Came across this document in Issue No. 15 of the “Upriver/Downriver” newsletter, published sometime in the early ’90s, at that time edited by Freeman House and Seth Zuckerman. Sez there, “The manifesto was originally published in Mesechabe, the bioregional journal of the Mississippi Delta region.”
THE SURRE(GION)ALIST MANIFESTO
by Max Cafard
Here we cast anchor in rich earth.
— Tristan Tzara, Dada Manifesto (1918)
“Just as the turtle cannot separate itself from its shell, neither can we separate ourselves from what we do to the earth.” —Ted Andrews
For our Mother the Earth, we set sail on Celestial Ships. Anchored in Erda, we ride the wind. For Gaia, we take flight, spreading terrifying Cafardic wings. No longer trembling at the emasculating, defeminizing sound: the Name of the Father. We re-member Mama. Papa dismembered Mama. We now re-call the suppressed Names of the Mother. Anamnesis for anonymous Inanna. A surre(gion)al celebration, a Manifestival for Mama Earth. This is dedicated to the One we love. For the One Big Mother, in her thousand forms, here it is: the Mama Manifesto (1989).
Breton said “we are still living under the reign of logic.” Today this is true more than ever. Indeed, we are now living under the Acid Rain of Logic.
There are Logics and there are Logics. Eco-Logics, Geo-Logics, Psycho-Logics, Mytho-Logics, Ethno-Logics, Socio-Logics, Astro-Logics, Cosmo-Logics, Onto-Logics, Physio-Logics, Bio-Logics, Zoö-Logics, et cetera.
Yet all of these are transformed into subsets of the one universal Techno-Logic. Techno-Logic, the death of Truth. Techno-Logic, the enshrinement of Truth. The burying of Truth under a crushing burden—under a Wealth of Knowledge.
Authentic knowing requires the “search for Truth,” the pursuit of Truth, the chasing after Truth, the hunger and thirst for Truth, the following of Truth along all her devious paths of Logic, through her labyrinths of the Logics. It means climbing logical mountains, plunging to logical ocean bottoms, traversing an infinitude of unparalleled planes. The search for Truth means always allowing her escape.
Scrambling the Cosmic Egg
“The Region regions” said Heidegger the Egg-Hider, hiding his eggs. Edelweiss und Eselscheisse! Scion of a Scheisse-ridden race! Shyster Lawyer of Being! The “Region” does not “region.” It’s exactly the reverse. (For the Time Being).
Where is the Region, anyway? For every Logic there is a Region. To mention some of particular importance to us, the Surre(gion)alists: Ecoregions, Georegions, Psychoregions, Mythoregions, Ethnoregions, Socioregions, and Bioregions.
This is no joke! We are Bioregionalists only if we are Regionalists. And once we begin to think Regions, we discover a vast multiplicity. Of Regionalisms and Regions, of Regions within Regions, and Regionalisms within Regionalisms. Thus, Surre(gion)alism.
Regions are inclusive. They have no borders, no boundaries, no frontiers, no State Lines. Though Regionalists are marginal, Regions have no margins. Regions are traversed by a multitude of lines, folds, ridges, seams, pleats. But all lines are included, none exclude. Regions are bodies. Interpenetrating bodies. Interpenetrating bodies in semi¬simultaneous spaces. (Like Strangers in the Night).
Region is origin. It is our place of origin. Where all continues to originate. Origination is perpetual motion. Reinhabitation means reorigination. We return to our roots for nourishment. Without that return, we wither and die. We follow our roots and find them to extend ever deeper, and ever outward. They form an infinite web, so all-encompassing that uprooting becomes impossible and unthinkable, deracination irrational.
Regions are multiple and arbitrary. Techno-regionalism says, in a Techno-Rational rage for definition, that when less than 90% of the species of one defined area are present in another defined area, then each is a separate Bioregion. How Techno-Logical! How Scientific! Or so it sounds. For such a definition is entirely self-annihilating, and absurd in its very technicality. This is, of course, its beauty. It is entirely valid, if taken as part of the Science and Logic of the Absurd. An infinite number of Regions can be defined by such criteria. Occasionally the Region will run after a stray organism (calculator in hand). This is a hallucinogenic Logic. (Though it is seldom taken in this way—even in small doses).
The Region always suffers the danger of capture by Techno-Logic. But Science can also be captured by the Aesthetic. Thales, the first metaphysician and scientist, said “All is Water,” and thus became the first humorist, also. And Technics can also be captured by Erotics. (Fourier proposed a “New Amorous Order” in his Phalansteries, based on tactics of Utopian Technique.)
The Region is the end of Centrism. Centrism is an obsession. Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with obsessions, as long as we know that we’re obsessed. Take, for example, Mr. Alan Fairweather, whose entire life revolves around his obsession with, study of, and consumption of potatoes. In Mr. Fairweather’s words:”I suppose you could say I have a potato-centric view of the world.” (Newsweek, 5/30/88.) But centrists are seldom so healthy.
Anthropo-centrism has been our world-champion Centrism. It’s come close to K.O.ing the Earth (a T.K.O.—a Technical Knock-Out). But it’s long been on the ropes. Astro-Logic knocked Anthropos off Cosmic center. Bio-Logic knocked him off Planetary center. Psycho-Logic even knocked him off Ego center. And Techno-Logic itself melts him into air. We hardly need any post-structuralist Post-Logic to “de-center” the vapor that remains.