From Book 2: In Total Darkness

            February days turned grey with rain. Trapped inside, I fled the café scene for Louis’s small apartment. We spent a great deal of time together, for the two of us were seeing very little of our other friends lately. “We’re the only people who aren’t successful,” Louis joked, “or failing successfully.”

            Justine modeled and wrote articles for a magazine in addition to her new job as a secretary, and Roger was also busy all the time. Desnos was defying Breton’s commands by making a name for himself as a journalist, and Artaud was causing even more controversy with his Theatre Alfred Jarry.

Now officially members of the Communist Party, the Surrealists had summoned Artaud before their tribunal to answer questions. Artaud refused to join the Communist Party. “I don’t give a damn about your kind of revolution!” Artaud reportedly snapped at Breton and stomped out. Breton formally expelled Artaud along with Philippe Soupault. Indignant, Artaud insisted he had quit. Angry pamphlets circulated from both sides, with Breton writing in “In Broad Daylight” accusing Artaud of mysticism and religion (“Why doesn’t this stinking corpse just declare himself a Christian already?”), and Artaud lashing back in “In Total Darkness: the Surrealist Bluff” accusing Breton of backing away from his original revolutionary vision. “Surrealism has died of the idiotic sectarianism of its adepts,” wrote Artaud scathingly. “What remains is a kind of hybrid form which the Surrealists themselves cannot name.” Then André Breton had dissolved the Surrealist Research Bureau.

The Theatre Alfred Jarry’s popularity especially stung Breton. On opening night the Surrealists had showed up en masse and blocked the door to prevent the audience from entering. Artaud called the police and pointed out the miscreants, who were hauled to jail.

“It was a set-up,” I told Louis bitterly as we sat playing cards in his apartment. “Breton forced Artaud’s hand. What’s the man supposed to do, stand by and let them close him down?”

            “Oh, he’s not supposed to have a theatre at all, or any theatrical aspirations,” Louis sneered. “That’s bourgeois, you know.”

            “Well, it was the ammunition Breton needed: ‘I’ll always remember Artaud snitching to the cops! Pointing us out!’ et cetera. I hope the man never needs the police himself.” I went to the window to look out at the city. Louis was quiet then. Alert and unmoving, his reflection stood in the window next to mine.

“Remember what you once said, about living in the woods?” I turned to look at Louis, but his face was blank. “By the Loire? Let’s do it.”

            “You’re crazy!” He laughed.

            “Or let’s go to Morocco. You said we’d go, sometime. Why not now?”

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