Monday, July 30, 2007


After the Festival

The Festival is over!
Or is it?

During the last two weeks our many friends and comrades around the world have joined us in the various games, dérives, enquiries, experiments, insults and outbreaks of hand-to-hand combat which have comprised the second London International Festival of Surrealism.

The Festival "officially" ended at midnight, but we know that many festivities are still ongoing and even in some cases are only just getting underway.

As most Festival participants already know, SLAG will be compiling an album of material produced during the course of the Festival this year. In the spirit of potlatch we will gladly accept for the album all photos, reports, texts, images, audio files, enquiry results, dreams, film shorts, etc. etc. - any material that has resulted from Surrealist activity during this year's Festival. The final deadline for sending all material to us - at the usual email address - is Friday 14th September. Copies of the album will then be presented to all of the contributors in the autumn.

In the meantime we send playful greetings to everyone who participated during the Festival; warm thanks to everyone who has already sent us material for the album; and encouraging innuendoes to all the festive folk who are still playing, which we hope and suspect to mean everybody ...

World Domination
Part of the series Dark Chocolate Coulage: Visions of the Semi-Sweet
made by Eric W. Bragg
during the London International Festival of Surrealism 2007

To see the rest of the series on Eric's Surreal Coconut website, click here.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Respect MP George Galloway was ordered to buy a new pair of boots last night as he clashed with the Speaker in a debate of his superior.

In fiery exchanges, Mr Galloway sought to defend himself over his alleged bad taste for shoes. Anti-Iraq war campaigner Mr Galloway accused the Standards and Privileges Committee of hypocrisy and acting unjustly because he constantly argued he only had a pair of shoes when he met Saddam Hussein.

With reference to the recent debate on his taste for shoes Mr Galloway said “Being lectured by the current House on the question of my shoes is like being accused of having bad taste by Donald Trump.” He added “I don’t believe any of the parties here have ever been asked where they get their shoes from.”

The debate was triggered after the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow was censured by the Standards Committee for “excessive” use of taxpayer-funded facilities to buy new shoes.

Standards Commissioner Sir Philip Mawer said the former Labour MP had “consistently failed to live up to the expectation of good taste” during the four-year enquiry.

News story in The Metro, 24th July
détourned by Nacho Díaz

Friday, July 27, 2007

The blind Madonna of the Pagan

"Chance, the blind Madonna of the Pagan, rules this terrestrial bustle; and in Chance I place my sole reliance. Chance has brought us three together; when we next separate and go forth our several ways, Chance will continually drag before our careless eyes a thousand eloquent clues, not to this mystery only, but to the countless mysteries by which we live surrounded. Then comes the part of the man of the world, of the detective born and bred. This clue, which the whole town beholds without comprehension, swift as a cat, he leaps upon it, makes it his, follows it with craft and passion, and from one trifling circumstance divines a world."

Words spoken by Somerset to Challoner and Desborough while they sit in the Bohemian Cigar Divan in Rupert Street, Soho

in The Dynamiter by Robert Louis Stevenson & Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson (1885)

The blind Madonna of the Pagan
as she appeared to Josie, Merl, Nacho & Paul
at the southern end of Rupert Street
Tuesday 24th July

Monday, July 23, 2007

Get down! Bad Jesus!

With all due homage to Jean Rollin

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Manifesto by Alexandre Fatta & David Nadeau
of the group La Vertèbre et le Rossignol
Quebec City

Who are we to invoke the spirit of surrealism, now, in the twenty-first century? Just a few poets and artists whose spiritual survival instincts first led them to reject the cynicism and impotence which hold sway in today’s so-called culture, and who then found in their dreams the best, perhaps the only weapons with which to struggle against the alienation of the neo-liberal society which grinds us down.

While we fully recognise that capitalist-spectacular society has added surrealism to its repertoire, we still do not believe that this (purely aesthetic) recuperation has neutralised the liberatory power of that human desire of which dreams and poetry are the messengers. We remain intransigently committed to this desire, in opposition to the despicable intellectual and moral forces of this sorry age which seek to render it obsolete.

