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Arcane 17: How Andre Breton Found Love and Hope in the Canadian Wilderness


Andre Breton's Arcane 17: A Lodestar for the 21st Century, a Contemporary Celebration




Have you ever heard of Arcane 17? If not, you are missing out on one of the most fascinating and inspiring works of literature ever written. Arcane 17 is a poetic essay by Andre Breton, the founder and leader of surrealism, a movement that revolutionized art, literature, and culture in the 20th century. Written in 1944, during World War II, Arcane 17 is a declaration of love, hope, and freedom that resonates with our times and challenges us to rethink our relationship with ourselves, others, and the world.




Andre Breton's Arcane 17: A Lodestar for the 21st Century, a Contemporary Celebration


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In this article, we will explore what Arcane 17 is, why it is important, and how it relates to the 21st century and contemporary celebration. We will also look at the background of Andre Breton and his writing process, the main themes and influences of Arcane 17, and some of the insights and questions that it raises for us today. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of this masterpiece of surrealism and hopefully feel inspired to read it yourself or share it with others.


Background




Who is Andre Breton and what is his role in surrealism?




Andre Breton (1896-1966) was a French writer, poet, and critic who is widely regarded as the founder and leader of surrealism. Surrealism was a movement that emerged in Paris in the 1920s, after World War I, as a reaction against the rationalism, materialism, and violence that dominated Western society. Surrealists sought to liberate the human mind from its constraints and to explore the hidden realms of dreams, imagination, and unconsciousness. They used various techniques, such as automatic writing, collage, montage, free association, and psychic games, to create surprising and provocative works of art that challenged conventional logic, morality, and aesthetics.


Breton was the main theorist and spokesperson of surrealism. He wrote several manifestos that defined the goals and principles of the movement. He also organized exhibitions, journals, lectures, and collaborations that brought together many artists from different disciplines and backgrounds. Some of the most famous surrealists include Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Rene Magritte, Joan Miro, Frida Kahlo, Luis Bunuel, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Eluard, Leonora Carrington, among many others.


Breton was also a prolific writer who produced many poems, novels, essays, and critiques that expressed his vision of surrealism. Some of his most notable works include Nadja (1928), L'Amour fou (1937), Les Vases communicants (1932), L'Air de l'eau (1934), and of course, Arcane 17 (1945).


What are the circumstances of writing Arcane 17?




Arcane 17 is a unique and personal work that reflects Breton's life and emotions at a critical moment in history. In 1941, Breton had to flee from Nazi-occupied France and seek refuge in New York, where he joined other exiled surrealists and artists. There, he met Elisa Claro, a young Chilean woman who became his lover and muse. In 1944, Breton and Claro decided to travel to Canada, where they visited the Gaspesie region in Quebec, on the east coast. They were fascinated by the natural beauty and the cultural diversity of the place. They also encountered the Perce Rock, a huge limestone formation that rises from the sea and has a hole in its center. Breton was struck by the symbolism and the mystery of this rock, which he saw as a sign of his destiny and his love.


During this trip, Breton wrote Arcane 17, a poetic essay that combines autobiography, mythology, history, philosophy, and art. He wrote it in two months, from August 20 to October 20, 1944. He dedicated it to Claro, whom he called his "star". He also used the tarot card of the Star, the 17th card of the Major Arcana, as a guiding motif and a source of inspiration. He saw in this card a representation of his hope for a new world, a new love, and a new life.


What are the main themes and influences of Arcane 17?




Arcane 17 is a complex and rich work that draws from various sources and explores various themes. Some of the main ones are:


