Exquisite Corpsing (a surrealist poem)

Latent gospel plucked from slumber

Writhing as seething logic tears asunder

These retinal confessionals which drawn

From the tattered slacks of droning hacks whose dawn

Is borne from fleeting mania amongst ceaseless cognitive curfews

Where spontaneous poetic passions percolate like zeppelins doing corkscrews

Where cubist contortions reign and the blighted blatherings of historians

Wither into stony columns of drivel and whitespace – trivial emporiums

Which shy away from the kaleidoscopic sensorium of surreality

An exclusive realm of poets and purveyors of psyche, far beyond mere animality

***

 

NB: featured image is Max Ernst’s ‘triumph of surrealism’ (1937)

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Some entries from Dr Nathan’s journal – 1975

 ***Dr Nathan is a character from J. G. Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition. In the novel the narrative shifts between the perspective of the schizoid central character Traven and the cool, calculated scientific analysis of Dr Nathan who clinically observes Traven’s psychotic break. Ballard employs a uniquely scientific style of writing which incorporates psychoanalytic theory and analysis and attempts to, much like the outside reader of Traven’s experiences, draw some logic from his movement through the contemporary world. Here I’m attempting to expand upon the character somewhat through a series of invented excerpts from Dr Nathan’s scientific journal***

 

20/11/75 – 7.35pm. it seems that Traven’s psyche is almost geometric in nature and so strangely incompatible with the fragmentary configurations of the spectacle which require a certain cerebral malleablility. L was recently berated for his attempts to create a mathematical formulation of the unconscious, to designate it as an intricate form of algebra which was initially based around a very rigid and systematic constitution of the familial human psyche having been adopted through natural selection; this was, however, destabilized upon the advent of consciousness. But in this technological age what makes such a claim so outlandish and, more importantly, so untestable? Considering our unique historical situation which enables for potentially omniscient surveillance we are surely at a point whereby the rigorous systematisation of a subject’s movement from infancy into adulthood may indeed be undertaken; every minute action monitored, every visually instilled familial and objective association tracked, systematised, monitored. The Oedipus complex captured on film, my what a challenge and a triumph!

22/11/75 – 11.45pm. Symbolisation centers around vision, that much we know for sure, all other senses are subverted by such. We know this because of one simple fact: no congenitally blind child has ever become schizophrenic. This knowledge is of the utmost  importance! Quite possibly this fact could be enough to pinpoint the exact emergence of consciousness (L and I must discuss this in more depth at some point). But I digress somewhat. Granted, inner thought is as yet technologically inscrutable, however the subjective appropriation of the outside world which is observable enables for the analysis of the movement from the infant Real, to the Imaginary and finally to the all-subsuming tranquility and the veil of rationality enabled by the Symbolic order. In the case of Traven, his unusual imperviousness to psychical manipulation seems the result of his malformed Symbolic constitution. Indeed his inner world is kaleidoscopic, requiring scant input from the outside world, and instead relying upon the existing fragments which are refracted and reconstructed so as to fit into his own unique logic. In viewing Traven’s spectacular impunity we must recall Doctor Laing’s assertion that the “the cracked mind of the schizophrenic may let in light which does not enter the intact minds of many sane people whose minds are closed”.

24/11/75 – 2.30am. Let us return then to the potential experimentation of a mathematically formulated psyche. What would be required? Eye-cameras would be a necessity, so as to monitor the precise points at which Symbolic tethers are ingrained. Furthermore the experiment would require 2 subjects – identical twins or perhaps even clones – in order to weed out the environmental from the genetically inherited factors which could influence this systematic appropriation of language and the constitution of the psyche (though associations created during the foetal stage could cause further complications). Such an experiment does not seem far-fetched when one accepts the proven validity of the Oedipus complex already as a vastly intricate form of algebra determining sexual preference and ensuring proper initiation into the Symbolic. Would L consider running such an experiment? Surely his work would welcome such an endeavour. Now onto some possible preliminary test subjects… 

N.

