Halfanhourglass

Who are our contemporary surrealists?  By looking at the past, we can see a logical poetic praxis:

Charles Henri Ford:

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Ford never received the recognition he deserves, it seems;  I have seen not one of his poems in a Penguin Surrealist Anthology (in which they have included Harry Crosby, WH Auden, and those never related to surrealism in any formal way.

But what of the New Surrealists?  Those who depart from the dogma of the original group in a formal, determined way?  This is what we mean to do.     From today’s NSI transmissions:

The ‘experimental’ writer, then, is simply following the story’s commands to the best of his human ability. The writer is not the story, the story is the story. See? Sometimes this is very hard to accept and sometimes too easy. On the one hand, there’s the writer who can’t face his fate: that the telling of a story has nothing at all to do with him; on the other hand, there’s the one who faces it too well: that the telling of the story has nothing at all to do with him”
— Thomas Ligotti

Highway Memorial

Bale thunder catacombs of aluminum and halfanhourglass watch tower, egg timer of rain, the traffic signal seance slip, their *fortuna*. U-TURN, a space of jackboot porcelain, the faces with casts of amethyst awaken in the hospital underground. Things happen every day, I tell myself, a poor choice of words.

John Thomas Allen

A New Surrealism means departure from the tenets of the original Surrealism, whatever one chooses to call that.
I do not mean to imply by this that andre Breton’s Magical canon, taken from such figures as Novalis, De Sade, Augustine or Jarry, or his insistence freedom and love and revolt are to be even slightly discarded; they are to move with the times. That is to say: new pronouncements, actions and declarations are to be put in place which may sometime be in heady coagulation with Parisian surrealism’s original tenets. For those who balk at this, or feel uncomfortable with it, I apologize. That is what it means to change and grow.
True initiates into the hydra headed hourglass of the surrealist quest often enjoy the prismatic status of the neon elsewhere which stares back at them to remain the same. We see and love quite rightfully, a totem caste of the most fascinating human beings to walk the planet.
Artaud’s laudanum alabaster rorschach shadow on the bathhouse walls of some abandoned asylum, Breton’s leonine gaze, his remorseless passion, his mad dash through and endless hall of mirrors; and his absorption in so many reflections which chase us today.

This means a revision of the original manifesto.  In a few months, we are going to attempt a Logos of Surrealism, a synthetic analysis of what it means to be a Surrealist today.

Perhaps the two most authentic surrealists, without either of them assenting to the label, were Antonin Artaud and Samuel Beckett.  Both knew the language of the unconscious and the vertiginous depths of surreality all too well; indeed, in the case of Beckett even more than Artaud, it brought him no pleasure, but only served to soup him up in mental jackpots and neurosis.  He wanted to go beyond surrealism and Freud into something else.  So did Artaud, which is why he suggested a more esoteric ordering of the unconscious which the formal surrealists never took note of.   These two men became fed up, rightly or wrongly, with the materialism of the original surrealist party.  They walked the path of what theologians call Via Negativa: a negative approach to God rather than a positive one.  (One might definitely say this was most rudely apparent in the case of Antonin Artaud).  These two figures became the poster boys for guys like Jacques Derrida and the LANGUAGE poets, everyone wanting to claim them somehow.  But both had their actual origins in French surrealist poetry.

Moral: don’t kiss an amethyst fish on the mouth till you’re sure i

Antonin Artaud

Antonin Artaud (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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THE SCENE

"The Old Folk's Home"

“The Old Folk’s Home”

Those who ring eye balls just to
Those who sell opals on Ebay
Those who spell special
(H-A-L-F A-N H-O-U-R-O-R-L-E-S-S)
Those who chase wind chimes
Those who arrange strangeness in snug puzzles
Those who IV monitor light
Those who bore the Magnificat
Those who lose themselves in galleys only on-set
Those who sink into oblivion smiling
Those who neuraesthetize neurology: brain matter of porked sea horse
Those content: let flesh melt till daylight dims
Those who Polaroid Mediocrity Planets
Those who eat avatar bytes
Those who fabric A Just Dye

