Disaction is the opposite of action. It results not from any articulation or discourse, and doesn’t have any practical or ideological purpose, at least not in the moment of its realization. A priori, none of the latter has anything to do with disaction. Volition is secondary. Passivity comes first. A disaction is an event. It occurs absentmindedly, spontaneously or unexpectedly. In a certain way, it is disdainful: it occurs independently of premeditation; and it isn’t anything that is enunciated. It resembles an apostrophe in one’s daily wandering, taking place within a state of wakefulness. It is also a jump of joy for the spirit, a modest joy although experienced as very pleasurable (which is accustomed to being increased over the course of time, due to the quietude that it leaves in the mental and affective field, as well as in new moments of disaction).
Therefore disaction is not an activity; in this case it lacks any productive principle: a disaction is unproductive as it is gratuitous and asystematic, and furthermore is anonymous and consequently represents a lack of concern for calculated effort and authorship. In this respect, disaction is the opposite of effort, in its mental and/or articulate elaboration and substantiation.
A disaction can take place in different ways, which would make us think that we are dealing with an act of creation, or more modestly, with a creative expression. It is not of the former in the decrepit sense that it continues to maintain, and neither is it exactly the latter to the extent that its significance is easily corrupted or distorted. A disaction is an unseparated poetic event, which is part of a unitary, cohesive, persuasive poetic spirit. A disaction is an emancipated poetic event since it is not based on any spectacular, structured activity. Essentially it has an individual character because it is the form through which emancipation makes itself real in a person (it almost happens without any mediation) without alienating itself in others in the moment of its occurrence (1). Thus the disaction is by definition individual, not collective, although this doesn’t mean that its reverberation doesn’t strike a sensible chord within a group or collective and is refined within its own harmonies (considering moreover the group or collectivity as a means for these harmonies to reach the community). Thus it remains clear that disaction isn’t a creation (to which it is categorically opposed), nor the creation of a situation or situations (to which it is not opposed). But disaction takes place mainly in the framework of surrealist doing-not-doing, rather than within situationist articulation. A disaction is embodied in certain passive dispositions of doing-not-doing: here, within the morphology of the city, certain surprising events, certain chance moments of synchronicity, and an absentminded taste for doing-not-doing. A disaction is an occurrence that is found with the forces of surreality, even the coincidence with an indeterminate, unknown point of the animate – or inanimate – of exteriority, with the human unconscious (without this necessitating any critical explanation, unlike the others).
A priori, a disaction is not distinguishable or perceptible when characterized by a however slight doing-not-doing with nearly invisible or hardly detectable results. Its traces are microtraces, since it wouldn’t be disaction otherwise. It has to be like this in order to preserve a fidelity to gratuitousness, passivity and non-systematization.
Antispectacular and antiproductive, a disaction occurs, and from this event one can feel how it pervades the area where it took place (and how it correspondingly returns the pervasiveness with which it had been granted), and thus it is an abandonment, since abandonment is the state in which we find these places where it has been realized. Disaction and place are exteriority (an event that occurs like a breeze passing over a stone). Perhaps within this imbuement of place there resides its power of contagion, just as there is a potential for contagion in the things that live out in the open. Without having wanted it, without having looked for it, I keep in mind the analogy that takes place between any given thing and another, since the forms that constitute a disaction are the remnants of what one leaves in urban sites by way of words, signs or objects exposed (or not exposed) to the encounter with others, which in no way prevents the making of every site into an outdoor space, where a disaction has taken place with its own promise of the marvelous (of the boundary: opening-closing-opening…)
I said earlier that a disaction is embodied by certain passive dispositions of the surrealist doing-not-doing. It is necessary to fully understand this statement in the experimental sense that it implies, even if this experimentation is not of the formal variety, since it is inseparable from the apprehension of disaction as a way of living. In this respect, I want to say that this manner of existence is a creator of potential such that it is established within a radical uniqueness. A surrealist way of existing does not make the assumption of an identity – whether variable or invariable; it’s all the same – but rather precisely a dialectic that negates the adherence to identity, its confinement. Within this ‘negative dialectic” (its doing-not-doing), a surrealist way of existence finds the way to liberate itself from the yoke of identity, because it is a way of existing that occurs as emancipated life; as it becomes unfettered as a result of the emancipating process from fetishized (molecular, administrative, spectacular, postponed, economized) life, which can only occur powerfully and only powerfully in its different degrees of manifestation.
