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PIERRE REVERDY'S CONCEPTION OF THE IMAGE


"L'oxcellence d'une image est dans la justesse des rapports qui la creent et la laissent cependant absolument inadaptable a tout objet concret de la realite."1 The importance of Pierre Reverdy's theory of the image has long been acknowledged, though perhaps more so by poets than by critics. Attention has, however, usually been drawn rather to Reverdy's highlighting of the role of the image in poetry than to the specific detail of his elaborated theory. It is not in fact ontirely appropriate to speak of a definitive theory of the image and its formation in the case of Reverdy, for relevant statements are far from being compactly assembled or collectively straightforward, despite their customary individual succinotness. What is generally observable, nevertheless, in gathering together the multiple fragments of Reverdy's theory, is the lattor's overall consistency and coherence, the way in which it blends in with other aspects of Reverdy's aesthetios and, finally, the interpenetration of aesthotics and creative work at the level of their governing imaginative motifs. Poets and critics alike have cared to lay some stress upon the significant role played by the mind in Reverdy's general aesthetic theory as well as in his conception of the image. Their conclusions often suggest a broadly rational basis for the formation of the image in which poetic control is unquestioned. Little attempt to embrace the totality of Reverdy's thinking is to be found and still less an attempt to reconcile certain of its paradoxes.* Certainly the role of the mind is not to be underestimated, for many forceful declarations may be readily adduced from a variety of sources to support what should be merely a critical point of departure, but which nevertheless often becomes a conclusion. According to suoh Reverdyan declarations, tho mind alone is deemed to perceive those relationships constituting the image whoso strength is thus considered dependent upon the degree of intellectualisation present at its birth.3 And indeed Reverdy is never reticent in his assertion of the crucial function performed by the mind. Mind is a measure that permits and supports art.* The image in particular demands tho acquiescence of mind before it may be deemed "admissible" and it is "un acte d'attention volontaire",6 an out-going, grasping gesture, that would seem to be primarily responsible for securing this "admission". For art is unquestionably felt to involve discipline of the mind: H n'y a pas d'art sans discipline, il n'y a pas d'art personnel sans discipline personnelle.8 [. . .] au royaume de l'art oh la discipline de Pesprit est la seule qui compte [. . .]'

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Pierre Reverdy will in fact go so far as to say that mind equals artist8 and we must be careful to recognize that pronouncements such as these, apparently uncompromising and somewhat flatly articulated, voice nevertheless what is certainly an essential aspect of his aesthetics. Scrutiny of Reverdy's work, both critioal and creative, clearly reveals, however, as we shall move to demonstrate, that this and other aesthetic principles governing his conception of the image are, in effect, rather more complex, composed of small, often paradoxical yet complementary fragments that provide a finely equilibrated overall mosaic wherein notions of cold intellectuality and dry selection are found to dovetail with notions as warmly mixed as consubstantiality, intuition, chance, absurdity and the marvellous. It will be useful to begin by affirming the degree to which the conceptions of mind and thought in Reverdy's aesthetics refuse to limit themselves to some narrowly encased definition. If it is true that the notion of dream often finds itself negatively connoted and thus lying in opposition to the rough, but firm, healthy flesh of primary, concrete reality9not that suoh reality may not itself be viewed as anguishing and, in conformity with Reverdy's art-nature dichotomy, inferior to the secondary, "antinatural" artistio reality of image, poem or painting, it is nevertheless equally important to observe its positive connotations.10 For the poet's dream is felt to be of a special order, hard and durable, having been finely tempered first of all by his experience of concrete reality.11 Suoh a dream is fecund, shedding all notions of the mindless sterility of drifting and sleep. Such a dream is, in effect, a special form of thought: Tous les reveurs ne sont pas poetes mais il y a a des poetes qui sont des reveurs. Le rive est sterile chez ceux qui ne sont pas poetes. Le reve du poete est fecond. H tient lieu chez lui de ce qu'on appelle chez d'autres la pensee. Le rfive est done une forme speoiale de la pensee. La pensee e'est l'esprit qui penetre, le rfive l'esprit qui se laisse penetrer. H est peut-ltre bon que l'esprit du poete se laisse penetrer plus qu'il ne penetre.11 The poet's dream is the mind functioning in a particular mode of operation and showing itself to be every bit as much absorbing, admissive and receptive, as it is out-going, penetrating and actively seizing.13 The operation of the mind and indeed the constitution of the image may thus be said to be based upon a two-way movement, out-going and appropriating as well as in-coming and somewhat passively assimilating.14 It is a movement that not only is to be found throughout the aesthetic doctrine of Pierre Reverdy pertaining to the image, but which, most significantly, provides a nucleus for many of the cruoial, controlling imaginative structures of his poetry. It is possible, in fact, to argue a strong case for the powerful though elusive aesthetics-orientated metaphoricity of much of Reverdy's poetry.16 In such a theory-conscious poet we should surely be astonished not to find a deepstructured interpenatration of imaginative motifs at all levels of expression. Reverdy himself has spoken with feeling of the absolute need for a just

