3 02, 2019

Bessie A. Ficklen – Dream-Poetry (1891)

By | 2019-02-04T15:50:30+00:00 February 3rd, 2019|Dreams, Essay|0 Comments

Brief introduction to an oneiricist aunty


Every once in a while another hidden ancestor will pop up in the most unlikely of spots. We think it’s important to bring these missing links to light wherever possible, and to celebrate the often hidden efforts of dreamworld explorers of all times and eras… Oh there you are, great-great-aunty B, floating in the old dream-mirror …

Bessie Alexander Ficklen (1861-1945) was an American and a southerner who lived in Georgia. She seems to have published only sparingly. Apart from this essay she appears to be most often cited for her Handbook of Fist Puppets, contributing significantly to the popularization of that particular art, and even participating in what must be one of the earliest films on the subject. She illustrated a book of nonsense poetry, and was part of at least one art exhibition in Texas. She also published privately circulated books of poetry and illustrations, which we have unfortunately not yet been able to track down.

(more…)

22 10, 2018

Mormyridean themes and games – an open letter…

By | 2018-10-22T22:31:12+00:00 October 22nd, 2018|Essay|0 Comments

A recent email from RW Spryszak allowed me to voice some thoughts on the question of Peculiar Mormyrid’s themes and games, their uses and abuses…

Hi RW,

This has nothing to do with your sub which we haven’t read yet, but I wanted to send a personal side-note from me on the “theme” question, something that has been percolating for a while and which your email just gave me an opportunity to send.

You say you simply cannot write on a theme. You’ve said it before. Indeed, it seems this particular word really sticks in your craw and I have noticed you made a few comments about it in the past, including in the editorial for SURREALISTS AND OUTSIDERS, where you refer to it as something other surrealist journals do which you simply cannot understand. But if I may, I think you might be approaching it from a rather narrow angle, dare I say even in danger of a commodity-based view: indeed, it might appear that way to somebody who is not familiar with the ludic aspect of the surrealist adventure; of the surrealist game.

You seem to treat it as if what we are asking is for participants to go and compose short stories or paintings or other art products based on a theme, so that we can collect a bunch of vaguely similar things together in an anthology with an overall aesthetic sense of cohesion. This is NOT the case. We are not interested in such superficial cataloguing.

Rather, from the angle of the surrealist game, what we are providing is an opportunity for participants to be “primed”; to be alerted to the possibilities inherent in some serendipitous or even prophetic utterances; to use the theme as an element for a game, or a mode of research, or to look for evidence in everyday life, on a walk, to test it with comrades in a collective exploration. As you know, surrealism is conceived as a collective adventure. We want the theme to be a jumping off point, not an end in itself, and certainly not as a criteria by which we judge things sent to us as if we had a checklist for finished works. I assure you we have no such list, either explicitly or implicitly. We want to be surprised.

The finished work is always a secondary byproduct—and like an experiment or an attempt—and perhaps we do not look too favourably on finished works at all. Aren’t they too suspicious? Too linked to a process of capture, package, submission, and consumption? Surrealism is not to be concerned with hurling out new artistic or written products in a variety of industrial colourways for market: we are above all interested in new modes of KNOWLEDGE, new experiences and ways of changing the world. Themes are temptations to a collective pursuit of knowledge.

So, in the paradigm of a loner or individual artist or writer concerned with the viability or quality of their product, or inordinately cautious about their preconceived “method of working”, the concept of a theme might seem restrictive or reductive. But for a collective participant and a researcher it is an invitation to the unknown. Moreover, it is an opportunity to step outside of individual concerns into a world of collective make-believe.

I also think there is some confusion regarding the notion of a theme as opposed to the well known “pure psychic automatism”, both in the core sense of the method of writing/creation and as a wider umbrella for the creation of works outside of all aesthetic or moral concerns. True, if our themes were meant to either lead to a preconceived aesthetic result or image, or likewise to a political moral or thinly veiled metaphor, yes, this use of a “theme” would be anti-surrealist and anti-automatist. Such a slippage is always a risk.

