All religions have their bearings, their symbols. Their numbers. One for an absolute monotheism, three for a Trinitarian monotheism. For religions of the divine immanence, a few million or even billions. For others still, intermediaries, it will be seven or twelve.
The poet, who is neither rabbi nor pope or imam, may rather choose four or six.
How can one be sure of seeing clearly in these floating, lofty domains?
« There are four worlds (apart from the natural world and the alienated world). Only one appears at a time. These worlds categorically exclude the normal world, and they exclude each other. Each of them has a clear, unique correspondence with a place in your body, which is taken to another energy level, and receives instantaneous replenishment, rejuvenation and warming. »i
The human body has several specific points, which are nodes of passage, zones of convergence. At these points special bridges are initiated, connecting to these four worlds.
This is not here a question of shakra. The poet is elsewhere, dilated, honest, entrenched. He does not orientalize, he does not indianize. He pays with his person, takes risks, and puts himself in danger.
Michaux took drugs like a taxi.
How can you visit the stars when the meter’s running?
How to do what has never been done, how to know what has never been learned, how to tell what can’t be told?
It’s not given to everyone.
But Michaux knew. He knew how to keep a cool head when the brain melts.
Michaux goes, far, high, and he always comes back, from his tours in the turbulent, from his jaunts in the dilated, the incompressible. Others would have perished, gone mad. But not him. He thickens his blood, marks his tracks, accumulates a whole memory, which he comes to put down on paper.
Laying it down? With the hurricane?
« There are still two other « beyond », equally exclusive, closed, where one only enters thanks to a kind of cyclone, and to arrive at a world that is itself a cyclone, but the centre of a cyclone, where it is liveable and where even it is Life par excellence. You get there by transport, by trance. »ii
The cyclone: a weather phenomenon whose characteristic is the whirlwind.
Life: an organic phenomenon whose image is the spiral, popularized by DNA and kundalini.
Trance: a psychological phenomenon whose trajectory is the parabola, or perhaps the ellipse. These mathematical figures are indeed figures of speech.
But what is trance itself the figure of?
Trance is probably a figure of tension towards transcendence; a tense pole, an extended life, a wisdom heard.
« The insignificance of the constructions of the mind appears. Contemplation without mixture. One no longer thinks about affiliations, designations, determinations, one does without them; the wind has passed over them, a psychic wind that undoes them before they are born, before determinations, categories are born. »iii
It is sarcastic finding about the impotence of the mind. The mind is meaningless in its turns, detours and categories.
Weather report again: a « wind » passes over, undoing what has not yet been born. In exchange, without mixing, « contemplation ».
Undoing rather than doing, the poet’s lot on the hunt.
« Every man is a « yes » with many « no ». After the unheard-of and in some way unnatural acceptances, one must expect returns of « no », while something continues to act, which cannot be erased, nor can it go back, living on the sly of the Unforgettable. Ongoing evolution… »iv
Man is a « yes » with « no », – and maybe with « maybe ». But surely he is something else again, which neither « yes » nor « no » can grasp, and « perhaps » even less so. It is that « something » that continues to act. That « something » that is stolen, that is forgotten, that is alive.
Pieces of black diamonds, placed on the white sheet of paper, vibrate in variations, with colours and shadows.
One can live through a trance alone. But many can think in shared dreams.
iHenri Michaux Les Grandes Épreuves de l’Esprit. Gallimard, Paris, 1986.