About Mormyrid

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Mormyrid has created 36 blog entries.
3 04, 2017

The Grass Plot Round A Sun-Dial by Jason Abdelhadi

By | April 3rd, 2017|Essay|0 Comments

Do you know who is in your garden? Is it a pronoun combined with a chronological list of achievements? Or is it a self-conscious spell, projecting itself on various situations? Does it cast a shadow at brillig? Does it salivate over its own legend? Or is it starving to escape its own fixity, in a desperate flight from the established order?

These questions go out in particular to all the automatons with clock-hearts, dilapidated debutantes and crypto-auto-biographers out there who try to impress journal editors with their marching band of “Published-Ins”, “Appeared-Ins”, “Nominated Fors” and, perhaps most damning, “Awardeds”.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the spectacle of a circus on some child-like level. But anybody who has thought about it from the perspective of poetic justice must side with the slim chance of the animals revolting and devouring the ringmasters. I guess what I mean is that when the forecast is really hot, POETRY LEAVES NO PAPER TRAIL.

Or at least it doesn’t write up its own police report. Is poetry spying? Yes, to a degree, it is a (mass?) observation of “something”, but it is emphatically NOT a self-declared index of one’s own activities. Especially if these self-censored lists include awards but not dreams, punches thrown, neuroses confronted… Or is it full-blown espionage, self-surveillance, snitching? I think summaries and profile screens were invented for military officers and cops. Or at least somebody with a sharp object. Getting “to the point” evokes the bayonet.

But where there are cops, of course, there’s property nearby what needs guarding. Protecting the plots of the bourgeoisie, the literary corps of the police force keeps out squatters and vagrants and ensures that there are clean sitting rooms for people to wait in clutching their freshly printed resumes. Of course, most publication is a kind of job interview, but perhaps there are a few rare instances that see it more as a kind of MODEST OPPORTUNITY FOR INSINUATING ROMANTIC WITCHCRAFT INTO THE BLOODSTREAM OF THE CAPITALIST METROPOLIS. The touching of hearts, through modest exhibitionism of a few throbbing pericardia.

In this context I am reminded of a certain filthy doorway in a bus station I frequent, which, when it rains, reflects along its bottom panels a diabolical light-show of waves from water droplets, radio signals from a utopian neverland interrupting the foot-level gazers and reveries of the working day. Nearby, the word “COME” is scrawled in black marker on a red garbage receptacle. One would be hard-pressed to refuse this call to adventure, and I look around me, to see if others catch the moment…Unless, perhaps, they are instead committed to a much narrower conception of transit; just on their way, maybe. There are other invitations to respond to. Tonight, a highly established awards ceremony. And after, the itemization of said good time on one’s scroll of accomplishments. The life of the agenda and the invite. What, too good for garbage now? Your uncle Moscovitch was never too good for his own garbage.

Ok then. Instead of a coven plotting revolution, a gathering of the Table of Contents society. The mandate? Itemize the subitems. It’s a closed-circle of classification, a new worse scholarship of our own selves. A sad poet who crafts their own bibliography as a favour to their future biographer. “He’ll be so impressed, and I’ll be a bust in a high school cafeteria.” This is nothing new, but I keep wagering my all on the MUST BE MADE BY ALL OF YOU, and ask, can’t we dispense with templates and chronological storytelling?

By all and not one means not dwelling on oneself certainly. There’s a giant Gulliver out there you could be crawling all over. There’s a chance to step outside oneself, the Phoney Pohet, and stumble over an object or a group of friends that jolt a connection unforeseen, unprepared, untrained, and certainly unexposed. We need new faces and masks for ourselves that point far away from our humanity and its accrued skillsets.

When I was younger I spent some time considering poetry journals, prizes, submission guidelines and all the other operating procedures of a successful literary career. I found it was remarkably similar to the advice I was getting from high school career counsellors. The Way of the Professional Pohet: get good grades, volunteer, practice, network, apply, and expose yourself. It’s a rather obvious way to channel the ghost of christmas bureaucracy (and his attendant rewards). I suppose the output of both streams, had I followed them, would be UNFLINCHINGLY SUBURBAN. This means a poetics/lifestyle of comfort, entertainment, stability, and self-obsession.

