Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Situationism, Surrealism, Romanticism

Perhaps the connection between Surrealism and Romanticism can be fleshed out through the Situationists, who were the descendants of the Surrealists. The Situationists believed in the "Revolution of Everyday Life", in the words of Raoul Vaniegem, against the empty commodification of consumer society, they believed in taking real life back from the Spectacle of the media/consumer complex and putting meaning back into life. They also believed in the necessity of an economic revolution that would accompany this change, preferring workers' self management and councils.

The Revolution of Everyday Life can be seen as the reinvention of everyday life, the reinvention and reinscription of meaning onto a previously blank slate, one that has been made blank but is not so naturally. In order to do that, new symbols, representations, myths, and ideas have to be manufactured that reflect the underlying experience and reality that exists beneath consumer society. This can either take the form of something purely mechanistic, such as what the Surrealists used in their techniques, from automatism to stimulate new meaning to other techniques designed to 'draw out' meaning from strange corners of life, or it can be less mechanistic and more Idealistic, more Romantic in other words.

To do it this way would involve a return to the direct, human, aesthetic, perception of meaning, putting it forward as a valid impulse, instead of constantly privileging radical self doubt....and it would involve expressing that and putting it forward on the understanding that although perceived by a mind limited by various cultural and historical/economic features, the basic meaning involved still in an Ideal way really does correspond to something that's out there.

This would of course be accompanied by the economic revolution as well. 

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