Thinking about the state of Surrealism, the responses I’ve gotten from artists, generally just the beautiful bane of trying to get a movement going, a passage came to me from Michel Leiris’ “Broken Branches”.
“The phenomena of nature form a vast alphabet of symbols upon which we draw in forging a number of or expressions. Who hasn’t heard of “a bolt from the blue,” “a silver lining,” “a tempest in a teapot,” or “a rain of abuse”?
However worn most of these images are, one of them is still capable of moving us because is so brutally, implacably concise, one that is, in fact, bacle, (bungled), with the very haste that characterizes disasters–and this is the word debacle.
Used to describe the war of 1870 in the work by Zola that takes the word as its title and popularized especially to designate monetary collapses and financial crashes, this term is still very powerful today, all the more so since, given the current situation, it can appear to be prophetic.
The fact is that life today is bound and frozen in the thick ice of industry that would like to turn us into cadavers. The rivers of rule human relations are motionless and dead, the cold is spreading, the air is solidifying, and just as during the winter of 1870-1871, which the most dreadful old people love to recall, the solidified Seine offered its back, its spine of hardened water, for the passage of trucks, cars, and people on foot, our rivers of sentiment are changing into arteries full of chilly, congealing blood, avenues for the suborn animalcules of a state of things in which nothing has any reason for existing except an economic one, wretched social relations as dirty as lice, more difficult to support with our vertebral columns than entire loads of market-gardening trucks or buses full to bursting with men whose faces and necessarily ignoble. prisoners of the cold, just as mummies are prisoners, of the stiffened bandages, in grimacing poses like shameful paralytics, we do not budge, we remain inert, we do not even feel that we are , so to speak, “pieces of wood” any longer, and yet we hope for nothing as much as a debacle….
If the river were to thaw, that would be the ned of the traffic that binds us up, this grotesque circulation of tiny calculations that bend us under the yoke and make us worse than domestic servants.”
Leiris wrote this in 1947 with a series of ex surrealists, ex patriates, and during his companionship with Georges Bataille. One can only wonder what he would have to say about our current socioeconomic conditions–the grotesque dominance of ExxonMobil, the inherent corruption of the Federal Reserve, the jingoistic fall from grace we experiences in 2001. What it even means, from a level of ordinary language, to be a “surrealist” in an atmosphere which not only rejects the ideals behind our anarchic Logos but doesn’t even notice it (or perhaps remembers a few days in college when he/she entertained it?)
Sometimes the masses who have been fortunate enough to come across the Surrealist plight use the term “miserabilism” to express any sort of melancholy or sadness. Breton was undoubtedly right in terming a certain strain of thought “miserabilism”: (Von Hartmann, most definitely the absolutely repulsive “anti natalist” so called “movement” of the present day, which practically demands suicide as a pre requisite for compassion?), but the escalating violence in our world coupled with the increasing hyper capitalism is sometimes enough to make one wonder if people create what they admire—artists, the creative–simply as a kind of cock fight. Watch the mellifluous feathered beings compete and tear one another apart, and go back to our Death Serum games.
In happier news, Adam Francis Cornford has decided to join our ranks, as well as Eligia Fuentes, a lovely girl from Chicago who knew Franklin Rosemont personally. Adam will be providing us with an interview very soon.
Some of our dictations received.
I was reading a book on the origin of sleep today
when the ground before me opened up
and the giant head of a mongoose wearing a crown
came slowly up and looked at me and said
I want to drink a long drink of dead souls
squeeze them like lemons so their heavy eyelids
fly open like springs
and they give up their bird secrets
I want to drink down quickly
that black and sparkling freedom
I want the dead to rise, let me show you
their equilibrium is marvellous
branching out across the city
like a dead deer’s stinking antlers
here is this little ruined corpse of a girl
nightingales are all she has
someone has covered her face with a dirty shawl
I want to uncover it
I want to taste the sweet ashes of dead faces
in the water bubbling up out of the volcano
meanwhile, wicker chairs that walk on their legs
like homeschooled children . . .
