“I, Antonin Artaud, born in Marseille the 4th of September 1896, fifty years old, five or six poetry books author, cinema player and director… I have lost every control over my life, my body, interned and constrained in a mental hospital for 9 years long, a mere thing in the hands of authority, subdued to cruel and alienating laws that got me forever different”.
The artist arrives at the mental hospital of Rodez the 11th of February 1943, where he is given 51 electroshocks; from the beginning, he strongly rebels against a torture-like therapy, sending to the hospital director many imploring or strongly complaining mails either. In Rodez he was considered “an invalid of importance”; doctors liked his writings and they were enchanted by his artistic genius, but that was all. The doctors who liked his brilliant poetic inspiration were the same who wanted to “cure” his illogical ideas, and who were suspicious about his out of the rules behaviour. “All that in the order of written things avoids the rank of clear and organised perception; all that tries to turn upside-down appearances, to convey a doubt about the situation of the images of the essence, connected one to each other; all that causes confusion, without destroying the strength of the thought that manifests itself; all that turns upside-down the links among things, conferring to deranged thought a superior appearance of truth and violence; this opens up a path to death, putting ourselves in touch with higher states of spirit, in which death shows herself. Death can’t take place, for it has already taken place in the very act of birth.”
“I was given 51 electroshocks, after one of them I was declared officially dead, and then brought back to life and thrown in the horror of psychoanalytical treatment… From the utmost depth of my life I keep avoiding psychoanalysis, and I will avoid it forever like any other attempt to confine my conscience in precepts, principles or in every other verbal organisation.”
“They suggest me to act in the street,
police will allow me, police will allow me,
I must say “location”, modern street is not theatrical
Seek my location, location,
bad weather, bad weather, portable theatre,
in any case don’t rehearse in the street,
in any case a world where everything is built on money
and where money or lack of it stops everything,
components of no price have to be said,
wood, tissue, food, players,
that can be obtained without money
and barter restored,
“What is needed, in the end?
You can act on a public square if the weather is good,
because you need space,
in a hangar, in an abandoned work-shop or a car-box,
but you have to try.
I’m ready to show that I don’t need money
I turn it down,
give me a house to live in, food,
people to cut and sew clothes,
and a Society in the society,
A State in the State.”
“There’s nothing that I detest more than the notion of spectacle, >representation, virtuality – non-reality,
connected to everything that is produced and showed”
“I reject baptism,
In don’t believe in the value of salvation.”
“Take all that it is offered to you and don’t try to look or penetrate in what it was not offered to you. I’ll find what is to be done in the absolute, past will teach me nothing.
I, Antonin Artaud, dead in Ivry the 4th of March 1948, sitting by the bed-side”…