Ah, look! There they go now, Mr. and Mrs. Poets of the Patriarchy! Cube headed with rounded, aesthetic corners. My, what clean careers and handkerchiefs. I suspect they smell of vetiver. A pink skunk pulls a baby-carriage at their side, filled with tomatoes. They must have drunk lots of fecund blowfish tea to get where they are now, you can see it leaking from their verse spouts (located like a Sperm Whale at the top of the head). A chipmunk could hear the chapbooks rustling in their hearts. I see them murmuring something… Ah, they are accepting their life experiences into their poems. They are living, just like that, right before our eyes! Such a simple movement of tender moments and bowels. I wonder how their spouts work, actually, I do hope they reveal the secret in an interview. Perhaps after winning some prizes. They lament there is hardly a career to be had in this poetry game. But for now they invite us over and look at the sight of their beautiful spinal cords on the shelf, their custom fonts. What a chymical couple.

Ok. Moving along. Now let’s stop and talk to Arcanum XII, The Hanged Man, who dangles merrily without jotting down any notes at all—or if he is doing that kind of journalism, behind his back (for we don’t know what he’s holding in his hands), he’s certainly NOT in the sharing mood. It’s a sort of still, Mass-Observation on his part, an ornithology of the poetic occurrence in nature and on the path towards the city. The Mass-Observers in Worktown would often take notes inconspicuously in coat pockets. The poetic data lives in the mass and belongs to the masses. The junkbox in the garage, the archive of old observations. This is where the poetic itemizes itself, an internal finality and an external slip on the banana peel of the real. You can see it in his expression. It’s that blank supernaturalist stare of Nerval. The very opposite of the self-satisfied smirk of the curriculum vitae. Yes, all acceptable and career-progressing CVs have this terrible facial expression:

The egg only got larger and larger, and more and more human: when she had come within a few yards of it, she saw that it had eyes and a nose and mouth; and, when she had come close to it, she saw clearly that it was HUMPTY DUMPTY himself. ‘It can’t be anybody else!’ she said to herself. ‘I’m as certain of it, as if his name were written all over his face.

Fry the egg. Who is content to be satisfied, when there’s desperation available? I ask the third person in the garden if they are really what was caught on the line (the dangling worm of reputation)… Or if it could be someone else?

A grin without a cat.

-Jason Abdelhadi

27 03, 2017

New book from Dark Windows Press

By | March 27th, 2017|News|0 Comments

ANDRÉ BRETON’S ARCANE 17: A LODESTAR FOR THE 21st CENTURY A CONTEMPORARY CELEBRATION is from an idea by Patrick Lepetit, John Richardson & John Welson and includes contributions from: Jean Bonnin, Miguel de Carvalho, Jean-Claude Charbonel, Neil Coombs, Guy Ducornet, Krzystoft Fijalkowski, Kathy Fox, Beth Garon, Paul Garon, Guy Girard, Mary Jacob, Patrick Lepetit, Rik Lina, Michael Löwy, Desmond Morris, David Nadeau, Jean-Pierre Paraggio, Seixas Peixoto, Predo Prata, Marie Pierre, Michel Remy, John Richardson, Ody Saban, Francine Samuel, Pierre-Andre Sauvageot, Gregg Simpson, Wedgwood Steventon, Laurens Vancrevel and John Welson. Fully illustrated throughout in colour. Texts and essays by David Nadeau, Desmond Morris, Michael Löwy, Patrick Lepetit, Guy Girard and others.

Now available to buy at reduced price here

Save

Save

7 03, 2017

The Hartley Mob

By | March 7th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

“The gangsters of the Hartley Mob, who made their rendezvous in the dives around Broadway and Houston street, were attracting much attention by using a hearse and carriages to transport their plunder through the streets. The vehicles proceeded like a funeral, with the stolen goods concealed behind the black drapings of the hearse and on the floors of the carriages, in which rode the gangsters heavily armed and dressed in funereal garments. The Hartley Mob chieftains also employed the hearse to haul their battlers. Once some twenty members of the gang set out to avenge an insult which had been offered to them by one of the Five Points gangs, and the latter gathered in force in Mulberry street to repel them. But the Five Pointers divided their ranks to permit a hearse and funeral carriages to pass, and were surprised and overwhelmed when the Hartley Mob thugs suddenly swarmed out of the vehicles and attacked them.”

Herbert Asbury, The Gangs of New York.

