Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Second Highway II

Second Highway II

The Unique Zero Manifesto (2007)

Arriere la muse academique! - Baudelaire

Welcome to Unique Zero – the negation of everything.
Creativity is a value-neutral process independent of all forms of expression.
Vigorously reject any notion of a generalised or theoretical ‘poetic’.

The creative process is not ‘theoretical’.

The specific technicalities of any art form – poetry, painting, music, sculpture, installation or assemblage – are of secondary interest, even a distraction, when trying to understand the nature of the creative process.

From the perspective of the primal creative processes there are no significant factors associated with specialised techniques derived from different artistic 'disciplines' or methods, including poetry. This is always the case, even though some media/modes/genres/forms are, in the context of overall function, or with regard to the individual temperament of the artist, more suited to purpose than others, depending upon viewpoint. Furthermore, distinctions between 'non representation' and 'abstraction' are invalid: all artworks are, in the first instance, symbolic representations or constructed reifications, even 'found objects', ‘ready-mades’ or 'conceptual' artefacts. Nevertheless, a ‘symbol’ can also be non-figurative (non-objective) and can be described, loosely, as ‘abstract’.

All artworks derive from the personality, the mentality, of the auteur. They are polysemic/polyvalent, symbolic objects having as their primary raison d'ĂȘtre the externalisation, via signification, of the psychological-ontological, infinitely evolving presence/existence of the auteur (author/artist/poet) without whom the 'work' (opus) would not exist and without whom language is meaningless.

The Cultural Milieu

This process of externalisation (trace or trail) takes place within a specific socio-cultural context (or Zeitgeist) that partially shapes the final outcome. It is possible to 'transcend' the socio-cultural context, although it very difficult to do so. The chronotope in the cultural ‘ecosystem’ locates the auteur (poet/artist) in a socio-cultural milieu or contextual mise-en-scene, based on the enforcement of norms within specific social structures such as the class system, caste systems and the means of economic production.

Normative structures, sustained by ideology and belief (participation mystique) are usually experienced as hegemonic and repressive to some degree. Such normative structures are Blake’s 'mind-forg'd manacles' of cultural oppression and structural evil and must be psychologically accommodated through sublimation, the discharge of instinctual energies into non-instinctual, ideologically sanctioned forms of behaviour. A form of false consciousness tending toward narcosis is a by-product of this sublimation mechanism.

On the other hand, the normative ideology (‘culture’) of any social system is also capable of the infinite assimilation of any artefact, however innovative, progressive, recondite, radical, marginal, outrageous or avant-garde. In advanced economies any artefact will also be the inevitable subject of homogenised commodification by the forces of The Market (the Mondrian dress, the Edvard Munch screaming pillow). Cultural oppression works through all those inhibiting, regressive, ideological normalisation effects persistently degrading the chronotope, both locally and globally (law of entropy) in the interest of various authoritarian cultural-spiritual power elites. Such high caste power elites may declare war upon ‘false gods’ and each other, but they are all united by an imperative to criminalize the imagination; alongside dope-fiends, loose women, idolaters and apostates, free thinkers and artists – makers of ‘graven images’ – are the real enemy. The ‘Open Realism’ (realisme ouvert) of the unrestrained imagination, a mode of extreme naturalism encompassing the antinomian syzygy phenomenon of complementarity, works against this perpetual state of dispossession, and works for the nullification of everything; a Unique Zero opposed to the wretched standing joke of rigidified ‘culture’. The unreality of the chronotope ensnares the subject in an infinitely receding hall of distorting mirrors where the conflict between utilitarian austerity and indulgent individualism cannot be recognised as a smoke screen. In this context, artworks can be either transgressive or conformist, although the poetic process is innately transgressive (non-conformist) because all art can induce a de-familiarisation (disclosure) effect perturbing, however weakly, the hegemony of the mainstream and disrupting the inauthentic discourse of ‘idle chatter’ (they call it 'metaphysics').

