewish conspiracy and a humanoid reptile from outer space as well. What fun!Such epithets have The author relaxing at home

come my way because I declared myself hostile to the political views of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, who were murdered in 2002 and 2004 respectively. I have already said – more than once – that both of those murders were despicable acts which I condemn utterly. Just because I am hostile to their political views, that does not mean that I either condone their murders or share the views of their murderers. Apparently this distinction is too subtle for some of my antagonists to grasp. Indeed not only do those “comrades” seem to think that anyone who opposes van Gogh’s or Fortuyn’s politics must be a fascist (and also, bizarrely, that anyone who disagrees with them must be a stalinist or a power-crazed ideologue), but they also seem to think that anyone who opposes religion on any grounds must therefore regard van Gogh in particular as a “brother in spirit”.Let’s recall for a moment who these two men were and what they stood for. Theo van Gogh was a Dutch writer and film-maker who was murdered by an islamic terrorist. During his life he was a social and political provocateur who launched scabrous attacks on all religions and political parties, supported the invasion of Iraq, and declared his admiration for the USA. He often liked to give the impression that he took nothing seriously, including himself: he presented himself as “the village idiot” (dorpgek) who was not entirely responsible for himself or his personal flaws. However there was one Dutch politician whom he did take seriously, and with whom he aligned himself clearly and enthusiastically, namely Pim Fortuyn. Fortuyn was a champion of free market capitalism who became particularly well known for his anti-immigration policies. He was murdered by an animal rights activist.Why have I said that I am hostile to the politics of van Gogh and Fortuyn? On the question of immigration, I am violently hostile to nationalism in all its forms, and I advocate the abolition not just of all immigration laws, but of all national borders. On the question of free market capitalism, I can only say that as an anarchist* I oppose it with all my heart, and I feel its overthrow as a burning necessity. When I joined the Surrealist movement I did so in the apparently mistaken belief that this movement, for all its many internal disputes and divisions (in which, after all, I’ve been a gleefully hot-headed participant myself from time to time), is at least united in its opposition to capitalism.My antagonists in this dispute, if I understand them correctly, have aligned themselves specifically with van Gogh because he attacked religion in general and islam in particular. Since Surrealists are also opposed to religion, they have drawn the simple-minded conclusion that van Gogh must therefore have been an ally of Surrealism. This is a false syllogism of the most elementary variety – and also the most dangerous. If they are content to align themselves with any and every attack on religion, regardless of any other political consideration, they may all too easily find themselves lured into the service of Surrealism’s enemies: racists, nationalists, capitalists, war-mongers and US imperialists.In all of this I have been putting the best interpretation I can think of on my antagonists’ motives. I am assuming that his anti-religious stance is van Gogh’s only attraction for them, and that they have chosen to overlook his other political views because of it. The alternative is that they really do share his admiration for Fortuyn, that they really are anti-immigration and pro-capitalist by conviction. If that is the case, then our conversation was already over before it had even begun.Anyway, now that I’ve got all off my chest, I really must get back to anally torturing my portuguese gardener in my gulag on Alpha Centauri.



*One of the few epithets my antagonists seem to have forgotten, amusingly enough.

