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paranoid-critical method


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Spanish artist Salvador Dalí's proposed second phase of Surrealism which, in contrast to the first phase, would seek to consciously exploit its explorations of the unconscious. In other words, rather than simply try to reveal the workings of the unconscious through automatic writing and so forth, it proposes to create systematic objectifications of the delirious connections made by the unconscious. The Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas provides a fine account of this method in Delirious New York (1978), in which he argues that Dalí's view of things can be witnessed in a range of late 20th-century building projects (his key example is the reconstruction of London Bridge in Arizona). Paranoia, Koolhaas argues, is a delirium of interpretation in which every thing perceived serves to confirm the reality of the mind. It is a perpetual feeling of the shock of recognition. In artistic terms, it is like the fabrication of facts to evidence an unprovable worldview, and the insertion of those false facts into the world in such a way as they take the place of true facts. A clear example of this is Dalí's illustrations for Lautréamont's Chants de Maldoror (1868), which radically reinterpret François Millet's bucolic paintings as charged with sexual energy.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.


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