Paramormyrops ntotom

A new mormyrid has been discovered, “Paramormyrops ntotom”.

Come up with a common name or some hidden characteristics for this curious new elephant fish. What are its Hobbies, birth sign, favorite books, life story? Is it looking for the casual hookup or perhaps something more long term?

Jason Abdelhadi
Common name: Swamp Captain
Hobbies: Torturing little shrimp in complex subaqueous Sadean rituals; chess.
Birth Sign: Doctored Gemini
Favourite books: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon
Life story: Spent much of its childhood constructing a monument made out of riverine debris into the rough shape of The Elephant Man. A more or less frenzied pursuit of orgasm since then.
Looking for: Someone to taxonomize with. Must have sweat glands and an open mind.

Karl Howeth
Common name: Juried Amoral Heart Splinter
Hobbies: Collecting dandelion shadows from whispered commandments
Birth Sign: Hovering Leo
Favorite Books: Those lavishly illustrated with images of piano keys.
Life Story: Grew up to adulthood in between seizures and an avalanche.
Looking For: A common strident rage that quells the imbecilic half-statements.

Craig Wilson
Common name: Deep Sea Disco Fish.
Hobbies: Spinning and emitting light.
Birth Sign: Pisces/Aries cusp.
Favorite books: The Shadow over Innsmouth, Moby Dick, 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Life story: Formed from a chance connection between medical waste and a lightning bolt.
Looking for: strike teams to seize the beach.

Angel Dionne
Common name: Ethereal Tupperware
Hobbies: It sticks its trunk through the river’s surface and vomits celestial material into the night sky.
Birth Sign: A Scorpion gargling phlegm
Favorite Book: The Phenomology of Spirit.
Life Story: It was born of an agnostic mother and an atheist father. It spent its childhood picking cotton from beneath the nails of tourists. Before long, it had settled into a leisurely life. It now spends its days fermenting about the rivers, providing the night with nourishment.
Looking for: Something to massage its right kidney.

Tori Lion
Common name: Triceratops Sand Dollar.
Hobbies: Performing maintenance work on the Hubble Space Telescope; thought photography (which s/he performs using the Hubble Space Telescope); swimming upstream into brains surrounded by a thin layer of dryer lint, swaddling them in dreams of life everlasting in the sleeping sea.
Birth sign: Born under the sign of Pisces, the soluble fish, obviously.
Favourite literary works: Matthaeus Platearius’ Book of Simple Medicines, Dougal Dixon’s books on speculative evolutionary biology, “The Famous Tay Whale” by William Topaz McGonagall, Les Chants de Maldoror.
Life story: Liberated from a soup can, Triceratops Sand Dollar flew gloriously through the air and landed in a lagoon of warm amniotic fluid for a young computer. S/he occasionally tastes the salted almond-flavoured beach.
Looking for: Someone to watch cheesy TV shows about ghost hunting with.

Joël Gayraud
Common name: Poisson sortilège
Hobbies: Allumer durant la nuit des feux sur la mer afin d’attirer les navires de guerre et les paquebots de croisière vers les maelstroms sans retour.
Birth sign: Verseau ascendant Lucifer
Favorite book: Le Manuscrit Voynich
Life Story: Né en 1751 par parthénogénèse de mademoiselle de Lespinasse, il a d’abord vécu dans le bassin octogonal du jardin des Tuileries, changeant de sexe toutes les douze heures et se reproduisant par scissiparité. Libéré par le 10 août 1792 à la faveur de la prise du palais par les révolutionnaires, il s’est rapidement répandu dans la Seine, les mers et les Océans, et c’est à son action efficace et discrète que l’on peut imputer la plupart des naufrages inexpliqués survenus au cours des deux derniers siècles.
Looking for: Une comptine enfantine pour raconter ses exploits.

By | 2017-07-02T18:36:47+00:00 June 6th, 2017|Games|0 Comments

Translation Game

Rules: Write a surrealist translation of poem in a language which you cannot read.

Josef Janda original:

Steven Cline:
5 Dinosaur Eggs
Proclaim on the very drizzly land
5 Dinosaur Eggs
A piece of Vlad’s Library card
Is Infecting the halls of paleontology
Perverse mushroom spores
Yes – the glass Dostoevsky is steaming hot
Prevail upon the pataphysician incarnate
No drugstore is equal to your saliva
No hominid is equal to your mother
Voluptuous novel testicular venom now die
No catch river potomac
Protozoa takes six swims with myself, a turd, and bottles of zero
Never was this a drop
Soap and caught in premature volume posture
O Crevasse dripping Dostoevsky see my stale trajectory
Jim is zero technology an opulent curd or kitten

