dinsdag 25 juli 2006

A canoe of wombs

I developped a neurotarot for which I wrote a bit for the Maybe Quarterly Vol. 3 Iss. 2.
At the end of it I imagined a few practical uses. By combining two of those methods it seems I opened a can of worms… Or a handy trick to show off (as the French say 'épater la galerie'). I'd call this method The Discordian Spread.

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Try to think of a level of awareness where you feel work has to be done. For this example I thought sometimes I don't quite express my emotions in a very useful way, so I chose card 6, The Queen of Wants.
Put it in the middle. This is the first of five cards, associated with the Discordian Confusion: the heart of the cyclone or present situation.

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Then take four cards at random and put them around it like the points in the five on a dice.
The lower left card shows the way the world influences you: Chaos. I got The Mathematician.
The upper left card shows the obstacles ahead: Discord. I got The World.
The lower right card shows how you affect the world: Bureaucracy. I got The Earth Mother.
The upper right card shows a temporary possible result: Aftermath. I got The White Rabbid.

Now every card symbolizes a characteristic of every level.
Mathematician = analysis, World = insight, Earth Mother = fertility and White Rabbid = purpose.
So on the path of expressing my emotional awareness, I got mainly influenced by analysing my surroundings, my insights may make it harder for me to keep on track, but if I offer a fertile feedback to my surroundings, I shall reach my goal.
Incroyable, non?

maandag 24 juli 2006

MLA meetup in Killtown Means - an extended journal

The second MLAmeetup took place at Milton Keynes from 21st till 23rd of July 2006. After a visit to a few places of 'pataphysical intrest in London (more about that later on on this blog) I headed West.

Day One
I got down at MK central at about 3.30 PM. With a full backpack with tent and everything I needed to go camping, I asked at the station where the tourist bureau was. "Eeeeew my, I duuun't think we gat one of thooose here luv" was the answer of the lady behind the desk. So I walked the walk. After about half an hour with 30 kg on my shoulders, soaking wet from the sweat, dehydrated from the sun and loosing my way more than once, I found a shopping mall. Inside I finally found the "i" flag for tourist info. Beneath it a small desk, a few flyers and a little old lady. I asked where the nearest camping site was. "Eeeeew my, I duuun't think it will be eeeeasy reeeally luv" was her answer. There seemed to exist a camping lot at about ten miles from MK. She had no idea whatsoever if there was a bus and anyway couldn't find one. The camping I had in mind, the Old Diary Farm, she never heard of. So I asked whether I could find a bike to rent. I was lucky: she thought there was one bus driving towards the bike rental at 7.15 PM. But I'd better phone first to be sure they were still open. Finally she gave me a card from the - I kid you not - "Fallty Towers Bed & Breakfast". I took a silly walk in the burning sun towards it when Chris called on my mobile. I finally agreed it was a better idea - as originally planned - to share a room with Fuzzbuddy. Whose car by the way had broken down. The hotel was in front of a huge lake, surrounded by a park.
So we had a few drinks already and started our dinner when FB finally arrived and smuggled my backpack to the room. The three of us ended with a chat till about 2 am looking out at the lake, all drinks outside were in strange plastic glasses. (To me the beers in Britain look quite 'dead' as we say when they lack a collar. In Belgium the collar is two fingers. No belgian would think of drinking a beer that looks like it lost all its bubbles because it lacks a collar. In Britain I probably would be lynched if I was a barman) Chris got more and more Stella'd and me more and more Guinness'd. I think the conversations involved Finnegans Wake, The Cantos, angry rhino's and the maybe forced politeness on our forum. The birds on the pond were not restrained by any social rules and had some heavy arguments, probably because our talking kept them awake. The only white goose on the premises strangely looked at us, fascinated, for the entire late evening without making any sound. A spy for the illuminati no doubt.
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Later on I would photograph the weird sculpture above, showing a huge hand, a naked goddess and a goose kissing her. Geese that do not cackle would show up later on in another context…

Day Two
Pain! My! Head! Hurts! Fuzzbuddy dreamt of the cantos. I didn't dream of anything. Tonight at midnight Sirius should reveal itself and give start to the dog days. Yet I chose not to get "another bite of the dog" (is that correct) but sober up and make use of a tiny bottle of aromatherapy my girlfriend made. Relief it's called and it worked fine, Chris said it worked for him too. It seemed unsure if Acrillick would make it, even less concerning Bogusmagus, but Benedict was to join us with his girlfriend. I considered the possibility to call her honorary member to reach the magickal number of five as we did last year in Dublin. But then again, Chris had brought with him MiniProp, since Propaganda had been at every MLAmeeting (though in Far Amurikey it usually involved two persons).
Although this was a gloomy horribly sunny day - it seems Chris is no fan for warmth and sun (nor for silly puns, fan, heat, got it?) - we decided to take walk around the lake. It turned out quite larger than we thought. I only took a few pictures of our fourth member enjoying summer in MK :

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MiniProp climbing up a tree to see to watch the lake

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MiniProp feeding the birdies

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MiniProp in a circle of stones, unaware that this place would prove fatal to him that night!

