Their great city

Found on H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday, August 20, 2018

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A Film/Dream Scenario

IT WILL HAPPEN

The blob is waiting as I sit on the toilet. It grabs and enters my asshole and dissolves me from the inside out and sucks the rest of my body down the hole.

I wake up and my veins are being pulled out like puppet strings by an evil puppet master. A medieval sultan has invited me to his harem to hear some music. A large musical instrument-cum-torture device is wheeled out. As he plays it, people scream. I escape by flapping a pair of mechanical wings, flying out of the dark cityscape. Steam rises from the sewers as green ooze drips down.

Pieced together from memories of films in an associative sequence by L, SH, JA, PP and MM.

Love in the Tub

Good Sport, 1858

Chimera boat race

This race was perhaps more interesting in a local sense from the fact that the Chimera was lately built on novel and somewhat Yankee lines by Mr. Mansfield of Teignmouth. The Oriole being also a new boat attracted much attention although she has rather the appearance of a very powerful bad weather boat than that of a racer. Midge had sailed here on former occasions and proved herself to be a fast little craft consequently she possessed a host of admirers. The start was most admirably effected at 12h 49m Chimera occupying the most weathermost station led off followed by the Oriole and Midge. A good deal of jostling took place between the two first mentioned in the run down to Goodrington mark-boat. The Chimera although slightly ahead was to leeward and threw her competitor considerably out of her course by occasionally luffing across her bows. Meanwhile the little Midge was making a straight course for the mark boat and nearly succeeded in cutting the others off. The close proximity of the yachts at this point will be manifest when we state that the Chimera passed the mark at 1h 5m 0s the Oriole at 1h 5m 28s and Midge at 1h 5m 40s. The contest between the Chimera and Oriole continued with unabating interest and some miles they apparently ran bowsprit to bowsprit but before Berry Head the Oriole manifested her superior qualities in rougher sea by taking the lead and during the beat from the eastern mark she so materially distanced the Chimera that the record of the time at which the first round was completed shows her to have been five minutes ahead Oriole 2h 28m 30s Chimera 2h 33m 30s Midge 2h 40m. Throughout the remainder of the race she had it all her own way and the Chimera was ultimately beaten by more than half an hour albeit she was entitled to four minutes on account of tonnage. The Midge met with a sad disaster on the second round while off Brixham and during a sudden squall her mast went by the board making a clean sweep she lay like a log on the water and in this prostrate condition was taken in tow by a trawler that happened to be passing and brought to Torquay harbour The second round was completed by the Oriole at 4h 2m 28s and by the Chimera at 4h 26m 35s and the third by the Oriole at 5h 39m 30s and by the Chimera at 6h 11m 15s.

What Are You Doing Here?

Meeting image

Noting some traits but not limitations of surrealist meetings.

A meeting is another one of those things, like automatism or game playing, that is otherwise highly utilitarian or commercializable, but which surrealism uproots into another realm entirely. In a sense, automatization and de-humanization are the classical Taylorist end goals of the production process—the appendicizing of individuals as parts. Likewise, game playing (especially electronically) has become a highly viable commercial enterprise, as well as a sort of self-surveillance and discipline of mediocrity. Yet for surrealism these two fields of research have long been focal points for total liberation. Likewise, the infamous “meeting” of the everyday world: where boardroom executives and secret coteries discuss profits and propose new forms of exploitation. Or, on the other hand, where casual acquaintances drown their sorrows and spend their off-hours in pointless distractions from the miseries of the working day. Arranged meetings will then either be, in the context of business or utility in any form, a highly rigorous affair (agendas, points of discussion, action items) or in the sense of social gathering, utterly loose and banal re-affirmations of social norms (what-are-you-watching-on-Netflix-over-a-pint).