Circumstantial cases of disaction
Impregnation of the amorous genius:
Consisted in engraving the words An incalculable kiss in the mercury of a mirror and then putting it on the balcony window of one’s house.
What is sleeping:
This consisted in surrounding a series of cracks on the sidewalk with a circle or an oval traced with chalk, at a certain height in Santa Isabel Street in Madrid. At the moment of completing the disaction, two men were sleeping on benches, right next to the cracks.
Corner of Amor de Dios Street and Huertas Street. I am reading Nadja while sitting on a stone bench. I hear the numerous and repetitive cackling of birds. I look at the sky but don’t see anything. The cackling stops and I continue my reading. The bird noises resume, becoming much louder, as if they were above me. I get up and look at the sky again, but still don’t see anything. Three or four people who are walking along both streets look at the sky as well. And there they are at last, up very, very high: a large number of what could be herons or cranes ( I cannot identify them, but they seem to be that type of bird) in formation, moving as a wave, heading westward, according to the direction that they are following. One of the people who just like me feels admiration for them says: “they are like fishes in the sky.” In effect, their wavelike movement and the gleaming sunlight on their bodies – so high up there – created this analogy. Shortly after this apparition, I trace an oval around a crack on the ground.
A different day. I am walking with A. We stop at number 17 on Amor de Dios Street. I show A the peculiarities of the entranceway, as well as those of the façade, which for quite a while have been calling me. On the side wall there is a crack. A traces an oval around it and I write: What is sleeping.
We continue our walk. Upon arriving at the intersection of Amor de Dios with Huertas street, and with A knowing about my encounter with the cranes or herons, we trace an oval around the same crack as the one I had traced around a few days earlier. This time I add the inscription What is sleeping.
Consisted in fastening strips of paper to tree trunks situated in the Cornisa de Madrid park with big safety-pins. The following words had been written on the strips: Detachment of air, Detachment of love. Detachment of time. Detachment of laziness. Detachment of history. Detachment of mercury. Detachment of horizon. Detachment of tears. Detachment. The disaction is achieved together with my friend Lurdes Martinez.
While the “Detachment of love” is attached to one of the tree trunks, a young man and woman started to make love on the grass of one of the park lawns.
When we returned to get an overall view of the effect produced by the strips of paper on the tree trunks, which were set in motion by the air, the one with the word “Detachment” had fallen on the ground.
I talk on the phone with A. I am sitting at the threshold of an entranceway on Gobernador Street. While I observe the prominence of a nearby wall, a vertical stain made by humidity reminds me of Goya’s ‘El Gigante.’ It consists of a schematic line only, a silhouette. I tell A about it. After finishing the conversation I move closer in order to take a more careful and precise look at it. I write the following words along its curve: As an apparition that rises above the fields.
In the same place but in a different spot. A wall of granite, also close by. It has a deep opening made by hand. Inside it there is a large, embedded nail. The surface of the wall reveals two “distinct skins”: one is clear and extensive, while the other is dark, bordering the opening and the nail, and extending upwards. I write the following words on the darker part: The rock is changing its skin.
Gijón, the Celestino Solar citadel. In a certain part of the place, besides the hole of what could have contained a roof-gutter, there is a stain from red paint that creates a sort of vertical meandering. I write: The blood of time.
Madrid, Calvario street. A peeling flake on a wall resembles a head in profile with the back part spreading out beautifully. I write: Formation of a sphinx-human’s head.
Ulterior, simultaneous and even previous meaning of the occurrence of disaction.
Impregnation of the amorous genius:
To leave in areas, where amorous, erotic, sensual or sexual experiences have taken place, certain objects, things and inscriptions that rely not on evidence but rather magical fetishes that by way of the genius loci energize these places and all that has been lived within them. Corresponding to these places with the celebration of a rite that impregnates them and remains almost undetectably exposed to its influence, facing outwards.