19 02, 2017

Surrealist realism by Jesús Garcías Rodriguez & Bruno Jacobs

By | February 19th, 2017|Essay, Uncategorized|0 Comments

We recently found out through Facebook that an “International Surrealist Exhibition” took place in the Municipal Museum of Cartago in Costa Rica (free admission), which shares a logo with a certain Camaleonart Foundation — Art and Entertainment (and that is precisely what it is to a large extent nowadays). It deals with no less than 107 “world famous artists” from 26 countries exhibiting 380 works. Oddly enough, we do not recognize the vast majority of those names, but okay, we’re too insolently a-cultural to be aware of so much “world fame”. We learn that surrealism is an artistic and literary movement whose greatest exponent was Salvador Dalí (not by chance called Avida Dollars by the author of the Surrealist Manifestoes), and also that “art is an ambassador”. Perhaps that would be the reason why representatives of up to 8 surely very progressive embassies of nations from the continent were invited to the inauguration?

A pretentious and one-dimensional, i.e. very reductionist exhibition, despite the presence of friends of great integrity represented with works without doubt of excellent quality; a mere greenhouse of myriad aesthetic repetitions and commonplaces (title of the event: The Keys of Desire) under a “surrealist” label, typically formal, castrated and shoddy (which tolerates the presence of an Ingmar Bergman). It shows a true “surrealist realism” (in the manner of the “socialist realism” of such infamous memory, understood as an ideologization, institutionalization and stereotyping of an originally living impulse) and in this case not even with a minimum of “piquancy”, empty of the least critical decency and rebellious spirit, the essence of a most basic surrealist attitude: a banal alibi among others in a bourgeois culture in total decadence, which seeks, as always, to convert any aspect of transgression into merchandise, entertainment and financial and political speculation at the service of the establishment.

Exegetes, in order to see clearly, erase the word surrealism, said someone quite correctly for quite some years ago.

Jesús Garcías Rodriguez
Bruno Jacobs

Summer 2016

14 01, 2017

End Notes from the Aquatic Lanthorn by Jason Abdelhadi

By | January 14th, 2017|Essay|0 Comments

My object here is simply to project the draught of a systematisation of Cetology. I am the architect, not the builder. But it is a ponderous task; no ordinary letter-sorter in the Post Office is equal to it. To grope down into the bottom of the sea after them; to have one’s hands among the unspeakable foundations, ribs, and very pelvis of the world; this is a fearful thing…

Herman Melville

Après la deluge, moi. At the prompting of appeals from those who seek a shift in emphasis, to jump over the commodity of the end product and make that which is unfinished, tangential and reflective more prominent, here are some considerations from the Former Champlain Sea, as a late and purposefully troublesome postscript to our sea inquiry.

“The sea does not move, or else moves too much.”

-Merl Fluin

It’s the spirit of an “open taxonomy” that seems to be the form of organization most suitable to the results revealed by our inquiry. The sea is never closed. A New Year is not remarked in the trenches where the extremophile bacteria relax in the womb-like crevices of the volcanic. After the sea recedes, there is a very real chance of oblivion filling up the vacuum. What choice do we have? People once loved photo albums, reflecting on the memories of their past adventures by cracking decayed plastic and cardboard. Today some people suppose can scroll through them in an instant: what we saw, the fossils and specimens we keep in a storage locker somewhere, the drawing we did of the siren that we value more than the siren itself, which was nothing but a cloud reflected in a puddle, or was it a poodle’s reflection in the windowpane?

I cite this development from the BBC News, January 12th, 2017:

A strange animal that lived on the ocean floor 500 million years ago has been assigned to the tree of life, solving a long-held mystery. The extinct hyolith has a cone-shaped shell, tentacles for feeding and appendages that acted as “feet”.

It lived here too. And now, the much more recent Champlain Sea, where I currently am sitting, is dry as a bone. Shall we change the journal name to Hyolith? What more perfectly beautiful sequence of letters? Like the cover collage of Megan Leach, Hyolith is simultaneously a sepia-toned horror flick and a call to return to the depths.

“Bells made out of a grey swan’s wing.”

-T.D. Typaldos

The inquiry was intended to bring some semblance of organization to our expedition, but the sea has its own priorities. Some engaged with the themes in a more thorough way (whether in direct responses or via the games and collective responses like Stockholm, SLUT, Fresh Dirt, Inner Island and Leeds). Others used the opportunity to stowaway onboard to go on their own sea cruise. But sometimes it’s the Marx Brothers hiding in the barrel of herring, so we were happy to have had them come along.

