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106 THE MINNESOTA REVIEW especially poignant in its description of the ways in which a cancer characterology blames the victim for a disease whose causality lies outside of the idiosyncratic qualities of individual personality. Yet, the essay's reliance upon a medicalized and scientized understanding of truth and its implicit faith in medical research to solve the problems of illness obscures the mystification of social and individual experience caused by the ideology of modern science itself. Because it shares this set of assumptions. Illness as Metaphor can only contrast the fictions of metaphor with the realitites of modern medicine. Although intending to freeus from pernicious untruths that limit our own understandings and our abilities to act as autonomous persons, Sontag has written an apologia for a medicalizeduniverse that demands our awe and our acquiescence in the face of its overwhelming monopoly of knowledge and its technical sophistication. Where a more thorough analysis of contemporary society would seek to reveal the limits of scientific inquiry and theproblematic connection between health and medical "progress," (e.g. Illich's MedicalNemesis), Illness as Metaphor uncritically accepts the same criteria that science uses to describe and to evaluate society. Further, by granting an already scientized universe the status ofunquestioned reality, Sontag forgoes the possibility of seeing science itself as modern mythology: another mind-set that defines and structures our feelings, experiences, and possible actions in the social world. For modern science, metaphor has a single meaning—that ofuntruth. Its hidden literalism can only demand that social ideal of a universe without illness. Yet, a universe without illness can no longer be understood as a society, for no society can fully rid itself of the intricacies, confusions, and paradoxes that must define even the most healthy forms ofhuman association. Such a one-dimensional idea negates the very dialogue that is repressed and distortedwithin present-day society—a dialogue ofconflicting interpretations that would form the bases of the "sharing" that Sontag's opening quotation alludes to, but ultimately denies. This denial rests upon the false dichotomy between the inherent "corruption" and "contamination " embodied within language and an understanding of shared speech and social life that demands a perfect cleansingofall ambiguity. By formulating her own analysis within the same model that she, ostensibly criticizes, Sontag's Illness as Metaphor has left us with a parallel ideal* a universe without metaphor. Alan Mandell Andre Breton. What Is Surrealism? Selected Writings. Edited and introduced by Franklin Rosemont. New York: Monad Press, 1978. $8.95. This massive and important volume contains two book-length works and was indeed published in two parts in Europe. Rosemont's 150-page introduction recounts surrealism's history and elaborates on its central precepts with a special emphasis on the activities of Breton. The longer second section collects and excerpts Breton's writings grouping them by decade. In Rosemont, a leader ofthe REVIEWS 107 American surrealist movement, and especially in Breton, a founding member and lifelong activist in the surrealist cause, surrealism finds able and sometimes sparkling spokespersons. Although the question posed in the book's title admits no pat answer, this anthology provides its readers with a broad survey of the farreaching concerns of the surrealiste and demonstrates the sustained vitality of this movement of artistic revolt. Surrealism, which has at one time or another engaged the sympathies of such major creative geniuses of Luis Bunuel, Antonin Artaud, Aime Cesaire, Diego Rivera, Octavio Paz, Benjamin Paret, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Eluard, Yves Tanguy and (moreperipherally) Pablo Picasso and Alexander Calder, is much misunderstood in America. Often incorrectly identified with the melting clocks and vapid mysticism of Salvador DaIi, surrealism has more recently come into popular usage as a term which can be stretched to include everything from op art to the imagery ofJefferson Airplane lyrics. Its defining elements are most often perceived as esoterism, frivolity and distortion. Rosemont's trenchant introduction describes a far more coherent and principled surrealist tradition. From its emergence out of the Dada school in the post-World War One period, surrealism conceived ofitself as a multi-faceted movement for human freedom. Eschewing mysticism it attempted to combine Marxism and psychoanalysis into a theory of liberation which could harness the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 106-108
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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