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equilibrium between poetic "personality" and aesthetics.1' Suoh questions as these, and in particular that of the metaphorical self-reflexiveness of Reverdy's poetry, though in need of analysis, lie outside the scope of our present examination. What we must permit ourselves to explore briefly, however, in connection with the above, is Reverdy's obsession with the concepts of assimilation, appropriation, domination and liberation. The mind is deemed, as we have seen, to befinallyresponsible for artistic reality and it oxercises this responsibility in the realm of poetry by admitting, assimilating and appropriating non-artistic reality via a process of verbal transmutation. In this perspective the image is said to bo a unique, though curiously primitive instrument for humanising the universe, that is to say for making it part of man, of self: L'homme commence a l'image qui est Pinstrument primitif presque unique d'humanisation de l'univers. Les ohoses ne sont que ce qu'elles sontil n'y a pas dans los choses autre chose que ce qu'elles sont, sauf 1'homme qui s'y est introduit ot les rend humaines et se les approprie par l'image.17 Things would remain things, inescapably separate, unapproachable, if it were not for man's special relationship with them via language and most especially the image. Things thus become a platform for the establishment of self's own word-things. Reality becomes a support for 'Tirrealite" or "la surrealite".18 A secondary "reel" (a rid', as it wereReverdy uses the term "reel" with either connotation) is built, so to speak, over and above a concrete, primary "reel" (a rid1) in the poet's continual aspiration towards an unattainable and even feared absolute reality.19 Surreality, poetic lanuage and the image, although straining away from nature to become antinature, nevertheless allow a certain closing of the gap between self and nature.10 A coming-together is brought about by means of the dual process of grasping penetration and welcoming assimilation.21 It is a process in which the reality outside self may become a reality inside self: "[L'image] est l'acte magique de transmutation du reel exterieur en reel interieur, sans lequel l'homme n'aurait jamais pu surmonter l'obstacle inconcevable que la nature dressait devant lui." w In this way a certain consubstantiality is achieved: "Par l'irreel, qui n'est qu'en moi et que j'y mile comma un levain, [le reel] mo devient consubstantiel, il devient moi, ot ma realite s'affirme, s'exalte et flambo dans uno participation transcendante a la saveur incomparable de la vie."M Via verbal and metaphoric transmutation reality becomes self. If the image is a privileged entity in Reverdy's aesthotics, it is not now difficult to see why, for its role is in no way superficial. It acts as a crucial mediator botween self and world in the struggle for the constitution of the artist's authentic being.1* Poetry and the image offer, then, the possibility of an integration and communion of self and world whose absence would leave self utterly alienated from tho world. Reverdy's shorthand often leads him to refer to the process

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28 as one of taking possession or of domination.M At the same time as the thirst for domination is quenched, the mind achieves an unparalleled degree of freedom. The formation of the image is, in effect, seen as "le mouvement prodigieux de l'esprit vers sa liberation".28 But what is particularly interesting to observe is the way in which the motifs of liberation and domination intertwine via the interplay of their "sub-motifs". This, moreover, will ultimately render more supple our view of the overall patterning of Reverdy's conception of the image. There are two specific points that it is useful to make at this juncture. Firstly, the movement towards the mind's liberation, towards a mode of free functioning, should not be confused with ideas of freely associative wording processes. Words in freedom constitute chaos, bastardisation and as such are poetically ineligible: "Car on ne peut pas tout prendre et se servir de tout sous peine de creer, au lieu d'un art pur un art batard. On ne peut pas tout ecrire, employer tous les mots ni toutes les tournures syntaxiques dans une oeuvre de creation sous peine d'en faire un inadmissible chaos."27 The formation of the image is thus caught between the complementary poles of liberation and selection, freedom and control.18 For, if liberty paradoxically implies measurement and intuitive judgment2* of what is cognitively and emotionally offered at the altar of the mind,80 soand here we have the second point of significanceso does domination involve not just a going-forth to take possession, but also a letting-come upon oneself of both reality and its transformer into surreality, the image. Reverdy can therefore say, as we have already seen, that the image is produced by a voluntary act of attention. But he can equally say, and indeed he must say to conform to the matrix of his imagination, that the image shuns artificial engineering, contrived fabrication, the arrival of the image being fundamentally spontaneous, from above, unforeseeable: "II ne s'agit pas de faire une image, il faut qu'elle arrive sur ses propres ailes".31 From this we can see that, despite the continuing and essential mediation of the mind in the formation of the image, the latter is not as rigidly governed by rational, logical processes as may have been thought. Its constitution is, in effect, at once actively selective and somewhat passively approving and, as we shall be able to observe, Reverdy's aesthetic doctrine takes care to resolve this dialectic only by insisting upon the tautness of the equilibrium ultimately achieved, BO to speak, between the two poles. The creation of the image must not then be narrowly confined to some notion of rigidly calculated mental control. Reverdy is quite explicit at times. The image is uncontrollable.32 The operation the mind engages in is one of subtle but fundamentally chancy speculation.*3 In the drawingtogether or nearing process involved in the creation of those relationships constituting the image, the role played by chance, by the arbitrary, seeks to estabUsh itself as of equal importance with that assumed by choice and domination. Art is, indeed, in the finely allusive words of Reverdy, "une forme de jeu de l'amour et du hasard".** Once more the imagination tends

