Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Antonin's Day

I salute the king of the crazy French playwrights Antonin Artaud
on this and every St. Patrick's day!

From here

In 1936, after it was all too clear that he would never be able to raise the money for performances of what he now called "The Theatre of Cruelty"-a term which primarily refers to the steely rigor and dramatic intensity with which a spectacle was to be carried forth-Artaud decided to visit Mexico. After giving some lectures in Mexico City, he made a 75o-kilometer trip north across the Sierra Madre to Tarahumara country, where he threw away his heroin in preparation for taking peyote. He returned to Paris, increasingly irrational, now studying the Tarot and signing certain works as "The Revealed One." His close friend, Anaïs Nin, was to note in her journal: "The Dome at 9 A.M. Antonin Artaud passes by. He is waving his magic Mexican cane and shouting."

Because Artaud believed that the cane he had been given once belonged to St. Patrick, he decided to go to Ireland and wake up the Irish. He also predicted the end of the world (November 7,1937). When he was picked up for vagrancy in Dublin, he identified himself as Antoneo Arlanopoulas, born in Smyrna. He was deported and, after starting a fight with ship workmen, arrived in Le Havre in a straitjacket, five weeks before his predicted world's end. At this time, for all identifiable purposes, Antonin Artaud did not exist.

Artaud spent the next eight years and eight months in five insane asylums. He was diagnosed by Dr. Jacques Lacan as chronically and incurably insane. By 1942, when asylum rations consisted mainly of cabbage soup, he was described as having become so emaciated that he looked like a walking skeleton-an eerie evocation of Nazi concentration camp inmates. He now believed that the doctors as well as his old friends in Paris were infested with Doubles who were Initiates, for example that André Breton was not André Breton but a member of some secret society empowered with black magic. Because these Initiates participated in orgies and sexual spells against him, he was forced to fight them ceaselessly. Antoneo Artaud himself had been invaded by Doubles, among whom were Astral, Flat-Nosed Pliers, The One Born of Sweat, and the Incarceration of Evil, known as Cigul. These Doubles often dictated letters in his head, and attempted to steal his thoughts before he could make them conscious.

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