Casi Cline:
a coherent dinosaur
perhaps the single survivor decaying internally
a coherent dinosaur
is pondering the complexity of religion
or doubtless posing for a beautiful paleontologist
picture the obscene sport of it
just as veins are draining rosy life-blood
the prehistoricus needs to know precisely how to look
kill distain surrounding a night of death
so very harmonious and dark and so unctuous
victorious cosmos regenerating the deceased
dispel the death fear totally and envision time ceasing
no vision of destruction remains potent
protect and take blue eyes so none are left behind
never a time descended down
dulcet prehistory casts a violent shadow
or certain villains drain the stars of traction
just a sleep the opiate lids fall closed

Jason Abdelhadi:
Five Cossack Dinosaurs
Pro-chasm Sid poured his beverage outside the window
Onto an expensive dinosaur
Who spoke in the accents of the bourgeoisie.
Although a paleontologist in training
He took care of several doves
But he never dried his throat ruminating such things.
Prewarned of his crime he did what he learned dolphins do
When stuck in a dangerous situation without a breathing apparatus
That is, to burrow a hole into the fossilized bottom of the sea
In the hopes of inseminating a new generation.
Dispelled into a totem of shattered vestements and cash
A trivial shard of pottery from the Titanic
Nothing remained except the museum of turbo vacuum cleaners left running.
A naked mole remarked
That all of the aforementioned could have been easily prevented.
A cherry tractor churned up the fossils and left scuttling in the stars
A stereo teacher opposite a licking curate.

Bruno Jacobs:
In the dinosaurian kitchen
Proclaimed it can be, by-passing druid lichen
in the dinosaurian kitchen,
a slim prize for gliding into the future.
Or double every future paleonthology,
poor sportive scene
as druidic power touches newness.
Foreseeing noses that truly duplicate in the void,
every becoming druid scoffes tomorrow’s duty,
barely hairy, chromed by night to make himself double,
clubbing new generations of druids.
Two druidic hairs total the case of a non-existent neighbor
after Vishnu, the power to come,
rich purpose in the sky which muse belates, handcuffed or not.
Nobody wishes you double
down the stairs in a preventive foreseen youth posture.
I serve you, velvety, druidistically, shaking like a starting tractor;
life is a jealous roof opposing cured leadership.

Joël Gayraud
Dans les chaussons des dinosaures
Dimanche prochain les ballerines glisseront sur le lac
dans les chaussons des dinosaures
d’un pied aérien à la barbe de la nuit
Ô double clef barbelée des paléontologues
poudrée de spores incandescents
déjà les danseuses se poudrent de rose musquée
Pour se prémunir du néant qui se pavane ici bas
les belles ont inscrit le signe de la double étoile
sur la gamme chromatique où se nichent les orties blanches
à défaut de nouvelles fleurs carnivores
Spectralement vêtues de leur nudité muette
elles blasphèment à la sortie des cimetières
et arrachent les tuiles du ciel pour les lancer à la tête des dieux
Aucun de leurs amants
ne soutient l’imposture des violons prophétiques
Sur le cercle aimanté de l’attraction passionnée
elles remontent le courant des transes impassibles

By | 2017-07-02T18:31:37+00:00 June 6th, 2017|Games|0 Comments

Recent Flood Activity by Jason Abdelhadi

March 4, 2016
I read a comic in which Little Nemo’s bedroom is flooded.

“After the storm subsided he discovered the land he was on to be moving swiftly through the water but the voice allayed his fears.”

April 13, 2016
I note down the following quotation from Victor Hugo:

“Revolt is a sort of waterspout in the social atmosphere which forms suddenly in certain conditions of temperature, and which, as it eddies about, mounts, descends, thunders, tears, razes, crushes, demolishes, uproots, bearing with it great natures and small, the strong man and the feeble mind, the tree trunk and the stalk of straw. Woe to him whom it bears away as well as to him whom it strikes! It breaks the one against the other.”

June 9, 2016
A sinkhole event in Ottawa, including major flooding of light-rail tunnels under construction. This was predicted by some surrealist mail zines sent earlier in the month by Steven and Casi Cline. I report the event to a friend in some correspondence from that week:

A magnificent and tremendous SINKHOLE suddenly appeared at the corner Rideau and Sussex (the NADIR of the city!) It was an utter festival of humor—clamor reigned, an (empty) car was sucked in and lost in the liquid concrete, the memes appeared online in droves. I’d say it was analogous to the situation of the flood the Chicago group described in 1992 with “A River’s Revenge!”

And the word was on my mind anyway, since earlier this year Steven Cline had sent me a piece on sinkholes in his zine Rapture 17:

“Where did this sinkhole come from? It formed on a Sunday, and spread with each passing skin reversal. The alluvial plains teach a lesson to the unlistening ground mice. Blood red porcupines flatten themselves and roll unto the driveway of your family’s old home…”

July 28, 2016
My friend Laura Lake sends me the following dream account:

“Friends of my parents were telling us about their hardships over the winter. They had been living in Montreal when they were inundated by heavy snows. The disastrous weather knocked out the power and heating for a couple months. Worse, with the sewer systems offline, the basement of their home had been flooded with freezing water they’d had to spent days at a time trying to bail out.

