Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Ontological Friendship of Surrealism



When two people come together and form a Friendship, this Friendship evolves into a separate entity and takes on a life of its own, which is oftentimes more influential than the two individuals who have conceived it; this relationship exists within the realm of the Ontological. The relationship abides in the memory of those who bore it, as well as of those who witnessed it. The essence of Friendship is imbued with an individual existence that is separate from the two or more individuals who create the relationship. Therefore, it is possible to argue that the existence of the Ontological may be revealed through the incorporeal, yet perceivable nature of Friendship.

Maurice Blanchot, in his The Infinite Conversation, identifies the essential quality of the existence of Surrealism to be rooted in Friendship as the Other. Surrealism does not exist due to the created artifacts of each individual artist; rather Surrealism is the two or more who are gathered together in the name of Friendship.


“Surrealism—we cannot sense its destination otherwise—is and has always been a collective experience…making surrealism each one’s Other, and in the attraction of this Other taken as a living presence-absence (a beyond the day at the horizon of a space unknown and without a beyond), of living it with friendship in the most rigorous sense of the exacting term: making the surrealist affirmation, in other words, a presence or a work of friendship.

“…Were the surrealists, then, no more than a group of friends?...Surrealism is always a third party in friendship; an absent third term through which passes and through which issues the relation of tension and passion that effaces characters as it gives rise to and motivates initiatives and attractions. ”

Surrealism came into significant fruition only through the expressed participation of each individual artist engaging the group as a whole. From the onset, a variety of collective experiments were undertaken by the Surrealist. The grounds for which were made evident when the Surrealists crafted a poster comprised of 16 portraits, one of each artist with his eyes closed, encircling a painting of a female nude by René Magritte.

A possible interpretation of this poster is that the Surrealists are in a hypnotic trance, communicating with the ontosophia –a term coined in 1647 by German philosopher and theologian, Johannes Clauberg-- designating the existence of being only through the continuous conscious existence of an Ontic Being, where thoughts are often forced upon human beings.

Regardless of whether the Surrealists believed in an Ontological/Divine Being or not was irrelevant to their practice of creating occult techniques, in which external supernatural forces--possible evidence of the Ontological Friendship--influenced and guided the conscious development of their artistic crafts; by which was disclosed in their grand creation, the Surrealist's Friendship. The Surrealists’ prevailing designs were due to their participation with one another, and were ultimately manifested in the Ontological Friendship that wielded influence, through the whisper of the ontosophia, over the conscious expression of each individual artist within the artifact of the collective work. But the group could not maintain itself in the faces of success and fame; thus the suicide of Surrealism, but not the suicide of the Surrealism’s Friendship that resides within the magnetic memory field of the Ontic Reality. AndrĂ© Breton, by systematically excommunicating each member and ultimately concluding with himself, euthanized Surrealism in the natural world. And yet Surrealism continues though not in a new expression, but rather in our memories of their relationship with one another, which created the Third Being known as Surrealism. And it was this Surrealism that signified each individual member as a Surrealist, finding their significance in the collective Friendship; while the artifacts of prose, poetry, paintings, photographs, and sculptures were merely an expression of Surrealism; whereas, the actual existence of Surrealism was solely made evident in the Ontological Friendship of those artists engaging each other within the collective body and spirit forming a unified, singular entity separated from each member of the Surrealist, who by the very act and nature of their coming together created the Ontological Being known as Surrealism.

It, therefore, may be argued that Surrealism and Ontology are intricately connected, and that the bond of their affiliation is rooted in the Being of Friendship.


Localizing the free mandate of friendship within the Ontological. (Photography by Jim Lopez)

The following photographs depict two clothed men and a Third Being representing Friendship.

Photograph #1 portrays one of the men handing a toy rocket to the other. The toy rocket symbolizes the relationship and its propulsion into the unknown.


In the remaining photographs the incorpreal Friendship is given an unclothed body solely to illustrate the existence of the Third Being, who is the Friendship.




