But that’s not what we are asking. Rather, we hope to generate new types of methods, new powers of explorations, and themes serve as an alchemical ingredient to begin the transmutation. So for example your “discovery” of an old text is a perfectly valid form of play here, perhaps even preferable to someone just naively writing a story or poem on a given theme with no experimental or daring or transformative intent. Maybe archaeology is better. It must be recognized that surrealism too has its cliches and its tropes, melting clocks etc. and that one of the best way to subvert these is through rigorous experimentation and the search for SOMETHING ELSE. The theme or game as a launchpad does this. It is not meant to delimit or circumscribe automatist play.

This means that following the game, playing along, putting on the masks, even breaking the rules…Above all else surrealist activity should never let itself lose that sense of play, don’t you think? Themes available to all in their own way, or maybe, to throw them off their way.

-Jason Abdelhadi, October 22 2018

3 09, 2018

Tourist Trap (1979) – Jason Abdelhadi

By | 2018-09-03T15:34:06+00:00 September 3rd, 2018|Essay, Image|0 Comments

Automatic response after watching the film Tourist Trap (1979) 

Yes the broken manikin is the ending, this is a film about endings like all mannequins are in fact over and done with humans (wait, who with whom?) Discarded mentality is what this flurry of axes with makeup, how their lovely mouths flip open with a beautiful OOO like some gorgeous doo-wop band made-up  of only dummies. And what a turnover rate, couldn’t help but admire the snakes that live in sacred pool, a glorious snake dance, “water moccasins” you can slip on and off like quality footwear. My snake-dance in Ventnor. GAS AND EATS is all you need. But they laugh so much, and the pressure is on when the “funny” music happens. The chaotic man in the top hat and the Elvis mask, I need to ask, is he a Resident? Into the coast of the mind, there are only inland oases, the long and beautiful woodpanelled dummy museum that screeches with happiness. What a totality, the manikin or homunculus turns out to be when it puts on a mask. I don’t believe in the sanctity of marriage but when it leads to orgies this good I can’t help but wonder if monogamy requires inanimate intermediates. But is it fair, after the ending, to call manikins inanimate? No, they are halting in their animation, fixated, but they have somewhere to be and something to do. I am so pleased she drove off with the manikins of her friends. I wonder if I could keep sangfroid when I get cake mix smeared on my face and then am told its plaster. It’s worth dying for certain aesthetic variations on the orgasm. It’s not a movie where expression means much. He sounded like a cartoon Klondike gold miner. And in the masked form, like Randy Rose. It’s glorious to combine manikins and masks and make them into conspirators together, against the holiday. We stopped for gas? Gas? We found the sacred grove where the Pythia (who is nothing but a strange old hag of a prediction machine, a gas masikin, who breathes out futures like murders).

There is a space where we wonder how quickly the murders actually begin. I thought it was setting the scene but that first attack on the schmuck, that was the scene. How gratuitous the manikins who laugh, and overabundance of them. Being smothered by manikins—yes, now I remember where I’ve seen it before: my friend Lake made a fantastic painting of a ladyboy awakening in just such a pile of manikins.

Perhaps we don’t need to die. We are not Norman Bates. We are not trying to recreate heteronormative family relations and patriarchal systems with our baskets and baskets of limbs. The swirling ballet of live-actors and manikins interchange, making all that is solid melt into plaster. It’s great to end life with an axe, but even better to hit the floor and scream laughing into the sunset.

A film with an abundance of charm. The snakes are the hidden stars. A snake with an abundance of harm. The mechanical automata aren’t, they are real actors. Much like Poe’s machine chess player. Exactly like it. (Meaning, even after all these years and iterations and romances with our dead-limbless cousins, we can’t get enough of them).

