Exquisite Corpse

“Le cadavre / exquis / boira / le vin / nouveau”(The exquisite corpse will drink the young wine).

Breton, Eluard, Tzara, Lautréamont, those surrealists knew how to have so much fun. Magically. Collectively.

Ernst called it “mental contagion.” Nicolas Calas called it “the unconscious reality in the personality of the group.” The game is called “Exquisite Corpse” and whether played with words or images it unfolds like a dream.

Here’s how you play:

  • Fold a piece of paper three or four or five times, depending on the number in your group.
  • Each person in the group is to draw a part of the picture or write a word or combination of words without looking at the contribution of the others.
  • Unfold the paper to review the results:

Potatoes / contribute / ears / in forever / waterfalls.

Imagine, also, the visual possibilities.

Such fun, this transposition of Lautreamont’s classic verbal collage.

The walls have ears. The ears have walls.

Poetry must be made by all and not one.

In dreams you will find the truth.

—Erin Orison, DEAD LOVE/the Daily Slice