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Antonin Artaud

Frammenti D’Un Diario D’inferno

Phrorrheal, PJ Fidler

Questa sorta di passo indietro fatto dallo spirito al di qua della coscienza che lo fissa, per andare a cercare l’emozione della vita. Questa emozione posta fuori dal punto particolare in cui la cerca lo spirito, e che emerge con la sua densità ricca di forme e di fresca colata; in quest’emozione che restituisce allo spirito il suono sconvolgente della materia, tutta l’anima cola passando nel suo fuoco ardente. Ma più che dal fuoco, l’anima è incantata dalla limpidità, dalla facilità, dal naturale e glaciale candore di questa materia troppo fresca e che soffia il caldo e il freddo.
Qualcuno sa che cosa significhi l’apparizione di questa materia e di quale sotterraneo massacro il suo schiudersi sia il prezzo. Questa materia è l’unità di misura di un nulla che s’ignora.

da Frammenti D’Un Diario D’inferno, a Andrè Gaillard, Antonin Artaud
P.J. Fidler Works

Annunci

La Sensibilità Sospesa

Willem van Aelst. Still Life with flowers, 1675

Sapete che cos’è la sensibilità sospesa, questa specie di vitalità terrifica e scissa in due, questo punto di necessaria coesione a cui l’essere non s’innalza più, questo luogo minaccioso, questo luogo costernante?
da Il Pesa-Nervi, Frammenti, Antonin Artaud, 1925-1927

da Il Pesa-Nervi

Man Ray, 1926

Ho proprio sentito che Lei rompeva intorno a me l’atmosfera, faceva il vuoto per permettermi d’avanzare, per dare il posto d’uno spazio impossibile a quel che in me esisteva solo potenzialmente, a tutta una germinazione virtuale, e che doveva nascere, aspirata dal posto che si offriva.
Spesso mi sono trovato in uno stato d’impossibile assurdo, per cercare di far nascere in me del pensiero. Siamo alcuni, di questi tempi, ad aver voluto attentare alle cose, creare dentro di noi spazi per la vita, spazi che non esistessero e non sembrassero dover trovare posto nello spazio.
Sono sempre stato colpito da questa ostinazione dello spirito nel voler pensare in dimensioni e in spazi, e nel fissarsi su stati arbitrari delle cose per poter pensare, nel pensare in segmenti, in cristalloidi, e che ogni modo dell’essere restasse irrigidito su un principio, che il pensiero non fosse in pressante e ininterrotta comunicazione con le cose, ma che questo fissarsi e gelarsi, questa specie di monumentalizzazione dell’anima, si producesse per così dire PRIMA DEL PENSIERO. Evidentemente è la buona condizione per creare.
Ma sono ancora più colpito da questa instancabile, meteorica illusione, che ci suggerisce queste architetture determinate, circoscritte, pensate, questi segmenti d’anima cristallizzati, come se fossero una grande pagina plastica e in osmosi con il resto della realtà. E la surrealtà consiste quasi in un restringimento dell’osmosi, in una specie di comunicazione rovesciata. Lungi dal credere in una diminuzione del controllo, credo anzi in un controllo più grande, ma un controllo che invece d’agire diffidi, un controllo che impedisca gli incontri della realtà consueta e permetta incontri più penetranti e rarefatti, incontri assottigliati fino alla corda, che prende fuoco e non si spezza mai.
Immagino un’anima consumata e quasi solforata e fosforizzata da questi incontri, come l’unico stato accettabile della realtà.
Ma non so quale lucidità innominabile, sconosciuta me ne dà il tono e il grido e li fa sentire a me stesso. Li sento per una certa totalità insolubile, il cui senso cioè non può essere attaccatto da nessun dubbio. E io, nel rapporto con questi agitanti incontri, sono in uno stato di scossa minima, vorrei s’immaginasse un nulla arrestato, una massa di spirito seppellita da qualche parte, diventata virtualità.

