Remember Amélie, waitress in Montmartre and expert of life’s little pleasures? There’s one scene where she’s running her fingers through a sackful of grain, and throughout the film, she keeps picking up flat, smooth stones and pebbles for stone-skimming on Canal Saint-Martin.
Do you also catch yourself having Amélie-esque habits, such as ceaselessly running your fingers through the tassels of your blue scarf, or feeling the urge to touch this whenever you see a reproduction of it? Surrealist objects are disturbing, it’s true, but I’d nevertheless like to stroke the fur-lined tea cup. Breton said of the objects in Apollinaire‘s studio, “ils prennent le goût à rebrousse-poil.” I like this expression, for it captures the slight uneasiness provoked by the materiality of some objects, a feeling of both attraction and repulsion resulting in a peculiar kind of pleasure, giving you the heebie-jeebies. Imagine stroking a cat’s fur against the grain; it’ll make her purr and hiss at the same time.
Do you also often feel the impulse to touch and hug people, but are too afraid to break into their comfort zone – not to mention the sensitive issue of cultural differences? Do you also sometimes deplore the disappearance of letters? It’s hard to imagine life without e-mails and the Internet, but I can’t help thinking how wonderful it would be to receive more letters like the one Mimi Parent sent to André and Élisa Breton in the summer of 1959. Attaching two dragonfly wings to the initial of “amis” – what a beautiful, touching image of summer, playfulness, lightness and friendship.