I thought of Cosmopolis's protagonist, Eric Packer, and his need for a jolt—through poetry, a pie in the face, even an actual stun gun—when I read this comment from Andre Breton, all the way back in 1922. He was writing of the yearning in artists of his time to blast themselves out of the logical realism of the past:
"There is a pretense that it has not been noticed how much the logical mechanism of
the sentence is proving more and more impotent by itself to give man the
emotive shock which really gives some value to his life."