Love by Andre Breton, Mary Ann Caws (Translator)
André Breton, from Mad Love
(L'Amour fou), 1937
Lautréamont's "Beautiful as the encounter
of a sewing machine with an umbrella on a dissection table. . ." constitutes
the very manifesto of convulsive poetry. . .
. . . In any case, what is delightful here
is the dissimilarity itself which exists between the object wished for
and the object found. This trouvaille, whether it be artistic,
scientific, philosophic, or as useless as anything, is enough to undo the
beauty of everything beside it. In it alone can we recognise the marvellous
precipitate of desire. It alone can enlarge the universe, causing it to
relinquish some of its opacity, letting us discover its extraordinary capacities
for reserve, proportionate to the innumerable needs of the spirit. Daily
life abounds, moreover, in just this type of small discovery . . . You
only have to know how to get along in the labyrinth. Interpretive delirium
begins only when man, ill-prepared, is taken by a sudden fear in the forest
of symbols. But I maintain that for anyone, watchfulness would do anything
rather than pay a second's notice to whatever remains exterior to his desire.
What attracts me in such a manner of seeing
is that, as far as the eye can see, it recreates desire . . .
Convulsive beauty will be veiled-erotic, fixed-explosive,
magic-circumstantial, or it will not be.
. . . chance is the form making manifest
the exterior necessity which traces its path in the human consciousness
. . .
. . . Behind ourselves, we must not let
the paths of desire become overgrown. Nothing retains less of desire
in art, in science, than this will to industry, booty, possession. A pox
on all captivity, even should it be in the interest of the universal good
. . . Still today I am only counting on what comes of my own openness,
my eagerness to wander in search of everything, which, I am confident,
keeps me in mysterious communication with other open beings, as if we were
suddenly called to assemble . . .
. . . It is only by making evident the intimate
relation linking the two terms real and imaginary that I
hope to break down the distinction, which seems to me less and less well
founded, between the subjective and the objective. . . . I intend to justify
and advocate more and more choice of a lyric behaviour such as it
is indispensable to everyone, even if for only an hour of love, such as
surrealism has tried to systematize it, with all possible predictive force.
. . . What is strangest is inseparable from
love, presiding over its revelation in individual as well as in collective
terms. Man's and woman's sexual organs are attracted to each other like
a magnet only through the introduction between them of a web of uncertainties
ceaselessly renewed, a real unloosing of hummingbirds which would have
gone to hell to have their feathers smoothed . . .
We will never have done with sensation. All
rationalist systems will prove one day to be indefensible to the extent
that they try, if not to reduce it to the extreme, at least not to consider
it in its so-called exaggerations . . . Surprise must be sought for itself,
unconditionally. It exists only in the interweaving in a single object
of the natural and the supernatural, in the emotion of holding the lyrebird
even as it is felt to be slipping away . . .
Nothing could be more worth an effort than
making love lose this bitter aftertaste which poetry, for example, does
not have. Such an enterprise cannot be entirely successful until on the
universal scale we have finished with the infamous Christian idea of sin.
There has never been any forbidden fruit. Only temptation is divine. To
feel the need to vary the object of this temptation, to replace it by others
— this bears witness that one is about to be found unworthy, that one has
already doubtless proved unworthy of innocence . . .