Even if ultimately inconsequential, even if only an imperceptible ‘shudder’ (frisson nouveau), a perturbation of the chronotope and its normative, cultural signifying systems is a transgression – and all such perturbations or disturbances are taboo. But the ‘purpose’ of the poem/work is exploration and discovery at the edge of zone; to explore the experience of limits, to explore experience off-limits; to discover or probe the borders of the human event horizon; to actualise singularity, the aporetic neither-nor and/or both.

However, the transgressive or conformist nature of any given artwork will also depend upon the worldview (Weltenschauung) of the auteur/poet. The dynamic, dialectical interplay of Weltenschauung and Zeitgeist at a singular point of intersection (auteur-nexus) within the chronotope influences the subject’s sense of identity, even though the chronotope may exist in a perpetual state of flux or emergence (the rigidity of cultural norms notwithstanding). The poetic process itself is a problematic factor with regard to the question of identity and can enter into a state of conflict with the ideological basis of the prevailing Zeitgeist. The subject’s personal Weltenschauung may, in reality, be a form of false consciousness – bad faith, ‘structural evil', meconnaissance or avidya. Interpellation, the mechanism of economic and cultural assimilation, may create an unstable atmospheric ‘I’ (a ‘they-self’ or mirage persona) that is not the same as the subject’s ‘true (real or empirical) self’. Most artefacts are determined by the phantom signature of this ‘mirage persona’, rather than the authentic signature of the artist’s true will, Sontag’s ‘principle of decision’.

These factors impact upon attempts to define an individual style, poetic or authorial ‘voice’ or maniera. Assertions of authorship per se can be compromised if it appears that personal identity is ‘nothing but’ a projection, an ideological/socio-economic ‘construct’ of mass consumer culture, the product of an all-pervasive theocratic hegemony like so-called ‘higher’ culture bedevilled by the self-serving Aristotelian humbug of ‘virtue’ and ‘magnificence’. Alternatively, the mirage persona is often confused with, or can masquerade as, the vulnerable and immature empirical self. Yet, the inauthentic, fragmentary they-self can never be the ‘real’ auteur. 

Inwardness and Poeisis

‘Inspiration’ and ‘talent’ are conventional terms denoting certain mental capabilities and imaginative capacities. Imaginative activity (active imagination) is 'driven' by innate obsessions or fixations with atavistic affinities, possibly of genetic origin. This compulsion, or impulse, finds 'expression' in an exploratory immersion process of 'inwardness' or descent (the dangerous passage, the voyage to the interior, the night sea journey, the quest or anti-quest).

The ‘descent’ or ‘inverse pilgrimage’ (katabasis) is fraught with anxiety, obstacles and difficulties. This experience assumes the character of an ordeal – an ascesis, even – realised through ‘rites of passage’ comprising three known stages: separation – initiation – return. During this process the subject will encounter or confront uncanny horrors and paranoid connections. These terrors may include resurgent atavisms (the phylogenetic inheritance), pathological forces, every form of self-violation (mortificatio) and shadowy, chthonic ‘elementals’ – all characterised by a ubiquitous undertow of archaic nostalgia. The subject is exposed to all the underworld horrors of personal and collective unconscious contents (the 'inferno') and other phantasmagoria – such as tutelary ‘threshold guardians’ – derived, in the final analysis, from psychic formations known as ‘archetypes’.

These ‘archetypes’ (collective representations or 'categories') can be either structures or paradigmatic processes, not just primordial images. Archetypes are not immutable, and naturally-occurring changes at the archetypal level (creation, evolution, decay, extinction) are reflected by corresponding changes in the prevailing Zeitgeist or world order. Phenomena such as cultural implosion, drift, lag, paradigm-mutation and belief-system burn-out (the death of god, the death of art) manifest themselves through collective time/'deep' history (Geschichte) just as pain is ‘referred’ away from an injured site to various other parts of the body. Thus, ‘archetypes’ can, and do, mutate over time. The archetypal level is, naturally, inherently unstable and without foundation.

