It was a truly beautiful and elegant store, oblong and wooden, with giant curved shelves of books stacked high, up and into a painted, domed ceiling. Titles ranged from the universally known to the utterly esoteric, and there were journals and postcards, and travel guides to all of the wonders of the world. There were multi-coloured lights hanging from the ceiling, in red, orange, and the deepest blue, and there was a countertop of solid oak, where purchases were made. The staff had (innocently enough) placed three small candles on the counter, and they glowed with the faintest golden hue, beautifying the store. But something was amiss; the candles were not as they seemed. Suddenly they grew to an enormous size, and colossal, mountainous arms arose from their sides – arms with deep-seated veins, and flesh of an otherworldly rose-purple tinge. With these arms, they grabbed each and every book they could lay their hands on, and they threw the books into their flames, destroying them utterly. They decimated works by Milton and Kerouac, annihilated the postcards and pens, and eviscerated travel guides on Amsterdam and Kolkata. In no time at all, the entire store was in ruins, and the staff were seen walking among the ashes, shocked and horrified. At this point, all faded into blackness, and I realized once again where I was.
A dark morning, the sun is blue today. Yes, and a down going movement is in order. The seaside cave is dripping with sighs on the side of the white spectral cliffs. I (but not I) climb down, roughing up the vegetation with unworthy steps. A vaginal hole the approximate size of an ash leaf stands in front of me (but not me). I enter, pure silence reins here. No ocean waves or gulls dance inside the eardrums. Liquid drips from the ceiling, a thick black substance which whispers to me when I am sad. I lay down on the ground, covered in black bile and turmeric. Closing my eyes, I picture a giant airship in the shape of an elephant, stumbling toward the Berlin skyline. The playing of this thought opens cavern rooms previously unknown to me. A red squishy path opens up around me, this action played to the sound of a knife. This fabled red road exists in direct opposition to hard and unyielding yellow brick road of which all rational porcupines are convinced. I open my eyes, take off my sandals, and proceed. The path feels warm, very nice in fact. I resist the urge to lay down once more and sink inside those mothering folds forever. That bright blue light again. I reach a lower room deeper than I have ever seen. A pool of dark water and some strange movements nearby. The body of a young mermaid is next to the pool, beached or merely mad. She looks up at me with blue lips and blue fingernails and coos softly. I touch the outline of deep wounds geometrically arranged across her arm. The number “557” and the word “earthquake” are prominently displayed across her cheekbones. I run my hands across her breast, slowly working my way to her coppertone vagina. Slick suffocating essence of an empty perfume bottle. My penis bursts forth from its decaying womb of mass produced fabrics and has an argument with me over the moral implications of fucking this dazed mermaid. The delighted ball sacks expand, vibrate, and coo in response to her inexplicable murmurs. Inside her slit I find the house of colors, a land of disused mucosa and delicate golden ruins. The angels with heads of pulsating esophagus greet me, grabbing my hair and running wet salamanders through it. From their tails and little arms, a secretion of a first order. The mythological content of this sexual affair is unmistakable. Or is it stake-able? The figures turn to white dust, I can no longer see anything. A dark window or perhaps Mabille’s mirror slices my misused eyeball and I am happy. A universe has died but I have not taken it’s place too soon. I am swimming in the fluid of the hungry goat and the mermaid has begun to melt onto my body. I pull myself away slightly but it seems I am stuck, it is like a sticky blue taffy. I lick some of the melted flesh, and it tastes sweet. The hair tastes more unpleasant, like the licorice which I have never enjoyed much, except when I am channeling that mummified medieval flagellant’s back scar. My mouth is blue from over feasting. The ground turns a bright white gold and so do we. Calcification.
The next day.
Rapid four dimensional flight through an epiphany of uncontrolled levels. My vision so blurred by this movement and this simultaneous descent and accent that I began to hallucinate trees. The reality of the body is a surreality. Expanding between walls, dropping down into tiny mice holes…It is the perfect aboriginal aardvark. Why should we believe that the shoulder, currently hindered by the authoritarian barriers of skin, will not tomorrow be seen riding a bicycle? All excretions are sacred. The body in liquid form is a tall cathedral door worth closing quickly so that the priests inside burn to death in the dyslexic flood of the utopia to come. My toes may one day become the crown of Satan’s disrobed penis. My hair could become his anal passage, tickling hungry arrivals. And my eyes? My eyes will certainly drift about in the ocean, lost and forgotten like some dumb decaying piece of a message in a silly old glass liquor bottle. This author-less splash of paint on the wall is not a monument to lost ages but to a uterine future in the process of rupture.
No, I am not convinced that the dog is really feeling those fleas pulsating on his rump. I prefer to think that the door knob ingrained in his thoughts of pain is slowly turning an unnatural color above the fire pit and this is why he suffers.
