[ilds] heraldic universe and other animals

Marc Piel marc at marcpiel.fr
Tue Jun 28 08:02:16 PDT 2011

If i'm not mistaken Sartre stayed communist all 
his life!?

Le 28/06/11 16:44, James Gifford a écrit :
>> Pls let me know to better understand discussion what is a oxymoron?
> I was always told a "stupidly-clever bovine..."
> Military Intelligence, honest politician, or innovative academic.  A
> contradiction in terms.  In my opinion, the oxymoron is most fun when
> applied unexpectedly to stale turns of phrase, such as "sober second
> thought."
> I think the Communist Surrealist is oxymoronic, yet 'twas the beast for
> many years, and it carried over dramatically to the English until the
> late 1930s.  In part, it's also because so many of the Marxists of the
> West also didn't concede a unidirectional influence between Base and
> Superstructure (later said nicely by Raymond Williams), which was the
> position taken by the French antihumanists, such as Althusser (contra
> Sartre).  I know folks debate how to interpret the Frankfurt School
> theorists on that point, but my strong inclination is to see them doing
> the same as Williams, just doing it first.  If you've read them in
> German, perhaps you could comment (if it's of interest).
> Dada wasn't none of that..., but Breton brought in something different
> and was a different kind of animal.
> Best,
> James
>> Christine Trübner*//**//**//*
>> c/o Jugend- und Sozialamt der Stadt Frankfurt am Main
>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> *Von:* ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca [mailto:ilds-bounces at lists.uvic.ca]
>> *Im Auftrag von *Denise Tart&  David Green
>> *Gesendet:* Dienstag, 28. Juni 2011 09:05
>> *An:* marc at marcpiel.fr; ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>> *Betreff:* Re: [ilds] heraldic universe and other animals
>> Marc, to me surrealism and communism, certainly as the later was put
>> into practice, are mutually exclusive; oxymoron's as it were. surrealism
>> perhaps had more to do with anarchism, but more peaceful. Durrell was a
>> peaceful anarchist at heart, like many writers and artists.
>> so, the French still have a communist party? in Terra Australis they
>> ceased to be many moons ago. even the labor party vote is down to 27%.
>> May day does not get a look in, even on uni campuses these days; new
>> world order and mining boom. the Aussie bourgeois, those who are not
>> conservative, vote 'green' to feel better about their vast
>> carbon/resource footprint - adjectivally HUGE but at least we dump a few
>> veggie scraps in the recycling....quelle maleur..
>> Charles...send the Cunard to Sydney...I'll be on it, first class and no
>> adjectival icebergs..
>> You will be pleased to know that Dark Labyrinth is now doing the rounds
>> of my year 12 students; Durrell will live on in a new generation of
>> young Aussies but perhaps not quite with the same spectacular effect at
>> Brett Whitley's Justine.
>> Cheers
>> David
>> *From:* Marc Piel<mailto:marc at marcpiel.fr>
>> *Sent:* Tuesday, June 28, 2011 7:12 AM
>> *To:* gifford at fdu.edu<mailto:gifford at fdu.edu>  ; ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>> <mailto:ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
>> *Subject:* Re: [ilds] heraldic universe
>> Hi James,
>> I am always surprised to see "Surrealism" and "Communism" put together.
>> Sure that Communism was very attractive at the beginning to Surrealists,
>> especially because of Breton who stayed a very long time, but most of
>> the interesting Surrealists left very quickly. They quickly saw that it
>> was "locking" them in instead of giving them freedom. The most important
>> characteristic of Surrealism was freedom in the largest sense of the
>> word. Curiously the ones that stayed with communism were those that came
>> from bourgeois backgrounds and families like Breton. The same is true
>> today in France. The communist party still exists with about 1% of vote
>> and all from bourgeois backgrounds. I'm not surprised that LD did not
>> follow this movement.
>> B.R.
>> Marc
>> Le 27/06/11 22:32, James Gifford a écrit :
>>> Hi Bruce,
>>> I agreed not to post the article to any listservs, but I signed nothing
>>> regarding private individuals...
>>> As for Ian's edition, it does contain substantial cuts and differs in
>>> many respects from Wickes' work, but both are selected and differ in
>>> different ways.  Alas!  I use both and often go back and forth between
>>> them.  That particular letter also appears transcribed by Henry Miller
>>> in his correspondence with Herbert Read, but without major differences
>>> to content.  You'll find (in general) more material from the early years
>>> in Wickes but with different cuts than we find in MacNiven.  Both, IMO,
>>> have some wrong dates, but that's inevitable when the letters are
>>> undated and have no envelopes -- I'd expect folks will be tweaking those
>>> here&   there for many years as correlated materials   become available
>>> or are correlated.
>>> I agree that "duration" is important!  Miller included it too.  It
>>> signals the breadth of matters Durrell sought to unify in the Heraldic
>>> concept, which I don't think can be reduced to just one topic.
>>> For my particular point, I'd note that Durrell responds fairly overtly
>>> to Read's comments in his published speech (Durrell's copy came direct
>>> from Miller):
>>> "Surrealism will only be truly successful in the degree to which it
>>> leads, not to social entertainment, but to revolutionary action" (Read)
>>>      -->   [Durrell says he doesn't believe] "that [the artist]
>>>          wants to transform the world.  He wants to transform
>>>          men" (Durrell)
>>> "the Surrealist is naturally a Marxian Socialist, and generally claims
>>> that he is a more consistent Communist than many" (Read)
>>>      -->   "but I do not believe the rest of this stuff.  That
