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Littéralité d’Artaud


Les gloses autour de l’œuvre d’Antonin Artaud ont abondé. D’où vint, il y a déjà de longues années, que les quelques textes que me communiqua Jacob Rogozinski me parurent immédiatement les meilleurs jamais écrits autour du poète majeur du vingtième siècle ? Eléments de réponse, qui voudraient seulement inciter à la lecture d’un grand livre.

Présentations. Jacob Rogozinski est l’auteur d’études sur Kant (Le don de la Loi, P.U.F., 1999), avant tout, où on assistait à une sorte de harcèlement sophistiqué de tous les retranchements de l’éthique kantienne. On aurait dit le héros même de Kafka posant, vingt années durant, au gardien de la porte de la Loi chaque jour de nouvelles questions. Ainsi Rogozinski, pur fils des seventies anarcho-gauchistes, naquit publiquement en philosophie: en kantien torturé. Plus tard, à la mort de Derrida, pour moi l’un des tout meilleurs livres jamais écrits sur le Père de la déconstruction (Faire part, Lignes, 2005): moins apologétique que le Derridabase de Bennington, on avait la sensation qu’avec ce que promettait ce livre, Rogozinski eût pu devenir à Derrida ce que celui-ci fut à Heidegger. Un fils torturé et critique, ne parvenant pourtant pas à se défaire de son Origine. Mais Rogozinski écrit, ou en tout cas publie, peu. Son écriture est claire, précise, synthétique, nerveuse. Son «grand» livre de philosophie est Le Moi et la Chair : Introduction à l’ego-analyse (Cerf, 2006), prolongement entièrement singulier de la phénoménologie de Michel Henry. J’avoue qu’à l’époque, déjà saisi du plus vif intérêt pour tout ce qu’il écrivait, je passais à côté de ma lecture. J.R. me dit, de mon Esprit du nihilisme, qu’il ressentait à la fois la plus extrême proximité et la plus extrême distance. Je ressentis la même chose pour son Opus magnum. C’est grâce à la «somme» tant attendue sur Artaud que je comprends enfin pourquoi.

Vieille affaire que celle qui lie les philosophes aux poètes. Sans remonter au chiasme historique de Platon/Aristote, exclusion fondatrice d’un côté, assomption réparatrice de l’autre, à partir de Heidegger (mais peut-être déjà Hegel avec Schiller), l’exégèse d’un poète d’élection devient une figure quasi imposée du philosophe, qui en révèle autant sur lui-même que lui ne nous donne à lire ce poète. Hölderlin, on le comprendra très tard, fut un penseur du dix-neuvième aussi passionnant que les sommets de la philosophie «philosophante», Hegel ou Nietzsche. Artaud, d’évidence, tiendra la même place, pour les philosophes de la génération soixante-huit : Deleuze et Derrida. Il y aura presque autant de leur part (mais pas autant, justement) sur Mallarmé. La génération Mao qui succéda immédiatement à celle-là, «fidèle» à son puritanisme habituel, ne conservera que Mallarmé et ne dira rien d’Artaud. Badiou trouvera dans la Constellation mallarméenne de quoi «relever» les désastres sino-cambodgiens;  Milner, lui, y trouvera de quoi ne pas les relever du tout («rien n’a eu lieu»), et, faisant son deuil, passer à autre chose. Rogozinski perturbe encore notre chronologie : quoi? Vous dites que ses exégèses sont les meilleures? Meilleures que Deleuze ou Derrida? Oui. Pour des raisons philosophiques strictes.

Deleuze fera, comme le démontre Rogozinski, d’un hapax des écrits artoldiens le Maître-mot de sa philosophie: le Corps sans Organes. Mais, dans les œuvres complètes d’Artaud, n’importe quel lecteur sait que les organes, leurs configurations et distributions, leurs guerres endogènes, sont absolument partout. Le Corps sans Organes est un concept de Deleuze, pas une composante de la poétique d’Artaud. Derrida annoncera tout de suite la couleur: Artaud croit trop au «corps propre», ce qui est impossible pour un déconstructeur. Tel était l’une des critiques principales du Faire Part de Rogozinski, et telle est une des démonstrations du livre: chez Artaud, il n’est question, d’évidence, jamais que de ce corps irréductiblement propre, et pourtant exproprié de toutes parts, écartelé en mille morceaux, dont toute sa vie et sa pensée fut l’héroïque épopée de réappropriation. Le corps-propre, le Moi-chair: le grand traumatisé de toute l’Histoire de la métaphysique. Tout s’éclaire donc, à la faveur d’Artaud, de ce qui m’avait glissé dessus de la philosophie de Rogozinski: au fond, sa choquante évidence même. Toute l’Histoire de la philosophie est celle du Sacrifice de l’ego, du moi-chair, au profit de l’Universel positif: de cette expérience la plus banale de notre quotidienneté, le moi-chair traumatisé par l’expropriation – le rackett quotidien – de l’Universel positif, J.R. aura voulu, avec un solitaire héroïsme, faire une philosophie.

Autre nom qu’on rencontre dans la bibliographie de J.R. : Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe. On doit à ce dernier, pour toujours, un autre Hölderlin que celui de Heidegger, bien plus fidèle à l’original. Débarrassé du Mythe fascisant, débarrassé même de l’élégie: un Hölderlin littéralisé, à l’appui de Benjamin et d’Adorno. Bien plus fidèle à l’original que celui du philosophe de la Forêt Noire, à toutes fins nationales-socialistes utiles.

Rogozinski est donc à Deleuze et Derrida ce que Lacoue-Labarthe fut à Heidegger: il littéralise Artaud. La superbe nudité du titre, Guérir la vie, le paraphe. Le livre commence ainsi: «Pourquoi écrire un livre sur Antonin Artaud? Parce qu’il me l’a demandé.» D’où la passion de la lecture : pour la première fois, on lit un livre sur Artaud presque comme si on lisait Artaud: on n’a jamais l’impression, comme avec Heidegger lisant Hölderlin, ou Deleuze et Derrida Artaud, d’une appropriation du poète. C’est Artaud qui s’empare de Rogozinski, et celui-ci de nous: là encore, la similarité avec l’opération de Lacoue-Labarthe est d’autant plus confondante qu’il ne s’agit pas du tout, d’évidence, des mêmes poètes: parce qu’il ne s’agit pas de la même époque. Et que la leçon philosophique à tirer de ce penseur majeur qu’est Artaud, au même titre au moins que Hölderlin, c’est celle à laquelle la pensée du moi-chair de Rogozinski apporte sa pierre de touche. Poursuivant ce qui fut l’originalité quelque peu «maudite» du vingtième siècle philosophique, sa véritable nouveauté historique, son événement aussi obscur que forclos: les «philosophies négatives», dépressives, écrites du point des victimes. Benjamin, Bataille, Blanchot, Adorno, Schurmann, Lacoue-Labarthe. Philosophies «mineures», fragmentaires, lacunaires, arrachées à l’enfer du siècle comme à l’enfer de l’intimité la plus… «propre». Philosophies de l’Universel négatif; de l’Universel qui montre sa face obscure, ses «stratégies effroyables» (Schurmann).

