Innovative Fiction as Self-Reflective Meditations on Visuality | Part II

Sunday, January 19, 2020 § 0

An Introductory Essay by
David Detrich

Surrealism: Abstract Composition 

This book began with a small collection of Surrealist novels in translation published by Atlas Press which I had collected at Moe's Books in Berkeley with esoteric cover designs somewhat faded and worn stacked carefully on my couch that I thought might interest an online audience where there is not much information about these rare literary works. As a novelist writing in the genre of Surrealism I thought I would write some short reviews, so that I wouldn't spend too much of my time on essay writing which seems a distraction from fiction writing itself, while considering the intertextuality of the Surrealist text with my own novels. This would be an exercise in scholarship that produces an exact knowledge of the text, and has proved to be an inspiration for an aspiring novelist. I would include numerous quotations from the text, so that the reading public would be able to learn about the Surrealist novels of And Breton, Robert Desnos, and Michel Leiris.

In Big Sur I was reading a small squared yellow book by Atlas Press that contains a collection of Surrealist texts by And Breton and Philippe Soupault called The Automatic Message, The Magnetic Fields, and The Immaculate Conception. These are early experiments in poetic prose that explore the collective unconscious, while exemplifying the esthetic theories of modern art with an awareness of the avant garde in literature. I became interested in Surrealism while writing my first novel Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights, where the mountainous terrain produces visions of natural beauty which become heightened into psychic significance as a mystical perception of reality. I had an artbook by Salvador Dali on my desk which gave me a new esthetic perspective for envisioning the vertical canyons descending to the Pacific shoreline, where a school of young whales swim past with an occasional spout, as I drove down the long winding road to the cliffs above the beach where I could see Nepenthe in a white mist over the next hill. The road became blacktop as I drove further past some horses, and up to Highway 1, where I would head up to Deetjens for breakfast. With pictures of Robinson Jeffers on the wall, and the books of Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin on the breakfast table, I felt inspired to write a novel, and I chose a direction similar to these writers in their books of erotica, but also as an innovative novelist who wanted to pursue the more poetic writing of the Surrealist novel. 

Driving across the minimal squares of the states in the van of gold I ascend the Sierra Nevadas where I reach the sublime heights of the ancient rock peaked green forested heavens, drive past the ski resort, and wind my way across Donner Pass to the top of the mountain with a feeling of exhiliration, as I think of the Surrealist poets, the temporality of my previous cross country drives creating a feeling of gradual confidence, as the long descent to Reno begins. The surreality of this experience is heightened to the point of psychic atunement with reality, as I study the ancient rockface structures of the mountain peaks.

Driving past the goldrush facade of Boomtown I recall the romantic relationships that create the intense energies of emotion, and visiting the casino I can still see the clarity of expression in my eyes with the look of love. With the optimism of the Sierras I continue onwards towards the Reno sunrise where I drive past the towering casinos becoming visible in the morning light with the spirit of entertainment. Life is a wager in which you place your bets on who you think will win for you as a lover or a partner. Here André Breton married Elisa in a Nevada style wedding, and they drove off to a Hopi Indian reservation where he wrote Ode to Charles Fourier, I recall the golden sunlight shining through the window of McDonald's, as I contemplate the drive east with the topographical map of Nevada in leaf green and desert sandy brown on the table top. 

From Fernley to Lovelock one sets his lovers free to explore new relationships that might seem closer to the ideal image in age and appearance, as the rolling desert expressway evokes memories of the kittens, who appeared one day on the lawn of my northern home before one wintry snow dusted drive across the country. Now the images of the kittens appear in the small clouds of snow flurries as hallucinatory images which remind me how love is a strong emotion that continues forever, as I drive along the familiar expressway I feel that time has passed from the optimism of my early years to that of the more accomplished perspective of an innovative novelist.

From Winnemuca, where I feel the fatigue of the drive at McDonald's, I write at my laptop computer words which create the mood of the introductory essay as an abstraction of Surrealist theory. The sentiments of André Breton inspire my thoughts while I admire the courage of those who try a Nevada style wedding in the drive through lane, as I feel I have been close to success but ran out of money just before I declared my good intentions. Over the hills to Wells for coffee where I recall the novels of Robert Desnos, and Michel Leiris which I found at Moe's bookstore in Berkeley, novels which set the trend for the Surrealist novel with poetic prose that is romantic in the style of Parisian street culture, where a woman in a fur coat impresses the narrator of Liberty or Love! With Aurora a vision of ancient culture is written in poetic prose that affirms the Surrealist novel as a retrospective of painterly images of a specific decade. 

The square abstract form of the large hardback Revolution of the Mind: The Life of André Breton by Mark Polizzotti appears on my shelf years ago in the endless flow of books which appear as photographic memory traces, with the black and tan paper textures of the curtain photograph on the cover signifying the move to the Upper Peninsula. I drive the expressway with the realization that interaction with the Surrealists is a reality that appears in the context of simultaneity: psychic awareness of interconnecting thoughts produces the group efforts led by the young André Breton, who was inspired by the psychology of Pierre Janet.

With the anthology Surrealist Painters and Poets by Mary Ann Caws the innovative writing of the 1920s which evolved out of Dada becomes more classic in style in the 1930s with the simple line of Picasso setting the trend for the decade, followed by the modern art influence 1940s where Surrealism has triumphed in the New York museum environment with an approach to writing that is avant garde in its poetic style with a more thoughtful perspective verging on a self-reflective psychic awareness.

The optimism of Wendover is perceived in the modern city critipositioned in the ancient rock at the edge of the salt flats where I visit the McDonald's with a hilltop view of the casinos. I perceive a little showbiz glamour in the appearance of the employees while I show an appreciation for the poetic writings of Surrealist Women: An Anthology by Penelope Rosemont which features the feminist perspective on Surrealist themes. Surrealism is not only a French literary movement, but has thrived as an international literary movement with a gathering of women writers, who were involved in the lives of the artists of the time. 

Driving next to the Great Salt Lake is like driving across a Surrealist landscape with the ancient rock hills at the edge of what was once the inland sea during the Cretaceous period with numerous intermediate phases of evolution creating the salt water lake of the present. One of the first books to attract my attention on the bookshelf of Border's bookstore in Ann Arbor was Surrealists on Art by Lucy Lippard which includes some excellent passages from the artists, who wrote in a style that expresses the esthetic theory of their paintings. Literature/Art = Synthesis of conceptual theory.

    In Park City I stop for breakfast at the Coffee Roasters where I recall the previous visits to the ski resort critipositioned below some world class mountain slopes. The quiche is excellent which is something I learn to make myself when I get home, and I just missed Lance Olsen, who teaches at the University of Utah. The clouds over Park City portray the optimism of the American experience with the history of the settlers appearing in kinetic cloud motion as a vision of the future occurs with the fine abstraction of the art of prophecy. 

Art: Abstraction in Grayish White

the whiteness of the page conveys the creamy milk white textures of flavor signified in the white brush strokes of coffee aromas reflected in the gray lightwaves of cloud formations blue tinted with charcoal whisps of birds in flight above the greenish black branches of charcoal determinacy which emphasize the fineness of the line perceived in the sublime emotions of the strings you paint the light descending from the aura of gray clouds into abstract forms resembling two eyes with the austerity of gray colors expressing the inner being of the subjective mind in tonalities of apple green in relation to the mysticism of charcoal gestures you appear as the textures of grayish white on the canvas surface which signifies the literary aspirations of the painter/poet. 

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