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This article is taken from PN Review 42, Volume 11 Number 4, March - April 1985.

André Breton or The Search for the Beginning Octavio Paz
the search for the beginning
[from Corriente Alterna, translated by Michael Schmidt]

IT is not possible to write about André Breton with unimpassioned language. What's more, it would be wrong to do so. For him, the powers of the word were indistinguishable from those of passion, and this, in its highest and tensest form, was nothing but language in a state of savage purity: poetry. Breton: the language of passion-the passion of language. All his research, quite as much as-if not more than-an exploration of unknown psychic territories, was the repossession of a lost kingdom: the word of the beginning, man before men and civilizations. Surrealism was an order of chivalry and its whole enterprise was a Grail Quest. The surprising evolution of the term querer expresses well the tone of the search: querer comes from quaerere (to seek, to enquire) but in Spanish it soon changed its meaning to signify impassioned will, desire. Querer: passional, amorous search. Search not towards the future or the past but towards that centre of convergence which is, at the same time, the origin and the end of times: the day before the beginning and after the end. His outrage at 'the infamous Christian idea of sin' is something more than a rejection of traditional Western values: it is an affirmation of man's original innocence. This distinguishes him from almost all his contemporaries and from those who followed him. For Bataille eroticism, death and sin are interchangeable signs which repeat in their ...


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