>>>          the artist must be a socialist, for example" (Durrell)
>>> "we must include all aspects of human experience, not excluding those
>>> elements of subconscious life which are revealed in dreams, day dreams,
>>> trances and hallucinations." (Read)
>>>      -->   "I firmly believe in the ideals of cementing reality
>>>          with the dream, but I do not believe the rest of this
>>>          stuff." (Durrell)
>>> If you set the two texts side by side with Miller's letters as well, the
>>> origins and sequence of topics stands our clearly.
>>> Only after those and other rebuttals of Read does Durrell finally get to
>>> "Listen, Miller, what I feel about it is this" and then his articulation
>>> of the Heraldic Universe (and then follows the only reference to Read in
>>> a rather unkind postscript, which would otherwise make no sense...).
>>> Notably, Miller's rebuttal to Read was very clearly a part of his
>>> anarchist politics, both in the letters (copied to LD) and his "An Open
>>> Letter to Surrealists Everywhere."  Two years later, Read finally made
>>> his own anarchist politics public knowledge, but not until then, which
>>> is why he was misunderstood as an authoritarian Marxist and Communist of
>>> Breton's mode at the time.
>>> My personal sense is that this context signficantly revises how we see
>>> Durrell's descriptions of the Heraldic Universe in his other letters,
>>> his description of it in /Personal Landscape/, as well as some of his
>>> ambiguous aesthetic devices and essays such as "No Clue to Living."
>>> After going through those, I've not been able to read /The Revolt of
>>> Aphrodite/ the same way...  I think, for instance, of the burning of all
>>> contractual obligations, the emphasis on personal responsibility, and
>>> the peculiar references to Zeno (see Kropotkin's Britannica article on
>>> "Anarchism" for that).  There's also LD's self-reference to his poem
>>> "Freedom" near the end of the book too.
>>> It's worth looking back to Wilde's "Soul of Man Under Socialism" as
>>> well, which relies significantly on Kropotkin, and which Read echoes in
>>> his first anarchist writings.
>>> In any case, that's occupying my attention at the moment, along with the
>>> print history of the subsequent ties to other authors with kindred
>>> ideas.  I feel it oddly important to note I have no sympathy for the
>>> American "libertarian" movement hitting Fox News so much at present...
>>> Best,
>>> James
>>> (BTW, the work in question from Read is rather hard to get...)
>>> Read, Herbert. "Speech by Herbert Read at the Conway Hall." /The
>>> Surrealist Bulletin/ 4 (1936): 7-13.
>>> There's related work in his edited book on Surrealism through Faber,
>>> which is easy to get.
>>> On 27/06/11 10:55 AM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
>>>> James, I'm in the dark, again. Could you post your article appearing in
>>>> /jml?/
>>>> //By the way, perhaps I've missed something again. On the topic of
>>>> "Heraldic" in the Durrell-Miller letters, why does MacNiven leave out
>>>> material that Wickes includes? E.g., in the letter of Fall or August
>>>> 1936, Wickes has Durrell writing, "I have discovered that the idea of
>>>> duration is false." MacNiven does not include this important statement
>>>> about "Heraldic."
>>>> Bruce
>>>> On Jun 26, 2011, at 8:51 PM, James Gifford wrote:
>>>>> I'm interested in where this leads!
>>>>> I argued last year in /jml/ that the Henry Miller - Herbert Read
>>>>> correspondence casts a new light on Durrell's most famous use of the
>>>>> term Heraldic in his letters to Miller. The gist is that Miller was
>>>>> criticizing Read for his promotion of Communism in his written works
>>>>> following the 1936 London International Surrealist Exhibition, and
>>>>> Miller was promoting his anarchist views contra Read's supposed
>>>>> Communism. Both authors were in contact with Emma Goldman, but Read
>>>>> only made his anarchist views public in 1938.
>>>>> In any case, the point is that Durrell's 1936 letter discussing the
>>>>> Heraldic Universe is, in context (in my reckoning), a point by point
>>>>> response to Read in Miller's correspondence (which Miller had been
>>>>> copying to Durrell, and in which he quoted Durrell's letter to Read).
>>>>> It also means the letter is probably misdated in MacNiven and was likely
>>>>> a month or so later than the estimated August 1936.
>>>>> In context, I contend the Heraldic notion carries a great deal of
>>>>> sympathy for Miller's anarchism and the anti-Marxist politics of the
>>>>> epistolary discussion. In that sense, the personal enacted in the
>>>>> Heraldic carries a very particular politics. "Personalism" seems to
>>>>> have followed in the 40s in London at least in part as a response to
>>>>> Durrell and largely as a development from Read's "Politics of the
>>>>> Unpolitical."
>>>>> This sense of the Heraldic Universe runs contrary to much of what
>>>>> already exists in the critical works on Durrell, so I'm waiting to see
>>>>> if anything more pops up that pulls it in different directions -- Warton
>>>>> could be important...
>>>>> Best,
>>>>> Jamie
>>>>> On 26/06/11 12:34 PM, Godshalk, William (godshawl) wrote:
>>>>>> 1774 T. Warton Hist. Eng. Poetry I. xi. 336 The pompous
>>>>>> circumstances of which these heraldic narratives consisted, and the
>>>>>> minute prolixity with which they were displayed.
>>>>>> Durrell was a student of poetry as well as a poet. Also he is known
>>>>>> among Durrellians for his references to the Heraldic Universe --
>>>>>> which has been linked to various schools of thought.
>>>>>> I'm wondering if Durrell might have come across the phrase "heraldic
>>>>>> narratives" in Warton
>>>>>> and later began to think of his own narratives as heraldic, and the
>>>>>> world that they evoke as his "heraldic universe."
>>>>>> Bill _______________________________________________ ILDS mailing
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