Although both drastically different in philosophy, Surrealism and Russian Futurism failed to endure, but in similar ways. Surrealism, as defined by Andre Breton, is grounded in past philosophies while Mayakovsky's Russian futurism floats somewhere in an intangible future. Breton often channels the likes of Immanuel Kant, writing with undertones of aestheticism combined with the modernist demeanor of keeping separate from regular people. Mayakovsky endeavors to invent a movement independent of any previous ones with the aid of an entirely new audience. While both men were heavily influenced by the current Communist state, the real politics they played were the politics of humanity.
[...] Perhaps most importantly, Breton expresses the need for collective revolution as all free men have the capacity to and exercise such freedom. The real contradiction occurs when he immediately discounts this idea of freedom including everyone. “Nadja was born to serve it, if only by demonstrating that around himself each individual must foment a private conspiracy” (Breton 143). He intimates that revolution is not up to the collective society, but instead, a realization put into action by the individual. Later, it becomes clearer that that by individual he really means himself: While the Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle seemed to come up to my expectation, after even revealing itself as one of the major strategic points I am looking for in this chaos, points which persist in believing obscurely provided for me are at stake and that this, naturally, involved the negation of everything else (Breton 152-53). [...]
[...] However, Breton makes an exception when a person displays a knowledge and fascination of the same artists. After discovering a “worthless” book with poetry and a series of reflections of Nietzsche accidentally wedged between some pages, he learns that they are not for sale as they belong to the saleswoman. He speaks of her: Extremely cultivated, she has no objection to discussing her literary favorites which are: Shelly, Nietzsche, and Rimbaud she even mentions the surrealists All her remarks indicate a great revolutionary faith (Breton 55). [...]
[...] So is it better to forsake the masses altogether and find solace in your own intelligence, or, to act with a great deal of faith that people will recognize the need for change? Both methods of fostering revolution are extreme. Perhaps if Breton and Mayakovsky exchanged ideas in a dialogue, they could learn from each other and compromise with a healthy balance of empathy and emotional distance. Breton had merit in trusting no one as people often misinterpret or fail to react to art altogether. Mayakovsky may have had the right idea [...]
[...] As one man deliberately remains disconnected from his audience, the other unintentionally creates a disconnect between his goals and his audience. Similar to Breton, Mayakovsky strays from the primary purpose of his movement—to seek new forms of provoking social change for a new audience. In addition, the new content was defined as destination—its goal and audience” (Russell 179). Unfortunately, expressing the destination, or future, in the content of a literary work did not phase the audience; while Mayakovsky tried desperately to empathize with the masses, the masses could not empathize with the future he painted in his images and language: Once again, Mayakovsky could only find sustenance for his effort by projecting a future which would prove his condemned efforts to be valid and in advance of their time. [...]
[...] Empathy generally means feeling what someone else feels by relating to the other person through one's own emotions and experience; perhaps Mayakovsky projected his feelings onto the masses in order to forge such a personal relationship with them for the purpose of claiming an extensive social intimacy. This condition also confused Mayakovsky's mental and emotional states: Their successes were his and their failures diminished his own hopes. At the same time, he ascribed his own weaknesses to those of his society, so that when he doubted himself, he condemned the entire state (Russell 184). [...]
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