-Jason Abdelhadi, Sept 1 2018

6 04, 2018

Some Irrational Reviews of Universalizing Objects

By | 2018-04-07T01:30:46+00:00 April 6th, 2018|Essay, Object, Prose|0 Comments

A Green Ceramic Creature signed “Sharon MacDonald, H., 1914”

Price: 1.99

This object seems very good for what it is. On the one hand it is clearly dog, but on the other, it isn’t at all. It is quite smooth and green. When I first glanced it, I assumed it was something more particular. My brain must have filled in the gaps, for unlike most objects, the more I looked at it and handled it, the less I understood what it was, and the more general it became. Perhaps we can tentatively term such rare things as this as Universalizing Objects. Something like a thing, but then it seems to drift from the specific into the ideal. Nonetheless, it tastefully freezes itself before it quite reaches the stage of intellect, and remains matter. There is nothing more cliché these days than a mere “imaginary object”, and so I am glad this thing stuck it out in the concrete. On the bottom it is dated 1914. A harbinger of war? I like its colour. We can only hope there will be more of them forthcoming. Will there be? Time will tell.

 

A Leaky Amulet

Price: Found on the street

This is a medium-range generalizing entity that won’t set you back too much and that will get the job done. Its peculiarity lies in its general bottle shape. Nonetheless, it is a two-dimensional bottle, and most strikingly, has a series of irregular cut outs in its body, reminding one of either geological extraction of fossils or a very abstract game of “Operation”. It certainly grabs the attention of passerby, but you’d be surprised how many people won’t even stop to pick up a shiny gold object when others are watching. The more one considers it, the more one wavers between choosing: is it a functional frame, or an apotropaic amulet? Metallic-gold seems to be the only option available, although some wear along the edges suggest another colour could be drawn out of it if you aren’t afraid of customizing your universalizing object. Is it handsome? Not really. Does it remind you of an eye or a hand? No, perhaps a microbe or a molecule at best. Nonetheless, for what it promises, it certainly delivers. Worth picking up if you get the chance.

 

An Empty Location Device

Price: 2.99

If you don’t already have one, you definitely need to get yourself one of these. In the technological world we live in there are few things which capture the spirit of concrete obsolescence so eloquently and yet are so relatively ubiquitous in junk shops (for the moment, at any rate). The basic mechanism is to select a letter with the golden pointer, and then press the lever. The object will spring open to an empty black zone, revealing ever the same text: PENCILIST, Model “E”, General Binding Corporation etc. etc. (One is especially struck by the idea of a General Binding Corporation, which speaks to a Hegelian progression, but also of the “general binding agent”, in an alchemical sense). Perhaps once it contained names, addresses, secret poems, dream accounts. Certainly it contained area codes and “bates” (The Bates Motel? Or is there some elision in ‘bates?). The most striking feature of this model, missing both its dividers and its pages, is the ability to experience the (shall we say quantum?) differences of so many possible realitiesfrom A to Z, as it were—and yet experience no qualitative change in result. Yet. The mechanism of shutting and opening the lid, hilarious little coffin of the office, leaves a wavering gap in the certainty of the operator. Who knows if certain occult combinations of letters chosen might one day result in the appearance, on the inside, of something else?

-JA

22 01, 2018

Sex Organ Inquiry

By | 2018-01-22T23:24:18+00:00 January 22nd, 2018|Essay, News|0 Comments

What does a sex act involving no living organisms look like?

CC: The androgynous Chaos locked in eternal masturbation.
JA: A richter scale in action during a seismic event
DC: Geophysics
CW: No one can see sex between the dead without spectral vision goggles and I’ve temporarily misplaced mine somewhere between Sierra Leone and the Atlantic coast of the U.S. It is rumored that the dead can still get pregnant and have babies during the full moon.
SK: Condensation on the lens of a telescope.

How does a jewel make love to a sponge?

CC: Clumsily and unsatisfactorily as the sponge is not impressed by hardness.
JA: By dissolving itself into soap
DC: As they please. Jewel crushes sponge, sponge smothers jewel.
CW: The jewel turns itself into liquid and falls upon the sponge to get it all hot and bothered and wet. However long it takes for the sponge to dry out is how long the love making lasts. The jewel returns to its proper shape not long after.
SK: A facet of its face clouds over from beneath.