da Il Pesa-Nervi, Frammenti, Antonin Artaud, 1925-1927

Eliogabalo o L’ Anarchico Incoronato

The Roses of Heliogabalus, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1888), oil on canvas (via wikipedia)

Per esempio quant’è sguaiato Artaud in questo testo ‘Eliogabalo o l’anarchico incoronato’ (1934), che l’altro giorno mi è saltato agli occhi nella camera di Federica e non ho potuto fare a meno di chiedere in prestito. E’ la prima volta che leggo Artaud in italiano

‘Se intorno al cadavere di Eliogabalo, morto senza tomba, e sgozzato dalla sua polizia nelle latrine di sangue e di escementi, intorno alla sua culla vi è un’intensa circolazione di sperma. Eliogabalo è nato in un’epoca in cui tutti fornicavano con tutti; nè si saprà mai dove e da chi fu realmente fecondata sua madre. Per un principe siriano, quale egli fu, la filiazione avviene attraverso le madri; – e, in fatto di madri, vi è intorno a questo figlio di cocchiere, appena nato, un pleiade di Giulie; – e ch’esse influiscano o no su un trono, tutte queste Giulie sono delle fiere puttane.’

‘Dall’alto delle torri costruite recentemente del suo tempio del dio pitico, egli [Eliogabalo] getta il grano e i membri virili.
Egli nutre un popolo castrato
Certo, non vi sono teorbe, tube, orchestre d’asor, in mezzo alle castrazioni che egli impone, ma che ogni volta impone come tante castrazioni personali, come se fosse egli stesso, Elagabalus, ad esser castrato. Sacchi di membri sono gettati dall’alto delle torri con la più crudele abbondanza nel giorno delle feste del dio Pizio.
Non giurerei che un’orchestra d’asor, o di nebel dalle corde stridule, dai vetri duri, non sia nascosta da qualche parte nei sotterranei delle torri a spirale, per coprire le grida dei parassiti che vengono castrati; ma a quelle grida di uomini martirizzati rispondono, quasi allo stesso tempo, le acclamazioni di un popolo festante, a cui Eliogabalo distribuisce il valore di parecchi campi di grano.
Il bene, il male, il sangue, lo sperma, i vini rosati, gli olii profumati, gli aromi più costosi creano, intorno alla generosità d’Eliogabalo, innumerevoli irrigazioni.
E la musica che esce di là trascende l’orecchio per raggiungere senza strumenti e senza orchestra lo spirito. Voglio dire che i ritornelli, gli arabeschi delle deboli orchestre non sono nulla vicino a questo flusso e riflusso, a questa marea che va e viene con strane dissonanze, dalla sua generosità alla sua crudeltà, dal suo gusto per il disordine alla ricerca di un ordine inapplicabile al mondo latino’

Aiuto, culle di sperma, piogge di membri virili, castrazioni pubbliche, lo scisma d’Irshu, lo zodiaco di Ram. Le Giulie, tutte puttane. Artaud soffriva di meningite e nevralgia, e si serviva di oppio per curare il dolore (ce n’eravamo accorti); l’opera di Artaud è delirio, spassosissimo delirio surrealista e le vicende e gli eccessi di Eliogabalo si prestato bene a soddisfare la morbosità di Artaud; il quadro sopra ‘The Roses of Heliogabalus’, del pittore olandese Lawrence Alma-Tadema, che Federica mi ha suggerito e di cui mi ha parlato, rappresenta appunto un mito secondo il quale Eliogabaldo, una sera e in occasione di un trionfale banchetto, uccise i suoi ospiti facendo cadere dal soffitto tonnellate di petali di rose.
Delle volte mi chiedo in che razza di prostrazione intellettuale deve essersi trovato Artaud per tirare fuori immagini così forti come quelle suggerite nelle sue opere. Quanto di vivo dev’esserci stato in tutto quel nervo malato strappato fuori dalle parole e chissà, curato solo attraverso la scrittura.
Ho trovato questa critica al testo, molto interessante, di Fabrizio Bandini (che io non conosco ma ringrazio per aver scritto e pubblicato online il testo)

