Michel Zimbacca – Advice of the Night
(Surrealist editions, Paris, 1995)
(Night of 18-19 1.1995)
Around one hour since we went to bed, my companion moves and says: “I am not asleep.” Her voice, her movement interrupted something like a dream-conversation. An impression that I was not really sleeping. I ask her what was keeping her awake. She does not reply. I hear her sleeping. Already? What is the weather like? I reassure myself, she and the persistently muted babble are still at hand. The dream-like state of happiness that was granted me still remains for me to abandon myself to once more. It will be nothing, or a rather almost nothing. So then, what happened?
I will never know how many voices have arisen, letting loose strings of words, at a speed that awakens, as if before for example the verbal flow of certain persons too rapid for me, I would be incapable of catching them, but in which I participate in with complete ease. A connivance bringing this joyously active train suggests that it is established on some beneficial event over which it was no longer a question of enjoying together, words and myself, in the twists of a phrasing which each of the voices shared the same lightness. Visually, all of this fuses together movements of a surf of diverse points into a sort of carnal speckled mosaic, whose vanishing lines fade towards a very close curved horizon, where this and that are bound by the same rhythm, appearances and disappearances of “images” or rather, image-beings. The view and the extension are perceived as a single thing emanating living objects, beings-word-images, and functions thus for a long while without running out of breath. I was tirelessly there.
Now I cannot find again any of these extended phrases I heard, and can only represent to myself the general visual aspect of the phenomenon. But in the night, the state of happiness is maintained while I become aware of what I have come to describe and which appears to me suddenly, like a revelation from deep memory, intimately familiar. “One” has just taken me, I come to surprise that which I’ve always “done”.
I think of the meeting over the course of which, two hours previously, we had mutually interrogated each other about our various dream reports with regards to what is most personal about them. No doubt the night light that has been turned on, adding to the wakefulness, allowed me to moreover surprise myself with bag-in-hand, rather than the usual reverse, and yet without knowing overtly what it contains.
I must note this experience immediately, it is there so close at hand, completely animated still, albeit well veiled, but it would be so much better to fall back asleep, to plunge back into this pleasure. But I do not resist the idea of plugging in a little pocket tape recorder to my bedside that will serve as a notepad. I will repeat what I hear. A certain whispering of thought in half-sleep which is familiar does not hesitate to articulate itself. I repeat without paying attention to the fact that it breaks up the act of listening, nor the doubt that introduces itself regarding the primitiveness of what is being recorded, since I have an impression of chasing after the sound and interpreting it moments afterwards, like sometimes happens in games of telephone. After persisting for a moment, I give up. Very excited, I get up to listen to the recording and transcribe the following.
(The ellipses mark a hiatus, in listening, occasioned by my repetitions. The marks note a change of voice, when I noticed them).
“… comrade seismic bird lost in the lentils…ravaging ravine…1 put to his harlequin system topples instead of the tarot…1 said there, said there small auto flat parks with balm it is he who says…1 yes, yes, camera clost sent him the microbe intact…1 manifested like a spring that kicks to one… erroneously ants clears the eyes of failure in cavernous pants in the boot…1 the high herb little awe-struck sniffle his sex like three apples… hilarity jellyfish of the chief without following temptation…eh costume yourself below the foot, costume yourself eh flame and monument strictly feminine must sit… without giving the riparian address to the ceiling of the stomach… Delphine finally on fire the hazards the sea mass-earth…never left the places life shoots itself and withdraws the sea neighbor…”
First impression upon reading it: the gaiety has withdrawn from the poetry, the humor has changed colour, but I recognize the general character of “inspiration”. While listening to the recording I clearly perceived the “hesitations” of what presented themselves like so many personalities that situated the ambiguous place where I was waiting for them, without any impoliteness, but full of circumspection, employing a part of the vivacity to reassure themselves (reassure myself?) of proper external references to justify their acrobatics. They saw me observing them. My withdrawal from general participation, my displacement towards observation fixed the price of my deception. Had I not re-introduced “between us” the reality principle, there where nocturnal activity only plays and feeds itself upon its own pleasure?
I go back to bed, hoping to rediscover this feast of sleep. But excitement and curiosity hold me. I put the recorder back on and confide myself to the floating hearing-vision. After the collection of what follows, I go to sleep. The transcription was not made until the next day.