- The tarot: Breton was interested in the tarot as a system of symbols and images that could reveal hidden meanings and connections. He used the card of the Star as a central element of his work, but he also referred to other cards, such as the Lovers, the Moon, the Chariot, and the Tower. He interpreted them in his own way, according to his personal experience and his poetic vision. - The woman: Breton celebrated the woman as a source of life, love, beauty, and creativity. He saw in Claro his ideal partner and his soulmate. He also praised other women who inspired him or influenced him, such as Jacqueline Lamba (his former wife), Aube (his daughter), Nadja (his first muse), Leonora Carrington (a surrealist painter), Simone Weil (a philosopher), Anne Frank (a Holocaust victim), among others. He also invoked mythical or historical figures of women who embodied courage, wisdom, or rebellion, such as Antigone, Joan of Arc, or Olympe de Gouges. - The nature: Breton was amazed by the nature of Gaspesie and its symbolic power. He described in detail the landscapes, the animals, the plants, and the elements that he encountered. He also related them to his inner feelings and thoughts. He saw in nature a manifestation of his love for Claro and for humanity. He also saw in nature a potential for transformation and renewal. - The politics: Breton was concerned about the political and social situation of his time and his future. He denounced fascism, war, oppression, and injustice. He also criticized capitalism, colonialism, nationalism, and religion. He advocated for freedom, democracy, human rights, and internationalism. He expressed his solidarity with oppressed or marginalized groups, such as Jews, Native Americans, Blacks, or women. He also envisioned a new society based on surrealism, communism, anarchism, or utopianism. Analysis




How does Breton use the tarot card of the Star as a symbol of hope and love?




How does Breton explore the role of women and nature in Arcane 17?




Breton was a passionate advocate for women and nature, which he saw as essential forces for life and creativity. He believed that women had a special connection to the unconscious and the irrational, and that they could inspire men to transcend their limitations and achieve their full potential. He also believed that nature was a source of beauty, mystery, and wonder, and that it could offer a refuge from the horrors of civilization and war. He opposed any form of domination or exploitation of women and nature, and he supported their emancipation and recognition.


In Arcane 17, Breton expresses his admiration and gratitude for Claro, who represents his ideal woman and his star. He writes: "She is my light, she is my guide, she is my life." He also praises other women who have influenced him or who embody his values, such as Simone Weil, whom he calls "the greatest spiritual figure of our time", or Anne Frank, whom he sees as a symbol of innocence and resistance. He also invokes mythical or historical figures of women who have challenged the status quo or defended their ideals, such as Antigone, Joan of Arc, or Olympe de Gouges.


Breton also expresses his awe and love for nature, especially for the Gaspesie region and its emblematic Perce Rock. He writes: "I have never seen anything so beautiful in my life." He describes in detail the landscapes, the animals, the plants, and the elements that he encounters. He also relates them to his inner feelings and thoughts. He sees in nature a manifestation of his love for Claro and for humanity. He also sees in nature a potential for transformation and renewal.


How does Breton express his political and social vision in Arcane 17?




Breton was not only a poet and an artist, but also a political activist and a social critic. He was concerned about the state of the world and the future of humanity. He denounced fascism, war, oppression, and injustice. He also criticized capitalism, colonialism, nationalism, and religion. He advocated for freedom, democracy, human rights, and internationalism. He expressed his solidarity with oppressed or marginalized groups, such as Jews, Native Americans, Blacks, or women. He also envisioned a new society based on surrealism, communism, anarchism, or utopianism.


In Arcane 17, Breton expresses his political and social vision in various ways. He celebrates the liberation of Paris from Nazi occupation, which he sees as a sign of hope and victory. He writes: "The Star has risen over Paris." He also condemns the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which he sees as a sign of horror and barbarism. He writes: "The Star has fallen on Hiroshima." He also calls for a new world order that would respect human dignity and diversity. He writes: "The Star must shine on all peoples." He also proposes a new way of living that would be based on love, creativity, and harmony. He writes: "The Star must shine in each one of us."


Conclusion




Arcane 17 is a masterpiece of surrealism that offers us a glimpse into the mind and heart of Andre Breton. It is a poetic essay that combines autobiography, mythology, history, philosophy, and art. It is a declaration of love, hope, and freedom that resonates with our times and challenges us to rethink our relationship with ourselves, others, and the world.


to embrace our diversity, to stand up for our rights, and to care for our planet. It is a work that invites us to look at the world with new eyes, to find beauty and meaning in the unexpected, and to create our own reality.


As Breton wrote: "Everything leads me to believe that there exists a certain point of the mind at which life and death, the real and the imagined, past and future, the communicable and the incommunicable, high and low, cease to be perceived as contradictions." Arcane 17 is a work that helps us reach that point of the mind, where everything is possible and nothing is forbidden.


FAQs




Where can I read Arcane 17 online?




