Surrealists: Man Ray, Jean Arp, Yves Tanguy, André Breton; Tristan Tzara, Salvador Dalí, Paul Eluard, Max Ernst and Rene Clevel, 1930.
Mihály Zichy, Mistress Agnes, 1893.
Behind the Wheel - Devotional
Gdańsk, People’s Republic of Poland, 1972.
Konstantin Mel’nikov, Soviet pavilion for the 1925 Paris Expo [via]
Series: To Edgar Allan Poe by Odilon Redon (1852)
"All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream."
— Edgar Allan Poe
The poet and the actress: Dante Alighieri and Louise Brooks share a moment…
✫ Christmas with the Romanovs
The forest is entranced
by Winter the Magician.
Under velvet snow
it’s mute, immobile, glistening
wondrously with life,
neither dead nor alive,
entranced by a magic dream,
entirely covered, fettered
by light links of snow.
Should winter’s sun cast a sudden flare
glancing across its summits,
not a thing will shiver in it.
It will sparkle and flame
and be blindingly fair !
Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky
Travel of Poseidon by sea
Lily Flexmore, by G. Gerlach, circa 1905
Photo by Gertrude Käsebier, 1905 c.
To Breton, from X, 5 July 1916
[…] Oh! enough — enough! and even too much! — a black suit, creased trousers, polished shoes — Paris — striped cloth — pyjamas and uncut books — Where are you going this evening?… nostalgic things that died before the war — and then — what afterwards?? We’ll laugh, yes? […]
To Breton, from X, 11 October 16, 3 pm
[…] I’m the English interpreter, a position to which I bring a total indifference decorated with a quiet farce — such as I like to bring to official things — I take my Crystal monocle and a theory for troubling paintings for a walk around villages in ruins.
[…] The consequences don’t matter.
And furthermore, I imagine I’m in the German Army and I’ve succeeded — Things change, now I truly believe I serve against the allied armies — What do you expect?…
[…] Several times I’ve told a colonel to whom I’m attached that I’ll push a bit of wood into his earens — I doubt that he quite understood me wholly — since he doesn’t understand French.
My current dream is to wear a red shirt, a red silk handkerchief, and high boots — and be a member of a Chinese society without purpose or secret in Australia — Besides, I don’t deny that there is vampirism there. […]
To Breton, from X, 29.4.17
[…] I’m writing to you from an ex-village, a very narrow pigsty hung with blankets — I’m with the English soldiers — They have advanced quite a bit towards the enemy line near here — It’s very noisy — And that’s that.
My dear friend, I was happy to hear that you are sick, only slightly — I received an almost normal letter from T.F. — that boy saddens me — I’m tired of mediocrity and am of a mind simply to go to sleep for an indefinite period — For me, to go through the waking effort of writing these few pages alone is extremely difficult; perhaps it’ll be better next time. Sorry — okay? okay? Nothing kills a man so much as having to serve his country — Also.
From time to time — and so I won’t be suspected of a peaceful death after all, I assure myself through a trick or a hamicable pat on some head of familiar death that I am a villainous man — I was introduced today to a Division general and a Staff major at headquarters under the name of a famous painter — (I think the general was 50 or 70 years old — perhaps he is dead also — but the name remains) — They (the General and the Staff major) managed to run away from me as soon as possible — it’s strange and I amuse myself by imagining how unamusing this will end up — In any case… Besides… And in the end it leaves me indifferent as to how it will all turn out — it’s not really funny — not funny at all. No.
Are you sure that Apollinaire is still alive or that Rimbaud even existed? For me, I don’t think so — I only see Jarry (Anyway, what do you want, anyway — … — UBU) — I’m sure that MARIE LAURENCIN is still alive: certain evidence exists that seems to prove this — Is this right? — nevertheless, I think I hate her — yes — there, tonight I hate her. What do you want?
