Palpating for Absolution

Kay Sage-Le Passage-1956

I touch your skin with a hope of palpating your heart
To cause an excitation within your mind that travels
Down and around towards the tenderest target zones
Leading to an exultation that abolishes all barriers
Just for a moment a confusion reigns as to where I stop
And when do you start to begin once more again

Ever constricting circles nearing the vanishing still point
The ever eluding aim the shimmering illusionary goal
Of my hesitant groping then more assured stroking
As you strain to reach those regions unknown to me
Still I long for and hasten your complete surrender
Emptied and spent experience blank devasted serenity

I touch your skin unsure whether this repetition is a curse
Or some form of blessing preceding a final absolution

OR

Man Ray-Woman holding Giacometti’s Disagreeable Object

Choose one from the following:


This is the beginning of something

Or

The end of everything

Or

A continuation of a whole lot of nothing

Or

Stop right there I have heard enough
I don’t care for the menu
Time to move on wasted enough already

Or

And or but
Into the fog
Maybe the smoke
If it is the conflagration after all
Either or neither
Nether ever never
Wood coal pour some oil
Cant see the forest for the trees

Or

I saw you for the first time again
You seemed different somehow
Though I had to admit
That you looked so good
I just had to touch myself
Forgetting that your kisses
Always left their mark
Bruising and wounding
Ah well what’s sex without pain
Love always requires some seasoning

Or

Will you ever….
You make everything sound so dirty
Though you will probably take that
As some form of obscure compliment
After all you wrote a pornographic reprise
Of Aquinas’s Summa
But I’ve come here to bury you
Not to praise
Are you listening
Do you catch…

Or

Come now cough ante pony up
No thing like a free
Take a look at the fork
We are all exposed
In some form of fashion
What a season
Hell’s got nothing
Here is the variety
Nauseating horrific exhilarating
No time for the honorific
Down here while I describe
With disgust my various
Beautiful disguises

Another World

Un Autre Monde-Grandville 1844
Un Autre Monde-J.J Grandville 1844

One of the acknowledged precursors of Surrealism, the work of French caricaturist J.J Grandville was featured in Documents magazine and is discussed at length in Walter Benjamin’s vast and fragmentary study of the urban redevelopment of Paris by Baron Haussmann, The Arcades Project (Passagen-Werk). He rose to fame in 1828 with Les Métamorphoses du jour, a book with seventy illustrations of animal heads transposed upon human bodies. However the book that really grabbed the Surrealists attention is Un Autre Monde (Another World), a strange and outlandish satire whose principal target would appear to be the ideas of the Utopian Socialist Charles Fourier.

His influence can be seen in another Surrealist favourite, John Tenniel, the political cartoonist for Punch magazine who famously illustrated the Alice books.

Below are a selection of illustrations from Un Autre Monde and other works.

Un Autre Monde-J.J Grandville-1844
Un Autre Monde-J.J Grandville-1844

Un Autre Monde-J.J Grandville 1844
Un Autre Monde-J.J Grandville 1844

Dream of Crime and Punishment-J.J Grandville 1847
Dream of Crime and Punishment-J.J Grandville 1847

Second Dream: A Stroll in the Sky-J.J Grandville 1847
Second Dream: A Stroll in the Sky-J.J Grandville 1847

The Spell of Artaud

The entire text of the spell dedicated to Roger Blin (recto and verso) reads;tumblr_lo6x592APT1qhwx0o[1] ‘All those who have gotten together to keep me from taking HEROIN all those who have touched Anne Manson because of that Sunday May 1939 I will have them pierced alive in a Paris square and I will have them perforated and their intestines burned. I am in a Mental Asylum but this dream of a Madness will be enacted and enacted by ME-Antonin Artaud.’

In 1937 the French writer, actor and dramatist Antonin Artaud landed in Cobh, Ireland with a letter of introduction from the French Embassy. Without that letter the Irish officials would have denied Artaud admittance. From Cobh he travelled to Galway where he holed up in a hotel room he couldn’t pay for. The purpose of this strange odyssey was to return a walking stick he had acquired which he believed was the staff of St Patrick, as well as being previously owed by both Jesus Christ and Lucifer. After a brief stint in Dublin’s Mountjoy Prison Artaud was deported as a ‘destitute and undesirable alien’. On the return ship voyage he attacked two crew members and had to be restrained and put in a straitjacket.

The previous decade Artaud had been one of the leading lights of the first phrase of Surrealism, writing addresses to the Pope, Chancellors of the European Universities, the Dalai Lama and the Buddhist Schools. In January 1925 Andre Breton announced that Artaud was assuming direction of the Bureau of Surrealist Enquiries, cryptically commenting that ‘The Central  Bureau, more alive than ever, is henceforth behind closed doors, but the world must know that it exists.’  However after the bitter criticisms Breton levelled against Artaud (along with many, many others) in the Second Manifesto Artaud left the movement, aligning himself somewhat with the renegade Surrealists who published in Georges Bataille’s Documents.

The return from Ireland brought about for Artaud a period of confinement in different asylums which ended only with his death in 1948 from an overdose of choral hydrate. 1938 saw the publication of his most famous work The Theatre and Its Double where he outlined his vision for the Theatre of Cruelty but he wrote little again until 1946, instead concentrating on writing up spells, casting horoscopes and drawing disturbing pictures.

But then Artaud would have doubtless have approved of Mick Jagger’s character Turner’s paraphrase of the central tenets of the Theatre of Cruelty in the 1970 movie Performance, ‘The only performance that makes it, that makes it all the way, is the one that achieves madness. Am I right?’ Judging by those lights Artaud made it all the way.

 

 

Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia

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Arshile Gorky-Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia 1932-1934

In 1931 the Armenian born (though he often told people he was Russian, his age also varied upon his mood) American painter Arshile Gorky saw Giorgio De Chirico’s 1914 painting The Fateful Temple. De Chirico’s painting featuring a portrait of his mother next to a head with a dissected brain which resonated with Gorky, who was working at the time on a mother and child portrait, and over the next three years he would produce two paintings and over eighty drawings in his variant series of The Fateful Temple; Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia.

Gorky and his mother had fled the genocide of Armenians instigated by the Ottoman Empire to Russia, where she died of starvation in 1919. He subsequently escaped to America and after experimenting with different styles embraced Surrealism in the 1940’s. His increasingly abstract paintings were a major influence on the Abstract Expressionists. In 1946 his studio barn burnt to the ground, he was diagnosed with cancer and his wife had an affair with the Chilean Surrealist painter Roberto Matta. In 1948 Gorky was involved in a car crash that broke his neck and left his painting arm temporarily paralysed. His wife left with the children and Gorky  hanged himself at his Connecticut home at the age of 44 (or 42 or 46).