I want to paint them over like I painted the sky over
like leather painted horsehair black
and I want you to walk on glass flagstones
over the volcano with me
over where people are living
and you can do some good works
you can wash the pus out of their money with sheet lightning
you can poison the tidal wave that is coming
so that it dies and never comes ashore in california
to wash away the nesting swans; I want their secrets too
I am the smiling stump of this world and its soft drawl
as it eats a wet cigarette butt
its thrill and its vanity
now elderly and convolved as perpetual bebop
I eat the displaced stones of the bankrupt egyptologists
and shit out window glass and wounded soldiers
and the pink eyes of the lady who knots her hair into a steeple
and wears a diadem of fruit knives
I undo the buttons of the waterfall
and let down the scorching heat of her birthmark
and break the news
of the reciprocating tombstones
along the offramp where they stand
watching software engineers go by with hypodermic eyes
and this beautiful waterfall
she ties pyrotechnics around her waist
her eyes are enormous and alive
her eyes must hatch in the seaweed of my beard
I am the cracking moan of poker chips in childbirth
I am the aristocratic chime that bends all the telescopes
that detectives keep trained
on the jurassic economy of justice
and I am the corpse of the old man who has been elected justice
some people believe me to be a composer of concerti
but I am the prescription for black wax
stopping up the nostrils of betrayal’s eucharist
I am made of the counterfeits of happiness
traded like fish in the dawn market of invisibility
I am the intoxicating exhaust of flying machines
that drone overhead pleasantly
then fall like blows on the backs of boys
who sell guitar strings to the homeless musicians
who come to burn trash at the dump for warmth
but stay for intoxication
and I am the rotating spindle at the center of the parking garage
alongside the night sky
that you hide under your tongue
in the emergency room at the oxycodone hospital
I am the neighbor’s christmas tree
burning unnoticed in the livingroom
while his dog’s coat smokes
and his wife takes off her vast firmament of stars
and sings a waulking song
and there was a long pause
and I said . . .
O–no my friend
you are only the giant mongoose head
I saw today as the sun went down
the color of grass and television
and the rain started and stopped
and statues walked out of their concrete huts called mausoleums
and lit up their pipes
and opened for me the fiery door of saint vortex
there was no reply
there never is a reply
Leaves breathe belly up
like the silence of a dream
Flamenco woodpecker castanets beat
a tinfoil shiver of beauty
in the silence in a dream
Like a heart the dream of silence is itself
cicadas high strung in mid riff
In the forgotten tree house
in a loving oak tomb
I just wrote down our initials
Yesterday and two decades ago
Quiet brushfire of the passing squirrels
Sleeping bags tired and wet
These capstones with men
of jumbo ivory sheaths
John Thomas Allen
[Here is Dickinson’s #1616 anagrammed line by line]
Who abdicated Ambush
And went the way of Dusk,
And now against his subtle Name
There stands an Asterisk
As confident of him as we —
Impregnable we are —
The whole of Immortality
Secreted in a Star
A samba doubted which
Why now’s a kneaded tuft
On a database’s tunneling whims
Harassed tenants strike
Facade fines with moon’s
Feather-homy twilit loom
TOWARDS A CYBER POETIC
(composed using phrases randomly found online)
AstroTurf Organ Plasm(a) Note
Autopilot Rust Conditioner
Asterisk Planet Rolling Hypnagogue
Ophelia Burning in the Sign of Hourglass
Conspiracy grease in a Liver Spot Opal Frame Train
When Did This Bet Include A We?
Iris Putty Rose Knob
Oompa Loompa Jingoistic Pips Fallen
He would cut with that DreadFull Beard
sun stones are cool.
pupils puking liquid chrome tears, oval eye locks spinning jello
Rebel Spirit Champagne Planet Cork
Organ Escalator Cubes Spinning Asterisk Planet
The Opal Pip Hindu Dot in the Rolling FingerTips
Hermetic Sypnotic Thai Food Box Calligraphy Order Number
Glass beaded vegetables
Drink the Monitor Kool Aid Turkey Light
Moth White Rorschach (B)Light
New Product: VoidOMoth
The Snake Handler
The Velvet Records Spin in the Windstorm
The Weathervanes conduct Cloud Formations
The EVP vacuum
The Corals burn in the peeps of the Flute
Key of G
Key of E
The Hobos Live Near the Traintracks, Folks.
