The group has been in a fruitful period of “exile” since our favourite spot was closed for repairs earlier this year. Since then we have taken advantage of our rootlessness and have found ourselves in a slew of unfamiliar places, including an underpass, a junk store, a sex shop, and a flooded beach. And on May 17, it was suggested that we meet in the winter garden of the Royal Ottawa Hospital, our local mental health institution. Here we knew through experience and friendships that we would find, despite the disciplinary clinical oversight, and in addition to some interesting artistic creations on display including a few known collaborators, an atmosphere and community of people far more sympathetic to our games and discussions than is typically met with in public cultural spaces.
In this location we (JA, L, PP, SH) explored a few ideas, starting with a folding game of drawing banal objects. The idea was to invoke a Duchampian irrational enlargement or alienation of everyday objects, the kind of ordinary household things Breton suggested might even on occasion have more poetic power than explicitly contrived surrealist objects. We then took turns with elaboration via captioning them with extravagant titles, hiding the original object, redrawing based on the last visible play and so on. The goal was to create a tapestry of analogical surprises from mundane reality.
Following this we wrote surrealist letters and replies to each other with much black humor and passion. Here is a sample chain that we found especially funny:
Your insipid storytelling is no longer welcome in our town. I suggest you take your spider-wife & leave before your children are encapsulated in preservative ooze.
Yours in caution,
After doing this grosse abnormal letter I’ll ingest a bucket of flies and spit them at your feet then my plan of becoming a venus fly-trap will be at hand!!!
I think that I am in love. Poetry of the grotesque is the most true to the human spirit, and I am inspired by your words to quilt in your honour. Mark my words, your puppy will have a new bed by this Victoria Day.
I know love and all its late orchestral movements. Its requiem. I bought the puppy you speak of and he died to “God Save the Queen”. His tombstone erect as Eros, the epitaph mercurial as semen.
We then played a game of “interrupted speech”, derived from a game described in La civilization surréaliste, where players write automatic texts while another periodically interrupts with a word that must be incorporated by all the players.
Finally a discussion about dreams and quantum physics which (naturally) led to an inquiry by L on the perfect orgy:
L chose a heaping puppy-pile of effeminate ladyboys. When asked how many of himself L the narcissist would consider sufficient for an orgy, infinite was preferable but three would be a minimum. Would they be exact copies? Perhaps not but they would not aim for visual variations and would enjoy wearing the exact same costumes. It occurred later that Gemini season was almost upon us.
SH described a single ideal boy, eyes like spaghetti, a nose like a beehive all percolated, dispensing sugary earl-grey tea which SH laps up periodically, and this figure multiplies itself like a centaur, except instead of a horsebottom it’s more boy, chained in ever longer repetitions, until the sufficient number is reached for an orgy.
JA chose a highly charged erotic ceremonial mass decoration of a 800 xmas trees with analogical objects until one hits a tantric orgasm. The goal is to extend eroticism beyond the stereotyped parts of the body, beyond the body itself, or rather an extension of the body into poetic objects which can transmit poetic bursts of resonance (psychically) back to the participants. With years of preparation there is no reason this couldn’t be achieved with humanity’s current capabilities.
PP chose a visitation in a cell from an unspecified number of invisible succubuses. Light, and the warmth of five hands on his chest. But also an overdrive of sexuality that prolongs the experience beyond ejaculation and ends with pain.
Looking at these games retroactively we might even interpret them as ridiculous attempts at reconciling ourselves with our homeless state: the idealization of homely nostalgic objects, the bureaucratic correspondence of reality cluttering up the work of those seeking a new path in the rootless world, the interruption of chance events in even the most internal monologizing—a core characteristic of the exile state—and finally the dream of excess and gorging in the future orgy as a revolt against enclosure of actions and feelings.
SH brought up the concept of a terrarium which we then filled with odd objects—thimbles, silhouettes of friends, mollusks, eels. This resonated eerily with the “open glass” architecture of the garden, which definitely felt like a kind of aquarium for the mad. We also looked at the art on display of the patients, including some striking mytho-Egyptological work by Oziput, and some amazing, actually “poetic materialist” photographs interpreting tree parts by the appropriately named Sylvana Beaulieu—including a shot of what looks like a seahorse emerging from a tree stump, and a wizard found in a knot of wood.* So the aqua-terrarium fills itself up.
* It wasn’t easy to get a good picture of these images in the display case and we’re not sure how best to contact the photographer to ask permission, so we’ll refrain from posting them for now…