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29 to construe the act of the image's constitution as carrying with it a certain notion of partially passive receipt. The arrival of the anomalous, "Tabsnrde et l'irrationnel",8* is not specifically summoned. The mind may thus initiate a general volitional drive, a certain "intentionality" directed towards the unformed image. But the mind waitsfor the image to form itself and present itself. It may then convert its "attento" into activity. The riches of chance are crucial and they bring themselves, they are not brought.88 But the mind, available, goes forth to meet any such offering and to appropriate it in a flash of intuitive insight (a gesture whose theoretical feasibility was questioned by Andre Breton because of what was thought to be its remaining implication of a certain degree of control and consciousness).87 There isand to this question we shall later give fuller considerationa non-specifiable point of contact between the two movemente. On the one aide lie art, the image, appropriated, dominated reality; on the other, unrefined reality, reality that has not come sufficiently near to the necessary point of contact or equilibrium to be reconstituted in terms of approved artistic reality. As we are increasingly aware, the mind is no simple mechanism in Reverdy's aesthetics. Its apparent contradictions and paradoxes arc those very substances that make it whole. It thrives upon dialectic and tensely articulated resolution. We should not, in consequence, be at all astonished to hear Reverdy talk of the image in terms that might appear to be somewhat lacking in that customary sharpness of definition. Given the context of private journals and carefully measured public statements in whioh the full unfolding of his thought takes place, such pronouncemente as we shall now examine should be considered necessary, essential and representative of a succinct, though cryptic overview of those principles to which we have given attention so far. To begin with, the act of transmutation of rid1 into rid', executed by means of wording and imagery pre-eminently, in order to overcome the basic obstacle thrown up by nature, by rid1, is deemed by Reverdy to be magical. The magical or the marvellous are not in reality, but in art, in poetry, in the image: "H n'y a que le merveilleux et le magique qui n'etaient pas dans la realite, parce que le merveilleux et le magique no tiennent pas aux choses mais a l'action et au pouvoir factice de l'homme sur les choses, sur la combination de ses idees sur les choses. Mais le merveilleux et le magique sont entrcs dans la realite depuis que l'homme les y a instaures par le sumaturel pouvoir d'inventer autre chose que ce qui est."88 Man's need for the marvellous,89 his aspiration towards some absolute reality, defines him and divorces him from nature. And yet the self-provision of the marvellous reintegrates man with nature, poet with world, in a mutually revelatory and profitable reconstitution of their being. And although the magical, the marvellous were not, prior to their fabrication in words or paint or stone, in primary reality, and indeed never are properly of primary reality, they are nevertheless capable of entering reality and taking their

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place, images or "poemes-objets", alongside other pre-existing, purely concrete things.40 It is to discover and delight in those marvellous, unheard-of relationships between things that the poet writes41 and it is via the spontaneous combustion of the image that such miracles may occur. If there are miracles in which man may no longer believe, there is, nevertheless, the BUperb compensation of those miracles available to man at any time via his "image-ination" and next to which the former can merely pale into insignificance.48 The miracles of the imagination may gather around them a cloak of mystery and inexplicabilityindeed, it is important to recognise the irreducible and finally inexplicable mystery of both the image and the heterocosmic ensemble of the poem itself, but their inexplicability should not bo thought equivalent to their incomprehensibility.43 As we shall see more clearly later, secrecy and hermeticism are viewed negatively and are to be guarded against by the poet's notion of the "justesse" of the relationships involved in a given image. Yet, twisting and turning in his efforts to honestly embrace the full paradoxically of his conception of the image, Reverdy deorees the inexplicable, the mysterious, the marvellous in an image or work of art, to be directly proportional to its duration.44 The act of poetic or lyrical revelation demands a certain degree of finely gauged spiritual control and yet what is revealed is above self,4* ultimately mysterious and miraculous, fleeing the grasp of control. It remains at that tense point of equilibrium between control and uncontrollability where the mysterious may be held to be