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In this long, interesting article, José Revueltas ponders the nature of words, how they are used and how, over time, their meaning changes. As an example, he mentions the expression “épater le bourgeois” [to frighten the bourgeois] that was in vogue—among the Impressionists and the Dadaists— in the early part of the century when there were still some bourgeois who could be frightened. Before the First World War I, the bourgeois could be frightened because they had something to lose. During the years between the wars, the content of the expression began to change. Revueltas says that the form did not change but the content did, especially with the onset of fascism. Some artists, like Pablo Picasso, and the poets Paul Éluard, and Louis Aragon reacted, but then there was Salvador Dalí, who was no longer frightening the bourgeois because now he was just a highly paid anti-Communist. In short, words can have different applications and contents depending on their socio-political and/or ideological role, which the author uses as a ramp to launch his research into Socialist Realism. Revueltas believes that Realism is the process that allows us to see the sharp, true reality of human beings, the society they live in, and the world around them.    


José Revueltas (1914-76) was a political activist, a first class intellectual, a prolific writer, and a militant. Here, Revueltas discusses the philosophy of words and their content; he asks why words have been damaged, and wonders about the meaning of abstractionism, committed art, the freedom of art, and directed art? he challenges the propagandists of the Cold War who say that “directed art” is the expression of Socialist Realism and almost always imply that the creator is in service to the government. Revueltas defends Realism and speculates on the existence of valid criteria for distinguishing the false from the real and the exact from the inexact in any given reality. Realism, he concludes, is not an aesthetic school; it is a way of seeing. 

Esther Acevedo : Dirección de Estudios Históricos, INAH / CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Biblioteca Justino Fernández del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México