The Great Game

It is not to belittle Surrealist activity — as it has unfolded from 1924 to the present day — to consider it as a game, in fact as The Great Game, whose prizes in the eyes of those who played and lived it, can be calculated in promises of freedom, love, revolution, and in anything else that intransigent desire can aspire to.

— Philippe Audouin

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!

More Surrealist Fun

I love the Surrealists! Sometimes you just need a good laugh.

Another literary game of chance:

The first player writes the opening of a sentence beginning with “If” or “When” and then conceals it. The second player finishes the sentence in the conditional or future tense.

This game, also invented by the French Surrealists in the early decades of the 20th Century, is referred to as CONDITIONALS in the book Surrealist Games, compiled and presented by Alastair Brotchie and edited by Mel Gooding, 1993.

Here’s what happened when Sabine Miller bravely agreed to jump into the surreal swimming pool with me once again:


If popsicles were used as currency
clarity could be bought but not sold

If Dracula went through menopause
lines would succumb to music

If shadows would just get on with it
a patriot would kneel to the sea

Michelle Tennison,  Sabine Miller (2017)


If a telephone could bleed language
dogs will finally laugh out loud

If a rosebug could engineer a rose
flowers would know where to go

If we are ships with bananas as rudders
doctors would stop daydreaming

Sabine Miller,  Michelle Tennison (2017)