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Société Imaginaire
 
        
 
   

The Method of the Société Imaginaire

    The Société Imaginaire is an undertaking that strives for cultural dialogue. It has applied itself through multifarious projects, continuously aiming at the same goal but doing so through different means. The great ambition of all the undertakings projects, no matter in what form its method is applied, continuously aims towards the same ideal. Overcoming borders, whether they are the physical ones that are imposed between regions, or even the imperceptible ones that arise socially, the projects bring together the various different peoples divided and by having them communicate through art, they virtually overcome these conflicts by exposing a common desire that is shared individually yet globally.

    The problem surfaced from globalization is that for the first time in mankind’s history he is faced with all of the world’s cultures simultaneously. Cultures have been progressively uniting with the rapid advances of the day and yet people remain divided merely because they grope towards their individual ancestral identities. A great challenge of integration emerges from this evolving union which has for the most part been approached through a linear resolution. Instead of having the tools for facing this challenge with a new approach, mankind is continually repairing the old ones, and trying to overcome something that demands an entirely new mechanism with old machines. He continually faces the new challenges proposed by globalization with the old one sided viewpoint he has always cast upon cultures of the past.

    To approach a project like the Société Imaginaire and this dawning new age, it is self evident that first and foremost we must use our imagination. It is not like an old culture which evolves from one point of view and grows by itself. It has to be constantly imagined because it is absolutely new and always changing. It is not an old machine, like the social systems of today but strives to be just the opposite. Therefore in order to be a part of this progress you cannot innovate a mentality that consists of a one sided view originating from individual cultures, but need a new system which is imaginary, one that has a type of Einsteinian Weltanschauung, giving a different dimension, giving a different approach that enables the cohesion of the new.

    Figurative and abstract. They both cannot be put together in one picture and also not in one social system. In this day and age which is becoming more and more abstract, we can no longer continue to be figurative. Our archaic outlooks are outdated and hinder us from conceiving everything that is happening, limiting our perceptions, understandings and acceptances. This hindrance is a cause of most of our problems worldwide today. The aim is not to cure problems but to root them out. We must completely change our approach. We need an absolute new approach, and this is what the Société Imaginaire offers. It is an answer to globalization.

    Never before has the world been more closely knit together and yet never before have people been so isolated. This isolation comes from a lack of communication which today, despite being the most advanced, is neglected, misused, and mostly misinterpreted. Again this is a result of the archaic application of old systems in a new age. In response, the Société Imaginaire offers a new form of communication which is direct communication. Meaning that it is not filtered through the vast intermediaries who manipulate with their own interpretations, but offers a direct approach which aims directly at the individual. This direct approach allows the individual to rise above all prejudices that are evoked by intermediaries and gain for himself a direct understanding. Through direct communication the individual gains an immediate contact.

    Though the objective of the Société Imaginaire to span the gaps between cultures through communication is clear, its application is continually changing, adapting, evolving. It is staying ahead of its time rather than chasing it as most of us and our institutions are doing today, whether we are conscious of this or not. This uniqueness in as much as having attracted the marvel of many of the leading thinkers of our day, has at the same time stumped them when faced with the challenge of explaining it.

    For the past twenty years many of these intellectual leaders have been challenging themselves in an attempt not to define the Société Imaginaire but to clarify it, and in doing so they continually open more and more doors. Therefore the much information amassed over the last twenty years, the products of the participation of these leaders and their followers, stands as a better testament as to what the Société Imaginaire is than any other attempt of introduction.

    What is important to remember here is that the method is the subject. All of its multifarious approaches interrelate with one another in that they all aim towards the same objective. They support each other and none can stand alone without the rest.

    The Société Imaginaire’s primal method for facing our cultural challenges of the day is via communication through art, which has over the years generated a vast archive of material that illuminates the possibilities of the Société Imaginaire and its benefits. The aim of this website is to allow the viewer the opportunity to explore many of these resulting documents in an attempt to explain its application.

    Following are a few texts from some of the key participants of the Société Imaginaire which help to introduce the undertaking. As before mentioned, to start something new we have to imagine it. The following texts by US Poet Laureate Mark Strand, ex-president of Uruguay Julio M. Sanguinetti, and ex-president of Colombia M. Pastrana Borrero help to introduce the open-endedness of the Société Imaginaire and what it calls for. Its method for communication then is illustrated by the correspondence of the French novelist Michel Butor, whose letter is answered by the Colombian poet Alvaro Mutis. This example of their correspondence illuminates the Société Imaginaire’s method for communication.

    The following texts can give us clues as to how the Société Imaginaire works and how it can develop. Again, in order to gain a fuller understanding of the Société Imaginaire it is important that the reader keep in mind that each piece is only part of a greater whole.

Antimanifesto

    People ask, "What is the Société lmaginaire? Does it exist? Or is it an Illusion?" The answer is: the Société Imaginaire exists, but it cannot be summarized without its subtlety being blunted or its fluency being compromised. It lives by refusal, by saying "no" to what other groups or societies depend on for survival. It has no manifesto, and will not be bound by any explicit formulation of its aims. It exists as a paradox; it is most alive when its life can be least assumed. Although it welcomes attempts to define what it is, it knows none will be right. If its members are evasive when asked to explain it, it is because they know that any answer, once uttered, comes too late. It is committed to "beyondness", to being always one step ahead of what can be said about it. Thus, it keeps growing. And though it has a history, a past amply documented with poems, prints, and statements of various sorts, it is always in the act of discarding them. Its archive is not just the natural by-product of its existence, but the repository of what should not be repeated. Its attention is fixed on the blank where the features of its new face will take shape. Its members are everywhere. They write to each other, and collaborate on projects that are dedicated to simultaneously establishing the Société and abolishing it, giving it an artifactual and literary history that it must forget. It is not dedicated to the cliché that we learn by experience. Rather, it believes that experience must be mistrusted, only then is learning possible. Its aim is not to describe the world, but to remystify it. It offers creation as a mode of life and a condition for living; at least for a time. This time.

