towards consciousness to encounter his present counterpart, who in turn
descends to meet his earlier incarnation, emerging from the arcane
realms of the past. Unified as they are by the joint singular pronoun 'se,'
these two selves restore the artist's identity, which, like the series of
paintings of the secret mountain, is a composite of the many components
that constitute it. Identity is neither a single image, nor a set of identical
ones, but a series of similar, identifiable ones that together form the self.
That identity thus recuperated then gives Pierre the impetus to capture it
on canvas, in a final painting ('tableau final'), a definitive word ('dernier
mot définitif'), the equation of visual and verbal expression again con-
firming the extent to which Roy depicts the struggle not only of the
painter but that of every artist, including, especially, herself.
Not surprisingly Pierre begins this artistic quest, described in the fol-
lowing paragraph, with a scene from the northern woods:
Sous son pinceau surgirent les bois du Nord; les arbres en étaient minces
à se rompre; il les amincit encore; ce ne furent plus que des fils, allant se
perdre à l'infini, rien que des fils, comment pouvaient-ils tenir debout? À
la nudité de cette forêt il opposait souvent un petit campement humain.
La tente basse était fixée à de courts piquets enfoncés dans le sol; à une
vibration de l'air on devinait un feu par terre dont la flamme et la chaleur
équivalaient ici à un cierge allumé; pourtant ce déroulement si léger de
l'air montant du feu invisible avait une grâce incomparable. Aux arbres
ténus restait parfois en quelque place abritée un grappe de feuilles
d'automne; le regard se portait avec plaisir sur cette cascade de lumière;
dans le vent âpre, le feuillage rouge avait comme un tournoiement vif,
incessant. [154-5; Under his brushes the woods of the North surged into
life; their trees were thin to the breaking point; he made them thinner yet;
they became mere threads, repeating themselves until they were lost in in-
finity … no more than threads, how could they manage to stand upright?
As a foil to the nakedness of the forest he often included a small human
encampment. The low tent was fastened to short stakes driven into the
soil; from a vibration in the air above it you could assume that there was
a fire burning on the ground, of which the flame and the warmth were the
equivalent of a candle lit before some shrine; still this slight disturbance
of the air rising from the invisible fire had an incomparable grace. On the
tenuous trees there remained, in some sheltered spot, an occasional bunch
of autumn leaves; your eyes fell with pleasure upon this cascade of light;
in the bitter wind the red foliage seemed to spin and gleam without