Surrealist Doodle

Surrealist Doodle
This was used as the cover of Karawane in 2006 and I have included it in on a number of bags and postcards over the years. Someone on the subway asked me if it was a Miro. I was very flattered!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Word Salad: Dada, Surrealists, Aphasia, Schizophrenic Writing

O. M. G.

I just learned the BEST thing in my psychology of language class ! Expect a poem soon.

It's interesting studying language "disorders" too, like aphasia, or even studying how language works and how we pick the right from the wrong words, because all their examples just sound like good Dada to me! Which makes me think of Jakobson, who accused the Surrealists of "schizophrenic speech" which isn't an accusation to me, but to him it was.

I think there's a lot we can learn by employing such speech -- some forms of aphasic speech or schizophrenic speech -- and seeing how it's processed by people who don't have those conditions. Someone with aphasia might say "it was too breakfast when they called" and that, to me, first of all is decipherable and isn't really a word salad, but in the middle of a kind of discourse like that, certainly can take a while to slog through all of the things that is said. But what kind of connections does the person who processes language in this skewed way make, and what kind of connections could it make the minds of those who hear it?

Of course the person with aphasia is struggling to be understood and must be frustrated, as does the person trying to discover what he or she is saying to him. So I'm not trying to make light of this at all. But if we can control that, can use it for poetic purposes to open up the imagination, as the Surrealists, zaum poets, Dadaists, and many many others have tried to do, if we could turn those kinds of functions on and off, not to systematize them, because then we're still proscribing the limits of the imagination, but if, and when, we can turn that kind of thinking on, I think it can have some very extraordinary results.

I think about Robert Desnos, who the surrealists used in their seances to do automatic writing and the stories about him becoming temporarily narcoleptic as a result! I don't know if it's true, but it's a great story, but also if it is true, somewhat cautionary about doing these kind of experiments among ourselves! Imagine someone becoming aphasic as a result of too much Dada poetry! (There's no evidence of that so far! It tends to be the result of an injury or trauma.)

This class, which is so heavy on science and experiments, and so in some ways is making my head hurt because I don't think like that and so I have to really focus at time, is also generating the most creativity and deepest thinking.

Soon, maybe after my conference this weekend, which is a little space of time, I will write and post some poetry. I was already scribbling notes for poems in my class notes.

More later, if I'm lucky.

1 comment:

DB said...

Sounds like we are both on the upswing creatively...