Monday, July 23, 2007

About Time

by http://www.davidcorn.com/
After years of calling for the United States to attack Iraq (prior to the 2003 invasion) and after years of defending the invasion of Iraq and after claiming that significant progress is underway there, Bill Kristol
left on Sunday for his first trip to Iraq.
Which reminds me, in the editing process of my recent Washington Post
rebuttal to Kristol's article (in which Kristol claimed George W. Bush will win the Iraq war and end up a successful president), a line was cut. I had snarkily asked, "By the way, how many staffers and interns of the Weekly Standard has Kristol encouraged to postpone their journalistic careers and sign up for Bush's war in Iraq?" I understand how such a remark can come across as a little too personal and too sharp for punditry purpose, and I have no complaints whatsoever with the editing of the article. But there is a serious point here.
If one only has to sit in an armchair and bark out demands that others go to war, doesn't that make it a bit too easy to launch a military action? And if the war in Iraq is essential for the survival of the United States--as Kristol and other neocons contend--shouldn't they be pushing the people they know to sign up for the battle? When the leftist of the 1930s argued that the United States should support the Spanish government against the attacks of Franco and his forces, many of those leftists went overseas as part of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to help the Spaniards. They placed their bodies were their principles were: in the foxhole. Where are the young neocons and young Republicans these days? is there a Ronald Reagan Brigade out there? (Check out Max Blumenthal's recent and popular
video about the latest generation of rightwing chickenhawks.)
In any event, Kristol did all he could to make sure that American soldiers would lose lives and limbs for a policy he had been pushing for years. Seems to me that if he were a serious fellow, he would have been publicly urging everyone who qualified for miliary service--including relatives and workplace colleagues--to join in this grand sacrifice for his noble cause. But, as far as I can tell, he hasn't.
I wish him a safe trip to Iraq.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

found images & objects during surrealist festival

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007


I'm not paranoid, just experienced -- and wondered if anyone elsenotices the systemic de-stabilization (aka, interferring intrusion) of the once-free internet, now becoming the manipulable & monopolized, in form & content, insecure & unsafe, unreliable, cynicism-nourishingorganization- codependentizing means of communication. Thoughts?