ADVERTISEMENT FOR AN OLD FOLK’S HOME ABOVE

Fragments

THE SECOND COMING

(David Gascoyne)

In the dream theatre, my seat was on the balcony, and the auditorium had been partly converted into an extension of the stage. Several little Italia Conti girls ran forward past my seat somewhere behind me, and one of them cambered over a ledge and seemed to fall (she must have been suspended on a wire) to the floor below. She gave a small scream: ‘God is born!’ On a little nest of straw on the ground close to where she had fallen, a baby doll suddenly appeared. At the same moment, a hideous scarecrow-like Svengali-Rasputin figure, mask larger than life-size and painted rather like an evil clown in a Chagall apocalypse, playing an enormous violin which somehow contrived also to suggest the scythe of Father Time, rose upon the circular dais in the centre of the auditorium. I realized at once that he was the personification of Sin and Death. ‘When I play my tun, there is not a single one of you all who does not join the dance!’ I was most painfully moved by the strident yet cajoling music and the knowledge that what he had said was nothing less than the truth. Everything then began to move around confusingly. On the darkened stage, thick black gauze curtains had lifted, and one saw a squat black cross outlined against a streak of haggard white storm light across the black cloth sky. Finally, the stage was full of menacing, jerkily swaying bogies, thick black distorted crucifixes with white list eyes, covered with newspaper propaganda headlines, advancing towards the audience like a juju ceremonial dance of medicine men. At the very end of the performance, a clearly ringing voice, representing the light which must increasingly prevail against these figures, cried: ‘All propaganda that is not true Christian revolutionary propaganda is sickness and falsehood!’

 

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“Something great but obscure is striving to express itself through me.”  
  David Gascoyne, “Paris Journals”

It is a word incessantly stretching towards the absolute Word which accordingly prepares the poet’s speech organs. It is this absolute, non-spoken Word which contains the true meaning of the poem. It is the ineffable Word that, under the pressure of impatient breathing, is deformed to the point where it stamps a command upon the vocal apparatus, allowing breath to escape. In other words, in order for breath to be liberated, the ineffable Word must deteriorate little by little in order to become pronounceable, functioning as a safety valve for the overflow of Evidence that would risk killing the poet. On the other hand, since it is just at the moment when the Word becomes pronounceable that it is pronounced, the poet expression is of all the human means of communication, the most perfect, the closest to the absolute Word.” Rene Daumal

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“As life is alien to the Earth, so language is alien to life.  Between them, there can be no resemblance: each one is the mortal remains of the other.  It is a work of dissolution to ascend from the order of the Rock to that of the Eye to the Idea.  At one level are the motiveless atoms, the worlds their sediment, light itself in constant darkening (aftereffect of the spontaneous collapse of a singularity).  At a higher level, communication also is a process of decay: the breaking apart of an incommunicable unity.  Life–in relation to vastness of the energy flu in language–is wasteland, preserving a stats is of its teeming that is equal to the silence of the pre-biotic Earth,  Every event is the opening of a new abyss.”  Andrew Joron, “Trance Archive”

