Surrealist Doodle

Surrealist Doodle
This was used as the cover of Karawane in 2006 and I have included it in on a number of bags and postcards over the years. Someone on the subway asked me if it was a Miro. I was very flattered!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Democracy, anti-intellectualism, and "proletariat" art

I am watching the Surrealist documentary Europe After the Rain. They are talking about Breton’s argument with the Soviet Union about whether or not Surrealism could be a good representation of the proletariat, being bourgeois art and all. Breton says that to the extent that culture is proletariat, it is not yet culture and to the extent that art is bourgeois it cannot be proletariat.

Now, nearly 100 years later, the irony is that there are entire generations, starting with the Beat generation and those who returned from the war under the GI Bill that allowed them to get college educations, of “proletarian” artists, of artists who have been influenced by Dada and Surrealism, who founded Fluxus and Conceptualism and all manners of avant-garde movements. This is Republicans’ worst nightmare and the reason that they are working so hard to defund education, to stop the teaching of critical thinking, to provide only STEM, not STEAM, to education, so that they can grow generations of educated drones who will do the technical work of society without trying to transform it. What once drove this country was not technical proficiency, but the imagination required to innovate. But that imagination comes at a cost.

Free-thinking people who can imagine other possibilities, will not accept attempts to control them. That’s why intellectuals must be attacked as elitists and made into the “enemies of the people,” much like what was done in the former Soviet Union to the dissidents: artistic, scientific, and political. We now have a “proletarian” art, even if we don’t have much of a proletariat, or working class, left in the United States. All people need to see artists, avant-garde or not, as being on their side, not being “elitists” opposed to their goals, but as allies, working side by side with them to achieve their goals.

The physicist Andrei Sakharov said, "Everyone wants to have a job, be married, have children, be happy, but dissidents must be prepared to see their lives destroyed and those dear to them hurt. When I look at my situation and my family's situation and that of my country, I realize that things are getting steadily worse."

We denounce any attempt to divide and conquer those of us who are not part of the ruling elite. We must stand together against the real enemy, not allow ourselves to be pitted against one another. The “first wave” of this coming together is art, is the avant-garde, those who will prepare the way of imagination so that we can return to creating, innovating, and evolving.

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