Gherasim Luca: Reinvent Everything
Krzysztof Fijalkowski

Tout doit être réinventé
il n'y a plus rien au monde

For the history of surrealism, 1945 seems in many ways a year every bit as sombre as its predecessors. Far from ushering in a period of peace and stability, it found surrealist groups throughout Europe collapsing or in disarray: the Parisian group had yet to reform, still awaiting the return from exile of so many key members, and in the meantime had found that its position had been gravely undermined by the rise to power of Communist cultural figures; in London for example, the movement was already too easily classified as a quaint prewar fad, out of step with the new reality, and English surrealists soon grew disaffected; in Prague, Czech surrealists were quickly finding that open, formal activity would be an impossibility in the climate of post-war Eastern Europe.
We should take it as significant, then, that the period of 1945-47 was also that of the public appearance of one of the most explosive surrealist groups ever formed, three years of activity made all the more intense perhaps for the increasing certainty that its silencing was inevitable: the Romanian surrealist group of the writers Gherasim Luca, Dolfi Trost, Gellu Naum, Paul Paun and Virgil Teodorescu. All had participated in the Bucharest avant-garde of the 1930s, and had found themselves increasingly drawn to surrealism, thanks partly to the example of the painters Victor Brauner and Jacques Hérold who were to spend extended periods as members of the Parisian surrealist group. In 1938, Luca and Naum followed them to Paris, and though their stay was cut short by the outbreak of war they had seen enough to enable them to take the decision - appropriately, not in Paris, but on the Orient Express, heading east from Trieste [1] - to found a Romanian surrealist group. Though of course the new group would be totally unable to publish or exhibit during the war years, and immediately found all contact with surrealists abroad severed, it nevertheless led an active secret existence, and developed a number of highly original theoretical and formal directions which both extended and radicalised the European surrealism of the 1930s.
In 1945, the Romanian surrealists seem to have seized the very first opportunities for an outburst of public activity, given the circumstances publishing an extraordinary concentration of incendiary books and texts. A provocative, sometimes violent debate was opened on dream, delirium, love, death and objective chance, all configured within a commitment to dialectical materialism, the ending of class divisions and the assertion of man's fundamental liberty. True, many of these works had been written during the previous years of enforced silence, but the fact that the group lost none of this momentum of publications, theoretical debate and exhibitions in 1946 and 1947 (until the socialist regime took final power in December 1947, effectively terminating all possible further activity - Luca, Paun and Trost all eventually chose to leave Romania, with Luca moving permanently to Paris in 1952) strongly suggests that the group was ablaze. Just when surrealism everywhere was faced with its greatest crisis of confidence, the fated Bucharest group, in Sarane Alexandrian's words "the most exuberant, the most adventurous and even the most delirious within international surrealism"[2], dedicated to perpetual movement and determined to push their desires to a logical conclusion, sent out its messages into the void like distress flares.
For Luca alone, 1945 saw the publication of three crucial (and all, in a sense, until recently 'forgotten') texts: the poetic monologue Inventatorul iubirii (L'Inventeur de l'amour, which was accompanied by Moartea moarta (La mort morte), together the object of this study), the documentation of objective chance Le vampire passif, and, along with Trost, the key statement of the group's theoretical position Dialectique de la dialectique. [3] It is perhaps this last work that gives us the best overview of the context of L'Inventeur de l'amour. Written at a moment when its authors had still received no word in five years of the survival of surrealism elsewhere in the world, Dialectique de la dialectique was at the same time a mayday signal from a band of poets marooned in Eastern Europe, a reaffirmation of unshakeable fidelity to Breton, dialectical materialism and objective chance, and a challenge to the continuing existence of surrealism as a revolutionary course of action rather than the comfortable (and recuperable) artistic rebellion it had sometimes threatened to become in the 1930s. Luca and Trost had the temerity to warn the international movement against the dangers of becoming just another artistic style, and proposed radical new means to reignite the surrealist imagination: the critical approach to dreams, the rejection of existing artistic procedures, the promotion of eroticism as a concrete solution to class divisions, the ending of servitude to Œdipal impulses (Luca's theory of non-Œdipal being), the poetic appropriation of quantum science, and the perpetual reevaluation and reinvention of surrealism, "in continual opposition to the world and to itself". Enshrined in the text's title, its proposed methods, to be tested at length in Luca's writings for the rest of his life, was a dialectics taken to its logical conclusion - just as all desires and questions had to be taken to their very limit before a solution was possible: the means to finally defeat man's helplessness before the tyranny of his social, emotional and intellectual condition and the crushing inevitability of death, through the negation of negation.
One senses that the few more recent commentators of this and other Romanian surrealist writings often feel tempted to present their findings as characteristically delirious rhetoric, in the nature of exuberant or hysterical provocation.[4] But everything we know about the Bucharest group, and about Luca in particular, strongly recommends that these texts should be read for their absolutely serious, deliberate and often literal meanings, as not just moments of debate but as blueprints for a concrete action that the group's impending demise curtailed; in fact, as L'inventeur de l'amour insists, no action is ultimately worth taking that does not also risk one's own life.[5] Dialectique de la dialectique rejects all errors that "might distract us from our fundamental desire whose first known stage is the transformation of desire into the reality of desire", and two years later Luca's Le secret du vide et du plein demanded: "Replace the Real by the Possible and anticipate their confusion. Total confusion in the mental world, total confusion in the world of action".[6]
The appearance the same year of Luca’s book Inventatorul iubrii, published together with Parcurg imposibiliul and Moartea moarta, can be seen
as both a furious poetic extension of and an answer to the polemics of Dialectique de la dialectique (though of course, as we have seen, it appears to have been written initially several years earlier, and certainly predates Dialectique de la dialectique since the latter cites it). Together, they form what is unquestionably one of the most extraordinary texts of any surrealist group of the period, but it was also apparently (and perhaps not coincidentally) one of the very last texts to be worked on by Luca, since he had prepared a new version for publication by José Corti, in French, shortly before his death; inevitably it is likely to be this edition which will enjoy the widest circulation and attention.[7]
L'inventeur de l'amour is, however, itself also a polemical and theoretical text, alternating conceptual considerations with both the delirious reverie they incite and (in La mort morte) accounts of resulting concrete actions. The French edition published by Corti presents all three of its texts (L'inventeur de l'amour, La mort morte and the Appendice) in broken lines of poetry, without punctuation. The original, Romanian edition, however, presented these texts as prose pieces (as was true for Luca's other writings of the 1940s), which would thus have made them more readily readable as a theoretical rather than purely poetic work (indeed, at one point L'inventeur de l'amour derisively points out that "le poète le plus illuminé me semble une excroissance tout aussi purulente que le banquier cupide").[8] This deliberate change in format by Luca has the effect of helping to reclaim and reintegrate one of his 'lost' Bucharest prose writings of the 1940s back into the body of poetic work elaborated in Paris from the 1950s onwards (since these too share this sparse, unpunctuated poetic form) as well as of underlining a dialectic between poem and theoretical text, but it tantalisingly suggests as well that we might now also want to read his later poems as prose manifestoes.[9]
Indeed, it is tempting to see the French publication of L'inventeur de l'amour as not only Luca's definitive manifesto, one that reconciles poetic insight and form with desperate revolutionary ardour, but as itself part of a chain of dialectical progression and resolution. As part of the trilogy of his most significant texts published in 1945, it reconciles the concrete / imaginative reverie of Le vampire passif with the diamond-hard statements of Dialectique de la dialectique, but more strikingly still the French edition proposes a three-part work that itself suggests a complex dialectical structure. Its texts present, in order, the intellectual problem of how to escape the prison of Œdipal relations by the cataclysmic deconstruction of the self through love; a physical confrontation with the death that still cheats us of freedom despite the promise of this erotic liberation; and a summation that both reflects critically on these experiences and demands that we must push despair and rejection to their very limits, "dans une position pessimiste illimitée mais pérpetuellement voluptueuse devant l'amour" as the only way to denounce and transform the world. The first two texts, though quite different in form, can be seen in many ways to mirror each other: thus for example L'inventeur de l'amour is a discourse on the reinvention of love but begins on a sombre note of suicide, while La mort morte, which is precisely about suicide, commences with an ecstatic moment of mental and physical erotic pleasure. The shorter final Appendice (which itself speaks of "la déchirante confrontation de deux dialectiques contraires", which we might read as those of love and of death) both attempts indirectly to resolve its predecessors and to evaluate the genuine possibility of living out a non-Œdipal reality.
But L'inventeur de l'amour is not a manifesto like any that we have seen before. It is violent and lucid, but it is also utterly despairing and confounding, threatening its own collapse at every moment in a landslide of images, a hall of mirrors of negations: "En effet," he writes in the Appendice,