What is sleeping:
From an open spirit of insubordination (which in turn doesn’t preclude an epic of the useless: a grace from which the spirit of insubordination can renew all the weapons of the possible), what is sleeping desires to be something resembling a crack through which an almost-forgotten thought could pass; or a barely noticeable or transient event; a kind of thought that one has distractedly, before going to sleep or when the first dream appears, or when one takes the subway or a bus, or directly in the street itself, and that one however disregards, confident that it would be remembered later on; a thought that would not provide the spirit with the sensation (when it is not a frustrating one) of being able to fertilize the fruit of its peculiar and future blossoming, in its dark abode; despite everything, a fleeting thought from which to join the imaginary with the light of its own, predominantly nocturnal celestial body. The same applies to the unexpected, gleaming and slight event that persists in memory and in the affective apparatus with its sweet nostalgia and stimulating rumor.
Thus, it would deal with focusing all our senses on what is sleeping, in an attempt to imbue them with the density and depth of the latter, striving to match it with the degree of intensity that activates its gifts of re-enchantment.
I said it somewhere else, and I repeat it again here: there are central places in the city that function as hubs for the encounter between the dwelling and the escape, between action and contemplation, at least for thought. Endowed with a character that evokes separation or is directly separated, its solitude invites and teaches us by way of a non-fearful relationship with solitude, when not that of complicity. Potentially isolated, unattended and disdained, they inspire a feeling of remoteness as spaces of freedom, although that freedom is based just as much on exaltation and bliss as it is on hostility and threat… Withdrawn into a doubtlessly pale quietude – but which still is quietude – within them resides serenity more than desolation. And all things considered, their solitude doesn’t detach them, but rather predicts another communication, since it is (although still with interferences) receptive to an ordinary experience of the event, of a profound habitation of the real, this sketch of concrete life which emerges when we abandon ourselves to the passionate intensity of the incalculable… Sort of like what happens when in the presence of the horizon: a huge extension of life unfolds within the limited dimensions of these places. And the spatial limitations dissipate thanks to the vigor of the great mental landscape that unfolds… In their openness, these meeting places still speak to us of a terrain that is directly related to a mental orography that is not completely flattened… At least, I am in no way suggesting that this has to do with peripheral or remote places even if they evoke isolation and promote a sense of distance. Though ultimately, we take pleasure in the latter if it involves a detachment that is desired, with a suspension of the being in its secret life, with an irremediably “primitive” relationship with immediate life, i.e. with the preservation of the “savagery” of a life without attributes, an experience of vulnerability … Under its own sky the spirit is being strengthened, and withdrawn into the forest of itself, thought breaks free and the reverie of conspiracy is reorganized.
The façade of the buildings, the asphalt of the streets, certain trunks of urban trees display in their crusts, stains, and flaking – always accidentally for whoever finds them – the characteristics of an imaginary universe which collides with the imagination of whoever views them. It is a fact that is as elemental as it is pure, since it brings to consciousness a gaze from childhood which stimulates in the spirit all its power of enchantment. These micro-terrain are a materialization of the city’s unconscious with whom the human unconscious meets.
All of this erosion sweeps away the waste of the superstructure, with the formation of an urban ‘micro-imaginary’ that transforms this being into a surprisingly open place, since the forces of nature never cease to penetrate it, and they leave their untimely benefits within its body. These having been pointed out, as if incidentally one had wanted to show a reciprocity corresponding with some words taken from his own eroded language (that is, with the rest of his own imagination)
1. There is however an exception in which disaction can be shared by another being simultaneously. This exception is the love relationship, that is, when the free union between two persons, in its non-alienating alienation (the total, mutual fusion, the unconditional correspondence – and this does happen) releases their individualities, prevents the division of the individual because it has redoubled his non-dividuation that is vanquished by that simultaneously possessed and exorcized love: you possess me and I possess you; you exorcize me and I exorcize you. Thus the dichotomy of essentialism disappears because under the state of falling in love, essentialism – which is fixation, identity – can happen, as well as happen to disappear.