From book to page to screen: Poetry and new media



Parish N (2008) From book to page to screen: Poetry and new media. Yale French Studies, 114 (Writing and the Image Today), pp. 51-66.

First paragraph: In his infamous drug narrative, 'Miserable miracle', Henri Michaux at tempts to convey on the conventional printed page the altered reality experienced though the medium of hallucinogenic substances. Not only does he do so in both writing and drawing, but also by capitalizing on the intermedial relationship between these two forms. As a poet and visual artist interested in the crossover between literature and science, unafraid of dabbling in different disciplines, Michaux here incorporates scribbled images and blocks of text with key words in the margins in the quest to capture the frenetic ebullience of the hallucinogenic experience. In 'Miserable miracle', conventional linear reading practices are no longer operative; the reader is therefore able to share in a type of destabilizing process. Michaux, however, states in the foreword that in writing (and drawing) this text he very quickly came up against what he terms "le mur de la typographie,"' a typographic wall that he was unable to climb. His admiration for the dynamic, creative possibilities offered by cinema next led him to believe that this was perhaps the medium most capable of rendering this experience, and, in 1963, in collaboration with the filmmaker Eric Duvivier, Michaux attempted to represent "mescalinian" visions on the big screen. Yet this attempt, too, met with disappointment: in Michaux's opinion, the film failed miserably to render the intense, repetitive motion of the hallucinations that he had experienced under the influence of the drug.

FundersUniversity of Bath
Publication date01/09/2008
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Professor Nina Parish

Professor Nina Parish

Professor in French & Francophone, Literature and Languages - Division