“…the pain of the fish in stucco beneath will filter the bastille with both hands… there is great rest in my belly… he loves that it’s the baker who picks up me up mass…1 to the black string sun two red-breasted flowers in water of the opposite… rower of chameleons that stigmata beneath the two-headed pillow…Wolfédélong… contains a belly which contains a belly which contains dialectic towards nothingness… length which follows the funicular flour… near the river a bag of mesopotamians beneath sabine waters… like it gets slippery you explain to yourself you realize for yourself… filminic reed reed agreeable to write in a vase glass…Frison Roche and dowser stimulates himself in secret…”
In the course of these two hearing-recordings, I noticed the focus of my attention on the words was prioritized over the observation of the spectacle, but that I “felt” or “saw” certain visual elements isolate themselves precipitately to transform themselves (or translate themselves) into words and mix with the phrases I was able to repeat. Words escaped me, schematic phantoms, which appeared to dissolve in the visual background. (The mosaic).
The next night, a new attempt. Not the least bit of speech came to me. It is clear that I am not longer in proximity to the original phenomenon. There remains only that heavy dough which is generally confronted with eventual moments of everyday inspiration.
I said I had, upon awakening, an impression that I was not really sleeping. At a distance, I thought I slept well and truly, but that my participation in the dream was so active, that the awakening, the recumbent position, the entrance into darkness, appeared to me, by an effect of inversion, in comparison to my previous state of activity, to constitute sleep.
The following days, occupied in attempting to account for the experience, I decided to no longer provoke anymore listening before having finished. And besides, what should I do, what would I do? Would a systematization of these capture attempts approach me from a magical source, or on the contrary, would this only encourage it to flee, to guard its secret even more jealously?
The capture of such an activity in all its power, the feeling of its extent and interior duration, the intimate recognition of its familiarity depended in this case on an external event, surprising the sleeper in his full participation in the concert. From sleep to wakefulness, the action becomes spectacle and hearing, and soon leaves nothing but a dull noise that testifies to the fact that, although separated from continuous consciousness, something continues, leaving behind a retrievable intuitive system, as if recharged by a forgotten presence. Present to itself illuminating these particular states, which in the night, constitute the scenic view onto the awakening of the nearby sleeper.
At the stage of the capture, I was there like a thief, ironically understood, whose very object of desire would be that which inspired the state of “sub-vigilance” proper to preliminary observation, but for which it would be impossible to retrieve the creative thread directly without the risk of compromising various indistinguishable chances; so powerful is the feeling of having participated in an “operation” which has all the characteristics of a completed resolution surpassing all that hope and desire can engender in the conscious imagination.
Insofar as it has been fixed, the content of the inexhaustible “mono-dialogue” has many similarities with the phrases of wakefulness. The childish and lively tone seems to be a characteristic feature. After this experience it has become impossible for me to resist the idea that they are only the last fragments seized from a form of mental activity whose self-development seems to illustrate the concept of “pure psychic automatism” quite completely, free of intention, including that of giving oneself over to it, and of all conscious oversight, at least such as we imagine in the various states of waking life.
Faced with the multiplicity of these unidentifiable voices as boisterous as the visual imitation from which they emanate, the “Who am I?” gives way. What am I made of, to find myself both subject and object of their complicity? To be able to give myself what I do not have, in a definitive reply to all misery? And to leave so far behind that which conditions repression and inhibitions? To be able to spin this weft of pure pleasure and to compete generously towards and against the entirety of my own psychic comfort – what does such an operation intend for me to understand? Does that which is so deeply buried and active lead to the most vital of our roots? With or in conjunction with a life that is transmitted in its own metamorphoses? If, since consciousness is presented as a mirror, the effect of reflection influences the forms of this activity, is it always it, and only it, who articulates the communicative necessities of language?
Among the functional characteristics of the phenomenon considered in its second phase (described conditions of its capture), I would like to draw attention to the fluidity of behavior of automatic induction before the semiconscious gaze. According to the variable inflections of attention, themselves induced by the bipolarizations of asleep/awake, will/surrender, pleasure/reality, it would seem to function as a conditional form of “censorship”. “Let me do it and I’ll let you do it!” Notably through the exercise of its ability to convert image to word and word to image, in which I observed that one went missing as the other was delivered to the observer. With its superior speed, qualified as automatic, does this not suggest that this gaze is more powerful than that of consciousness, having mastered the game of exchanges with means that foil all our applied thought?
While waiting for other testimonies and observations, I will allow myself to presume, hypothetically, that this activity in its first form, entirely spontaneous, proceeds in a sort of phasing of mental perception, with its transmitter pole. This would correspond to a deep need for unification of the elements of thought, seeking to open the best and fastest conduction to a language capable of being conveyed as gleefully through sensory products as through their symbols, leaving the spirit of this dichotomy and restoring to it a specific liberty, in a feeling of incomparable completeness.
The language of birds?
