I was reading the Montevidayo blog the other day
when I came across the term “fake surrealism” and it reminded me of something, but I couldn’t remember what, and then a quick google reminded me: Theater of the Absurd.
I used to really love absurd theater, ever since Ian Hunter sang about it on Short back ‘n Sides in the early 80s. It was mostly a forgettable album, unfortunately, as his album just before it, You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic, though not an accurate use of the term, was his strongest work. How quickly things fall apart.
ANDRÉ BRETON (all in caps!), in 1924, from
(all in caps!):
“Beloved imagination, what I most like in you is your unsparing quality.”
Unspare me, then. I googled “Fake Surrealism” and the first hit was Montevidayo, but after I waded through a band, Infinity’s Fake Surrealism (!), and the picture (below) from a blog posted back in 09, I came across Eugene Ionesco. I was thinking of Edward Albee, but this will do.
Here’s a bit on Ionesco (just in case).
Eugene Ionesco, the late denouncer of rhinoceritis, “the malady of conformity,” and the father of absurdist theater, has, for almost three decades, been sitting in the Pantheon of contemporary classics. In the 1950s, when his plays were largely misinterpreted or ridiculed by established critics and intellectuals for their cacophony, ineptitude, pseudometaphysics, or fake surrealism, Rosette Lamont appropriately coined the phrase “Metaphysical Farce” to define a dramatic genre in which philosophical thought and political criticism were hidden under the wit and laughter of comedy. This dramatic mode was born out of the inadequacy of the traditional genres of tragedy and comedy to represent a contemporary world of mass killings, reification• of human life, tyrannical powers, and “police encampments.” The farce, the grotesque, the irrational, theatrical illusion, caricatures, and parodies contained a power of derision and a critique of language well adapted to “the humiliated physicality and ontological awareness of the post-Holocaust-Gulag world.”
Lamont, a loyal admirer and an insightful decoder of Ionesco's theater, demonstrates how parodies, caricatures, and the use of clichés function as the artist's irreverent debunking of the manipulating discourses of the world while intertextuality reactivates the most visionary texts of Western culture. The encounter of Shakespeare's Macbeth with the French comic strip Les Pieds Nickeles, for instance, results in a corrosive attack on political tyranny.
Not Surrealism, then, but Fake Surrealism. And then what? Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” springs to mind. Because that's what happens next. History is formal in that way.
Breton: It is not the fear of madness which will oblige us to leave the flag of imagination furled.
The point of this post (because points are necessary, the voices keep saying) is just to say my new favorite phrase is “fake surrealism.” It will take all the time one doesn’t spend to decode it. To construct a curriculum for it, and to call it Fear Studies.
Breton: Not so fast, there; I’m getting into the area of psychology, a subject about which I shall be careful not to joke.
Because whatever is, is as a form of action. It shows one how to use a hammer, even though a bronzed videotape of 2001: A Space Odyssey would be more fitting.
And who might the poets of Fake Surrealism be? Indeed. In my mind it’s not a derogatory term, the way American Fake Realism, in my mind, would be. It’s celebratory. Necessary, as position one of dance four.
Breton: What I cannot bear are those wretched discussions relative to such and such a move, since winning or losing is not in question. And if the game is not worth the candle, if objective reason does a frightful job -- as indeed it does -- of serving him who calls upon it, is it not fitting and proper to avoid all contact with these categories?
Such things are time-bound, of course. And later the ones at whom stones were thrown will collect stones from the piles around them to throw at some new interloper. “Because these things have meaning,” they say, “and that meaning is me.” Fake Surrealism celebrates the stones in the air.
I wanted to post Albee’s The Sandbox, and found this version (below) featuring the Übermensch and some pals, patting things down. No worries here. (I have my shovel and my pail.) Turns out it’s a whole genre of YouTube videos. Who knew?
3 mins 33 sec ( as title, the video is 3:34 )
There’s no telling where Fake Surrealism might lead us. I’m all for it. I welcome it.
Breton: Existence is elsewhere.