La philosophie du siècle commençant, sous peine d’être une imposture éthique, ne peut plus être l’architectonique pompière qui examine comment la singularité peut se sacrifier pour le progrès d’un Universel positif. Celui fixé, il y vingt-cinq siècles avant notre ère, par la philosophie elle-même. Elle doit décrire comment cet Universel, celui du seul animal anthropologique, s’est «territorialisé» en toutes les singularités qui sont effectivement là. Celles qui, au nom même, le plus souvent, de l’Universel positif, habitent les camps de concentration et d’extermination, les prisons, les asiles, les famines, les bidonvilles, les rues, et jusqu’aux «enfers tièdes» du nihilisme dépressif moyen. Comme Schurmann l’a prophétiquement annoncé: jusqu’ici la métaphysique avait mis l’Universel en haut, et le singulier, tout en bas. Désormais le programme philosophique s’énonce: comment est-ce que l’Universel positif, qui n’est autre que la Science dans la clôture anthropologique, se modalise dans les singularités effectives. Cet Universel ne manquera dès lors plus d’être mis au plus bas, et la singularité au plus haut. «L’anarchie couronnée», sous-titre que Deleuze citait si souvent d’Antonin Artaud. L’an-archie des singularités qui sont effectivement là, et qui sont, presque toutes, des monstres, des déchets, des freaks de l’Universalité positive vantée par les balalaïkas philosophiques.
— La Règle du Jeu



Analects on the influence of Artaud

How sickness is, and isn’t, a prerequisite for poetry


DISCUSSED: Simulated Copulation, The Boring Surrealists, Writing Like v. Writing Toward, Instructive Contempt for Expressed Feelings, Protagonists Yacking about Abortion, Losing One’s Mind in Ireland, The Fecal Stench of Fiction, Throbbing Gristle, Luminous Anorexics, Defense of the Word “Cruelty,” Imagined Transsexual Prostitutes on TV, Madam Anus

When I was in graduate school, I saw a posting on the bulletin board in my department indicating that poets were 50 percent more likely than those in other professions to experience mental illness. In the moment, it didn’t occur to me to wonder why it was necessary to post these survey results, where any number of poets were liable to see them. Instead, I thought they bore some important news: that poets were the genuine article. Because: nothing was more genuine than mental illness.

Where’s the beginning and the ending of the theater, the building which houses this evening’s drama? This is one of the first questions I ask when I’m reading Antonin Artaud. Artaud no longer seems to think of the theater as inhabiting a particular space, just as there is no longer a space in the world uncontaminated by his theater. His is a theater as big as the world. No part of our lives is untouched by the need for its spectacle.

In senior year of college, I appeared in a production of The Cenci, by Artaud. True, this particular drama is unproducible, generally speaking, and not terribly “good,” according to the standards of conventional theater. Probably The Cenci is an example of the failure of Artaud to find a way to apply his ideas. This didn’t stop us, the players of my undergraduate years. In the course of the action I was meant to simulate copulation with an actress who just then happened to be both my apartment mate and the lover of one of my best friends. I threw myself into it, the simulation. I believed in the cruelty part of “Theater of Cruelty.” I simulated so violently, one night, that I banged my hand on the set, on the mise-en-scène, as it were, and gashed myself. It took a long while for the wound to heal. When it did, I was launched on the world. I was a graduate.

In those days: Genet and Derrida and Barthes and Foucault and Deleuze, as well as Artaud. Thus, the specific Artaud influence was a general French influence, and the general thrust of that French influence, as I understood it, included trusting in imagination as an anarchic force, the unstoppable force, a force in the midst of forestalling the attempts of society and metaphysics to control and organize. “Withdraw allegiance from the old categories of the Negative (law, limit, castration, lack, lacuna), which Western thought has so long held sacred as a form of power and an access to reality. Prefer what is positive and multiple, difference over uniformity, flows over unities, mobile arrangements over systems” (Foucault’s preface to L’Anti-Oedipe). I therefore loved the surrealist manifestos, too. I got bored only with the surrealists when the principals became too enamored with politics. Artaud got bored early, too. He turned on them with a vengeance. The spurned lover.

My hypothesis: Artaud is part of a European and specifically French intellectual lineage obsessed with the rigors of truth-telling. (“We are born, we live,” he said, speaking to a tradition of paradoxical truths, “we die in an environment of lies.”) Artaud aspires to be a magus of truth, a sorcerer of truth, and he is willing to die for it, or to be driven insane by his perceptions: “I believe that our present social state is iniquitous and should be destroyed. If this is a fact for the theater to be preoccupied with, it is even more a matter for machine guns.” Does he believe what he’s saying exactly as he’s saying it, or does he simply believe that the truth is in the avowal, which avowal changes its utterer, makes it nearly impossible for him to bring the message back to the place where it most needs to be brought—the place of mendacity?

“Should I be writing like Artaud? I am incapable of it,” Derrida says, “and besides, anyone who would try to write like him, under the pretext of writing toward him, would be even surer of missing him, would lose the slightest chance ever of meeting him in the ridiculous attempt of this mimetic distortion.” Sontag argues that he’s a gnostic (“Artaud wandered in the labyrinth of a specific type of religious sensibility, the Gnostic one”), meaning, I suppose, that he believed in a secret, unimpeded route to the divine, that he could have personal access, without requiring the apparatus of the church and its intercessions. Or: gnostic meaning that the divine with which he consorts is a malignancy? A failed demiurge? I’m not always sure which gnosticism Sontag refers to. And yet you do feel Artaud’s fealty to the concealed, especially in, e.g., To Have Done with the Judgment of God, his radio play. Likewise the late work generally, Artaud le Momo, and Van Gogh, The Man Suicided by Society, etc. Perhaps the secret he pursues is between things and between the words that describe these things. His secret is unpronounceable and cannot be passed on, but certain gestures indicate the direction in which we might proceed. Thus his love of hieroglyphics, words that are illustrative, not alphabetical, “And these three-dimensional hieroglyphs are in turn brocaded with a certain number of gestures—mysterious signs which correspond to some unknown, fabulous, and obscure reality which we here in the Occident have completely repressed.”