What are your current thoughts on the birth process, and do you prefer an egg or a live birth for your offspring? What will you do with your placenta?

CC: An egg is infinitely better than live birth except that placenta is delicious, so if there is going to be a live birth, I will definitely eat the placenta.
JA: I would definitely prefer an egg, as the contemplative period of nesting would suit me very well for the reading of a few books I’ve been meaning to get to. Regarding the placenta, I would probably put it under my pillow to see if it has any effect on dreaming.
DC: Live birth is an evolutionary-bureaucratic compromise approximating superior avian, reptilian and insectoid procedures and will be superseded. Both placenta, the navel and breasts must be retained as charming follies. I will prepare my placenta with polenta.
CW: The birth process is a good metaphor for ideas bursting through the top of the skull. I prefer to give birth to an egg because they don’t cry and you always know when the creatures within are about to break through because you can feel the ground shake. There is no placenta.
SK: Birth is the end of death and the opposite, I have a return ticket. Offspring should choose. If I say live birth they will say egg. My placenta has been on holiday, it didn’t send a card.

Describe the characteristics of cosmic semen.

CC: The characteristics of cosmic semen are the characteristics of mankind as an emanation of the unconscious.
JA: Cosmic semen has a remarkable resemblance to a number of things appearing in the Jetsons theme song.
DC: Comets and meteors. The mysterious dark red interstellar traveller that recently passed through our solar system. Space dust that crackles in the mouth.
CW: Cosmic semen tends to fill the void with the consistency of pancake batter poured into a skillet. Within its micro-pores float a thousand varieties of photons, quarks and space dust.
SK: An arc of light in the corner of my eye.

Should we follow the example set by the noble gastropod and become hermaphrodites, replacing our genitalia with new and interchangeable objects of our choosing?

CC: Yes, we should seek to be both male and female. Where our bodies go, our mind will follow and this will help us embody the perfect androgyny of the unconscious.
JA: Absolutely we should. I would personally choose a turkey baster.
DC: Sexual fetishism in all its marvelous forms represents the beginning of this inevitable process.
CW: Should we become hermaphrodites, and should we replace our genitals with new interchangeable objects? Certainly, as long as we have the option to morph back out of those shapes as we desire and to make our genitals as big as a house, as long as a fifty yard dash, and as wide as Lake Superior, or as tiny as the buttocks of an ant.
SK: Calcium daggers are a retrograde step unless you are a Borgia or Medici in which case the slime is essential.

Which word involving some characteristic of the human sex organs do you find the most poetic?

CC: Clitoris has poetic potential, being the same material as the masculine penis, but organized into a feminine form.
JA: “Littoral”.
DC: Quiff, derived from coiffure. Both suggest the archaic quim.
CW: The genitally related words that are the most poetic would surely include tumescent, turgid, throbbing, hungry, devouring, charging, sliming, spitting, and queefing.
SK: Heliotropism.

Will pubic hair replace yarn in the crochet of the future?

CC: Being one step ahead of the collective in the crafting game, I have been aware for quite some time, that pubic hair is the finest material available for creating an number of crochet items, such as socks, scarves, blankets, and soft burrito coffins.
JA: Yes, if the necessary legislation is worded just right.
DC: No. Instead it will be cloned and cultured to create humane, luxurious fur coats, mufflers and hats.
CW: Pubic hair is no longer required as a designation of sexual maturity. Instead the genitals themselves will recite a Haiku when they are ready. The yarn of the future will be made from our thoughts alone.
SK: Crochet needles make pubic hair.

Would you prefer pollination by insect over human reproduction in its current incarnation?