And then you ask me to define ‘umour for you — just like that! —
IT IS IN THE ESSENCE OF SYMBOLS TO BE SYMBOLIC
it seemed to me for a long time that the only thing that deserved to exist was that which was capable of containing a horde of living things : EXAMPLE: you know the horrible life of the alarm clock — it’s a monster that has always frightened me because of the number of things its eyes project, and the way in which this honest man stares at me whenever I enter a room — why then does he have so much ‘umour, why? But then: it’s thus and not otherwise — There is a lot of wonderful UBIQUE in ‘umour also — as you will see — But — of course, this isn’t definite and ‘umour derives too much from a sensation of not being very difficult to express — I think that it’s a sensation — I was going to say SENSE — also - of the theatrical (and joyless) futility of everything.
WHEN YOU KNOW
And then, this is why enthusiasms (in the first place they are so noisy) — expressed by others are so hateful — Because — isn’t this right? — We have Genius — since we understand ‘umour — And therefore, everything — Besides, have you ever doubted it? — is permitted to us — And besides, all this is very boring.
[…] It’s boring to write with a pencil on lined paper.
To Breton, 4.6.17
[…] It’s burning hot here, very dusty and sweaty — but what do you expect? It has to be like this on purpose — The swaggering lines of large convoys stir up the dust and salt the sun with acid — How funny it all is! — Apollinaire — too bad! — Magazines frosted with blonde girls and the tough-guy detective’s shaved nostrils are quite beautiful… "The girl I love is on a magazine cover" — Tough luck! Tough luck! — So what, that’s how it is — Nevertheless, the white lilac flowers in the shell-casing that sweat and fall back into old solitary sensual pleasures bore me a lot — the summer sidewalk florists whose sprinkling hoses ruin everyone’s good Sunday clothes — It’s pleasantly warm and persons holding lorgnettes discuss, I think, the stock-market with the attitude of housewives — All the same again, very little of the smell of these old scaped melons and sewers escapes me!… — And then this young whore hanging up her underwear and her damp odour — ! — A fat green fly is swimming in my tea, its wings spread out flat — Oh well, too bad — that’s all — Well. […]
To Fraenkel, 4.6.17
[…] You know, the war isn’t over yet — and this morning the Germans again sent us a volley of bullets, though 12 kilometres from the line — It would be annoying to die so younggggg.
Ah! then MERDRE. […]
To Breton, 18.8.17
ART doesn’t exist, of course — Then it’s useless to sing about it — nevertheless! We make art — because that’s how it is and not otherwise — Well — what are you going to do about it?
Then we neither like ART nor artists (down with Apollinaire!). AND how RIGHT TOGRATH IS TO ASSASSINATE THE POET! — However, since this is so, it’s necessary to swallow a drop of acid or old lyricism, doing it in a lively jerk — because locomotives go fast.
Modernity is also both constant and murdered each night — We ignore MALLARMÉ, without hatred — but then he’s dead — But we don’t recognise Apollinaire any more, or Cocteau — because — we suspect them of making art too consciously, of slicing romanticism with telephone wire and not knowing the dynamos. THE Stars are still disconnected! — it’s boring — and then sometimes they speak so seriously! A man who believes is a curiosity.
BUT SINCE SOME PEOPLE ARE NATURAL HAMS…….
Ah well — I see two ways of letting things flow — To construct personal sensation by using a flashy collision of rare words — ones not often used — or draw angles, neat squares of feelings — naturally, those of the moment — We will allow logical Honesty — provided it contradicts us — like everyone else.
— O ABSURD GOD! — because everything is contradiction — isn’t it? — and will ‘umour be the one that is never taken in by the hidden and sneaky life of everything? — O My alarm-clock — eyes — and hypocrite — who detsts me so much!… and will ‘umour be the one that will feel the lamentable optical illusion of universal simile-symbols.
— It’s in their nature to be symbolic.
— ‘Umour shouldn’t produce — But what to do about it? I grant LAFCADIO a little ‘umour — because he doesn’t read and he produces only through amusing experiences — such as the murder — and without any satanic lyricism — my old rotten Baudelaire!!! We needed our art a little dry; machinery — presses with stinking oil — hum — hum — hum… hiss! — Reverdy — amusing the pohete and boredom in prose, Max Jacob, the old fraud — PUPPETS — PUPPETS — PUPPETS — do you want beautiful puppets of painted wood? Two flame-dead eyes and the crystal circle of a monocle — with an octopus-like typewriter — I would like that better.
