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!

Monday, June 07, 2010

On non-sense poetry and spoken word (semi-sensical and rambling as always)

The purpose of non-sense poetry is

To disorient, not to leave anything for you to hold onto.
Not sentiment.
Not intellectualism.
The two (assumed) poles of poetic enterprise.

Non-sensical poetry (as opposed to non-sensory poetry) is designed to thwart these tendencies to hook onto something you know in favor of something not only that you do not know but that you cannot know, that it is nowhere in your experience to know or to even imagine that you know.

In spoken word poetry there is the extra sonic bit, the potential for the sound to transport you, like in a trance. It is no accident that Breton developed an affinity (a fetish, if you must) for Native American objects and rituals, shamanistic tools that predate surrealism like a fairy tale, that open up the mind like a séance, trance dances, Desnos in a faraway dreamscape.

In spoken word poetry the performer is right in front of you and it’s easier to invoke sentiment, “relating to” the poet, but it’s also even easier to invoke other strange feelings, feelings that could be used to transport audience and performer to a different place, to transcend the person in front of you, to be lulled and pulled by the sound of the words on the language.

Jameson accused the Surrealists of practicing schizophrenic speech. At the risk of romanticizing a traumatic condition, what is there about the speech of schizophrenics, or aphasics, of those who brains “don’t work right” in modern sterility of medical-industrial complexes that can teach us not only how the mind works, how language works, but alternative ways of seeing and experiencing the world, talking about, knowing the word. Pick a textbook on language and psychology and there are pages of potentially interesting surrealism, ways of rewriting the rules of language, experiments to undertake by subverting the rules and making people think different.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this blog on non-sense poetry, etc. My son has schizophrenia and he often gives me lines to use in my poetry that I find work perfect for whatever I am creating in that moment. He also writes his own poetry. It would not makes sense to most people but I find patterns in it that make sense to me or I have conceptualized them. YOur comments about this subject are the clearest I've heard lately.

Fluffy Singler said...

Wow, thanks for your perspective on this and for the compliment. I think I've been influenced a lot by the disability movement and by thinking about other ways of knowing and what is it that people, for example, with schizophrenia or aphasia can teach us about language and the subconscious.