At any rate, our initial vision of a biocommunist utopia beneath the waves has altered shape into a perplexing mirror-image. The seacries can also drown out rational planning. As Paul McRandle called them, “incarnate howlings”… In favour of Sade? I now wonder if the Sea has a Lettrist tendency. An early Debord film. The screen is so full it’s either black or white. White noise, or … A very violent insult to one’s existence. Landlubber! You think your memories are unmediated, but you live not just in a house of glass, your whole continent is glass, glass and fibre-optics.

I learned that for presentation, the glass of the aquarium is a tempting alternative to the negative capability of the screen. For our aquaria, which were also very much improvised stagings, we did not just play our roles onstage, but also had the laborious backstage duty of dramaturge-taxonomists. In the sea the material self-organizes, like life itself presumably, but isn’t it totally devoid of a parallel autonominalism? This is the dramaturge’s duty. We established family relations among our results. But only at the very end, almost an afterthought. Yet these aquamarine “cohorts” are, we hope, not temporary formations, but living entities in the surrealist aquarium.

We start with the imposing Cephalopoda, the obsessive, the cunning, the weird. The sea as other. It is an overruling passion for two great researchers of the eschatological tentacle: H.P. Lovecraft and Josie Malinowska. For the former, the eldritch, unwholesome intimations that come with a knowledge of the fish-like; for the latter, the orgiastic and feel good terror (and beauty!) of the octapocalypse to come. Prophets, backwards and forwards, of the sea. As Penelope Rosemont reminds us, here there be monsters, forever.

As we stumble away in terror, we step onto an unwholesome and utero-evocative member of the Nudibranchia, the tribe of the slime, membrane, poison and slug. Steven Cline is a powerful representative. Cool and (ir)reverent, depraved and overwhelming. The notorious phenomenology of the poisonous “blob”, which he has undertaken both in the seeping impropriety of collage and film as well as in his poetic texts (both in this issue and elsewhere). The oneiric flood that overwhelms our critical thought. Shocking. Overerotic. Waking up to a wet dream, or worse, a leech colony distributed across what we once tried to claim as “our” body. That which floods and is flooded. The body is not what it is supposed to be, we are Organs without Limbs nor Liquid Limits (OwLLLs). The calm and mournful lines of Emma Lundenmark, “in soft trailing steps”, but sea-steps, the sensitive and vulnerable slugsteps of the underbelly.

Stepping along with more security the defiant Crustacea, hard-shelled, not without an ambiguous past role adorning the telephonic apparatus of renegades, but still deliriously edible in their structural perfection. They can easily do away with bad memories, since they live forever. Fresh dirt, burrowing and clambering. The self-sufficient, moulting, biologically immortal surrealist adventurer. Surrealist heroism, in the quest of the beautiful floor. Here we find an articulated aural response from the ocean, including Fresh Dirt’s Sumbergence! Sympatica, which devours the lobster elegantly and with an unexpected musical mastication. At the bottom of the sea, Janice Hathaway’s archaeology is staring back at us from before recorded history. But it doesn’t have to live forever, these creatures are only biologically immortal, violence is still available: Beatriz Hausner re-smashes Maldoror’s crab to the great delight of children everywhere. Allan Vilu turns his diabolical machine, itself a crab, against the horror of school and work and the city. A good reminder: constant capital is a kind of crustacean too.

Above the lobster’s head, mesmerizing and airborne, Medusozoa, an exclusively electronic category, invented for the purpose of showing the moving, convulsive and stinging beauty of the image as presentation. Yes, it still hurts if you touch it. Rik Lina’s Psychalian utopia drifts along, charmingly armed. To keep such creatures in an aquarium requires a very high degree of skill. It dies very easily in captivity. On this point, although we received a few drawings and paintings that opened our eyes to the sea of the hand, the tactile sea (Maurizio Bracaleoni’s sirenic cogitation, Karl Howeth’s coraline emergence, Laura Lake’s humorous cephalopodic emasculation and Guy Girard’s oneiric waterpolo) it seems that for whatever reason the collage-mass lends itself to sea-based existence. Collective or individual, we can only conclude that the sea itself is great backdrop with pasted on play actors.

