HandsOffLove

 1927 Manifesto in defense of Charlie Chaplin Hands Off Love
    Published in La Revolution Surrealiste n° 9-10, 1 er octobre  and also in transition.

    The Surrealists'€™ defense of Charlie Chaplin, 
    whose sexual habits had been assailed during his public divorce with  Lita Grey ->.

    Manifesto (Fr). ->.
    Signatories:
    Maxime Alexandre, Louis Aragon, Jean Arp, Jacques Baron, Jacques-Andre Boiffard, Andre Breton, 
    Jean Carrive, Robert Desnos, Marcel Duhamel, Paul Eluard, Max Ernst, Jean Genbach, Camille Goemans, 
    Paul Hooreman, Eugene Jolas, Michel Leiris, Georges Limbour, Georges Malkine, Andre Masson, 
    Max Morise, Pierre Naville, Marcel Noll, Paul Nouge, Elliot Paul, Benjamin Peret, Jacques Prevert, 
    Raymond Queneau, Man Ray, Georges Sadoul, Yves Tanguy, Roland Tual, Pierre Unik.

    HANDS OFF LOVE
     What can be invoked, what exerts force in the world, what is valid, defended before anything else, at any cost, what 
    inevitably brings charges against a man whatever the conviction of a judge, and just think for a moment what a judge is, 
    how much you depend at each moment of your life on a judge to whom suddenly the slightest accident hands you over, in short  
    what puts everything else to rout, genius for instance - that is what a recent trial suddenly places in the glaring light.
    Both the nature of the defendant and of the charges against him make it worth while to examine Mrs. Chaplin's suit against 
    her husband (as reported in Le Grand Guignol). It should be understood that what follows here is based on the belief 
    that the document is an accurate report, and though of course it is Charlie Chaplin's right to deny any of the alleged 
    actions and remarks imputed to him, we have taken their authenticity for granted. It is a matter of seeing what arguments 
    are used against such a man, of judging the means used to bring him down. these means afford a strange image of the average 
    moral opinion in the United States in 1927, that is, of one of the major human agglomerations , an opinion which will tend 
    to spread and prevail everywhere, insofar as the enormous reservoir of nonsense ever ready to spill over onto us, and in 
    particular to cretinize altogether the amorphous clientele of Europe, always at the mercy of the latest bargainer.
     It is quite monstrous to think that if a professional secrecy exists for physicians, a secrecy which is after all merely 
    the safeguard of a false shame and which nonetheless exposes its betrayers to implacable repression, on the other hand there 
    is no professional secrecy for married women. Yest the married woman's condition is a profession like the rest, from the
    day a woman claims as her due an alimentary and sexual ration. a man whom the law obliges to live only with one woman has no 
    other choice than to share his own habits with that woman, putting himself at her mercy. if she hands him over to public 
    malignity, how can it be that the same law which has given the wife the most arbitrary rights will not turn against her with 
    all the rigor merited by so revolting an abuse of confidence, a defamation so obviously linked to the most sordid interests? 
    And further, how does it happen that such mores should be a subject for legislation? What an absurdity! To confine 
    ourselves to the extremely episodic scruples of the virtuous and inexperienced Mrs. Chaplin, there is something 
    comic about considering abnormal, contra naturam, perverted, degenerate, and indecent the practice of fellatio. (All 
    married couples do it, Chaplin has justly observed.) If the free discussion of mores could be reasonably undertaken, it 
    would be normal, natural, healthy, decent to dismiss the suit of a wife guilty of having inhumanly rejected practices so 
    general and so utterly pure and defensible. How can such stupidity permit, moreover, an appeal to love, as this woman who at 
    sixteen years and one month of age knowingly entered into matrimony with a man both wealthy and in the public eye, now 
    dares to do, with her two babies doubtless born through her ear since the defendant has never had conjugal relations with 
    her as is customary between man and wife, her babies which she brandishes like the filthy evidence of her own private 
    demands? All these italics are our own, and the revolting language which they emphasize comes from the plaintiff and her 
    lawyers who, above all, seek to oppose a living man by the most revolting conventionalism of mindless magazines, the image 
    of the mother who calls her legitimate lover Daddy, and this with the sole purpose of levying on this man a tax which the 
    most demanding State has never dreamed of, a tax which burdens his very genius most, which even tends to dispossess him of 
    that genius, in any case to discredit its very precious expression.
     Mrs. Chaplin's five chief charges read as follows. 
       1)This lady was seduced. 
       2) The seducer advised her to seek abortion. 
       3) He agreed to the marriage only when obliged and forced, and with the intention of seeking a divorce. 
       4) For this reason, following a preconceived plan, he behaved injuriously and cruelly to her. 
       5) The proof of these accusations is demonstrated by the habitual immorality of Chaplin's speech and actions, and by his 
          theories with regard to all things regarded as most sacred.
     The crime of seduction is usually a hard one to define, since what constitutes the crime is merely the   
    circumstantial side of the seduction proper. This offense in which the consent of both parties is involved but the 
    responsibility of only one, is further complicated by the fact that nothing can humanly prove the victim's share of
    initiative or provocation. But in this case, the innocent party had chosen widely, and if the seducer did not intend to make 
    an honest (and rich) woman of her, the fact remains that it was the victim who with all her naivete prevailed over this 
