However fiercely opposed one may be to the present order, an old respect for the idea of order itself often prevents people from distinguishing between order and those who stand for order, and leads them in practise to respect individuals under the pretext of respecting order itself.
Letter to André Gide (February 10, 1935)
If I commit suicide, it will not be to destroy myself but to put myself back together again. Suicide will be for me only one means of violently reconquering myself, of brutally invading my being, of anticipating the unpredictable approaches of God. By suicide, I reintroduce my design in nature, I shall for the first time give things the shape of my will.Antonin ArtaudSi je me tue ce ne sera pas pour me détruire, mais pour me reconstituer, le suicide ne sera pour moi qu’un moyen de me reconquérir violemment, de faire brutalement irruption dans mon être, de devancer l’avance incertaine de Dieu. Par le suicide, je réintroduis mon dessin dans la nature, je donne pour la première fois aux choses la forme de ma volonté.“On Suicide,” no. 1, Le Disque Vert (1925)
It is not opium which makes me work but its absence, and in order for me to feel its absence it must from time to time be present.Antonin ArtaudAppeal to Youth: Intoxication-Disintoxication (1934)
The Theatre of Cruelty has been created in order to restore to the theatre a passionate and convulsive conception of life, and it is in this sense of violent rigour and extreme condensation of scenic elements that the cruelty on which it is based must be understood. This cruelty, which will be bloody when necessary but not systematically so, can thus be identified with a kind of severe moral purity which is not afraid to pay life the price it must be paid.Antonin ArtaudThe Theatre of Cruelty, in The Theory of the Modern Stage (ed. Eric Bentley) (1968)
With society and its public, there is no longer any other language than that of bombs, barricades, and all that follows.Antonin ArtaudQuoted in Le Monde (Paris, Sept. 11, 1970)Quoted in Renee Weingarten's Writers and Revolution, ch. 15 (1974)
Tragedy on the stage is no longer enough for me, I shall bring it into my own life.Antonin ArtaudQuoted in the memoirs of Jean-Louis Barrault, The Grenier des Grands-Augustins, pt. 2, Memories for Tomorrow (1972, trans. 1974)
Suicidez-vous, désespérés, et vous, torturés du corps et de l'âme, perdez tout espoir. Il n'y a plus pour vous de soulagement en ce monde. Le monde vit de vos charniers.Antonin ArtaudDestroy yourselves, you who are desperate, and you who are tortured in body and soul, abandon all hope. There is no more solace for you in this world. The world lives off your rotting flesh.
The theater, which is in no thing, but makes use of everything gestures, sounds, words, screams, light, darkness rediscovers itself at precisely the point where the mind requires a language to express its manifestations.... To break through language in order to touch life is to create or recreate the theatre.Antonin ArtaudPreface: The Theater and Culture
Written poetry is worth reading once, and then should be destroyed. Let the dead poets make way for others. Then we might even come to see that it is our veneration for what has already been created, however beautiful and valid it may be, that petrifies us.Antonin ArtaudThe Theatre and Its Double, Chapter 6 (1938, translated 1958).
[Nietzsche’s] definition of cruelty informs Artaud’s own, declaring that all art embodies and intensifies the underlying brutalities of life to recreate the thrill of experience … Although Artaud did not formally cite Nietzsche, [their writing] contains a familiar persuasive authority, a similar exuberant phraseology, and motifs in extremis …Antonin ArtaudLee Jamieson, Antonin Artaud: From Theory to Practice, Greenwich Exchange, 2007, p.21-22
Artaud sought to remove aesthetic distance, bringing the audience into direct contact with the dangers of life. By turning theatre into a place where the spectator is exposed rather than protected, Artaud was committing an act of cruelty upon them.Antonin ArtaudLee Jamieson, Antonin Artaud: From Theory to Practice, Greenwich Exchange, 2007, p.23
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