But perhaps the play hardens into a multiplayer reality. Madrepora, the collective in its constructivist period (1917-1920?), will build upon itself until it becomes a mountain-fortress rising out of the depths to confront the Milky Way, replete with devil Taoist-Alchemists and bandits, or it will not be. This is a fortress and a game at the same time. The oceanic becomes the aquarium itself. This is the cohort in which I place the most hope. Perhaps it is the closest of the lot to “absolute surrealism”. The Stockholm Group call them “The seven hidden tribes of krill”. CM Lundberg’s fishmountain cat celebrant soldiers. Crack troops in the game, doomed to an eternal charge of the light brigade…

Or they will survive in our great aquarium, specimens without an environment. We listed the dead or the dying in our game of the Sea Obituary. It was just a prelude to the next century of submarine extinctions. Our specimens are sent, perhaps via mail, in postcard and zine form. Little fossils, fosslings, of superior latent fearsomeness. A “crystaline octopus”, as Casi Cline puts it. The philosopher Meillassoux speaks of the “archefossil”, the objective, carbon-dated material evidence of a past before humanity, as the key to breaking out of Kantian correlationism. The encounter with the traumatic and Lovecraftian species of the Old Ocean, this is the sensation of perpetual discovery we wish to perpetuate, going further than Nemo and the his presurrealist vehicle Nautilus in our mad drive to collect, classify, eat and sleep among the old-oceanic. These are the primordial ephemera we need to maintain a strong link with the marvellous (see the Postal Transmogrification post for more on this angle).

We see to it that in the open and inexhaustible taxonomy of the marvellous, objects name themselves after all. Our concept of the New Aquarium Gothic is revealed to be a kind of cartoon reel with famous characters and an amoral mechanism. Duration 2min36secs. Let’s watch.

Argument, or, The Magic Lanthorn in the Aquarium

Where we find submerged, among the skulls and castle ruins an aquatic “automate”, depicting a recurring dinner scene. Therein we see: a moving model of Georges Méliès sitting down to discuss business with Qu Yuan, the shaman-poet of the Li Sao. The Méliès figurine cuts into the roast, which fall into rectangular fragments of comic strips. These float up in the water to the top of the bowl, where they are almost discernible. The figurine of Qu Yuan writes out what appear to be automatic odes based on the comics. A madreporic colony is spawning at their feet, slowly filling up the entire bowl. A chime version of the Looney Tunes theme plays itself in time with the clockwork motion of the figurines. The mechanism is very delicate.

“The disappearance of humanity is a bad memory.”

-David Nadeau

It’s like walking out of that first screening of Battleship Potemkin. The ocean revolts. The scales appear beneath our flesh and we grow gills. The sea is a great collage game, like the monsters bred at Leeds and Inner Island. The sea is also pirate radio station.

And so we return from the sea with new and miraculous weapons. Let’s end with a modest proposal for a new alteration (or derangement) of perspective, maybe in lieu of calls for outright iconoclasm against the image, the commodified product or electronic communication. The fear here is of spinning off too hastily into a negative humanist essentialism, limiting what is or isn’t an “authentic” experience to predefined categories. Situationist détournement and board gaming are still preferable, and more adventurous, than total abstinence. The risk is not so much in detailing the corrosive effects of electronic media (which is certainly true), but rather the perplexing mirror that makes everyday activity seem “unmediated” by comparison. This gives too little regard to the role of pernicious and stifling ideology in our daily lives. The problem with the paucity of the virtual is precisely that its flattening effect has a tendency to extend beyond the screen where it is least suspected. Surrealist activity will be the dialectical short-circuit that triggers a meltdown of the whole façade; collapsing at once the virtual and its swarm of subsidiaries in the marvellous and comic glow of the magic lanthorn at the bottom of the surrealist sea, with snarky captions and subversive cartooning.

In the service of business deals far removed from people’s lives, the bearers of Capital continue to smooth out the electronic runway over a mass of unsuspecting heads. In defiance of both facile electronic solutions and the potentially naive idolization of a humanist retreat, I might suggest, as a start of something different, an “aquarization” of presentation itself. This could mean:

* That The Spectacle itself cannot be overcome through abstinence, but through a subversive and hilarious derangement in the vein of a bonsai miniature. Barnacles.

* That presentation might be considered merely a small home for a real life form.

* That presentation could be a miniaturized diorama of its own inhabitants (whether the ego, the egregore etc).

* That presentation can be tactile and it can be portable. This portability means it has the potential to show up in unexpected places: transmogrified among bills and correspondence in mailboxes, at the bottom of a riverbed, in the back of a dumpster, ideally anywhere but a gallery (digital or otherwise).

