The dream narratives, the exquisite corpses and writing under hypnosis are all the others techniques used by the Surrealists to combine happenstance and unconsciousness into writing.
Practiced by most surrealist writers, automatic writing is about leaving free field in the brain, writing every spontaneous thought down on paper before logic takes over and rephrases it. The more passive the writer is, the more automatic the writing will be – that’s at least what Breton, who experimented with this process in 1913, affirms, almost a decade before the beginnings of Surrealism. His text Magnetic Fields, published in 1920, was also almost completely written according to the process of automatic writing.
Closely linked to the interest André Breton has on psychoanalysis and Freud's theories, automatic writing must make the subconscious speak, and even the unconscious, before the Id, ego, and super ego, psychic portion of each man subject to pressures and social restrictions, take over it.
The resulting writing, sometimes transcendent, does not remain at least without an absurd side, which defies logic. In this sense, it approaches the 'Pataphysics of Alfred Jarry, science theorizing reconstruction of reality in the absurd. Jarry, held in high esteem by the Surrealists, and especially by André Breton - who said the playwright was a real surrealist, because of his absinthe consumption but also because of his vision of the world – it’s not so far from the surrealists in his deliberately absurd writing, which claims, for instance: "God is the shortest path from zero to infinity, in one way or another."
As automatic writing, the dream narratives, under hypnosis, or even under the influence (of drugs, alcohol) are intended to eliminate the possible control of the flow of writing. The writer finds themselves completely unrestricted in their possibilities. Several surrealist authors, again intrigued by the psychoanalytic theories of the time, were interested in the relationship between dream narratives and the "common thread" connecting them to reality.
Lhe only rule of this playful writing technique, widely adopted today as a game, in all contexts, is to follow the grammatical form: noun, adjective, verb, and direct object, adjective..
On a folded sheet, where participants cannot see the word written by the previous player, they must write a word of their choice that respects the order shown above. Wacky phrases are obtained, such as that which gave the game its name ("The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine") or even "White bread will shake the oblong breast laughing." This exquisite corpse is also one of the first obtained: in the first meeting of the Surrealists where the game is played, André Breton, Jacques Herold, Victor Brauner, Yves Tanguy, Peret and Elsie Houston are present.
Behind this "objective chance" seemingly harmless, obviously hides a pleasing deeper reflection: opposite to automatic writing, where the writer plays alone with their unconscious, and therefore closer to psychoanalysis, the exquisite corpse allows both real intrusion of chance in writing as well as the discovery, purely poetic, of new combinations of unthought words.
The automatism, the role of chance and the unconscious are not exclusive features of the surrealist literature: they are also found in all other types of art that affect this movement. Automatic writing finds its equivalent in the automatic drawing, practiced for example by André Masson, French painter of the years 1920-1950. The exquisite corpse, too, is as well practiced with words as with body parts! Max Ernst's collages or the photosensitive works of Man Ray also recall the patched appearance of the exquisite corpse.
“I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music.”
See more quote by Joan Miro