. . . the surrealists are not politicians nor scientists, philosophers nor even physicians. They are poets, specialists in language, and it is language they will attack first.
First of all, no more logic. In language especially it must be hunted down, beaten to a pulp, reduced to nothing. There are no more verbs, subjects, complements. There are words that can even mean something other than what they actually say.
— Maurice Nadeau, The History of Surrealism
Which dead end will be reincarnated?
The river above the sound of the river
Question John Levy, Answer Michelle Tennison (2017)
Some documented neologisms of schizophrenic language:
watch: time vessel
subway passengers: elbow people
— Surrealist dream proverb, Michelle Tennison
A Feather Never Sleeps, photo by Josephine Unglaub
Learn more about Josephine and her remarkable photography on the Featured Contributors page.
I, the Language of Dreams, photograph by Michelle Tennison
What will you find if you write down the dialogue of your dreams?
The following are excerpts from my own dreams, copied verbatim upon awakening. At the time I was experimenting with writing poetry during hypnogogic states. It has been said that such dreamspeak has something in common with schizophrenic language and can be meaningful in an abstruse way. It can also be quite comical.
Below you will find snippets from a pedantic conversation about sculpture (which at the time seemed quite erudite), proverbial wisdom, and surrealist poetry:
Upon viewing art in a museum setting: “That’s a beautiful booger named gunshot.”
Walk to the lake on your many-toed journey.
dolls roll down in village trees
kisses salt until the sea salt that led the sea
beginning I’m a slow drifter
the sunshine weight
of butterfly 8
All the Things You Said, digital art collage by Josephine R. Unglaub
Is it possible that words themselves have a kind of life force or inherent energetic signature that has been forgotten? According to Maurice Nadeau in The History of Surrealism, Andre Breton attached extreme importance to word games because “they showed that words had their own lives, that they were creators of energy, and that they could henceforth command thought.” (Breton’s words in italics).
What is conversation?
Elephants outfitted for battle
Question Michelle Tennison, Answer Mark Harris (2016)
Perhaps there is more meaning inherent in everyday things than we realize.
When we play The Question and Answer game in definition form, with questions such as What is faith?, it feels like an experiment in living words, one where we might begin to reclaim language after years of devitalization through manipulative and/or mercenary agendas. (Beware the Vision checking account or Freedom mortgage). Many of us are longing to experience an authenticity in communication that we feel has been lost. One way to do this is to concretize and reconnect abstractions to their original source: The living Earth.
What is faith?
A cicada shell still hanging on the tree
Q&A Session with Chris Hudson, Mary Ellen Binkele, and Michelle Tennison (approx. 2003)