Birthday Presents for The One and Only William Blake


I’ve taken the impetus for this surrealist game from an issue of the 1970’s journal ARSENAL. Here’s a snippet explaining the stakes of the game:  

Introducing the object into an imaginary relationship that otherwise runs the risk of being defined too superficially by an arbitrary and abstract subjectivity, this game effects the concretization of the irrational “secret,” the innermost kernel of desire, underlying the more or less conscious revery. The object—the gift—functions symbolically between the giver (who lives in the present) and the receiver (who dwells in the past). Altering the relationship between the two, it constitutes the third term—a catalyst of the future in the form of a crystallization of desire—in a humorously dialectical and materialist exchange which, presupposing the annihilation of conventional chronology in favor of the imagination’s vertical eternity of the magic moment, seems to open an entirely new approach, from an unanticipated angle, to all the old and unresolved problems of projection, idealization, fixation, obsession, identification, etc.

And an epigraph for this party: 

For Karl Marx: a stack of Bugs Bunny comic books, circa 1948-52, annotated by William Blake

              —Franklin Rosemont 


A toy tiger stuffed with fearful symmetry in the form of a stuffed toy lamb and a capital B, the latter to be attached to a lake the size and shape of Lambeth, London.

             — Mary Jo Bang 

A fountain pen with a tiny bratwurst instead of ink, akin to the humble sausage roll.

             — Miriam Moore-Keish  

The collected works of David Lynch and a single, blue rose.

             — Billy Youngblood   

A handful of ethically sourced mantis shrimp pickling in a mason jar.

             — Ryan Nhu

An expired gift certificate for a gravestone.

             — Fred Schmalz

A bottle of barrel aged bourbon (aged during the nine nights that Satan fell to earth) — the label is a horse drawn by Francis Bacon — on the other side of the label is Lucille Clifton’s poem “blake” written in a fine blue ink by the hand of one of the Four Zoas (but we don’t know which) – the bottle cap is also blue, like the ink, but shinier and atop the lid is a single silver star, engraved! 

            — S. Yarberry 

Three fingernails harvested, very delicately, from the dessicated corpse of John Milton, on which a stranger has inscribed his name.

             — Toby Altman 

A vegetable toe.

             — Emily Barton Altman

A clipping of hair from everyone who has ever loved him, needle-felted into the shape of a rose.

             — Emma Wilson

A blend of mystery teas in a triple-glazed tea cup.

             — Laaura Goldstein  

A first edition King James bible printed in large folio format, with erasures by Mary Ruefle and supplemental illustrations by George Herriman, creator of Krazy Kat.

             — Evan James 

A church organ that sounds like a tiger.

             — Irina Teveleva

A translucent purple Gameboy Color and Pokémon Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow, the manga it’s derived from, and a copy of Capable Monsters by Marlin M. Jenkins.

             — Alex Wells Shapiro

Airpods... playing an mp3 of assorted bird calls.

             — Mitchell Johnson