Phantasmal figures and motifs (the inchoate raw material or massa confusa) arise from a dynamic, unconscious process driven by libido or unbound psychic energy. This inwardness or immersion process discloses the centre of desire (the heart of darkness, the end of the night, the final frontier), a duplicitous ‘inner world’ (inner space) of cosmic cruelty, proto-animistic fetishism, polymorphous perversity, illicit propensities, unrestrained fantasy, iambic scurrility, and primal narcissism, pathological fixations, retrogression and antinomian 'otherness'. Creativity involves both assimilation of this dark-side (the mutant spectres of desire) and psychic de-conditioning (deconstruction) from the effects of cultural-ideological interpellation (belief, ‘spirituality’ and 'metaphysics'). Deconditioning is achieved by immersion in darkness (blackening or noircissement) or, alternatively, by passage through the dark, haunted depths of the ‘enchanted forest’, the legendary wild-wood.

The ‘heart of darkness’, the capricious, macabre and sinister ‘dark-side’, and its shadowy, subconscious strata of involuntary memory (personal/collective) is the first level of the subject’s inner core, an emergent feature of mutable, fluidic, psychic topography derived from the semiotic, proto-symbolic chora (la chora semiotique). However, the phantasmal ‘contents’ of the dark-side derive from both ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ experience: the products of indefinite feedback, everything but the soul. Characterised by the paradoxical, perceptual complementarity of syzygy phenomena (chaos/cosmos, causal/a-causal, subject/object, latent/manifest, light/dark, positive/negative, life/death, psyche/soma, masculine/feminine, self/not-self, fact/fiction, true/false, love/hate, demotic/hieratic, signifier/signified, wave/particle, etc.) the ‘contents’ reflect the indeterminate, bipolar, existential structure of the ‘real’. This is the case, even if there can be no such ‘thing’ as Reality, realism being a quality of understanding.

A primal phenomenon, not sensible or intelligible in itself, the chora semiotique is the universal pre-linguistic precursor ‘matrix realm' (the Platonic ‘receptacle of becoming’, the unus mundus, the quantum vacuum, the anima mundi, the abyssal depths) which underpins all symbolism, language and meaning. It is beyond rational understanding, merging with the ‘sympathetic’ autonomic nervous system and the primeval (visceral) sphere of the ‘old brain’, that proto-sentient, pre-logical ‘reptilian’ and limbic armature of the unconscious anatomy. Creativity consists of a non-verbal, irrational, intuitive, instinctual procedure of imaginative ‘shaping/forming’ or ‘making’ (poeisis) utilising the subject’s entire psyche – although internal incoherence and psychic division always inhibits optimal creative functioning and free plasticity. Phantasmal contents are subjected to a pre-logical transmutation process (khemeia) comprising condensation (metaphor) and displacement (metonymy), articulated through the osmotic interchange of free association (automatism), energised by libido (vis creativa), predicated by differentiation and conditioned by ‘objective chance’.

This process generates a first phase 'work', opus, or artefact, shaped by the gratuitous laws of organic form (deep form) showing how reification becomes representation through metamorphosis. These representations generate, at the level of reader or audience response, an inter-subjective experience, effect or simulation, of ‘significance’, 'meaning' and aesthetic ‘value’ and, almost instantaneously, are co-opted or annexed as vectors of cultural interpellation. 

Invention and Aesthetic Effects

Primal poeisis functions independently of all self-conscious artifice, taste, thematic concerns, genre conventions and artistic method, although form and technique can be conventionalised at the socio-cultural level and always are. Naturally the auteur (poet/artist) will also work self-consciously, simultaneously exercising intellectual ability (ingegno), wit, erudition, virtuosity and acquired capability in the utilisation of all facets of creative technique both ancient and modern, formal and informal: style, structure, and content. Yet, the fortuitous automatism, the non-verbal visuality of primal poeisis will, at all times, suffuse every aspect of the work in hand, including the objective technical factors mentioned.

However the faculty of invention (invenzione), comprising discovery, representation and all modes of reification and transformation (inflections, modifications, recapitulations, transpositions, modulations and permutations), is rooted in the automatic mechanism of the libidinous process.

