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Posts tagged “surrealism

Flash Fiction Friday: A Fresh Perspective

by: James Burr

The Artist woke up face down on the wall, his favourite Braque print digging uncomfortably into his ribs. It seemed that gravity must have shifted 90° as he slept as he was now lying on the far wall of his bedroom looking up at his bed, which seemed to be hanging from what was now the ceiling. Yet it couldn’t be that gravity had shifted 90°, as his bed was where it always was, albeit at an utterly unfamiliar angle, and the rumpled covers still lay on it. Similarly his desk and chair were still in the corner of the room, although from his perspective, now wedged into the far corner of the ceiling. He stood up. Aside from his own position in the room, everything was much as it had always been.

He yawned and then made his way to the bedroom door, now embedded in the floor at his feet. He pulled it up and looked down. There was a drop of around 6 feet to the hall wall but then he would have to navigate a 20 foot drop to get to the far wall of his open-plan living room. He was already behind on several commissioned canvases and this damn gravity-thing was the last thing he needed. Still, he was an artist and it was the nature of the artist to explore experience. So he flipped over the door frame and dropped to the hall wall, his feet punching through the plasterboard. “Damn it!”

Prying his feet free, he then walked down the wall to the living room door, shaking the dust from his feet as he did so, before getting to his knees so he could peer over the edge of the doorframe, into the room below. The sheer drop was somewhat broken by the cupboards and units of his kitchen area below the wall he was currently kneeling on. But did this phenomenon extend to the entirety of his apartment? He could see his sofa and telephone twenty feet below on the floor/wall opposite.

I suspect that I have transcended the limits of ordinary reality and now perceive the world with the agility of a mind freed from entrenched perspectives, thought the Artist, and he grew eager to explore further.

If he could somehow swing from the doorframe across the room, it was only a drop of ten feet or so to his tall cupboard which, if he could reach it he could then land on before dropping down to the rest of the living room. Gingerly, he edged his way over the doorframe and then carefully lowered himself until he hung over the opposite wall. He then started to swing forwards and backwards as he tried to build momentum, before with one final kip, he flung himself across the room, landing on the side of the tall cupboard. However, as he landed he smashed his face into the wall and he could feel himself dropping backwards into the living room below. Desperately he reached out and managed to grab the side of the sink, and he pulled himself forwards. Above him were his other kitchen units, herbs and spices, yesterday’s Chinese wrappers, coffee jars and kettle all still resting, perpendicular on the worktop, in defiance of the phenomenon that seemed to be afflicting him. Damn it. He could do nothing in the morning without a morning coffee, but making one would involve climbing up the wall, perhaps using the side of the window frame as a foothold and then somehow monkey barring his way across the kitchen units, if they could even take his weight of course. So the Artist shifted position and sat on the edge of the unit; it was just a ten foot drop to the far wall of his living room.

The only logical explanation for this situation is that it is the manifestation of my will to transcend boundaries yet my apartment’s continuing existence continues to prove that humans may attempt to defy gravity but never wholly escape, thought the Artist. This could in fact be a manifestation of the human impulse to reach beyond our present reality.

He sat on the edge of the unit and again, dropped down until he was hanging from its side. And then, the distance minimised as much as he could, he let go, landing in a heap on the far wall. Grumbling, he got to his feet and looked above him, at the walls, paintings hanging horizontally, his dining table and chairs now suspended on a wooden wall, fifteen feet above him.

The Artist grew excited at this fresh development in his creative life. This physical experience could provide a radical shift of perspective so I can look at the world through a completely different lens. This phenomenon provides an opportunity to reimagine the physical and psychological reality I previously thought of as fixed as something more flexible, mutable, and light. Feverishly, he considered the artistic possibilities his new perspective afforded. He considered the colours, the shapes the conceptual possibilities that he could now exploit. He looked around these familiar yet strange surroundings for his easel and paints before remembering with a shudder that they were in his bedroom.

And so he jumped and jumped and jumped. But as he leaped, arms outstretched for the kitchen units out of reach above him, he realised there was no way back out of his living room.

And it was then that he finally saw the true gravity of his situation.

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An English writer of dark, humorous, paranoiac fiction, James Burr is the author of Ugly Stories for Beautiful People and is working on a novel titled Razor Moccasins. You can follow him on Twitter and find more of his stories here. 

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Flash Fiction Friday: The Creative Game

by: James Burr

The Writer continued to stare at the blank screen, as she had done, frustrated, for the previous two hours. Words refused to flow and her ideas remained stillborn, seemingly loath to join her in the cold and damp of her squalid bedsit. It was then that she remembered a way of triggering creativity, an old Surrealist game, where one would cut the words out of an old newspaper then rearrange them at random, the old words and symbols creating something new and improved.

So she dug out an old copy of the local free newspaper and then with an oversized pair of scissors she set about hacking at the news stories, the tales of new gym openings, charity fun runs or disgraced local Councillors just waiting to be made into something fresh. She then took the words and started rearranging them, creating phrases, then sentences then finally new stories, of a sort.

