Occultistry

Claude Cahun
Claude Cahun

Do I need to spell it out for you?
These words of mine are meant
As a spell neither more or less,
A charm to persuade your sweet self
To surrender in absentia and toto,
Give me the power and I promise,
In fact, swear on all that is unholy
To abuse the privilege you
Have so graciously granted, heedlessly,
Recklessly rushing through all
Of love’s myriad delights and mystery,
Imputing a whole lexicon of desire
In the sections of your shadow
Outlined against the bedroom wall,
In the jutting angles of your legs
For I seek the centre, a still point
Where all yearnings will cease
And desist from transmitting
This urgent ungovernable need
To translate the will divine,
This damnable demonic occultistry
That devours yet is never sated.

The Truth of the Matter

The Empire of Light II-Rene Magritte 1950
The Empire of Light II-Rene Magritte 1950

You want to know the truth?
There are so many different kinds:
A truth for you and a truth for me;
If you ask me the truth of the matter
It’s that there is too much truth.
If only you would realise
The truth of what I say
Things might go a little easier
But if you really want the truth
You could find it in the empties
And lipstick stained glasses
Littering every surface…
No?
So it a different order of truth
That you are looking for…
Well, if you must insist upon
Searching for the truth
Wherever and whatever
You will have to hear me out
As I tell you a little story
Come closer…
Closer still,
So that I can whisper
Into the shell of your ear
The whole truth and nothing
But the truth;
In between the sweet nothings,
Sweeter than any truth
That I could possibly tell you.

It is true that I was the kind,
To fall asleep at their desk
Always at the very back,
Roused only by the exasperation
Of the weary teachers
As the lesson descended
Into a chaos that was
My unconscious objective,
Quietly disruptive and
Rubbing the sleep away
I would glimpse some
Sarah or Cathy or Lisa staring
Before quickly averting their eyes
Causing me to grin
Like a cat with spilled cream,
While the teacher would rant
About taking that look off,
But I couldn’t help myself
I never could, then or now
After all how can I help my face?
Besides maybe here was
My potential partner in crime,
A willing accomplice
Someone to share, finally,
In all my myriad punishments.

All this is all very fine and gospel :
But it isn’t the whole story
Not by a long chalk.
If you want to hear everything and all
Hold me tight and look into my eyes.
See…
Would I lie to you?

The truth is that you are not the only one
Who doesn’t know what to make of me;
Sometimes I was the class rebel,
Sometimes the comedian
But only occasionally,
Because I was really
The boy that wasn’t there
If you met me on the stairway
You might have breezed past
If I was waiting there at all,
Instead of loitering
On corners and stores
Pocketing and lifting
Whatever lay in reach
If the opportunity arose
And if not there then
Receiving my true education
In the somnolent suburban home
While rifling through the contents
Of drink and medicine cabinets,
Purses caked with make-up,
Locked draws and hidden chests
Before watching the old flick:
A world of stark black and white,
The body in the swimming pool,
The perpetually shuttered blinds,
In the decaying mansion
High in the lush Hills,
Far above the city
Blanched bone white, way down below,
Where the shadows are deeper
And the nights are oh so longer,
For the hero inescapably doomed
By a sinister fatal figure
Out of a past that refuses
To either forgive or forget.

Here then, is my eye witness
Testimony. For sure, it contains
Discrepancies, lapses, omissions
And perhaps evasions,
Even downright fabrications.
But the truth of any story
Lies in the telling;
And that, my tender, dearest one
Is the simple truth of the matter.

ID 23

Toyen-The Unfolding Screen
Toyen-The Unfolding Screen

I recently suggested to Miss Heart of House of Heart that we collaborate together on a particular hare-brained idea. I am delighted to say that the gracious Miss Heart agreed to indulge my whim and displayed not inconsiderable patience with so idle and tardy a rogue. The result is the following poem, one half written by the vastly talented Miss Heart and the other part by myself. Like any work of the imagination it can be read in a number of ways or fashions. Suffice to say that there are many conflicting versions of events, that the same incidents can recur in different locations with a varying cast of characters and that all you may surmise doesn’t necessarily dispel the mystery.

ID 23

2

The autumn leaves have begun to fall.
Late October London is covered in hues of orange and purple.
On my bench by the river I daydream that I am
an adolescent reptile escaped from Kafka’s Die Verwanlung,
Laid back, baking in the sun.

