Surreal-is-it?

‘Good morning, good morning, good morning, it’s another lovely day in the village’

Surrealism was founded by the poet André Breton in Paris in 1924, it was an artistic and literary movement that proposed that the Enlightenment—the influential 17th and 18th century intellectual movement that championed reason and individualism—had suppressed the superior qualities of the irrational, unconscious mind. Surrealism’s goal was to liberate thought, language, and human experience from the oppressive boundaries of rationalism.

I believe that the Surrealists were the Punks of their age, they were non-conformists, experimental, breaking the boundaries of the social, political and creative order of the time, and not giving a toss what people thought in the process.

Surrealism rejected logic and reason and prized the depictive, the abstract, and the psychological with startling juxtapositions. Through the use of unconventional techniques such as automatism and frottage, Surrealist artists attempted to tap into the dream-world of the subliminal mind.

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The Mystery of The Fireplace – Andre Breton 1947 – 1948

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This is not a Pipe – Rene Magritte 1929

 

Surrealist cinema was a modernist approach to film theory, criticism, and production with origins in Paris in the 1920s. They shocked the world with their imagery, sometimes absurd, often confusing, but always fascinating. Throughout, there is an obsession with sex and death and our relationship with them.

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Une Chien Andalou. Luis Buñel. 1929

 

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L’age D’or. Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali. 1930.

 

Surrealism fell off the creative radar for some time; the Second World War (1939 – 1945) and the dreary, tight-laced, emotionally paralysed 50’s made the country an incredibly dull place. Children were seen and not heard all over again, men worked, women cooked. Nice girls did not smoke, did not have sex before marriage, did not drink, did not go to pubs, did not show their knees, they learnt to be nurses and secretaries, carers and comforters. (All rather Victorian).

Then Surrealism took an odd turn, it became comedic, or at least a kind of mushroom or LSD stoked journey through the director’s mind. TV Shows such as The Prisoner, 1967 and Monty Pythons Flying Circus 1969 (In the UK, not sure about elsewhere)

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I am not a number!

 

 

 

I absolutely loved The Prisoner and Monty Python – though I must have been watching them second time around (I was too young when they were originally released), both had an impact on my child’s mind; I think a Surrealist worm crawled in and laid an egg, and waited to be born in my adulthood.

One of my favourite contemporary surrealist directors of cinema is David Lynch. If you do not want to read reams of literature; or watch all those older films to understand Surrealism, I direct you to the world of Mr Lynch. The man is a natural; when it comes to surrealism, the man is so in touch with his own weird, that as a viewer, you are either repelled or drawn in; like one of his ants, to a severed ear!

I recommend you start with Wild At Heart, not so weird that you will be put off (if you’re one of those sensitive types), progress to Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, then when you have the hang of it, dive into Eraserhead!! Go on, I dare you! This has to be THE weirdest, most Surreal film I have ever seen in my life.

 

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David’s hairstyle was ahead of the curve.                         Eraserhead. David Lynch. 1977

 

Apart from Mr Lynch, there was really nobody else making surreal films. Then the  1990’s saw a kind of revival of Surrealism, and those of us who went to art schools and colleges pretty much ‘got it’, straight away. The Ren and Stimpy Show, 1991 was a cartoon series following an over-friendly, stupid cat and a neurotic, very highly strung Chihuahua dog.

After Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer’s – Big Night Out and Shooting Stars 1995, which is definitely art school Dada meets Surrealism, the dark flavour began to return in the form of The League of Gentlemen, 1999. Brilliantly written, stunningly obtuse, irrational or scary characters – see Papa Lazarou or Hilary Briss and tell me that’s normal!

 

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‘You’re my wife now, Dave’
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‘They weren’t pork.’

The Mighty Boosh, 2003 was a lighter, but still very surreal series that came into our lives, and then the League of Gentlemen team returned with Psychoville, 2011 – think angry, mentally scarred clowns and you get the picture.