* If galleries are used, or their extensions cinemas and malls and websites and forums, they could be converted into aquariums before they are deemed fit for our little sea monkeys. We suggest submergence underwater, in the same vein as the Stockholm group played in “Life Partially Submerged”.

* That presentation can prognosticate aquatically. That is, prediction and aquaprophecy, the kind of predictive dreaming of Cthulhu, a message from the depths one sleeps on at the Fleurs de Lys building in Providence, and to be done with airy, monotheistic and statist predictions of the land and sky.*

* That presentation steep itself in the humour of the backlit, the depository of our desires, and the oneiric capabilities of the submarine atmosphere. Only then will the little crocodile survive with gently smiling jaws.

* That aquarized presentation attacks both progressive futurism and nostalgic humanism in the form of the black joke, through cruel but silly mimicry. Blobfish.

* That objects in the aquarium can effectively conflate reality, the dream, imagination, or desire in such a way that skirts around the censorship of rationalist discourse and the flattening of hyper-social media; that we still insist on presenting our creatures with a playground of the marvellous.

-Jason Abdelhadi

*It’s fortuitous that we were furnished with an older aquatic text, Mattias Forshage’s Notorious Bathyscopy, where you will find, if you look carefully, that it predicts through the uncanny and ever-proven power of automatist prestidigitation, very many of the games and themes of the entire issue. I myself remarked its uncannily accurate description of both Surrealist Battleships: “A naval battle was playing, but it did not resemble the game of chess of the ships in bottles.” And also Marine Philozoophy: “Because such a philosophical fish soup couldn’t fill the stomach of anyone in the entire zoo”. Perhaps it could be sifted through for even more insight…

thumbnail_Lanthorn - Open Taxonomy

Save

Save

23 12, 2016

HANDS OFF THE WORD “SURREAL”! by Ron Sakolsky

By | December 23rd, 2016|Essay|0 Comments

The enemies of poetry have always been obsessed with making it a slave to their immediate ends. They see jet bombers without thinking of Icarus.
Benjamin Péret

On December 19, 2016, the gatekeepers of discourse at Miriam-Webster Dictionary named “surreal” as its Word of the Year.

Far from taking this dubious distinction as a compliment, the living surrealist movement is appalled by Webster’s simplistic, distorted and one-dimensional characterization of the term “surreal” as being relegated to descriptions of disaster situations. As surrealists, we must speak for ourselves to provide a larger surrealist context for understanding the deeper questions of why such disasters happen in the first place and how to transform the present reality of which they are the inevitable byproduct.

According to the Dictionary’s editor, Peter Sokolowski, “Miriam-Webster, which first began tracking

[computer] search trends in 1996, found a spike for the word after the 9/11 attacks. We noticed the same thing after the Boston Marathon bombings and the shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The single biggest spike in look-ups came the day after Donald Trump’s election. Surreal has become the sort of word that people seek in moments of great shock and tragedy.” To situate the term “surreal” exclusively among the disquieting deeds mentioned above is to do the English language a grave disservice. Surrealism remains the sworn adversary of all forms of authoritarian orthodoxy rather than merely acting as their expressive dimension.

If “surreal’ is to be remembered as the “go-to” word for 2016, let it be recalled for all of its many wonders rather than being stereotyped as merely a descriptor for the malaise associated with terrorism and electoral politics and the terrorism of electoral politics. It is true that the word “surreal” brilliantly evokes that visceral sense of the uncanny associated with such strangely unsettling events, but it is capable of doing so much more. Sokolowski demonstrates his ignorance of surrealism by saying, “I believe there are words such as surreal or love that help us grapple with things difficult to understand”. If he had spent any time at all attempting to understand the subversive qualities of the “surreal” rather than concentrating his attention on mitigating the horrors of the real, he would not have juxtaposed surrealism and love. Love is not foreign to surrealism, but is one of its guiding inspirations along with Liberty and Poetry.

Hands off the word “surreal”! Release it from the miserabilist Procrustean chopping block where Webster has editorially imprisoned it, and let its convulsive beauty illuminate not only the dystopian nightmare but the utopian dream of a world in which we can all live more poetic lives. And rest assured that what we surrealists call the Marvelous will be the playing field for our passional attractions not just for the year 2016 but for the entirety of the 21st century.

