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Alarme / Gysin, Brion., 2010

Identifier: CC-51665-72765

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Scope and Contents

One of the last pages in this book depicts the following words, " Life Death Breath." This page is also displayed in this record of the database.Gladys Fabre May 2010 writing on inside dust jacket stated: "Painter, writer, poet, filmmaker, and performer Brion Gysin (1916-1986) was a source of inspiration for many Beat Generation artists and for underground culture in general (for Gregory Corso, John Giono, Bernard Heidsieck, but also for Keith Haring, The Rolling Stones, Steve Lacy, the painter Matta and his son Ramuntcho, Laurie Anderson). In books, films and sound poems, together with the author William Burroughs, he developed methods such as Cut-ups and permutations previously employed in painting. With Ian Sommerville, he designed a stroboscopic apparatus to arousing hallucinatory visual effects called the Dreamachine. Such artistic multidisciplinarity enabled him to explore thoroughly a multiple self. He saw himself and indeed lived as if he had been allotted the wrong part by fate: a Black, an Arab or an Oriental born in the skin of a White - a notion from which, paradoxically, grew the existential angst of being no-one coming from nowhere and going nowhere.The calligraphic poem Alarme (1977) was written shortly after he underwent an operation that led to his attempted suicide described in Fire - Images by Day Words by Night 29-12-75. Climbing out of his hospital bed to throw himself out of the window, Brion Gysin continues: As I fall, I pull a cord that sets off an alarm and in comes my night nurse [...] to wrestle me back in my bed. The same text evokes his extreme distress: Here he lays himself open to what possible purpose between life and death, while he writhes away melodramatic, in agony, shame and despair 'All but unable to live.Afraid and unwilling to die. Poor He. Alarme: a headlong rush through the time, the space and the sound of words, in graphic signs that join then split, which overlap and turn, fragment, intermix, and transmogrify, finally to dissolve into the white of the paper or plunge into the black of the Indian ink.'Do the swirling patches on the title page erase a reference to Mallarme that the fragment RME might imply? Or this is a different Coup de des inflected in capitals ALARME,LARME and L'ARME? Alarme is divided into two sections. Each begins with the same mark of identity that pivots round once over the succeeding pages. This calligraphic "I", written right to left as it would be in Islamic script, is derived from the Japanese word so-sho, grass writing, inspired in this case by the soya bean. In fact, the formal resemblance of its graphics to the monogram signature 73.0 reinforces its individual character. As it dances, this generative sign throws out words, liberating them spontaneously: Seine, pleine, rats, noir, espoir, espoir, dortoir, draps, mort, Paris, vers de terre, pendre, tendre, sans, adieu in the first part written in French. In the second English part emerge appeals to drugs and narcotics: numbies, sweat, sister, seconal, nembutal, finishing with end, tender, life, death, breath. Through a dynamic that synthesizes both Brion Gysin's art and his active thought,Alarme is an attempt to transcend death. By expelling all signs of identity and by impelling the words unrelentingly into the ink, the artist manages to extinguish his ego, reaching the path that leads to detachment, to ecstasy. The last words LIFE, DEATH, BREATH become blurred, stretch tracing the mirage of a Moroccan crowd, flowing and elusive, where he could possibly lose himself in the devoring desert of the page -- Source of annotation: Marvin or Ruth Sackner.


  • Creation: 2010



0 See container summary (1 soft cover book (81 pages) in dust jacket) ; 25.1 x 25.4 x 1.6 cm

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Physical Location

box shelf

Custodial History

The Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, on loan from Ruth and Marvin A. Sackner and the Sackner Family Partnership.


Published: Paris, France : Galerie de France. Nationality of creator: British-American. General: About 1500 total copies. General: Number of duplicates: 1. General: Added by: MARVIN; updated by: MARVIN.

Repository Details

Part of the The Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry Repository

125 W. Washington St.
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