“In Company (Surrealist text)” is like some dreamed hero’s journey. It begins from deep despair for which mourning is insufficient, and it ends after the beheading (but not killing?) of all of “this” that lives: “this patient insect body, this loving bird body, this loyal mammiferous body, and this lean and vain body of the beast of my childhood” (113). Then again, it is unclear to me whether “all this [that] lives” has to have its head die, or if Eluard intends to refer only to who I assume, thanks to Freud, to be the head of his father. The list-like organization of these different animal kingdoms acts as a vehicle to survey various natural virtues/morals—patience, love, loyalty—ultimately to culminate in the vanity and beastliness of childhood, the father figure. The shift from moral wording to immoral wording in this passage comes when human concepts like childhood are introduced. The speaker travels from the despair and the pangs of individuality to the isolating yet communicatory aspects of language and thought, up toward the hope of virtue in nature.
That said, nature gets a good rap in these few lines, while the individual, identity, and culture are disillusioned: “My face understands me no longer. And there are no others.” I wonder how (if at all) Eluard’s indication that nature is patient, loving, loyal connects to the art that was in vogue with the Prussian aristocracy—the residual romanticism of the German establishment that more avant-garde movements antagonized. By contrast to propagandized, national romanticism, Eluard’s romantic undertones in 1927 appear to address individuals regardless of nationality. It feels like Eluard wants to suggest that we each dream up illusions that set us up to disillusion ourselves. This a-nationality also mirrors the pluralistic aims of dada.