Counter-Clockwise: Editorial Manifesto


Publisher/Editor-in-Grief: Alison “Clockwise Cat” Ross

Perpetual Poet-in-Residence: Felino Soriano (Rest in Poetry)

Featured Femme: Varies each issue

Proofreader/Purring Expurrt: Zuri (aka ZurZur aka ZZ Cat)

Clockwise Cat is a division of Klox and Katz, Ink.


Publisher/Editor-in-Grief: Alison “Clockwise Cat” Ross

Rad-ass Reviewer: Cindy Hochman

Poet-in-Residence: Felino Soriano

Featured Femme: Varies each issue

Copyeditor/Purring Expurrt: Soleil

Art Director/Felinus Feistus: Quetzal

Clockwise Cat is a division of Klox and Katz, Ink.


                                               ZEN AND ZENSIBILITY:


I must preface my fourth Clockwise Cat Manifesto with humble acknowledgement of something: One of my favorite non-fiction tomes is called Surrealist Subversions. It is essentially my bible – albeit an irreverent Holy Book – so thick it is with insurgent art and daring diatribes that disrupt the status quo.

So I must give credit where due: I did not coin the term “Surrealist Subversions” – though I wish I had. I did, however, coin the term/genre of Zen-Surrealism – and therefore, I am entitled to, well, entitle my latest manifesto “Zen-Surrealist Subversions,” which encapsulates the invented tenets of Zen-Surrealism and Zen-Surrealist Socialism. 

So what exactly IS Zen-Surrealism? This question might be bouncing around in your under-/over-caffeinated brain. Or maybe not. After all, the answer is embedded in the name. But allow me to elaborate anyway; after all, we writers must nourish the narcissistic beasts within. I will endeavor toward brevity (an hilariously fruitless pursuit if there ever was one, if ye knew me at all).

For my first answer, I will resort to two tropes that have fueled Clockwise Cat’s work throughout the years, and which of course informed the namesake of the magazine: Cats, and time.

Cats, you see, are naturally Zen, and the construct of time, after all, is naturally surrealistic. That is, cats exist in the present, and live by instinct. And time, since it doesn’t really exist (see previous Clockwise Cat manifestos/your own intuition), is a concept that is incongruous with reality.

For my second answer, it gets less abstract – or at least that’s the (futile?) hope. 

Zen-Surrealism, as I have conceived it, at its very core is an art style/genre that fuses the two “ideologies” of Zen and Surrealism, to create a hybrid ideal. Zen-Surrealist art can be executed either in spirit, in style – or, preferably, both.

You see, the “philosophy” of Zen, at least as I understand it, calls for serenely submerging oneself in the present moment and experiencing reality directly, without the fetters of rational thought. Despite its many merits and societal standing as a highly prized virtue, rational thought – ironically – can obfuscate. The Zen mind lasers through logic and arrives at a clean and clear apprehension of reality. 

Surrealism, similarly, subverts rational thought. When Surrealism grew of out Dadaism in the 1920s, it was founded as a anti-logic movement, essentially. The previous century of “Enlightenment” had brought about the twin terrors of industrialization and eventually, world war, so it was theorized (as much as Surrealists can theorize) that a movement was needed as an audacious artistic antithesis to such miseries. 

Zen-Surrealism merrily marries these two similar and yet disjunctive precepts. After all, Zen is not interested in subverting the rational so much as it is knifing right through it, getting to the raw, beating heart of reality. Surrealism, on the other hand, wants to profane the rational –  ravenously rip it to slivers, then take those shredded bits and further defile and demean them. Surrealism, in other words, is gloriously brutal, while Zen is serenely humane.

Marrying the two makes subversive sense. Zen-Surrealistic art and poetry presented in the new Clockwise Cat will be created in a calm Zen mindset yet with the ultimate intention to (peacefully) annihilate rigid rationalism. Some Zen-Surrealist poetry may even have more hallmarks of Zen poetry, with a tranquil voice and concentration on natural subjects. But the undercurrents of such poetry will have a implicit Surrealist twist, zoning in on elements that smash through the dead-end of logic and forge new freeways of thinking and being. Too, some Zen-Surrealist poetry may seem to have more hallmarks of Surrealism, where the Zen element is not as apparent, and yet the spirit of creation necessitates a Zen context. 

Visual art created in this vein will also intuitively adhere to the above descriptions.

What about Zen-Surrealist Socialism? What the hell is that?

So glad you inquired.

Zen-Surrealist Socialism is merely Socialism that incorporates Zen-Surrealist elements. Socialism, either of the pure form or of the distilled Democratic flavor, tends to be a more humane approach than Capitalism, but often could be considered dry and pragmatic in execution. Zen-Surrealist Socialism, conversely, playfully infuses irreverent, irrational, Zenful thinking in its implementation of those coveted Socialist ideals.

