Life Partially Submerged 2017-02-25T12:06:56+00:00

The Surrealist Group of Stockholm

LIFE PARTIALLY SUBMERGED

In response to question #2 of the inquiry.

Pick an urban neighborhood with buildings of similar height (there are always exceptions, nunatakks). Take a walk and see what the atmospheres or the chance findings reveal about aquatic life. Life around the surface, kneedeep wading on the roofs. Is that a way to run a life? Is there life below? Will your things ever dry?

IÖ says:

I am noticing with some surprise that it is shallow, more shallow than I expected. Directions of movement are downwards (final), and a temporary horizontal one towards greater depths. Distinct shapes of schools. The stream brings various repugnant smells, it could be signals of various kinds. One smell is pink, another one reservedly prickly, one is sticky like a chain. There is something hesitatingly awaiting about the schools, something ominous about the streaks (registered by the sideline?). One school emerges from a lower cavity. A larger body passes in a remarkable way, it has absorbed smaller bodies, unclear whether they are prey or symbionts.

I am following one of the schools in the predominant movement. At greater depth segregation can be discerned: capital transactions closer to the bottom, informal interactions and dormant states (winter eggs?) higher up. The exploitation implied in the transactions makes me expect even stronger schooling as a response (safety in numbers) but I observe the opposite.

KF found this bubbly facade walking in København.

blubbblubbblubb-kf_2016_kbh3

MF says:

Become an amphibian.

An old dream I remember, of people living on the level of rooftops, they were the fearless youth of Helsinki, who were pushing each other to try ever more dangerous tricks including jumping with skateboards or with motorcycles between roofs: most died.

Another old dream, bathing in a merely wet corner of the garden, throwing ourselves flat to the ground just almost getting immersed, and finding the concrete tube of the well in there, a little pore where one could get the entire body wet, but it’s quite cramped, especially since my cousin is already in there, and I don’t mind sharing the space with her.

It was easy to imagine the filamentous algae, the lianas, and the spiderwebs stretching between the houses, as if these streets were mere crevasses or narrow canyons. That keeps me somewhat secret when walking down here, yes why not an oblique shadow along a vague track from a former civilisation.

Walking with the question in mind I was mostly nervously pondering how the perspective from down below revealed or would reveal only the tiniest glimpses of people moving around on the roofs. Neither assassins nor professional spies, just presences watching. And to imagine how little they were actually seeing of what was going on down here, through layers of water of different densities and through algae and these inexplicable clouds of something. The classic horror question: is it me watching me from above, or spying on me from below? Who is not the monster? The long climb up to the highest peaks which turn out to be the surface reference level is unavoidably the famous trope from Lovecraft’s the Outsider.

Regardless of streetlevel or rooflevel, wake or dreaming, knee-deep in water or with the surface as a sky far above, the consistent quality of water is the higher density of medium, slowing down all the movements and forming a more tangible presence surrounding us.

I’ve responded to the same question before, it seems, but that was 25 years before it was posed. It doesn’t count. It’s just this notorious bathyscopy.

As I moved out of the chosen area of investigation I found an old friend standing on a corner, a guy who has been the editor of a journal for psychoanalysis and culture: Divan. I realise I never thought of the possibility of considering the psychoanalytic divan as a potential portal between modes of life. There might be something about the dive.

EB says:

Two false starts, familiar retreats: First playing house. I put my tent there, my seaweed bubblery draped around my this or that. Then that worn out nomadic fantasy. Following the streams wherever. (Is it worn out?)

Peer over the edge with waves breaking against shins or thighs or navel, not suffering from vertigo, instead counting breaths. A pair of chimneys, portals towards a dry interior, a dusty drowning lung in the world ocean. It is warm, I’m lying down on my back with two drinking straws in my mouth. Breathe in through one and out through the other. The tin roof warmed by the sun, I shadow myself with bladder wrack. My life is reflexes, wrinkled feet (upper body from the dry time and lower body bloated like a corpse, pulling off my toenails) and waves passing. No one moved down on the street before the flood. No one moves there now. On the other side of the tracks one more chimney. Sometimes I swim there. In the winter I sleep with the swallows.

EL says:

The most remarkable thing about it is the fact that all mirror images are horizontal and form passages, sometimes narrower and that is where we move, along straight paths. We progress with heavy moon jumps over each other, or, at our most effective, squeezed together in corkscrewing movements as projectiles.

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