Sabine Hillen

" Is a real Canon still a Canon ? "

Eclipse of the Sacred in Henri Michaux’s Poetry

Ruysbroek, the Admirable, and the Blessed Angela of Foligno, known primarily through the translation by Ernest Hello, are among the readings of young poet Henri Michaux. Mystical silence, hallucinatory clairvoyance, and destruction of the frontiers of the self are motifs running through the work of Michaux ; motifs which, even before the age of twenty, call him towards a literary career. In a typically modern fashion, Michaux assembles the mystical elements of extremely diverse traditions : Christian, Buddhist and even animistic. The viewpoint he uses is not that of a believer who would privilege a single god ; rather he adopts the viewpoint of an investigator who cultivates humour, distance and eclectism in the face of religious phenomena. The gods of Michaux are made in the image of man : they are mobile, travelling spirits, they are taciturn, distracted, unskilled and immanent. The encounter between the divine and the human transpires nonetheless by accident, provoking as much fear as fascination.