I was studying a lot of drama, and I therefore remember, reading from the Theater of the Absurd. Pirandello and some Ionesco and some Arrabal and some Beckett. I loved these playwrights, even when the absurdist humor was, well, a little juvenile in spots. Scatological, but perhaps with an emphasis on the logical. I liked the Arrabal play set in an automobile graveyard. I liked the Ionesco play featuring rhinoceroses. And yet this anarchy was too gentle. The Theater of the Absurd had been tamed by then, and that was obvious, especially so when I came to read The Theater and Its Double, the overture of which ends with a miraculous, life-altering terminus, a terminus which was enough to discredit, in some measure, much of what I loved about the Theater of the Absurd: “And if there is still one hellish, truly accursed thing in our time, it is our artistic dallying with forms, instead of being like victims burnt at the stake, signaling through the flames.” The Theater of Cruelty, you see, was never tamed. What’s with the before and after photos of Artaud? Always before illness and then after? You’d think he was a dieter. Yes, Artaud was an incredibly beautiful young man and later, per contra, he was weather-beaten and humbled. Wracked by cancer and decades of addiction, not to mention ECT and other exotic psychiatric treatments. Insulin therapy. Yet perhaps the beaten-down quality is still an interpretation of Artaud. The photos are a luxury for those who already know what they think. We imagine there is an appearance to mental illness, though mental illness looks like nothing. Suffering looks like something. But generally mental illness is simply the physical illness that bears no trace.

Derrida: “It would certainly be disingenuous to close our eyes, either because of some literary feeling or some absentminded politeness, to what Artaud himself describes as a neuropathological persecution. Moreover, that kind of disingenuousness would be insulting. The man is sick.”

When I was acting in college, there was a certain kind of play, a certain kind of theater, that flattened life and reduced its complexity and menace and variety, leaving a mere residue of pabulum. I refer to the issue-oriented parlor drama. The protagonists in these plays sit around yacking about abortion or euthanasia or about church and state, and someone gives a monologue and then commences to weep. Artaud’s contempt is instructive: “All true feeling is in reality untranslatable. To express it is to betray it. But to translate it is to dissimulate it. True expression hides what it makes manifest.”

What would theater be like if there could be a genuine Theater of Cruelty along the lines proposed? I admire, e.g., the Living Theater, at least as I understand them to have been, from videos and written accounts. They argue for something like an applied Theater of Cruelty. Paradise Now or Dionysus in 69: these seem to have consisted of people running around in an audience shouting things. Breaking the Fourth Wall. Are the words being shouted about Vietnam? The savagery of American capitalism? The iniquities and inequities of human things? They are. Perhaps this revolution feels quaint now. Why, then, am I so fascinated, so moved, by the idea of any such performance? By the Living Theater and the work of Jerzy Grotowski, et al.? Because it’s spontaneous, because it is happening now, because it puts the life back in live theater. Psychosis is timeless, psychosis is exclusionary, psychosis is isolated, psychosis is excruciating. Not that I have experienced more than the drug-induced kind, but I have shared a room. Psychosis involves torment. It’s hard for the layperson to construct what this variety of torment feels like. As if schizophrenia were a contagion, so complete is our recoiling from it. Artaud reiterates this quality of his predicament so regularly, his torment, that we become inured to the protestations, and in this way perhaps he is forced into metaphor: “You have seen the hordes of demons which afflict me night and day, you have seen them as clearly as you see me. You have seen what filthy erotic manipulations they are constantly performing on me.” In metaphor, the flourishing of the etiology of torment, as if translated for us.

Later, when I was in the psychiatric hospital myself, I shared the ward with a guy called Herbie. Really nice guy. He might have been my buddy back in high school. He had an impish sense of humor, and a poorly grown-in mustache, but he had taken too much acid, which had gotten to him, and now he was more or less schizophrenic—depending on the day and on his levels of medication. When Herbie was not floridly psychotic, he was very badly depressed. He had a good sense of what he’d done to himself, what synapses he had cooked. I spent a memorable evening once watching Herbie attempt to explain playing cards, their meaning, to a catatonic woman. For Herbie, the words of the explanation existed mainly as sounds, not words, but as assonances and euphonies. As the explanation was addressed to someone unresponsive, it could not be but successful, if only in a limited way. Herbie therefore gave himself over to it with great energy. He performed it.

How to think of the double in The Theater and Its Double? Doubling as a figment of a hermeneutically obsessed imagination? The double as the thing behind the thing? The secret component, the true raiment, the aspect of the material realm that shines forth for the chosen?[...]
— The Believer



El teatro de la crueldad y la clausura de la representación



A Paule Thévenin

Una sola vez en el mundo, puesto que siempre a causa de un acontecimiento que explicaré, no hay Presente, no, no existe un presente...
MALLARMÉ, Quant au Livre

... en cuanto a mis fuerzas, no son más que un suplemento, el suplemento a un estado de hecho, y es que no ha habido jamás origen...
ARTAUD, 6 junio 1947




«... La danza / y por consiguiente el teatro / no han empezado todavía a existir.» Esto puede leerse en uno de los últimos escritos de Antonin Artaud («El teatro de la crueldad», en 84, 1948). Pero en el mismo texto, un poco antes, se define el teatro de la crueldad como «la afirmación / de una terrible / y por otra parte ineluctable necesidad». Así pues, Artaud no reclama una destrucción, una nueva manifestación de la negatividad. A pesar de todo lo que tiene que saquear a su paso, «el teatro de la crueldad / no es el símbolo de un vacío ausente». Sino que afirma, produce la afirmación misma en su rigor pleno y necesario. Pero también en su sentido más oculto, frecuentemente el más enterrado, apartado de sí: por «ineluctable» que sea, esta afirmación «no ha empezado todavía a existir».

Está por nacer. Pero una afirmación necesaria sólo puede nacer si renace a sí misma. Para Artaud, el porvenir del teatro -y en consecuencia el porvenir en general- no se abre más que mediante la anáfora que se remonta a la víspera de un nacimiento. La teatralidad tiene que atravesar y restaurar de parte a parte la «existencia» y la «carne». Habrá que decir, pues, del teatro lo que se dice del cuerpo. Ahora bien, es sabido que Artaud vivía al día siguiente de una desposesión: su cuerpo propio, la propiedad y la propia limpieza de su cuerpo le habían sido sustraídos en su nacimiento por ese dios ladrón que, a su vez, había nacido «de hacerse pasar / por mí mismo». Sin duda, el renacer pasa -Artaud lo recuerda frecuentemente- por una especie de reeducación de los órganos. Pero esto permite acceder a una vida anterior al nacimiento y posterior a la muerte («... a fuerza de morir / he acabado ganando una inmortalidad real»); no a una muerte antes del nacimiento y después de la vida. Es eso lo que distingue a la afirmación cruel de la negatividad romántica; diferencia sutil, y sin embargo decisiva. Lichtenberger: «No puedo desprenderme de esta idea de que estaba muerto antes de nacer, y de que volveré por la muerte a ese mismo estado... Morir y renacer con el recuerdo de su existencia precedente, a eso le llamamos desvanecerse; despertarse con otros órganos, que primero hay que reeducar, es a eso a lo que le llamamos nacer». Para Artaud, se trata ante todo de no morir al morir, de no dejarse despojar entonces de su vida por el dios ladrón. «Y creo que en el momento extremo de la muerte hay siempre algún otro para despojarnos de nuestra propia vida» (Van Gogh, el suicidado de la sociedad).