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Transmissions

Parable of the Parabola

I held the steam and scrubbed it. How do you do that? asked Willy. How do you scrub steam? It is so, you know, diaphanous. I said to Willy, because Willy was a good man and listened with both ears, we adapt to the heart’s convulsions. I send my grammar to a public decipherment. It comes back as a dream. I am hirsute, Willy, and there are parts of my gut that have been forged in goldfish. What do you mean by that? asked Willy. It means that change is a tough and ornery lobster and once it gets you in its claws Maine will never be the same. I bowed my head and pulled a flood of words out of my arm. Afterwards, Will stood naked in a paragraph looking clean as a sunrise on stilts. I can hear the dead, Willy, the dead straining to get back into this life. If I write a few words down it seems to help them. They boil and box according to their destiny and inclination and the music of the spheres. You want a good parable in life, Willy, a guideline by which to measure your conduct. What’s a parable? asked Willy. A parable is a large dish to catch the hollering and caterwaul of the stars. I think that’s a parabolic dish, said Willy. Ok, Willy, let’s call it a parabolic dish. A dish of splendor hoisted into the sky of our discontent. I want to hear the birth of the universe. I want to see its legs spread and the large head of being to emerge into the nothingness of space. Can you do that? asked Willy. Why sure you can. All you need is a little patience, a good shiny belt buckle, some sparks and spars and wrinkles and doors and you’ve got yourself a human diesel in dominatrix boots. You’ve got the equivalent of a fugue clanking around in the metals of love. You’ve got something tender and pliant and potentially pink. All it really is, all any of it is at any given time, is consciousness, that flywheel of the head creating sequence and existentialism. I don’t think I want any of that, said Willy. Who does? The whole idea is to get rid of it. Or concentrate real hard on not noticing it. That I can do, said Willy. Ah but it’s tricky, Willy, trickier than you think. Because as soon as you begin to concentrate on not noticing it, the whole shebang gets bigger, magnifies, and before you know it there you are, dripping with moonbeams. The stars come and throw their light over the world and the dead finally do, do get back in. –John Olson

 Things To Do Under The Influence Of Poetry Find something pertinent to say about membranes. You can’t fully know a membrane until you’ve hooked a steelhead, or studied the vibrations in an idealized circular drum. Here you will find solutions for wave equations and phantom paragraphs disguised as fungus.               Do laundry. Contrary to a few eccentric opinions, clean clothes are an asset to the maintenance of ampersands and thought.               Sit at a desk and stare at the wall. Lift your arms. Roar upward in spreading clouds of gas and smoke.               Experiment with facial expressions. Consider a taxi when you are stuck in the sand. Go on a hair-raising adventure. Read, read, read.               Create a bleak atmosphere. Stand alone on a gravel bar. Brush your hair. Make a fist. Generate crackling tangles of lightning. Let it loose. Smile. You have just created an apparent feeling.               Applaud the next washcloth. Hang it on the refrigerator handle. Let it stay there until it has grown too wet and soiled for further use. Retire it. Put it in the laundry.               Introduce yourself to the bed each night so that it may come to understand the needs of your body. Be impertinent if you must.               Inhabit a book as you would a dream, or library, or epidermis.               Wear black leather gloves. Look for elk antlers in the meadow. Invent a paradigm. Start each day with a lunatic hooting.               Inch closer to the tendrils of ramification. Wear a brightly colored shirt. Ask yourself “what is tangible, and what is not? What is the true goal of the pharmacy? What does it mean to float?”               