Ivan Martin Jirous  

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

Ivan Martin Jirous (September 23, 1944) was a Czech poet, best known for being the artistic director of the Czech psychedelic rock group The Plastic People of the Universe and later one of organizers of Czech underground during the communist regime. He is also known more frequently as Magor, which can be roughly translated as "loony" or "blockhead" and is supposedly derived from "phantasmagoria", author of this nickname is "experimental" poet Eugen Brikcius. His wife, Věra Jirousová, wrote a good number of the Plastics' early lyrics.

Trained as an art historian but unable to work as such under the Communist regime in then Czechoslovakia, Magor/Jirous was a member of the dissident subculture there. His particular contribution to Czech dissidence was his work on the concept of the "Parallel Polis," or "Second Culture." Magor believed that simply expressing oneself through art could ultimately undermine the totalitarian system: if enough artists, journalists, and musicians were to simply keep practicing their arts without giving in to the pressures of socialist realism, eventually a critical mass of people, all living in truth, would inspire the rest of the populace to see the totalitarian system for the flimsy front it really was.

In a sense, this is what happened. It is certainly true that the Charter 77 movement, a group of dissidents which had first coalesced around the Plastics and Magor when they had gone on trial in 1976, ended up supplanting the communist government by popular appeal in 1989. In a sense, if only a sense, the Plastics and Magor thus inspired the Velvet Revolution.

He is friends with Václav Havel, and is mentioned several times in Havel's Letters to Olga.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ivan Martin Jirous" 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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