Meanwhile, anarchists and political progressives had extolled the virtues of their community on the news. They compared them, in glowing terms, to the original settlers who’d colonized the area hundreds of years ago. Their pioneering spirit was commended as if they had chosen this disaster for themselves. The honest simplicity of their lifestyle, uncomplicated by modern extravagances, was favorably compared to the Amish.

Disaster relief and government assistance had not been considered necessary. In fact, it was no longer considered safe to extend basic city services like ambulances and the police to the area. Hadn’t these honest, good-natured citizens proven themselves well-capable of struggling for their own survival? Hadn’t they met their adversity with a willingness to make do, to make sacrifices, and to do for themselves what was necessary by pulling together as a community? Life went on. Perhaps, it was argued, our overabundance of technological affluence was really what had sapped society of its vigor and weakened the links between citizens – the austerity which prevailed over this community was offered as a kind of solution to the current economic crisis.

Those left struggling to keep themselves from freezing to death in their own homes and to live on a diet of cold beans dug out of a can had no time to refute the presentation of their misery as a kind of success story. They were, after all, too preoccupied trying to survive to be able to ask for the help they needed to keep their lives from entirely unraveling…”

October 13, 2016
Steven Cline’s film The Oneiric Flood is released; I watch it three times in succession.

November 1, 2016
The Chimaera gang play a round of the Paris Surrealist Group’s new game, which they call Il Croyait Voir. Based on the format of Lewis Carroll’s “Mad Gardener’s Song”, each player writes one of the three verses blind to the others. Among many others, JR, LL, and JA come up with the following result:

“They thought they saw a grasshopper giving the Hitler salute.
They looked again and saw a coal mine flooded with tears.
They learnt that it is best not to sass one’s elders when said elders are drunk out of their collective gourds.”

November 18, 2016
Release of the Peculiar Mormyrid sea issue, including many, many threats of aquatic overflow into everyday life. See Guy Girard’s giant floods, Joël Gayraud’s overflooded nuclear reactors, The Stockholm Surrealist Group’s “Life Partially Submerged” etc…

March 1, 2017
I dream it is night and a flood is slowly consuming an entire town. Dogs are running around and people are breaking open pet store windows to liberate those dogs that remain captive.

Dream Geography: the town is situated in a valley. We (the inhabitants and I) try semi-casually to gather at the northern, higher end of town. There is some kind of gate we close but it seemed to be fairly haphazard. I am in the meantime reading a biography of some silly composer whose single claim to fame was a curiously the writing of a novel.

May 4-6, 2017
Massive flooding in Eastern Canada including the Ottawa-Gatineau region. Images of flooded neighbourhoods (including photos similar to my dream of residents carrying dogs) are in constant media rotation. Local climate scientists warn that such floods are likely to be a regular occurrence from now on.

May 7, 2017
During a visit to my childhood neighbourhood I discover flooding in some areas, including a familiar park on the Ottawa river (Andre Hayden). Connected to this park, I am particularly moved by the flooding of a certain pedestrian tunnel, which is important to me (and, no doubt, many others) as the location of some very formative youthful sexual experiences. The partial submersion of an erogenous zone.

May 7-8, 2017
In asking permissions to use the above dream from Laura Lake, we discover a startling coincidence: on May 7, during a halt in the rain, we both, unbeknownst to each other, took parallel surrealist floodwalks converging onto the aforementioned park. Laura came from the East to the West, catching many dramatic sites of flooding in Britannia Beach, including: a totally flooded community centre courtyard, a field, a parking lot, a blockade détourned by the public into a passage she termed the Anarchist Bridge— “the blockade used to keep people off what little remains above water has been re-purposed into a bridge onto it, a heroic gesture of popular will as it certainly provides the finest vistas”— and many other tempting sites. We are resolved to undertake a more thorough surrealist expedition to the flood site in the near future, whether, as she suggests, for treasure, deluvian imagery, or to confront government censorship. She says: “As I saw them, I knew that such imagery was certain to resurface in my dreams.”

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By | 2017-05-08T22:12:07+00:00 May 8th, 2017|Essay|0 Comments

The Grass Plot Round A Sun-Dial by Jason Abdelhadi

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

By | 2017-04-03T13:58:24+00:00 April 3rd, 2017|Essay|0 Comments

New book from Dark Windows Press

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

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By | 2017-03-27T12:05:34+00:00 March 27th, 2017|News|0 Comments

The Hartley Mob

“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.

By | 2017-03-07T13:07:51+00:00 March 7th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Surrealist realism by Jesús Garcías Rodriguez & Bruno Jacobs

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

By | 2017-02-25T13:46:43+00:00 February 19th, 2017|Essay, Uncategorized|0 Comments

End Notes from the Aquatic Lanthorn by Jason Abdelhadi

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

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By | 2017-02-25T12:07:19+00:00 January 14th, 2017|Essay|0 Comments