ELIOGABALO, O L’ANARCHICO INCORONATO__________________________
Pubblicato in “Valley Life”, Anno III, n° 21 (2006)

L’Eliogabalo di Antonin Artaud è uno di quei rari libri che mostrano i simboli per come sono, nella loro essenza metafisica, e offrono squarci illuminanti sulla storia dell’uomo.
Artaud rilegge la biografia dell’imperatore romano, secondo una prospettiva metafisica assolutamente interessante, con molti punti di contatto con il pensiero tradizionalista, Guénon in primis, come nota giustamente Albino Galvano in una sua Prefazione al libro.
Eliogabalo, o l’anarchico incoronato, insomma, il dipinto di un’epoca affascinante e terribile, l’epoca dello sfacelo del grande Impero Romano, l’epoca del tracollo dell’Ordine, l’epoca della lotta fra il Femminile e il Maschile, l’epoca dell’esplodere del Caos.
Roma, oramai si era indebolita, politicamente, militarmente, e soprattutto spiritualmente.
L’antica etica, regale e nobile, che aveva forgiato l’Impero, oramai si era dissolta, e l’antica religione romana aveva aperto le porte da tempo ai culti matriarcali e tellurici dell’Asia minore.
Eliogabalo proviene proprio da quel pantano matriarcale, da Emesa, sacerdote effeminato di un culto solare posto sotto il dominio della Dea Madre, della Luna, del Femminile.
Quattro donne della sua stirpe si stagliano nella sua vita, imperiose, e forgiano letteralmente il suo destino: Giulia Domna, Giulia Mesa, Giulia Soemia e Giulia Mamea.
Sono donne forti, donne virili, donne sensuali, donne impudiche, donne prive di scrupoli, donne che fanno la storia e manipolano gli uomini, che d’altro canto appaiono deboli, passivi, invertiti ed effeminati.
Scrive Artaud: “Si può dire in proposito che Eliogabalo è stato fatto dalle donne…e che quando ha voluto pensare da sé, quando l’orgoglio del maschio frustrato dall’energia delle sue donne, delle sue madri, le quali hanno tutte fornicato con lui, ha voluto manifestarsi, si è visto cosa ne è risultato”.
La salita di Eliogabalo al trono imperiale di Roma, propiziata e voluta dalle virili e impudiche donne siriache della sua stirpe, segna uno dei punti più bassi nella decadenza dell’Impero.
Il disordine, l’anarchia, il caos, lo sconcio e la perversione travolgono tutto e tutti, senza pietà.