As far as what that means for this new iteration of The Cat, well, in addition to poetry and visual art, we will be showcasing, as usual, political rants, and, as always, they will be progressive in flavor – even socialistic in flavor. But, crucially, that savory socialism will have a surrealistic seasonings and spices. What does that mean, exactly? Stay tuned to find out. We’re not even sure we know yet, but we cannot wait to discover the tongue-titillating tastes of these delicious diatribes!

(Oh, and yes, cats are naturally Zen-Surrealist Socialists, so there. Although I did have one cat that I am pretty sure was a fascist, but I digress.)

(We will continue, by the way, to feature a majority of women writers and artist per issue as much as possible, and also persist in showcasing one female writer or artist per issue as a Featured Femme. Women, after all, are still often marginalized in the literary game, and furthermore – women are the OG of Zen-Surrealism! The OZ-S, if you will. After all, women are intuitively in touch with the simmering core of reality and also rationally anti-rationality in the sense that rationality is an inherently patriarchal construct, and women know better than to over-rely on non-emotional thinking. Instead we fuse our own internal logic with a whimsical brutalization of toxic logic.)

Now, onto other relevant matters …

So for many years, my bio has been rendered thus:

 Clockwise Cat publisher and editor Alison Ross pioneered the genre of Zen-Surrealism and uses that as her guiding aesthetic. Alison believes that “poetic intuition” knifes through the murk of the mundane and mutates mediocrity into a Utopia of the Dynamic.

So you see, I have been a Zen-Surrealist/Zen-Surrealist Socialist for quote some time. However, Clockwise Cat had not yet reflected that fact. My two original subheadings for Clockwise Cat were:


Those were kind of dry, however, even if filled with ass-kicking assonance and alliteration.

To further augment this manifesto, and to conclude it in a fun, Zenful fashion, I present two pieces I wrote a while back ( / about abolishing work in the name of Zen-Surrealism and Zen-Surrealist Socialism.

Abolish Work: The Art of Zen-Surrealism


Alison Ross

There are people on this earth who must toil in sweatshops, enduring unfathomable conditions and excruciating exploitation. There are also people on this earth who cannot find employment because of the dastardly dearth of jobs, and so they must live in cardboard boxes under bridges, or inhabit makeshift tent cities, or survive off of trash heaps (as in Indonesia), and so on.

This situation, of course, transcends mere tragedy, and is akin to Dante’s harrowing embellishments of hell. It is not simply unacceptable — it’s abominable.

But this tirade is not going to dwell on the unemployed or the starving. Instead, it is going to focus on those of us who are “privileged” enough to actually be working.

And my sarcastic bias toward the word “privileged” in this context is two–fold: Firstly, I do not think it should be considered a privilege to have employment: everyone should have access to work so that they have the financial means to live.

Secondly, as strongly as I feel about the accessibility of employment and also about equitable workplace conditions — that’s the socialist side of me showing itself–the surrealist side of me feels snarlingly disdainful toward the very concept of work.

I feel that “work” as we understand and live the idea, should be abolished. Real work would be woven into our lives so as not to feel so estranged from it, and so as not to encumber us.

We are not here on earth to live miserable lives; on the contrary, we are here to have full, happy lives. And a full, happy life cannot be achieved when we devote the bulk of our hours to sweating at labor which either is sucked dry of purpose, mostly profitable for someone else’s purse, or both.

Sure, there are jobs laden with purpose — but those jobs, like teaching, caring for people and animals, and so on, would be the kinds of “work” that would be seamless with our lives of leisure and pleasure in the radical world-overhaul I propose – that is, when I take over the universe and re-align it according to the dictates of logic and compassion.

And though there are always going to be the nagging narrow-minded naysayers who proclaim preposterously that such a world is a utopian hallucination, that striving toward euphoric purpose is a pointless squandering of our mental and physical energy — to them I say fuck off, because it’s people like them who through their cynical misapprehension of the past, present, and future, who are holding the rest of us back.

Talk about wasting energy: your pessimistic prophesies of a deadly dull existence of inhabiting cubicles, making money for the already stinking-affluent while performing mindless, soulless tasks are just further entrenching us in this type of no-life.

We need a Zen-Surrealist approach to living. Life is poetry. I don’t care HOW crudely cliche that sounds, but I am sure even the most generic corporate automaton, with his barcode brain and stupefied zombie demeanor, would agree that cubicles and punching clocks are the numbing antithesis of poetry.

