By Adrian Carr, Philip Hancock (eds.)
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227) came to describe this wondrous revelation carried in surrealism as ‘profane illumination’. He also reinforced that the act of reflection in the medium that is the work of art and the link to philosophy, when he observed that ‘all genuine works have their siblings in the realm of philosophy’ and that our task in understanding the work of art is to reveal the ‘virtual possibility of formulating the work’s truth content’ (Benjamin, 1922/1997a, pp. 333, 334). For Benjamin and Marcuse, in the surrealist movement the estrangement-effect becomes an artistic–political reflective device only to the extent that the estrangement can be maintained ‘to produce the shock which may bare the true relationship between the two worlds and languages: the one being the positive negation of the other’ (Marcuse, circa unknown/1993, p.
This is such a fundamental theme of postmodern thinking that one writer concludes ‘the connection between … thinkers and theories of postmodernity has mainly to do with their announcements of the “death of man” (Foucault), or the “death of the subject” (Derrida), or the “death of the author” (Barthes)’ (Kumar, 1995, p. 129). The individual is a part of the text and not first and foremost its subject. Indeed, we find the parallel in the surrealist movement in as much as Breton (1930/1969b), at one stage, even contemplated encouraging surrealists to remove their name from ‘their’ works as he feared that being able to Adrian Carr 25 identify the ‘author’ would colour interpretation and too closely tie them to the world.
Equally, it might also be instructive to look at other ‘surrealist movements’ in other fields to understand and explore new approaches. For example, it has very recently been suggested that in the field of literature, magic realism might be similarly productive (see Carr, 2001b). Magic realism, as the name implies, is a form of representation that juxtaposes reality and fantasy. Although originally a form of art, it gains its more elaborate evocation in writing of a group of writers that reside in Latin America, most notably Gabriel García Márquez, Octavio Paz and Carlos Fuentes.
Art and Aesthetics at Work by Adrian Carr, Philip Hancock (eds.)