Roma entra nel Kali Yuga, in una atmosfera crepuscolare, da tregenda, il pantano Femminile spodesta l’ordine Maschile e virile, aprendo le porte al Caos.
La marcia di Eliogabalo sulla città eterna si assomiglia più ad un corteo dionisiaco, di falli, tori, baccanti, fanciulle ignude, ubriachi, pederasti, invertiti, e galli castrati, che ad un corteo imperiale.
Il sesso, il sangue, e l’ebbrezza, i tre segni del dionisiaco, vi dominano, scatenati.
Eliogabalo entra nella Città Eterna nell’autunno del 219.
“Davanti a lui vi è il Fallo, tirato da trecento fanciulle dai seni nudi che precedono i trecento tori, oramai intorpiditi e calmi…” scrive Artaud, “E, dietro ancora, le lettighe delle tre madri: Giulia Mesa, Giulia Soemia e Giulia Mamea…”.
Artaud paragona il suo ingresso a Roma ad un rito potente, ma invertito, dissolutore.
“Eliogabalo entra in Roma da dominatore, ma col didietro…Terminate le feste dell’incoronazione segnate da questa professione di fede pederastica…s’insedia con la nonna, la madre e la sorella di quest’ultima, la perfida Giulia Mamea, nel palazzo di Caracalla”.
Da quel giorno gli storici romani, Lampridio in testa, non fanno altro che annotare le turpitudini e le sconcezze del suo comportamento, con tono inorridito e schifato.
Artaud cita le fonti romane a man bassa e dispiega tutto il lungo elenco di scelleratezze dell’imperatore, che fa rimanere a bocca aperta.
Eliogabalo completamente succube della madre, Giulia Soemia, che non prende alcuna iniziativa di governo senza il suo consenso, mentre quella vive da meretrice e pratica ogni genere di lussuria; Eliogabalo che fa sedere la madre al Senato; Eliogabalo che istituisce un senatino delle donne; Eliogabalo che si veste da prostituta e si vende per quaranta soldi nelle strade di Roma; Eliogabalo che fa eleggere un ballerino a capo della sua guardia pretoriana; Eliogabalo che a Nicomedia si da alla più sordida depravazione, abbandonandosi con altri uomini a rapporti omosessuali attivi e passivi; Eliogabalo che sposa una vergine Vestale e profana i sacri culti romani.
E’ il trionfo del Caos, dell’anarchia, della dissoluzione.
L’Ordine decade totalmente, il Maschile si confonde con il Femminile, verso la dissoluzione completa dell’esistente, verso l’Unità originaria delle cose.
Eliogabalo, l’anarchico incoronato, anela a quell’Unità originaria delle cose, a quel Caos primordiale, secondo l’acuta interpretazione di Artaud, e per ripristinarlo spinge al massimo la via invertita della sovversione. Attore e spettatore, nello stesso tempo, di un terribile processo metastorico.
E’ troppo, Roma stessa non può più reggere.
La fine di Eliogabalo è nota: inseguito dai pretoriani venne trucidato in una latrina e gettato nel Tevere con la madre. Il suo regno era terminato. Un’altra tappa di un declino spaventoso.
L’Impero Romano non gli sopravvisse ancora a lungo.

via Eliogabalo, o l’anarchico incoronato Fabrizio Bandini.

Production and Metaphysics*


In the background Sodom and Gomorra still burn. Lot and his daughters could escape in time before the inferno began. Lot’s wife was not that fortunate: she was transformed into a pillar of salt because she looked back, against God’s command. She can be seen standing on the wooden bridge.

As Lot has no male children, his daughters decide to help him. They make him drunk with lots of wine. The children that were conceived that night would become the ancestors of the Moabites and the Ammonites, neighbours of Israel.

via Lucas van Leyden: Lot and his Daughters (oil paint).