In le Bourgeon-corail, Jean-Pierre Guillon advances the idea of “…the permanence in mankind of a continuous current, perceptible at certain privileged moments” (Bulletin de liason surréaliste, no. 3). In the The Automatic Message, André Breton postulates “All the current experimentation would be able to show that perception and representation hold only for the product of dissociation with regards to a unique and original faculty, of which the eidetic image stands as evidence, and of which we find traces in the primitive and in the child.”
The purpose of this communication is to encourage testimonies of analogous or similar experiences, in order to subject to the widest possible examination a spontaneous form of activity of the mind which, surprised at the possible diversity of the external conditions susceptible to provoke it, would be appropriate to concretize the means of access and recognition of this unique faculty.
Speed, profusion, irrepressible spontaneity of sequences, inexhaustible energy, the most striking characteristics of this complete automatism could not fail to remind me of another experience of more than eight years ago, while awake. Similarity of operation, but different posture. Reduced to passivity regarding my reactions, I did not feel involved in what I suffered. It happened to be that, at this moment of my life, it seemed necessary to my psychological state at the time for me to briefly go camping.
Plunged into the torments of an amorous break from which all motivations were denied me, I faced it only by multiplying my epistolary attempts at emotional expression, accompanied by requests for explanations. The silence and the absence I was experience only led me to renew them more and more compulsively. After a few months thus absorbed, I attempted an introspective act, voluntarily amplifying by all means of the imagination what I suffered, to give all force to my motivations and my frustrated desires. The relaxation that could not fail to follow left me in the depths, as in a place devoid of all wounds, a blue of a sky of internal water which appeared only as a tangle of floating algae above me. I felt myself reaching my deliverance. The next day, as I felt myself reinvesting my senses and my antennas, again carrying this warmth in order make positive a basic loneliness, and at that moment probably a little meditative, there set in motion a visually dominant mental maneuver, for which I cannot rediscover the content, or say if voices other than that of the soliloquy were heard. Automatism imposed its accelerations on me, its profusion, with the same implacable energy, overflowing a conscious paralysis, then provoking a dizziness of the most painful kind, a sort of distant delirium. The oppression felt by me was receding into the dereliction of two days before. Without changing anything with regards to this feeling, it was enough that I busy myself with some manual daily task so that the ride would slow down and give place to a rhythm of thought where the obsessional returned to dispute with the melancholy; to be taken up again when I abandoned myself to rest. This “delirium” seemed destined to make me dizzy. Its contents conveyed only few representations related to my situation at the time. I think it could only be a question of capturing bits and pieces. By successive waves it occupied the whole afternoon, the evening and the first part of my sleep. The next day, I was cleansed, five weeks later, eventually found me in order.
As the unconscious is culturally more dreadful than expected, consciousness erects its defenses and protections; the movements of their effective relations should be considered not only with regards to the analytical decodings of their contents, but also through the daily alternation of their effects on our faculties, starting from the couplings where the fundamental resources of the mind are revealed.
According to what words do with us at night, from which day and night are made, evacuation and refilling, magnificence and misery, emptiness and fullness, suffering and pleasure; whatever may be the narrowness of the pass through which the unconscious and the conscious communicate, their names may soon be interchangeable according to the phases of a life recognized for its potential of daily reinvention, as with a longer range.
Rather than being fixed by the architectures of our fears, to be repeated in all ideals and material recompense, the world will no longer travel in us, through our real condition reconquered, unless it be to illuminate the flight of long anticipated desires.
Here Comes The Cactus!
(Written in ignorance of Michel Zimbacca’s Communication-Inquiry on the mono-dialogue – see above)
Message for you! I have always strongly sympathized with Breton’s very first surrealist experience: the sudden gift, as one is drifting off to sleep, of a hypnagogic phrase. For Breton it was “a man cut in half by the window”. It came to him one night, as mine come to me, fully formed, clear and distinct, and verbal rather than a full image. A hybrid concoction of mythological genesis and Cartesian certainty. Actually, I find that they usually have an imperative character that tends to suggest an exclamation point. For me this phenomenon occurs so regularly and clearly that I found I could actually record a solid set of them before finally succumbing to sleep. Why jump right to conscious automatism, when this method could also be mined? I tried to explicitly “write a poem” in this way, using the phrases that arrived totally unbidden before falling asleep.
Here Comes The Cactus!
Man-Thing looks like 10:30…
Here comes the cactus!
Let’s say, plenty!
The issue, is there change yet?
That’s the issue about being rugby.
Right now dancing, because I wanna go… play!
Head’s up! Cause I thought your others didn’t doubt ya.
You should always bounce in and you’re Greg.
Giant rocks and a searching squirrel? Nay.
I’m going to help you babe, the message cleared to me.
(August 3 2017 from 10:30-10:48 pm)