A Wave of Dreams by Louis Aragon
Thin Man Press publish my translation as a beautiful hybrid book-CD package.
It is available on Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/A-Wave-of-Dreams/dp/0956247318
There is an extract from the text below, following the short descriptions of the text and CD.About the text: Aragon’s poem-essay is a seminal work and a key text from the surrealist movement.
This was the first work to identify, evaluate and document the dazzling new surrealist movement as it emerged from the burnt-out embers of Dada.
Une Vague de rêves is a lyrical and vivid account of the lifestyle, intellectual processes and enthusiastic experimentations of the early surrealists, mostly young men in their twenties.
About the CD:
Based on Louis Aragon’s seminal surrealist prose-poem from the early 1920s, musical soundscapes by Tymon Dogg and Alex Thomas accompany the imagined films the words evoke in your mind, using instruments of their own invention as well as piano and violin.
Actor Alex Walker’s evocative spoken word renditions of extracts from the text conjure up the hallucinatory early days of surrealist experimentation in Paris. An inner adventure.
An extract from the text…Dreams, dreams, dreams, with each step the domain of dreams expands. Dreams, dreams, dreams, at last the blue sun of dreams forces the steel-eyed beasts back to their lairs. Dreams, dreams, dreams on the lips of love, on the numbers of happiness, on the teardrops of carefulness, on the signals of hope, on building sites where a whole nation submits to pickaxes. Dreams, dreams, dreams, nothing but dreams where the wind wanders and barking dogs are out on the roads. Oh magnificent Dream, in the pale morning of buildings, leaning on your elbows on chalk cornices, merging your pure, mobile features with the miraculous immobility of statues, don’t ever leave, enticed by dawn’s deliberate lies. Clear away this unbearable clearness, this bleeding from the sky which has splashed in my eyes for too long. Your slipper is in my hair, smoked-faced genie, dazzling shadow rolled up in my breath. Seize the rest of my life, seize every life, rising tide with spume of flowers. Omens over towers, visions at the bottom of ink pools, in the dust of cafés, migrations of birds along the sidelong trajectories of soothsayers, hearts consulted by bloody fingers, the times unfurl from the draperies, rumours usher in your reign and your cyclone, adorable siren, incomparable clown of the caverns, oh dream with backdrop of coral, colour of waterfalls, scent of the wind! * 1924: under this number, its dragnet behind, trailing a harvest of moon-bream, under this number adorned with disasters, strange stars in its hair, the contagion of dreaming spreads through city districts and countrysides. From clear fields prodigious examples arise. Who is that man on the shoreline of myths and the sea where all is snow and silence? Another man, closed to all, lives in his caravan with an army of servants. Another, who barely opened his eyes on this world, died in front of the police and his father just as the carriage was passing beneath the walls of a prison; and that woman, that woman who wrote on the café wall: ‘It is better to wipe glasses than gunshots.’ And another, what did he do all that time in China between two dreams which have the sound of sea salt? Another, another: you painted night and it was the night itself. And you, the sky, and it was the entire emerald of destiny. Another dream, yet another dream: the desert above towns, all the shutters identical and the muffled footsteps of life, one would kill for a great deal less. It is for much less that this one is killing himself: a pipeful of romantic rubbish, the decor just how we like it, and a fine chronometer fashioned of gold on the table. And that tall one over there, isn’t he ashamed of his impossible little songs? He never imagined that a life eventually gets itself organised. What good did it do that other man in his little cardboard clinic to lay a cold hand on the feelings of mankind and the innocence of family relationships? Saint-Pol Roux, Raymond Roussel, Philippe Daudet, Germaine Berton, Saint-John Perse, Pablo Picasso, Georges De Chirico, Pierre Reverdy, Jacques Vaché, Léon-Paul Fargue, Sigmund Freud, your portraits adorn the walls of the dream chamber, you are Presidents of the Republic of dreams. And now here are the dreamers. * There is a surrealist light: at the time of day when towns burst into flame it is the light that falls on the salmon pink display of silk stockings; it is the light that blazes in the Benedictine shops and its pale sister in the pearl of mineral water depots; it is the light that mutely