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MACHINE DREAMS

Alexei Taylor, Author

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LATCHING ONTO FREUD

Following Freud’s rise to popularity in the 1920’s, it only seemed convenient for the surrealists to adopt his theories in the quest for a purer, truer, and more accurate expression of the self. In a sense, Freud’s theories were the abstract progenitors of the Surrealist movement. Andre Breton trained as a psychiatrist during World War I, and used Freud’s methods of psychoanalysis extensively in the treatment of shell-shocked soldiers. Salvador Dali read, from cover to cover, Freud’s quite complicated ‘Interpretation of Dreams’, and encountering Freud only once in his entire lifetime in 1938, proceeded to create four portraits of Freud, and to recount the event in his autobiography. The surrealists very easily accepted Freud’s notions of the unconscious as the representation of the true personal identity, and proceeded to make the unconscious a recurrent theme in the creation of their art as well as in their quest to revolutionize thought, and society’s conception of rationality and logic. For these surrealists,



Life only seemed worth living after the threshold of
sleeping and waking had been worn away. (Walter Benjamin, 1929)



Quite fittingly, Saint Pol Roux, a notable surrealist, would retire to bed at Sunrise each day with the notice on his door “Poet at work.”

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