In 1934 two Surrealists had an argument about Mexican jumping beans.
The subject of the disagreement was whether or not the beans should be dissected in order to ascertain what caused them to jump. Was there some kind of larva inside? André Breton, Surrealist "Pope", insisted that they should not. All possibilities for wonder must be exhausted before any kind of empirical investigation took place. Roger Caillois, however, believed that "research and poetry" could be combined in "a form of the Marvellous that does not fear knowledge, but thrives on it." Their dispute led to Caillois leaving the Surrealist group.
Caillois seems to be quite an obscure figure nowadays, at least in the Anglophone world, and - not unreasonably - very much in the shadow of Georges Bataille, with whom he co-founded the Collège de Sociologie. He's probably best remembered for Man, Play and Games (1958), in which he developed Johan Huizinga's ideas on ludology, but he also wrote a novel about Pontius Pilate, an ethnographic study of the sacred, some bizarre articles on mimicry in nature (an influence on Jacques Lacan's psychoanalytical concept of the mirror stage), and a beautifully illustrated book about his collection of non-precious stones, The Writing of Stones (1970), many of the images from which can be seen at 50 Watts and But Does It Float.
A couple of years ago I wrote a masters dissertation on Caillois and the Surrealists, their attitudes towards nature and creativity, and their context within the broader histories of curiosity and wonder. I'm unlikely to be pursuing this further any time soon - I'm not sure how I could without becoming fluent in French - but in coming weeks I'll be posting fragments from my research, among other things.