une solution favorable ne pouvait surgir que de l'intérieur d'une position extrême, là où la confrontation dialectique est poussée jusqu'à la manie, jusqu'à la plus invraisemblable, la plus délirante des vérifications.

For what it is worth, this is a book that looks extraordinarily out of its time, decades ahead of far more celebrated writings (notably Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Œdipe, prefigured twenty-seven years earlier by Luca's Non-Œdipal theory, but one also thinks for example of the works of Reich and Marcuse), with a delirious form that both anticipates and cuts to ribbons all the 'schizophrenic' postmodern critical theory so much in vogue in the world's universities today.

Luca presumably saw the key text of the three to be L'inventeur de l'amour, since its name gives the book its title. The 'invention' here, as Luca makes clear, is not at all a claim to have made or discovered love (as some commentators have implied), but to insist on the endless re-invention of desire, of its object in the loved individual, and thus of the self and of the world. But this reinvention of love, its inscription not as a pale bourgeois pleasure but as a paroxysm at the limits of the possible, is both real and spectral at the same time, constantly in flux. In it, all promiscuities and perversions are justified (it is clinging to the pathetic ritual of "ces exercises amoureux où un homme et une femme se cramponnent l'un à l'autre pour réfléchir mutuellement le néant" that appears as the only real perversion), but they are just the beginning of the reinventions to come - though Luca is far from simply making a familiar call for a revision of morality. And in it, the object of desire takes on an ambiguous being: now an actual woman, now a bewitched and exploded body in pieces to be reassembled, now just an echo of the real object of desire, "une femme non-née", an ideal but forever elusive woman "dont la raison d'être est de n'être jamais rencontrée". But above all, it is in the freeing of the individual from the tyranny of Œdipal relations - the castrating shadow of the father, as well as the paralysing memory of the trauma of birth - that the 'desire for desire' can finally be realised. Nature (biology) and memory are the motors driving this Œdipal paralysis, and they must be rejected at all cost. Dialectique de la dialectique clarified these demands:

The necessity to discover the love which might overthrow social and natural obstacles unhindered leads us to a non-Oedipal position. The existence of the trauma of birth and of oedipal complexes, as discovered by Freudian theory, constitute the natural and mnemonic limits, the unfavourable unconscious wrinkles which unbeknownst to us control our attitude towards the outside world. We have formulated the problem of the complete release of man (Gherasim Luca: L'inventeur de l'amour) adding as its condition the destruction of our initial Oedipal position.

