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Antonin Artaud (1896 – 1948)


Better known as Antonin Artaud, was a French playwright, poet, actor and director.
Antonin Artaud
I myself spent nine years in an insane asylum and I never had the obsession of suicide, but I know that each conversation with a psychiatrist, every morning at the time of his visit, made me want to hang myself, realizing that I would not be able to cut his throat.
Artaud quotes
Ah! How neatly tied, in these people, is the umbilical cord of morality! Since they left their mothers they have never sinned, have they? They are apostles, they are the descendants of priests; one can only wonder from what source they draw their indignation, and above all how much they have pocketed to do this, and in any case what it has done for them.
Artaud
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.




Artaud Antonin quotes
It is thus that the few rare lucid well-disposed people who have had to struggle on the earth find themselves at certain hours of the day or night in the depth of certain authentic and waking nightmare states, surrounded by the formidable suction, the formidable tentacular oppression of a kind of civic magic which will soon be seen appearing openly in social behavior.
Artaud Antonin
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 Artaud quotes
It is almost impossible to be a doctor and an honest man, but it is obscenely impossible to be a psychiatrist without at the same time bearing the stamp of the most incontestable madness: that of being unable to resist that old atavistic reflex of the mass of humanity, which makes any man of science who is absorbed by this mass a kind of natural and inborn enemy of all genius.
Antonin Artaud
And what is an authentic madman? It is a man who preferred to become mad, in the socially accepted sense of the word, rather than forfeit a certain superior idea of human honor. So society has strangled in its asylums all those it wanted to get rid of or protect itself from, because they refused to become its accomplices in certain great nastinesses. For a madman is also a man whom society did not want to hear and whom it wanted to prevent from uttering certain intolerable truths.
Artaud Antonin quotes
Tragedy on the stage is no longer enough for me, I shall bring it into my own life.
Artaud
Where there is a stink of shit
there is a smell of being.
Artaud Antonin
Hell is of this world and there are men who are unhappy escapees from hell, escapees destined eternally to reenact their escape.
Antonin Artaud
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 Artaud quotes
Theater of Cruelty means a theater difficult and cruel for myself first of all. And, on the level of performance, it is not the cruelty we can exercise upon each other by hacking at each other’s bodies, carving up our personal anatomies, or, like Assyrian emperors, sending parcels of human ears, noses, or neatly detached nostrils through the mail, but the much more terrible and necessary cruelty which things can exercise against us. We are not free. And the sky can still fall on our heads. And the theater has been created to teach us that first of all.
Antonin Artaud
[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 …
Artaud quotes
When we speak the word “life,” it must be understood we are not referring to life as we know it from its surface of fact, but to that fragile, fluctuating center which forms never reach.
Artaud Antonin
There are souls that are incurable and lost to the rest of society. Deprive them of one means of folly, they will invent ten thousand others. They will create subtler, wilder methods, methods that are absolutely desperate. Nature herself is fundamentally antisocial, it is only by a usurpation of powers that the organized body of society opposes the natural inclination of humanity.
Artaud Antonin quotes
It is not a certain conformity of manners that the painting of Van Gogh attacks, but rather the conformity of institutions themselves. And even external nature, with her climates, her tides, and her equinoctial storms, cannot, after Van Gogh’s stay upon earth, maintain the same gravitation.
Antonin Artaud
Unrelenting decisiveness, diligence, strictness.
Antonin Artaud quotes
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.
Antonin Artaud
The race of prophets is extinct. Europe is becoming set in its ways, slowly embalming itself beneath the wrappings of its borders, its factories, its law-courts and its universities. The frozen Mind cracks between the mineral staves which close upon it. The fault lies with your mouldy systems, your logic of 2 + 2 = 4. The fault lies with you, Chancellors, caught in the net of syllogisms. You manufacture engineers, magistrates, doctors, who know nothing of the true mysteries of the body or the cosmic laws of existence. False scholars blind outside this world, philosophers who pretend to reconstruct the mind. The least act of spontaneous creation is a more complex and revealing world than any metaphysics.
Artaud Antonin
But how is one to make a scientist understand that there is something unalterably deranged about differential calculus, quantum theory, or the obscene and so inanely liturgical ordeals of the precession of the equinoxes.


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