André Breton: Surrealist manifesto 1924
webster dictionary: Surrealism;
To place Breton in context, he undertakes medical studies at the turn of the the early nineteen hundreds, shortly before the outbreak of the first world war. Breton in located to various different hospitals, working as a psychiatric nurse and serving as intern. There he begins it seems to form an interest in Freudian analysis and finds something of a marvel in ‘mad people’. They are in fact, according to Breton, onto something that is perhaps closer to reality than we might think: ‘facing the madness of the patients he meets, and obsessed with the Freudian psychoanalysis, Breton discovered what’s found in the madness is a creative force’. (Arts3 network, date unknown.)
His surrealist ideas begin to develop and we can see that much of what was happening in France at a similar time within the french intelligentsia was related to the vision of needing to revolutionise society and break down old values to create a more liberal open and free society.
Listening to and studying a little, Breton’s surrealist manifesto we start to see that the origins of the surrealist movement was trying to re-dress an imbalance, perhaps starting with the Enlightenment? In initiating his work and breaking away from the Dada movement to which he was initially affiliated, the founding manifesto was defined by these words: ‘pure psychic automatism…’ This automatic writing process was considered by Breton as one of the main tools for accessing, perhaps, deeper forces of mind.
It would seem that the scientific materialism of our times denies to some extent the less conscious or subconscious aspects of our being. Surrealism is looking to point out that the dream state, exploring perceptions of mind, exploring psychology (particularly based upon Freud) and other influences, are much more powerful and interesting to our knowledge and development to the merely rational intellectual processes.
Breton, A. Surrealist Manifesto (1924) [online] https://archive.org/details/andrebretonmanifestoesofsurrealism/page/n37/mode/2up [accessed: February 2020]
Arts3 Network: André Breton, father of surrealism [online] http://www.surrealismart.org/history/andre-breton.html [accessed, February 2020]