There is a work by a primitive painter in the Louvre, whether known or unknown I cannot say, who will never represent a major school in art history. The artist’s name is Lucas van Leyden and to my mind he invalidates the four or five hundred years of painting coming after him, rendering them useless. The painting in question is entitled Lot and His Daughters, a biblical subject in the style of the period. The Middle Ages certainly did not interpret the Bible as we do today and this painting is a strange example of the mystical inferences which can be deduced from it. In any event, its phatos is noticeable even from a distance, since it affects the mind by a kind of sticking visual harmony, intensely active in the whole work yet caught at a glance.
Even before we have made out the subject, we get the feeling something important is happening and it seems the ear is as affected by it as the eye. A tremendously important mental drama appears accumulated there, like a sudden cloud formation which the wind or some more immediate fate has blown there to assess their thunderbolts.
And, in fact, in the painting the sky is dark and overcast, but even before we can make out that this drama originated in the heavens, took place in the heavens, the strange colouring and jumble of forms, the impression emanating from it at a distance, all foretells a kind of natural drama, and I defy any other artist of the Golden Ages to offer us anything like it.
A tent is pitched on the shore, in front of which Lot is seated, wearing a breastplate and sporting a fine red beard, watching his daughters parade before him as if he were a guest at a prostitutes’ banquet.
And in fact they strut about, some mothers, others Amazons, combing their hair or fencing, as if they had never had any other object than to please their father, to serve as his creatures or playthings. Here we see the deeply incestuous nature of this old subject which the artist has developed in sexual imagery, a proof that he has fully understood all its deep sexuality in a modern way, that is to say as we would understand it ourselves. A proof that its deeply sexual but poetic nature did not escape him any more than it did us.
On the left of the painting, slightly in the background, a black tower rises to fantastic heights, its base supported by a network of rocks and plants, twisting roads marked by milestones, with houses dotted here and there. And by an apt perspective effect, one of these paths which had been threading its way through the maze stands out at a given spot, crosses a bridge, is finally caught in a shaft of that stormy light spilling out between the clouds, in which the region is fitfully bathed. In the background, the sea is very high besides being extraordinarily calm, considering the fiery web seething in one corner of the sky.
Sometimes, when we are watching exploding fireworks, some details of the landscape stand out against the darkness in the ghostly light, in the nocturnal gunfire of shooting stars, sky rockets and Roman candles; trees, tower, mountains and houses appear in relief before our eyes, their colour and appearance for ever remaining associated in our minds with a notion of ear-splitting noise. There is no better way of conveying how the various aspects of the landscape conform to this fire revealed in the sky than by saying that although they possess their own colour, in spite of everything, they remain related to it like muted echoes, like living points of reference born within it, put there to allow it to exert its full destructive power.
Besides, there is something horribly forceful and disturbing about the way the painter depicts this fire, like active, changing features in a set expression. It makes little difference how this effect is achieved, it is real. One has only to see the painting to be convinced of it.
In any case, this fire, which no one will deny gives one the impression of an evil intellect emanating from it, by its very violence mentally serves to counterbalance the heavy material solidity of the remainder.
To the right, on the same perspective level as the black tower, a narrow spit of land surrounded by a ruined monastery juts out between the heavens and high seas.
This spit of land, however near it may appear to the shore where the Lot’s tent is pitched, still leaves room for a vast gulf where an unprecedented maritime disaster seems to have taken place. Ships broken in two but not yet sunk are propped on the sea as if on crutches, while the water round about them is full of their uprooted masts and broken spars.
It is hard to say why such an impression of absolute disaster emanates from the sight of one or two shipwrecked vessels.
It seems as though the painter knew certain secrets about linear proportion and how to make it affect the mind directly like a physical reagent. In any case this impression of intellect spread abroad in outdoor nature, especially the manner of portraying it, is apparent in several other details on the canvas, such as the bridge standing out against the sea, high as an eight-storey house, with people filing across it, like Ideas in Plato’s cave.
It would be untrue to claim that the thoughts emerging from this painting are clear. At all events they are of a grandeur to which we have become totally unaccustomed during the last few centuries by painting that was merely painting.
In addiction, Lot and his daughters suggest an idea of sexuality and reproduction, and Lot seems placed like a drone, to take improper advantage of his daughters.
This is almost the only idea in the picture.
All the other ideas are metaphysical. I am sorry to have to use that word, but that is what they are called. And I might even say their poetic greatness, their tangible effect on us arises from the fact that they are metaphysical, that their mental profundity cannot be separated from the painting’s formal, external symmetry.
Furthermore there is an idea of change in the different landscape details and the way they are painted, their levels annulling or corresponding to one another, that leads us into the mind in painting the same way as in music.
There is another idea about Fate, revealed not so much by the appearance of that sudden fire as by the solemn way in which all forms are arranged or disarranged beneath it, some as of bent beneath a gust of irresistible panic, the others motionless, almost ironic, all obeying a powerful intelligent consistency, seemingly nature’s mind externalized.
There are also ideas on Chaos, the Marvellous and Balance. There are even one or two on the importance of Words, this supremely anarchic, material painting seeming to establish their futility.
In any event I must say this painting is what theatre ought to be, if only it knew how to speak its own language.
Text entirely taken from ‘The Theatre and its Double’, by Antonin Artaud, 1978
Off Production and Metaphysics*

