Nicolas Calas: The Trotskyist Time Forgot

Wald, Alan

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/09/2018
Year Published:  2018  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23409

A lengthy, detailed look at modern Trotskyist poet Nicolas Calas (1907-88).



NICOLAS CALAS (1907-88) may be the most visionary poet, art critic, museum curator, cultural historian, and lifelong Trotskyist of whom you have never heard. Writing decades before Fredric Jameson’s classic The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (1981) declared, "Always historicize!," Calas embodied this precept in every dimension of his multifaceted career.

He was a revolutionary cultural worker living in the United States since 1940 who blended Marxism and psychoanalysis along with the ideas of Wilhelm Reich, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Ludwig Wittgenstein - all in the years before Herbert Marcuse and the Frankfurt School succeeded in renovating the boundaries of historical materialist discourse.

He was also part of "an international homosexual set" consisting of poet and collage artist Charles Henri Ford (1908-2002), Russian-born painter Pavel Tchelitchew (1898-1957), novelist and film critic Parker Tyler (1904-74), and the fabled Trotskyist/Beatnik Brion Gysin (1916-86).

Principally, the inscrutable, perhaps even shape-shifting Calas was vital in the transnational passage to the United States of the ideas of Surrealism, the 20th century avant-garde cultural movement seeking to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind.

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