Surrealism & Psychoanalysis Research Group November Sessions: The Encyclopedia Acephalica


Chicago, NYC, Philadelphia, Internet Cables

Date & Time

Nov. 15 —Nov. 29, 2015


Free Event

Event Description

The Surrealism and Psychoanalysis Research Group will devote the next two meetings following up our interests in black humor and minor form through studying the surrealist “encyclopedic aphorism.” We’ll take a look at selections from the so-called “Critical Dictionary” compiled from contributors to Documents like Carl Einstein, Michel Leiris, and Georges Bataille, as well as entries from the later Encyclopedia Da Costa by, among others, Breton and Duchamp.

Both the “Critical Dictionary” and the Encyclopedia Da Costa have been compiled in a single english translation under the title Encyclopedia Acephalica. The translators have also contributed an excellent introduction that explains the rather confusing historical circumstances of these texts.

Finally, we will look at these writings through the more general frame of the concept of the encyclopedia and its relation to modern epistemology. To this end I have excerpted the section on Dictionaries and Encyclopedias from Umberto Eco’s Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language.

Contact for pdfs of readings

Schedule of readings:

SESSION I: (week of November 15)


from The Encyclopedia Acephalica

“Introduction” p9-29


from Documents’ “Critical Dictionary”:

Baron: “Crustaceans” (38-40)

Bataille: “Architecture” (35-36);  “Dust” (42); “Formless” (52);  “Man” (56)


from the Da Costa Encyclopedia :

“School” (110)

“Screen” (110)

“Equalization” (113)


SESSION II: (week of November 29)


(suggested) from Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language, Umberto Eco

“Dictionary or Encyclopedia” p46-84


from The Encyclopedia Acephalica

from Documents’ “Critical Dictionary”:

Bataille: “Slaughterhouse” (72)


from the Da Costa Encyclopedia :

“Encyclopedia” (122)

“Ennui” (125)

“Entity” (126)

“Essence” (134)

“Dispatch-Rider” (137)