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The Stone Circle would become the Stoned Circle later that evening; but first Doctor Chris and Professor Fuzzbuddy tried to quanticize the energy coming from the center.
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"The Milton Keynes Millenium Sculpture represents a coming together of North American Indian Medicine Wheels and the ancient stone circles of Britain.
The Circle of Hearts Medicine Wheel was buit by people from Milton Keynes to welcome the new millenium and blablablablah
The two concentric rings of stones symbolise stages of spiritual focus. Tall gateway stones at the north, south, east and west cardinal points invite participation and spread the spiritual influence from the Wheel. The grass space inside the circle has four sectors representing the elements: fire, water, earth and air. The Wheel brings together the races of humankind around the fire pit and the healing ashes from ceremonies here and in other parts of the world are kept at the Buddhist Temple nearby. The lesser gatewas and the Needle stone mark the Midsummer energy line which extends from Midsummer Boulevard, through Campbell Park, Belvedere and the Tree Cathedral to the island in Willen North Lake."

Further on there's a Buddhist temple and a Stupa
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on top of which two crows considered Life, the Universe and Everything.
I recalled in "Tintin in Tibet" people had to walk in a certain direction or it was considered bad luck. I thought counter-clockwise was advised, and although Chris and Nick warned me about the mangas being read from right to left, we walked around it from the right. Today I just discovered to my horror how walking to the right of these proved bad luck to captain Haddock
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(it should be noted that in this case a 'chorten' is involved, not a stupa. A chorten is a burial place for the ashes of lamas, and the devils get angried when people walk to the right of them)

Still further on we searched for the labyrinth. It seemed almost invisible. At the centre of it was a scary dead oak tree. I remember in another comic (bande dessinée in French, stripverhaal in Dutch) by germano-belgian artist Andreas this time (in 'Rork - le mystère des cathédrales'), the characters were supposed to follow the path on the floor of a cathedral which was build upon ley lines. One of them walked straight to the middle without following the path and got burnt to ashes. We took the risk.
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"There are many ancient traditions connected with the Labyrinth.
One such myth is that a virgin stood at its centre and any suitor had to follow the tortuous path and overcome her guardian before a meeting could be arranged with her.
Another is that fisherfolk from the Scandinavian lakes and seashores traditionally believe that evil little people who brought bad luck could be confused and lost in the Labyrinth, while the fishermen escaped and had successful fishing.
The journey to the centre of the labyrinth involves frustrations, false hopes of fulfilment and many changes of perspective. Even though it is a strange and perplexing experience it can release you from stress, worries and ties.
Try this metaphorical journey of life alone, or as a crocodile, or simply enjoy the beautiful forms of this labyrinth and relax beneath its sheltering oak tree or on the surrounding slopes.
The Labyrinth was made in 1985 as one of the main features of the Willen Peace Park. Its design is similar to the ancient turf maze at Saffron Walden in Essex, which is said to be Christian, but may be pre-Christian in origin.
the network of the labyrinth brings us all together around the oak tree Querces Robur. Traditionally, pagan marriages would take place under an oak. It is known as the king of the forrest and as a symbol of strength and security. The oak tree supports more species of bird, insect, mammal, plant, lichen and fungal life than any other European tree.
"There is no crown to mark the forest's king for in his leaves shine full the summer's bliss. As sun, storm, rain and dew to him their tribute bring."

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So we made two deadly mistakes against both the buddhist and the celtic tradition. Luckily later on we were able to divert the bad vibes towards our little twig and pineapple friend… hehehehe

