Surrealism Questions and Answers

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Is surrealism just an art movement or is it more a way of thinking?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think that is can be logical to see surrealism as a way of thinking.  Intellects like Breton envisioned a mode of thought that separated itself from the conventional morality and social repression that prevented full acknowledgement of the subconsciousness.  This drive for human essence, a pure form of an individual guided these thinkers and their thought.  Certainly, it is seen in the art of Ernst and others like him.  Yet, there is a philosophical tenet to Surrealism. I think that works such as "The Persistence of Time" might be examples of how art and thought can merge and move together in expressing ideas that are not previously seen as thoughts.  This would also indicate that art as philosophy was something that the Surrealists saw as entirely plausible for it was a reflection or attempt to reflect the subconscious. Arising out of the horrors of World War I, the Surrealists sincerely believed that there must be a way to tap into the very essence of the individual, the subconscious which resided at the core of the individual.  This way of thoughts stressed that individuals and the thinker must take active steps to breaking out of the mold that embraced conformity and social forms of repressing the subconscious.  The fact that the movement paid so much attention to the ideas of Freud and his relation to the subconscious indicates that the movement was a form of thought, a way of thinking in which individuals were fixated on a particular set of ideas that defined themselves in a vastly different way than more conventional modes of thought.

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