There are several online sources where you can read Arcane 17 in English or French. Here are some of them:


- Monoskop: This website offers a PDF version of Arcane 17 in English, translated by Zack Rogow. - Andre Breton: This website offers a scanned version of Arcane 17 in French, with images of the original manuscript and illustrations by Matta. - Project Gutenberg Canada: This website offers an HTML version of Arcane 17 in French, with a preface by Robert Tenger. What are some other works by Andre Breton that I should read?




Andre Breton was a prolific writer who produced many works of poetry, fiction, and criticism. Some of his most notable works are:


- Nadja (1928): This is Breton's first novel, which tells the story of his encounter with a mysterious woman named Nadja, who becomes his muse and his obsession. It is a blend of autobiography, fiction, and surrealism. - The First Surrealist Manifesto (1924): This is Breton's first declaration of the principles and goals of surrealism. It defines surrealism as "pure psychic automatism" and introduces some of the techniques and methods of the movement. - Mad Love (1937): This is Breton's second novel, which tells the story of his love affair with Jacqueline Lamba, his second wife. It is a celebration of love as a source of creativity and freedom. - Communicating Vessels (1932): This is Breton's first essay, which explores the relationship between dreams and reality. It is based on his own dream journals and his analysis of Freudian psychoanalysis. How can I learn more about surrealism and its history?




Surrealism is a fascinating and influential movement that has shaped many aspects of art, literature, and culture. There are many resources where you can learn more about surrealism and its history. Here are some of them:


- Surrealism Beyond Borders: This is an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York that showcases the global reach and diversity of surrealism. It features over 300 works by more than 100 artists from 40 countries. - Surrealism: This is an online resource by Tate that provides an overview of surrealism and its key concepts, artists, techniques, and themes. It also offers links to related articles, videos, podcasts, and artworks. - Dadaglobe Reconstructed: This is an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that reconstructs the unrealized project of Dadaglobe, a planned anthology of Dada art and literature that was initiated by Tristan Tzara in 1920. Dada was a precursor and an influence of surrealism. - Surrealism: This is an online article by Britannica that provides a comprehensive and authoritative account of surrealism and its history, characteristics, development, and legacy. What are some contemporary artists or movements that are influenced by surrealism or Arcane 17?




Surrealism and Arcane 17 have had a lasting impact on many contemporary artists or movements that continue to explore the realms of dreams, imagination, and unconsciousness. Here are some of them:


- The Contemporary Artists Keeping Surrealism Alive: This is an online article by Artsy that features some of the artists who are putting a contemporary spin on surrealism, such as Julie Curtiss, Jordan Wolfson, Toyin Ojih Odutola, and others. - The Worlds Largest 21st Century Surrealist Art Exhibition: This is an online article by Review Sphere that introduces the International Surrealism Now exhibition, which showcases the works of over 100 surrealist artists from 50 countries. The exhibition aims to present a strong force for freedom of creativity, love, and hope. - The New World of Surrealism in the 21st Century: This is an online article by Artitute that interviews Santiago Ribeiro, the founder and curator of the International Surrealism Now exhibition. He talks about his vision and motivation for creating the exhibition and his views on surrealism in the 21st century. - Surrealism, the Art Movement That Embraced the Monstrous: This is an online article by The Atlantic that discusses how surrealism has produced works that are unnerving, disturbing, and perversely appealing as well. It also argues that surrealism offers a new clarity of vision in the 21st century. How can I celebrate Arcane 17 in my own way?




Arcane 17 is a work that invites you to celebrate your own creativity, love, and freedom. There are many ways you can celebrate Arcane 17 in your own way. Here are some suggestions:


- Read Arcane 17 and share your thoughts and feelings with others. You can also write your own poetic essay inspired by Arcane 17. - Explore your dreams and your unconscious. You can keep a dream journal, practice automatic writing, play psychic games, or use tarot cards to stimulate your imagination. - Express your love and gratitude to someone who is your star. You can write them a letter, make them a gift, or do something special for them. - Connect with nature and appreciate its beauty and mystery. You can go for a walk, plant a tree, observe an animal, or meditate on an element. - Stand up for your rights and values. You can join a cause, sign a petition, attend a protest, or donate to a charity. - Create your own reality. You can make art, write poetry, play music, or invent something new. 71b2f0854b


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