Nick got a call from Benedict who just left home by car heading for MK. Chris got one by Acrilick using public transports. Although Acrillick probably lives much closer to MK, my British friends assumed it would take him a much longer time to get there.
Returning from the long walk we decided to go searching for Britain's best kept secret.
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Indeed in an older town outside of MK, Winston Churchill decided to organise a center for cryptography in the middle of countryside Britain. He chose a building in Benchley Park to bring together the best matematicians in britain, France and Poland to start working on decrypting the famous German "Enigma" code. He used to call this secret team "the goose that laid the golden egg, but didn't cackle". The first Turing machine was one of the results. Nowadays it's a museum which we went visiting. Since the weather improved greatly (according to Chris, which basically means it started to rain buckets of icy water, cooled down and started to thunder) we weren't able to visit all the barracks without getting soaking wet. The main building reminded me of Portmeiron, and indeed many of the weird apparatus on display could have appeared in some scenes in Patrick McGoohan's 'The Prisoner'.
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Here I secretly shot a few funny posters from WWII. What we saw inside is classified, top-secret material only meant for Illuminati so obviously no pictures were taken.
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Below some scans of a book I bought at the Benchley shop.
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We decided to head back to try to find out if the rest of the gang had arrived. Acrilick should have arrived at one of the several bus stations. Nick thought he didn't carry a mobile, so it would prove interesting to try to find him.
Luckily back at the hotel Benedict arrived after getting a bit stuck in traffic, together with his Aussie girlfriend Erin. At the same time Acril phoned that he had arrived at the bus station. At about Five-ish we finally had the complete gang gathered. Pictured below are (but in random order to keep each member's secret identity): Benedict, Chris, Borsky, Fuzzbuddy, Acrillick and Erin.
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After our meal, where we discovered the carnivorous characteristics of Benedict were true, some of us had a few dark brewskies, an ideal playground for other substances later on. Let me just mention that Mr Acrillick lived up to his DJ patronym, and Chris added some excellent Herbes De Provence to the whole. then we all started our quest precisely one year after the first MLAmeeting in a pub in Dublin, together with MiniProp who didn't know what was coming to him but who was highly improved by Erin to stop his head falling off. Using Ducktape he kinda started to look cross-dressed, but we're all broad-minded.
In the circle of stones we all gathered, performed some magick rituals and decided to give the very first burning man festival at Milton Keynes. Miniprop was drugged by Acrillick (which he enjoyed), gagged and prepared by Chris and put on fire by Nick. Below some pics of the festival. Music by DJ Fly Agaric. At around midnight greenwich time he was fully ablaze. Wonder if the animal Propaganda was influenced by the vegetal MiniProp adventures. Click on the link below to have an impression.

We decided to continue our ritual journey and somehow one of us had the stupid idea 'why don't we walk the labyrinth'.
Click on the above and a sound file documents a bit of more than an hour when the six of us got lost. It should be noted that the labyrinth is just a sand path in the grass. It should also be noted that this happened at night, without any streetlights helping us. So I'd plea for temporary insanity. Finally we all gave up (although chris and I were about to uncover the truth) and reached the dead tree in the middle.

We climbed the hill up to the stupa, which had a huge white slab of white marble surrounded by an eerie fog. Further ideas for Erin to imagine us in a horror movie (where Benedict strangely kept getting stabbed first). We decided to finish the day at about 2.30 in the morning gathering around a tree we discovered before. It seems the MK council planted a tree for world peace and someone got the idea to use it to remember someone close who had died. Today the tree is full with ribbons, plastified cards, bits of string, I even thought I saw some socks tied to the branches. Gives a very strange impression. Especially because some bits are attached quite high, so we had to assume either some people came to there with a large ladder, either the tree grew very very fast, either the giant from Twin Peaks helped them a bit. Strangely upon closer examination, it seems a face is grinning in the dark…
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We finally went to sleep it all off.

Day Three
Acrillick wanted to swim, so questioning authority we walked around the lake. A bit too far from Big (Why)Bother's all-seeing blind eye.
I couldn't catch up to his speed, so below is all I got from his athletic performance:
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He said there were long algae in the water which could catch a swimmer and drag him down.
Later on we decided to go pedalo'ing. On Acril's inquiry whether swimming was permitted, the cutie behind the counter answered "no you can't and anyway it's disgusting". Probably company policy. You cannot walk on the grass, it's disgusting. You cannot pay with euros, it's disgusting. You cannot drink in a glass outside, it's disgusting.
The pedaling went quite well untill our two pedalos were in the middle of the water. I guess MiniPropGhost somehow fiddled with it, because in Erin, Chris and Benedict's boat one set of pedals kept shoving to the side, and in Nick, Acrillick and borsky's boat the steering knob seemed to do whatever it pleased. We had thoughts of getting attacked by huge white blobs like in The Prisoner when reaching the limits indicated by green buoys (outside of them it's probably disgusting). We tried to help each other getting back but I guess it looked a bit silly for bystanders. We kept on turning around moving inch by inch somehow in the direction we all wanted. Sounds a bit like the MLAforum.

