Who am I?
Where do I come from?
I am Antonin Artaud
and if I say it
as I know how to say it
you will see my present body
fly into pieces
and under ten thousand
a new body
will be assembled
in which you will never again
to forget me.
(Post-Scriptum), translated by Clayton Eshleman and Norman Glass.
Born September 4, 1896
, in Marseilles
He moved to Paris
, where he became an actor. He did, in fact, cut a striking figure.
He was a minor figure in the surrealist
movement until 1927, when he helped start the Théâtre Alfred Jarry
, which would go in other directions.
In 1935 he there put on his play, The Cenci
, which was his first example of the Theater of Cruelty
Artaud had a lifelong problem with mental illness
. He spent most of 1936
, where he used peyote
. This certainly did not help matters. In Ireland
on a boat, he is straightjacket
ed after threatening to hurt himself, and is sent back to France
. For about 9 years from that point, he stays in various hospitals and mental institutions, in Rouen
, and, primarily, Rodez
. There, he was made victim to medical
ignorance, and was given electroshock therapy
and a variety of other "treatments".
January 13, 1947
he delivered a lecture at the Theatre du Vieux Colombier
Died March 4, 1948
, at the Hospice d'Ivry in Paris
. His final work was To Have Done With The Judgment Of God.
often produces great genius
t. Then again, it sometimes produces works which are simply bizarre
. To some of us, that alone is a form of genius.
Artaud was quite prolific, and wrote prose
as well as poetry
- some of it more coherant than the rest. It is interesting to read him to find out what happens when you mix insanity with the avant garde
and Jacques Derrida
have had interesting things to say about Artaud, but then again, Harold Bloom
lists him as a Canon
ical author for the Chaotic Age
, so he's not as pomo
as you would think.
Let's have a look at the folowing Jack Hirshman translation
of one piece which was published by one of Artuad's doctors, Dr. Gaston Ferdière
, in the December 1959 La Tour de Feu
. About the piece, the doctor writes "I add here a specific example of Artaud's mental derangement, the dedication to the Führer
of The New Revelations of Being
... One recognizes here the faulty memory (so frequent with Artaud along with mistaken identity), mystical
, etc...." I too add it here as a specific example of Artaud's mental derangment
TO ADOLPH HITLER
in memory of the
Berlin one afternoon in
May of '32,
and because I pray
give you the
grace to remember
all the wonders by which HE (sic)
has GRATIFIED (RESUSCITATED)
this very day
Kudar dayro Zarish Ankkara
(December 3, 1943)