illuminates the blue travel agent’s with trips to the battle fields, Place Vendôme; it is the light that stays late at Barclays on the Avenue de l’Opéra, when ties are transformed into fantoms; it is the beam of flashlights on the murdered and on love. There is a surrealist light in the eyes of every woman. A great chunk of realism has just been demolished on the Boulevard de la Madeleine and through the gap you can glimpse a landscape which extends to the works at the Moulin-Rouge, cité Véron, to the demolitions of the Parisian fortifications, to the sculpture park in the Tuileries, to the Gobelins blazing the word “PARDON” in neon through the night, to the vaults of the metro where golden Poulain chocolate horses cavalcade, to diamond mines where smugglers run the risk of avaricious laparotomies, to the sulphur springs where little dogs die. Georges Limbour, hating the almighty sun, more readily tolerates the dawn of the hereafter. He couldn’t be prised from the top of the staircase whence the crowd hurled him in the nights of Mainz because of his loathing for crosses and flags and all the gaudy triumphalism of war. André Masson presides over the release of doves at every crossroad: the beautiful knives he will have seen everywhere are ready to be seized at last. If the houses in Paris are mountains it’s because they’re reflected in Max Morise’s monocle: and didn’t he defile the great crucifix in the station at Argent (Cher)? I have seen Paul Eluard trampled by policemen and drivers on a piano and in shattered lightbulbs, there were 30 of them against this starburst. A little later I saw him in the foothills of Champagne in a land of ophite stones. Then he entered the darkness of earth where moral eclipses are chandeliers at a ball unbounded by the ocean, then he came back, he is looking at you. Delteil? That’s the young man Francis Jammes pleaded with in the name of his white hair, that young carnivore who passes his days in the Meudon woods with bloodstained images. Man Ray, who has tamed the biggest eyes in the world, dreams in his own way with knife rests and salt cellars: he gives the light meaning and that’s why it knows how to talk. Suzanne are you blonde or brunette? She changes with the wind and you can believe her when she says: water is man’s equal. Who is that prisoner caught in a giant trap? The gestures that Antonin Artaud makes at a distance echo strangely in my heart. Mathias Lubeck, you don’t mean it, you’re not really going to re-enlist in the colonial service? He says his greatest shame is not being tattooed. Jacques Baron, on his boat, has just met some beautiful pale women: dear friend, do you remember that evening when I left you near Barbès and there were so many prowlers, you weren’t thinking about tropical seas then, you were heading on impulse towards summer. André Breton, there’s a man I can say nothing about: if I close my eyes I see him again at Moret, beside the river Loing, in all the dust-haze of the tow-path. Philippe Soupault for many years was recognised by his curly hair alone, he used to talk to chair upholsterers and laugh unnervingly near noon. Denise, Denise: does the café of colours in that little road where we always stop still sing so Marvellously every time you pass, are people still killing themselves in the canal and in rue Longue and everywhere you take your clear shadow and your shining eyes? Jacques-André Boiffard gently refuses to trim his black sideburns. He wears a velvet cap. Everyone please note: he’s looking for a job, but doesn’t want work. Magic holds no secrets for Roger Vitrac who is setting up a Theatre of Arson where people die as in a forest. He’s also organising a revival of the Cult of Absinthe, whose scorched spoons have all been turned over. Jean Carrive, the youngest known surrealist, is notable most of all for his magnificent sense of rebellion: he is rising on the future with a stockpile of blasphemies. Pierre Picon is expanding his empire into Spain. Francis Gérard, less prudent than everyone else, has just thrown himself into the waters of existence: would you know of a woman for him – extremely beautiful and able to make of this twenty-year-old a fallen man forever? Simone is from the land of humming-birds, those tiny flashes of music, she looks like the time of lime trees. Beaten up by spectators at the ‘Petit Casino’, and various cafés in the capital, Robert Desnos has often tried out death as a word: Words, he says, are you myths which match the myrtles of Death? Earthquakes are where Max Ernst, painter of cataclysms as others of battles, feels most at ease and contented. He finds it strange that the earth isn’t constantly quaking. René Crevel has never noticed that