Igualmente, el teatro occidental ha sido separado de la fuerza de su esencia, ha sido alejado de su esencia afirmativa, de su vis afirmativa, y esta desposesión se ha producido desde el origen, es el movimiento mismo del origen, del nacimiento como muerte.

Por eso «se ha dejado un sitio en todas las escenas de un teatro nacido muerto» (El teatro y la anatomía, en La Rue, julio 1946). El teatro ha nacido en su propia desaparición, y el retoño de ese movimiento tiene un nombre, es el hombre. El teatro de la crueldad debe nacer separando la muerte del nacimiento, y borrando el nombre del hombre. Al teatro se le ha hecho hacer siempre aquello para lo que no estaba hecho: «No está dicha la última palabra sobre el hombre... El teatro no se ha hecho nunca para describirnos al hombre y lo que éste hace... Y el teatro es ese pelele desgarbado; que, música de troncos mediante púas metálicas de alambradas, nos mantiene en estado de guerra contra el hombre que nos encorsetaba... El hombre se encuentra muy mal en Esquilo, pero todavía se cree un poco dios y no quiere entrar en la membrana, y en Eurípides, finalmente, se enreda en la membrana, olvidando dónde y cuándo fue dios».

Así, es necesario indudablemente despertar, reconstituirla víspera de este origen del teatro occidental, declinante, decadente, negativo, para reanimar en su oriente la necesidad ineluctable de la afirmación. Necesidad ineluctable de una escena todavía inexistente, cierto, pero la afirmación no es algo a inventar mañana, en algún «nuevo teatro». Su necesidad ineluctable actúa como una fuerza permanente. La crueldad está actuando continuamente. El vacío, el sitio vacío y dispuesto para ese teatro que todavía «no ha empezado a existir», se limita a medir, pues, la extraña distancia que nos separa de la necesidad ineluctable, de la obra presente (o más bien, actual, activa) de la afirmación. Es únicamente en la abertura de esa separación donde erige para nosotros su enigma el teatro de la crueldad. Y en ello vamos a implicarnos nosotros aquí.

Si hoy en día, en el mundo entero -y tantas manifestaciones lo atestiguan de manera patente- toda la audacia teatral declara, con razón o sin ella pero con una insistencia cada vez mayor, su fidelidad a Artaud, la cuestión del teatro de la crueldad, de su inexistencia presente y de su ineluctable necesidad, adquiere valor de cuestión histórica. Histórica no porque se deje inscribir en lo que se llama la historia del teatro, no porque haga época en la transformación de los modos teatrales o porque ocupe un lugar en la sucesión de los modelos de la representación teatral. Esta cuestión es histórica en un sentido absoluto y radical. Anuncia el límite de la representación.

El teatro de la crueldad no es una representación. Es la vida misma en lo que ésta tiene de irrepresentable. La vida es el origen no representable de la representación. «He dicho, pues, “crueldad” como habría podido decir “vida”». Esta vida soporta al hombre pero no es en primer lugar la vida del hombre. Éste no es más que una representación de la vida y ése es el límite -humanista- de la metafísica del teatro clásico. «Así pues, al teatro tal como se practica se le puede reprochar una terrible falta de imaginación. El teatro tiene que igualarse a la vida, no a la vida individual, a ese aspecto individual de la vida en el que triunfan los CARACTERES, sino a una especie de vida liberada, que barre la individualidad humana y donde el hombre es sólo un reflejo».

¿No es la mimesis la forma más ingenua de la representación? Como Nietzsche -y las afinidades no se detendrían aquí- Artaud quiere, pues, acabar con el concepto imitativo del arte.

Con la estética aristotélica, en la que se ha llegado a reconocer la metafísica occidental del arte. «El Arte no es la imitación de la vida, sino que la vida es la imitación de un principio trascendente con el que el arte nos vuelve a poner en comunicación».

El arte teatral debe ser el lugar primordial y privilegiado de esta destrucción de la imitación: más que ningún otro, ha quedado marcado por ese trabajo de representación total en el que la afirmación de la vida se deja desdoblar y surcar por la negación. Esta representación, cuya estructura se imprime no sólo en el arte sino en toda la cultura occidental (sus religiones, sus filosofías, su política), designa, pues, algo más que un tipo particular de construcción teatral. Por eso la cuestión que se nos plantea hoy sobrepasa ampliamente la tecnología teatral. Esta es la más obstinada afirmación de Artaud: la reflexión técnica o teatrológica no debe ser tratada aparte. La decadencia del teatro comienza indudablemente con la posibilidad de una disociación así. Puede subrayarse eso sin necesidad de disminuir la importancia y el interés de los problemas teatrológicos o de las revoluciones que pueden producirse dentro de los límites de la técnica teatral. Pero la intención de Artaud nos indica esos límites. En la medida en que esas revoluciones técnicas e intra-teatrales no afecten a los cimientos mismos del teatro occidental, seguirán formando parte de esa historia y de esa escena que Antonin Artaud quería hacer saltar.

¿Qué quiere decir eso de romper con tal pertenencia? ¿Y es acaso posible? ¿Bajo qué condiciones puede legítimamente un teatro hoy inspirarse en Artaud? El que tantos directores de teatro quieran hacerse reconocer como los herederos, incluso (así se ha escrito) como los «hijos naturales» de Artaud, es solamente un hecho. Hay que plantear además la cuestión de los títulos y del derecho. ¿Con qué criterios se podrá reconocer si una pretensión como esa es abusiva? ¿Bajo qué condiciones podría «empezar a existir» un auténtico «teatro de la crueldad»? Estas cuestiones, a la vez técnicas y «metafísicas» (en el sentido en que Artaud entiende esa palabra), se plantean por sí mismas en la lectura de todos los textos del Teatro y su doble, que son solicitaciones más que una suma de preceptos, un sistema de críticas que conmueven el conjunto de la historia de Occidente más que un tratado de la práctica teatral.

