An Internal Barometer of Truth

The seemingly incongruous juxtaposition, the often wildly unexpected pairing of two or more images and/or concepts: This is where Surrealism draws much of its power to affect consciousness, and The Question and Answer Game is no exception.

The gift of resonance allows us to recognize veracity within what may at first appear to be an impossibly matched pair of answers and questions. The insights we experience aren’t necessarily grasped by the Mind, at least not at first, but they are nevertheless felt to be true.  It feels like the opening up that occurs when we hear a sound that is particularly resonant, like that of a bell or a tuning fork, and something within us moves suddenly in synchronous agreement.

This energetic affirmation, this felt sense of  “Yes, that is so,” (often despite initial illogical appearance), is our guide to reading the results of Surrealist literary games,  as well as interacting with haiku and other forms of literature and art that are intuition-based.  It is a felt experience, but where do we feel it? In our ‘gut,’ our heart, every cell of our being? Is our DNA doing a little dance of communion? I don’t believe that it is possible to exactly locate where the process occurs.  Maybe it is all of the above. The point is that this experience is to a large extent internal.

Why does this matter? If the assembly point of our reality and our sense of truth is internal, what does this mean? Perhaps if we can learn to trust this gift of resonance, we can learn to trust ourselves to determine what we will and will not align ourselves with, based on what feels most life-promoting, honest, and authentic. If we can learn to judge these things for ourselves maybe we will be less likely to be easily manipulated or swayed by the agendas of others.

This internal barometer of truth matters. It might even be at the heart of why Surrealism, despite its surface appearance,  is so much more than frivolous, why it is in fact revolutionary, and why nearly 100 years after its inception it continues to be relevant.

Surrealist games and Surrealistic art in general are rather brilliant at shining a light on this inherent, sometimes latent, skill of discerning truth for ourselves, in part by highlighting the fact that there are so many potential truths available at all times. It is up to us to accept or reject what is set before us. It is up to us to see what is possible.

How liberating!

When Meaning is Resonant

The term resonance has long been associated with the felt-depth of meaning and intuitively realized truth of haiku. It also plays a role in comprehension of the results of The Question and Answer Game.  Both haiku and the surrealist Q&A Game are by design nonlinear, and both can create a window into some of the mysteries of non-ordinary consciousness. The dictionary definition of resonance tells us that it is “the ability to evoke or suggest images, memories, and emotions,” but within the realm of physics it is also clearly a factor of vibration. Resonance is also “the reinforcement or prolongation of sound by reflection from a surface or by the synchronous vibration of a neighboring object.” In the case of an individual responding to a work of literature or art, the implication of resonance is that there is some kind of energetic exchange and/or harmonious vibrational communion of heart (emotion) and of mind (memory/perception) involved. Something in the poem or artwork strikes a resonant chord within our being, a sense of expansion occurs, and we experience a recognition of Truth.

I personally find that the effect it is not too far off from that of the Sanskrit greeting Namaste, which loosely translates as The God within me recognizes the God within you.

Fun with Hypnagogia: Slumber with a Key

slumber with a key

into the world of dreams

According to the online article “The Power of Micro Naps” found here , Salvador Dali learned a technique from the Capuchin monks that allowed him to plumb the mysterious — and fecund — stage of consciousness between sleep and waking known as hypnogogia, and he clearly became quite skilled at mining the hallucinatory images he found there.  Dali referred to it as “slumber with a key.”  This creative practice or something quite similar has been cultivated by many notable artists, writers, mathematicians and other innovators seeking inspiration throughout the years, reportedly from Thomas Edison to Edgar Allan Poe.

The same article quotes Professor Andreas Mavromatis:

during hypnagogia, the “newer” (evolutionarily speaking), rational parts of the brain are inhibited, while the “older,” more primitive parts (which think in imagery and symbolism rather than words and well-defined concepts), have freer rein. The usual dominance of the prefrontal cortex and its rules of logic are checked, and the typical constraints placed on what’s possible are loosened. Thus, the mind is free to play around, make associations between divergent ideas, and come up with imaginative solution to problems.


Slumber with a Key

The technique  involves allowing a descent into Stage I sleep . . . just long enough. This can even be as short as one second. While holding a small but relatively heavy object aloft (arms draped over the side of a chair or bed), the hand and arm muscles will begin to relax, causing that object to drop.  .  . In Dali’s case, he held a heavy metal key that he would let fall onto a plate, which then produced a loud enough clang to rouse him immediately back into wakefulness.  He was then poised to record whatever visions, symbols, insights, or other information that had been waiting at the threshold of consciousness.

Apparently Dali was quite taken with this kind of experimentation, as he is famously quoted as saying,

“One day it will have to be officially admitted that what we have christened as reality is an even greater illusion than the world of dreams.”




Beverly Borton, No Known Address, 4.5″ x 6.5″  image constructed of mailing envelopes

1) Is the universe random, chaotic, and meaning arbitrary . . .
or 2) is there actually an implicate order and intelligence wherein everything is linked to everything else?


What is eternity?
          Inside the forest:
          all these textures,
          one body

Q&A Session with Mary Ellen Binkele and Michelle Tennison (1998)

What do you seek?
          Time lapse photography

Question Christopher Herold,  Answer Michelle Tennison (2017)

Is love enough?
          John Denver’s conception

Q&A Session Paul Cunniff, Sharon Cunniff, Mary Ellen Binkele, and Michelle Tennison