    demoniacal being. One wonders at so much perseverance and determination in so young and defenceless a person. That is, unless 
    it seemed to her that the only way of becoming Mrs. Chaplin was to sleep with him first, then..... but then seduction is out 
    of the question; this was business, with its various risks, the possibility of desertion, pregnancy.
     At this point, being pressed to undertake an operation she describes as criminal the victim, pregnant at the time of
    the marriage, refuses to do so for reasons that deserve scrutiny. She complains that her condition may become known, that her 
    fiance has done everything in his power to bring this about. An obvious contradiction: for who would profit by this 
    publicity, who would refuse the sole means of averting what in California constitutes a scandal? But once married the victim 
    is fully armed; she can circulate the fact that an abortion was demanded of her. This is a decisive argument, and not the     
    least of the criminal's remarks concerning this matter, which is a great crime against society, both legally and morally,  
    and therefore repugnant, horrifying, contrary to the instincts of motherhood and to her sense of the maternal duty of 
    protection and preservation, will be allowed to go unoted. Everything is henceforth recorded, the intimate daily phrases, 
    the circumstances, even the dates. Once it occurred to the future Mrs. Chaplin to make use of her instincts, to pose as a 
    monument of normality (though not yet legally married, she continued, she says, to love her fiance, despite his horrifying 
    suggestions), she becomes a spy in the house, she keeps a kind of martyr's diary; not a tear is left out. Can the third charge
    that she brings against her husband be taken to apply first and foremost to herself? Did she enter into marriage with the 
    definite intention of emerging therefrom rich and respected? As to the fourth charge, that of the cruel treatment she 
    suffered during her marriage, once examined in detail it becomes necessary to decide whether this is a distinct attempt on  
    Chaplin's part to demoralize his wife, or whether it is the logical result of the daily attitude, of a wife bent on amassing 
    grievances, evoking hem and taking pride therein. Incidentally, let us note a agp in the evidence: Mrs. Chaplin omits to give 
    us the date on which she ceased to love her husband. But maybe she still loves him.
     To back up her allegations, she adduces (as so many moral proofs of the existence of a premeditated plan, which becomes 
    visible in the rest of the evidence) certain remarks of Chaplin's, after which an honest American judge can only consider the 
    defendant as a cad and a scoundrel. The perfidity of this maneuver and its efficacy will be clear to all. here we have the 
    idea of Charlot, as we call him in France, his private opinions on the most burning issues suddenly thrust before us, and in 
    such a direct manner that they cannot fail to throw a similar light on the morality of those  films from which we have 
    derived more than mere pleasure, that is to say, an almost unequaled critical interest. An unfavorable report, especially in 
    that narrow zone of observation to which the American public confines its favorites (and the example of Fatty Arbuckle is 
    notable) can ruin a man in the space of a day. This is the card played by this model wife. It turns out that her revelations 
    have an importance quite unsuspected by her. She supposed she was denouncing her husband, the stupid cow, whereas she simply 
    occasioned the spectacle of greatness of a mind which, accurately conceiving so many deadly things in the society in which 
    his life and even his genius confine him, as found the means of giving his thought a perfect and vigorous expression without 
    betrayal, an expression whose humor and power, whose poetry, in a word, suddenly suffers before our eyes an enormous setback 
    in the light of the little bourgeois lamp shaken over his head by one of those bitches out of whom, in every country of the 
    world, are made good mothers, good sisters, good wives, those plagues, those parasites of feeling and love.
     Given that during cohabitation of plaintiff on diverse occasions too numerous to be specified in detail that he was not
    a partisan of the habit of marriage, taht he would be unable to tolerate the conventional restraint imposed by marital 
    relations, and that he was of opinion that a woman could honestly and without disgrace bear children to a man when living 
    with him out of wedlock; given that he also ridiculed and mocked plaintiff's belief in the moral and social conventions 
    pertaining to the state of marriage, the relation of the sexes and the rearing of children, and that he was unconcerned
     by the laws and statutes of morality (regarding which he remarked one day to plaintiff that "a certain couple had five 
    children, without being married", adding that this was an "ideal way for a man and a woman to live together") - this
     brings us to the essential point of Charlot's vaulted immorality. It is to be noted that certain very simple truths 
    still pass for monstrosities, and it is to be hoped that one day they will be recognized as mere human common sense, the 
    nature of which in this case appears startling by reason of the nature of the accused himself. For everyone who is neither a 
    coward nor hypocrite is bound to think the same. And besides, by what argument can we claim the sanctity of a marriage that 
    was contracted under threat, even if the woman has borne her husband a child? Let her complain that her husband used to go 
    straight to his own room, that once, to her horror, he came in drunk, that he did not dine with her, that he did not take her 
    out in society - such arguments are worth no more than a shrug of the shoulders.
     But