In its pure state (l'art pour l'art), poetic invention operates surrealistically (sans sujet preconcu) upon, and within, the psyche. It draws an intuitive, elemental ‘spark’ (scintilla) from the encounter between, and/or juxtaposition of, mutually exclusive or distant realities: ‘kitchen-cynic’ naturalism colliding with mythic symbolism, for example, or a weird fusion of pastoral Arcadia and urban inferno.

Invention can draw the same elemental spark from the off-beat, marvellous-uncanny ‘inbetweenness’ properties of ‘alien’, interstitial phenomena; from an erratic oscillation between the trite and original, or historicism and futurism; from an incongruous synthesis of low-tone and grand manner or from an irregular union of preciosity and brutalism. Often tragicomic, sometimes bitter-sweet, invention can endow the ephemeral with gravitas, transmuting the despised and the neglected into high art or high camp, into an underground freak-out (ufo) precipitating a mind-warp (dereglement de tous les sens).

The process may manifest in different rhapsodic ‘poetic’ lyrical, or, alternatively, ‘anti-poetic’, passionless non-lyrical, modalities. Modalities such as melopoeia (‘phonetic’ or ‘musical’) or phanopoeia (‘visual’ or ‘pictorial’) commingle with complimentary modes of functioning such as pathopoeia (working with affective elements such as feeling, mood and emotion, even with estrangement, irony and alienation) or mythopoeia (Euhemerism/mythologisation/mythic parallelism).

The epistemological element of ‘meaning’ (semantic relations, etymology, associations, nuance, denotation and connotation) endows the artefact with communicative properties and linguistic capacities that engage with consciousness and psychosomatic exteriority, acquiring in the process a patina of ‘cultural value’.

Meanwhile, at the level of the chronotope, the subject interacts impressionistically with 'the world ' via an interface conditioned by the multidimensional, dialectical interaction of sensation, Zeitgeist and Weltenschauung. Here, through a dialectical interplay of material forces, events and subjective perceptions (e.g. synchronicity and coincidence), inspirational feedback (friction/irritability) continues to fuel and inform the poetic process on a mundane day-to-day basis. This magic-circumstantial aesthetic redemption of banality enhances intensity of perception and poetic intuition, even if it does not necessarily effect a diminution of existential unease, anxiety or ‘angst’.

To some degree this entire procedure is 'convulsive' (explosive-fixed) insofar as it arises from an energetic spasm, a surreal analogue to geological seismic activity, triggered by ritualistic intercession, in alliance with the pleasure principle. This ‘nervous spasm’ is the climax or consummation (Chymische Hochzeit) of the initial impulse. The degree of convulsive intensity generated by the primary processes is conditioned by the level of intensity inherent in any given creative act or event and also depends on the neurological or mental state and personality of the auteur.

This intensity is manifest as an emotional spark or charge comprising energy quanta of attraction/repulsion energising the artefact at an extremely deep level within its infrastructure. In a specifically poetic context the affective/emotional charge, or cathexis, invests the imagistic, lexical and other structural elements of a work with a quantum of aesthetic 'power', either weak or strong.

The charge will have an enigmatic 'effect' (la sorcellerie evocatoire), even, perhaps, an absurd effect of hilarity – provoked, for instance, by cynicism, burlesque, iambic parody, black humour or the vitriol of corrosive satire – upon both the reader and the writer. This outcome can be heightened in certain cases to the level of a paranormal 'numinous effect' (uncanny intensity of feeling) that is often misrepresented in mystical terms by both poets and readers. This problem arises, for example, in apocalyptic or ‘vatic’ (visionary) art and is often associated with the transcendental view that all art aspires to ‘the condition of music’.

The degree of charge/intensity also determines the transgressive potential of the work on the socio-cultural plane. Furthermore, the exact nature of the ‘uncanny’ effect (das Unheimlich) and/or response in specific instances is infinitely variable, multi-factorial, unpredictable, hallucinatory and indeterminate in conformance with The Uncertainty Principle. Audience or reader-response will be conditioned by, among other factors, individual predisposition, immediate circumstances, state of health, degree of socio-cultural alienation, collective expectations or inhibiting horizons demarcating the phobic, ideological miasma of false consciousness. 