Carry a perpetual handshake wherever you go, but use it sparingly.               Fall in love with electricity. Check the oven before returning to spawn. Wear epaulets and a sword. Adopt a look of perpetual irritation.               Imitate your favorite animal, be it a steelhead trout in the Hoh River, or a homo sapiens on the fringe of a homonym.               Keep an eye out for comets and other aberrations.               Move about on loud whooshing wings. Respect the chin, it is an engine of presence. Put your hand on the boiler and feel its heat. Start a garden of beans, violets, and zinnias. Honor the ability of birds to fly. Jettison everything in your life that is a burden. Break the sunlight into colors like Newton. Get unclogged.               Drink lots of water. Think of yourself as a ventriloquist for all things in the universe. Go for a long walk in the snow.               Sew a manuscript together using a combination of multicolored threads. Notice how the avocado is incidental to itself. Assimilate all three laws of thermodynamics. Make friends with gravity. Appear to be descended from kings. Pedal a bicycle around the room. Moisten your lips then say something dry.               Wear a cape of velour and growl. Be gallant and dashing. Create a fuel for the laughter of thermometers. Navigate a zeppelin through the eye of a needle.               Never waver except when to do so makes waves. There is always a little rhapsody in calculus. Incite a riot. Project confidence. Date an oboe. Bivouac in a blackberry.               Daub when it is good to daub, flick when it is indispensable to flick.               Consider the coins in your pocket. How many are there? How big are they? What nations do they represent? What did you do to earn them? How useful will the pennies be when it comes time to make change? Do you have enough quarters for the parking meter?               Incubate a felony. There is a felon in all of us. Revel in overalls and hemoglobin. It will come to you eventually.               Distill your thoughts until they look like vegetables. Get wet doing something that makes you happy. Do not lack vigor in your takeoff. Praise the opacity of onions.               Picture life in the ocean. House a benign neglect. Do backflips and handsprings. Teeter on misanthropy.               Use your fingers for fried chicken, a fork for chicken in aspic. Each tense is a gear. Believe in pectin. Miniaturize the apocalypse of syntax. Think of yesterday as a firearm. Invoke spoons and nails. Think of the brain as an emulsion of images. Check your cheek for chickadees.               Experience the weirdness of milkweed. Learn to speak foreign languages like saltwater and mud. Declare yourself free of declamation. Jangle a jingle. Scold a scrotum. Lactate large objects. Apply balm to your nipples. Paint lilies on your cane.               Find an ulterior motive for the enjoyment of heavy metal.               Know your boundaries. Avail yourself of binoculars and telescopes. Be a harbinger of elfish disposition. An appeasement with reality should never be a feature of your research.               Endeavor to understand whiskers. Weird activity in the darkness. The churning of hormones.               Be iron. Be lipstick. Be a tailor to your obscurity. Become a backcountry skiing connoisseur. Slalom in trees. Vault an apricot. Parachute through an enigma. Construct an image of heaven, then burn it down. Learn to play the xylophone with your feet. Triumph in the angora of circumstance. Reticence is not a virtue. Model your comportment on the dragonfly. Each yearning is an engine. Imagine a feather falling through oblivion. Note the splendor of rafters in sunlight. Twist a language into eagles and drugs.               Treat vowels like a blacksmith, consonants like a planetarium.               Spin your propellers. The night will give you stars. The morning will give you copper. Learn to sift consciousness for nuggets of Saturday.