I took off, happy from the past beautiful days but exhausted. At the station another surprise waited for me: the train to London didn't ride. Happily they just had decided to let a bus drive people to Sutton. Unhappily it took quite awhile. Happily the train got easily in London. Unhappily it was in St Pancras, a gigantic station being build. Unhappily the subway was out of the station, at the end of two streets in King's Cross. Happily I got my first sub to Warren Street Easily. Unhappily I had to wait in Warren Street to get my sub to Waterloo. Happily I arrived in Waterloo just 30 minustes before my reserved Eurostar train took off through the Chunnel. Unhappily I got stopped at customs and had to empty everything. Finally they were happy as a small child to discover a small deadly knife. It got confiscated, I had to sign I gave up on it and had to wait for a photocopy. Then they got me waiting at the wrong boarding door… Happily I got my train, just 5 minutes before it left.

If we wanna meet next year in Santa Cruz we'll need lots and lots of ca$$$h… So maybe we'll meet a bit closer in Europe.

zondag 2 juli 2006


Just home from a book trip to Paris. I added a few treasures to my Ububibliothèque.
After visiting the 'colonnes de Buren', to 'pataphysicians known as 'colonnes d'Ubu Reine',

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and admiring how the inventor of 'pataphysics has become part of the high society of Par-Isis,

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I started my expedition 'sur les quais de la Seine'. Mosbunall bouquinistes were closed, but from the few who had opened their green book cases I found some treasures.

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André Salmon, "Le monocle à deux coups", JJ Pauvert 1968 314 p.
Salmon was one of the more obscure founding fathers of the Collège de 'Pataphysique. He published some poetry 'Ames en peine et corps sans âmes' in 1905 and wrote two other novels: 'Archives du club des Onze' and 'Manuscrit trouvé dans un chapeau'. The backflap promises a masterwork of double meanings (body and soul), with a murderer and/or a victim, where all meanings melt finally in an absurdist ending of confusion. In a style which reminds me of both René Daumal and Raymond Queneau.

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"Guide de la France Mystérieuse", Tchou, 1964, 1030 p.
This monumental book is a fortean guide to mysterious France. Other volumes exist according to the different french regions. Beautifully published with a treasure of bizarre engravings, mostly original but some of them collages which reminds of Max Ernst's works. Each city appears alphabetically. Little symbols at the sides show the theme of the mystery: 'sacred places', 'fantastic creatures', 'underground treasures' etc.
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Georges Perec, "53 Jours", P.O.L. 1989 ISBN 2-86744-161-7 336 p.
This was Perec's last, unfinished, novel. Perec is one of the most prolific members of the OuLiPo, the writer's collective that invents new models and 'contraintes' or framework for new literature. He wrote 'La Disparition' without using the letter 'e', 'La vie mode d'emploi' (a large opus somehow based on mathematics), 'Les revenentes' (with only the letter 'e' ass vowel), and lots more. Only the first 11 chapters were written. Perec's notes about the last 17 chapters are included, which provide insight into his encyclopedic mindset. Sadly he died the 3rd of March 1982 before finishing this novel.

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Marcel Schwob, "Le Livre de Monelle", Mercure De France 1959 , uncut, 160 p.
Schwob (1867 - 1905), a contemporary of Alfred Jarry, wrote this nihilist scripture, as seen through the eyes of a child, a symbolist fairy tale of a little girl creating her own world, sometimes of nightmarish proportions.
This book can be read online (in french)

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After this I visited bookshop 'Actualités' Rue Dauphine # 38. Mostly leftist political books, lots of books by Marx, Engels, Benjamin… Anarchist literature also, fanzines and leaflets of underground organisations. Found a lot of international situationism material, though I must admit that i find writings by Guy Debord boring as hell… I prefer the angry humor of Raoul Vaneigem or dadaistic writings by Asger Jorn.

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Kim deitch: "The Stuff of Dreams" pt 2 and pt 3, Fantagraphics 2004-5
Deitch, the wacko PK Dick of comics, wrote another oniric tale with the invisible Waldo, another of my favourite imaginary cats. I haven't found part 1, but I reckon if I had it would remain as bizarre anyway. Why oh why are there no midgets in midgetsville?

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Tommaso Campanella: "La cité du soleil", Mille et une Nuits 2000 96 p. ISBN 2-84205-450-4
Cyrano de Bergerac: "L'autre Monde", Mille et une Nuits 1998 184 p. ISBN 2-84205-316-8
Two famous utopias, two diatribes against the state and the church from the 17th century.