The open-real ‘lifted horizon’ (epiphany) of de-familiarisation is a consequence of disruption (perturbation or infraction) of the auteur-nexus within the chronotope and, correspondingly, within the psyche. This inter-penetration of the inner and outer worlds of the reader-writer causes a parapraxis or subversive breakdown of normality; a shamanistic ‘break-though in plane’ (a vector, rupture, tear, wound or gateway) disclosing ‘alterity’ (aporia, otherness, surreality, hyper-reality, super-reality, the dis-placed and the dis-located) warping contingent historicity, displacing the distorting mirrors of the hyper-culture. Alterity, in this context, may be defined as the bizarre (or ‘convulsive’) antithesis of false consciousness that embodies the manifest unreality of the prevailing socio-cultural hegemony. De-familiarisation may generate a heterodox mode of ‘open realism’ (disclosure, desacralization) in contradiction to the oppressive unreality (narcosis) of the phenomena of false consciousness and specious ‘identity’ (national identity, social identity, cultural identity). Such phantasmal, collective, consensual mirages of interpellation maintain social and psychological control through denial of the self, ultimately inducing ideological de-realisation (etherealization or dissolution) in the vapours of mystical unreality euphemistically called The Cloud of Unknowing.

Yet, faced with the impossibility of ‘saying’ anything ‘new’, creativity takes its revenge, ruthlessly recycling, plundering or pillaging the phenomenal, theatrical, kaleidoscopic ‘spectacle’ of the world for ‘raw material’. From a position of ‘absolute divergence’, (absolute nonconformism) creativity enhances the autonomous potential of the spontaneous, singular, side-real imagination in a perverse, even tawdry, spirit of panache; a spirit of intransigent opposition, a 'negative dialectic' of contradiction and reverse exegesis, working, always, against the grain, subversively ‘against nature’ (contra naturam). To reduce the eternal to the transient, to transform substance into style, the ‘signature of the artist’s will’ – that is the essence of modernity with its ‘art-house’ experimentalism, with its ‘cool’ cosmopolitan, radical chic, is it not?

Within the chronotope, the falsehood of the subject’s specular mirage persona may be compromised or exposed by aesthetic manipulation of double images, wordplay, rhetorical devices and figures of all kinds including ‘multiple personalities’, alter egos, authorial ‘voices’, poetic ‘masks’ and heteronyms. Similarly the integrity of the poetic process can be jeopardised by self-division and psychic fragmentation. From this perspective ‘impersonality’, or aesthetic distance, is simply one mask among many, just one survival strategy among others equally valid or invalid.

No strategy can be guaranteed, not even Nihilism, Stoicism or Epicureanism. Not even the decadent, dandified insouciance of cultivated dilettantism. Not even the daunting complexities of Post-modern theory – not even the ironies of high camp; not even the mass media glitzkrieg. No, not even the free-floating aestheticism of marginal dispossessed ‘outsiders’ inhabiting ‘unseen’ paraxial, liminal regions of cultural and sub-cultural life.

The creative process has two outcomes: first, an impact at the socio-cultural level, and second, a psychoactive (psychotropic) effect within the psyche of the individual subject.

This 'psycho-activity', this psychedelic epiphany, is an end in itself and the motive for the original creative fixation-compulsion (impetus/impulse). Through feedback this fixation-compulsion evolves into a process of developmental integration, a process of growth-change through ‘altered states’ of lucidity or ‘systematic derangement’ (raisonne deregelement), defined as ‘individuation’.

Often misrepresented in ‘spiritual’ terms and thus neutralised, or blocked, by false consciousness and the devious contents of the mystical mirror-world menagerie or cultural hothouse, individuation is simply the human manifestation of a general drive to entelechy (autarchic self-realisation) common to all living organisms, one aspect of the parabolic arc of the evolutionary process. Artistic activity, as a mode of ontogenic-phylogenic self-actualisation, has an evolutionary function (survival value, realisation of singularity) at the biological, species level.