Personally, I like my surrealism dark and disturbing, not sure why, but it gives me the willies more than any horror film – if you like a good willie watch TLOG!

Then I began to wonder where all the surrealism was in literature. And realised; it transformed itself into Magical Realism. This can be a difficult one to define – Magical Realism is not fantasy, it is not about magic (though there may be some ‘magical’ elements), it is not escapist fiction. It portrays fantastical events in an otherwise realistic tone; so a dead grandmother is not seen as an other-worldly ghost, but is in the narrator’s here and now. It brings fables, folk tales, and myths into contemporary social relevance.

Authors of this genre include –

  1. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. (My all-time favourite)

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  1. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.

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  1. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende.

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  1. Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter.

 

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So do we have any Nouveau Surrealists? Is that even a term? What would a Nouveau Surrealist look like, sound like, taste like!

It would amuse please me greatly if any of my readers watched or read anything I had mentioned here today, please, give it a go, if you haven’t already…

Go and get your weird on…

Go forth and be SURREAL people…

 

Female Superheroes

Where are all the female superheroes?

Have you ever noticed how few known female superheroes there are?

Go ahead and name some….

I bet if I asked you to name artists from history, they would be mostly male, if I asked you to name only female artists, I’m guessing it would take you longer.

I bet you would also have to think a little, not so much, of the names of female authors – not doing too badly in that department, though female writers go through phases of exposure in the media, the general trend seems firmly bent towards male authors.

But today I am interested in the superhero, or graphic novel hero, comic-book persona; whatever.

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You kiss your mother with that mouth?!

Most of us; especially those who take an interest in this genre, will have noticed the recent explosion of ‘super-hero’ movies being touted to us popcorn-munchers. Today I watched Deadpool, for the first time. I know! Where have I been?  Right? Resisting the urge is my reply (I’m not a huge fan of Ryan Reynolds, usually) however, I really enjoyed it. It made me laugh, it made me groan (in the right places), the action was action-y, and not too much of it, the dialogue humorous. I can’t bear those directors that think if they put a tonne of CGI and violent crashes/fights/explosions/speeding trains/etc in, then it will make a good movie – IT DOESN’T – it is tiring on the eyes and leaves no room for narrative development.

Deadpool had a good balance. I loved his wisecracking ways, and have to admit, I haven’t actually read the comic (eek!). But it got me started, again, on my rant of – where are all the female comic superheroes? Wonder Woman? Pah! I saw the original TV show, it was horrible. (And isn’t Wonder Woman a bit of a crappy name?) I want a female superhero/anti-hero, who is smart, and sassy, who will make an impact and be remembered as much as Batman – and mostly – I want her to be British! ( Other European nations are acceptable)

Search the internet all you like, British heroes are a rare breed; some websites even include Sherlock effing Holmes! He’s not a superhero! I like him, don’t get me wrong, and he’s a genius dude, but he is not a comic superhero!

I know there are female graphic artists and writers out there, and I take my hat off to them, it’s a real hard slog. But I want the storylines and art to equal the male, and I rarely find that. I want  Alan MooreNeil GaimanGrant MorrisonBrian Bolland and Mike McMahon, John Wagner, Alan Grant, Pat MillsAngela Kincaid Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Alan Moore, Mike McMahon, Dave Gibbons. Fans might see a pattern emerging in that list; they all work; or have worked for 2000 AD comics. I want a female Sláine or Deadpool (I know they made a Lady Deadpool, but, meh). The closest character creation, for me, was Jessica Jones – but she’s American.

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Slaine by Simon Bisley

So, please, please, please, can someone, somewhere create me a female superhero to be proud of.

Thank you.

(And British)

P.S: don’t put her in a figure hugging 1940s latex suit – unless it is done, like Deadpool, with tongue firmly in cheek – yours, not hers!

 

Jessica Jones

You shoot that gun at me–I will pull that bullet out of my ruined four hundred dollar leather jacket…and I will shove it up your ass with my pinky finger. And which one of us do you think that will hurt more? “

 Jessica Jones