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For Don Lacoss: 1964-2011

Posted on February 7th, 2011 in Uncategorized

Last week, many of us were saddened by the passing of  Don Lacoss, surrealist, anarchist, adventurer, author. Don was a friend and a comrade, and was, for me, one of the strongest ties between the surrealist movement and the anarchist movement in the United States, and both movements are diminished by the loss. Below is the statement on his passing issued by the Surrealist Movement in the United States. For those who knew Don, please visit to share your thoughts about his incredible life and work.

DON LACOSS (1964-2011)

When our friend Myrna Rochester, expert on the surrealist Rene Crevel, told us that we it was necessary for us to meet someone interested in surrealism, finishing his doctorate at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, we were skeptical, even perhaps somewhat hostile…There are, after all, lots of people interested in surrealism, most are interested in only a superficial way. But when we met Don Lacoss, we were impressed; not only did he know as much about surrealism as we did, but he loved it just as much as we did.

He was committed to poetry, freedom and love…. to their exaltation in daily life and to their actualization in the phenomenal world. It was as if we had known him forever or as if we had found, after searching for years, a long lost friend. We immediately began to elaborate, and continued to elaborate, a beautiful conversation about projects, hopes and dreams that was mutually inspiring and beneficial to all of us. That was a part of Don way of living, always sharing ideas, inspirations….working together was always fun, and wherever he was, there was laughter and pleasure and games.

He was fortunate to find Susan Crutchfield who shared his enthusiasms and he experienced again the great joys and magic of childhood with his son Benjamin. He kept us posted on the projects he and Benjamin were involved in. We had the feeling that every day was a passionate one for him, that he did not waste a minute, but filled his days with explorations in the emancipation of the imagination and his efforts toward actualization his imagination in daily life….after all, what now exists was at one time only imagined….and Don’s imagination was wild and free. He used his critical powers to attack alienation, reification, and false consciousness and urged us all “not to shy away from looking back on history to help imagine the unimaginable postcapitalist future.”

In the Introduction Lacoss wrote to Michael Lowy’s Morning Star: surrealism, marxism, anarchism, situationism utopia published by the University of Texas Press, he wrote that “surrealism with its commitments to an unorthodox Freudo-Hegelianism attempts to abolish unfreedom by the self-liberation of individual consciousness and the simultaneous transformation of the social world.” In a long essay published in booklet form as Surrealism in ‘68: Paris, Prague Chicago he analyzed that pivotal historic period in relationship to surrealism and the existing surrealist groups….after all “Be realistic, Demand the Impossible!” is a surrealist slogan.

Lacoss undertook the editing of the Surrealist Series at the University of Texas Press after the loss of his friend Franklin Rosemont. He was currently working on a book to be published by Texas on George Henein, Egyptian surrealism and surrealism in the Arab world entitled the Imp of the Perverse. The jazz musician Sun Ra was the subject of an inspired essay by Lacoss published in Ron Sakolsky’s magazine Oyster Catcher. He frequently edited issues of the Fifth Estate, one is currently in production.

With Ray Spiteri in 2003 he had collected and edited Surrealism, Politics and Culture. At 46, he still had so much to contribute, what a loss to us all and to surrealism. Don’s polemical side can be found in his contributions recently to our surrealist manifestoes “Another Paradise Lost: A Surrealist Program of Demands on the Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster” and “No War on the Moon!” Paul Garon, author with Beth Garon, of Woman with Guitar: Memphis Minnie’s Blues described Don’s style as “a wonderfully sharp and armor-piercing weapon.” Don was putting together some works for the International Surrealist Exhibition being organized by Joseph Jablonski in Harrisburg , PA, on the theme of Mayan Millennium in 2012.

Part of Don’s special passion was to search out and find the image of emancipation in comics or to detourn those images to bring out their latent content…..thus, remaking the past, inspiring the present and revolutionizing the image of the future…all at the same time and with glorious humor. The work Lacoss was doing is essential work for human emancipation, and somehow it must continue. It is our plan to do a collection of his essays and to finish his book on Henein, and surrealism. His work, his work with the Fifth Estate, alternative publications and causes that he held dear are incredibly significant…it is in these places that is found the laboratory of new ideas, the ones that shine like bright stars; the places where freedom stretches itself, and where the possibilities of a marvelous future are to be found.

The Surrealist Movement in the U.S.