Monday, 25 November 2013

Jehan Mayoux (25/11/04 - 14/7/75) - Question & Answer / Question reponse


Jehan Mayoux was a French Surrealist poet, teacher, pacifist, ant-militarist and libertarian. The son of anarchists, he joined theSurrealists at the end of the 1920's, and first came in contact  with Andre Breton and Paul Eluard in 1933, after sending them a surrealist game, which was published  in  Le Surrealisme au Service de la Revolution  ( Surrealism in the service of the revolution). He became a teacher and inspector of primary education. A Trade Unionist, he  engaged with the activities of the Popular Front, and was  the secretary of the Committe of the Popular Front in 1935. Called up at the start of the Second World War, he went AWOL,  refusing to heed the call of the mobilisation order, but was caught and imprisoned. He somehow managed to escape, but was recaptured again by the Germans and sent to  concentration campo in the Ukraine for 5 years. After his liberation in 1945, he returned to teaching, whilst continuing to engage in libertarian activity, and to be politically engaged, becoming involved with  the magazine  le Libertaire. After signing the Manifeste des 121 (The Manifesto of the 121) on September 21st 1921, which called on the French Government to recognise the Algerian War as a legitimate struggle for Independence, denouncing the use of torture by the French army, and for conscientious objectors to the conflict to be respected by the authorities, he was suspended from  being an Education Inspector from 1960 until 1965. He eventually retired in 1967, after which he participated in the May 1968 movement, but became dissapointed and dissillusioned  by the attitude of the unions. He was to become a friend of the Surrealist poet Benjamin Peret.
He died in 1975, leaving behind many beautiful poetical works.

Question & Answer:

When I am prison door
I offend with dynamite

When I am rabbit
I write with squid ink
When I am anvil
I will wash my clothes in the river

Or this series of images depicting the beloved:
more spiritual than the tide
wiser than hastily suicide
more naked than the foam
more discreet than the bark of thunder
quieter than Paris
gayer than a grain of salt
lighter than a knife.


Quand je serais porte de prison
je pecherai a la dynamite

Quand je serai lapin de garenne
j'ecrival avec de f'encre de seiche

Quand je senai enclume
je laveral mon linge a la riviere

ou cette suite d'images decrivant la femme aimee:
plus spirituelle que la maree
plus sage que la hate des sicides
plus  nue que le mousse
plus discrete que l'ecorce du tonnerre
plus silencieuse que Paris
plus gaie qu'un grain de sel
plus legere qu'un couteau.

Further Reading :-

Morning Star -Surrealism, Marxism, Anarchism, Situationism, Utopia;
-Michael Lowe , 2010

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