Desnos pushed up his glasses and smiled. “You do sound like Breton.” He said it admiringly, and as he did he threw a glance at the back seat. “But I think you’re coming at this question from a different direction. He is more content with himself.”
“We’re each approaching the same question from different directions,” Louis said.
“All of us?” Artaud asked skeptically.
“Well, at least all the people in this car; I don’t mean the Surrealists in general. They’re trying to impose a particular approach to the question.”
“The Surrealist Research Bureau,” sniffed Justine, “is a men’s club.”
“No, you’re wrong, Justine!” Desnos cried out. “Look at Simone Breton and Suzanne Soupault—”
“No, I’m right, Robert!” Justine declared. “Every time I look at Simone Breton, she’s transcribing one of your dreams. Who will volunteer to be my stenographer?” She glanced around the car and finally glared at Roger, who belatedly put up his hand.
“But Simone handles the business aspect of the Bureau,” Louis objected. “She doesn’t consider herself a poet.”
Insulted, Desnos jerked the wheel and we flew around a corner. “Surrealism exalts women—”
“Ugh!” Justine retorted. “We can’t live up to being ‘better’ than men. And I certainly can’t see how your friends can call women bourgeois for wanting to vote but not find it bourgeois for men to have that right themselves.”
“I never vote,” Desnos argued.
“And neither do I!” Justine informed him.
“All right, calm down, Desnos,” Roger put in good-naturedly. “Justine has a point. Take for instance this femme-enfant ideal that Breton keeps talking about. Does he mean a real child-woman? A willful, blasphemous, child’s child, or an adult’s concept of the child, innocent and obedient? Isn’t Breton asking women to be good little babies and take care of the home front while the men get to enjoy their psychic adventures?”
Desnos sighed. “Women are the true Surrealists; that’s all I’m saying. And American women have the vote. Do they strike you as willful and blasphemous? Once they got the vote, they formed the Anti-Saloon League!”
Justine imitated Breton’s voice, barking like a military commander: “Men, we couldn’t have safely navigated the Unconscious if we didn’t have faithful Realism waiting for us at home. God love women! At ease!” Roger burst into hysterical laughter. Desnos shook his head but he was smiling. I wondered what Genica had to say about all this but she only sat quietly, looking a little cowed.