comprehensible, appreciable; where art, whilst tending towards the least arbitrary, recognizes the pull of the unjustifiable;44 where the image's irrationality and anomalousness are embraced for thenvery validity. To obtain a more oomplete picture of "cette justesse dans l'absurde",47 we should firstly take a closer look at questions of relationships, nearing and distance; and finally we should briefly confirm the degree to which the motifs of "justesse" and equilibrium pervade the imagination of Pierre Reverdy and particularly his conception of the image. We have seen that the concrete world of sensory experience is deemed by Reverdy to be a primary reality, rough, coarse, anguishing even, yet wholesome and essential. We have seen, too, that the reality of art, of the poem, of the image, is a superior, marvellous domain of being to which the poet necessarily aspires. The two worlds, though operating at different levels, nevertheless may be said to maintain contact with each other. The poem retains a certain porosity which enables a nearing to occur without damaging the essential distance between the two realities of art and nature. This porosity of art permits the necessary nearing of art and nature which safeguards art from the pure fantasy of a distance that would "denature" it. Art is somehow centrally placed and the questions of nearing and distance are as important there as in the conception of the image. The latter's "realities" are not, of course, art and nature. They are the two explicit or implicit component parts of the image. But the image is neither one of them. It is a

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31 locus for the touching of separates, "un troisieme terme",48 "un troisieme milieu",49 where without imitation or comparison,60 a reconstitution and drawing together of two realities may be accommodated and something new may come into being. The image, then, somewhat like art itself, perches itself in a "central" position, at a point of reconciliation of the nearing and distancing processeswith respect both to the question of its constituent parts or realities and to the question that art in general treats, that of the tension between the natural and the fantastic. Pierre Reverdy's refusal of overt comparison may be seen to pertain to his desire to foster a certain distance between the two "realities" of the image. Comparison, blatant simile, involves a closing of the gap that destroys the marvellous third realm of the image proper. Comparison merely posits the basis of a relationship between two realities. A relationship is indeed revealed, but nothing magically revelatory occurs. There is no constitution of a newly created entity.61 Moreover, comparison renders the nearing process cumbersome and tends to erode its element of crucial spontaneity. Conversely an image that relies too manifestly upon surprise for its effect tends rather towards opposition than towards a "just" and valid revelation: "Deux r6aliti6s qui n'ont aucun rapport ne peuvent se rapproacher utilement. II n'y a pas creation d'image. Deux r6aliti6s contraires ne se rapprochent pas. Elles s'opposent."6* Surprise from, opposition is rarely found to be genuinely, deeply forceful, nor does it foster relationships any more than the superimposition of identical elements.53 For the excessively oppositional image, involving surprise, "brutality" or some fantastic quality,64 denotes an image in which the distance between the realities at hand has become too great and where the counterbalancing pull of nearing has ceased to be felt. And yet Reverdy stresses that the creative work paradoxically craves a newness, an aura of surprise.68 Poetic language generally, Reverdy remarks, "pour garder sa vigueur et sa puissance comme facteur d'emotion, est [. . .] constamment oblige de se renouveler et de conserver une certaine distance entre ses termes propres et les objets de la reality".M To preserve this distance and the distance between the two components of the image, whilst maintaining at the same time an adequate degree of nearing in both respects, is a fundamental aim of tho poet. His acute sense of the most distant relationships linking things is perpetually at stake, as he binds together in a new and revelatory "surrealite" elements that are either more or less,67 very,58 or preferably the most,69 distant from each other. Indeed, Reverdy is categoric: the greater the distance, the greater the surreality.80 If Pierre Reverdy concerns himself with the nature of the relationships between realities, it is because they are the substanco that sustains and supports the image. Upon their strength depends that of the image. The desired strength stems neither from an excessive opening nor from a somewhat stultifying closing of the compass points, but from a tension, a fine tautness, botwoen nearing and distancing.81 Tho point of greatest strongth

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will be that at which the distance between the two realities is such that a compensatory nearing must be intuitively observable and beyond which the fantastic or the hermetic would lie. At this point of maximum tautness the necessary "justesse" is present, perhaps in immediate appearance only tenuously existent, yet offering upon further scrutiny and absorption the greatest degree possible of mysterious revelation. As Pierre Reverdy also remarks, for this tense equilibrium to be achieved," the poet finally depends upon the reader. Without his ability to recreate, by discovery or valid personal addition, this now vulnerable strength, the "justesse" of the image remains merely latent, the aesthetic emotion it seeks to release lying dormant.83 The reader's inadequacy is therefore, though uncontrollable, crucial. The motif of "justesse", with its intimately fused notions of appropriateness, authenticity, truth