Mar 16, 2004

Absurdism & Surrealism

Both practices of “not what you think” counter-intuition, both deliberatly irrational, cynical, anarchical and revolutionary, they nevertheless are distinct. Absurdism has the logic of a child’s joke and Surrealism that of a dark dream. The imagery is close enough to be identical, for Dali’s melting clocks could have been Carroll’s and Carroll’s cat-less Cheshire grin could have been Dali’s.

What is different is the tone, the role placed upon the viewer is the role of child, in Absurdism, or mad poet in Surrealism. Lynch’s cowboy of doom in Muholland Drive and Gilliam’s giant-wearing-a-boat-hat are akin in imagery but divided by tone, difference of emphasis of humor or vision.

Dadaism - that over publicized hyper-reactionary meta-multiplying until death - occupies both Absurdism and Surrealism. It’s generally billed under Surrealism but can be more playful and is, after all, sharing a name with the French word for a hobby horse and an infant’s word for father.

The internet, often an absurdist enterprise itself, has wonderously preserved the early dada journals, giving us an easy look at Dadaism as it was to itself.