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I would propose the discovery of a new language that genuinely expresses the psychic phenomena which resemble, but are not identical to, dream. This dream, which, even if still opposed to external reality, has long since ceased to be opposed to the life of the dreamer. In this language, the one I have been unable to find, the ancient antinomies, beginning with that of good and evil, will be resolved for the meanwhile at an individual level. The surrealists - who at this individual level represent synthesis - have found a way out of that great drama separating the dreamer from the dream, while on a collective level their coming to consciousness still holds them within this drama. The nocturnal image, which in its waking state finds its identity in the apparition of phantoms, leads us to consider people and objects with no psychic resonance as equivalent to the diurnal residue of the dream. We approach the world of phantoms as we would a reality lying outside this world at odds with itself, a world with no valid correspondence within ourselves. In the world in which I like to breathe, a woman; the delirious and fetishistic love between a man and a box thus casts a prophetic, thaumaturgic light onto the outer world. Because of the multiple possibilities for symbolisation that an impulse might assume, tomorrow’s world will be given a quality that corresponds to our inner delirium. Phantoms will be approachable and commonplace, and we will no longer need the pretentious rituals of hypnotic séances to produce mediumistic phenomena; in a world where the mediumistic will be commonplace, the projecting of our unconscious will occur as automatically as a slip of the tongue. A man smitten with a shoe will no longer be exposed in journals of psychiatry - those revolting prisons in which our society reveals its own monstrosity by seeking to put its “monsters” on display - and the numbused phantoms of paralytic spirits will transform their haloes into spittoons and gather around us to complete our dreams, our poems, our simplest gestures.
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I close my eyes, as active as a vampire, I open them within myself, as passive as a vampire, and between the blood that arrives, the blood that leaves, and the blood already inside me there occurs an exchange of images like an engagement of daggers. Now I could eat a piano, shoot a table, inhale a staircase. All the extremities of my body have orifices out of which come the skeletons of the piano, the table, the staircase, and for the very first time these ordinary—and therefore non-existent—objects can exist. I climb this staircase not to get to the first floor but to get closer to myself. I lean on the banisters not to avoid vertigo but to prolong it.
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Babyarms by Ghérasim Luca for The Passive Vampire, 1945
“In the world in which I like to breathe, a box can take on the same psychic content of a beloved woman; the delirious and fetishistic love between a man and a box thus casts a prophetic, thaumaturgic light onto the outer world.”
— Ghérasim Luca, The Passive Vampire
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[I]n the forests where butterflies, jackals, and flaming squirrels are lovers, the eye, turned into a prism with all its faces in spasm, leads us like a horse through a universe in ashes.
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Objects, these mysterious suits of armour beneath which desire awaits us, nocturnal and laid bare, these snares made of velvet, of bronze, of gossamer that we throw at ourselves with each step we take; …we reintroduce the walking stick, the bicycle with odd wheels, the timepiece, the airship, keeping the siphon, the telephone receiver, the shower head, the lift, the automatic mechanisms that deliver chocolate when numbered buttons are pressed; objects, this catalepsy, this steady spasm, this “stream one never steps into twice” and into which we plunge as into a photograph; objects, those philosopher’s stones that discover, transform, hallucinate, communicate our screaming…
Ghérasim Luca, The Passive Vampire
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I would like to be a killer in a white velvet costume, at an operating table or leaning over a child’s pram. At another operating table, stands the handsome, silent vampire. In evening dress, his lips glued to a bared neck like a bird, now he resembles a flautist playing pulses of blood on living instruments. At slightly increasing intervals the drops flow from the instrument to his lips. Each gulp is held for a while in his mouth to let the scent reach his nostrils, to intoxicate his breath. Like a fiery whip across the breast, the drink passes swiftly through the digestive system. Tottering, growing increasingly pale, every more solitary, the handsome vampire swallows another gulp of blood. Dressed in white velvet, I’d like to vivisect a child, from time to time looking up at the vampire by the window, moonlight streaking his face.
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Cubomanie IV by Ghérasim Luca
“I refuse all forms, all categories, all acts, all plans, all laws, all your castrating scents. I eat, breathe, drink, think, rejects, dress myself and move aphrodisiacally. I keep every cell of my being in a state of permanent excitation, excited and exciting at the same time, the zones traversing my being are genital and pregenital, erotic and criminal, black, ferocious, satanic.”
— Ghérasim Luca, The Passive Vampire
The Letter L (The Passive Vampire) by Ghérasim Luca, 1945
On Luca, via Mute magazine:
The book [Le Vampire Passif] falls into two distinct sections, the first of which is concerned with what Luca terms the ‘Objectively Offered Object’ (OOO), and describes the circumstances surrounding a number of these composite surrealist objects, each made by combining found or chosen individual items. […] One such object, entitled ‘The Letter L’, is constructed from an old, wooden child’s doll found in an antique shop, with hundreds of pictorial riddles from the pages of an almanac randomly pasted over its torso and leg, and with another doll’s head disturbingly attached upside down on its groin. Razor blades are inserted into this second doll’s head, with one sliced into an eye. The photographs immediately call to mind the violent re-articulations of Hans Bellmer and, more recently, the Chapman brothers. Through associations with Nadja, this object had been made as an embodiment of Luca’s desire to form a rapport with André Breton, whom he admired and had met only once, briefly. As Luca expresses it:
The doll found in the shop window and the envelope full of riddles in the drawer only imposed their presence, violently, into my life at the moment when the desire to know B. [Breton] located in them the overt substitute means for doing this. The incubus found its full realisation through the use of these two magic objects in which I was also shortly to discern sorcery’s demonic power. (pp.44-45)
There is something distinctly sulphurous in Luca’s allusions, from his poetic hermeticism to the various thaumaturgical and satanic references that run through the book. Certainly, there was a ritual element to the creation of these objects, doubtlessly stemming from his participation in various collective games of the Romanian Surrealist Group; games of giving and receiving ‘awards’ in absurdist ceremonial, and those of exploring the poetic qualities of objects in a darkened room through touch alone. These were games without competition, based upon exchange and complicity, without a predetermined point of arrival; through play the participants were able to explore the relationships that exist between subject and object, and the latent messages that are carried by the objects through a web of inter-subjectivity, in a ‘language of desire’.