And while recent decades seem to us to have been more cynical than those that went before, we are under no illusions about the impotent scepticism which has been with us for much longer. As early as the Surrealist Manifesto of 1924, André Breton summed it up: “This time, my intention was to do justice to the hatred of the marvellous which holds sway in certain men, to the ridicule to which they wish to condemn it. Once and for all: the marvellous is beautiful, anything marvellous is beautiful, indeed only the marvellous is beautiful.”

For surrealists, this “marvellous” is not limited to the artistic oddities which might emerge from the studio of this or that individual and which can still be found in museums nowadays. For us it is above all about that atmosphere of feverish discovery which animates our various collective experiments, and that peculiar complicity which allows us to play with the unconscious.

The marvellous, as a special practice of friendship, is the soil in which our utopias germinate and grow.

What all this meant in 1924, what it still means today, is a fight against the alienation of a society whose workings constrain the development of the individual. Surrealism has never presented itself as an artistic avant-garde whose only goal was to surpass previous artistic and literary styles. Its programme from the outset was to place artistic means in the service of inner discovery, of the development of “visionary” human faculties for the benefit, in the long run, of the whole of society; to give society the wherewithal to free itself from the ideological shackles which for too long have limited the creative potential of the majority, in order to make them serve the comfort and the excesses of an all-powerful minority.

We therefore affirm our revolt against the “realistic” attitude which has been forced on us since birth and which is based on a stunted vision of reality.

We affirm our hope for a world where the pleasure principle will take up its rightful place, increasing its influence in every sphere of life and society, from urbanism to chance encounters, from architecture to love.

Translated by Merl

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Flying Saucers Have Landed

Eagle-eyed blog watchers among my friends will have been as surprised as I was this week to learn that I am a stalinist, a trotskyist, a defender of religious dogma, an apologist for murder, a fascist sympathiser, a gendarme, a sur-(neo)realist, a boy scout, a moustique domestique demistock, an eco-fascist, and (apparently) a torturer. Who knows? If we get lucky I might turn out to be an illuminatus, a member of a worldwide jewish conspiracy and a humanoid reptile from outer space as well. What fun!

Such epithets have come my way because I declared myself hostile to the political views of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, who were murdered in 2002 and 2004 respectively. I have already said – more than once – that both of those murders were despicable acts which I condemn utterly. Just because I am hostile to their political views, that does not mean that I either condone their murders or share the views of their murderers. Apparently this distinction is too subtle for some of my antagonists to grasp. Indeed not only do those “comrades” seem to think that anyone who opposes van Gogh’s or Fortuyn’s politics must be a fascist (and also, bizarrely, that anyone who disagrees with them must be a stalinist or a power-crazed ideologue), but they also seem to think that anyone who opposes religion on any grounds must therefore regard van Gogh in particular as a “brother in spirit”.

Let’s recall for a moment who these two men were and what they stood for. Theo van Gogh was a Dutch writer and film-maker who was murdered by an islamic terrorist. During his life he was a social and political provocateur who launched scabrous attacks on all religions and political parties, supported the invasion of Iraq, and declared his admiration for the USA. He often liked to give the impression that he took nothing seriously, including himself: he presented himself as “the village idiot” (dorpgek) who was not entirely responsible for himself or his personal flaws. However there was one Dutch politician whom he did take seriously, and with whom he aligned himself clearly and enthusiastically, namely Pim Fortuyn. Fortuyn was a champion of free market capitalism who became particularly well known for his anti-immigration policies. He was murdered by an animal rights activist.

Why have I said that I am hostile to the politics of van Gogh and Fortuyn? On the question of immigration, I am violently hostile to nationalism in all its forms, and I advocate the abolition not just of all immigration laws, but of all national borders. On the question of free market capitalism, I can only say that as an anarchist* I oppose it with all my heart, and I feel its overthrow as a burning necessity. When I joined the Surrealist movement I did so in the apparently mistaken belief that this movement, for all its many internal disputes and divisions (in which, after all, I’ve been a gleefully hot-headed participant myself from time to time), is at least united in its opposition to capitalism.