Enrichment of the anguished existential spectacle; enhanced adaptive capacities; the ‘pataphysical subversion of interpellation in the name of an ‘impossible’, absurd freedom (la liberte absurde); intensification of the contemporaneous, perceptual ‘now’ (the inadvertent lucidity of the ‘sublime moment’, the gem-like flames of synaesthesia); the infinite, ambivalent reinvention of modernity. These are some possible benefits derived from creativity. Others might include the cathartic purgation of ‘spiritual’ accretions, blockages and restrictions impeding psychic integration. However the autonomous imagination is indifferent to such ‘benefits’ and, being neither benign nor malign, its ultimate effect may well be ‘off-centre’, may well induce disarray and further confusion: a sardonic ‘debacle of the intellect’.

The reification and externalisation of the artwork, its conformance to expectations within objective, historical parameters of social exchange, art or anti-art fashions, styles, schools, genres and movements in the fragmentary world of the mirage persona or they-self, is a by-product of this natural process. Nevertheless the opus or ‘work’ may have important, quasi-autonomous cultural effects and implications. These implications are acute when viewed against the background of inevitable, infinite and eternal psycho-aesthetic warfare occurring within the social theatre of the chronotope – the perpetual sectarian conflict and generational revolt between successive schools of thought and ideological movements within the hegemonic domain of cultural oppression. These conflicts, transfigured and intensified by the underlying struggle (agon) between the palliative unreality of false consciousness (inauthenticity) and the paradoxical symbolic-naturalistic ‘Open Realism’ of disclosure, will never end. Expanding and transforming the shared cognitive-epistemological-ontological framework, testing the cultural event horizon, in accord with the arbitrary and ‘uncanny’ principle of ‘strangeness’ and the characteristic ‘charm’ of the unexpected, The Work creates its own tremors and aftershocks, its own future – and the nullification of everything. 

Frisson nouveau – Hugo

Noircissement – Celine

Sans sujet preconcu – Breton

Dereglement de tous les sens/raisonne dereglement – Rimbaud

La sorcellerie evocatoire – Baudelaire

La liberte absurde – Camus


Monday, 2 September 2013

Second Highway I

..it is needful to trace a parallel road in the air, a second highway...

– Huysmans 

We are dispossessed, we are trapped in enchantment; it is called Normality. REVOLT?


Attack is the best form of defence: all inherited categories of existence and society must be dissolved by the ultimate weapon: THE IMAGINATION. Will, generated by hate and disgust, is not enough, but fused with the creative matrix of the imagination it is invincible. ‘With a shudder, we cross what the occultists call dangerous territory’ – Andre Breton: Manifesto of Surrealism (1924) in Breton (1972) p40 

Repossess your mind/transform yourself. You are reality: you are the past and the future. 


Assert the sovereign necessity of self-creation against the self-annihilation of mysticism in all its form. Do not depart from this sacred mission: the destruction of worship.

Worship is the ultimate de-humanization of yourself. The fight against mysticism must be relentless; after it has been crushed ceaseless vigilance will be required to ensure the impotence of belief in all its forms: orthodox, esoteric, spiritual, political: the Nirvana Syndrome, the Curse Program Virus (Burroughs), the EP or the Emotional Plague (Reich). 

Repudiate all Platonic and NeoPlatonic doctrines, which seek to colonize the unconscious and even the symbol. Remain implacably against all magic and religion with elevated spiritual objectives, against all mystical dogmas of unification with others, with god, with society or Das Volk. Repudiate all metaphysical absolutes, meanings and purposes, all so-called ‘divine’ or ‘natural’ laws and interventions of ‘grace’. We must bring about the TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF WORSHIP, even self-worship. 


