Critical Paranoia

Critical Paranoia may be considered one of Surrealism's contributions to modern artistic thinking and interpretation. I would argue that Surrealism is more of a method and means of thought than it is en entity to be understood. Critical Paranoia should then be considered a primary exercise in attaining the, 'pinnacled depths of that which is Surreal.'

Other Related Web Sites:

'A Semiological Exploration of Dali's Paranoiac-Critical Method', by Aaron Ross.

Critical Paranoia, or how to decisively split your vision in new directions..

    Salvador Dali developed the concept of Critical Paranoia for establishing a creative state of self-induced psychosis. Andre Breton often maligned him for its uses, a sign of its relative importance and usefulness.

    Consider the process akin to forcing a waking dream, a conscious transformation led by paranoid scrutiny of what presents itself in the surroundings. The simplest version, hardly critical, hardly paranoid, begins with the child's game of staring into banks of clouds, looking for the chariot riders, the giants and other fantasms of humidity. Elementary exercises can also be practiced through prolonged staring at ink blots, scribble drawings and the array of optical illusions that sell themselves in one of many new-age, self-help manuals designed to prove that you are on your way to a happier existence.

Those cracks in the sidewalk, they look like an outline of the west coast of Mexico.
Those cracks in the sidewalk, they are the west coast of Mexico.
Those ants in the middle, they are eating the Yucutan.
Someone has steped in Panama. They have left smudges in the Pacific.

    More advanced practicioners will find the intricacies of television static a delight to behold. The onset of migrain headaches a resounding flourish.

Exercise 1: 'See The Face.'

    This postcard of African tribesmen by their huts holds a face first discovered by Dali. He later used a likeness of the face in one of his paintings. The image on the left shows the postcard under normal circumstances. The image one the right is a scaled-down version rotated 90* clockwise.
    Do you see the face?

    Ranjit Bhatnagar sent me this image holding the face of a pirate. The right image has been contrast-enhanced to better show the profile.

Exercise 2: Focused concentration until the bathroom floor rises to your occasion.

    Either you see the face or you do not. The matter is not one of debate. There are no preconceptions, no paranoia to influence what you perceive. The careful aquisition of critical paranoia requires continued practice until it becomes a part of your subconscious way of thinking.

Find a bathroom with tile floors and subdued fluorescent lighting.
The bathroom tiles one half inch by on half inch are preferable.
The tiles with the speckles are preferable.
Find an empty stall and sit on the toilet.
Sit so you are comfortable.
Stare at the floor in front of you through the bottom edge of the closed stall door.
Stare until columns of tiles oscillate rapily back and forth, chaotically at first, but more rhythmically in passing.
Move your eyes towards your feet to perceive rows of tiles moving against the columns.
Observe the speckled patters for insights as to the flux of images now ready to be accepeted upon your retina.

A few permanent contributions..

    Here are some of Dali's physical manifestations of imagery witnessed under the influence of Crtical Paranoia.

Cabaret Voltaire