The Crucified Mind: Rafael Alberti and the Surrealist Ethos in Spain (Monografías A)
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Why is the Spanish input to Surrealism so distinctive and strong? What do such renowned figures as Dalí, Buñuel, Lorca, Aleixandre and Alberti have in common? This book untangles the issue of Surrealism in Spain by focusing on a consistent feature in Spanish avant-garde poetry, art and film of the late twenties and thirties: its supersaturation in religion. A repressive religious upbringing, typically under the Jesuits, intensifies both the paranoiac and the mystical - Surrealism's twin pillars - which were already deeply ingrained in the Spanish psyche. Striking examples are Lorca's prophetic voice in New York, Dalí and Buñuel's Eucharistic transformations, Alberti's Loyolan materio-mysticism. Alberti is the fulcrum of this study since his poetry goes the full distance of Surrealism's evolution from Freudian catharsis to metaphysical transcendence until it expires in a Marxist reaction to church-bound tradition when his nation convulses in civil war, the surrealist ethos in Spain is not reducible to measuring how closely it imitates French theory. It is 'more serious' than the French, says Alberti, and its bearings are found on a cross of mental suffering and in a journey out of hell that made real art in practice. ROBERT HAVARD is Professor of Spanish, University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
circumstantial attributes he attempts, through the imagining senses, to perceive.82 Barthes defines the distinctive Jesuit emphasis in a telling phrase, ‘This upward movement towards matter’ [‘Cette remontée vers la matière’], which, he says, ‘is conducted in the manner of a conscious fantasy, a controlled improvisation’.83 We have come full circle. Remarkably, the Jesuits’ excessive corporeality, their founding of meaning on circumstantial objects, is, in the end, precisely what distinguishes
but also the psychological disintegration that derives from the kind of repression typified in the Jesuits’ hellish orientation. It is a system enforced with a vigilance that sometimes borders on the comical, as we see in Buñuel’s recollection of the ‘iron discipline’ at the Colegio del Salvador in Zaragoza: We never had a moment’s privacy. In study hall, for example, when a pupil went to the bathroom (a rather slow process, since we had to go one by one), the proctor watched him until he went
sexual identity at this point in the film remains unresolved. When the woman escapes her assailant, another comedic chase routine ensues which ends with her retreating to a corner where she defends herself with a tennis racquet held above her head in a press. It is she who now appears to be sexually immature and, as if to show how to expel repressive elements (break out of a press), the male picks up some ropes – lying inexplicably on the floor – and with great exertion drags them across the
wrist where the androgen’s hand was severed. We are back with the theme of arrested sexual development, the point being made plain when the woman scans the room – oddly identical to the previous one – and finds her pursuer on the bed in his former state: He is wearing the frills and the box lies on his chest. Regression is pointed up at once by the arrival of a stranger who, with paternal severity, scolds the cyclist, tears off his fills and throws them one by one through the window with the box.
cabra ha olvidado en él una o más bolitas? Verdaderamente no hay nada tan hermoso como estar enamorado, y más aún si un gorrión se le posa a otro gorrión en un ojo. ¿Me habré dado yo cuenta de que no hay nada tan hermoso como estar enamorado, y más aún si un gorrión se le posa a uno o más gorriones en un ojo? (491) [Truly/ there’s nothing as nice as a spray of flowers when the goat has deposited his little black droppings on it. Will I ever realize there’s nothing as nice as a spray of flowers,