Sunday, December 01, 2002 

Chance Encounters

On my way home last night I stopped, as I often do, to sit at one of my favorite overlooks in Portland. This place is the hill above a wildlife refuge along the dark, muddy, mighty Willamette River. This alcove of water and the sliver of forest on its rim are home to many different kinds of birds including bald eagles, blue herons, hawks, geese, and osprey. A place still charged with much magic. It was around dusk when I arrived there last night, just in time to see bats fluttering by at eye level on the prowl for their breakfast of bugs. I continued home and got out my deck of animal medicine cards and my pendulum. I lit a candle, spread out the cards and held my pendulum an inch above the fifty-two animals represented in the deck. When the pendulum began to make the motions, which I consider to mean yes, over a certain card that is the one I chose to draw. It was the bat card! Tonight at the surrealist meeting, a girl about eight-years-old approached me at the table we were sitting at outside the cafe and said, “Do you know that bats have huge fangs?” I was floored by her comment for it came out of the blue and I had never seen her before. It turns out she is Morgan’s daughter, Maren, as he walked up shortly after that exchange and introduced her.

Honey Mud

While at a video store, I looked at or held in my hand Westworld with Yul Brynner and Zardoz with Sean Connery. Intuition told me to read a book or find something else to do instead. About three hours later I absently flipped TV channels. A dramatic looking introduction—a close up of an eye—caught my attention. I watched only to find it was Westworld. The next day, my roommate had a movie that caught my attention. Despite some camp elements, the film was engrossing and highly imaginative, with many fascinating scenes. I didn’t recognize the title when he told me. After watching I looked at the carton only to see the second video I’d looked at in the store. Zardoz was a movie with moments of aesthetic power and macabre eroticism despite the clichéd looking cover. I laughed! The chance realm allowed me to watch two movies I was curious about at no cost to myself, within a two-day period, completely through the actions of others peripheral or unconnected to me.

MK Shibek

In early February, while browsing through a book on Hans Bellmer, I discovered a photograph of Bellmer with Nora Mitrani, who bore a curious resemblance to a friend of mine I hadn’t spoken to in over six months, but whom I had seen only weeks before in a dream. The next week, as I was walking through the Portland State campus, I fortuitously ran into this individual near the new streetcar tracks. On Sunday, February 24th, I went to a location just off Hawthorne to watch the performance of a dancer that specializes in ecstatic dance and styles with non-western foundations (Sufi, African, Middle-Eastern, and so on). I had been harboring a passion for the movements of this particular dancer for some time, so naturally I was disappointed to find that on that evening they had replaced her with another dancer. That following Tuesday at the library, while looking at books on Voodoo, I noticed that the dancer I failed to see two nights before was standing in the next isle. On April 6th, during my lunch break at work, I fell into a half-sleep and had a vision of Fantomas’ head (complete with a black mask, and an extremely long top hat), growing from the side of an orange. Less than an hour later, after returning to work, an individual walked by me wearing a t-shirt for Mike Patton’s band Fantomas.

Brandon Freels


Exquisite Corpse Haikus

Mexican daisy
Unearthed by wailing cocoons
You hear the moon moan

Stalking fettered silk
Calls the sea goddess to dream
I’m sleeping backwards

Gusts of dry raindrops
Boil pulchritude and protest
Your shoes in my soup

The tips of your breasts
Swallowing the molten key
Invading the sands

The true gardener
On top of the folding sundial
Melting ghostly chains

In circles of dust
The white rose of my desire
Suicide snowman

I look like a train
Snakelike crawling inner thighs
A beast of Bodmin

Malicious suspense
Overcoat and stethoscope
Undressed in vacuums

Black and red vision
Whose name is conflagration
Eggs laced with raw rabbits

I can choke, old mask
Architect of python love
Abrasive and shattering

Devoid of cherry stems
The future remembers you
In philosophy

A melting tower
Haunted with gathered kiss-thorns
Two days until your death

Gypsy magician
Sharks drink your beautiful mist
Obscene opening

Gypsy Sherred, MK Shibek, Brandon Freels


How Would You Alter Portland’s City-Space?