My antagonists in this dispute, if I understand them correctly, have aligned themselves specifically with van Gogh because he attacked religion in general and islam in particular. Since Surrealists are also opposed to religion, they have drawn the simple-minded conclusion that van Gogh must therefore have been an ally of Surrealism. This is a false syllogism of the most elementary variety – and also the most dangerous. If they are content to align themselves with any and every attack on religion, regardless of any other political consideration, they may all too easily find themselves lured into the service of Surrealism’s enemies: racists, nationalists, capitalists, war-mongers and US imperialists.

In all of this I have been putting the best interpretation I can think of on my antagonists’ motives. I am assuming that his anti-religious stance is van Gogh’s only attraction for them, and that they have chosen to overlook his other political views because of it. The alternative is that they really do share his admiration for Fortuyn, that they really are anti-immigration and pro-capitalist by conviction. If that is the case, then our conversation was already over before it had even begun.

Anyway, now that I’ve got all off my chest, I really must get back to anally torturing my portuguese gardener in my gulag on Alpha Centauri. Pip-pip!


*One of the few epithets my antagonists seem to have forgotten, amusingly enough.

The author relaxing at home

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cockney Rhyming Slang for Beginners

You've got to have a system
by Paul Cowdell

Monday, July 16, 2007


The Festival starts today!

... we hope you're all having as much fun as we are ...

Sunday, July 15, 2007


The Mental Health Bill was finally passed by the British parliament earlier this month. It is expected to receive Royal Assent by the end of July and to be enforced in 2008.

Despite a number of key concessions and amendments to the Bill, the new law will nevertheless be draconian in its effects on those who are diagnosed as mentally ill or disordered.

Under the new law, patients will be eligible for forcible detention even if they are not actually considered “treatable”. They will, however, have a right to an independent advocate, and any treatment they receive by force will have to be for the purpose of “alleviating” their condition. There will also be new powers to impose Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) – the so-called psychiatric ASBOs – on patients who are released from hospital back into the “community”. CTOs will allow the continuation of people’s forcible “care” as outpatients, as well as their forcible return to detention if they fail to comply.

The exact nature of many of the Bill’s powers has in fact not yet been clarified. Clarification has effectively been deferred until the formulation of the code of practice, work on which has yet to begin. Unresolved questions include the nature and definition of “treatment” in cases of personality disorder, and the practical application of CTOs, including their applicability or otherwise to those whose behaviour is regarded as “deviant” but who have not been diagnosed with any mental illness.

Despite an amendment to insert a “principle of respect for diversity” into the code of practice, concerns about racism in the interpretation and enforcement of the new law remain unassuaged. Black Mental Health UK has continued to express its fear that the Bill will mean a disproportional increase in the over-diagnosis and forcible detention of black patients, and has promised to continue its campaign against the new law. The Commission for Racial Equality has already strongly criticised the Bill, and there are calls for a judicial review.

The passing of the Bill coincided with the publication of the Department of Health’s latest survey on public attitudes to mental illness. This survey showed that tolerance of “mental illness” is decreasing and stigmatisation increasing, particularly where stigma is linked to the belief that the mentally ill are prone to violence. It is precisely this fear which underpins the Bill’s new powers of forcible detention, and which sanctions the curtailment of freedom in the name of “public safety” by a government which in truth cares little for either.

We're mad enough to think that this new law should never be allowed onto the statute books.

Come to think of it, quite a few of us are mad enough to think there shouldn't be any statute books ...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007


This is an open invitation to a discussion of the Marquis de Sade's

Philosophy in the Bedroom

as part of the London International Festival of Surrealism
in conjunction with the Radical Theory Reading Group at the rampART.

Friday 27th July at 6pm.
rampART Creative Space & Social Centre
15 - 17 Rampart Street, London E1.
For further info about the rampART, visit their website.

The complete text can be downloaded as a free pdf from here.

Discussion will focus on/start with an extract from the pamphlet
"One More Effort, Frenchmen, If You Would Become Republicans"
in "Dialogue the Fifth".
(The extract in question is on pp.100-120 of the pdf version.)

Everyone welcome - just turn up.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


"The Queen Mother of British Surrealism"

born 17th August 1926
died 5th July 2007

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Monday, July 02, 2007