Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Surrealism and Romanticism

Both pursued similar aims. The Surrealists saw the world as it had come down to them in the  early 20th century as being devoid of meaning and boring, and so sought to reinvent or re-meaning the world, by devices from humor and irony to explanations into inventing a new mythology that would express the meaning of current society and of life in a more direct way. Interestingly enough, they did all this on the background of a purely scientific understanding of the world. In fact, they went further later in the century by talking about a kind of double revolution, that would consist of the economic or socialist revolution and then the surrealist cultural revolution that would re-enchant the world with meaning.

The Romanticists in Germany and elsewhere similarly wanted to find meaning in a world that Enlightenment thought had left pretty desolate. The difference was that instead of staying within a materialist paradigm they went full on into Idealism, taking Plato as their starting point and then going even further out.

Perhaps a kind of denatured Idealism, stripped of some of its more outlandish statements, can be combined with a Material and economic revolution in order to improve society. 

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