So how would a workless world look, and function?

It would LOOK like a lot of fucking FUN, that’s what it would look like — a big flipping playground for adults.

And it would FUNCTION just fine. It would function like things used to function before humans got a stick up their ass and decided to create repressive hierarchies. People would garden, and hunt (as much as I detest the idea), and educate their own children…or there would be community schools where all the adults would partake in the education of the children.

People would build their own houses, or perhaps partake in community construction of housing. And during their free time, people would ENJOY life, because they’d have copious time to enjoy it and because their work was part of a communal effort, and not something disengaged from themselves and something to satisfy and benefit some other abstract being who fancies him or herself as divinely deserving of riches while the rest of us grovel in gutters.

Of course, it will take a revolutionary reworking of the world to achieve this, but in the meantime, we can muse on the things we actually enjoy doing. Herewith, are 25 unorthodox things one could do in the blissful absence of the oppressive 8 hour work day (please note that I also almost included a list of ORTHODOX ideas (such as raising farm animals, taking singing lessons, etc.), but in my own Zen-Surrealist mode, I figured these would be more entertaining and edifying, and are far likelier to stave off episodes of zombifying apathy):

1. For women: Masturbate with a different finger, every hour, on the hour.

2. For men: Watch your girlfriend or wife masturbate with a different finger, every hour, on the hour.

3. Make an acrostic of the word Masturbate that uses sexy words for each letter, like Mammary and Ass

4. Make confetti of your bills and stage a confetti-throwing party at your power company, gas company, phone company, etc.

5. Form a mixed-gender nude rock band. Women will play the drums with their boobs and men will play guitar with their weenies.

6. Bomb the headquarters of Operation Rescue while chanting, “Death to everyone, not just babies!”

7. Gaze into the Existential Void of your navel; contemplate oblivion

8. Extract lint from your the Existential Void of your navel, and sell it in a yard sale as an Artifact of Oblivion

9. Hold a Buddhist Yard Sale, selling nothing for nothing

10. Hold a Karmic Yard Sale, trading your good karma for others’ bad karma (cuz bad karma is more fun and the good karma trade-idea will act as an impetus for clueless customers)

11. Paint murals on bridge walls depicting what life was like for those who were forced to work miserable 8-12-16 hour workdays

12. Hold a Dystopian Yard Sale, ridding your house of all the consumerist junk you bought to offset the misery when you were forced to work all day

13. Take a hammer to your flat screen TV; create a mosaic from the shattered glass and steel

14. Occupy Your Couch and protest the greed of the cushions that suck all your coins from your pockets, and the food crumbs from your dinner plate

15. Travel to all 50 states, but instead of visiting the metropolises and typical tourist cities, pick the most rural town in each, and set up camp there for a week, observing and taking meticulous notes. When you return home, write a travel guide called “Rural Backwaters of US and A”

16. Play Neighborhood Tic Tac Toe, using each person from each household on your block as the Xs and Os

17. Watch every David Lynch, Luis Bunel, and Igmar Bergman film 10 times each, and then make a movie in your mind during your sleep. In the morning, extract the movie from your subconscious, and do daily showings of it at your house, inviting only people who embrace throwaway movies like The Fast and the Furious as their favorite films.

18. Watch all the insufferably bad Steven Spielberg films (such as Artificial Intelligence), taking copious notes on how they can be enhanced, then make your own New! Improved! Spielberg movie to show him how it’s done. Be sure to compliment him on his highly competent efforts first, such as Schindler’s List and The Color Purple.

19. Blatantly flout the Geneva Conventions and extensively torture all the bad directors, such as that Tree of Life asshole and the motherfucker who does all those idiotic Spielberg-lite simulations (M Night Sham-mammalian or whatever the fuck his name is). Oh, and be SURE to include Mr. Mayberry himself, Ron Howard.

20. Practice your burgeoning pyromaniac skills and build a towering inferno of all the bad novels and books of verse that you and your friends and family own…do a Bad-Book dance around the flames in gleeful celebration, then immolate yourself since you can’t write any better than those pathetic scribes.

21. Withdraw all your money from your bank, make confetti of all the paper bills, then make it rain greenbacks and coins from bridges onto freeways

22. For women: Tattoo an elaborate colorful penis onto your vagina, evoking gender sympathy

23. For men: Tattoo an elaborate colorful vagina onto your penis, evoking gender sympathy

24. Induce a sugar-coma by eating two bags of jumbo marshmallows; dream of Smores-ville, where you will be Mayor Hershey Graham.