The origin of Guerrilla Poetics:
‘Our troops operate in the area of dream and myth under guerrilla conditions. This area is our cover...The enemy is a noncreative parasite.’ - William Burroughs, First Recordings  

Radical disengagement is the exorcism of the Normal, of Maya, of the evil enchantment – the world of ultimate illusion created by the black magic of the world power monopolies. Against Plato the fascist, against the denigration of reality as a reflection of a supra-sensible world that is only a moral fiction.

Dissociation of perception/creative vertigo, protoplasmic reversion, atavistic resurgence. Arthur Machen, H P Lovecraft (Cosmic Horror), Austin Spare. Breakthrough in plane, ‘outside the circles of time’ (Grant). Neo-shamanism. Urban alchemy. 

Objective Dissociation

Clinical dissection on all parties, cults, religions and beliefs. 

Clinical dissection of the mind.

Clinical dissection of yourself, the elimination of all parasitic accretions of thought, all Pavlovian worship-responses: behavioral conditioning that accepts the Nirvana Syndrome.

De-politicization will lead to total de-sacralization: Nothing is sacred: You have only just begun to exist!

Cultural Subversion: the Grotesque, Uncertainty and the Absurd

Continue the battles of our sacred ancestors who began to undermine the bastions of perception: 


Nihilism stands at the door: whence comes this uncanniest of all guests? – Nietzsche: Toward an Outline: The Will To Power 1 (1885-1886)  


Sterne, Baudelaire, Laforgue, Beckett, Warhol

The heroism of modern life, dandyism, bitterness; your heart laid bare. 


Poe (Ratiocination), Huysmans (Supernatural Realism), Duchamp.

Huysmans: ‘But it was likewise needful to sink a well-shaft into the soul’ 

Black Humour

Swift, Gay, Burroughs, Beckett, Breton. 

‘Where shall we find such another Set of practical Philosophers, who to man are above the fear of death?’ (John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera, Act II, Scene I, 1728)  

Beckett: ‘No, I regret nothing, all I regret is having been born, dying is such a long tiresome business I always found’ (From an Abandoned Work, 1957) 


Alfred Jarry: ‘Please yourself, Pere Ubu but you’ll find yourself in the soup.’ 

The Grotesque &The Bizarre

‘If I am not grotesque I am nothing’ – Aubrey Beardsley.

‘The grotesque deepens life’s outward appearance to the point where it ceases to appear merely natural’ – Vsevolod E. Meyerhold 

‘Dandies deck themselves out and stroll among the charnel-houses’ – Artaud. The Theatre and The Plague, a lecture given at the Sorbonne on April 6th, 1933 

Gothic Horror: La Danse Macabre of Guyot Marchant, Bosch, Sade, Maturin, Hoffmann (‘we have come to find this Olympia quite uncanny; we would like to have nothing to do with her...’), Poe. Matthew ‘Monk’ Lewis.... Et cetera, et cetera.

Fantastic hybrids, the clash of incompatible elements and the Ducassian Encounter. Dreams, superstition, madness, extremes, fantastic dislocations, chimaeras. The Disquieting Muses, Melmoth stands at the door (‘…and his features underwent a short but horrible convulsion.’). 

The Black Labyrinth: Noircissement and Cruelty 

Cruelty and Spectacle: ‘Out of these peculiarities, mysteries, contradictions and traits, we ought to be able to construct the essential features of a disease which saps the anatomy and life...we can deduce the dark, ultimate action of a spectacle...’ (Artaud: Theatre And The Plague)

Beyond nausea: ‘…this black labyrinth which lies, like a filthy copy of our daylight streets, far below their surface’ (Ostrovsky: Celine And His Vision, 1967) 

Politico-religious blasphemy, visceral expressionism:

Bacon, Grunewald, Goya, Lautreamont, Rimbaud: le Voyant, the radical derangement of the senses. Bacon, Burroughs (cut-up/fold-in). 

Ridicule and Corrosive Satire

Byron, Swift, Fuseli, Ensor, Goya, Jarry, Grosz.

Parody and burlesque. ‘The chief end I propose to myself… is to vex the world rather than divert it’ – Jonathan Swift: Letter to Alexander Pope, 29 September 1725. 

