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Ego Trips and Empathy Falls

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  1. Introduction
  2. Breton's distaste for people
    1. Making an exception
    2. People who read and admire the same works as him
  3. Nadja's description of her parents as 'good people'
  4. Mayakovsky's work
    1. Including private and collective points of view
    2. His connection with the masses
  5. A blatant appeal to Breton's ego
  6. His philosophies and its failure to ignite revolution in the hearts of his fellow man
  7. Conclusion

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). [...]


[...] His voice intensified as he submerged his ego into the spirit of the masses and became their voice? (Russell 193). Unlike Breton, Mayakovsky could relinquish his pride in order to speak for the common collective good. Breton, however, did not have nearly as much confidence in the masses, namely the working class to which Manakovsky seemed so devoted. When Nadja describes her parents as ?good people? (Breton 68) simply because they are hard-working, he grows angry and disgusted: I loathe the servitude people try to hold up to me as being so valuable. [...]

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