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Put Reason Back to Sleep

“The future will have a place for neither faith nor reason.”

From Christopher Scott Thompson

Photo by Hans Eiskonen on Unsplash

Photo by Hans Eiskonen

Surrealist Prophecies #1

“It was in the black mirror of anarchism that surrealism first recognised itself.”

– Andre Breton

This poem is the first in a sequence of apocalyptic prophecies inspired by China Mieville’s novel Last Days of New Paris, which led me to investigate the Surrealist Manifesto of Andre Breton and the use of what Breton calls “the magical Surrealist art” as a method of channeling or divination:

Put yourself in as passive, or receptive, a state of mind as you can. Forget about your genius, your talents, and the talents of everyone else. Keep reminding yourself that literature is one of the saddest roads that leads to everything. Write quickly, without any preconceived subject, fast enough so that you will not remember what you’re writing and be tempted to reread what you have written.

The pure “Surrealist game” is unedited automatic writing, but the poems in this sequence use automatic writing only as a starting point – to be followed in each case by many hours of revision and polishing.

The theme of the sequence is the collapse of our global civilization due to uncontrollable climate change, leading to a mass rejection of both faith and reason and the re-enchantment of our world among the ruins of our failed creations. Some of the poems in the sequence are set before the Fall and portray the spiritual and emotional dilemma of our current crisis. Some describe the Fall itself, and the strange changes in thought and perception that will be needed if any are to survive a world in which humanity has been radically de-centered. Some describe the world to come, a world newly alive with gods and spirits yet free of all dogma or fixed belief – a world of beauty and strange magic.

Put Reason Back to Sleep

“The sleep of reason produces monsters.”

– Francisco Goya

Put reason back to sleep.

Let monsters slip

Out of the corners of your eyes

And lick bricks like meat.

Let them lie them down to breathe

Among the ruins of old useless infrastructure

And there breed new beasts.

The future will have a place for neither faith nor reason.

But only a fluttering

As of birds in flight

That we can sight in season.

And we can plant new trees in

The broken bones of what we built

While from the silt of dead dreams

We must pick out what still gleams.

The future will have a place for neither fact nor fiction.

There will be no restriction based on creed,

But all eyes will bleed.

From one drop,

A vast bulk

Will heave its hulking tentacles

Up through the holes

In once-solid floors

And splash black ink on broken doors

To announce its presence,

To stake its claim.

Another drop shall bloom

And become a room

Red with blood flowers

Above the flood.

Where we shall

Hold all-night congresses

With the snarled tresses

Of wet hair.

We will carve knots in candles there.

The future will have a place for neither pope nor king.

There will be no special honor paid to art,

Yet all hearts shall sing.

We will leave offerings at cold crossroads

Where no cars roll.

A strange new song, not a soul.

For the fast unfolding of

Something old.

We will pray quietly in empty stores

Whose floors are strewn with plastic bags,

And weep silently as humbled conquerors

Before shattered windows

To paint new dragons

On flooded streets.

We will hear the gathering of shuffled feet,

The stir of wings.

We will hear the voice

When it sings.

We will praise the flight

Of dead birds

With muttered words

And raise hands in prayer

To sun and air,

To praise the dawn as she gleams.

We’ll never ask what it means.

To ask questions

Of either fact or fiction

Is to place restrictions on

Dreams,

And when dreams walk,

That isn’t safe.

The gods of the future will not be safe.

For there the ocean,

Now fat and bold,

In the mud-choked memory of some high cathedral

Will hold his revels and make his home.

The sun will dance her way

Through the cracked dome

Of this corrupted capitol

Where cruel laws were made

And pierce straight through it

Like a blade.

And there, death,

Clothed in white,

Will hold court in some aborted

Cinema

And serve drinks all night.

And she who has heard

The merest rumor

Of that old tumor,

Faith –

He who has seen the faintest wraith

Of that old traitor, reason –

They themselves shall have done treason.

For these things bring death.

They taught us to believe

And to not believe

Till there were no gods left.

They themselves brought the dust –

The rust that showed itself as

A red taint in tap-water

And shall become our Fall.

Put faith to sleep.

Let Titans climb up out of the black bowl of your heart

And squeeze bricks to dust.

Let them lie them down to breed

Among the ruins of old useless infrastructure

And there spread like rust.

The future will have a place for no faith but wonder.

And an endless shattering

Of cracking glass

And a long crash, like thunder.

But we can plant new trees in

The ruined remnants of what we built.

And from the silt of dead dreams

We can pick out what still gleams.


Christopher Scott Thompson

CSTshortbeardBW

Christopher Scott Thompson is an anarchist, martial arts instructor, devotee of Brighid and Macha, and a wandering exile roaming the earth. Photo by Tam Zech.


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2 Comments »

  1. I use free writing a lot too, often as a follow-up to bring out the meaning of what I receive in dreams, meditations, or journeys. I love the quote ‘Keep reminding yourself that literature is one of the saddest roads that leads to everything.’ Isn’t it just. May try that. Will have to return to Breton at some point.

    What a magnificent augury this practice has resulted in. I love the images of the monsters sliding from the corners of eyes and the titans from the black bowl of a heart. Yes, it will be so important to pick those broken shards that still gleam from the ruins.

    I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of your prophetic sequence.

    Liked by 1 person

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