Things To Do Under The Influence Of Poetry
Find something pertinent to say about membranes. You can’t fully know a membrane until you’ve hooked a steelhead, or studied the vibrations in an idealized circular drum. Here you will find solutions for wave equations and phantom paragraphs disguised as fungus.
Do laundry. Contrary to a few eccentric opinions, clean clothes are an asset to the maintenance of ampersands and thought.
Sit at a desk and stare at the wall. Lift your arms. Roar upward in spreading clouds of gas and smoke.
Experiment with facial expressions. Consider a taxi when you are stuck in the sand. Go on a hair-raising adventure. Read, read, read.
Create a bleak atmosphere. Stand alone on a gravel bar. Brush your hair. Make a fist. Generate crackling tangles of lightning. Let it loose. Smile. You have just created an apparent feeling.
Applaud the next washcloth. Hang it on the refrigerator handle. Let it stay there until it has grown too wet and soiled for further use. Retire it. Put it in the laundry.
Introduce yourself to the bed each night so that it may come to understand the needs of your body. Be impertinent if you must.
Inhabit a book as you would a dream, or library, or epidermis.
Wear black leather gloves. Look for elk antlers in the meadow. Invent a paradigm. Start each day with a lunatic hooting.
Inch closer to the tendrils of ramification. Wear a brightly colored shirt. Ask yourself “what is tangible, and what is not? What is the true goal of the pharmacy? What does it mean to float?”
Carry a perpetual handshake wherever you go, but use it sparingly.
Fall in love with electricity. Check the oven before returning to spawn. Wear epaulets and a sword. Adopt a look of perpetual irritation.
Imitate your favorite animal, be it a steelhead trout in the Hoh River, or a homo sapiens on the fringe of a homonym.
Keep an eye out for comets and other aberrations.
Move about on loud whooshing wings. Respect the chin, it is an engine of presence. Put your hand on the boiler and feel its heat. Start a garden of beans, violets, and zinnias. Honor the ability of birds to fly. Jettison everything in your life that is a burden. Break the sunlight into colors like Newton. Get unclogged.
Drink lots of water. Think of yourself as a ventriloquist for all things in the universe. Go for a long walk in the snow.
Sew a manuscript together using a combination of multicolored threads. Notice how the avocado is incidental to itself. Assimilate all three laws of thermodynamics. Make friends with gravity. Appear to be descended from kings. Pedal a bicycle around the room. Moisten your lips then say something dry.
Wear a cape of velour and growl. Be gallant and dashing. Create a fuel for the laughter of thermometers. Navigate a zeppelin through the eye of a needle.
Never waver except when to do so makes waves. There is always a little rhapsody in calculus. Incite a riot. Project confidence. Date an oboe. Bivouac in a blackberry.
Daub when it is good to daub, flick when it is indispensable to flick.
Consider the coins in your pocket. How many are there? How big are they? What nations do they represent? What did you do to earn them? How useful will the pennies be when it comes time to make change? Do you have enough quarters for the parking meter?
Incubate a felony. There is a felon in all of us. Revel in overalls and hemoglobin. It will come to you eventually.
Distill your thoughts until they look like vegetables. Get wet doing something that makes you happy. Do not lack vigor in your takeoff. Praise the opacity of onions.
Picture life in the ocean. House a benign neglect. Do backflips and handsprings. Teeter on misanthropy.
Use your fingers for fried chicken, a fork for chicken in aspic. Each tense is a gear. Believe in pectin. Miniaturize the apocalypse of syntax. Think of yesterday as a firearm. Invoke spoons and nails. Think of the brain as an emulsion of images. Check your cheek for chickadees.
Experience the weirdness of milkweed. Learn to speak foreign languages like saltwater and mud. Declare yourself free of declamation. Jangle a jingle. Scold a scrotum. Lactate large objects. Apply balm to your nipples. Paint lilies on your cane.
Find an ulterior motive for the enjoyment of heavy metal.
Know your boundaries. Avail yourself of binoculars and telescopes. Be a harbinger of elfish disposition. An appeasement with reality should never be a feature of your research.
Endeavor to understand whiskers. Weird activity in the darkness. The churning of hormones.
Be iron. Be lipstick. Be a tailor to your obscurity. Become a backcountry skiing connoisseur. Slalom in trees. Vault an apricot. Parachute through an enigma. Construct an image of heaven, then burn it down. Learn to play the xylophone with your feet. Triumph in the angora of circumstance. Reticence is not a virtue. Model your comportment on the dragonfly. Each yearning is an engine. Imagine a feather falling through oblivion. Note the splendor of rafters in sunlight. Twist a language into eagles and drugs.
Treat vowels like a blacksmith, consonants like a planetarium.
Spin your propellers. The night will give you stars. The morning will give you copper. Learn to sift consciousness for nuggets of Saturday.