My nostrils absorb layers of perfumes,
but women are for later, for now I am content to observe.
To my advantage I know all about the ladies
but they know so little about me.

Thinking of you against my wishes,
Dying just a little, dying and dead all sweet hope
of our dream never realised.
I imagine my earthly body padded sat beside yours on a grassy knoll
to breathe in the scent of lilac and the mossy green River Delta.

In the dark I am nude but for a shadow across my torso.
You are so near and to distract my self from the honey of desire
I distract my mind with “In A Dark Time” by Roethke.
You plead and to make me stay burn your breast with my cigarette.

By chance we meet years from now at the Cafe Rouge Et Noir.
You are so fragile, your eyes the soft halo of sunflowers.
In my arms you sway like a young birch in a summer tempest.
I am reminded of yesterday when we gave away what we had already lost.
We sing sad songs and hold each other, knowing love has died and we with it.

3

Can we ever escape the past?
Changing the scene, mood and direction,
Demolishing those very tender memories
Guilty yet again by this sense of omission,
Just leave the ruins intact, buried deep down.

The stratum of history juts all around here,
A nightmare but not my own, belonging to these others
That press against me in these antique streets
Desperately pretending that they are in fact alive.

Sometimes I catch myself wishing you were here
To guide me, hold my hand, stroke my hair,
Soothe me after the storm has subsided
That glint in your eye, the passion causing
My insides to unfurl like a flower seeking the sun

Can the colour of love transform this gray
Brutalist cell into the vivid fan of a peacock
Strutting through a mescaline paradise?
Only your intensity can grant this miserable miracle.

But in a future as yet undefined
I know we will meet again once more
By chance, of course, and we will dance together
At the Cafe Rouge et Noir, torn between
Hate and love and a fierce unquenchable desire.

U & I

Heinz Hajek-Halke
Heinz Hajek-Halke

The words that I say don’t mean a thing,
Except for their inherent suggestiveness.
They are an attempt at hypnotizing you,
My intention is to bewitch and enthral
Before slowly, ever so slowly, then finally,
Seducing you in just such a fashion.
Understanding will elude you for now,
Only long afterwards can you begin
To understand that rapture, this bliss,
The rupture and the event changing
Everything and consuming the parts
That formerly constituted the whole;
The heavenly body bruised and bitten,
Your lunar skin a palimpsest upon
Which I have scrawled in marker
Every wayward impulsive craving
And deepest innermost desiring:
Across your most intimate territories,
Swell of breast, slope of thigh I write
The text of my tyrannical longings
To feel your heart beat fast, faster
Suffusing every inch of you with heat
Because I want to not only feel
The flame within you burn brightly,
I want to see, hear, taste and smell
Your essence, then I may possess all;
Your soul
Mutual absorption
Indivisible diversity
2 become 1
U & I.

The words that I say don’t mean a thing,
Except for their ritualistic significance.
They are an attempt at an invocation,
My intention is to enthral and bewitch,
Make desire a reality through the will.

Prayer

Man Ray-Prayer-1930
Man Ray-Prayer-1930

The ground-breaking, innovative American photographer and painter Man Ray was another Surrealist affiliated artist who constantly referenced the life and work of the Marquis De Sade (see Illustrating the Divine Marquis for further examples of art inspired by the Divine Marquis).

As well as the art that explicitly points to the Marquis as a source, notably 1933’s witty and scandalous Homage to D.A.F De Sade, the brilliant Imaginary Portrait of 1936 and the geometric surrealism of Aline et Valcour (a nod to Man Ray’s favourite novel by De Sade), there are pieces that invoke the spirit of De Sade, especially the photograph Prayer from 1930.

As always with Man Ray’s photographs, Prayer is brilliantly composed with stark contrasts between the absolute, hushed and sacred darkness that frames and throws into sharp relief the lunar luminosity of the body ‘praying’ on the grubby bed. Wilfully blasphemous and perversely sacrilegious, Prayer highlights the still radical proposition of De Sade’s that the body, and the body alone, is the nexus of desire and the locus of all human motivation.

Man Ray-Homage to D.A.F De Sade 1933
Man Ray-Homage to D.A.F De Sade 1933
Man Ray-Imaginary Portrait of De Sade 1936
Man Ray-Imaginary Portrait of De Sade 1936
Man Ray-Aline Et Valcour 1950
Man Ray-Aline Et Valcour 1950