But this unleashing of desire aimed not only at the self-realisation of the individual, but was also an integral part of the actualisation of revolution (even genuine revolutionary leaders, Luca and Trost explain, are defeated by Œdipal relationships, an observation repeated in the Appendice):

This dialecticised and materialised love constitutes the revolutionary relative-absolute method revealed to us by surrealism, and in the discovery of new erotic possibilities that go beyond social, medical or psychological love, we can attain a grasp of the first forms of objective love. We believe that, even in these most immediate forms, the unlimited eroticisation of the proletariat constitutes the most precious promise to be found to assure the latter, in the miserable age we are living through, a real revolutionary development. (Dialectique de la dialectique)

Without the radical move to a non-Œdipal position, Dialectique de la dialectique makes clear, the proletariat will never free itself from the deep-rooted complexes that will always make its victories illusory. L'inventeur de l'amour starts to set out how this might be achieved at an individual level, but even if it is not clear how they proposed to enact such a liberation at a social level, it is obvious that the Romanian surrealists intended the notions of the objectivisation of love and the eroticisation of the proletariat as concrete (rather than purely imaginative) surrealist objectives.[10] As we have seen, L'inventeur de l'amour was written over the course of the early 1940s, and the context of its debate could be seen as that of the Parisian surrealism of the previous decade, the group that Luca had approached and then lost sight of in 1938-40. In many ways, in its daring dialectical marriage of a violently erotic, poetic delirium and of trenchant revolutionary theory, L'inventeur de l'amour might be read as an attempt to reconcile and move forward some of the major internal divisions and debates that the Parisian group of the 1930s had such difficulty in resolving, debates whose natural course was preempted by the war.[11]

In comparison to the paroxysm of L'inventeur de l'amour, La mort morte offers up quite a different kind of reinvention of the self. Where the first is social, transformational, boundless, the second is intensely individual, confined (in it the author refuses all contact with the world outside his room), opening onto the abyss: a confrontation with death. After an introductory section, Luca presents us with five successive daily suicide attempts: by strangulation, by firearm, by stabbing, by poisoning, by not breathing. Each terse account consists of a suicide note, along with an enigmatic handwritten message written with the left hand during the attempt, while watching himself in a mirror, and notes taken immediately after the attempt had failed. Once again, everything we know about Luca suggests that this is not a set of fictions, and we should agree with Sarane Alexandrian that these are genuine (and genuinely dangerous) experiences.[12] This is not to say that the experiment is not without its humour (though it is hard to imagine a blacker kind), and indeed the introductory text indicates that it is in humour that any conquering of the trauma of death might be found. The text is also not only ruthlessly self-critical, it is also haunted by an attitude of the most extreme anguish and despair, deliberately pushed to their limits; more specifically, the "desolation-panique" and "catalepsie morale" in the face of the "vide théorique", the apparent failure of Luca's previous attempts (by implication L'inventeur de l'amour's attempts) at a dialectical resolution of being, and a despair in the face of love.
Death, Luca writes (and despite the ecstatic liberation of desire promised by L'inventeur de l'amour), is the ultimate obstacle that haunts our desires and the objects around us, the space of black magic and of terror, "oppression, tyrannie, limite, angoisse universelle, en tant qu'ennemie réelle, quotidienne, insupportable, inadmissible et inintelligible". And its problem is not an intellectual one, the mere mystery of its "dimension philosophique", but its real, physical existence: the problem of one's own disappearance. It is the death promised to all by birth, even more dreadful than the birth and paralysing complexes that makes all love under the sign of Œdipus already fatal.