Jim,

I like the general direction in which you're headed here. For the most part I am in agreement with the general hypothesis; it seems entirely feasible and indeed realistic to me to suggest that the Surrealists' friendship resulted in the existence of an ontological entity which has since transcended the concerns of those particular figures to become an being to be encountered and communicated with via "the magnetic field of the the ontic reality". As you point out, the entity of Surrealism is something which claims our collective psyche with an identifiable shape and texture of its own, wholly irrespective of the artists involved and work produced under its influence. Also, the evidence of unconscious contemporary Surrealists who do not discover their own links to Surrealism until at an advanced stage in their lives/careers is considerable, and might be taken as further evidence.

I consider myself of this mode for a start - I knew virtually nothing of Surrealism until independent studies of my own, post-high school, at which point I recognised the connection I already shared with those artists - that I was arguably expressing the experience of witnessing the ontological entity borne by the Surrealist friendship.
I also remember, some 25 years or so ago, David Lynch professing that he knew next to nothing about Surrealism prior to his filmmaking and only much later did he appreciate the relationship he shared with those artists - one perhaps forged by the ontological Surrealist being itself.

There are a few difficulties in defining this however; Surrealism was/is a movement based on the expression of the subconscious and, as such, there's no reason to be surprised that artists who pursue that impulse almost invariably produce work which is at leat quasi-surrealist in nature. Is there solid enough reason to think that any ontological being might claim a monopoly on these modes of expression? Or is human subconsious homogenous enough to ensure such accord without its influence? (I know this is moving slightly away from the main thrust of the piece, but if one's concern is to prove "that the existence of the Ontological may be revealed through the incorporeal, yet perceivable nature of Friendship" then the proof of those perceptions and the extent of them in a larger cultural context are worth examining).

I think you've argued the case here exceptionally well, but it does strike me that the statement "Surrealism and Ontology are intricately connected" may require some backup. I actually agree with the statement, but I'm wondering how one might prove or illustrate it in more concrete terms.

For instance, are there reasons why Surrealism bears a connection to the ontological in a way in which the products of other Friendships do not? To take an almost diametrically opposed example, is there any reason why the Friendship represented by the inner circle of the Nazi Party might not have resulted in a similar connection - a (heaven forbid) Fascist Ontological Being transcendent of the concerns and activities of Hitler and his co-conspirators? Could it be that the rigid, authoritarian nature of that kind of ideology negates such a connection to the ontological, or is that a facile assumption?

In other words: what specifically gave the Surrealists the advantage (if indeed they had one) in forging this ontological connection?
These are questions worth considering.

Bringing it down to our own sphere of experience: Are we currently forging an Ontological connection via Paraphilia? Could there be a Paraphilia Friendship Entity; a unified, singular being distinct from the individual contributors? It already seems quite logical to think so. Perhaps a little further inquiry into what kind of Friendships provide the most fertile ontological soil (and as such, why Surrealism presents such a fine example) might be in order.

Craig Woods

5 comments:

  1. Jim,

    I like the general direction in which you're headed with this. For the most part I am in agreement with the hypothesis; it seems entirely feasible and indeed realistic to suggest that the Surrealists' friendship resulted in the existence of an Ontological entity which has since transcended the concerns of those particular figures to become a being to be encountered and communicated with via the "magnetic field of the ontic reality". As you point out, the entity of Surrealism is something which claims our collective psyche with an identifiable shape and texture of its own, wholly irrespective of the artists involved and the work produced under its influence. Also, the incidence of unconscious contemporary Surrealists who do not discover their own links to Surrealism until at an advanced stage in their lives/careers is considerable and might be taken as further evidence.

    I consider myself of this mode for a start - I knew virtually nothing of Surrealism until independent studies of my own, post-high school, at which point I recognised the connection I already shared with those artists - that I was arguably expressing the experience of the ontological entity borne by the Surrealist friendship.
    I also remember, some 25 years or so ago, David Lynch professing that he knew next to nothing about Surrealism prior to his filmmaking and only much later did he appreciate the relationship his work had to that of the Surrealists - one perhaps forged by the ontological Surrealist being itself.

    There are a few difficulties in defining this however; Surrealism was/is a movement based on the expression of the subconscious and, as such, there's no reason to be surpised that artists who pursue that impulse almost invariably produce work which is at least quasi-Surrealist in nature. Is there solid enough reason to think that any Ontological being might claim a monopoly on these modes of expression? Or is human subconscious homogenous enough to ensure such accord without an Ontological influence? (I know this is moving slightly away from the main thrust of the piece but if one's concern is to prove "that the existence of the Ontological may be revealed through the incorporeal, yet perceivable nature of Friendship" then the proof of those perceptions and the extent of them in a larger cultural context are worth examining.)