25. Pioneer the art of knee-cap piercing

Beware of Work, or How to Become

a Zen-Surrealist Socialist

By Alison Ross

“What workers need most is to rediscover play – collective, imaginative, liberating, non-competitive, and full of fun” (Penelope Rosemont, Toward a Politics of the Pleasure Principle, Surrealist Subversions)

So the Surrealist Subversions anti-work tirades have tapped into a primitive place in my psyche. And by primitive I don’t mean crude and underdeveloped; I use the word primitive in its most elevated sense, to signify the “original mind,” the one that has not been muddled by the toxic miasma of fear and ignorance.

And this original mind, which deploys as its oh-so-dastardly device the intuitive faculty, tells me that the surrealists are right in regard to their anti-work fervor. It’s not so much that they stand completely contrary to work itself as they don’t believe in the current feudalistic system which subjugates worker to boss, features profit as its primary (and perversely “benevolent”) aim, and that enforces lock-step conformity while dissuading the prolific employment of our fertile imaginations.

REAL WORK would sublimate our narcissistic proclivities toward a more creative communal effort that would be woven into the tapestry of daily activities, mutating it into pardoxical “non-work work.”

As it is, we dread our jobs, or are obsessed with them in order to imbue the hollow spaces in our souls with something meaningful. With REAL WORK, dread or obsession becomes extinct, and we can mindfully partake in our tasks at hand.

The equation for authentic happiness is creativity and compassion. Leisure is a part of both sides of the equation; creativity flows when the spirit is relaxed, and compassion comes more readily when we are not entangled in meaningless minutiae that encumbers us pyschologically.

We are miserable because we are stressed. We are stressed because we are overworked and forced to take jobs we dislike. And we are overworked and forced to take jobs we dislike because we have allowed ourselves to be manipulated by the malevolent mentality that WORK is what gives us purpose, and we must WORK to LIVE.

NO NO NO. It’s not to say that some not jobs are not enjoyable, and of course in our current context we DO need to work to live… but firstly, ALL jobs should be enjoyable vocation-type jobs or it’s pointless, and secondly, working for someone else’s benefit is NO way to LIVE!

Work should ALWAYS be for OUR OWN benefit, and the benefit of the planet as a whole. As it is, the majority of us toil in jobs that pollute the planet, or that profit someone else at our own expense, and that are only superficially constructive. For most jobs, any “purpose” we place in our work is manufactured in order to justify having to devote such a large chunk of our lives to it..

Think about it. What do you enjoy most in life? Cooking? Reading? Writing poetry? Painting? Traveling? Seeing a movie or play? Listening to music? Creating music? Walking in the park? Biking? Swimming? Gazing at the stars? Drinking wine? Dining out? Gardening? Communing with your pets? Hanging with your friends or significant other? Helping others in need, like children or the elderly, or the poor or the disabled?

We are most happy when we are indulging such spiritually profitable activities.

Shouldn’t it rationally follow, then, that we should have MORE time to dedicate to such activities?

Let’s face it: We have permitted the purchasing of our souls by pernicious profiteers. They leech off of our labor, rendering us inert to fulfill any other function but the weary roles we have allowed them to carve out for us. They make us THINK we are leading lives luxuriant in significance and dignity, but the reality is, we are but a sliver of what we COULD be if left to our own anarchic devices. We are not autonomous, but automatons, programmed to do what others in positions of power want us to do.

Instead of working at some deadening dead-end job, we should all be out decorating the sidewalks, bouyantly embellishing the bridges and drab buildings with vibrant art, thumping in drum circles, tribal dancing, shouting poetry, climbing trees and swinging from vines. To be an adult is to be a responsible kid, not a rigid robot devoid of soulful whimsy.

How would we get things done, you ask, in this fantastical utopia of non-work? We’ll communually educate our children, we’ll grow our own gardens, we’ll sew our own clothes, we’ll make our own museums and concerts and plays and playgrounds. It’ll be Zen-surrealist-socialism, and not only is it positively possible, it’s already happening to varying degrees around the world.

Our hobbies should be what we spend the bulk of our day doing, and work should be something that we never have time to pursue, because we are too busy enjoying our pleasure-filled LIFE.

“Once free of wage-slavery, humankind will immediately redesign its labor so that it will not be work at all, but play. Today’s society, unfortunately, has all but forgotten how to play; it has mechanized exercise, regimented leisure, and substituted miserabilist megasports spectacles for real play” (Penelope Rosemont, Toward a Politics of the Pleasure Principle, Surrealist Subversions)

“Either we collectively find out way out of this hall of mirrors, overacome our alienation and atomization, and create a non-repressive society in which each and every individual can be true to her/himself, or we continue pell-mell on the ignominious business-as-usual course of greedy self-deception, making throwaway commodities of ourselves, making life more and more miserable for everyone, and ultimately making the Earth itself unlivable.” (Penelope Rosemont, Toward a Politics of the Pleasure Principle, Surrealist Subversions)


Clockwise Cat exists as a triumph over tyranny: The tyranny of time, the tyranny of linguistic convention, the tyranny of hierarchy and political oppression.