Does the salamander’s tail weep for his lost body? No. It is content with the multiplicity of forms written on the back of the oozing brown wart stuck firmly and forever on the eternal flatulence of a god. Yes, the shit also is happy to leave these rusty pipes during morning constitutions. Its only wish is to no longer be bounded by the fascistic unified body which stubbornly refuses to spill its marvelous secrets. My deepest hope is for nothing more than that all skin would become transparent skin, that all of civilization’s constricting and ridiculous clothes will be collected and burned in great big piles on the moon by some aimlessly drifting space pirates onboard the ship Arcadia, a final and true smoke signal emanating into an already moist and nipple-erect cosmos which distant alien life could interpret as the long waited-for sign that they can finally take us decaying mammals seriously.
My goal for the new year: To become melted white cheese on the back of a hermaphroditic alligator’s rapidly expanding vaginal cavity, while five growing but still childlike penises melt and constantly reform in the fallopian cenote of my dreams.
It’s very exciting to see that the catalogue for the Archaeology of Hope, an international surrealist game, exhibition and ritual held on the Isle of Wight in 2017, is now available from Head Louse Press. This gorgeous catalogue contains many strange and shocking wonders from the surrealist future.
“The Archaeology of Hope was launched on the winter solstice of 2016, with an invitation to a game that culminated on the summer solstice of 2017. This book is a catalogue of the results of the game, and a record of the exhibition and performance ritual that sprang from it.”
An oneiric communication from Bruno Jacobs to Jason Abdelhadi, December 4th 2017:
“Last night I dreamed that I saw the following internet publication of yours, ELEKTRON.
I think that it was a kind of newsletter, and it looked quite exactly like this anyway, with paragraphs that didn’t really make sense to me, including odd numbers and capitals and with certain words in color. I was also somewhat surprised that it looked like text did on early MD-DOS computers.”
and some unexplained occurrences of aquatic faunas
By Mattias Forshage
Head Louse Press & Peculiar Mormyrid Press
- Savage carnivores that prowl in the park…
- Towns that are made entirely of onions and eggs…
- New developments in the science of eschatology…
- The mysterious monument known only as The Tintin Gate…
Parisian surrealist Michel Zimbacca’s first solo exhibition will be taking place soon in Paris:
Paintings, collages, drawings, objects
October 14th-28th 2017
Vernissage on the 14th, from 6:00-10:00 p.m.
Closing Event on the 18th, 8:00 p.m. (poetry readings and films)
L’USINE 102 BOULEVARD DE LA VILLETTE 75019 PARIS
Tel : 01 42 00 40 48 / Site : usine102.fr
The closing evening will be accompanied by a screening of Michel’s films. A collection of his poems, illustrated with with a number of his drawings is forthcoming from Sonambula editions (Montreal) and will be on sale at the gallery.
And for those of us who can’t make it in person, there is a Youtube upload of Michel’s film Ni d’Eve ni D’Adam (1969) with a cameo from Jean Benoît!
One night as I was drifting off to sleep, the idea occurred to me that, just like a film, the start of a dream might also be preceded by a sort of copyright infringement warning:
WARNING: The unauthorized repression or alteration of this dream is illegal. Criminal subconscious infringement, including infringement that results in monetary gain, censorship of traumatic details, exclusion of unsavoury personalities and situations, or other forms of mis-remembering are investigated by the Oneiric Bureau of Investigation (OBI) and are punishable by up to five years in Dream Jail (where the only erotic thing you are allowed to dream about is flipping through an old Ikea catalogue), and a fine of 250,000 oneirodinars.
In the creepiest corner of the commodity market, among the cheapest and most embarrassing DREGS of garage sales and bargain bins and used-book stores, a new spirit is forming from the misshapen, the forgotten, the uncanny leftovers of the literary. HAGSTONE REVIEWS seek to unearth these eso-erotic atavisms for the world at large, in the inimitable and mysterious Mormyrid manner! Do you dare answer the phone for:
Rings A Bell, by Angela Griffiths (Hutchinson & Co, 1985)
Keywords: Devices, erotics, eccentrics, miscommunication, rebellion, slapstick, prize porkers
Of interest to: shut-ins, obsessive antiquarians, phone scammers, voyeurs, technophiles from the age of Verne, sex workers, sketch comedians
Lest we forget that devices too have their devices—
Conspiratorial phone booths. Disembodied ears and tongues. Organs without bodies. Feet lusting after powder. Organizations of ambiguous function. Poisoned wedding cakes. A glowing cloud of voices that whisper temptations into the ears of the local sky… Hold the line….
I was initially attuned to the surrealist potential of phone literature after reading Franklin Rosemont’s Wrong Numbers (Black Swan Press, 2002), in which the phenomena, philosophy, erotics and poetry of the telephone are expounded at great length and with much to commend them. In that book, Rosemont points out a few examples of popular romance and children’s literature in which the telephone plays a highly charged role—a conduit, in some cases, to a new amorous world.* It was with such hope and no context that I purchased an gnarly old $1 volume at the used book store in the basement of the Ottawa Public Library.
