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Miserable Miracle

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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  101 ratings  ·  8 reviews
"This book is an exploration. By means of words, signs, drawings. Mescaline, the subject explored." In Miserable Miracle, the great French poet and artist Henri Michaux, a confirmed teetotaler, tells of his life-transforming first encounters with a powerful hallucinogenic drug. At once lacerating and weirdly funny, challenging and Chaplinesque, his book is a breathtaking v...more
Paperback, 200 pages
Published April 30th 2002 by NYRB Classics
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David Katzman
Nov 10, 2010 David Katzman rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mental explorers with patience
Beautiful dwarves in skin-tight gold lamé pantsuits. Cats who scratch out dreams on your wooden leg. Pleistocene fists pounding frenetic rhythms across your naked skin. Heretic wishes left to their own devices. Soaring stories built second by second moment by moment until nothing is left but a wish a thought a syllable and a sill upon which sits the things left over, after, above and between, always between never complete, always left over, never beginning, only between the things, the shape of...more
Alan
Nov 08, 2010 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alan by: David Katzman
Being a 'weekend hippy' in the early 70s I consumed quite a lot of hallucinogens/psychedelics, mostly LSD but also 'magic mushrooms', pot of course and once mescaline. I still remember that trip, maybe because it was one of my first, it was a fairly gentle one I think, due to a smaller than normal dose but still spiked with amazing hallucinations - I remember staring at the pictures I discovered in the bathroom linoleum, which seemed like a load of Polaroid pictures of several families whose his...more
Eddie Watkins
When Henri Michaux was in his fifties he decided to try mescaline. Until this decision he was a veritable teetotaler. He didn’t even drink coffee. But he was an adventurous sort, a natural psychonaut, so in the name of a worthy experiment in consciousness he took mescaline. He didn't "enjoy" it, in fact it was rather torturous, but what it helped to open up in his mind he considered a miracle, hence Miserable Miracle.

I have yet to read this book in its entirety – to be frank, it gets repetitive...more
Andrew Bourne
Jun 26, 2008 Andrew Bourne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Andrew by: Vincent Zompa
Michaux is 57 years old. He does not drink alcohol, tea, or coffee, nor smoke tobacco. He practices moderation--abstinence really--in the use of all excitants.

So he takes mescaline, then, in the interest of comparative analysis, he tries hashish... thereafter moving on to a massive dose of mescaline, which juices the ability to write or analyze right out of his nerd's body, and ultimately results in a compulsion to push innocents into the Seine.

His thoughts on the color pink are 5-star or better...more
Ryan
The "writer takes drugs and tells the tale" summary does not do this justice, particularly if that conjures visions of Hunter S. Thompson. This reads almost more like travel writing where the space is internal and the behavioral/built culture is formed from the pharmacological/philosophical aspect of a given drug ... comparative ethnography of Mescaline and Hashish. Hardly surprising since Michaux has also written some excellent travelogues. The writing is occasionally terrifying (and terrifying...more
David Marchese
It's legitimately psychedelic, which is to say parts of it are intensely interesting and others super boring. I can't see why someone who didn't at least have a stoner phase would like it. I can clearly see why someone who did would get a kick out of at least a few sections.
Mark Slee
An interesting read. A little out there and meandering, but that was to be expected.
Jere
Miraculous and miserable; maybe I'll read this book again, but I'll never take mescaline.
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NYRB Classics: Miserable Miracle, by Henri Michaux 1 4 Oct 29, 2013 08:52AM  
  • Prisoner of Love
  • Pages from the Goncourt Journals
  • Mouchette
  • Renoir, My Father
  • Novels in Three Lines
  • Proud Beggars
  • Flaubert and Madame Bovary
  • The Strangers in the House
  • Born under Saturn: The Character and Conduct of Artists
  • Letters, Summer 1926
  • The Life of Henry Brulard
  • A Journey Round My Skull
  • We Always Treat Women Too Well
  • Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby
  • Defeat: Napoleon's Russian Campaign
  • Memoirs of My Nervous Illness
  • The Waste Books
  • The Goshawk
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Henri Michaux was a highly idiosyncratic Belgian poet, writer and painter who wrote in the French language. Michaux is best known for his esoteric books written in a highly accessible style, and his body of work includes poetry, travelogues, and art criticism. Michaux travelled widely, tried his hand at several careers, and experimented with drugs, the latter resulting in two of his most intriguin...more
More about Henri Michaux...
Darkness Moves: An Henri Michaux Anthology, 1927-1984 Selected Writings Barbarian in Asia Tent Posts Plume précédé de Lointain intérieur

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“On the edge of a tropical ocean, in a thousand reflections of the silver light of an invisible moon, among undulations of restless waters, ceaselessly changing...

Among silent breakers, the tremors of the shining surface, in the swift flux and reflux martyrizing the patches of light, in the rendings of luminous loops and arcs, and lines, in the occultations and reappearances of dancing bursts of light being decomposed, recomposed, contracted, spread out, only to be re-distributed once more before me, with me, within me, drowned, and unendurably buffeted, my calm violated a thousand times by the tongues of infinity, oscillating, sinusoidally overrun by the multitude of liquid lines. enormous with a thousand folds, I was and I was not, I was caught, I was lost, I was in a state of complete ubiquity. The thousands upon thousands of rustlings were my own thousand shatterings.”
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