Ron Sakolsky, Inner Island Surrealist Group               

16 12, 2016

Postal Transmogrification

By | December 16th, 2016|Essay|0 Comments

SC: The desire has come to me recently to step back and “file a report” on the mailings we have been pursuing for the past two years. We started with the primary goal of creating a sort of catalyst for the “mailbox marvelous”. After all, who hasn’t formed a certain connection with this mysterious box which sits outside of all our houses, this strange fountain of daily unpredictability? Always for me a certain mixture of hope and fear as the box is opened, with most experiences leading of course to disappointment. One has to wonder— did Ted Kaczynski really want to overthrow industrial society, or was he just a violent man in love with postal surprises? On the flip side, even the Corporate Cthulhu has caught on to this desire in recent years, releasing a plethora of banal subscription box services for the more desperate and deluded seekers of postal adventure. But still in the back of all our minds sits the strange feeling that somehow these constant bills and spam are wrong, morally wrong, sick in fact — and that this little box is meant for greater things. Due to the ephemeral nature of the project, the vast majority of it all is who-knows-where, but I’ve made an attempt to gather up what myself and others have documented. A few descriptions and examples follow.

CC: The post is an excellent means by which to generate art as an interactive and tactile experience. So much of the way we share art with each other is digital. Or even if we are viewing art at a gallery, it is still usually a flat image on a wall or a cordoned-off sculpture. Visual art thus organized is an input only, valuable of course, but somewhat distanced from the viewer. Published writing also takes on a kind of distance through medium, though it can still feel very intimate as it speaks directly to our minds. Very seldom are we allowed let alone invited to touch, manipulate, and alter art. With mail art, particularly surrealist mail art, both the sender and the receiver are given a unique experience and connection with each other. The sender puts together the package or envelope with a specific person in mind, creating the finished or partial art or objects, getting it ready for mailing, and sending it out to that person who could be almost anywhere in the world. The receiver gets a mysterious and marvelous experience when they open the mailbox to find an unexpected package that could contain anything. Opening the package and perusing its contents, the recipient gets to feel the objects contained within and see them up close. They can then keep these to be experienced again at a later date or alter them and send them back to the sender or a new recipient, keeping the experience an ongoing collective one.

Packages

SC: We started off making elaborate and time-consuming “packages”, in concept something more like a Cornell box in an envelope. Collaboration was never actually intended and was a factor completely overlooked by us, though some surrealists ignored our intentions added to them anyway! This alerted us to that rather obvious factor – that our mailings could (perhaps should) be a two-way conversation. No photos remain of these that I know of.

Postcard

SC: The postcard phase started with these rules:

1. Grab a postcard. Collage the front or parts of the back if you like, but leave space for writing.
2. Choose two imaginary names at random – one for the person addressed, and one for you.
3. Write automatically in the form of a correspondence and mail to anyone.

These were of course abandoned after a time in favor of an “anything goes” approach. The postcard has proven to be the most participated in phase. Collage & writing sew together in a quick and liberating back-and-forth. Jay also used a postcard as material for a digital response.

JA: Someone is on vacation. They are sending me unasked for mementos of uncanny, frankly suspicious locations. I am put-out. What are these sightings? Are they tourist traps? Are they evidence of a poetic rupture? Or a derangement of the proverbial scenic route? “Ogopogo or Piero de Cosimo?” I am asked to choose between the monster I was obsessed with when I was 7 (I owned many bestiaries) and the painter of Andromedan sea-monsters. A mystic mandrake beneath a poet’s bridge. Eventually I find myself responding to these curious stopping points with dreadful sightings of my own. I fling them into the post-box and only afterwards think about where I might have been.

Collage collaborations

SC: Andrew joined in first. One of us would send a background, which would then be added to and mailed back and forth to each other until finished, creating beautiful images of people and animals in transformation. Johnny took a crazier approach, sending us large packets of snippets which we might add to or merely be confused by, which we then returned with more snippets which he would transform in bizarre ways. This process has been very freeing, a non-goal oriented approach and very automatic. From Tim came a 60 page collage book filled with wonder, and using a few of the pieces we’d mailed him over the year.