Rings A Bell brings together three short dramatic pieces that center on the use of a telephone in an undisclosed village, presumably in Britain, but then again, perhaps some kind of parallel cartoon universe or utopian socialist community of the far-flung future. The book’s exact genre is hard to discern from the 1980s functionalist design. Forlorn digits seem to indicate whole set of missing companion volumes. A few hints suggest that the volume fits into the enticingly pleonastic category of “literacy literature” (whatever that could mean). The entire series is edited by a mysterious entity known only as “Wendy Body” (Oh anybody? Where’s the body?) In short, there is every reason to believe that this is a set of secret coded training guides for trans-dimensional invaders.
Gertrude: Do you mind! I am making a very important phone call! It could very well change the course of my entire life!
In the title piece, Rings A Bell, we encounter a character who could have walked straight out of Leonora Carrington’s The Hearing Trumpet. Gertrude Clump, armed with a folding chair, a stack of cigarettes and a pile of coins, marches into the village phone box one sunny Saturday afternoon. There, she has a lovely time speaking to Boris, of the shadowy Blue Lagoon Friendship Club. This occupation results in an effective communications blockade of the entire town. As any reader of Edward Lear knows, eccentric individual behavior in public will always attract the rebukes and scorn of “They”. I can happily report that despite the pressure of the townsfolk, who with a miserabilist ardour for the ordinary are not long in sabotaging Comrade Clump, she does not surrender. Her irrational re-appropriation of the town’s seemingly sole method of communication to the outside world—a tactic worthy of any situationist Frondeur—seems to disrupt the everyday life of the village at its most traumatic point.
Clump remains on the phone, doggedly pursuing her useless conversation and ceding nothing in regards to her unbridled desire to kibitz, until a reactionary local traps her by wrapping the phone cables around the phone booth. Nevertheless, during the occupational situation, she inadvertently spawns an erotic cue of people brought together by the forces of objective chance: Emma and Charles, parallel victims of jilted love and occupied phonespace, encounter each other and couple off in a pairing worthy of a narrative by Breton—a child with a lollipop inexplicably lodged in its ear is spared the disaster of medical reprisal—two lonely older eccentrics arrange a dinner—and all this under the auspices of a mysterious substance known only as “Foskins Fancy Foot Powder”.
Emma: Poor Boris was driven mad in the hot weather. He used to sit with his feet in the fridge and read the label on the tin. ‘Take the fire out of your feet with Foskins Fancy Powder,’ he’d say. It seemed to help him, saying it out loud like that.
The second play, Crossed Wires, is notable for an exciting telephonic miscommunication. The word is “wigs”, as requested by Queenie, a local thespian and something of an anti-police activist. A game of telephone is played through quite literally, including a healthy round of cop taunting, which, by means of alchemy of the verb sees the request mutate from wigs, to figs, to jigs, until the denouement finds Queenie surrounded by a horde of ravenous pigs. The staging is silent on this point but we know how hungry pigs can get. As the disgruntled farmer says, “Pigs aren’t easy on strange ground.”
Ginger: It’ll have to be prize porkers. How many does she want?
The last piece, Problem Line, depicts a local call-in radio hotline. The topic: the patriarcho-industral complex of weddings. But while radio host Rick Shaw and hymeneal propagandist Bella Bliss attempt to give their trite hetero-normative advice they are subverted by situationist-cum-bridal store owner Mr. Flint. The latter advises things like poisoning the wedding party by means of a cake filled with chicken medicine, or the appropriateness of a nuptial vehicle with a trunk full of fertilizer. “It’s just not done!” scream the chorus frustrated foils of bourgeois respectability. At the climax, he even incites a jilted bride’s mother to literally horse-whip her escaped ex-son-in-law:
Lady Portly: So, do you agree that I should track down this scoundrel and take my horse-whip to him?
Bella: No don’t.
Rick Shaw: [Alarmed] Please don’t!
Mr Flint: Just follow your instincts, Lady P.
These three plays form a twisted macromelodrama of eroticism, popular revolt, surrealist subversion, and black humour. In all, I can heartily recommend the Rings A Bell trilogy as the best Ring Cycle in town. I can only hope some daring dramaturge will take up the challenge of this lost classic and give it the staging it deserves. Five out of seven hagstones.
I’ll leave you with some enticing summaries of other volumes in this series, which I look forward to encountering in a basement or yard sale someday in the far flung future:
The Council are coming to cut down gran’s favourite tree but Gran has plans of her own. To Charlie’s horror, she climbs into the tree and refuses to come down until the Council change their plan. Charlie tells the story of Gran’s heroic battle for her tree.
Long Gone Lil
At the safari park, all the keepers have taken the day off to go to a big local wedding. Ted is left in charge of Lil, a beautiful, rare giraffe with a sense of humour. Lil gives him the slip and leads him a dance all over the local countryside, until he finally catches up with her somewhere he would rather not be.
-Reviewed by ‘Agstone ‘Arry
*Tangentially, another interesting treatment of the phone as a mechanism for disembodiment can be found in Au telephone (1901), by the great Grand Guignol playwright André de Lorde. Here, a family murder is overheard by a distant father whose impotence to intervene—really reminds one of phone sex—whatever that is…