with the collection “Ordeals, Exorcisms” (1940-4) – inner space, variable fields of consciousness, the imagination, monsters, the world itself turned into a holocaustal prison. in the preface, Michaux explicates the importance of the idea of exorcism in his work:
“It would be truly extraordinary if perfect harmony emerged from the thousands of evens that occur every year. There are always a few that stick in your throat; you keep them inside yourself; they hurt.
One of the things you can do: exocism.
Every situation means dependency, hundreds of dependencies. It would be unheard-of if this state of affairs were perfectly satisfying or if a man — however active he might be — could really fight against all these dependencies effectively.
One of the things you can do: exorcism.
Exorcism, a reaction in force, with a batterng ram, is the true poem of the prisoner.
In the very space of suffering and obsession, you introduce such exaltation, such magnificent violence, welded to the hammering of words, that the evil is progressively dissolved, replaced by an airy demonic sphere — a marvelous state!
Many contemporary poems, poems of deliverance, also have an effect of exorcism, but of exorcism through subterfuge. Through the subterfuge of our subconscious nature that defends itself with an appropriate imaginative elaboration: Dreams. Through planned or exploratory subterfuge, searching for its optimum point of application: waking Dreams.
Not only dreams but an infinity of thoughts exists in order to allow us ‘to get by,’ and even some philosophical systems were essentially exorcistic, although they thought they were something else entirely.
Their effect is similarly liberating, but their nature is quite different.
Nothing here of that rocketing surge, impetuous and seemingly super-human, of the exorcism. Nothing of that kind of gun turret that takes shape at those moments when the object to be driven away, rendered as it were electrically present, is beaten back by magic.
This vertical, explosive rush upward is one of the great moments of existence. The exercise cannot be recommended enough to those who despite themselves live n unhappy dependence. But it is hard to start the motor–only near despair will do the trick.
The understanding reader will realize that the poems at the beginning of this book were not made out of hatred of one thing or another, but to shake off overpowering influence.
Most of the following texts are in a sense exorcisms through subterfuge. Their reason for being: to ward off the surrounding powers of the hostile world.”