In early August I went to the Tri-Met Transit Mall located along Fifth and Sixth Avenues with a tape recorder and sign reading “Portland Surrealist Group Interviews.” Most people chose to pass by or face the street, awaiting buses in silence. About a fourth of them looked at the sign or made eye contact. At four in the afternoon the streets were busy but not full. Only the curious were asked the proposed question. Below is a summary of the results:

—Can’t think of anything. (3)
—Jobs and shelter for the homeless. (2)
—Free parking and more free transportation. (2)
—More trees. We’ve lost fifty percent of them since 1975. I ate off fruit trees as a child.
—Tear up the streets and plant grass and flowers.
—Expand Waterfront Park from the Fremont Bridge to the Stadium Freeway Bridge, and make the Portland Streetcar pass through it.
Get rid of Front Avenue altogether.
—Clean the Willamette River so people can swim in it.
—Move the Portlandia statue on the Portland Building to Waterfront Park so it can welcome incoming ships.
—Make it legal to skateboard.
—Move the Police Station to the middle of the ocean.
—Get rid of Niketown.
—Too many buses.

A following trip to the South Park Blocks induced these comments on the statue of Teddy Roosevelt:
—Paint it patriotic colors.
—Move it to where it’s more visible.
—Shit on the horse’s head. Piss on that guy.

Later at the Multnomah County Library a discussion ensued with two people involving electric buses, the use of recycled and natural building materials, building with character and permanence, and more room for bicycles. Also discussed was the controlled feeling of Pioneer Courthouse Square (where Portland’s entrepreneur-funded Clean and Safe Services and the Portland Police Bureau keep people from any excess of passion), the difficulty of putting up murals compared with the ease of putting up billboard advertisements, and the building facades, which conceal a structure’s true function and makes it easier to sell. The importance of building on existing structures rather than making “ugly” new gentrified buildings was also emphasized during comments on numerous construction sites seen recently. One participant liked the idea of leaving parking garages standing to be used as a scaffolding/mesh structure.

No doubt some of the proposals would improve the quality of life and should be implemented for their practical benefit. A few display humor and imagination with regard to being able to “do anything” to the city-space. Other answers are generally contained or constrained. Everyone was made aware of the uncensored aspect of this game survey, meant to illuminate desire, and activate tension between desire and experience, subject to chance variations.

MK Shibek


The Dice Game

Two or more players roll at least two dice. One should be 20-sided, the other(s) can be six-sided or any other smaller number. The idea is to provoke sentences with the number of words corresponding to what one rolled. This can take the form of a story, social critique, joke, insult, etc. The dice are passed as quickly as possible to keep the clumsy deliberation mechanisms at bay, and a dialogue takes place between the players, who may finish each other’s sentences if they choose. In Portland we used our fingers to count off the words.

The 20-sided die can be used to introduce a chance factor in its relation with the other dice. This is left up to the individual participants. For example, a person rolling a three on the 20-sided die could choose to make three people each say three words even if they did not roll. Spontaneous mathematical configurations could also occur.This game can be quite enjoyable as a pooling of thought, which promotes collective creation in all of its diversity.

MK Shibek



When surrealist evidence emerges from the river of thought’s real functioning, the dance becomes like a wave of snakes, nervous magnetism entering the world.

Whether used as a key, poison-tipped arrow, fixed-explosive or battering ram, automatism provokes expansion where the bodymind meets society and itself.

There are no experts here, only inner experience and psychic necessity. These realms are always available even though consciousness is largely controlled by memory’s forms of socialized identity, and by capitalist rationality. If the obstacles to love currently have the upper hand, this barrier is semi-permeable despite the efforts of control specialists.

Modern surrealist practice includes not only some degree of automatism, but also critiques of the social role of the image, alterations of public space, and much more. As consumerist industries seek to recuperate opposition, new forms of subversive inspiration extend their webs in a lens of Trojan horses. Even those who consciously choose to side with repression are prone to temptation, as the larger reality continually taunts us. A stream of sparks becomes a sudden flood.

