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Automatic Writing

The automatic writing emerges within the realm of the spontaneous and the playful, as a process without a preconception, performed as quickly as possible, so as to exclude any interference on the part of the rational control or the censoring of the consciousness.

The Surrealists employ the method of automatic writing following the example provided by the psychoanalysis, but primarily due to their admiration for the poetry as created by Lautréamont and Arthur Rimbaud. The automatic writing emerges within the realm of the spontaneous and the playful, as a process without a preconception, performed as quickly as possible, so as to exclude any interference on the part of the rational control or the censoring of the consciousness. The automatism, as a basis to the whole of the Surrealist activity, is already defined in Breton’s fist Surrealist Manifesto as a form of experimental technique that is expected to bring forth the creative force of the unconscious.        

The first text created as an application of this method was Les Champs Magnétiques, published during 1919 in the magazine Littérature, and written in turns by André Breton and Philippe Soupault. 

The text “Primer” (An Example) by Marko Ristić was published in 1924, in the magazine Svedočanstva, and it represents one of the earliest automatic texts in the Serbian literature. The examples of automatic texts in the Serbian Surrealism are also “Automatski tekst“ (An Automatic Text) (1932) by Đorđe Kostić and Vane Živadinović Bor, and “Čari automatizma ili Sedam minuta genijalnosti” (The Charms of Automatism, or Seven Minutes of Genius) (1930), produced collectively by Marko Ristić, Dušan Matić, Slobodan Kušić, Đorđe Jovanović, Vane Živadinović Bor, and Aleksandar Vučo. “Nadrealistički tekst” (A Surrealist Text) (1925) and fables (1926) by Moni de Buli could also be designated as automatic texts.     

In his first Surrealist Manifesto André Breton offers an instruction as to how one is to attain the state of spontaneous automatism of thought: “[...] have writing materials brought to you. Put yourself in as passive, or receptive, a state of mind as you can. Forget about your genius, your talents, and the talents of everyone else. Keep reminding yourself that literature is one of the saddest roads that leads to anything. Write quickly, without any preconceived subject, fast enough so that you will not remember what you’re writing and be tempted to reread what you have written. The first sentence will come spontaneously, so compelling is the truth that with every passing second there is a sentence unknown to our consciousness which is only crying out to be heard. It is somewhat of a problem to form an opinion about the next sentence; it doubtless partakes both of our conscious activity and of the other, if one agrees that the fact of having written the first entails a minimum of perception. This should be of no importance to you, however; to a large extent, this is what is most interesting and intriguing about the Surrealist game.”