from an old copy of Sulfur Magazine no 29 1991 featuring a few Unica Zurn anagrams
AND IF THEY HAVE NOT DIED
I am yours, otherwise it escapes and wipes us into death. Sing, burn Sun, don’t die, sing, turn and born, to turn and into Nothing is never. The gone creates sense - or not died have they and when and when dead - they are not.
for Hans Bellmer.Berlin 1956
DANS L’ATTELAGE D’UN AUTRE AGE (Line from a poem by Henri Michaux)
Eyes, days, door, the old country. Eagle eyes, a thousand days old.
WILL I MEET YOU SOMETIME?
After three ways in the rain image when waking your counterimage: he, the magician. Angels weave you in the dragonbody. Rings in the way, long in the rain I become yours.
HANS BELLMER: POSTFACE TO HEXENTEXTE (UNICA ZÜRN)
ANAGRAMS are words and sentences resulting from the rearrangement of the letters in a given word or sentence. It is surprising that despite the re-awakened interest in the development of language in psychotics, psychics and children, little thought has been given to the anagrammatic interpretation of the coffee grounds of letters. - It is clear that we know very little of the birth and anatomy of the “image.” Man seems to know his language even less well than he knows his own body: the sentence too resembles a body which seems to invite us to decompose it, so that an infinite chain of anagrams may re-compose the truth it contains.
At close inspection the anagram is seen to arise from a violent and paradoxical dilemma. It demands the highest possible tension of the form-giving will and, simultaneously, the exclusion of premeditated purposeful shaping, because of the latter’s sterility. The result acknowledges - in a slightly uncanny manner - that it owes more to the help of some “other” than to one’s own consciousness. This sense of an alien responsibility and of one’s own technical limitations - only the given letters may be used and no others can be called upon for help - leads toward a hightened flair, an unrestrained and feverish readiness for discoveries, resulting in a kind of automatism. Chance seems to play a major role in the result, as if without it no language reality were true, for only at the end, after the fact, does it - surprisingly - become clear that this result was necessary, that no other was possible. Writing one anagram each day of the year would leave one with an accurate poetic weather report concerning one’s self at the end of that year.
What is at stake here is a totally new unity of form, meaning and feeling: language-images that cannot simply be thought up or written up. They enter suddenly and for real into their interconnections, radiating multiple meanings, meandering loops lassoing neighboring sense and sound. They constitute new, multifacetted objects, resembling polyplanes made of mirrors. “Beil” (hatchet) becomes “Lieb’” (Love) and “Leib” (body), when the hurried stonehand glides over it; the wonder of it lifts us up and rides away with us on its broomstick. The process remains enigmatic. For this kind of imaging and composing to happen, no doubt an eager hobgoblin - oracularly, sometimes spectacularly - adds much of its own behind the back of the I. A pleasantly disrespectful spririt, in all probability, who is serious only about singing the praises of the improbable, of error and of chance. As if the illogical was relaxation, as if laughter was permitted while thinking, as if error was a way and chance a proof of eternity.
Translated by Pierre Joris
from my visit to Unica's Grave Paris, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, February 16th 2008.
“The body resembles a sentence that seems to invite us to dismantle it into its component letters, so that its true meanings may be revealed anew through an endless stream of anagrams.” Hans Bellmer
André Pieyre de Mandiargues on Bellmer...
“He was highly intelligent and seemed to have no sense of culpability or sin—there was innocence in his perversity. His eroticism was intellectual rather than sensual, cold rather than hot: this attracted me to him because like me, he was basically a puritan, and like me, he had no time for vulgar sensuality.”
"At the source of the most intensely black and scandalous works...we believe there exists this sort of passage from passion to action, a secret need for equilibrium, the urge to create an imaginary evil from which we may take pleasure within the excesses of intellectual passion, in order to cure ourselves of the real evil we're suffering"
from Scandal with a Secret Face - an Essay by Nora Mitrani 1950
"I wonder if I will wear the tight seamless trousers made of your legs, ornamented all along the inside with faux-excrements? And do you think I will, without swooning prematurely, button over my chest the heavy and trembling waistcoast of your breasts? As soon as I am immobilized beneath the pleated skirt of all your fingers and weary to undo the garlands with which you have enwreathed the drowsiness of your never-born fruit, then you will breathe in me your perfume and your fever, so that, in full light, from the interior of your sex, mine will emerge." Hans Bellmer
from - Petite anatomie de l'inconscient physique ou l'anatomie de l'image. Paris: Le Terrain Vague, 1957.
The staging of gesture, in a processus of transformation and metamorphosis, the patient weaving of memories, through "chinks in line": Unica Zurn has probably succeeded in her project of BEING. All the while waiting for her "magical encounter" - with the white-hair man, with Death?
" When i was a child i dreamt/ about the marriage with a white-hair man paralysed./ tied to a wheel chair forever.../ Behind us, eternal./ blossomed the Jasmine/ And this is the meaning of my legend/ of life together.../ Since my chilhood wedding, in a white dress-/ I feel that I gradually become white.../ To swim into the White, to perceive finally/ the White Image?"
from an essay by Barbara Safarova "The magical encounter between writing and image"
One of my favourite artists draws one of my favourite writers...
Hans Bellmer ~ Gaston Bachelard 1957
In 1957 Bellmer executed portraits not only of Gaston Bachelard but also of other
leading artists and writers of the day, including Arp, Wilfredo Lam, Henri Michaux, Victor Brauner, Albert Camus and Jehan Mayoux. The art historian Peter Webb has written of these works that together they ‘form a marvellous pantheon of the creative people of his time’ and it seems likely that Bellmer himself saw these portraits, generally pencil or charcoal drawings, as a coherent body of works.
Reverie is not a mind vacuum. It is rather the gift of an hour which knows the plenitude of the soul.
~"the pure imagination designates its projected forms as the essence of its proper fulfillment. It delights naturally in imagining, thus in changing forms. Metamorphosis thus becomes the specific function of imagination. The imagination cannot comprehend a form except by transforming it, by dynamizing its becoming, by seizing on it like a sectioning of the flux of formal causality, precisely as a physicist cannot understand a phenomenon except by grasping it in a sectioning of the flux of efficient causality."~