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Tony Grist

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Homage To Luis Bunuel [Dec. 6th, 2004|09:55 am]
Tony Grist

We have a DVD of Un Chien Andalou out on loan. Late last night I thought I'd watch one of the extras (so I can post the disc back today and feel that I've had my money's worth.) I expected a half hour tit-bit. Turns out it's a feature length biography of Bunuel. So there I am, way past midnight, wishing the great man would hurry up and die.

He was an endearing old cove. A bit of a domestic tyrant (one gathers) but his wife and sons  humoured  him and got on with their own lives behind his back.

When members of his family were late for dinner one evening (he was fanatical about time-keeping) he put the dish of paella on the living room floor and danced on it.

I woke up around four o'clock.  I remembered how Bunuel and Dali had experimented with automatic writing- and thought I'd give it a shot myself. I started stringing words together in my head without pause for thought- and soon went back to sleep.

So here's today's exercise. A slice of automatic writing (or typing.) Ready, steady, go.....

Automatic Script

And if the cat isn't ready for the dousing I propose to give it,  that's too bad, but it will happen anyway. Ho, ho, he said and looked up to the beacon on the hill. Flags were there. Flags of many nations- all fluttering and spluttering in the breeze. They will have trouble getting over the fence, he thought. And then she arrived, swaying and clicking her castanets. He was entranced. The air grew purple round them. Rain fell and the helmets of the conquistadors glittered in the wintry sun.

That'll do. Very Spanish.  Hmmm....

And Once More Because It's Fun

The trees cast long shadows over the deer park and the two sisters lay on the tartan rug and watched how the raindrops clung to the barbed wire fence. Nothing could be worse than this, said Eloise. And nothing could be finer, said Joan. A high cloud obscured the sun. The clowns came prancing by in procession. One of them clashed a huge pair of cymbals. And then came elephants. Tall white elepahants with Howdahs on their backs . And the sisters rolled out of the way to avoid being trampled.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-12-06 12:41 pm (UTC)
A delectable post--hard to know where to begin.

First, Bunuel dancing on the dish of paella! Which reminded me immediately of Rumpelstilstkin's tantrums in front of the princess.

Automatic writing: How did you do it? With a pen?

I particularly enjoyed the two sisters. Very Gorey-ish! A fine short story, very visual--the clown with cymbals, the elephants with Howdahs! And the glum Eloise...

Ho, ho, he said....

How funny! And no wonder he is a happy man: And then she arrived, swaying and clicking her castanets. He was entranced.

--Such surreal worlds! Please do some more!

I think I like the idea. I may try it myself.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-12-06 03:38 pm (UTC)
Oh yes- do have a go.

It's easy. I just sat and typed, looking neither to right nor to left, until I had a paragraph.

The man's hat looked like a pig. It had little green eyes and sharp tusks. Mary approached cautiously and felt the points. Ah, said the man, be careful he bites. But he's dead said Mary. The pig winked an eye. I see how it's done said John . There's a battery in his overcoat pocket. The man grinned. Put your hand in my pocket, little boy, and see what you find. Don't said Mary, it's a trap. John put his hand in nevertheless and drew it out covered in honey.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-12-07 12:14 am (UTC)
The pig! The hand that drew out honey! My favorite.

This is a delicious game...all too fun.
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[User Picture]From: besideserato
2004-12-06 04:42 pm (UTC)
OK, I want to try now, too!

It's tacky I know but it's cold and I wonder wether the weather will follow the same trajectory to the open mouth of the sea against the shivering flowers of the flame tree here on the porch, Mr. Zebra used to sit in his cage swingng swinging chirping and I would say, "well hello Mr. Zebra can I have your sweater 'cause it's cold cold cold?" and chirp chirp chirp in the wind until one day I came home and he was dead.

That's sad! I haven't thought about poor Mr. Zebra in a while.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-12-06 05:44 pm (UTC)
Excellent.

I puzzled over Mr Zebra and then remembered that there's such a thing as a zebra finch. At least I think there is. Am I right?
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[User Picture]From: besideserato
2004-12-06 06:45 pm (UTC)
Yes, there is such a thing. But Mr. Zebra was not a zebra finch. I don't know what he was. He was blue with white wings and little black lines over them so that he looked like a blue-bellied zebra. We found him one day scared and hiding under our table, so we took him in.

I was obsessed with zebras. I saw him and screamed "ZEBRA ZEBRA!" And my best friend said, "MR. ZEBRA, like that Tori Amos song!" Thus, Mr. Zebra he stayed. He always kept me company while I smoked my cigarettes and had my coffee in the mornings, sweet little thing. I will never forget his death, it was one of those days of adolescence we think the world is over.

My boyfriend had broken up with me because even though I was pretty, this new girl he was dating was really pretty on the inside, which was a quality I was lacking. Upset, I went home and tried to shower and the water heater exploded (I was not injured and no damage besides the loss of the heater occurred). I went outside for an emergency cigarette, looked up and the swing was still.

Standing on a table, I looked down, and Mr. Zebra was curled up next to the little fountain we had placed for him to bathe in, dead.

