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Details & Cataloguing

Alias Daniel Cordier

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Paris

Henri Michaux
1899 - 1984
ECRITURE MESCALINIENNE POUR MISÉRABLE MIRACLE. [1955].
i., iii.
inscribed on the reverse
pencil on paper
Executed in circa 1955.

ii.
inscribed and titled on the reverse
pencil on paper
Executed in circa 1955.
ink on paper
i., ii., iii., 26,6 x 20,9 cm; 10  1/2  x 8  1/4  in.
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These works will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné currently in preparation by Micheline Phankim, Rainer M. Mason and Franck Leibovici.

Catalogue Note

Very rare manuscript of writing with mescaline. While some mescaline drawings are still in circulation, samples of writings with mescaline are very rare. For Michaux, Miserable miracle was an "exploration" of himself under the influence of the powerful mescaline drug. The explorer describes the effects of the drug on his perception of reality and shows the impact on his creativity. Unlike Thomas de Quincey in Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821) who writes about his experience in retrospect, confusing imaginary and real memories, Michaux intends to give an almost clinical description of the phenomenon at the very moment that the drug is operating on him.

Pages of a rare graphic beauty like the 48 pages Michaux reproduced as facsimile in Miserable Miracle. Words burst, letters tangle and seem to fall into an abyss. The record of his visions on paper is made difficult especially due to the mad speed in which they appear, transform and disappear. Although the pencil used by the poet quickly runs on the paper, his hand can hardly follow the rhythm of his visions: therefore hardly readable, the poem becomes drawing, and, as Michaux says, "more palpable than legible", both sketched and written.

After Miserable Miracle, Michaux published other drug experience reports: L'Infini turbulent (1964), The Major Ordeals of the Mind (1966) and Light Through Darkness (1967).

References: Misérable miracle (1956), in Œuvres complètes, Pléiade, 2001, II, p. 617-784.

Alias Daniel Cordier

|
Paris