Eventually she sat back, satisfied with her new tales, some nonsensical but all telling new, unusual but undoubtedly refreshed narratives. But her creative satisfaction was short lived as a night train rattled by, shaking the mouldy windows in their frames, drawing her attention back to her bedsit– the damp patches by the ceiling, the soggy wallpaper held up by Blu-Tack, the cigarette-burnt carpet that fell some six inches short of reaching the skirting boards.

And it was then that she realised that the pedestrian mundanity, the sheer mediocrity of her squalid home could also be improved. So gingerly, with some reticence as she had never attempted this before, she took the scissors and started to hack at her room. Firstly, she cut out the television, Casablanca distorting on its screen, as she peeled it away from the void beneath. Then she cut around the edges of her lamp, the bed, the windows, the door, half of her wardrobe….. She continued to hack and cut and then, satisfied, she started to rearrange the pieces into what she hoped would be a new, refreshed whole. She smiled as Mr Tiddles, with Humphrey Bogart’s face endlessly intoning “Play it again….play it again….play it again….” slinked from his litter tray. The top half of her bed now looked out onto the street as rain pelted upwards against the panes, and the door apparently lead up either somewhere into the attic or out into whatever was now outside. One bedroom lamp was embedded in her bedroom wall where the window had once been, the other window replaced by the base of her wardrobe, a plastic fern lying sideways along its top edge, like a hat.

The Writer glanced around her bedsit, content with her new, collage creation.

It was then that she saw her podgy thighs, untoned despite hours of jogging, her pot belly, flabby and round despite the yoga. She paused for a moment, irritated that the unyielding nature of her body should upset the creative harmony of her new work before remembering that her body too could be a work of art, an expression of creativity, if she so willed it.

So she reached for the scissors and started hacking at herself, cutting and slicing, in this last creative game and final act of self improvement.

________

Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton while serving as the US vice president. James Burr is the author of the collection Ugly Stories for Beautiful People and is currently putting the finishing touches to his second collection, State of the Nation, and a work of non-fiction which will, he is sure, make him richer than his wildest dreams. When not deluding himself about future success, he can be found at: http://www.james-burr.co.uk/.

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Send your weird little stories to flashfictionfridaysubmissions@gmail.com.


Dilation Exercise #102

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

The operation was a simple ten minute procedure if the body occupying the slab was cold and disposable.

The staff had not had a “live one” to work on for some time, however, and they were determined to enjoy the warm flesh that had been offered.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: Detail from “Chuckling Beneath His Mask” copyright © 1984 Alan M. Clark. Interior for The Pain Doctors of Suture self General by the Bovine Smoke Society (Alan M. Clark, Randy Fox, Jim Goad, Peteso, Thalia Ragsdale, Stephen C. Merritt, Cynthia Grissette Merritt, and Beth Gwinn) with an introduction by F. Paul Wilson, published by Arts Nova Press. The painting also appears in black and white as an interior illustration for Pain and Other Petty Plots to Keep You In Stitches by Alan M. Clark, Randy Fox, Troy Guinn, Mark Edwards and Jeremy Robert Johnson (introduction by F. Paul Wilson), published by IFD Publishing.


Dilation Exercise 100

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Pricilla’s father saw himself as a macho ranch-hand and was insecure without the trappings of his vocation.


Unaware of her hydrocephalic condition as she prepared for her dance recital, she placed his hat upon her head as a lark, and the mistake almost cost Pricilla her life.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Screaming Handful’” copyright © 1980 Alan M. Clark. Unpublished.


Dilation Exercise 99

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

As hard as it was, getting the barbed wire out of her was the easy part.


If she survived the first round of surgery, and the surgeons found a way to remove the greedy ranchers, the stubborn cowboys, and the hired guns that kept the range war going, there would still be herds of cattle to deal with and all those strays to round up.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Study for ‘Hemogoblins’” copyright © 2000 Alan M. Clark. Unpublished.


Dilation Exercise 98

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Bill Toby Gerbil marries a can of fresh worms.


Bride was lost in a fishing accident only days later.

About the photo and caption:
In the 1980s, before digital photography was available, I used a polaroid camera to get instant pictures for reference photos for my illustrations. The photos were terrible, like the one in this post. My good friend, Jack Daves, who unfortunately passed away in 2004, liked my photos because they made him laugh. He was a very funny fellow, a great horror writer, and a wonderful musician who helped create the band, The Secret Commonwealth. Jack liked captioning my reference photos. The one I share today is my favorite – written by Jack Hunter Daves. He still makes me laugh.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

 


Dilation Exercise 97

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

He hated his older sister when she stole his candy bar, but then when she began to choke on it, he panicked for fear of losing one he truly loved.


Although he began beating her chest to clear her obstructed airway, it felt so good to punish her, he just kept at it.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Dead Little Girl” copyright © 2011 Alan M. Clark. Interior illustration for Flesh and Blood 13, appearing with the story, “Who Killed Little Betty,” by Brian Knight.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.