We were beginning to distrust words; we were suddenly noticing that they had to be treated other than as the little auxiliaries for which they had always been taken.
Some thought that they had become worn down from having served so much; others, that by their essence they could legitimately aspire to a condition other an the one they had— in short, we had to free them. The “alchemy of the verb” had been superseded by a veritable chemistry that first and foremost had put its energies into disengaging the properties of these words; of these properties, only one— meaning— was specified by the dictionary. It was a matter (1) of considering the word itself and (2) of examining as closely as possible the reactions words could have to each other.
– André Breton, Words without Wrinkles, in The Lost Steps