Memphis Minnie's Blues Link


The Forecast is Hot continued

back to topics

Humor and the Next Revolution
Freely developed and aggressively objective, humor is the most rigorous expression of alchemy—and indeed, of dialectic—in our time. As such, it is the pivot of surrealism's revolutionary project today, and the affective ground of the next revolution.

It is no accident that the characteristic modes of revolutionary struggle today—workplace sabotage, wildcat strike, billboard revision, disruption (à la Earth First!), and such all-out assaults on "business as usual" as the Los Angeles Rebellion of April-May '92—largely tend to be manifestations of surrealist humor. Nothing else so effectively releases people from their repressions, or enables them to think and act with greater lucidity for themselves. Shielding the ego from the routine massive horror of daily life in late capitalist society, humor encourages and directs desire toward expansion and fulfillment rather than denial and defeat. By breaking down the boundaries between possible and impossible, humor offers a limitless supply of "new ways of saying no to the whole stinking mess of capitalist-christian civilization," and, in turn, fosters the most extravagant utopian dreaming. Social revolution is of course a matter of the utmost seriousness and, indeed, of life and death, but the practice of humor reminds us that it is also, among other things, the grandest prank of all: the definitive way of pulling the rug out from under the enemies of freedom and pleasure.

Indissolubly allied to the eros-affirmative abolition of work and the simultaneous liberation of laziness, humor—objective, surrealist humor, hand in hand with objective chance—is the continuation not only of poetry but also of revolutionary politics by other means, and spells the end of miserabilist civilization.


* * *

Surrealism does not appear to be cut out to please the upholders of any particular political "line," or for that matter, any other "line." Too anarchist for most Marxists, too Marxist for most anarchists; too much in love with poetry and painting for most politicoes, too involved in the revolutionary movement for most writers and artists; too immersed in theoretical inquiry for activists, too unruly for the professotariat; too rigorous in poetic matters for wheeler-dealers in the "Spirituality" racket, too devoted to the Marvelous for those afflicted with instrumentalist rationalism; too Freudian for the positivist/puritanical Left, too "wild" for the conservative medical usurpers of psychoanalysis—surrealism continues to flourish in the only way it can: outside and against all the dominant paradigms.


* * *

For our part, the fundamental identity of poetry, freedom, love, knowledge, revolution and the Marvelous is all that really matters.


Chicago, May 1996

For information on ordering the Forecast Is Hot! see Black Swan Press/Surrealist Editions