Needless to say, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. I was beside myself. Totally inconsolable.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-12-06 09:42 pm (UTC)
Have you any idea what Tori is on about in that song?

What a piling up of disasters.

I remember finding a mouse of mine dead. He had jumped up onto the outside of his playwheel and it had spun under his feet, trapping him against the bars. I guess he probably suffered a heart attack.

His name was Archimedes.

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[User Picture]From: besideserato
2004-12-06 10:09 pm (UTC)
Oh my god, that is so sad!

As for Tori... I always pictured myself killing my ex when I heard that song, to be honest, but I can't speak for Tori. But if you think about it, you have the megalomania of a Kaiser, you have a hole that's cold, you have a little fund, and a goodtime fella. Then you have some strychnine in the ratatouille, you have a mind being blown and then you have a premature burial.

I must have been projecting, somehow it made a lot of sense before. [Laughs]
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-12-07 12:23 am (UTC)
This is so sad...
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-12-07 12:13 am (UTC)
I finally got home and untense enough to start writing--here they are: I couldn't stop--out of control, Jackie

Automatic Writing, One, Two, Three, four--can't stop.

Lacex surgery: what the hell was lecex surgery? Even if it was free, Fred wasn't having any of it. Some Christmas present. His wife was just getting too silly in her old age. He wanted someone young. He saw a cat by a fire, a bathrobe, maroon, walnuts in a dish, a wife who wasn't a doctor. Some gift certificate. Did she want to remake him? Every birthday, every Easter, the same thing-a new offer for a new procedure at her facility. Now it was beginning to look serious. lacex: sounded perverted to Fred. He glared at her across the room. Why wasn't she young, a waitress?


--

salad days for sure they thought as their motorcar eased down the grassy meadow towards the sea how long would it be 1938 and they be young and in love? The green car, the blue blue water, the swan gliding by. Shall we swim? asked Betty; and Horace, always timid, shook his head and kept his hat on. Please? asked Betty? You go, said Horace, tired suddenly of her youthful perfection and the perfect day.

I will go then, said Betty sharply, and took her long figure out of the car, threw off her shoes, waded into the lake. Turned and stuck out her tongue. Horace slid his hat down over his eyes, relaxed into the seat, dozed.

Woke at dark. The moon hung above the glassy water.


--

I shall be here when I am old, she said not caring anymore, the white floors, the urine smell in the hallways, the weird ladies in wrappers with walkers saying whooo whooo or help help as she walked by to see Marge. Marge too young, her mouth drawn down, her life drawn down, asking at 39 whoo whoo when she sat beside her, just like the others in the dining hall.

I can walk right out this door, she thought, Marge wouldn't know or care. Only one month ago they had laughed at the silly clerk at McDonalds, threw out their french fries in an arc from the window, he probably spit in them because we laughed, then went shopping for Christmas presents, laughed all the way home, and here is Marge on her white bed her death bed? her mouth a sag, saying whooo whooo like all the rough ladies in the dining room. Oh god I would walk right out must we watch Days of Our Lives? Her roommate is a mess, those sticky children who visit her, watch their stupid tv, yell all the time. The floor is so damn white and the nurses so bored and pale.

I can walk right out this door, she thought, and she put her hand on Marge's little claw, felt a flutter under her fingers, Marge's life, pulsing. Days of Our Lives on the tv, go home, go home.

--

The umbrella man brought us two new ones this season, one striped red and green for Christmas and one with fir trees for mother who loves nature with all her sticky soul. We set them in the hallway under father's portrait, he frowned down at us, why do you spend all my money on frivolities now I'm gone? Because we can, Father, haha, said silly Mag, who always spoke to father in the hallway, a spiteful greeting each day. Tomorrow we will buy figurines, she told him and laughed.

--

Snow fell all night and we were so tired of it we wanted to hit each other with pillows, white pillows like the snow, until the casings would split open and shower feathers like flakes.

--

Winter inside I failed another exam. What now? Tell my mother, who spent a fortune? Tell her my roommate is nutso and hates me? All your little friends, bring them home for Thanksgiving--yeah, sure Mom, like you'd want to see Gary with his cheek pierced Hi, this is my boyfriend, Mommy!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-12-07 08:52 am (UTC)
These are wonderful.

"Tomorrow we will buy figurines." Amazing!
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[User Picture]From: butterscotch711
2004-12-08 04:49 am (UTC)
I really liked your automatic writing, so after this post I tried it myself ... I found it really hard not to correct things I'd already typed, and also once I was a few lines in I'd always turn whatever I was writing about into an idea for a short story, and start developing ideas about narrative structure and stuff, and totally ruin the exercise. And of course I will never find time to write the stories...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-12-08 09:51 am (UTC)
I don't see why one shouldn't use automatic writing as the jumping off point for a short story. I think it might be rather an effective way of breaking writer's block.
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[User Picture]From: butterscotch711
2004-12-08 10:02 am (UTC)
The problem was more that once I'd turned it into a short story idea, I didn't bother with the automatic writing... I tend to over-structure things and then bore myself with them.

I did some more after I wrote that comment and managed to free myself up much more.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-12-08 10:28 am (UTC)
Excellent.

Are you going to be posting the results somewhere? I'd love to see them
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