André Breton, Surrealism, Rebel Worker, SDS and the Seven Cities of Cibola
by Penelope Rosemont
Nationwide campus surveys show that students today regard the 1960s as the most attractive, creative, and effective decade of the past century. Above all, the Sixties introduced an inspiring new radicalism—in truth, many new radicalisms, a visionary spirit, and a strong will to change society.
Recently, however, neo-conservatives, ex-radicals and boring academics have been doing their worst to trivialize and defame those vibrant years when "Freedom Now" and Solidarity were in the wind. Penelope Rosemont's lively first person account captures the true excitement, intellectual passion, high humor, and diversity of the era.
Her story begins in 1964 with the rowdy "Anti-Poetry Club" at Roosevelt University—a group that also included the IWW's Solidarity Bookshop, the journal Rebel Worker, and the legendary Gallery Bugs Bunny.
Among the very few Americans welcomed by André Breton into the Surrealist Group in Paris early in 1966, Penelope and her husband Franklin co-organized the Surrealist Group in Chicago later that year. They collaborated on surrealist publications in Paris, Prague, Amsterdam and many other places, as well as in several of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights anthologies. In Chicago, Paris, New York and London, they also visited old-time Wobblies, surrealists, anarchists, socialists and situationists.
In 1967 Penelope Rosemont joined the National Office Staff of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and took part in its strategies and actions. As a surrealist, and co-editor of the SDS theoretical journal, Radical America, she also played an important role in uniting a radical culture to a radical politics.