Zines

JA: There are monthly infiltrators interleaved between the orthodox flyers and bills. The mailbox transforms its internal atmosphere; from a utilitarian extension of the office it suddenly seems more like a bird’s nest for the marvelous. Ephemeralities? Raptures? Odds and ends, announcing the birth of a new moon? Or perhaps these are the new go(e)thic aquaria we saw on our sea journey; encapsulated, electrically back-lit, but evocative of an alternate life. Obscure and confident communications from a demoralized agency, often instructional in nature, and very likely to have a direct bearing on my everyday life in a most unexpected and dramatic way. Booklets that mimic with cruelly black and blue humor the digital alarm clock’s step-by-step commandments, but from a reverse technicolor shadow-realm. We keep everything but fish in these. They bring me dreams, obscure narratives, alerts. They traumatize my city (Ottawa) with pathetic environmental resonances. I can cite three instances: in Rapture 17, a narrative poetic sequence about oneiric sinkholes seem to coincide in its appearance with an epic sinkhole in the city’s downtown core. “Where did this sinkhole come from?” it asks me. A public lecture on local butterflies coincides with the arrival of a whole series of Dream Zines, Ephemeralities and Raptures swarming with ominous lepidoptera, which, apparently found my ecosystem suddenly suitable for paranoiac intrusion. As for the great sewage backup in the basement of a typical office space, I can only attribute its subjective cause to the untimely arrival of a Rapture which contained an unwholesome advertisement for the “Miniature Enthusiasts of Ottawa” along with an image of a loathsome, brown, cacophallic tentacle emerging from a basement door. We can only hope that future disasters are big enough to wipe out all memory of their occurrence, and leave us dumbfounded with the lemonade sea we are craving. To quote Ephemerality 2: “Everything designates that a great reversal is at hand.”

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

2 12, 2016

Surrealism: the Mouth of Shadows

By | December 2nd, 2016|Essay|0 Comments

Surrealism as a cultural force does not remain an existent and discussed phenomenon because of technology or any of the developments since Breton’s group. It is a chthonic, primal force with roots in shamanism, primitive cultures, and every last magical, obscure secret in the history of magic. Every bejeweled rock which remains unturned is the fuel for the surrealist quest.

Pharisees continue as they do, drowning themselves in the University safes filled with the carbonation of cowardice’s wine and on demand vanity. As academia falls apart (and academia was never an intended facet of Surrealism; indeed, it was something to be scorned) we can expect the faculty to behave as they always have; worse, actually.

Now the world faces the actual threat of global fascism. However much we wax our denial systems up this is and will be the case. The election of Donald Trump to the Presidential office is a nightmare of such severity that it is almost impossible to contextualize. Taking the attitude that since the system is just monstrous anyway and we therefore should be happy is bad faith.

Though those who consistently shun the full mile in Surrealism (meanwhile one can only inhale this bitter gnosis by going beyond the final mile at least once) and insist it is some form of solipsistic masturbation, this is the time for absolute revolt. If one is not finding ways to take Donald Trump and his capitalist minions, filled to the head with pyrite gold and scorn for life, one is not living up to the bar set up by Breton, Desnos, Eluard, Peret, Carrington, or even Andre Gide.

Attending a protest before the possibility of this dystopian cape falling on our faces actualized itself, I noticed a tremendous energy particularly on the people who had to eat verbal diarrhea from Trump: the minorities. The second time there was a figure who incarnated revolt in a very real sense; a lone figure on a cold day in November holding his sign, bringing out multifaceted pictures of his family, his home, and who he was apart from trump’s derisive negations of Mexicans as “rapists” and “criminals”.

Trump is made inside and outside of the putrid materials we have pledged a lifelong fight against. In just a few days he will be able to do whatever he wants with the United States, and his malicious disasters will spill into countries like Brazil, Germany, Belgium.

I believe it is time to unite outside Trump Towers as one, as a surrealist collective, and refuse to leave.

John Thomas Allen
author of: The Lighthouse Above The Graveyard: A Surrealist Seance
with Alan Gullette

spectre-collage-3-6-2016-8-5x11-5
Spectre by Deborah Stevenson

30 11, 2016

Alakaline in cerulean by Tim White

By | November 30th, 2016|Poetry|0 Comments

a botany of regurgitated mountains,
a shard of samurai –
the Turin shroud chewed by rotten teeth

flames of unguent giraffe
in a legato of air signs –
alkaline in cerulean

glutinous geometries merge
as pyroclastic salons
pulverise a triad of gametes

vapours of fresh coelacanth rising
a euphemism of fungi
frosting violet stigmata

glittering mummy dust falls
on Jurassic megaliths –
as they collapse into imminent spaces