Production or creative economy
[From “The Surrealist Civilization” Vratislav Effenberger – Payot, 1976 – Pages 157 to 159]
Faced with a “civilization” that flourishes in full fiction, and perpetuates itself through the frustrations it engenders if not in the “misfortunes of war”, Dadaism was an explosive protest. Surrealism is and remains the permanent criticism of this luxuriously formalized barbarism, whose essential traits have gone through unaltered historical disasters and where the reduction of the use value goods to exchange values is accelerated by the increasingly complex tools of economic power, The possession of cars takes precedence over the need to move, as well as drugs or pornography over desire, a constraining symbolism moves the point of application of any need and desire and, to the extent that it only gives access to a fictitious realization, puts itself at the service of death.
The needs, the practical necessity, are expressed in terms of rationality, but rationality only borrows its prestige from desire and only invades the whole field of psychosocial expression with the support of a considerable mobilization of the instinctive powers of the unconscious, that is to say by putting the pleasure principle under supervision. Reality, pleasure … on the tension between the instances that bear these names and on the history of their duel, depends the objective evolution of what are called the vital needs, which are eminently variable according to places and hours, as well as according to the evolution of instinct and its manifestations.
Like need, which is subject to rationality, desire, which is irrational, takes substitutive forms where its finality, which measures its use value, disappears behind its conventional value in the scale of social prestige and becomes formal value. The universe of civilized formalisms relies on these mutations of desires into purported needs which are immediately related to “objective reality”, so that their original defect is erased: for a large part, they come from irrational worlds, they are desires to which no other expression mode is offered, except that of rationality, and no other code than the official language. This example would suffice to demonstrate the inanity of the duality of the rational and the irrational ; this duality is only an instrument of the polemic discourse of positivism, at the end of which all that is, is presented as rational , and all that is irrational is presented as not being at all. If we seek to resolve this duality by sealing unions as paradoxical as the rationality of the irrational or the irrationality of the rational, the puerile, monstrous, sophistic character of these identifications would not be less obvious. What in fact arises from the positivist dualism, is a dysfunctional rationality (scientific as well as artistic) and a dysfunctional irrationality (as we see in science fiction).
What about work? It is identified with the respect of the schedules. But what about the initiative? It is statistically limited to the regular obtaining of pay slips that are issued by research institutes or scientific laboratories. Innumerable institutions combine to detach the word from the thing, by disguising the almost zero activities of a sclerotic function in the wings of the theater that displays their grandiose allegory.
The break between need and desire, between work and initiative, brought back by force to one another in a sophistical equation where both are deceived, finds one of its clearest illustrations in the elaboration of today’s arts. Invention, the start towards adventure, which make the spring of it and its only justification, have a lesser and lesser part in it, because producing is enough; This allows to return to proven recipes, for example, abstract art, dada, or surrealism of the first decades, in short to die, and in the epigonate. The pen or the industrial brush do not change anything as regards the emergency, which is to conceive that our need and our desire are one. That our initiative and our work are one. That, in us, nothing happens that is reducible to a simple reception or to a pure transmission. That one and the other are together exalted in each other
Our gestures towards things and their response depend on this conception, on this indefinitely generalizable conception, on this synthetic perspective where the positive of life multiplies at the angle of the desirable and where the possible is multiplied by the true.
In other terms : the poem uttered by the real world.