Graphic Interlude
Experimental Art

Par Paul Edwards
Publication en ligne le 10 janvier 2018


This graphic interlude features a selection of pictures included in Mademoiselle de Phocas, Gothic-Industrial Photographer, novel by Naomi translated into English by Paul Edwards, photographs by the translator.

Cet interlude iconographique comporte une sélection d’images de Mademoiselle de Phocas, Photographe Gothique-Industrielle, un roman de Naomi traduit en anglais par Paul Edwards, avec des photographies du traducteur.


Texte intégral


What Is The Novel About?

2It is the story of Echo and Narcissus: Naomi and Olympe de Phocas.

3It is Jean Lorrain’s novel Monsieur de Phocas (1901) brought up to date. The context is not the Decadent Paris of the 1890s, but the “Goth” culture of today. The Goth revival of the 1990s is a more morbid affair than the Batcave music scene of the late seventies. Today, music is packaged with images of tortured bodies, Kafkaesque metamorphoses and biomechanics, much of it drawing from the anatomy of insects and other segmented creatures. With the growth of the web, this culture has propagated itself by (digital) photography, mainly by adolescents and young adults in search of images of their desires and fears. Images of the body become Other, subject to dreams of transmutations, through lust and violence. Images of humanoid insects.

4It is a novel about love and photography. Both of them dark.

5It was inspired by Alfred Jarry’s hypnotist novel Absolute Love (1899).

6It is a novel about love and hypnosis.

7What would you do if your doctor told you that you had been living for several years under hypnosis, and that the time had come to “wake” you, thus killing your memory, your character traits, your loves, your very self? Would you accept to “die”?

8Or would you fight to the death? Would you fight your un-hypnotised self?

9And on whose side would your lover be?

10Meanwhile, Parisians have taken to living on the roofs, forging an alternative community, an anti-city.

11The novel Mademoiselle de Phocas originally appeared in French in L’Ouphopo numbers 20 to 23 (2005-2007).

Photographic Tarot Illustrations

12L’Ouphopo, the review published by the Ouvroir de Photographie Potentielle (Workshop for Potential Photography), has long committed itself to evolving new methods of literary illustration. Mlle de Phocas having become available to us under very favourable circumstances, it was with Naomi’s novel that we sought to put into practice the idea of Tarot card illustrations. The idea of playing with the reader’s fears and superstitions was encouraged also by the red sleeve on the typescript which read “Gothic love story” (L’amour goth), a promise of all that is dark in the affairs of love and longing. The first ten Tarot cards were distributed in issue 16, and the instructions for use are reproduced in the Boxed Edition in English translation for the first time.

13Olympe is a photographer. The novel describes her photo shoots and gothic accessories, her creations, forays and fantasies, both sexual and morbid. It is a highly visual novel. The temptation to recreate her photographs is constant as one turns the pages, though a million-dollar film would perhaps be a more satisfying solution. Restricting oneself to the still image has its advantages though. The illustrator has to be an actor, has to take on the rôle of Olympe or Moth, and has to shed his eyes for theirs. The resultant photographs are the products of an imaginary photographer.

14A Tarot pack comprises 78 cards: 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana. Associations are attached to each card, but their meaning changes in the presence of the six Modifying Arcana (V The Pope, X The Wheel of Fortune, XV The Devil, XX Judgement, XXI The World, XXII The Fool). The Ouphopo Tarot is based on the Marseilles Tarot, but the figures and interpretations have been brought into line with the world of the novel. The cards are to be drawn the first time you read the novel, and the first time only, at the end of each chapter, in order to predict what will happen next. Jot down what the cards say each time. The predictions unveil themselves upon reading the novel a second time, when you are “an older and a wiser man”. The cards never lie, because we have fixed them with malice, and now they are “loaded”.

Paul Edwards, Sept de Souris-Chauve

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Paul Edwards, Deux de Dislocation

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Paul Edwards, Empress III

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Paul Edwards, Hierophant V

Image 1000000000000313000001D996FF0CBE4CDA8E6B.pngPaul Edwards, Emperor IV

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Paul Edwards, The Knight of Clubs

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Paul Edwards, The Knight of Swords

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Paul Edwards, Olympe de Phocas, Autoportrait

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Pour citer ce document

Par Paul Edwards, «Graphic Interlude», Angles: New Perspectives on the Anglophone World [En ligne], The journal, Experimental Art, Experimental Art, mis à jour le : 03/05/2020, URL :

Quelques mots à propos de :  Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards is associate professor in English at the University of Paris Diderot, and CNRS researcher at the Maison Française d’Oxford (2017-2018). He is a translator with Atlas Press, founder member of the Ouphopo (Ouvroir de Photographie Potentielle, or Workshop for Potential Photography), whose review L’Ouphopo he has edited since 1995, and was the editor of the Alfred Jarry Society Review L’Étoile-Absinthe from 1996 to 2005. He was, briefly, a photojournalist and a puppeteer.