On Love and Shame

Da qualche tempo è uscito nelle sale cinematrografiche ‘Shame’, film drammatico del regista inglese Steve McQueen. La pellicola racconta di un uomo ‘deviato’ emotivamente e vittima di un’insaziabile dipendenza sessuale che non risparmia e seduce la sorella minore, coinvolta nell’incesto tra sensi di colpa e vertiginose isterie. Questa un’attenta e sofisticata recensione del film: Zettel Film Reviews » Shame: Steve McQueen – victimhood and the medicalisation of lust.
Il tema dell’incesto,  ricorda una tragedia di cui mi capitò leggere ne The theatre and its double, di Artaud. L’opera in questione è Tis Pity She’s a Whore, del commediografo inglese John Ford, e racconta di Giovanni e Annabella, fratello e sorella, consumati da un amore blasfemo e immortale, che non è peccato ma limite e sublimazione. Idealmente c’è molta più tensione, più coraggio, più carattere, in questa tragedia che nei piagnistei di Michael Fassbender. McQueen si limita ad accusare, Ford a interpretare un istinto e soddisfare una passione, senza giudizi nè morale
Dice Artaud
‘As soon as the curtain goes up on Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore’, to our great surprise we see before us a man launched on a most arrogant defense of incest, exerting all his youthful, conscious strength both in proclaiming and justifying it.
He does not hesitate or waver for one instant, thereby demonstrating just how little all the barriers mean that might be set up against him. He is heroically guilty, boldly, openly heroic. Everything drives him in this direction, inflames him, there is no heaven and no earth for him, only the strength of his tumultuous passion, which evokes a correspondingly rebellious and heroic passion in Annabella.
‘I weep,’ she says, ‘not with remorse, but for fear I shall not be able to satisfy my passion.’ They are both falsifiers, hypocrites and liars for the sake of their superhuman passion, obstructed, persecuted by the law, but which they place above the law.
Revenge for revenge, crime for crime. While we believed them threatened, hunted, lost and we were ready to feel pity for them as victims, they show themselves ready to trade blow for blow with fate and threat for threat.
We follow them from one demand to the other, from one excess to the next. Annabella is caught, convicted of adultery and incest, she is trampled upon, insulted, dragged along by the hair but, to our great astonishment, instead of trying to make excuses she provokes her executioner even more and sings out in a kind of stubborn heroism.
This is final rebellion, exemplary love without respite, making the audience gasp with anxiety in case anything should ever end it.
If one is looking for an example of total freedom in rebellion, Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore’ offers us this poetic example coupled with a picture of ultimate danger.
And just when we think we have reached a climax of horror and bloodshed, of flaunted laws, in short, poetry consecrating rebellion, we are obliged to continue in a vortex nothing can stop.
At the end we tell ourselves there must be retribution and death for such boldness and for such an irresistible crime.
Yet it is not so. Giovanni, the lover, inspired by a great impassioned poet, places himself above retribution and crime by a kind of indescribably passionate crime, places himself above threats, above horror by an even greater horror that baffles both law and morals and those who dare to set themselves up as judges.
A clever trap is laid; orders are given for a great banquet where henchmen and hired assassins hide among the guests, ready to pounce on him at the first sign. But this lost, hunted hero inspired by love will not allow anyone to judge that love.
He seems to say, you want my love’s flesh and blood, but I mean to hurl it in your face, I intend to splatter you with the blood of a love whose level you could never attain.
So he kills his rival before his execution, his sister’s husband who had dared to come between himself and his mistress, slaying him in a final duel which then appears to be his own death throes.
Text entirely taken from The Theatre and Its Double, by Antonin Artaud, 1938

The Nerve Meter by Antonin Artaud via The Poetry Foundation

An actor is seen as if through crystals.
Inspiration in stages.
One musn’t let in too much literature.