and precision, can be seen to be deeply embedded in Reverdy's aesthetics. It is, in effect, the ultimately determining factor in the establishment of the relationships posited by the image, "La puissance et la liberty de l'imagination n'ayant pas, en d6finitive, de plus sur appui que la justesse."6* A process of braking66 and validation is engendered, whose full significance becomes evident only at a point of straining beyond which contact is lost and relationship reduced to non-relationship. If the image draws its strength from maximum distance, Reverdy's insistence upon the complementary strength of "justesse" makes it clear that nearing and distance are locked together, the one being modified by a shift in the other. A truly powerful image will offer a maximum distance which will be rendered optimal by the fact of its "justesse". There will be a maximum straining away from the banal relationship to the point where all slackness has been taken up and the image may be considered "justement assise", as it were. The attainment of such a tautness "suscite rhannonie, l'6quilibre et cette impression de structure logique qui, precis6ment, dans une oeuvre 6meut sans duperie".86 The data borne on the winds of chance have been intuitively sifted, admitted, at the optimal relational point where contact binds revelation and mystery into a necessary whole whose authenticity is beyond dispute. The image is neither "real", as a stone may be said to be, nor is it "true" according to any ordinary understanding of the term. Art itself performs, like the image, a magical tight-rope walk between what are seen, aesthetically, as two voids: truth as raw nature or its idolatrous imitation or evocation; and utter falseness.87 The dangers of disequilibrium are doubly menacing. Error of judgment is implicitly associated with spiritual imprisonment.68 "Justesse" alone provides that freedom sought by the poet or artista freedom not from responsibility, measurement and decision, but one which embraces them in an understanding of their unique and paradoxically liberating properties. "Justesse" is thus linked to the notion of "artistic truth" and as such is to be prized "avant toute chose".69
MICHAEL BISHOP

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Dalhousie University

33 FOOTNOTES Le Livre de mon Bord, Meroure de France, 1948 (1970 edn). p. 156. ' In effeot surprisingly few oritios have systematically examined either Reverdy's conception of the image or even the imagery of hiB own poetry. Breton, Aragon and Tzara were drawn over the years to value his ideas and admire his creative work. Dupin, Jacoottet, Burgart and da Bouchet have similarly expressed a deep-rooted and admiring fascination. But we have had to wait until quite recent years for any extensive appraisal of theory of metaphonc style. Robert Greene's book. The Poetic Theory of Pierre Reverdy (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of Calif. Press, 1967), offers a solid and cogent general assessment. Pierre Caminade's analysis (Image et Mttaphore, Pans: Bordas, Coll. Etudes Superieures, 1970) centres upon the image and incorporates its findings (gleaned from a very limited number of texts) into a generally perspicacious overall post-Mallarmean moaaio of image and metaphor theory. Anthony Rizzuto's study, Style and Theme in Reverdy'a Lea Ardoisea du Toil, (Univ. of Alabama Press, 1971), presents a good exposition of oertarn styhstio mechanisms governing Reverdy's own effective use of imagery, but analysis is restricted to the one early collection. Other essays may be allusive but remain quite incomplete in any assessment of image theory. Cf. En Vroc, Monaco: Editions du Rooher, p. 6. Cf. "L'esthetique et l'espnt", L'Egprit Nouveau, No. 6 (Mar. 1921), 672-3. "La fonotion poetique", Mercure de France, No. 1040 (Apr. 1950), 688. Self-Defence, Pans: Imprimerie Litteraire, 1919, No pagination. "L'esthetique et l'esprit", op. oit., p. 673. Ibid., p. 672. Cf. Le Livre de mon Bord, p. 176. 10 Pierre Caminade's analysis of Reverdy's aesthetics is oddly limited for the most part to Le Qant de Crin. Suoh a narrowing of perspective leads him, not completely unexpectedly, to deem Reverdy's t.Vimking with regard to the dream ambiguous (op. oit., p. 17)oaught, presumably unwittingly and lmpotently, between negative and positive oonnotations. Reverdy's notion of dream is, however, lucidly polyvalent and contextually definable, despite its inner paradoxesi.e. it depends who is "dreaming" and in what overall oiroumstances and "intention". II Cf. Le Livre de mon Bord, p. 74. 11 Self-Defence (n.p.). Cf. En Vrac, p. 223: "J'ai trouve ma poesie danB le reve et, dans ma poesie, mon soutien le plus BUT dans la realite". Robert Greene also quotes the passage from Self-Defence, but rather underplays its significance. It is important, too, not to overlook the tentative and tenuous nature of aesthetic theory. In Reverdy's work generally the "perhaps" assumes a significant role. 11 Cf. also Le Livre de mon Bord, p. 113, p. 131 and "Le poete seoret et le monde exteneur", Verve, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Jan--Mar. 1939), 17. u It is useful to quote in this regard a passage from Reverdy's essay on Braque, "Une aventure methodique": ". . . T'art etant precisement le contraire de la nature, je ne voudrais pas . . . oubher que le propre de l'espnt est de guider, de vouloir, de former a sa guise et non de se laisser mener, de subir aveuglement et de suivre la pente" {Mercure de France (July 1963), p. 384). What is essential to observe here is that, despite the strong, positive role attributed to the mind's guidance and farming, the notion of "undergoing" mental experience is dearly not rejected by the imagination, although blind submission is. The true functioning of the mind lies at a point where "undergoing" and "being penetrated" are tempered with voluntary forming and appropriation. Moreover, Reverdy's essay on Matisse (Note Eternelle du Prisent, Flammarion, 1973, pp. 160-1) shows that will does not just involve an out-going, but permits an occurring, a springing-up of oircumstances which may thus be welcomed and utilised. 