André Breton, Ramón Llull, & surrealism revisited

"Lully is surrealist in definition." — André Breton

This is one item in a list of persons characterized as surrealist in a particular way. This can be found in Breton's "What is Surrealism?", a lecture in Brussels on 1 June 1934. Breton here recapitulates what he wrote in the first Manifesto of Surrealism of 1924. I just realized that I've already blogged about this.

But here is an additional reference, a post on Breton's penchant for composing lists:

Alphabet of the Magnetic Field: Breton Lists his Surrealists, March 10, 2013.

Breton was indeed were very adept at making lists and canonizing various figures on the basis of a perceived common characteristic conducive to surrealist preoccupations, a practice predicated on an arbitrary, authoritarian, and intellectually undisciplined mode of thinking. This surrealist taxonomic imperative is sometimes useful in archiving the curiosa of the past, but it is ultimately simple-minded, unsystematic, self-indulgent, and dogmatic, as the organized surrealist movement ultimately was. The Chicago surrealists were even worse than Breton, but they did dredge up some interesting material in their anthologies. Surrealism, as I've written elsewhere  (no revelation there), thrived on juxtapositions and novel combinations, hence my relating it to the ars combinatoria. List-making doesn't quite measure up even to that, but there is implied taxonomy in making lists, and hence that too relates to the topic.

See also my essay Walter Benjamin and Ars Combinatoria.  Also "Surrealism: The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia" by Walter Benjamin, 1929.

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