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E.T.A. Hoffmann: "Contes Nocturnes", Phébus 1979 416 p. ISBN 2-85940-992-0
I always liked Hoffmann's strange stories. They were part of the gothic movement in Germany, but somehow always had an eerie surrealist twist. The cat Murr is one of my favourite cats of litterature, together with Lewis Carroll's cat of Cheshire. These stories were first published in 1817. Some are considered seminal texts, the very first writings of horror literature (and an influence on Sigmund Freud's thoughts). Scary cozyness and comforting terror…

I found the bookstore 'Mona Lisait' (Mona did read) at rue Danton #6. All old unraid books from stocks. I discovered a real treasure in the basement: two numbers of 'Bizarre' in minted condition. Some people would commit a murder for those, published by one of two revolutionary editors in the french language: Jean-Jacques Pauvert (the other one is Swiss Eric Losfeld). This legendary magazine from the fifties was the soil from which many pataphysicians realized their life purpose. Surrealism, dadaism and a thick layer of serious humor, with special issues about strange literature, naive art, literature studies etc. made Bizarre a holy grail to me. I only owned one copy for which I had paid a lot ten years ago. Now I tripled my collection for just a few euros (the poor librarian had no idea what she sold me).

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Bizarre 11, 1950 96 p.
A text by Jean-Hugues Saimont, one by Philippe Soupault and a study by Thomas Owen of my favourite horror writer Jean Ray. And extremely strange illustrations. Yummy.
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Bizarre 31 1963 48 p.
Photogrammes by Segalat and especially some texts by protoprankster André Frédérique - a guy who used to dress as a priest to insult nuns in public places!

I finished with my yearly visit to the best library in the entire multiverse. Every time I go there I have the impression I took up some weight. Every year it's harder even to pass the entrance door, because every year more books pile up in front of each other op to the ceiling. I think this year it's up to four layers of books, but since there are not many shelves cupboards and most books are simply put upon each other, I have no idea how far the walls are. There is only room for two or three customers, and they have to get out on the street to pass each other. The owner seems to take it all in zen-like fashion, standing (or sitting) on a pile in a corner, using another pile as a table. A house made of books. All of them - absolutely all of them - treasures. All in excellent condition, about diverse subjects as underground comics, surrealist books, limited artsy editions, revolutionary texts, mangas, bizarre literature, obscure SF and fantasy, magick, erotica, thousands of fanzines in all possible formats… I told the owner he'll end up with only accepting dwarves as clients, and he replied he had a lot of dwarves as customers… who managed to discover marvels at the bottom that other customers couldn't find. I sometimes tested him and the guy knows every book in his store and where they are.

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If visiting Paris, go pay a tribute to 'Un regard Moderne', rue Gît-Le-Coeur. The man will one day be responsible for creating a black hole.

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I bought a number of the "Monitoires du Collège de 'Pataphysique" # 29 (=l'Expectateur # 28), 1993, 98 pages. I've been recieving their publications since 1996, and older books sometimes pop up. this one is avery disturbing number about Philippe Merlen. This writer with high pataphysical potential, friend of most founder of the Collège, enlisted the WaffenSS in the second world war. He proved his faith in the nazi doctrines, and yet remained a pataphysician through his writings, which usually deal with the equality of all values ('Alles bleibt daselbe'). Lots of pictures of a guy in uniform. Doesn't feel very comfortable to read that the college accepts such members…
Of course he never existed and it's a literary prank to express the most extreme form of 'pataphysics. Most founders of the Collège were actually heroes of the résistance.

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Ian Monk: "Elémentaire, mon cher", bibliothèque Oulipienne #128, 2003 36 p. ex. number 70
Numbers one till 52 were published in three thick volumes which I own; 53 to 85 in three other volumes which I havent' seen yet; the individual booklets are extremely hard to find. Oulipo grouped geniuses as Georges Perec, Raymond Queneau, Italo Calvino and even Marcel Duchamp to produce new forms of literature. its actual members still meet once month and edit their findings in these little books.

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Clément Pansaers: "Le Pan-Pan au cul du nu nègre", Allia 2005 ISBN 2-84485-196-7 48 p.
This individualistic writer (1885-1922) only published three books in his short life. 'Bar Nicanor' and 'Apologie de la Paresse' are his other two. He is probably the only Flemish - and even Belgian artist who briefly joined the Dada movement. He was admired by most surrealist writers but still remains quite unknown.
"To live is an imaginary disease".

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Comte de Lautréamont: "Oeuvres Complètes" José Corti 2005 ISBN 2-7143-0210-6 Uncut, 432 p.
a facsimili edition of a book of 1953. I cannot even begin to express the importance of Isidore Ducasse, who nicknamed himself Lautréamont, for the modern literature; he influence worldwide other writers but still remains an enigma. The disturbing 'Les Chants de Maldoror', his most famous work, is probably the very first surrealist writing.