La mort que je contiens comme une nécessité, comme la soupape du désespoir, comme une réplique de l'amour et de la haine comme une prolongement de mon être à l'intérieur de ses propres contradictions.

Only through the prolongation of this necessary death, not through its denial but through its dialectical negation, can a first victory be won over this "Paralytique Général Absolu". As the text's title, and even the name of its publisher Editura Negatia Negatiei, make clear, the solution of the negation of negation is the only means not so much to cheat death as to transform it into a place of liberty and endless desire. As Dialectique de la dialectique would claim,

This continually revolutionary state can only be maintained and developed by a dialectical position of permanent negation and of the negation of negation, a position which might be capable of the greatest imaginable extension towards everything and everyone.

And its text would end:

Crossed night and day by an infinite series of ever more provocative, ever more precious and devouring negations, the unequalled instrument of conquest that is dialectical materialism insanely exalts our insatiable hunger for reality, ferociously gnawing at the black and captive flesh of man. Covered in blood, his palpitating bones now seem to be long hanging crystals.[13]

The fifth and final suicide attempt of La mort morte is in some ways the most symbolic, since in it Luca tries to kill himself by not breathing. "Si je ne donne pas signe de 'vie' pendant un mois", the suicide note reads, "sache qu'on meurt comme pourrit un oignon, une chaise, un chapeau." But it is precisely this attempt "par l'impossible" that has

une valeur théorique colossale à cause de mes tentatives continuelles de renverser par l'impossible le traumatisme natal, dont l'absolue fatalité me semble inadmissible parce que non dialectique.

This final attempt, characterised by a state of mental euphoria, has succeeded, impossibly, in filling the "vide théorique", in opening on to a death that is at last dialectical, capable of resolution.
We may well hesitate to read Luca's final actions, in 1994, as a last dialectical resolution. Not long before, he had been working on the new French edition of L'inventeur de l'amour, itself a work of desire, despair and their desperate reconciliation, a set of burning texts from 1940s Bucharest that now themselves could be reclaimed and reinvented within the work of a Parisian poet. On February 9 1994, Luca wrote to his companion to tell her that he was going to throw himself into the Seine; his body was not found until exactly a month later.

S'il est vrai, comme on le prétend
qu'après la mort l'homme poursuit
une existence fantomatique
je te ferai savoir
(La Mort morte)

1. Rémy Laville, quoted in Petre Raileanu, 'L'Avant-garde roumaine', Le Rameau d'or, no. 2, 1995, p.66. Accounts of the history of surrealism in Romania may be found in this extended article, in L.M. [Luc Mercier] 'Le surréalisme en Roumanie', Iztok, no.11 (September 1985), pp.3-11, and in Ion Pop, 'Surréalisme roumain et dialogue européen', Mélusine, no.14 (1994), pp.209-20.

2. Sarane Alexandrian, Le surréalisme et le rêve (Paris: Gallimard, 1974), p.221.

3. The text of Inventatorul iubirii is dated 24 October 1942, and Le vampire passif describes events from 1940 but may well have been written later; Dialectique de la dialectique appears to have been written in 1945. The Bucharest group initially published in Romanian, but the fact that many works from 1945 were written in French (apparently without sacrificing any of the ferocity of their prose), as were almost all its texts thereafter, suggests that a deliberate decision intervened that might help both distance the group from other Romanian avant-gardes, and explicitly address a French audience - the Parisian surrealists. But all these publications were in small self-published editions, and even if comrades in Paris had been open to the sometimes deliberately extreme or critical positions of a text like Dialectique de la dialectique, the Parisian group (to which André Breton did not return until May 1946) was itself scarcely in a position to respond until too late.

4. Thus one finds for example Ion Pop (op.cit, p.218) describing Trost's revisions of Freudian models of the unconscious as "excessive" and qualifies Dialectique de la dialectique's proposals for objective love and the eroticisation of the proletariat with condescending exclamation marks.

