Free association is not surrealism, nor is it dream logic. I use it to connote that curious levity and the vertiginous thrill that come when the mind leaps unexpectedly from one place to the next—a crackling fire sending out an errant spark that goes flying beyond the immediate circle of light, a tiny shooting star entering darkness.
Free association finds expression most famously, and perhaps most Jewishly, in psychoanalysis. But it is an essential component of all creativity. For example this line from David Berman’s poem, “If There Was a Book About This Hallway.”
If Christ had died in a hallway we might pray in hallways,
or wear little golden hallways around our necks.
Ever since I read that I find myself pondering, now and then, unprovoked, what a hallway would look like rendered into an amulet.
There is a strong current of aphorism in Berman’s poetry. Another line I think of and quote often: “Souvenirs only remind you of buying them.” I look at the souvenirs in my house. Accumulations from travels near and far. I live among these objects but see them only now and then. And when I see them, and really look at them, I sometimes remember buying them. Sometimes I just think of that line.
Read More | “River of Berman” | Thomas Beller | Tablet