Surrealists and their allies capture intrusive moments with fixed or transient mediums and participate in their social presence. This is one doorway to the communism of genius, which unites us with our secret lovers in the mirror glance of mercurial sensation. We are the snakes within the wave and also the wave itself.

MK Shibek


In Lieu of Jewels

The word pornography, regardless of efforts made by prudish critics, refers specifically to a commodity fashioned for the exploitation of the (usually male) consumer’s sexual energy. It is the product of an industry that functions in accordance with the conventions of the current capitalist regime, and produces substantial profits for such mainstream corporations as AOL Time-Warner, AT&T, and General Motors. Despite its use as a sexual stimulus this commodity of stylized sexual imagery participates in consumer estrangement by doubling as a surrogate for tangible sexual involvement, creating a state of passivity in the service of Capital, while concurrently subordinating the sexual act to an illusionary representation of repressive mythological proportions.

In contrast, creativity that is truly sexually charged (such as Mansour, Bellmer, Trouille) is an inward dialogue between the creator and the sexual drive, allowing the creator to find pleasure in the erotic phantasmagoric play of their own erotogenic and psychosexual powers. This creative sexual expression is an externalization and exploration of the libidinous levels as they are liberated from socializing forces, retaking their right to speak freely with the conscious.

Brandon Freels


Sharp Enough to Cause Orgasm?

Quills is a movie based loosely on the Marquis de Sade’s stay in the Charenton Asylum in the late 1700s in France. It’s fanciful and a bit contrived, but it is a fun and engrossing movie with some delightful subversion and social satire.

While he is comfortably locked up with a liberal but pious priest as warden Sade’s manuscripts are smuggled out by a friendly linen worker. The books become popular, which leads to their burning by the authorities and threats against the asylum from Napoleon’s regime. His writings are an abomination in the eyes of church and state which Sade has his vengeance upon even in death. The rest of the movie concerns the measures taken to silence him (which are not historically accurate).

It could be said of the movie that it makes Sade hip and bohemian, even if passionate, unruly, and sexually/violently obsessed. He causes trouble all around him due to his era’s repressive morality. We see the quality of his relationships with those considered normal as well as those considered mad. While I like the character’s charm, intelligence and passionate mania, Sade was more believable in the earlier Marat/Sade film by Peter Brook. Some features of knowable reality have been embellished for visual appeal. Nonetheless, the attitude of subversion and black humor is appealing.

For Sadian liberation within Fourier’s Passional Attraction, as a common, consensual aspect of everyday life, beyond politeness and social etiquette, we need more than this—but Quills at least raises important questions in an enjoyable way, even if they are not treated in depth, as they are in Sade’s writings.

MK Shibek


Preface to Mutiny

The energy of the Pacific Northwest has always inspired us to dream, play, wander, and act as instruments of passion. Unfortunately, we live in a social context dominated by the dichotomy of work and consumption, an imported nightmare that is completely incompatible with the natural drives, the environment, and life beyond survival. This culture of slave consciousness has forced us to exist for the sake of corporate profits, occupying our time with false needs and false identities, estranging us not only from the land but also from ourselves. Together we traverse this maze of coffins, curiously searching for the hidden places inside ourselves and in others, where dreams and pleasures are passionately followed, and poetry manifests itself in life, fracturing the cognitive landscape of surplus repressions.

Only a mutual correspondence between the people and the natural world, in both its physical and psychological sense, can restore the passion to everyday life. The dynamics of this receptivity require a revolution. The natural and interior order is continuously speaking to us.

As a local expression of the international surrealist movement we stand in solidarity with its principle drive for the development of a non-repressive culture, where each individual can explore the widest achievable range of their imaginative and psychological possibilities, realizing the total liberation of the mind, and the restoration of poetic inspiration. In defense of independence, creativity, self-awareness, mutual respect, pleasure, and cooperation, we will always stand against the bourgeoisie, capitalism, artism, the property owner, warmongers, the pigs, patriots, religion, academic sluts, corporations and the monotonies they ooze.

The restoration of real life entails the complete insurgent transformation of this repressive culture. This revolution exists in the service of desire. This revolution is now.

The Portland Surrealist Group

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