5. Petre Raileanu points out ('"La dialectique demoniaque": Le parcours roumain de Gherasim Luca', Mélusine, no.15 (1995), pp.299-308 (p.306)) that by the 1940s Luca writes only literally, never figuratively. I would propose that in fact all of his subsequent poetic texts of the next fifty years should also be understood in this way.

6. Collection Infra-Noir, Bucharest 1947, p.2; facsimile reprint La maison de verre, Paris 1996.

7. This second French edition omits the second of the original three texts in Romanian, Parcurg imposibilul (I Roam the impossible), an exploration of mediumistic love. The forthcoming translation by Julian Semillian from Romanian into English of The Inventor of Love (Green Integer Press) will include all three.

8. E-mail correspondence from Julian Semillian, November 2005. In a letter to Sarane Alexandrian dated June 1947, Luca would qualify his book as a radical reconciliation of love and revolution containing ‘the outline of a theoretical and practical mechanism of a TOTALITARIAN deliverance through love’ (cited in Petre Raileanu, Gherasim Luca (Paris: Oxus, 2004), p.143).

9. This also raises the question of Luca's Premier manifeste non-œdipien, cited in Dialectique de la dialectique, but which does not figure in his bibliographies and is described as lost in the Corti edition of L'inventeur de l'amour (inside back cover). Sarane Alexandrian suggests that Luca considered Inventatorul iubirii to be his first non-Œdipal manifesto ('Le poète parti sans repartir', Supérieur inconnu, no.5 (October-December 1996), pp.71-78 (pp.73-74)), but Dialectique de la dialectique clearly distinguishes them. What if, as seems possible after comparing it to the the brief description the latter gives of the Premier manifeste, the Appendice to L'inventeur de l'amour was none other, in part or in whole, than this missing text ?

10. The pamphlet accompanying the exhibition L'Infra-Noir (Bucharest, September 1946, reprinted La maison de verre, Paris 1996) launched an enquiry ('Une question') on the possibilities of "conquering the means to make love to the world", reaffirming that "Poetry, love and revolution are all one". One can imagine that in 1946 the responses to this challenge would be few, but a letter from Luca to Georges Henein in 1947 (reprinted in Le puits de l'ermite, no. 29/30/31 (1978), p.164) makes it clear that the group had hoped for constructive answers from international surrealists to this central question.

11. To simplify enormously, many of the Parisian group's most serious obstacles during the 1930s sprang from its need to assert a coherent revolutionary position in the light of the rise of Stalinism (and the consequent defections of Aragon and Eluard) on the one hand, and on the other the desire to channel and exploit the 'hysterical' imagination of individuals like Dali (who, far from accepting the need for a revolutionary attitude, was increasingly displaying reactionary sympathies). Luca's writing of the 1940s might be interpreted precisely as reconciling the revolutionary poetic lucidity of Breton with the delirium of Dali's texts.

12. Alexandrian, Surréalisme et rêve, op.cit., p.228.

13. Dialectique de la dialectique does not refer to La mort morte or directly discuss its argument, either as though the death it confronts should remain that 'unnameable' thing within surrealist theory, or as though the group had, in the meantime, recoiled from making it a central tenet of their ideas. The themes of both L'inventeur de l'amour and La mort morte, its motifs of sacrilege and violent love, its evocations of the graveyard and the earthquake, are all strongly reminiscent of the writings of Georges Bataille. While Bataille seems never to have suggested that he was aware of Luca's book (and, if he was, it would be surprising that he did not refer to it), we do not know how much, if anything, Luca might be expected to know of Bataille's writings up to 1940.



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'Killer' Wasps Menace State Department

WASHINGTON (AP) - As if the insurgency in Iraq and the fight against terrorism wasn't enough, U.S. diplomats are now struggling with a new threat: menacing "killer" wasps that have infested areas around the State Department's headquarters.

Large numbers of the fearsome looking insects, which can grow to about two inches, are congregating in the vicinity of State's Harry S. Truman building and causing distress to employees, according to an internal memorandum obtained by The Associated Press.


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