ome Thoughts as well on the Beginnings of a North American Magical Realism.


Tell all the Truth but tell it slant--
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind--

--Emily Dickinson

"In seeking to find what is the heart of the day, we come to the quality of the moment...  It is the depth at which we live, and not all the surface extension, that is important."--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Always do right--this will gratify some and astonish the rest."--Mark Twain

"I work from awkwardness.   By that I mean I don't like to arrange things.   If I stand in front of something, instead of arranging it, I arrange myself."--Diane Arbus


Andalusian Dog attempts to forge a new narrative in which simile and metaphor are welcomed as equals to the real moment.   They are made into something as tangible as the real, and not left to languish as simply nice language.   There is no shorthand here.   A doorbell sounding like someone concocting a mixed drink is a doorbell that is someone concocting a mixed drink.   The "like" is excised, and the moment blossoms.   A hand fallen asleep that feels like ants crawling around inside becomes a hand with ants crawling around inside.   Language means something, and association is real, not simply casual.

The film is, finally, a recorded poem, and the narrative flow is lateral rather than linear.   Metaphor and simile are real parts of the narrative, and the plot makes time and space for them.

Soluble Fish does something much the same, but from a more immediate vantage point.  Rather than simile and metaphor, the working trigger or thorn here is the part of speech itself--the adjective, the adverb.  Here they are not subservient to the nouns, but equals.  Here they demand their own moment.  They are, as a result, more communal--they are equals--or less communal, in that they will not do the necessary work of the sentence and paragraph.

Soluble Fish, consider the following:

1. The text overwhelms the reader with images, rendering the reader insensate.  However, this is a freeing act, and a better and higher purpose of literature than the traditional narrative, which keeps the reader within the text, within that limited understanding, trapped.

2. Life and death are fixed poles, but existence is elsewhere. 

3. Thought cannot be wrong.

Soluble Fish requires a new approach to reading--underscoring the poor logic of thinking, as we do, that there is only one way to read.  The aggregate of imagery is a more honest representation of the day, of experience, a more accurate journalism, than the kinds of traditional narrative with which we have grown comfortable.

5. The reaction we form as we read this work may be more a reflection of us than of the text.  The text may be new; we are something else.  We are trained, and in that way are limited.

6. How can we exclude dream in the every day representation of our world when indeed it is part of what we do.

7. The juxtaposition of dissimilars produces an electrical spark, a reaction, a piece of being alive.


Alberto Ríos
Department of English
Box 870302
Arizona State University
Tempe AZ 85287-0302
(480) 965-3800
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Date last modified:
Monday, May 27, 2002