Time in this context is construed as that which constrains and constricts us – the elements that inhibit our imaginations and attempt to confine us in conformist cages. Indeed, these conformist cages are layered like Russian dolls – we break out of one cage only to find we are confined by a still-bigger one. Time is a human construct that was subliminally conceived to delude us into thinking that work, not leisure and creativity, was the “aim” of life. Thus, the tyranny of time is the tyranny of work. We must work because that is the system that power has built. Clockwise Cat, however, hisses at and pisses on the idea that life is about work.

Cats, of course, defy time, and fully apprehend leisure and pleasure. Their purrs are vibrations of the universe reminding us to pace ourselves and enjoy existence. Their fur is like cosmic velvet to the touch, its plush texture calming our agitations. Cats sleep the majority of their day because, well, why not? Sleep is the mystical space between life and death, a delirious oblivion where angels and demons tangle in holy visions, which provides refuge and refreshment.

Cats prove that time doesn’t really exist.

(Granted, the universe operates on a sort of “time” paradigm, but humans have seized upon this elusive idea and ruthlessly pounded out the cosmic core of it. We must aim to re-capture the mystical nexus of time, and not attempt to “tame” it. Time is undomesticated, not doomed for imprisonment in clock-cages.)


Linguistic convention is anything language-wise that complacently perpetuates the status quo. Language is a living entity, and should be employed vigorously and imaginatively, in order to keep it flowing forward rather than stagnating like mosquito-ridden puddles. Indeed, linguistic convention acts as a mosquito to language, sucking it dry of life, bleeding it of its very essence. Language must be free and feral, allowing for radical reinvention, or it crumbles under its own dead weight. Those poets and writers such as the Symbolists, Surrealists, Dadaists, Magic Realists, Beats, the post-modern experimentalists, the Avant Garde-ists, the Gonzo Journalists  – hell, even Dickinson and Shakespeare, – hell, even Eliot – were and are intuitively cognizant of the urgency of injecting outlandish innovation into language to keep it fresh and real.

You could say that ALL poets defy linguistic convention in some way, and that may be true to a point. But I say, it’s the ones who instinctively and deliberately subvert convention and create a wild, authentic, individualistic, iconoclastic idiom who are the true language-guerillas. e.e. cummings, anyone?


Hierarchy, of course, is the pernicious power structure that prevails in modern life, and has prevailed throughout history. Hierarchy breeds oppression. Raoul Vaneigem, in his iconic book, Revolution of Everyday Life, captures the poisonous perils of power emphatically and succinctly:

“The old proletariat sold its labour power in order to subsist; what little leisure time it had was passed pleasantly enough in conversations, arguments, drinking, making love, wandering, celebrating and rioting. The new proletarian sells his labour power in order to consume. When he’s not flogging himself to death to get promoted in the labour hierarchy, he’s being persuaded to buy himself objects to distinguish himself in the social hierarchy. The ideology of consumption becomes the consumption of ideology.”

We must persistently and defiantly resist oppressive power structures at home, at work, at our places of worship and in our extracurricular endeavors, in politics, and in general society. No one is divinely imbued with the right to oppress others, ever. Our insidious infatuation with hierarchy is the root of the problem. We must align ourselves with equanimous aims.

Through its seasonal servings of radical rants, skewering satire, reviews of progressive works of art, and poetry that audaciously overthrows the tired tents of tradition, Clockwise Cat exists to fiercely claw at the imagination-inhibiting factors of time as it is conventionally conceived, linguistic mediocrity, and oppressive sociopolitical hierarchy.


Editorial Manifesto One

Editorial Manifesto Too




The clockwise cat

is wise to clocks.

She knows their motive:

to tame the savage animal of time.

The clockwise cat

hisses at the clock-cages;

her fangs gnaw the numbers

and her claws rip holes

in the frayed fabric of space.

The clockwise cat

moves in counter-clockwise cadences

across the hardwood floors of infinity.

She stalks illusions of impermanence

which flit like shadows

across the paint-chipped walls in her mind.

The clockwise cat

tells time with her eyes:

they blaze like candle flames

in the dim closets of oblivion.

The clockwise cat

sleeps 16 days an hour.

She dreams about the minutes

she will devour like bugs;

she awakens to seconds

poisoned like rats.

(first published in Cerebral Catalyst)

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