THE ACCUSED (sci-fi flash fiction)

The Decider’s ship descended through the snowstorm, coughing up a wave of ice. The haggard ship was built to withstand such conditions, its birdlike feet adjusting to the shifting shape of the ground. Seconds after landing a pole emerged slowly from the top of the ship, and reached higher and higher into the blizzard. Once fully extended it was around twice the height of the ship. Then the pole began to open out in an action much like that of an umbrella. Once opened it formed a perfect half-sphere dome which slowly lowered until it covered the ship so it looked like some colossal snow globe. Next gill-like vents on the side of the ship opened, and began pumping seething hot air into the inner globe, and soon enough, the ice started to melt, and the globe began to slowly sink deep into the ice. 
The ship continued its descent through the icy mantle, whilst the evaporating ice caused the globe to fill with steam. After a few minutes the ship’s feet touched upon a flat surface, and the steam was quickly sucked into a vacuum tube.

Total darkness. The only sound was the gentle baritone of the ship’s resting engine.

After a few moments a faint blue pulsating light began to emit from the ship, it rippled down the ship’s flanks like the neon lights of deep-sea plankton.

Then the cockpit hissed open and a walkway glided towards the ground.

The Decider disembarked.

The body of his suit was jet black, and made up of hundreds of tiny jagged intersecting plates which looked distinctly reptilian. His enormous helmet was made up of thousands of coloured gems which were patterned to look like some smirking shamanic mask. Immense tusks of some ancient beast spiralled into the air from the cranium, and a mass of leathery cords formed a mottley mane.

The Decider’s body was almost invisible in the darkened space of the dome, but the great helmet sparkled radiantly in the shimmering blue light. The head floated in the void like some tribal specter.

The Decider’s movements were quick, insectile. He seemed keen to finish his task. He knelt on the flat ground a little way from the ship, and from the thigh of his scaly armour he pulled a dagger, which started to glow with scolding heat. He delicately pressed the tip of the dagger into the ground, and after a few seconds the tip melted through the surface.

He carefully cut out a circle with the blade, and once finished he placed the dagger back in its unseen holster.

With no hesitation he jumped into the centre of the circle with all his weight, and fell through into blackness.

The Decider calmly plummeted through the dark, the scales of his suit opening like miniature ailerons to slow his descent, and within seconds he dropped lightly onto the waiting ground. The  glaring yellow eyes of his helmet lit up like spotlights so that he could see his nearby surroundings. The ground was covered in what looked like black vines, thousands upon thousands of them. He picked one up and cut through it with his heated dagger, and it let out a loud spark which momentarily lit up the pitch dark like a flare. Not vines, electrical wires.

The flash revealed a tall structure nearby which the wires seemed to move toward like the central nervous system of some sleeping god. The Decider made his way towards it nimbly across the sinewy floor.

Suddenly he heard a scuttling sound from the darkness. He glanced towards it, but the sound stopped. Whatever it was, it was beyond his range of sight. He pulled out the dagger and kept moving. His glowing eyes continued to scan the darkness like prison lights.

Then the scuttling came again, this time much closer. He snagged a wire and cut through it, again lighting up the dark like a flashbang. This time The Decider caught a glimpse of the thing in the dark. It was around a hundred feet away – a cluster of mechanical legs huddled beneath a great armoured shell, like some gargantuan robotic trilobite patrolling the ocean depths.

The Decider ran, and the trilobite instinctively gave chase.

For its size it moved with breathtaking speed, closing the gap within moments. The Decider could hear just a few feet behind, the mechanical legs clicking like a frantic typewriters as it clambered hungrily over the mesh.

The Decider sensed it was readying to strike. But before it could, he reached down and ran his dagger through the topmost wires, sending a trail of sparks like firecrackers in his wake. The trilobate gave an agonised shriek, a sound not unlike the dial-up crescendo, before receding into the pitch darkness once more.

The Decider had reached the structure at the wiry core. Here the wires raised and twisted to form a gigantic wiry stalagmite. There was no door, only a thin opening through which The Decider struggled to fit his broad horned helmet.

Once inside the floor illuminated a deep green under his footsteps. He made his way confidently through the labyrinthine passages, and soon came upon the central atrium.

In the centre of the large room was a towering statue of a figure similarly adorned to The Decider, only much more regal. This figure was cloaked, and held a hammer as long as the tallest man. His gigantic mask was encrusted with fist-sized diamonds of all different colours, and the curved ebony horns made The Decider’s look paltry by comparison. Whilst the ghostly visage depicted on The Decider’s mask was sneering, the visage on the statue was neutral, observant even.

