The Lure of Surrealism


I recently started reading “City Gorged with Dreams: Surrealism and Documentary Photography in Interwar Paris” which ought to be interesting because it’s a study of “surrealist realism”; the exploration of a real-life surreality encountered on the streets of the city. On reaching chapter three - Nadja: a ‘voluntary banality’? - I thought I’d better break off to read Nadja, the book of the chapter title. I didn’t really take to Breton’s style of writing and although I enjoyed his descriptions of the meetings with Nadja the story had more impact after finishing it, first by reading the introduction (glad that I didn’t read it first) and secondly by filling in details via a quick google and reading this essay, Trailing Nadja by poet, Susan Elmslie.

Coincidences ensued. In a box of booja-booja chocolates, the message (Boojagram No. 17) read, “Practice a reliable attitude towards fish”. I didn’t think much of it, except that it was a little odder than the usual sentiment. However, I then went out in the car and drove over a big fish, maybe a piece of salmon, in the middle of our road and on the return journey noticed a black glove in the middle of another road. Unrelated to this, I walked past a woman who said into her phone, “I get lost if I walk around”.

City Gorged with Dreams by Ian Walker

Old Comments

The comments from the previous WordPress blog.

ed nixon: Thanks for this cite. I’ve been working my way through ‘Illuminations’, the Walter Benjamin collection edited by Hannah Arendt. A year or so ago, they published an edition of Benjamin’s “The Arcades Project” which is his unfinished, perhaps unfinishable, magnum opus. That’s next of the ‘working through’ list.

I think it’s remarkable how fruitful a place Paris was in the first 30 to 40 years of the last century. One of my favorite aspects is the Diagelev/Nijinsky/Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo era, particularly as documented in the journals or ‘conversations’ of Igor Stravinsky with Robert Craft.


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