This important volume is essential to an understanding of the art and theater of our time and will give endless pleasure and information to its readers.Translated and with an introduction by Victor Corti.
With the publication of Artaud's Collected Works, in four volumes, English readers have been granted access to the range of Artaud's literary output, which extends well beyond his contributions to the theatre. They have live roots, roots of anguish that reach the heart of life. One does not feel in them the cosmic afflatus of a soul that has been shaken to its foundations.
The first volume of Artaud's Collected Works is divided into two parts that contain seven works: "Correspondence with Jacques Rivière", "Umbilical Limbo", "Nerve Scales", "Art and Death", "Unpublished Prose and Poetry", "Cup and Ball", and "Seven Letters"; along with an Appendix that includes Early Poems and other uncollected works... Dear Sir, .............................................................................. My mental life is completely shot through with petty doubts and unarguably certainties that are expressed in lucid and coherent words. They are the weaknesses of a mind that have not pondered its weakness; if it had, it would render that weakness in dense and forceful words.
To understand Artaud is to undergo a process where he tries to induce his psychological state onto the reader; it is interesting that this type of writing borders on the edge of what writing is capable of doing.
Writers, as the (brilliant) introductory Sontag essay references, such as Sade and Reich attempt to traverse within this nebulous territ Reading Artaud is a very draining experience and a difficult process.
Other highlights include: all writing is pig shit, artaud the momo, and his radio play. As with most "Collected Works", some of the items included herein are of dubious worth, like Artaud's early unpublished poems (utterly unexceptional) and some of his letters to friends.
To be fair, those two items are shoved in the back of what is an otherwise awesome book.
And there, sir, lies the entire problem: to have within oneself the inseparable reality and material clarity of a feeling, to have them to such a degree that the feeling cannot but express itself, to have a wealth of words and formal constructions which might join in the dance, might serve one’s purpose – and at the very moment when the soul is about to organize its wealth, its discoveries, its revelation, at the unconscious moment when the thing is about to emanate, a higher and evil will attacks the soul like vitriol, attacks the word-and-image mass, attacks the mass of the feeling and leaves me painting as at the very door of life.
Now suppose that I feel physical the passing of this will, suppose that it shakes me with sudden, unexpected electricity, with repeated electricity.
For example, in his notable theatre of cruelty essay in the Theatre and its Double, he advocates shattering this artificial barrier between audience and performance where there exists a conspiracy among set, setting, and spectator, the three operating in creating an illusion which isn't really grounded in illusion.
Even though theatre is an illusion, we must in supension knowing that it is an illusion.