The dim green light revealed some intricate designs on the cave walls. The wires had been warped and contorted into images depicting some seemingly ancient civilisation: thousands of figures praying to these great sacred towers, great ships and technologies which somehow seem at once natural and mechanical.

Barely perceivable at the foot of the statue, immersed in the tangle of wires like the fettered prey of a spider, were two unmoving figures. These figures were unmasked. They were hairless, their faces leached of any colour, their open eyes veiled by a thick silvery cataract. They looked like what a human might look like after adapting to living deep underground in darkness for thousands of years.

These were The Accused.

The Decider approached, and they slowly turned to face him with their empty, film-covered eyes.

Then the Decider spoke, his sonorous voice echoing through the halls.

“Awaken Accused. A decision has been made”…

***

 

NB: featured image is by Luke Fielding of deviantart, and the image comes from a series inspired by Peter V Brett’s incredible Demonwar saga – highly recommended!

The Offroad Utopia (sci-fi flash fiction)

a future not far from now…

It was night, but I craved the dark. Colossal telescreens, billboards, and swarms of miniature ad-drones bleached the night with neon lights:

YOU NEED A VR BREAK – PULL OVER AND VISIT PORNOPLANET.COM

THE NEW AUDI Z330: For the drive of your life

Marco’s Pizza delivers while you drive – call 034 22 769 and a recon droid will be at your location in minutes

Budweiser Xero, the beer that’s always ice cold.

My pursuers, those blinding and pulsating red and blue lights, were far behind, but it wouldn’t take long for them to catch up. I hurtled through the electric vista, flaring up the night. There was an endless wall of screens alongside the road and as I drove the screens tilted to face me, as they turned they seemed to brighten. Their gaze followed my car until I was out of sight, at which point they nonchalantly moved back into the default ‘wall’ position, their screen light dimming to a soft glow. Always light ahead – always dark behind.

Some of the screens towered above others – the bigger brands – and occasionally a luminous 3D projection bloomed high into the sky like a lasting firework. The screens are programmed to only light up when there are human-occupied vehicles within range, which meant that self-driving vehicles pummeled through utter darkness, making the highway a deathtrap to animals, and of course, the occasional unlucky runaway. I reached into the jagged mass of broken beer bottles, fast-food empties and sodden sheaths on the passenger side floor and found a lone bottle of sealed Budget-Bud. I cracked it open on the doorhandle and took a long swig, the froth erupted and doused my cargos.

In my rearview mirror the metro-centre was still visible: its vast dome gazing skyward like a cornea. Ahead the billboards surged to life, an incandescent horde battling it out for my gaze. I put on my aviators and sped up to 150, luckily there were only a small few hover-freighters on the road at this early hour – all self-driven. One billboard towered above the rest, it rose on an electric arm and arched over the highway, its screen too big to tilt like the others. It displayed a churning ocean of limbs, arms and legs jerking spasmodically like a mass of cadavers being wrenched back to life by a powerful electrical charge. At the epicentre a giant hand reached out from the fleshy depths, triumphantly holding a phone which was almost completely transparent, so thin it seemed invisible when viewed from the side, the lit screen hovered in the palm: The new iPhone Shard – cut through the crowd.

Further on another giant billboard lurched over the road, this one displayed Bacon’s screaming pope, only his throne had been tethered to the roof of a sleek, white Porsche, his pallium waved in his wake. I wrenched my gaze from the signs and slowed to 80, I was near. Soon I came upon the familiar cracked screen, my marker, which flickered gently. I slowed to an almost complete stop, turning sharply behind the broken sign, behind which was a small opening, and a track leading off-road. The gap was just wide enough for my jeep, and soon I was enveloped by night, my headlights revealing the luscious undergrowth. Off-roading was illegal, and most cars are now built with a tracking system which automatically disables the engine if you leave a main road, then sends out an especially speedy (and violent) division of the police. Unless you know how to bypass it. I followed the faint path through the woodland, the trees becoming ever more densely packed as the highway fell behind. Soon I slowed the car to a crawl and switched off the headlights…

***