the spoken word and its double

Weird Stuff.But brilliant. Steve “Jesse” Bernstein. Allen Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Lou Reed; looking under the rocks of the American fantasy and examining a sensibility of the irrational when fantasy and reality are at each other’s throats. An American product but one with the same unsettling instability and brilliance of Antonin Artaud, as if Bernstein put Artaud’s The Theatre and its Double within a new context of performance art with a punk sensibility. An anti-Society of the Spectacle in a quest for that inner voice, the ambient noise guarding a volatile primal language.

Read More: ---In 1990, Sub Pop suggested to Steven Jesse Bernstein, poet and key figure of the emerging grunge scene, that he record an album in the spirit of Johnny Cash’s Live At Folsom Prison. The idea was for the confined to interact: the prisoners and Bernstein, who was committed for mental illness and substance abuse when he was younger. But the project fizzled out: the convicts were so captivated by Bernstein that they forgot to respond. Supported by Kurt Cobain and William Burroughs, the album was finally released in 1992, and some months after Bernstein committed suicide.---

“In Europe no one knows how to scream any more,” according to Antonin Artaud; picking up the battle axe seemingly bequethed to him by Antonin Atraud. Bernstein had the same madness, a kinship with the maturity within the immaturity; the same howl and spit on institutionalized theatre, the passive escapism that bourgeois audiences saw as entertainment, and the reluctance to be challenged, to expose the trauma. Bernstein was like Baudelaire’s poet as fencer, poet as prostitute, poet as flaneur, poet as ragpicker, part of this urban phenomenon that gave rise to such “careers”. Like Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty, despite the connection to destruction and nihilism, there is something compelling that affirms life, like Rimbaud’s redemption in transgression. Redemption absent salvation. The search for the true act, liberated and emancipated from static inertia; the romance of magic. The revolutionary potential of the discarded word seen in a new context after its utility has been pitched onto the scrapheap, similar to Walter Benjamin’s thesis on trashy and worthless objects but given a poetic articulation.

( see link) At the heart of Artaud’s project is an attack on the authority of language, literature and especially the script. He wants to “break theatre’s subjugation to the text and rediscover the idea of a kind of unique language somewhere between gesture and thought”. As Derrida observed, “The theatre of cruelty is not a representation. It is life itself, in the extent to which life is unrepresentable.” …Artaud’s vision of theatre as total art form: a “mass theatre”, sacred but non-religious, popular and physical, a feast of the senses – with exaggerated costumes, aggressive lighting and loud noises – a terrifying, intoxicating, waking dream. Even after all these years, it still sends shivers down the spine. Read More:


Forecast in chrome and plastic, tyrants breathing out oil, slavery, planet hunger versions of Jackie-O. Sherry, Sherry baby, won’t you come out tonight. And the stars whisper like old blood at the edges of the body of night. She stood with one hand on the phone for four hours, poised as only a few seconds had passed. I watched her through the crack between the shade and the sill. She waited for a forecast in human trembling, together with other important women. Come, come, come out tonight. The world suff ers for her. The clock hurries like a terrified animal and stops, dribbling saliva. She is eating chicken pie and bubble gum. For a month the Luftwaffe lived on raisins, same with the French after the war. Jackie-O received fresh oranges from John Kennedy. Silly girl! She can not put down the telephone receiver. She is waiting to receive my body of work. She wants to take it into her ear. A modeled flush builds under her cheeks. She eats Christmas candy while she waits. The telephone rings and rings. I am not at home. I am with Jackie-O. We are eating oranges from the President. We are alone on the roof of a Park Avenue penthouse. Picture of Marylin Monroe in my back pocket, molded by heat and sweat to the shape of my buttocks. You are gripping the phone, smiling, eating candy, crying, “I am with the important women now.” I am secretly an important man. Hang up the phone, I can’t dance with you anymore. Go to your freezer and get a popsicle. Go to your TV. Turn on your TV. You will see me and Jackie-O. Sh e will be taking it in the ear, my body of work. In the planetarium, you will receive a forecast: I will always be more important than you….

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