El teatro de la crueldad expulsa a Dios de la escena. No pone en escena un nuevo discurso ateo, no presta la palabra al ateísmo, no entrega el espacio teatral a una lógica filosofante que proclame una vez más, para nuestro mayor hastío, la muerte de Dios. Es la práctica teatral de la crueldad la que, en su acto y en su estructura, habita o más bien produce un espacio no-teológico.

La escena es teológica en tanto que esté dominada por la palabra, por una voluntad de palabra, por el designio de un logos primero que, sin pertenecer al lugar teatral, lo gobierna a distancia. La escena es teológica en tanto que su estructura comporta, siguiendo a toda la tradición, los elementos siguientes: un autor-creador que, ausente y desde lejos, armado con un texto, vigila, reúne y dirige el tiempo o el sentido de la representación, dejando que ésta lo represente en lo que se llama el contenido de sus pensamientos, de sus intenciones y de sus ideas. Representar por medio de los representantes, directores o actores, intérpretes sometidos que representan personajes que, en primer lugar mediante lo que dicen, representan más o menos directamente el pensamiento del «creador». Esclavos que interpretan, que ejecutan fielmente los designios provisionales del «amo». El cual por otra parte -y ésta es la regla irónica de la estructura representativa que organiza todas estas relaciones- no crea nada, sólo se hace la ilusión de la creación, puesto que no hace más que transcribir y dar a leer un texto cuya naturaleza es a su vez necesariamente representativa, guardando con lo que se llama lo «real» (lo existente real, esa «realidad» de la que dice Artaud en la Advertencia a El monje que es un «excremento del espíritu») una relación imitativa y reproductiva. Y finalmente un público pasivo, sentado, un público de espectadores, de consumidores, de «disfrutadores» -como dicen Nietzsche y Artaud- que asisten a un espectáculo sin verdadera profundidad ni volumen, quieto, expuesto a su mirada de «voyeur». (En el teatro de la crueldad, la pura visibilidad no está expuesta al «voyeurismo».) Esta estructura general en la que cada instancia está ligada por representación a todas las demás, en la que lo irrepresentable del presente viviente queda disimulado o disuelto, elidido o desviado a la cadena infinita de las representaciones, esta estructura no se ha modificado jamás. Todas las revoluciones la han mantenido intacta, incluso, en la mayor parte de los casos, han tendido a protegerla o a restaurarla. Y es el texto fonético, la palabra, el discurso transmitido -eventualmente por el apuntador cuya concha es el centro oculto pero indispensable de la estructura representativa- lo que asegura el movimiento de la representación. Cualquiera que sea su importancia, todas las formas pictóricas, musicales e incluso gestuales introducidas en el teatro occidental no hacen, en el mejor de los casos, más que ilustrar, acompañar, servir, adornar un texto, un tejido verbal, un logos que se dice al comienzo. «Así, pues, si el autor es aquel que dispone del lenguaje de la palabra, y si el director es su esclavo, entonces lo que hay ahí es sólo un problema verbal. Hay una confusión en los términos, que procede de que, para nosotros, y según el sentido que se le atribuye generalmente a este término de director de teatro, éste es sólo un artesano, un adaptador, una especie de traductor dedicado eternamente a hacer pasar una obra dramática de un lenguaje a otro; y esa confusión sólo será posible, y el director sólo se verá obligado a eclipsarse ante el autor, en la medida en que siga considerando que el lenguaje de palabras es superior a los demás lenguajes, y que el teatro no admite ningún otro diferente de aquél» (t. IV, p. 143). Lo cual no implica, claro está, que baste para ser fiel a Artaud con darle mucha importancia y muchas responsabilidades al «director teatral», aun dejando igual la estructura clásica.[...]
Jacques Derrida
— Jaques Derrida



Jacques Derrida évoque Artaud



Entretien avec Jacques Derrida par Pierre Barbancey. Regards 27 - Septembre 1997



Philosophe, Jacques Derrida a écrit de nombreux textes sur l’oeuvre écrite et graphique d’Antonin Artaud. Il a donné une conférence à la Fondation Maeght, “La question du musée: le coup d’Antonin Artaud”. L’occasion d’évoquer l’oeuvre d’Artaud-Momo.

Lors de votre conférence, vous avez mis beaucoup de passion dans la lecture des textes d’Artaud, il y avait presque mimétisme. Par ailleurs, vous dites trouver dans son oeuvre des idées détestables.comment construisez-vous cette dualité?

Jacques Derrida: On a beaucoup cherché à imiter Artaud. J’essaie de ne pas le faire. Par contre, quand je lis son texte, ses glossolalies, l’imitation est de rigueur. Je n’ai pas suggéré que je haïssais Artaud mais que, si l’on pouvait isoler dans son oeuvre, dans son discours, des contenus philosophiques ou idéologiques, je m’en méfierais. Il y a malgré tout dans son oeuvre quelque chose que l’on peut déchiffrer comme une métaphysique de la réappropriation, de l’identité à soi, du pur. Finalement une certaine sacralité de type chrétien. Même dans son emportement contre le christianisme, il considère que celui-ci lui a volé son corps, que la Trinité est une machine à exproprier la naissance et à lui souffler la parole. Par conséquent, ce qui l’oppose à cette usurpation, c’est un désir de réappropriation. Cela concerne aussi bien le christianisme que la technique, comme on peut le voir avec le texte sur l’insémination artificielle à laquelle il oppose une certaine naturalité. Ce sont des thèmes métaphysiques que j’ai essayé de mettre en question ailleurs et dont je me méfie. Je reconnais qu’on n’a pas le droit de dissocier les deux. Il y a chez lui un geste, une protestation, une révolte et donc un passage à la limite qui ne se réduit pas à un contenu philosophique ou idéologique. Il y a un corps d’Artaud qu’il faut voir et entendre dans son oeuvre théâtrale, poétique, graphique. Il ne faut pas oublier qu’il a été très douloureusement le témoin d’une terrible violence sociale, politique, juridique, médicale. Quand cela passe par un cri, un traitement de la langue aussi puissant, je pense qu’il faut analyser.

Dans les premiers textes d’Artaud, on repère certains mots, certaines phrases que l’on retrouve par la suite dans les "Cahiers de Rodez". Il y a donc une continuité dans la pensée d’Artaud, il n’y a pas de césure...

Jacques Derrida: Mon intérêt de départ pour Artaud m’a porté vers ses premiers textes, les lettres à Jacques Rivière, ces moments où il se plaignait de n’avoir rien à dire. Ce désir d’écrire sur rien ou à partir de rien m’intéressait beaucoup. C’est peu à peu que j’ai découvert ce qui suivait dont le texte sur le théâtre de la cruauté et assez tardivement ses dessins et ses portraits. Vous avez raison de dire qu’il y a continuité avec la thématique des premiers textes. Cette espèce d’expérience de vide, de dépossession, on l’entend déjà dans les premiers textes. Cela n’empêche pas qu’à l’intérieur de cette aventure continue, il y a eu une scansion très forte, qui a été aussi la scansion de son mal. Il a souffert de maux psychiques et physiques dès son adolescence mais c’est aux environs de la quarantaine, juste avant la guerre, qu’il y a eu des épisodes terriblement durs où il a été psychiatrisé, mis en institution. C’est la période de Rodez et des électrochocs qui a correspondu avec la période de grande création picturale et graphique.

Il y a ce tryptique “foudre, foutre, poudre” que l’on retrouve dans ses textes. Il y a évidemment la dimension du jeu avec les mots. Peut-on parler d’une dimension psychanalytique?

Jacques Derrida: Ces chaînes s’analysent de deux façons. Il y a l’analyse sémantique, c’est-à-dire passer de l’un à l’autre par le sens des mots. Il y a aussi une chaîne formelle qui est la ressemblance phonique entre toutes ces syllabes. C’est à partir du souffle, des poumons. Une phonation à la langue. Il le dit lui-même. Quand il parle de sa peinture, de ses dessins, il les rappelle aux ordres du souffle. C’est une expérience du corps et de la voix qui passe l’ordre de la langue et de la grammaire. Il essaie d’arracher son corps pour le soustraire aux voleurs, mais il essaie d’arracher aux ordres linguistiques, grammaticaux pour retrouver une autre langue qui soit la sienne et qui passe par la gorge. Lorsqu’on entend ses textes, il faut laisser tomber le sens et écouter la nécessité des phonèmes qui s’appellent les uns les autres. Quelquefois, il écrit un mot à cause du son, pas à cause du sens. C’est aussi bien poétique que théâtral, que pictural. En regardant certain tableau, on a l’impression que c’est la syllabe “ra” qui l’a engendré ou que “ra” s’espace dans le trait ou dans la couleur. Mais on ne peut pas dissocier ces différents éléments.

C’est ce qui explique son intérêt pour le théâtre?

Jacques Derrida: Le théâtre a été la grande affaire de sa vie. Mais c’est aussi une révolte contre le théâtre tel qu’il était. Ce qu’il appelait le théâtre de la cruauté supposait une rupture, une destruction même de tout le théâtre de la représentation, de la parole, du théâtre qui assujettit le corps au texte de l’auteur. Il ne voulait pas que l’acteur improvise comme on lui a souvent fait dire. Artaud était pour une prescription très calculée de tous les gestes sur la scène. Mais cette prescription ne signifiait pas que l’acteur obéissait à un texte parlé préalable. Il a une grande cohérence entre le théâtre de la cruauté et la peinture. Une de ses toiles s’intitule justement le "Théâtre de la cruauté". C’est pour lui la même expérience.

Vous dites que le musée représente une canonisation. Qu’en pensait Artaud, lui qui, par ailleurs, lançait: “Ne vous laissez jamais mettre au cercueil”?

Jacques Derrida: Il n’a pas de grands textes sur les musées. Mais quand j’ai vu cette célébration à New York où le MOMA, le plus grand musée du monde, le légitimait, le célébrait, ça m’a saisi. Qu’est-ce qui se passe pour que, cinquante ans après sa mort, on le canonise ? On peut imaginer ce qu’il aurait dit sur le musée, comme le lieu de conservation, d’archivation, de momification, de sanctification. D’une certaine manière, le musée est une chose de l’Occident chrétien. On peut imaginer qu’il n’aurait pas aimé le musée ou le théâtre du musée. J’ai essayé d’imaginer la protestation d’Artaud contre la machine dans laquelle un musée s’inscrit: l’Etat, le capital...

Votre conférence commence par une date inscrite sur un tableau. C’est le 2 juillet 1947. Est-ce une date importante?

Jacques Derrida: Sur ce tableau est inscrit une phrase: “Et qui aujourd’hui dira quoi?” Ma question est: que signifie aujourd’hui le mot “aujourd’hui” ? On le lit et on le comprend, cinquante ans après, c’est encore “aujourd’hui”. Que veut dire “aujourd’hui”? Autrement dit, que veut dire la singularité de “ici/maintenant” quand elle s’inscrit dans une archive, un tableau, dans un musée. C’est Artaud qui, un jour irremplaçable, le 2 juillet 1947, a dit: “Et aujourd’hui qui dira quoi?” C’est donc aussi la question du musée. Qu’est-ce qui se passe quand, aujourd’hui, en 1997, on tombe sur cet “aujourd’hui”, qu’on le lit, qu’on le déchiffre ? C’est un autre aujourd’hui et c’est encore, néanmoins, un aujourd’hui. C’est la question de la mémoire du musée. J’ai écrit un texte où je tente de lier la question de l’anniversaire, de la date et de la signature comme la même question en quelque sorte. C’est ce que je voulais vous demander: qu’est-ce que c’est que la signature d’Artaud?
— Jaques Derrida



Correspondance with Jacques Rivière (1923/1924)



Antonin Artaud’s famous Correspondance with Jacques Rivière was published 1924 in the September issue of the "Nouvelle Revue Française", at this time the most acclaimed and influential literary magazine in France. After Jacques Rivière’s death in 1925, Artaud published his correspondence again in October 1927 in form of a small brochure. Because of its reputation and its impact, the publication in the "NRF" was Artaud’s break-through as a literary voice in vanguard Paris during the twenties. After the publication, André Breton contacted Artaud and asked him to join the surrealist group in Paris. Artaud joined the group until their dispute and break-up in 1927.

After his refusal to publish some of Artaud’s poems Rivière was “interested enough […] to want to make the acquantaince of their author.” After the first meeting, Artaud wrote Rivière in regard to his unpower to write poems in a certain style of purity and perfection: “The question of the acceptability of these poems is a problem which concerns you as much as it does to me. I am speaking, of course, of their absolute acceptability, of their literary existence. / I suffer from a horrible sickness of the mind. My thought abandons me at every level. From the simple fact of thought to the external fact of its materialization in words. Words, shapes of sentences, internal directions of thought, simple reactions of the mind – I am in constant pursuit of my intellectual being. Thus as soon as I can grasp a form, however imperfect, I pin it down, for fear of losing the whole thought. I lower myself, I know, and I suffer from it, but I consent to it for fear of dying altogether.”

Thus, Artaud appears as haunted by his unpower to find an appropriate form for the expression of his poetry. He also speaks critical of his poems as “figures of speech” and “awkward expressions” which “stem from the profound uncertainty” of his mind. And he considers himself “fortunate indeed when this uncertainty is not replaced by the absolute nonexistence from which I suffer at times.”

Even though if their forms and figures of speech are inappropriate, these poems express and point at least a certain and distinct literary existence and it is this existence Artaud is fighting for. The poems are still manifestations and a rest that is “not replaced by the absolute nonexistence” . This “absolute nonexistence”, this existential void is not meant in terms of the “greater or lesser degree of existence which is commonly called inspiration”. On the contrary, Artaud’s problem is “a total absence, a real extinction.” Because of this “real extinction” Artaud is not able to produce works but only scraps rescued from the utter nothingness. Artaud is unable to create works in terms of a potency of the mind in order to sublate this existential nothingness. The only thing that rests possible for him is to rescue some scraps as pointers which show and give a sketch of that what rests beyond this total absence. That is the reason why it is such an issue for Artaud to claim for his poetry despite its limitations at least a mode of existence. He writes: “It is very important to me that the few manifestations of spiritual existence which I have been able to give myself not be regarded as nonexistent because of the blemishes and awkward expressions they contain.”

Furthermore, this poetry of “blemishes” seems to be Artaud’s original grounding as a poet. As a result, he becomes before the law of Jacques Rivière and the "NRF" an advocate of a poetry of impurity and imperfection:

“For I cannot hope that time or effort will remedy these obscurities or these failings; this is why I lay claim with so much insistence and anxiety to this existence, aborted though it be. And the question I would like to have answered is this: Do you think that one can allow less literary authenticity and effectiveness to a poem which is imperfect but filled with powerful and beautiful things than to a poem which is perfect but without much internal reverberation? I am aware that a magazine like La "Nouvelle Revue Française" requires a certain formal level and a great purity of content, but granting this, is the substance of my thought so confused, then, and its overall beauty rendered so ineffective by the impurities and hesitations scattered through it that it fails, from the point of view of literature, to exist? It is the whole problem of my thinking that is at stake. The question for me is nothing less than knowing whether or not I have the right to continue to think, in verse or in prose.”

Jacques Rivière’s answer dated on June 25th 1923 indicates that he did not understand the radical dimension of Artaud’s quest for a poetry of imperfection. On the contrary, Rivière interprets Artaud’s imperfections as secondary mistakes which would be possible to avoid by maturity, concentration, an accomplishment of form, and enforcement of the temperament. He writes: “There are in your poems, as I told you from the beginning, awkwardnesses and above all oddities which are disconcerting. But they seem to me to correspond to a certain studied effort on your part rather than to a lack of control over your ideas. / Obviously […] you do not usually succeed in creating a sufficient unity of impression. But I have had enough experience in reading manuscripts to feel that this concentration of your resources on a simple poetic object is not at all ruled out by your temperament and that with a little patience, even if it entails only the elimitation of divergent images or touches, you will succeed in writing poems that are perfectly coherent and harmonious.”

This letter was a disappointment for Artaud. In January 1924, Artaud wrote Rivière again in behalf of his literary existence. In regard to Rivière’s argumentation, Artaud focuses now on the point that the imperfections of his poetry were neither caused by “a lack of practice” nor “a lack of control over the instrument” nor “a lack of intellectual development.” By echoing Derrida’s thought of a speech spirited away, Artaud rather stresses “a central collapse of the soul” and “a kind of erusion, both essential and fleeting, of the thought.” Furthermore, he attests a “temporary non-possession of the material benefits” of his development and he suffers “an abnormal separation of the elements of thought”. Thus, something furtive destroys and attacks Artaud’s state of mind that he circumscribes in the following words:

“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 gradually destroying in its substance the body of my thought, 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."

In a postscript to this letter, Artaud stresses once again his right to write in his own form even though it would appear as a form of imperfection: “I am a man who has suffered much from his mind, and as such I have the right to speak. I know how business is done in there. I have agreed once and for all to give in to my inferiority. And yet I am not stupid. I know that it is possible to think further than I think, and perhaps differently. All I can do is wait for my brain to change, wait for its upper drawers to open. An hour from now, tomorrow perhaps, I will have changed my mind, but this present thought exists, I will not allow my thought to be lost.”

In this context, the following poem with the title Cry appears as a threshold in-between the different parts of the correspondence. The verse “two traditions met” is readable as the confrontation of Rivière (speaking for the "NRF" and a literary modernity represented by Claudel, Proust, Gide and Copeau) and Artaud as an advocate of the nonconformist tradition of literary outsiders such as Sade, Lautréamont, Nerval, Baudelaire and Jarry. But the ending verse “experiment to be repeated” also points to a possibility of a new beginning of the correspondence.

In his responding-letter from March 25th 1924, Jacques Rivière focuses on Artaud’s “mental ‘erosion’” by referring to a certain problem of the mind that he puts in the following words:

“That the mind has an existence of its own, that it has a tendency to live on its own substance, that it grows over the personality with a kind of egoism and with no concern for keeping the personality in harmony with the world, is something which apparently can no longer, in our time, be debated. Paul Valéry dramatized this autonomy of the thinking function in human beings in a marvelous way in his famous Evening with Monsieur Teste. Regarded in itself, the mind is a kind of canker; it reproduces, it advances constantly in all directions; you note yourself as one of the torments ‘the impulse to think, at each of the terminal stratifications of thought’; the outlets of the mind are unlimited in number; no idea obstructs it; no idea brings it fatigue or satisfaction; even those temporary releases which our physical functions find in exercise are denied it. The man who thinks spends himself totally. Romanticism aside, there is no other escape from pure thought but death.”

Hence, the mind is a force of appropriation by thinking that finally turns against itself because of a lack of limitation. The operations of the mind are only fruitful when the mind stays focused and when it appears as framed by certain limitations. Therefore, Rivière writes: “Here is my idea at closer range: the mind is fragile in that it has need of obstacles – obstacles of its own making. When left itself, it is lost, it is destroyed. It seems to me that this mental ‘erosion’, these internal thefts, this ‘destruction’ of the thought ‘in its substance’ which afflict your mind are the result of the excessive freedom you allow it. It is the absolute that unhinges it. To be taut, the mind needs a boundary and it needs to come up against the blessed opacity of experience. The only cure for madness is the innocence of facts.”

Thus, the mind understood as a force of creation is haunted an finally destructed by an absolute freedom; it can only have and produce sense in relation to something different which is not the mind itself. Therefore, Rivière underlines: “If by thought one means creation, as you seem to most of the time, it must at all costs be relative; one will find security, constancy, strength, only by engaging the mind in something.”

According to Rivière, Antonin Artaud’s poetry and his struggle with an unpower of expression is a “case” par excellence in regard to this problem of the mind. Artaud is suffering from an overabundance to the absolute as immanent operations of the mind but, as Rivière puts it, “language must have hit upon a noiseless object, and sooner than reason would have reached it. But where the object, the obstacle are completely lacking, the mind keeps on going, unswerving and exhausted; and everything falls apart in an immense contingency.” Due to its absolute immanence of the mind and its lack of an opening to the other and the different which would make the mind relative, Artaud’s “intellectual force” appears as “tormented by eddies, riddled with helplessness, exposed to predatory winds that disorganize it; but as soon as, driven back by anguish to your own mind, you direct it at this immediate and enigmatic object, it condenses, intensifies, becomes useful and penetrating and brings you positive benefits; that is, truth expressed with all the three-dimensionality that can make them communicable, accessible to others, in short, something which transcends your suffering, your very existence, something which enlarges and consolidates you, which gives you the only reality that man can reasonably hope to conquer by his own forces, the reality in others.”

According to Rivière, this turn – also in a sense of a transgression of narcissism – is the promise of Artaud’s poetry and a perspective of an accomplishment of his writings. In regard to this problem, Artaud just briefly gives to think that his unpower of expression does not simply come from a mere autistic and immanent operation of the mind. On the contrary, he claims: “it is only because of circumstances that are fortuitous and external to my real possibilities that I do not realize myself.”

As a matter of fact, Artaud claims that his problem or his ‘case’ is already caused by the exposure to the different and the other which was projected by Rivière. Even though he suffers from an unpower of expression he claims and stresses his “potentiality for the crystallization of things, in forms and with the right words.”

In regard to Rivière’s request to publish this ongoing correspondence Artaud underlines once again that his unpower of expression has not to be mistaken in terms of an intellectual crisis or as a mere phenomenon of the spirit of the age (Zeitgeist). Artaud stresses that his unpower of expression corresponds with a radical separation from the world and life itself. It is not a question of an intellectual being inbetween certain degrees of existencial values but a question of living and life itself. Hence, Artaud writes: “As for myself, I can truly say that I am not in the world, and this is not merely an attitude of the mind. […] I would rather show as I am, in my nonexistence and my rootlessness.” Thus, Artaud compares his existential exposure and his state of mind with a “real sickness”: “The reader of the age, a sickness which touches the essence of the being and its central possibilities of expression, and which applies to a whole life. / A sickness which affects the soul in its most profound reality, and which infects its manifestations. The poison of being. A veritable paralysis. A sickness which deprives you of speech, memory, which uproots your thought.” This fundamental unpower corresponding with a sickness that makes it impossible for him to express the reality and clarity of a feeling describes Artaud also as an attack of a higher evil on his mind: “And here, monsieur, is the whole problem: to have within oneself the inseparable reality and the physical clarity of a feeling, to have it to such a degree that it is impossible for it not to be expressed, to have a wealth of words, of acquired turns of phrase capable of joining the dance, coming into play; and the moment the soul is preparing to organize its wealth, its discoveries, this revelation, at that unconscious moment when the thing is on the point of coming forth, a superior and evil will attacks the soul like a poison, attacks the mass consisting of word and image, attacks the mass of feeling, and leaves me panting as if at the very door of life.”

In his remarkable letter of June 8th 1924 which is finishing the correspondence, Jacques Rivière is once again responding to Artaud’s fundamental exposure to an unpower of expression. Even though Rivière does not dare to compare Artaud’s sufferings from life with his own feelings, he stresses that he also knows existential fears. Therefore, his quest for a concentration on form does not imply a naïve sublation of tensions in the sense of a trivial formal harmony. He writes: “Like you, I reject the convenient symbol of inspiration to explain the alternate states through which I pass. It is a question of something more profound, something more ‘substantial’, if I may twist the meaning of this word, than a fair wind which may or may not come to me from the depths of my mind; it is a question of gradations which I pass through in my own reality. Not voluntarily, alas! but in a purely accidental matter.”

Hence, Rivière is also haunted by the negativity of existence but more in the sense of a negative dialectics: beyond his exposure to negativity he is still able to have an impression of his reality, even though he is struggling and not sure to reach this still projected reality. This condition and this important difference in regard to Artaud becomes obvious when Rivière writes: “One thing that is remarkable is that the very fact of my existence is never for me, as you observe in yourself, the object of serious doubt; there always remains something of myself, but it is very often something poor, clumsy, weak, and almost suspect. In such moments I do not lose all hope of ever recovering it. It is like a roof over me which hangs in the air by a miracle, and to which I see no way of raising myself.”

By dealing with the problem of an exposure to a “transcendental homelessness” (Georg Lukàcs), Rivière still believes in a dialectic turn from the exposure to negativity into a certain insight of truth: “Someone who does not know depression, who has never felt the soul encroached upon the body, invaded by its weakness, is incapable of perceiving any truth about the nature of man; one must go beneath the surface, one must look at the underside; one must lose the ability to move, or hope, or believe, in order to observe accurately. How are we to distinguish our intellectual or moral mechanisms unless we are temporarily deprived of them? It must be the consolation of those who experience death in small doses this way that they are the only ones who know anything about how life is made.”

On the contrary, Artaud’s existential exposure is slightly different and perhaps even more radical because the dialectical movement is no longer applicable for him. His “transcendental homelessness” points to an exposure of homelessness as homelessness whereas Rivière still had his roof over him “which hangs in the air by a miracle” and on which he could rely on.

Tragically, Artaud’s more radical existential homelessness becomes clear in 1937: In a cryptic text called The New Revelations of Being, Artaud writes towards the beginning of his break-down which will lead to detentions in mental institutions up to spring 1946, the following disconcerting and sad words which are also readable/understandable as a late commentary to his famous correspondence with Jacques Rivière: “For a long time I have felt the Void, but I have refused to throw myself into the Void. / I have been as cowardly as all that I see. / When I believed that I was denying this world, I know now that I was denying the Void. / For I know that this world does not exist and I know how it does not exist. / What I have suffered from until now is having denied the Void. / The Void which was already in me. /

I know that someone wanted to enlighten me by means of the Void and that I refused to let myself be enlightened. / If I was turned into a funeral pyre, it was in order to cure me of being in the world. / And world took everything I had. / I struggled to try to exist, to try to accept the forms (all the forms) with which the delirious illusion of being in the world has clothed reality. /

I no longer want to be one of the Deluded. / Dead to the world, to what composes the world for everyone else, fallen at last, fallen, risen in this void which I was denying, I have a body which suffers the world and disgorges reality. […]

It is a real Desperate Person who speaks to you and who has not known the happiness of being in the world until now that he has left this world, now that he is absolutely separated from it. The others who have died are not separated. They still turn around their dead bodies. / I am not dead, but I am separated.”
— Artaud-Project