15 Such a self-reflexive metaphoncity functions at many levels. Attention may be drawn to the poetio mind's metaphono way of being in a mixture of mild overtness and massive "demonstrative" metaphonsingin a poem like "La tete pleine de beaute" (Flaques de Verre, Flammanon, 1972, pp. 134-5). But, muoh more deep-rootedly, the very overall structuring of imaginative motifs in Reverdy's poetry (going forth, search, welcoming in-coming phenomena or gestures of contact, tension, compensatory or swinging movement, equilibrium, etc.) also points to a functioning of the poetry at a "referential" level which, whilst being phenomenal, of self-world relationships, is at the same time creatively self-reflexive, of word-world (and self) relationships. Any examination of Reverdy'a own imagery (particularly if phenomenological in orientation) would,
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34 in our view, have to remain extremely sensitive to such considerations, although, it is true, a structuralist-formalist approach would demand a considerable degree of independence for the proper development of its arguments. A straightforward confrontation of theory and practice to assess the degree of their convergence would, however, be difficult to validate objectively. How, after all, are "distance" or "justesse" to be judged? And are those notions not only subjectively gauged, but also constantly shifting (even with the individual) in time, so that the "surprising", the "arbitrary", the "phantaamagorical", are perhaps not stable, verifiable entities or criterialike the artist, the oritio would be "reduced" to intuition? It is for consideration? of this order that we might think that the most solidly grounded work on Beverdy's imagery is to be achieved either along structuralist lines (whioh, as suggested however, might tend to establish ontena different from Reverdy's own), or, preferably (for m this way the full "flavour" of theory in poetry would be brought out), by adopting a phenomenological approach (which would willingly incorporate the imaginative motifs of theory into those of the poetry). It will be important to remember, too, that many ontios inadvisedly claim that Reverdy's work reveals a general lack of imagery. A remarkable statement in many regards to apply to such a theorist, it is nevertheless partially understandable. Certainly much of Reverdy's prose writing (poems and short stones) is intensely, riohly metaphonoand quite observably so. However, in much of his verse poetry (especially pre--Ferrotfle), the metaphono presenoe is somewhat less obvious. What, I believe, is frequently overlooked, is that a Reverdyan image may often extend over the whole poem and yet refuse to indicate the secondary metaphono pole of its compari or any specific ground, between comparant and compari. Certain poems may supply belatedly (thus drawing out in a novel way the "distance" between poles) a compari, but not alwayB and not obviously (very often subhminally, because of the discontinuous syntax). Many oritics have therefore considered Reverdy's poems to be "notations" of a fragmentary but merely direct order. We should strongly argue that Reverdy's whole aesthetio-criticaJ output works powerfully and consciously against suoh misinterpretation. Some good, but limited work has, of course, been done, particularly by Anthony Rizzuto, but muoh remains to be accomplished if the full measure of Reverdy's own imagery is to be felt. " Cf. "L'esthetique et l'espnt", op. oit., p. 674. En Vrac, p. 161. 11 Cf. En Vrac, pp. 190-1. Mortimer Guiney suggests (La Poisie de Pierre Reverdy, Geneva: Georg, 1966, p. 29) that Reverdy's conception of the image is in itself indicative of the "importance" attached to the phenomenal world. The latter point has been shrewdly commented by Jean-Pierre Riohard (Onze Etudes tur la Poisie moderne, Seuil, 1964) and Roger Cardinal ("Pierre Reverdy and the reality of signs", in Order and Adventure in Post-Romantic French Poetry, Blackwell, 1973). " Cf. L* Gant de Grin, Flammarion, 1968, p. 44. 10 Cf. Le Livre de mon Bord, pp. 162-3: "C'est grace aux mots, o'est grace au langage, o'est grace aux images que l'homme B'appropne le monde exteneur. II est dans le monde, le monde insensible, et il s'y meut et ll y vaino grace a 1'image qu'il s'en fait. Image creee de rapports justeaentre ce monde insensible et lui!" Robert Greene quotes this passage and oonoludes: "Nowhere else does Reverdy dwell on man's capacity to 'absorb' the world, to give it meaning with words and metaphors", (p. 64). Our argument is intended to remedy this neglect of an important aspect of Reverdy's aesthetics whioh, present in germ in earlier texts, is perhaps only fully revealed in texts published after 1948whioh would account for the fact that Greene is able to quote Emma Stojkovio in apparent support of his olaim. The passages quoted here adjust, it is hoped, this imbalance. 11 Cf. "La fonotion poetique", op. cit., p. 689. " "La fonction poetique", op. cit., p. 689. u En Vrac, p. 191. " Anthony Rizzuto (op. oit., pp. 171-2) briefly bnt observantly relates metaphor to "the quest for unity" and brings out a certain paradoxicality in the question of selfworld union. u Cf., for example, "Note etemelle du present", Afinotaure, Vol. 1, No. 1 (June 1933), 38. " En Vrac, p. 6. " "L'emotion", Nord-Sud, No. 8 (Oct. 1917), 6. " As suoh it may be deemed part of what Apollinaire called "oette longue querelie . . . /De l'Ordre et de 1'Aventure .