Banishing Constraints

Contrariwise, the most remarkable thing about a surrealist meeting is the deliberately high level of ambiguity and confusion. Inherent to the gathering of surrealists, a kind of zone opens up which is, very explicitly, banished from the pursuit of those useful scenarios outlined above. However much a surrealist meeting will make use of the rigours of bureaucracy (notes, points of order, formal decisions) or the playfulness of socializing (jokes, useless banter, games) it nevertheless exists in a wonderful palette of grey beyond the pale of either. It’s uncomfortable and awkward and at the same time totally addictive. It’s disorienting: what am I doing here with all these people who are not my bosses, colleagues, or besties? Are we cracking jokes here, or whips? A kind of wavering between ridiculous seriousness, or meticulous mania…

There is a kind of heightened taste and smell for limitations which automatically emerges when the electricity of uselessness is in the atmosphere. Typically I notice the dynamics take the form of a kind of casting-out or banishment of conventions, as soon as it becomes collectively apparent that those conventions are too manifest. It’s not about defining a genre or format or even a methodology of pursuit, but of creating a series of subtractions such that all anxiety and slavishness is impossible in whatever it is that is being explored. For example, a proposed game or endeavour. It will inevitably come with a wave of performance anxiety (“I’m not a good artist”, “I can’t think that fast” etc.) which needs to be utterly cast out by the collective excitement and curiosity to get on with it. Likewise the side-conversations or reminders of everyday life and social obligations, especially if the players are involved in more than just surrealist connections (friends, roommates, lovers etc); such escapism from escapism tends to spoil the atmosphere pretty apparently, and is usually kept to a bare minimum once its effects are tried.

Feeding Worries (from Anecdotes to Polemics)

Certainly a polemic strain of pursuit can develop. After all, this is a zone where refugees from everyday life are free to discuss their traumas. It makes sense to digress and bring forward as examples, for the surrealist microscope, of the shittiness of everyday experiences. Whether it’s the trauma of sexual harassment on the street or the oppressive niceness of an enforced party, an exasperation with poverty or a horrible experience with the doctor, the everyday anecdote quickly becomes a form of generalized polemic. It’s a kind of commiseration, but also a musketeering: each unjustice to one is an ontological wrong that must be righted together, and immediately. Eventually these grow into thematic traumas and obsessions, and hopefully, into a life of their own, lent, shared, mixed beyond the traumatized individual to the many-headed egregore that eats feelings and breathes fire. Ultimately, a dialectical journey from internalized worry to externalized antagonism.

Prolonging Curiosities (from Observations to Obsessions)

Individual observations make friends and acquaintances. A game or a conversation or a noticeable feature of a present situation becomes a volleyball match. Short-circuits are noted and tested for new applications. What starts as a casual curiosity or contingent reference becomes, for the group, a potential master-sign. Par-excellence, the obsession or the theme. A perpetual and diabolical machine for the creation of certain types of monstrosities. The game is just a specific method of research here, more fundamental is the collective identity formed in the single hunt. Why can’t toilet humour assume the rigours of the Hegelian dialectic? Maybe Hegel was a hammy music-hall performer the whole time…

Making Believe

There is a certain ecstasy in play that prolongs itself beyond the “round”. Once the distinction between playing and living becomes blurred, the fairies enter the room. We tell each other dreams in the hopes of overcoming the resistances involved in confessing our desires directly. But after enough playing, we get there. We are become delirium. So delirious that we assume a serious tone. We are now day-dreaming together, not just talking about dreams.

Laying Traps

If ever we are yanked from the domain of the fairies by the buzzing of a phone, and the time is over, there is always the gathering up of scraps. The emotions and creatures unleashed need a home while we go back to the fake world, however temporarily. Thus the “outcome” of a meeting, beyond the experience itself, can only be the burying of a hoard, and the laying of certain traps, curses, ploys. These will serve 1) to preserve a form of the experience for a future attempt 2) to mark “X” on the map for future comrades or fellow travelers or 3) to destroy or incapacitate whatever enemies come between us and the treasure we are burying.

Androgynous Zones (On the move)

Generally we meet in liminal coffee shops (not downtown), parks, beaches, and for a little while an out of the way Vietnamese restaurant. There is also the question of avoiding the cafe life, the sedentary camp, latching onto vagrancy and rambling and mobile meetings far away from coffee shops or pubs (and in this regard the Stockholm group has a lot of experience in the hobo life and remains an important reference). Taking gothic walks in haunted suburbs. The style of conclusion will vary wildly depending on the scenario chosen. The general dynamic however will always model itself on some kind of exchange, or some kind of quest (with attendant divisions of labour). What is important is that it never delineate itself along cisgendered platitudes and comfort zones. Our “array” (whether seated or on the move) is always striving to be positionally anti-oedipal.

Meeting Image 2

Here Comes The Cactus!


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.

(JA, August 3 2017 from 10:30-10:48 pm)