The art of conversation

[ Extrait de La Civilisation Surréaliste – Traces Payot 1976 – Pages 64 à 66 ]

The successive doors, that each player in turn requires all his partners to go through are in the process of removing the famous letter L from it  privileges, this humorous crank which Breton advised to resort in case of a breakdown in the automatic dictation. Should we wait for the engine to stall before to restart it? A quick assessment is there required. The Parallel Stories use something similar to a whip blow that always comes from the outside, with this milestone that the game rule defines, forces to frame for a fraction of a second in the front-reticle as well as in the rearview mirror. This fact came from far. As a goal and a starting point by convention, it creates a constraint; it is annoying, like a fact, like Nature, like encounters that one does not control :  would they be as exalting as possible, one undergoes them, one did not initiate them.

As it comes from the outside, the word that must be given meaning in the discourse that is being written, triggers apprehensions, timidity, daring, impatience, adhesions, trouble, desires for appropriation or aggression that any encounter carries in itself. The encounter of a woman or the encounter of a man, and what they tell us. But this word that one hears, and through which the sequence of words that pulls us forward has to go , is collected from a foreign language, it adulterates the dictation that the use of the letter L intended to shelter from any promiscuity. This word  interrupts “the murmur” and brings it back into the common order of exchange. The availability required by the automatic writing is incessantly disturbed by the attention that must be given to what is said, in a game of interference renewed by the fall of the words on the table, like stones blindly thrown into the transparencies of the personal lake.

One thus loses the benefit of this rigorous autonomy which characterizes the monologue and by virtue of which the interior speech, — so suspect of gratuitousness and at the same time, so convincing along the scale of the ontological freedom — takes the value of an absolute affirmation. In the Parallel Stories, we see that this absolute affirmation  composes with the social condition of the human individual, which is an external law; this absolute affirmation, we then see it reaffirm, by a kind of countersigning, parallel affirmations maybe, but that come from other places. There is a conversation of talky fairies behind the chatter of each one of the players that is whispered by these fairies. From the solitary exercise of automatism we have passed to his collective exercise.

The belief that our game should be considered as the record of the “actual functioning of the mind” during a conversation was quickly established. In return, conversation itself then called for a re-interpretation, taking into account what we had learned with the Parallel Stories. Indeed the replicas of which a dialogue is made are nothing more than the intermittent emergence of a continuous inner speech where external words, when they reach the ear, incessantly revive development by re-launching the automatic thought in its endophasic course. These words, these brief sequences of phonemes, cover variable contents, which depend on the context elaborating at high speed in petto. Far from falling under the dominion of a single code and of the common usage, the material of the discourse allows the exchange, precisely because it does not play the same role in the one who gives and in the one who receives. It is by virtue of innumerable homonymies that the sound signs make the conversation  possible, it is because the codes are individual and because their multiplicity guarantees the polysemy of the vocabulary that the speech is fertile and that it persists to regulate the course of the history.

But speech would lead the course of history more effectively if his nature and the laws of his actual functioning ceased to collide with the considerable repression apparatus for which it is enough to paralyze the speech so that to accredit the uniqueness of the code. For which it is enough to assert as the ideal of the communication the univocity of the vocabulary and the identity of the message in the one who emits  this message and in the one who receives it. 

It is not too late to be aware of it : the perfect realization of this objective would finally only leave space for the statement of facts, in a by nature unassailable discourse that,  in a both useless and redundant commentary would indefinitely report and approve the state of affairs. If a statement was in a one-to-one relation with the thing, as would be necessary for the rigorous uniqueness of the code, the communication would simply cease, and henceforth be replaced by the news bulletins, to which would any speech be limited at the end of its absolute pauperization process. Examples showing such an evolution are multiplying, which means that the social use of speech tends to deviate dangerously from the true nature of oral exchanges and that, in the growing incapacity to fulfill its function, speech must either give way to other communication means or restore its powers: or rather both.


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