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35 ** Cf., for example, Le Oant de Crin, p. 44 and En Vrac, p. 5. M Cf. Self-Defence (n.p.). 11 Le Oant de Crin, p. 33. Cf. ibid., p. 32, Le Livre de mon Bord, p. 156 and En Vrac, p. 6. Suoh texts varyingly point to the spontaneity, the explosiveness and independent gushing forth associated with the image's formation. " Cf. "Ciroonatances de la poesie". L'Arche, No. 21 (Nov. 1946), 7. * Cf. "Note eternelle du present", op. oit., p. 38. u En Vrac, p. 176. Cf. ibid., p. 238. u Circonstances de la poesie", op. oit., p. 7. ** Cf. Le Livre de mon Bord, pp. 94-5. " In his first Manifesto Andre Breton questions the possibility that the mind may seize in full consciousness at the moment of their formation the relationships posited by the image. Pierre Caminade deals fairly extensively with the Breton-Reverdy "debate" and shows, with Alquie, that Breton ultimately uses phrasing almost identical to that of Reverdys' original definition to speak of the mind's seizing oapaoity in the image formation prooess. Moreover, Pierre Reverdy no doubt never considered the mind to be engaging in a fully rational process of evaluation and verification of the irrationalthe notions of ohance, intuition, etc, that permeate his aesthetics, must be taken to indicate a certain olosenoss of thinking that neither poet perhaps fully appreciated. Caminade suggests that the final difference separating the conceptions of the two poets resides in the stress placed by Breton upon the arbitrary, by Reverdy upon the notion of "justesse". This is not entirely true, for, as we hope to have finally shown, Reverdy's conception of the image warmly and luoidly embraces both factors and his thinking remains incomplete with the omission of either. The difference between Breton and Reverdy arises rather from Breton's view that Reverdy's aesthetics reposes on a basis of o posteriori selection via whioh the poetio merit of the image is assessed. For Breton does not quibble with speoifio images of Reverdy's poetry. Reverdy is, indeed, "surreakste chez lui". Their differences are revealed on the somewhat inflexible platform of pubho debate. They lie in then* separate views of what a poem may be, in their separate resolution of the question of the poet's right to reject what is constituted as image by the mindat whatever stage of the image's formation or being. In this regard it is worth noting that Reverdy onoe or twice refers to the spontaneous gushing forth of his poems (not merely of the images whioh, m fact, subordinate themselves to the "needs of the poem as a whole), whioh are then only very rarely touohed up. The "pull" of "justesse" exerted upon the image is, then, related to the intuitively seizing and synthesizing gesture of the mind and tends to counterbalance the "pull" of arbitrariness and chance arrival m a spontaneous and taut reconoihation of what perhaps only appear to be contraries. Certainly any final relational equilibrium is instantaneously achievedthe premeditated, the foreseeable and the contrived in the image are as unpalatable to Pierre Reverdy as to Andre Breton. " En Vrac, p. 152. Cf. Le Livre de mon Bord, p. 12. Cf. Le Oant de Crtn, p. 36. 41 Cf. "Ciroonstances de la poesie", op. cit., p. 8. 41 Cf. Le Livre de mon Bord, p. 12. 41 Cf. Self-Defence (n.p.). 44 Cf. ibid.: "La duree d'interet d'une oeuvre est peut-etre en raison directe de l'inexplioable qu'elle renferme. Inexplicable ne veut pas dire incomprehensible!" Let us not overlook, once more, the Reverdyan "perhaps". ** Cf. Le Oant de Crin, p. 36. In the Braque essay Reverdy also speaks of the illumination received from the image's "surnaturel eclat". Terms like "surnaturel" provide the basis for Caminade's (and others') argument that Reverdy's aesthetics and religious thinking tend to merge. We should not overlook the faot that "sumaturel" is also very close to Reverdy's synonym for artistic, namely "antinaturel". " Cf. "Ciroonstances de la poesie", op. cit., p. 7. " Cf. ibid. 4i "La fonction poetique", op. oit., p. 686. 4t Pablo ptcasto, Nouvelle Revue Francaise, 1924, p. 4. Caminade draws our attention to Jean Rioardou's notion of "le point oommun' between "compare" and "comparant" (p. 90); a third realm is founded in a new "here" where the image proper aimumna life. And didn't Mallarme speak of a "tiers aspect fusible et olaix"?

