Poetic Identity

The rise of imperialist ambition and military adventurism abroad leads, inevitably and inexorably, to a rise in the level of repression at home. The population of Britain is already reckoned to be among the most closely monitored in the world. It is estimated that each of us is captured by CCTV three hundred times every day. The law, from ASBO’s and trade union legislation to “anti-terrorist” measures, is used to suppress protest of all kinds. Dissenting voices find it harder to be heard through the mainstream, corporatised, media.

The scheme to introduce ID cards appears to have stalled, at least temporarily, due to the escalating costs involved. But with the State preparing to pump billions into developing a new generation of nuclear weapons, and already pouring billions into financing the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, we feel this is not likely to be a permanent reprieve.

For us, poetic freedom is inseparable from political and social freedom. It is precisely the generalised repression symbolised by the ID card scheme that saps our liberty on the most profound level, even as it nudges us further towards greater political and social restraints.

We encourage all our readers to support the ongoing campaign against any introduction of ID cards (see www.no2id.net). However, we are also proposing a specifically Surrealist response. This is based on a game of “analogy cards”, as described in Alastair Brotchie’s A Book of Surrealist Games. The idea is for each person to create an “ID card” for themselves, describing their own attributes but translated into poetic forms such as animals, objects, etc.

The categories we suggest, and the appropriate forms relating to them, are as follows:

Photograph (an animal): Father and mother (born of the union of…):
Place of birth (geographical location):
Date of birth (a historical event):
Gender (a drink):
Nationality (a civilisation or culture):
Profession (a pastime):
Domicile (a painting):
Height (a plant, fruit or vegetable):
Hair (a colour):
Appearance (a romantic, mythic or legendary hero/ine):
Eyes (a mineral):
Complexion (a meteorological phenomenon):
Nose (a perfume):
Voice (a poem):
Distinguishing characteristics (a sexual preference):
Change of address (a means of transport):
Religion (an ideal for the world):
Fingerprint (any image that may act as a unique signature).

Thus, for example…Photograph – an armadillo: Father and mother – born of the union of a star and a cloud: Place of Birth– the Mountains of the Moon. And so on. Anyone wishing to participate and who requires further explanation than this is welcome to ask!

Our initial intent is to assemble as many resulting identities as possible on our website, as a contribution to the campaign against the introduction of ID cards. We also hope that participants in this project will be moved to carry their own poetic attributes in the form of an actual card, to be used at their own discretion.


~ by londonsurrealistgroup on September 19, 2006.

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