For the last two months I have been living in the Place Blanche. It is a very mild winter and women make short and delightful appearances at the tables in front of the café where we sit with our drug alcohol. The nights exist only in the hyperborean lands of legend. I can’t remember ever having lived anywhere else; those who say they know me must be mistaken. Though now they say they thought that I was dead. You are right to call me to order. After all, who’s speaking? André Breton, a man of rather small courage, who has up to now been more or less satisfied with one act of derision and that probably because one day he just felt permanently unable to do whathe wanted. And it’s true that I have a feeling of having done badly for myself on many occasions; it’s true that I find I am less than a monk, less than an adventurer. But I still have a feeling that I shall find myself again and that in these early days of 1922 in the midst of gay and lovely Montmartre I am thinking what I can do with my life.
These days, we think of everything in terms of its opposite and of the union of both into one single category, this itself reconcilable with the first term and so on until the mind reaches the absolute idea, the reconciliation of all oppositions and the unity of all categories. If Dada had been this, then it would not have been so bad, even though I would still prefer the busy life of the first little tart I see to the sleep of Hegel on his laurels. Dada is far from such considerations. The proof of this lies in the fact that today, when it takes great delight in being taken for a vicious circle: “Some day or other, we shall know that before Dada, after Dada, without Dada, towards Dada, in spite of Dada, against Dada, it is always Dada”, without noticing that it deprives itself thereby of all virtue and meaningfulness, it is astonished to find that its only supporters are poor fools who live in a world of the past, waxing warm and fierce at the memory of misdeeds long ago. The danger moved elsewhere a long time ago. And what does it matter if M. Tzara has to share his glory with Marinetti and Baju! They say I change
friends the way some people change their boots. But I can’t go on wearing the same pair for ever and when they don’t fit me any more, I give them to my servants.
I like and admire Francis Picabia and it would not upset me in the least if some of his comments about me were repeated. They have done all they could to mislead him about the way I feel, seeing clearly that if we were to understand each other, it would compromise the established position of those already settled in. Dadaism, like so many other things, has for some people been just a way of settling in. One thing I did not say earlier was that there can be no absolute idea. We have been subjected to a sort of mental mimicry which has stopped us going deeply into anything and has made us look with hostility at anything we held dear. To give one’s life for an idea, Dada or the one I am evolving right now, would only cause great intellectual poverty. Ideas are neither good nor bad, they just are: and they can still rouse passion of one kind or another in my mind. You will forgive me if I maintain that, unlike ivy, I die if I cling on hard to something. Would you like me to worry in case these words seem to attack that cult of friendship which, according to M. Binet-Valmer, is at the basis of the cult of patriotism?
I can only assure you that I don’t give a damn about it and repeat:
Drop your wife, your mistress.
Drop your hopes and fears.
Sow your children in the corner of a wood.
Drop the substance for the shadow.
Drop your easy life and preparation for a comfortable future.
Get out and go.
from Littérature (new series) No. 2, 1 April 1922