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36 " Cf. Le Qant de Crin, pp. 31-2, for example. Cf. ibid., p. 30 and p. 36, for example. " "L'Image", Nord-Sud, No. 13 (Mar. 1918), 3. " Cf. Le Qant de Crin, p. 31. M Cf. ibid, and "L'Image", op. oit., p. 3. It is interesting to note an unexpected self-reflexive touch m a line from "Les amants reguhers" where excessive distanoe is linked to brutality of comparison: "On va cheroher bien loin les oomparaisons brutales" (B%sques et PirUa, Flammanon, 1988, p. 60). In one of his Picasso essays Reverdy also links fantasy and surprise to disequilibrium (Note EterneUe du Priaent, p. 197). " Cf. "Cinematographe", Nord-Sud, No. 16 (Oct. 1918), 8. Robert Greene suggests that in Le Lime de mon Bord Reverdy is "perhaps belatedly echoing Bretoirs 1924 manifesto" with his recognition of the role of arbitrariness and surprise in the miage's fabrication. But Reverdy has already recognized the role of the inexplicable in Self-Defence (1919) and the function of surprise in art in Nord-Sud (1918). Although the references are generally applicable to art and not speoifio to the image, the basis for Reverdy's overall "logio" of the image is, it would seem, already laid. " Georges Braque. Une aventure methodique", op. oit., p. 385. 17 Cf. Le Gant de Crin, p. 30. M Cf. ibid., p. 32. Cf. Le Livre de mon Bord, p. 112. 10 Cf. ibid, and Le Gant de Crin, p. 30. " It is useful to note in connection with these notions of tautness and equilibrium, that the mind iteelf is deemed to be a locus where opposing forces are at play and where its pivotal, stabilizing function must prevail in order to reconoile the swinging, "tidal" movements affecting it. The concluding lines of "La tete pleine de beaute" (in which "toi" is equated to mind) express much of this: "Toi, parure des oiels oloues BUT les poutres de 1'innni. Plafond des idees contradiotoires. vertigineuse pesee des forces ennemies. Chemins meles dans le fracas des ohevelures. [ . . . . ] Toi, clou de diamant. Toi, purete, pivot eblouissant du flux et du reflux de ma pensee dans les hgnes du monde". (Flaquea de Verre, p. 135). The notion of equilibrium appeals greatly to Reverdy's imagination. Excessiveness in any direction, in any oontext, is baneful. Reverdy's essay on Gargallo is lndioative: ". . . si Gargallo eat habile, ll a cette habilete des grands artistes qui consiste a etre juste a la mesure des besoms et des faoultes lnteneures d'expression. Trop d'habilete ou trop peu gate, l'artistetrop le pervertittrop peu le gene et le reduit a l'impuiasance ("L'ongmahte de Gargallo", in Note EterneUe du Priaent, p. 110). Cf. "Ciroonstanoes de la poesie", op. oit., p. 6. M Au Soleil du Plafond, Paris: Tenade, 1955, pp. 23-4. M Pierre Caminade suggests that the braking is to avoid temptation and vertigo (op. oit., p. 20)which the surrealists tend to welcome. TTi stress, in our view, is overly negative. M Ibid., p. 24. " Cf. Le Gant de Crin, p. 9: "L'amour du vrai pousse & fond en art le nie et le detruit. H y a dono une mysteneuse hmite que l'esprit doit savoir atteindre et ne pas depasser." u Cf. ibid., p. 174: "La vie libre de l'esprit, o'est de decider. Chaque fois que l'esprit prend une decision juste, ll se hbere; chaque fois qu'il pique dans l'erreur, ll se sent enchatme". * Cf. En Vrac, p. 167. Pierre Caminade devotes a useful section of his book Image et Mitaphore to the notion of "justesse", as opposed to "arbitraire", oonoentrating upon its presence in contemporary poetic theory. He particularly relates its function to the question of an art-nature homologouaness in the writings of Roger Caillois about poetry and Perse, especially. Surely, too, the notion of "justesse" is to be quite widely, though in different wayB, related tofor exampleClaudel's conception of "Temperance" ("Elle eat la mesure oreatrice, elle est la forme de l'etre, /Elle est la regie de vie, la pince aux sources de la vie qui maintient l'exacte tension", Cinq Grandes Ode*, Gallimard, 1970, p. 103); to Char's expansion of the thinking of Heraclitua with regard to the resolution of contraries in "antiphysical" harmony and poetic truth (of. Fureur et Mysttre, GaUimard, 1962, p. 72); to Jaccottet's view of the necessity of non-excessivenesa, of the desirability of the tensions of contradictions (of. La Semaiton, GaUimard, 1971, p. 20).
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