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 attributed 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.
In sleep, nerves tensed the whole length of my legs.
Sleep came from a shifting of belief, the pressure eased, absurdity stepped on my toes.
It must be understood that all of intelligence is only a vast contingency, and that one can lose it, not like a lunatic who is dead, but like a living person who is in life and who feels working on himself its attraction and its inspiration (of intelligence, not of life).
The titillations of intelligence and this sudden reversal of contending parties.
Words halfway to intelligence.
This possibility of thinking in reverse and of suddenly reviling one’s thought.
This dialogue in thought.
The ingestion, the breaking off of everything.
And all at once this trickle of water on a volcano, the thin, slow falling of the mind.
To find oneself again in a state of extreme shock, clarified by unreality, with, in a corner of oneself, some fragments of the real world.
To think without the slightest breaking off, without pitfalls in my thought, without one of those sudden disappearances to which my marrow is accustomed as a transmitter of currents.
My marrow is sometimes amused by these games, sometimes takes pleasure in these games, takes pleasure in these furtive abductions over which the sense of my thought presides.
At times all I would need is a single word, a simple little word of no importance, to be great, to speak in the voice of the prophets: a word of witness, a precise word, a subtle word, a word well steeped in my marrow, gone out of me, which would stand at the outer limit of my being,
and which, for everyone else, would be nothing.
I am the witness, I am the only witness of myself. This crust of words, these imperceptible whispered transformations of my thought, of that small part of my thought which I claim has already been formulated, and which miscarries,
I am the only person who can measure its extent.
Antonin Artaud, “The Nerve Meter” from Selected Writings of Antonin Artaud (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1976).
via The Nerve Meter by Antonin Artaud : The Poetry Foundation.

The Seashell and the Clergyman

The Seashell and the Clergyman was directed in 1927 by Germaine Dulac, after a surrealist screenplay by Antonin Artaud.
The first authentic surrealistic movie.
(as said by nuevaorg on youtube)

Antonin Artaud-Theater of Cruelty, 1st Manifesto(1938)