— This all bothers you a lot sometimes — but answer me — I’ll be passing through Paris around the beginning of October and perhaps we can arrange a preface/discussion paper — What wonderful noise! — In any case, I hope to see you very much.
Accept my best wishes.
To Breton, 9.5.18
[…] I am decidely very far from the literary crowd — even from Rimbaud, I’m afraid, dear friend — ART IS STUPIDITY — Almost nothing is stupid — art must be funny and a little tiresome — that’s all — Max Jacob — very rarely — could be ‘UMOROUS — but he also ended up taking himself seriously, didn’t he? A curious intoxication — And then — to produce? — “to aim so purposely to miss your mark” — naturally, written irony is unbearable — but naturally you also know very well that ‘umour isn’t irony, naturally — Like that — what do you want? It’s like that and not otherwise — Everything is so funny, very funny, it’s a fact — Everything is so funny! — (and if we killed ourselves as well, instead of merely going away?)
[…] — Excuse me — my dear Breton, for the lack of making a point of all this. I’m in rather bad health, live in a hole that’s lost somewhere between calcinated tree stumps and, periodically, a sort of parabolic shell dawdles by and coughs — I live with an American office, who is learning war, chews “gum” and sometimes makes me laugh — I’ve escaped him very little since — to this last retreat — But I object to being killed in wartime — I spend the largest part of my days walking to the unlikeliest places where I can see fantastic explosions — and when I am behind the lines, often in the public house where I love to eat dinner — It’s sufficiently lamentable — but what to do about it?
To Breton, 14.11.18
— In what a depression your letter has found me! — I’m empty of any ideas and a bit resonant, more than usual, no doubt, an unconscious recorder of many things en bloc — What crystallisation?… I shall leave the war slightly deranged, perhaps like one of those wonderful village idiots (and I even with is to happen)… or else… or else… what a film part I will play! — With fabulous automobiles, you know the type, with bridges that give way and giant hands that crawl about the screen towards what document!… Useless and insignificant! — With dialogues so tragic, delivered in tux and tails behind a palm tree that listen! — And then Charlie [Chaplin], leering naturally, his eyeballs calm. The policeman who is forgotten locked up in the trunk!!!
[…] I will also be a trapper, theief, explorer, hunter, miner, or oil-driller — Arizona Bar (Whisky — Gin and Mixed?), and sweeping exploitable forests and you know those wonderful riding breeches that you wear when using a machine-gun, clean-shaven and boasting such good hands at solitaire. All that will come to an end in a fire, I tell you, or, fortune made in a saloon — Well.
— Poor friend, what am I going to do to put up with these final months in uniform? — (they assured me the war was over) — I’m (I can’t stand it any longer) at the end of my rope… and then THEY are suspicious… THEY suspect something — Provided THEY don’t disembrain me while I’m still in THEIR power?
To Breton, 19.12.18
[…] I would also like to see you again — Decidedly, the number of subtleties here is very minute — How I envy the fact you are in Paris and can mystify those who are worth the trouble — Here I am in Brussels, once again in my dear tango atmosphere at around 3:00 a.m. — what a marvellous business it is to sit in front of some monstrous cocktail with a double straw and some bleeding smile — I’m drawing funny pictures using coloured pencils on coarse-grain paper and I mark up the pages for something or other — I hardly know what. You see, I don’t know where I am any longer. […] I believe I remember that, granted, we decided to leave SOCIETY in a startled semi-ignorance until we can come up with a satisfactory and perhaps scandalous manifestation. At any rate, and quite naturally, I’m depending on you to prepare the ways for this deceptive God, sneering slightly and terrible in any case — You see, how funny it’ll be if this true NEW SPIRIT breaks loose!
[…] Apollinaire did a lot for us and is certainly not dead; besides, he was wise to stop in time — it’s already been said, but it’s worth repeating: HE MARKS AN ERA. The beautiful things we will be able to accomplish; — NOW!
—Jacques Vaché, extracts from his War Letters in 4 Dada Suicides
Vaché died of an opium overdose — 6 January 1919 — along with another “unwitting army buddy”; it was possibly accidental, possibly a suicide pact