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

Charles Henri Ford:


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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