    I think you've argued the case here exceptionally well, but it does strike me that the statement "Surrealism and Ontology are intriciately connected" may require some backup. I actually agree with the statement, but I'm wondering one might prove or illustrate it in more concrete terms.

    For instance, are there reasons why Surrealsim bears a connection to the Ontological in a way in which the products of other Friendships do not? To take an almost diametrically opposed example, is there a reason why the Friendship represented by the inner circle of the Nazi Party might not have resulted in a similar connection - a (heaven forbid) Fascist Ontological Being transcendent of the concerns and activities of Hitler and his co-conspirators? Could it be that the rigid, authoritarian nature of such an ideology negates such an Ontological connection, or is that a facile assumption?

    In other words: what specifically granted the Surrealists the advantage (if indeed they had one) in forging this connection?
    These are questions worth considering.

    Bringing it down to our own sphere of experience: Are we currently forging an Ontological connection via Paraphilia? Could there be a Paraphilia Friendship Entity; a unified singular being distinct from the individual contributors? It already seems quite logical to think so. Perhaps a little further inquiry into what kind of Friendships provide the most fertile Ontological soil (and, as such, why Surrealism presents such a fine example) is in order.

    Your photos are thoroughly excellent incidentally. The whole page is aesthetically perfect. Fine work all round sir.

    Craig

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  2. So you chose a toy rocket on the one pic to represent the future of friendship. Is there some kind of sexual significance to this phalitic toy? I mean one could have used a toy boat or even an airplane to convey the same meaning so one might...no MUST assume there is a sexual nature represented by this choice of eye con.
    OR am I just stating the obvious?

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  3. (This is a combined response to the original post and Craig's comment.)

    For me, the difference with the Surrealists was their keen awareness of this "other", this Ontological Being which originated from their friendship and permeated the work, whether individual or derived as a group.

    My understanding of this piece is that any friendship formed by two or more individuals creates this additional entity, which rings true for me. The friendship need not be founded on a positive goal, or even be goal oriented. The most insipid friendship, the moment it is entered into, establishes an entity that did not exist previously. In most cases, the birth of this intangible being is not pervasive enough to make itself known to outsiders, perhaps not even to those involved in the friendship...but it is there, nonetheless.

    The moment my mind perceives two or more people together in a way that suggests friendship, my mind ceases to see each individual as wholly separate. Instead, my awareness creates an understanding of what that friendship is, and how it relates to me, if at all. There is instantly an evaluation process that takes place, a dissection in which I subconsciously determine what the entity formed by that friendship means to me, whether or not I want to inject myself into it, whether or not to be envious of it or disregard it entirely. Either way, the Being stitched of any perceived friendship exists whenever I see those individuals together or think of them together, but almost never when I experience those people separately. This suggests that the Being is only prevalent when the friendship is engaged or witnessed, even if it is a past friendship mentally engaged by someone outside of that friendship, as in an artist tapping into the Ontological Being formed by the Surrealist movement. The artist may not be an active member in the friendship, but this does not mean that they cannot mingle with the Being that is alive and well for the very reason that artists ponder it.

    We all tend to approach a group of two or more far differently than we approach an individual. This is evidence to me that the formation of a group creates an Other, an often indefinable presence that causes us to approach with caution, to test the waters, to find out if we are compatible or not...or even desire compatibility.

    As this Ontological Being relates to the Surrealists, as with other groups who have exerted influence over a great many people, there seems to be a conscious awareness of it and an effort to grow it with intention. It is this intentional feeding of the Ontological Being formed by friendship that lends it more force, enabling it to take on a more visceral form, something outsiders become both more drawn to and intimidated by. The Surrealist's virtual disregard for individual achievement meant that the Being formed by the group held a more esteemed position by which each individual endeavor became more food for its growth.

    Great piece, it has certainly given me a new way to value the friendships I have formed...also allowing me to discover unrealized value in friendships long past.

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