Lose your mind and come to your senses — Fritz Perls

I live for those wild — and strangely peaceful — moments when I am given a rare objective glimpse into the universe of thought.

Am I here?
          the fragrant molecule
                       on a path
                 to wilderness

Question Michelle Tennison,  Answer Richard Gilbert (2017)

The concept of  Ma is one of the ideas central to the Japanese haiku aesthetic. Richard Gilbert’s Poems of Consciousness and the interviews with contemporary Japanese poets found therein helped bring this difficult-to-pin down concept to the West.  The translators of one of these interviews with Hasegawa Kai define Ma in terms such as

space — ‘betweenness,’ alternate dimension or time, a psycho-poetic interval of betweenness — non-literal reality arising as resonance, between and through words, and beyond them.”

This gap or space between images, elements, and/or ideas created by “cutting,” whether as juxtaposition or disjunction (and here I refer you, dear reader, to Richard Gilbert’s remarkable The Disjunctive Dragonfly for those wanting to really explore this exciting poetic territory) is pretty much the soul of haiku,  and it is why we as fans of of the genre can keep coming back to a haiku again and again and continue to encounter something new there, depending upon where we find ourselves at that moment in our lives.

Clearly there is something similar going on here with the gap between questions and answers in the Surrealist Q&A Game, with its communally creative space that gives the sense of being infinitely possible.  Could it be that this gap that arises in Mind, this empty space, is where all the fun really is?

Rejecting a sentimental utopia, what is your vision?

          The white door between things

Question Richard Gilbert,  Answer Michelle Tennison (2017)

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. The pathway to this new awareness is more like a sudden expansion of consciousness, not the linear one we are used to in ordinary discourse.  It feels more 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. We can’t rely on expectations, history, or habit.  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.

Yes, 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!

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.”



The unconscious mind is decidedly simple, unaffected, straightforward, and honest. It hasn’t got all of this facade, this veneer of what we call adult culture. It’s rather simple, rather childish. It’s direct and free.

 — Milton H. Erikson

What is God’s end game?
          Jasmine-scented pajamas

Question Michelle Tennison,  Answer Sabine Miller (2015)

How many muscles are in a body?

Q&A Session with Timothy Binkele, Anna Binkele (age 14), Seth Binkele (age 11), Cole Binkele (age 5), Ella Binkele (age 3), Mary Ellen Binkele, and Michelle Tennison (2015)