I put this post together last year, while writing my annual Adventures in Reading post. Then I forgot to post it! So, for your reading pleasure, a few excerpts from “Surrealism Manifesto,” by Yvan Goll (October 1, 1924), translated by Nan Watkins and published in full in The Inner Trees: Selected Poems of Yvan Goll, edited by Thomas Rain Crowe. Much wisdom here!
Reality is the basis of all great art. Without it there is no life, no substance. Reality is the ground under our feet and sky over our head.
Everything the artist creates has its point of departure in nature.
Solely with this elementary material [sentences and words heard on the street], he [Apollinaire] formed poetic images. Today the image is the criterion of good poetry. The speed of association between the first impression and the final expression determines the quality of the image.
Up until the beginning of the twentieth century, it was the ear that determined the quality of a poem: rhythm, sonority, cadence, alliteration, rhyme: all for the ear. In the last twenty years the eye has taken its revenge. It is the century of film. More and more we communicate through visual signs. Today it is speed that determines quality.
Art is an emanation of life and the human organism.
Their [the Ex-Dadaist Surrealists] “psychic mechanism based on the dream and the random play of thought” will never have the power to destroy our physical organism, which teaches us that reality is always right, that life is truer than thought.
Some currently available titles by Yvan Goll: