Saturday, July 26, 2008

Antonin Artaud on thinking, language, and writing...

So, I've been reading this book of selected writings by Antonin Artaud (pictured above) (along with the other stack of stuff I'm working through...which I may never finish). The book is made up of fragments of his other books, writings on painting, theatre and film, his poetry, and many of his letters, etc. Artaud is intense. So far I've been reading various pieces about the fragility of his mental state, the problems with and difficulty of his (our) thought processes, the inability of language to express our thoughts and feelings thoroughly, and other of his frustrations, madnesses, sufferings.

I just wanted to share a little bit...three fragments on thought, language, and writing...I think they are just incredible.

"There is something which destroys my thought; something which does not prevent me from being what I might be, but which leaves me, so to speak, in suspension. Something furtive which robs me of the words that I have found, which reduces my mental tension, which is even robbing me of the memory of those idioms with which one expresses oneself and which translate accurately the most inseparable, the most localized, the most living inflections of thought." (from a letter to Jacques Riviére dated January 29, 1924)

"I AM AN IDIOT by the suppression of thought, by the malformation of thought; I am vacant by the stupefaction of my tongue.
Malformation, disorganization of a certain number of those vitreous corpuscles of which you make such unconsidered use. A use which you do not know, at which you have never been present.

All the terms in which I choose to think are for me TERMS in the literal sense of the word, that is, true terminations, borders of my mental , (actual blank space) of all the states to which I have subjected my thinking. I am truly LOCALIZED by my terms, and if I say that I am LOCALIZED by my terms, I mean that I do not recognize them as valid in my thought. I am truly paralyzed by my terms, by a series of terminations. And however ELSEWHERE my thought may be at these moments, I have no choice but to bring it out through these terms, however contradictory to itself, however parallel, however ambiguous they may be, or pay the penalty of no longer being able to think."
(from The Nerve Meter [1925])

People who come out of nowhere to try to put into wards any part of what goes on in their minds are pigs.

The whole literary scene is a pigpen, especially today.

All those who have points of reference in their minds, I mean on a certain side of their heads, in well-localized areas of their brains, all those who are masters of their language, all those for whom words have meanings, all those for whom words have meanings, all those for whom there exist higher levels of the soul and currents of thought, those who represent the spirit of the times, and who have named these currents of thought, I am thinking of their meticulous industry and of that mechanical creaking which their minds give off in all directions,
--are pigs.

Those for whom certain words have meaning, and certain modes of being, those who are so precise, those for whom emotions can be classified and who quibble over some point of their hilarious classifications, those who still believe in "terms", those who discuss the ranking ideologies of the age, those whom women discuss so intelligently and the women themselves who speak so well and who discuss the currents of the age, those who still believe in an orientation of the mind, those who follow paths, who drop names, who recommend books,

--these are the worst pigs of all.
You are quite unnecessary, young man!

No, I am thinking of bearded critics.

And I have already told you: no works, no language, no words, no mind, nothing.

Nothing but a fine Nerve Meter.

A kind of incomprehensible stopping place in the mind, right in the middle of everything.

And do not expect me to name this everything, to tell you how many parts it is divided into, don't expect me to tell you its weight, don't think that you can get me to discuss it, and that while discussing I will forget myself and that I will thus begin, without realizing it, to THINK--and that it will be illuminated, that it will live, that it will deck itself in a multitude of words, all with well-polished meanings, all different, and able to express all the attitudes and nuances of a very sensitive and penetrating thought.
Ah, these states that are never named, these eminent positions of the soul, ah, these intermissions of the mind, ah, these minuscule failures which are the nourishment of my hours, ah, this population teeming with facts--I always use the same words and really I don't seem to advance very much in my thinking, but actually I am advancing mare than you, bearded asses, pertinent pigs, master of the false word, wrappers of portraits, serial writers, groundlings, cattle raisers, entomologists, plague of my speech.

I told you that I have lost my speech, but that is no reason for you to persist in speaking.
Enough, I shall be understood in ten years by people who will be doing what you do today. Then my geysers will be known, my ice floes will be seen, the secret of adulterating my poisons will have been learned, the games of my soul will be revealed.
Then all my hairs, all my mental veins will be buried in lime, then my bestiary will be perceived and my mystique will have become a hat. Then they will see the joints of the stones steam, and arborescent bouquets of mental eyes will be crystallized in glossaries, then they will see stone meteors fall, then they will see ropes, then they will understand a geometry without space, they will learn what is meant by the configuration of the mind, and they will understand how I lost my mind.

Then they will understand why my mind is not here, then they will see all language drain away, all minds run dry, all tongues shrivel up, human faces will flatten and deflate as if sucked in by hot-air vents, and this lubricating membrane will continue to float in the air, this lubricating caustic membrane, this double-thick, many-leveled membrane of infinite crevices, this melancholy and vitreous membrane but so sensitive, so pertinent itself, so capable of multiplying, dividing, turning with a flash of crevices, senses, drugs, penetrating and noxious irrigations,

then all this will be accepted,
and I shall have no further need to speak."

(from THE NERVE METER [1925])

So, PIGS, what do you THINK?!


Scott Abbott said...

makes good sense of some of my worst frustrations, frustrations caused by idiots (myself included) who think that because they are using language they are thinking.

Grabloid said...

Haha...yeah, usually if I'm thinking I can't use language and when I'm using language I can't think.

michael morrow said...

Oh boy I love this post too. Somehow narrative frustrations become a completely different challenge for me when movement is incorporated into the conversation. When I feel the frustration of not having words adequate to express what I'm feeling, movement has a way of tweaking my brain such that things make sense from a different angle. That doesnt always mean I am able to express with words any better but frustration seems to weaken, or even morph into something more practical than frustration in the midst of movement, even allowing for a new or different perspective to come into play.
One of the most important benefits of movement for me is that as I let go of thinking, movement gets more fluid, allowing for new ideas to enter the conversation. This is especially true if I am speaking a narrative I have memorized, bringing movement and words together. Speaking from memorization also assists with letting thoughts run free. In fact I catch glimpses of fluid thoughts as I speak and move in this way.
Ideally, idiotic thinking will subside and I will eventually shut the hell up......which would probably make my family very happy.
yes, no doubt, I'm a pig/lover

michael morrow said...

well I dont know why this double entry happens this way. but I did make some changes before I posted the last one, I'm going to yoga and move on it