Inscription on a grave

By Tristan Tzara

This translation is dedicated to Gisele Semilian (1907-2000)

And I felt your sad and immaculate soul
Like you feel the moon floating quietly
Behind the drawn curtains.
An I felt your poor and timid soul
Like a beggar, with his hand out before the gate,
Fearful to knock or to walk in,
And I felt your humble and frail soul
Like a tear unwilling to step over the eyelid’s doorstep
And I felt your clenched and moistened by distress soul
Like a handkerchief in your hand that tears will
drizzle on,
And today, when my soul would get lost in the night,
Only the memory of you clutches it
With unforeseen fingers of phantasm.

Translated from the Romanian by Julian Semilian

The House Where No One Died (revision)

In the house where no one died
There were thumbprints on mirrors
Left like DNA threads
from a scarf foreign to time and space

The air of toys never used
The ring of bells never moved

One day out of the week
we burned to the ground
howling

In this Psalm Never Written

I scream for you
and jiggle the knobs
in mute silver flame.

All this aside
I still ring and knock for you
In this

the house
where no one died

(John Thomas Allen)

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PROPHESY AND PROSTHESIS
WRITTEN JUST NOW
APRIL SIXTEEN
2013

  "She asked me if I wrote it, and I nearly said yes. Strange, Imogen  pondered, how poetry suddenly surprises you like that.       And then later, in the mirror, I tried leaning, first as rapture, then as  dismissal.       And now, away from the mirror, as kowtow."

“She asked me if I wrote it, and I nearly said yes. Strange, Imogen
pondered, how poetry suddenly surprises you like that.
And then later, in the mirror, I tried leaning, first as rapture, then as
dismissal.
And now, away from the mirror, as kowtow.”

——–

I wind the deaths of birds in paper cones
I catch the sombre airs of winter in my mouth
I come up to the belly of the whale from inside him
and look out on blue terror

I come up to the naked chest of the gallowglass
(the man of copper)
and look out through the hole of his navel
for I also am inside him

I look out into a wrecked world
see barbed wire and a swallowtail turning
and a round idea and a little clock
and a quince fruit split by sympathy and feathers

I listen and I hear
the moan of stones waking and cracking skulls
I see the ripple in the crowd of the defeated
and taste tears of repentance orbiting that giant spasm

I see doors opening like broken spines of books
I see heat boiling off the bones of temples
I a twisted mouth speaking nothings
and the image of a sword quenched in coma

O I have lived in the the house of immortality
and I have slashed its portraits of lovers
whose footfalls in their day
would break the pavement

I have seen demons of impedimented speech and semen
their wide brocades of improvised pneumonia
and a dining chair that lifts its leg and pisses
and sonorous blue carriages taking the dead to market

I have felt fire that burnt the flesh in my nostrils
I have known bells twisted in a towel like paper
I have slept sleepless nights waiting to explode
and I have worn a coat of magma

I watched a dance of tree trunks in the sky
over the balkans
I saw them fall to the ground
and impale the latin names of flowers

fall and impale the open mouths of lovers
fall and become pyramids and monsters
fall down at the feet of divinities
fall down into the arms of strangers

and I have known all grown silent
and I have known all to groan
as silent as thrills and crashes
as silent as condemnations

of winter gone
and the sorrowful, lapsed network
of winter gone
and round, pluperfect summer

Lee Ballentine

"and he perfected their diplomacy/to fine velvet/smooth as cubed safety glass/cascading after the crash..."

“and he perfected their diplomacy/to fine velvet/smooth as cubed safety glass/cascading after the crash…”

Méditation

Français : Dernière photographie connue de Rob...

Français : Dernière photographie connue de Robert Desnos au camp de Terezin, 1945. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A museum of fortune: a  bleeding lotto ticket printed with numbers that add themselves silly.

*

A mediation  between carnival hues, balls of disco light,Image one lone socket.

*

An escape of signals The pregnant pauses between TV captions: more than Derrida.  Language as a silence coded in an invisibly written, holy thousand yard stare.

*

A language specifically attuned to emergency.  The tongue ordered in stairs of epilepsy.

*

A velvet hand gloved by the River Styx of this life

*

In the sludge of the academic postmodern age, “the will to otherness” appears tacky, comical, even as wholesale fraud.  This is where institutional corruption violates the Logos upon which Surrealism was built.  The commodification of rebellion as identity by the existing powers.  A grey swamp bubbles away with all that defines us, replacing red blooded veins with a vial of zero, a car, and acrid cynicism.

*

An illumination in the dark.  A tinfoil truncheon sprung as a slinky escape chute for the prisoner in solitary.

*

The spin between rotary wheels, the color of words half dreamt in fits.  The narcoleptic swan dive into spinning domiciles of shivering errata, the chiaroscuro striped tobacco for the all of a few on a roll, a tapestry hung with zebra stripes.

*

Was it really a matter of youth, the tumultuous breaking of the original surrealist group?  Desnos was already on his way out the door around the time Breton was recognizing his genius.  Crevel committed suicide very early on.  Is surrealism really just an 81 year old art movement, as some have told me, despite the somewhat phantasm like existence of a few groups here and there heroically holding the torch?  But when will it be lit again?  And for whom?

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