John Thomas Allen
Oh God I Am
“Theoretically, the union of opposites enters the Gates of all Dharma and I act as if everything is fine. To all appearances, I am, apparently competent on most levels. Meditating most often, that to enter those gates, to step over the threshold, the mind wants to release the perception that there is anything to step over, under, or into. I have been trying to mind my own business, where there is no business other than these appearances, these apparent perceptions. My face, these hands, this skin of mine, this being which breathes, in and out, in the ancient bark of that Chinese dog: Mu. Mu. Mu. It is to appear placid, maybe even dream-like, which I want not to appear as if by any effort. Effortless to be this face, these hands, these very bones. I breathe through, into a body I might never have, known. A freak accident let’s say. By my very nature I am this, this and this – and whatever else, say when you meet me that the peace you have always been seeking, is right here, right here and now –
So maybe, if there is something hidden, behind some mask of the rarest perception – when in breathing, one finds, well, nothing really, well, oh, say it’s an enormous room with a god-awful number of the most incredible stars. A rose amber mélange of a burst. It’s happened once or twice at least, in as much as nothingness, or is it emptiness, explodes with the slightest tremor of some über universal thrust. Is it? I mean is it that rare to envision such tremendum, bursts of a universal flow? Well carbon and hydrogen and such like and you know its been happening. I happened to be breathing when that inner-most universe trembled and I sighed I am god oh god I am -”
“All true enthusiasts and mystics have without doubt been possessed of higher powers–strange mixtures and shapes have certainly resulted from this. The coarser and the more colorful the material, the more lacking in taste, education and direction the person was, the more eccentric was what he brought forth. It might well be wasted effort for the most part–to clean, refine, and clarify this grotesque (strange( mass)–at least the time has not yet come when such tasks can be performed with little effort. This remains to be achieved by future historians of magic. As very important documents of the gradual evolution of magic power they are worthy of powerful preservation and collection.
Magic is the art of using the world at senses at will. In the age of magic the body serves the soul, or the world of spirits. Madness–enthusiasm.”
Novalis, Philosophical Writings
“On the Logos”
In the words of Saint John at the end of the Gospel according to the logos, ‘even the world itself is not great enough for the books that there would be’, if one were to try to explain rationally the origin, coming and dispersion of the Word, so that it is hardly to be hoped that one could say very much that is relevant in a mere aphorism on what is the true significance of the word logos.
When I was younger, I spent some time wondering whether i could formulate what I wanted amateurishly, to be called Logontology; but I soon realized i had neither the time, intellect or learning i would have needed to do the thing properly.
When I came to study Heidegger, I began to wonder whether or not the Fundamental ontology he has sought to find and lay foundations for might not really be just what I had dreamed of once. I’m still not quite sure about this philosopher; and no doubt he is no longer at all sure, either. But the great thing is that neither his nor my project is any longer absolutely necessary.
The Great I AM has already been found to be founded quite satisfactorily enough.
“The Sun At Midnight”, David Gascoyne
marzipan glass green onion eyes tearing……
Let’s crash in the palace of porcelain perfection on a lighter mood.
Son of Man
The great dispersion:
all the leaves are gone.
Some of the birds don’t migrate,
even after the major flocks
of their own kind have left,
like the few buffleheads and goldeneyes
that I see bobbing in the Bay.
Why do they stay behind?
A chance to get away from
the bustle and grind
and take advantage
of the Mediterranean climate?
“The foxes have holes, and the
birds of the air have nests, but
the Son of man has nowhere
to lay his head.”
I think back to the time of the Ohlone
who gathered seasonally to create
the shell mound that can still be seen today
from the 580 freeway.
Like the birds they too “migrated”
although they also had fixed
and permanent residences as well.
The best of both worlds.
It seems as though in a way
we have tried to continue to follow,
however blindly, a similar pattern
that can be seen in the reoccurring
lines of traffic, honking like geese.
Motion as symbol,
the symbol of the human,
of the new human
reborn to eternity
from the mold of time,
from the caldron of infinity.
Can we become more like them?
Walk in another’s shoes.
Follow the old track.
Who was the Son of man?
A being from another time,
perhaps another universe,
who shows that some things
never change, but also that
without it we will surly fall.