The Domain of The Marvellous

Humanity is characterised by its inexplicable need for the marvellous.

Pierre Reverdy

Image: Surrealist Theatre Set. Photography by Karina White, 2023.

“Human freedom depends not only on the destruction and restructuring of the economic system, but on the restructuring of the mind. New modes of poetic action, new networks of analogy, new possibilities of expression all help formulate the nature of the supersession of reality, the transformation of everyday life as it encumbers us today, the unfolding and eventual triumph of the marvelous.”

Paul Garon, Surrealist Writer and Blues Scholar

Surrealism, despite what we are told, is not an art movement, but a revolutionary movement to emancipate consciousness. The domain of the marvellous is one of surrealism’s key concepts. What is the domain of the marvellous? It is a the dissolving of contradictions between everyday and our wildest dreams. If what you are experiencing,  should you to wake up now, prompt you to think: ‘this was a beautiful dream’. Likely, you are experiencing the marvellous. Martinique’s surrealist poet and a scholar Suzanne Césaire, who theoriesed domain of the marvellous, invoked us to be ‘in permanent readiness for the marvellous’, which can lurk amidst concrete walls, like balloon dancing in the wind with the leaves. Balloon, after flirting with the corner, almost ended up in the hands of a little boy, but his mother told him: ‘you don’t know where it has been!’…Who could’ve known the balloon dwelt in the domain of the marvellous!? dancing with the leaves! Upon that rejection, our hero took the open road…give world poetic attention, see the marvellous that is already there, create worlds for marvellous to proliferate in the mandala of shared dreams. 

The marvellous appears at the merger of dream and waking worlds…so if you are having an experience, which, if you were to wake up would prompt you to think that it was a marvellous dream – you are in the domain of the marvellous and this is what surrealists are apt at evoking.

Ivan Levant