Monday, September 7, 2009


Stockholm surrealist group: polemics over dreams

Some of its members revisiting some questions of largely academic interest whether the surrealist atopos is closely related to Foucault's heterotopia, whether the latter is closely related to the ship of fools, whether Foucault's ship of fools is Breton's ship of fools, an interesting debate took place in the Stockholm surrealist group based on the interpretation of a dream each by a couple of members.

MF started out harshly with a dream about himself. "Now I am going to bore you with a rather dull and painful dream. The sadism of the act follows logically from its subject. Because: in a Stora Saltet issue I reread the other day, Niklas and I had each written a text about our own person. Bizarre, I thought. Immediately thereafter I ended up in an uncomfortable position in a written discussion with a significant person, where a long line of thought I developed was interpreted as if being about myself. I still haven't come up with a way to correct the misunderstanding, I overreact, I repeat to myself antipersonalistic ponderings, from reasonable ones like 'I don't exist, except as a relay station for associations' to highly doubtful such as 'The single common denominator of all the important events in my life is that there is one factor which could always be subtracted from the picture without chainging its meaning: myself'. And at night when I'm asleep that famous 'old man inside me' punishes me by bringing up the subject of my birthday, which is the annually recurring event when one is allowed, even in the most selfsacrificing duty ethics, or even supposed, to focus on one's own person.

/.../ I leave out the dream itself here, but when awakening I heard a ridiculous little glockenspiel tune being repeated over and over again (I often wake up to these repetitive audial hypnagogies); after a while I recognise it as John Cale´s 'Ship of fools'. Poor me. How I resent the sweetly witty, and how I prefer the harshly unreasonable, like yesterday, when I couldn't remember a single dream image but during my entire breakfast I had PJ Harvey's growling going on in my head 'I wanna bathe in milk!'"
NN quickly replied "Isn't the Ship of fools and the Milk bath the same method, that is idealistic selfpersuasion?", which may have made sense as strategies in the dream visavis the birthday setting and other complications, and cited Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj saying "The self is so self-confident that unless it is totally discouraged it will not give up. Mere verbal conviction is not enough. Hard facts alone can show the absolute nothingness of the self-image."

The next day or so, NN replied with a dream of his own. Only part of it is cited here: "A coherent sequence about some kind of marine creatures, obviously belonging to the same mythological family as the siren and the sea monk. They were intelligent, had their own language, and their appearance was almost spherical, with a narrow hindbody and tail like on an anglerfish or a flounder, and were sparsely pubescent on the head. They were called SOMS, which made me associate to SEAMONSTERS while the capital letters gave the impression of being an acronym. Somebody has a suggestion what SOMS might mean?"

MF went on about personal associations and film reminiscences, and made a serious attempt to understand the word, supposing it to be "of greek origin, as in chromosome, allosome, autosome, which all are derived from Soma = body. But it could also be from indoeuropean soma, a mythical drink giving much pleasure and knowledge, or from greek somnus (sleep), somnium (dream) or somphos (spongy, porous). But if an acronym I would guess an english-language one (english uses acronyms more); something so-to-speak sticking out its chin, like Sexualrepressed Obsession Matrixes? Sons of Mothers? Or, in order to avoid bad feelings, something descriptive and uncontroversial like Somnimarine Obese Monsters?" Then he went into stingy polemics against the apparent denial of the sensory concrete aspects of the milk bath in focusing on a symbolic aspect.

There came in some other suggestions as to what SOMS might mean, based on "Sound of Music" or "Swedish Oral Medicine Society", personal associations, google searches, or jokes; or all three.

Next morning, the phrase waking up MF was "HALIBUTS DON'T BREAK", connecting to the possible flounders of NN:s dream. An interpretation of the phrase was offered, which is of minor importance here.

NN duly thanked for the suggestions and associations. He went on to defend the symbolic interpretation by a general defense of psychoanalytical methodology. Then for a short time arguments got nasty, before a need was felt to displace the discussion into some more constructive efforts, where NN first offered a poem, claiming among other things that "sensuality six weeks a year/ is transformed into an ugly family just like others/ on the beach" where it "hands out icecream with slaps in the face and insights with intentions/ concretions with artifacts of nothingness/ abstractions with boiled potatoes and currant jelly". JE, sitting on the top of a canarian volcano studying the sun and reading Novalis' "Disciples in Sais" outlined a needed "archive of representations" by way of a mathematical series of operations between latent and manifest; an archive that would track the transformations between latent contents and manifest dreams and make them available for games. MF stubbornly felt he needed to specify why milkbathing is interesting considered as sensory experience and wrote en essay about it (to which JB reminded of a few significant aspects missed).

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