The Uncertainty Principle

I quote from Robert G. Cohn: 

Here we have reached the peak of Igitur’s effort via the absurde, i.e. paradox. In a final attempt to put a halt to the regress he has violently compressed the last-generated opposites by accepting a kind of compromise of madness (later folie utile), i.e. the last consciousness (willed- unwilled), and this is the absurde, or the mensonge (phenom­enon as fiction), and the realite dementie. Mallarme Igitur (1981)  

Or, to put it another way:

In the midst of the word he was trying to say,

In the midst of his laughter and glee,

He had softly and suddenly vanished away­

For the Snark was a Boojum, you see. 

Lewis Carroll. The Hunting of The Snark (1876) 

Uncertainty, Anxiety, Chance, Nonsense: post-determinism supersedes those old bogies: God, Heaven and Papal infallibility. For ‘snark’ read ‘quark’ throughout. The void of non-signification. El Manisero. 


Repossession of The Body

Re-integration with psychosomatic energy processes via psychophysical aesthetics and visceral expressionism. Austin Osman Spare: New Sexuality; Arthur Rimbaud: Nouvelle Amour; Andre Breton: Amour Fou, Hans Bellmer: The Unconscious Anatomy: L’Anatomie de l’Image, 1957. Fechner/Henry: Psychophysics. Decadence and Dissociation: hypersensitivity, perversity, reversion, very strange flowers. Subtextual automata, deathmasques,

Overthrow of Biological Tyranny. Neurological awareness and ‘unconscious scanning’ (Bacon). 


·        indiscriminate conception

·        servility of parenthood

·        menstrual bondage

·        the Madonna syndrome

·        sexual normality

·        enforced ageing

·        the spiritual tyranny of death by the afterlife monopolies of the churches of the earth. 

Recovery of Cult-Power

Repossession of the Hieratic: dissolution and control of all so-called religious activities (the ‘mind-forged manacles’ of William Blake).

‘The Iguana girl spoke in her cool remote voice: “All religions are magical systems competing with other systems.”’ William S Burroughs. Cities of The Red Night (1981)

Recovery of symbols and fetishes; the power of ritual, of dramatic spectacle and mythic dramas in public and private life. Christians cannot monopolize the sign of the cross; socialists and communists have no special claim over the colour RED.
Requisition the manipulative techniques of politics and the sermon: restore them to the service of self-creation. You have only just begun to exist. Can you cope with Subtopia? Those things in fields? 

Hermeticism:  The Liberation of The Symbol 

Mallarme: patience, ALCHEMY, vocation, the void, transformation. Des pas sur la Neige.

The Crisis of the Object, the snowbound landscape. The season of the witch.

Death to all archetypes fossilized by centuries of vampirism by the churches of the earth. 

Reclaim the imagination!

Be incomprehensible!


‘God – or myself – created all possible worlds, they coexist, but men can hardly glimpse even one.’              
Jarry: Ceasar-Antichrist (1895) 

Countermyths. Transfiguration of the personality. Melodrama, mime, double-entendre, Dada-cabaret, high and low fashion, urban blues. 

Ballard’s Crash. Modern myths and urban legends: close encounters with Unidentified Flying Objects. Nova Express. The Infernal Desire Machines. 


Manipulate images in a synaesthetic illumination of hermetic analogy, inhabit the bodies of animals, converse with inanimate objects; incarnate the absurd in the light of the image. Personal magic, sigilization, nostalgia, modernity, involuntary memory. Surrealism: psychic automatism and the Automatic Muse. Charisma: Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Federico Fellini, Ziggy Stardust. Prose libre. Midi-Minuit Fantastique…frisson of nude vampires in the films of Jean Rollin. Underground movies, Chinese Checkers, Chappaqua… Maya Deren, the Haunted Screen…the sinister somnambulist 

‘I treated my crab-lice with saltwater and seaweed, but a lot of nits must have survived’ – Samuel Beckett, The End, 1954

Winterbourne & Mortlake, 20-31 May, 1982