Antonin Artaud

The Theater of Cruelty (First Manifesto)
By Antonin Artaud
We cannot go on prostituting the idea of theater whose only value is in its excruciating,
magical relation to reality and danger.Put in this way, the question of the theater ought to arouse general attention, the implication being that theater, through its physical aspect, since it requires expression in space (the only real expression, in fact), allows the magical means of art and speech to be exercised organically and altogether, like renewed exorcisms. The upshot of all this is that theater will not be given its specific powers of action until it is given its language.That is to say: instead of continuing to rely upon texts considered definitive and sacred, it is essential to put an end to the subjugation of the theater to the text, and to recover the notion of a kind of unique language half-way between gesture and thought.This language cannot be defined except by its possibilities for dynamic expression in space as opposed to the expressive possibilities of spoken dialogue. And what the theater can still take over from speech are its possibilities for extension beyond words, for development in space, for dissociative and vibratory action upon the sensibility. This is the hour of intonations, of a word’s particular pronunciation. Here too intervenes (besides the auditory language of sounds) the visual language of objects, movements, attitudes,and gestures, but on condition that their meanings, their physiognomies, their combinations be carried to the point of becoming signs, making a kind of alphabet out of these signs. Once aware of this language in space, language of sounds, cries, lights,onomatopoeia, the theater must organize it into veritable hieroglyphs, with the help of characters and objects, and make use of their symbolism and interconnections in relation to all organs and on all levels.
The question, then, for the theater, is to create a meta-physics of speech, gesture, and expression, in order to rescue it from its servitude to psychology and “human interest.”But all this can be of no use unless behind such an effort there is some kind of real metaphysical inclination, an appeal to certain unhabitual ideas, which by their very nature cannot be limited or even formally depicted. These ideas which touch on Creation,Becoming, and Chaos, are all of a cosmic order and furnish a primary notion of a domain from which the theater is now entirely alien. They are able to create a kind of passionate equation between Man, Society, Nature, and Objects.
It is not, moreover, a question of bringing metaphysical ideas directly onto the stage, but of creating what you might call temptations, indraughts of air around these ideas. And humor with its anarchy, poetry with its symbolism and its images, furnish a basic notion of ways to channel the temptation of these ideas.
We must speak now about the uniquely material side of this language–that is, about all the ways and means it has of acting upon the sensibility.
It would be meaningless to say that it includes music, dance, pantomime, or mimicry.
Obviously it uses movement, harmonies, rhythms, but only to the point that they can con-cur in a sort of central expression without advantage for any one particular art. This does not at all mean that it does not use ordinary actions, ordinary passions, but like a spring board uses them in the same way that HUMOR AS DESTRUCTION can serve to reconcile the corrosive nature of laughter to the habits of reason.
But by an altogether Oriental means of expression, this objective and concrete language of the theater can fascinate and ensnare the organs. It flows into the sensibility. Aban-doning Occidental usages of speech, it turns words into in-cantations. It extends the voice. It utilizes the vibrations and qualities of the voice. It wildly tramples rhythms underfoot. It pile-drives sounds. It seeks to exalt, to benumb, to charm, to arrest the sensibility. It liberates a new lyricism of gesture which, by its precipitation or its amplitude in the air, ends by surpassing the lyricism of words. It ultimately breaks away from the intellectual subjugation of the language, by conveying the sense of a new and deeper intellectuality which hides itself beneath the gestures and signs, raised to the dignity of particular exorcisms.
For all this magnetism, all this poetry, and all these direct means of spellbinding would be nothing if they were not used to put the spirit physically on the track of something else, if the true theater could not give us the sense of a creation of which we possess only one face, but which is completed on other levels.
And it is of little importance whether these other levels are really conquered by the mind or not. i.e., by the intelli-gence; it would diminish them, and that has neither interest nor sense. What is important is that by positive means the sensitivity is put in a state of deepened and keener perception and this is the very object of the magic and the rites of which the theater is only a reflection.
TECHNIQUE
It is a question then of making the theater, in the proper sense of the word, a function;
something as localized and as precise as the circulation of the blood in the arteries or the apparently chaotic development of dream images in the brain, and this is to be
accomplished by a thorough involvement, a genuine enslavement of the attention.
The theater will never find itself again–i.e., constitute a means of true illusion by
furnishing the spectator with the truthful precipitates of dreams, in which his taste for
crime, his erotic obsessions, his savagery, his chimeras, his utopian sense of life and matter, even his cannibalism, pour out, on a level not counterfeit and illusory, but interior.In other terms, the theater must pursue by all its means a reassertion not only of all the aspects of the objective and descriptive external world, but of the internal world, that is,of man considered metaphysically. It is only thus, we believe, that we shall be able to speak again in the theater about the rights of the imagination. Neither humor, nor poetry,nor imagination means anything unless, by an anarchistic destruc-tion generating a prodigious flight of forms which will consti-tute the whole spectacle, they succeed in organically re-involving man, his ideas about reality, and his poetic place in reality.To consider the theater as a second-hand psychological or moral function, and to believe that dreams themselves have only a substitute function, is to diminish the profound poetic bearing of dreams as well as of the theater. If the theater, like dreams, is bloody and inhuman, it is, more than just that, to manifest and unforgettably root within us the idea of a per-petual conflict, a spasm in which life is continually lacerated, in which everything in creation rises up and exerts itself against our appointed rank; it is in order to perpetuate in a concrete and immediate way the metaphysical ideas of certain Fables whose very atrocity and energy suffice to show their origin and continuity in essential principles.This being so, one sees that, by its proximity to principles which transfer their energy to it poetically, this naked lan-guage of the theater (not a virtual but a real language) must permit, by its use of man’s nervous magnetism, the transgression of the ordinary limits of art and speech, in order to realize actively, that is to say magically, in real terms, a kind of total creation in which man must reassume his place between dream and events.
[following the whole text]
Artaud, Antonin 1938 – Theater of Cruelty, 1st Manifesto.

A misunderstood genius

Catrin Welz-Stein-Unborn Ideas

“There is in every madman
a misunderstood genius
whose idea
shining in his head
frightened people
and for whom delirium was the only solution
to the strangulation
that life had prepared for him.”
Antonin Artaud
(September 4, 1896, in Marseille – March 4, 1948 in Paris)
French playwright, poet, actor and theatre director.

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