For Antonin Artaud, there was a fundamental incompatibility between the individual at his most anti-social or “mad” and humanist liberal democracy which can also be regarded as irrational, illogical and insane.He was unique.He felt that sex represented the evil forces of the world against which he was struggling. He wrote that the refusal of sexuality was the refusal of compromise and complained that “sexuality is oblique, life is oblique, thought is oblique, everything is oblique.”
…To numb the brain with electroshock therapy, an emotional freezing of the brain. To cure a “madman” through psychiatric drugs often means to stifle him into submission by conditioning him like an animal in a skinner box, the means to resist broken down through the sheer volume of medication, resulting in the branding of the psyche into a mechanistic stupor. The patient exists to sponsor the medical science complex and serve as the grist for this commercial mill.
Ditto to “je pense, donc je suis” – I think therefore I am- transformed by Artaud into “je suis dans mon corps”, an articulation of an ostensibly enigmatic and “human” unsolvable paradox of existence, yet coherent to Artaud since he saw the term “human” as a fictional legal creation to control the body, the body politic and create an inherent submission or deferral to authority or what Theodore Roszak called the technocracy.The issue then becomes generalized: all bodies have been “called” to be the channel of cosmic awareness, and every human being feel the same, except Artaud felt he was in particular “chosen” to solve the mystery.
Who am I?
Where do I come from?
I am Antonin Artaud
and I say this
as I know how to say this
you will see my present body
burst into fragments
and remake itself
under ten thousand notorious aspects
a new body
where you will
forget me. ( Artaud)
“A society engaged in this kind of atrocity should be regarded as an instrument of organized crime( Artaud) . Hence, Artaud preferred to remain “sick” and not forfeit his superior lucidity, yet the “total institution” and its repressive “treatment” exerted its toll. Artaud entered the mental hospital with radiant eyes, glowing skin, and the countenance of a god. After nine years he became a wrinkled old man with hollow cheeks, a toothless mouth, and blank, opaque eyes. Artaud was the authentic anti-psychiatric writer since he experienced the atrocities of the mental asylum on himself, unlike Michel Foucault, R. D. Laing, and Thomas Szasz who just wrote about them. Psychiatrists are the Orwellian “thought police” curbing rebellious creativity ( Artaud ). In order to cache their impotence, psychiatrists invent ridiculous terminology, which explains nothing and serves to further stigmatize, segregate, and alienate their patients ( Artaud ). Hence, the hospitals for the insane perpetuate their inmates’ affliction, with the side effects of the “treatments” being much worse then the original symptoms. The psychiatrists are the enemies of their patients’ ingenuity, and their claim that their charges renounce their unique individuality, which might well be the basis of their creative innovation, is the most frequent cause of their suicidal despair. Read More: http://www.albany.edu/scj/jcjpc/vol8is3/shoham.html
It is not surprising that surrealism both welcomed and repelled Artaud. In 1924, Artaud joined the surrealists; drawn to a movement that fled the rational, sought to free the unconscious, and claimed to want to explore the secret areas of the soul. Surrealism disposed of the barrier between the real and unreal, it repudiated traditional western art, and it admired even works of low culture such as Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies. Andre Breton, the leader and the “pope” of the movement, recognized in Artaud a kindred spirit and made him editor of the second and third surrealist manifesto. Artaud was responsible for articles attacking motherhood and suggesting all the country’s prisons and barracks be emptied.
…I have aspired no further than the clockwork of the soul, I have transcribed only the pain of an abortive adjustment.
I am a total abyss. Those who believed me capable of a whole pain, a beautiful pain, a dense and fleshy anguish, an anguish which is a mixture of objects, an effervescent grinding of forces rather than a suspended point
—and yet with restless, uprooting impulses which come from the confrontation of my forces with these abysses of offered finality
(from the confrontation of forces of powerful size),
and there is nothing left but the voluminous abysses, the immobility, the cold—
in short, those who at
uted to me more life, who thought me at an earlier stage in the fall of the self, who believed me immersed in a tormented noise, in a violent darkness with which I struggled
—are lost in the shadows of man…. ( Artaud, The Nerve Meter) Read More: http://lumpy-pudding.tumblr.com/post/179914566/antonin-artaud-the-nerve-meter-an-actor-is-seen
But while surrealism was revolutionary in its views, it was dictatorial in its organization, and members were constantly being read of of the movement for minor doctrinal infractions. Artaud could not survive long under such regimentation. The radical differences between Artaud and the rest of the surrealists was that they had postulated a flight from reason, while Artaud was already at the heart of unreason. He was the gatekeeper of unreason and was one of the few genuine surrealists. He spent nine years in insane asylums because he was an authentic visionary, at a time when Breton was selling off his African art collection so that he could continue to live in bourgeois comfort.
Artaud’s surrealist friends were unsettled by his unpredictable and disquieting behavior. Artaud could be charming or petulant or suspicious; totally unpredictable like a roulette wheel. Sitting in a cafe one day with the poet Jean Follain, Artaud caught sight of his name in Follain’s address book. The capital A’s were squared off at the top. Furious, Artaud saud: “you are trying to diminish me with those A’s, you are trying to blunt the sharpness of my point.” Artaud had also become friendly with promising actor Jean-Louis Barrault, who demonstrated his talents as a mimic by imitating Artaud. Artaud, tearing at his hair , ran down the street shouting, “thief. thief, I’ve been robbed of my personality. ”
His public life was an endless series of scandal, fracas and confrontation. no rounding of the corners and softening of the edges. His hyper-lucidity was both ultra-real and disturbingly disconnected from the parameters of reflection inducing reality. At a December evening in 1926, the surrealists met to decide an alliance with the Communist party. For Artuad, all parties were a toxin to be avoided and completely irrelevant. His visible boredom and disinterest prompted one surrealist to ask whether he gave a damn about the revolution? ” Idon”t give a damn about yours but i do give a damn about mine,” Artaud blurted, and walked out never to return to the movement. ( de Gramont)
Sontag: He is an example of a willed classic—an author whom the culture attempts to assimilate but who remains profoundly undigestible. One use of literary respectability in our time—and an important part of the complex career of literary modernism—is to make acceptable an outrageous, essentially forbidding author, who becomes a classic on the basis of the many interesting things to be said about the work that scarcely convey (perhaps even conceal) the real nature of the work itself, which may be, among other things, extremely boring or morally monstrous or terribly painful to read. Sade, Artaud, and Wilhelm Reich belong in this company: authors who were jailed or locked up in insane asylums because they were screaming, because they were out of control; immoderate, obsessed, strident authors who repeat themselves endlessly, who are rewarding to quote and read bits of, but who overpower and exhaust if read in large quantities. Read More: http://www.threepennyreview.com/samples/lopate_w09.html
…Phillip Lopate:Maybe Artaud was too extreme, too much of a nut, to pin all these ideas onto. The result is like being trapped in the circularities and tautologies of a crazy brain. “Only the exhausting is truly interesting,” she declares—a wonderful Sontagian aphorism, but like most aphorisms, no more than partly true. Perhaps it really was true for her?