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Quotes of the day: André Breton

Published Wednesday, February 18, 2015 @ 8:28 PM EST
Feb 18 2015

André Breton (February 19, 1896 - September 28 1966) was a French writer and poet, known best as the founder of Surrealism. His writings include the first Surrealist Manifesto (Manifeste du surréalisme) (1924), in which he defined surrealism as "pure psychic automatism". (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


All my life, my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name.

Beauty will be convulsive or not at all.

Beloved imagination, what I most like in you is your unsparing quality. There remains madness, 'the madness that one locks up', as it has aptly been described. That madness or another...

But in this day and age logical methods are applicable only to solving problems of secondary interest.

Do not forget to make proper arrangements for your last will and testament: speaking personally, I ask that I be taken to the cemetery in a moving van.

Everything tends to make us believe that there exists a certain point of the mind at which life and death, the real and the imagined, past and future, the communicable and the incommunicable, high and low, cease to be perceived as contradictions.

Eyes exist in the savage state.

I could spend my whole life prying loose the secrets of the insane. These people are honest to a fault, and their naivety has no peer but my own.

I have always been amazed at the way an ordinary observer lends so much more credence and attaches so much more importance to waking events than to those occurring in dreams... Man... is above all the plaything of his memory.

If I place love above everything, it is because for me it is the most desperate, the most despairing state of affairs imaginable.

It is living and ceasing to live which are imaginary solutions. Existence is elsewhere.

Let me come back again to the waking state. I have no choice but to consider it a phenomenon of interference. Not only does the mind display, in this state, a strange tendency to lose its bearings (as evidenced by the slips and mistakes the secrets of which are just beginning to be revealed to us), but, what is more, it does not appear that, when the mind is functioning normally, it really responds to anything but the suggestions which come to it from the depths of that dark night to which I commend it.

Life’s greatest gift is the freedom it leaves you to step out of it whenever you choose.

Love is always before you. Love it.

Love is when you meet someone who tells you something new about yourself.

My wish is that you may be loved to the point of madness.

No one who has lived even for a fleeting moment for something other than life in its conventional sense and has experienced the exaltation that this feeling produces can then renounce his new freedom so easily.

No rules exist, and examples are simply life-savers answering the appeals of rules making vain attempts to exist.

Nothing retains less of desire in art, in science, than this will to industry, booty, possession.

Nothing that surrounds us is object, all is subject.

Perhaps I am doomed to retrace my steps under the illusion that I am exploring, doomed to try and learn what I should simply recognize, learning a mere fraction of what I have forgotten.

So strong is the belief in life, in what is most fragile in life- real life, I mean- that in the end this belief is lost.

Surrealism is the 'invisible ray' which will one day enable us to win out over our opponents.

Surrealism will usher you into death, which is a secret society. It will glove your hand, burying therein the profound M with which the word Memory begins.

The imaginary is what tends to become real.

The mind, placed before any kind of difficulty, can find an ideal outlet in the absurd. Accommodation to the absurd readmits adults to the mysterious realm inhabited by children.

There is nothing with which it is so dangerous to take liberties as liberty itself.

What one hides is worth neither more nor less than what one finds. And what one hides from oneself is worth neither more nor less than what one allows others to find.

Words make love with one another.


(February 19 is also the birthday of Carson McCullers.)

Categories: André Breton, Quotes of the day


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