CC: I would prefer pollination over human reproduction as long as the insect won’t suddenly demand my obedience.
JA: Yes, so long as it wasn’t a ticklish or stinging insect. Perhaps a slug?
DC: Why stop there? Instead, I propose symbiotic Cronenbergian invaders from within. Facehuggers and chestbursters.
CW: Pollination by insect, human reproduction: These things to us are but one.
SK: The insect shall inherit the earth.The Queue has started,their turn is after our orgy.

6 01, 2018

SOME THOUGHTS ON FLESH

By | 2018-01-09T01:36:16+00:00 January 6th, 2018|Essay|0 Comments

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.

23 07, 2017

The Pogo Enigma

By | 2018-01-11T13:04:47+00:00 July 23rd, 2017|Dreams, Essay, Games, Image|0 Comments

SC: Mattias Forshage mentioned Pogo and the Okefenokee in an email, which set me off on a Pogo hunt, feeling something needed exploring down there in a vague sort of way. We only had time for a quick stop, and went to the more touristy entrance on the north. An interesting desolateness, still, and a weird little Pogo section too, old and past its prime. A Walt Kelly mannequin stuck behind glass drawing one strip in an infinite loop. We also spotted Pogo painted under a bridge and on a water tower in Waycross. Later driving home we came across a town called “Enigma”, which I felt compelled to detour into. Amusing seeing the signs leading up to it too… “20 Miles to Enigma”, “10 Miles to Enigma”, “Enigma City Limits”…. Very small downtown, and empty too.

JA: Unaware of any of the previous discussions around Pogo or the trip to Okefenokee, I had the following dream on June 5, 2017. That day I also created the accompanying image. However, I did not think to share it with Steven or Mattias until after I saw Steven and Casi’s images from their trip, a month later, when we discovered this curious enigma of conjoined Pogos.

JA’s Dream of June 5, 2017

Mattias Forshage puts out a zine called CCANADADA REVIEW which claims on the cover that it is a continuation of investigations started by the Prague surrealist group but also derived from some interesting people he met and games played at a Canadian comic convention. The subtitle contains a logo of a black reversed Canada flag just like the “Fuck the 150th Canada” logo. The cover is bright green. The content is exclusively related to cartoons and comic stuff. On the back page, there is a full page homage to a monster he claims appears in Walt Kelly’s Pogo: a giant goofy looking two headed turtle monster called OGOPOGO* who very much looks like a creature drawn in the Walt Kelly style. It has the body of a turtle, two cartoon crocodile heads and four arms. Basically a mashup of Albert Alligator, Churchy LaFemme and King Koopa. It is doing a sort of sumo shiko stomp. The homage page contains images of the monster as well as an article describing its qualities favourable to surrealism: its rage, magic abilities, strangeness, unpredictability etc.

There is also a handwritten note on green paper in one of the pages of the magazine which I cannot read. I am trying to read this while walking simultaneously with AC towards the War Memorial and eat a plantain, but she distracts me with something.

*Note: Ogopogo has been a recurring word and running inside joke in many of SC’s surrealist mail to me.

MF to JA: When I was trying to remember anything connected with the suggestive phrase Ccanadada I heard music in my head. Someone is singing “Floridada, floridada”, the same basic pun. It’s the title song of last year’s Animal Collective album, which the random shuffle generator on my music player clearly likes and has chosen to play for me five times in the few weeks since I imported the record (which is really a lot with a big library), after having purchased it in London, and in your company, if you remember the record which I asked for your bespectacled vision to check in the shop twilight whether the minute dull-pink print on the cream sleeve actually confirmed that it was last year’s album; this would have been a week after your dream. Animal Collective connects with Pogo and his friends, and Steven was asking me whether there was any place I could recommend from my time in Florida when I kept going on about Pogo instead.

8 05, 2017

Recent Flood Activity by Jason Abdelhadi

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

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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3 04, 2017

The Grass Plot Round A Sun-Dial by Jason Abdelhadi

By | 2017-04-03T13:58:24+00:00 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

19 02, 2017

Surrealist realism by Jesús Garcías Rodriguez & Bruno Jacobs

By | 2017-02-25T13:46:43+00:00 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