Gherasim Luca was born Salman Locker on July 23, 1913, into a liberal Jewish family in Bucharest. His father was a tailor. Luca, who spoke Yiddish, Romanian, German, and French, traveled frequently to Paris in the latter part of the 1930s and became acquainted with the French Surrealists. World War II and Romania's official anti-Semitism forced him into internal exile. During the short pre-Communist period of Romanian independence, he together with Gellu Naum, Paul Paun, Virgil Teodorescu, and Dolfi Trost founded the Romanian Surrealist Group. In 1945 Luca and Trost co-authored the group's principal text Dialetics of the Dialectic. Harassed and caught while trying to flee the country, the self-styled "etran-juif" was finally able to leave Romania in 1952, and moved to Paris via Israel. Frequently cited in the works of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Luca collaborated in Paris with many artists, including Jean Arp, Paul Celan, Francois Di Dio, and Max Ernst, producing numerous collages (he helped invent cubomania), drawings, objects, and text-installations. Starting in 1967, reading appearances took him to many cities in the US and around Europe, and a 1988 television portrait, Comment s'en sortir sans sortir by Raoul Sanglas, further widened his readership. Having spent forty years in France without papers, he was evicted from his apartment in 1994, along with all the building's tenants, officially for "urban renewal." Now 80 and unable to cope with his new situation, Luca committed suicide on February 9, 1994 by jumping into the Seine.
Passive Vampireby Gherasim Luca
Poetry. Art. Translated by Krzysztof Fijalkowski. Originally published in 1945 by Les Editions de l'Oubli in Bucharest, THE PASSIVE VAMPIRE caught the attention of the French Surrealists when an excerpt appeared in 1947 alongside texts by Jabes and Michaux in Georges Henein's magazine La part du sable. Luca, whose work was admired by Gilles Deleuze, attempts here
Poetry. Art. Translated by Krzysztof Fijalkowski. Originally published in 1945 by Les Editions de l'Oubli in Bucharest, THE PASSIVE VAMPIRE caught the attention of the French Surrealists when an excerpt appeared in 1947 alongside texts by Jabes and Michaux in Georges Henein's magazine La part du sable. Luca, whose work was admired by Gilles Deleuze, attempts here to transmit the "shudder" evoked by some Surrealist texts, such as Andre Breton's Nadja and Mad Love, probing with acerbic humor the fragile boundary between "objective chance" and delirium. Impossible to define, THE PASSIVE VAMPIRE is a mixture of theoretical treatise and breathless poetic prose, personal confession and scientific investigation it is 18 photographs of "objectively offered objects," a category created by Luca to occupy the space opened up by Breton. At times taking shape as assemblages, these objects are meant to capture chance in its dynamic and dramatic forms by externalizing the ambivalence of our drives and bringing to light the nearly continual equivalence between our love-hate tendencies and the world of things.
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First published in 1945, Luca's book reflects all of the rampant, extremist fears and associated mental states in the pre-World War II and the War years in Europe. The style of the book is labeled surrealistic; but it is also existential despite its lack of elements such as setting and characterization with its implications of biography and interaction with one's surroundings. Although the book is patently dated as far as the historical and social circumstances it grew out of and by its heavily psychologistic style, a work with its vibrancy and display of aspects of human nature is never passe or irrelevant. One sees in the book, for instance, sources of the science fiction and horror literature and movies so popular today. Besides its portrayals of charged, uncontrolled emotional states, Luca's book is of interest for its illustrations. These are surrealist with their mixed elements and cryptic presence. They are simpler though than the highly-wrought writing and than most surrealist art--as if the strange archetypes of Luca's psychology and imagination. With their relative simplicity, the objects in the illustrations seem more personal than typical surrealist art, like the art of Joseph Cornell. In combining text and illustrations, Luca's book comes within a relatively small category of art and is also marked as something of a rudiment or prototype of the comic or illustrated novel which has come onto the scene in recent years. The Passive Vampire is noteworthy as outstanding representative literature of a particular period, and also as a work offering a rare, unusual, literary, artistic experience.