"This book is about Talleyrand and everything else"
- Roberto Calasso,"La Ruine de Kash"
"Surrealism and the Machine" was initially written as an introduction to Zazie's works presented in the International Surrealist Exhibition held in Prague in 1999. It is not and it has never been meant as a manifesto in favor of computers, much less of "digital art".
Rather, it attempts describing by small touches the major paths and results of Zazie's experimental mental approach and although my description is high level enough and more than a bit abstract in its expression, it has been acknowledged as a reasonably accurate description of their own ways and feelings by several surrealists involved in the same experimental path.
Also, in its most abstract and difficult areas this text condenses and reuses some of the main ideas I created during an in depth study of Duchamp's work made in the years before with Zazie and to a lesser extent William Dubin and Michael Betancourt.
Finally, my little text ends up with a sort of "call to arms" inviting surrealists to use the capabilities of computers as a weapon against the pitiful society we are living in, for instance by using them as a sort of anti drawing board to suggest what the world could be if a surrealist revolution prevailed.
In the answer he made, Michael Richardson is kind enough to state that he rarely came across "a piece of writing so badly thought out" as "Surrealism and the Machine". At least, although "badly" enough according to him, he seems to agree upon the fact that, after all, I thought. Unfortunately, so benevolent as I may be in my ordinary manners, I can definitely not detect the slightest hint of personal thinking in the entire text he produced against me and what he assumes to be what I wrote..
A Collage ?
"Si c'est la plume qui fait le plumage, ce n'est pas la colle qui fait le collage
- Max Ernst
As a matter of fact and to be really honest Michael Richardson's did not criticize my text, because he did not ever really read it. What he did instead, was to collect all the possible ideological bits and pieces of garbage related to computers that are hanging around in this society, assume this was a correct representation of what computers currently are, assemble this material and pretend he had done something in the defense of Surrealism. On the whole, I would certainly like to call Michael Richardson's exercise a collage if did not jump so clearly back to my mind Max Ernst's saying according to which "si c'est la plume qui fait le plumage, ce n'est pas la colle qui fait le collage".Unfortunately, in Michael Richardson's one and a half A4 I could not find one single idea that I had not read several times before in books and articles, or heard on TV or on the radio and so on. At first, one would think that I exaggerate and that at least the title of M.R.'s paper is new. But not the slightest.
Also, I certainly would have needed Michael Richardson contemptuous lessons regarding Surrealism being concerned about undermining machines very functionality, provided I had not quoted (in their essence) Duchamp's own words in the following : "Singular point where start and engulf the tracks opening on the subversion of art and usage in the "Ready-mades" first, on the derision of this deadly seriousness machines cast on all human things secondly".
Clearly, if my writing skills are poor, Michael's Richardon's reading skills are somewhat poorer as I cannot seriously imagine that his purpose was to break open doors.
On the whole, it is not indeed because of its originality that I decided to give an answer to Michael Richardson's text, but quite the opposite, because of its quite remarkable absence of such a quality.