Critical Dictionary  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Critical Dictionary (French: Dictionnaire critique) was a regular section of the journal Documents, a late 1920s-era Surrealist journal edited and masterminded by Georges Bataille. Structured as a dictionary, it offered "redefinitions", short essays by Bataille and his colleagues on such subjects as "Absolute", "Eye", "Factory Chimney", and "Keaton (Buster)".

In the entry for aesthete one finds the following sentence:

"When it comes down to it, these words have the power to disturb and to nauseate: after fifteen years, one finds the shoe of a dead woman at the bottom of a cupboard; one throws it in the rubbish bin." [...] The unfortunate who says that art no longer works, because that way one remains disengaged from the 'dangers of action', says something deserving of the same attention as the dead woman's shoe." (translation by Art in Theory).

And in the entry for Eye. 2. Cannibal Delicacy:

Concerning these, Grandville writes: "Are these the thousand eyes of the crowd attracted by the rumour of an immanent spectacle of torture?" But why would these absurd eyes be attracted, like a cloud of flies, to something so repugnant? Equally, why on the masthead of a perfectly sadistic illustrated weekly, published in Paris between 1907 and 1924, does an eye regularly appear against a red background, above various bloody spectacles? Why does not the Eye of the Police resemble the eye of human justice in Grandville's nightmare, perhaps in the end just the expression of a blind thirst for blood? Similar also to the eye of Crampon, condemned to death and approached by the chaplain an instant before the blade's descent: he dismissed the clergyman by enucleating himself and presenting him with the merry gift of his tornout eye, because this eye was made of glass. (tr. Encyclopaedia Acephalica).

List of entries

Absolute Aesthete Angel 1 Angel 2 Architecture Benga Black Birds Bonjour Brothers Camel Crustaceans Cults Debacle Dust Eye 1 Eye 2 Eye 3 Eye 4 Factory Chimney Formless Hygiene Ju-Ju Kali Keaton (Buster) Man 1 Man 2 Materialism Metamorphosis 1 Metamorphosis 2 Metamorphosis 3 Metaphor Misfortune Mouth Museum Nightingale Pensum Pottery Reptiles Skyscraper Slaughterhouse Space 1 Space 2 Spittle 1 Spittle 2 Sun Talkie Threshold Work


See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Critical Dictionary" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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