Mark Strand
US Poet Laureate

To the Société Imaginaire

    We read, listen and watch; we, the everyday inhabitants of the nightly news. Catastrophes become instantaneous. We watch, but do we see? Do we know ourselves any better as a result of what we see? Do we really know what things mean in all of these different places? The TV viewing citizen, Homo Coca-Jeanens; does he have the world in his home, or is he more alone than ever?

    The Société Imaginaire stretches a thread between cultures and weaves a dialogue. Poets and artists. Words and forms. The Americas and Europe. Latinos, Germans and Slavs. Human beings all of us in our strength and also in our frailty, understanding each other across oceans and distances, borders and silences.

    Only by comparing do we nurture understanding. Nothing is learned nor can anyone be known in isolation. Beneath the surface there flows a deep and fresh current, humanistic, creative and universal. Horror has become too globalized for us to renounce bringing together the best of ourselves: pure forms recently created, words that are music, lines that are words. In creating we give life; we assume our miraculous condition and push away the demons that lie always in ambush, hiding behind ignorance that fills us with fear and draws us toward hatred.

    When the imaginary is brought to paper it begins to live. That thread which here and now joins poets and artists begins to become real. And the Société comes to life.

Julio Maria Sanguinetti
Ex-President of Uruguay

At the Kennedy Center

I do not think there is anyone
after their first encounter
with the Société Imaginaire
-seed in the creative
mind and dynamic will
of Batuz- whose initial reaction
would not be skeptical, which is
the characteristic of ideas that break through
rigid traditional schemas.

At the same time I am sure there are few who
by penetrating this original conception
are not captivated by the conviction that there is no
similar force towards an idea which interprets
the changing winds of the times, and the reflection
on the reasoning that the young rebels
from 1968 had while engraving in
the walls that witness history;
“Power is the Imagination”

The imagination is the faculty of
cardinal virtue when motivated
by a noble and generous ambition. And if Batuz
with that accomplishes a fruitful seed which
germinates in more and more consciences, then the society
of the next century will be Imaginary and less
dogmatic, because in the very end
imagination is impregnated with dreams;
and as quoted from the Spanish writer of the
Golden Century; “dreams are what we dream”

Pastrana Borrero
Ex-President of Colombia
Washington D.C. – XI – 7/95

You, whoever you might be:

    If l had placed your name at the head of this blank page, surely l would have known you for quite some time, and thus, as these lines would develop, flashes of your semblance would come to me, the sound of your voice, memories of past moments together, perhaps from a distant childhood, discoveries we had in common, readings, travels.

    If l had written your name, of course, preceded by the well-known formula Mr., Mrs., or Miss (this last form now in disuse), l would most certainly have used the polite vous form, which to be sure l am accustomed to using with many of my friends even the oldest and dearest, since the step from respect to camaraderie was never taken, a thing which l often regret but which takes nothing away from the relationship.

    On the other hand it has happened that l will use the familiar tu form in letters to persons l have never seen but with whom l have worked at a distance.

    If this letter gets to you, whom l am addressing as vous, it will serve to uncover, through our continuing dialogue, who knows what unplumbed depths, gold mines, or perhaps mines of salt that someday will shine in the open air.

    I certainly do not yet know you, nor have l even received a letter from you, and l imagine a face, a voice in expectation of comprehension over the vast and frozen expanses of foolishness and deafness, misfortune and lost opportunities, vast spaces into which l hurl this message in a bottle.




Michel Butor
Michel Butor is a French novelist.

Dear Butor:

    The bottle which you dropped into the sea has found its way to one of the possible recipients of its message. I have always thought that messages in bottles are a very unique and particular means of communication between shipwrecked persons. This case is no exception. Shipwrecked as we are on our Island and surrounded by the sinister world of communication, where through the most sophisticated technological means, man has managed to achieve the ability to say everything to everyone and, in the end, to say nothing at all while he sinks in a sea of idiocy where words and images are just the flotsam of an unprecedented catastrophe at sea. Have you ever thought, perhaps, that in the Middle Ages man managed to communicate with his brothers in fuller and more efficient ways than today? That enormous bottle in the sea, received by all and understood by all: the work of Dante roars out to us to say that it was so. What to do then? Turn our backs, to be sure, on the disastrous call of the mass media and begin anew from zero. Such a beginning l see as possible, thanks to our Société Imaginaire, which was created (and this is important to keep in mind) by someone who put aside his undeniable possibilities in the world of painting, so that a few of us survivors might begin a dialogue without any other purpose than to share company in truth and courage and to say the two or three things that we need to say; nothing else. We are not going to save the world, nor decipher the role of the intellectual in the modern world; we'll not save the Third World nor the Fourth nor the Tenth. Let us return to the dialogue initiated by the Greeks and carried on, with a little less conviction, by the Romans, and continued to decline through that feeble Century, the nineteenth. As an aside to these comments, l must express my admiration for your work. l speak now to a friend whom l hope someday to be able to address in the familiar tu with the deep sincerity of one who believes that this may be our only way out, the only way to win the game. Do you not see it this way also? l am sure your answers is, Yes. l send my best regards and also send my own, in no way imaginaire, Yes.






Alvaro Mutis
Alvaro Mutis is a Colombian poet.