“The future will have a place for neither faith nor reason.”
From Christopher Scott Thompson
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
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
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
And serve drinks all night.
And she who has heard
The merest rumor
Of that old tumor,
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
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.