Antonin Artaud | Van Gogh the man suicided by society

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Apropos of Van Gogh, magic and spells: all the people
who, for two months now, went to see the exhibition of
his works at the Musée de l’Orangerie, are they really sure
they remember everything they did and all that happened
to them every evening of the months of February, March,
April and May 1946? Was there not a certain evening when
the atmosphere of the air and the streets became liquid,
gelatinous, unstable, and when the light from the stars and
the heavenly vault disappeared?
And Van Gogh who painted the café in Arles was not
there. But I was in Rodez, which means, still on earth, while
all the residents of Paris must have felt, for one night, very
close to leaving it
.

 * * *

We can talk about the good mental health of Van
Gogh, who in his lifetime, did no more than cook one of
his hands and cut off his left ear,
in a world in which every day we eat vagina cooked in
green sauce and the genitals of the new-born flagellated
and beaten furiously,
plucked on leaving the mother’s sex.
And this is not an image, but a fact abundantly and
daily repeated and cultivated throughout the entire world.
As delirious as this declaration might appear, that is
how present life maintains its old atmosphere of
debauchery, anarchy, disorder, delirium, dysfunction,
chronic madness, bourgeois inertia, psychic anomaly (for
it is not man but the world that has become abnormal),
deliberate dishonesty and extraordinary hypocrisy, a filthy
contempt for everything that shows breeding,
demand for a system entirely based on the execution
of a primitive injustice,
organized crime, in a word.
All is going badly right now because the sick
consciousness has vested interest not to come out of its
sickness.
That is how corrupt society invented psychiatry to
defend itself against the investigations of certain superior
lucidities whose faculties of divination were impeding it.

Gérard de Nerval was not mad, but he was accused
of being mad in order to discredit essential
revelations he was about to make,
and on top of being accused, he was hit on the head,
physically hit on the head one night so that he would lose
all memory of the monstrous facts he was about to reveal
and which, after that blow, pushed back inside him onto
the supernatural plane, because all society, secretly
conspiring against his consciousness, was at that time
strong enough to make him forget their reality.
No, Van Gogh was not mad, but his paintings were
Greek fires, atomic bombs, whose angle of vision, next to
all the other paintings that were the rage at that time,
would have been capable of seriously disturbing the larval
conformity of the Second Empire bourgeoisie and the
thugs of Thiers, Gambetta and Félix Faure, as well as
those of Napoleon III.
For Van Gogh’s painting does not attack a certain
conformity of morals, but the conformity of the
institutions themselves. Even nature, with its climates,
tides and equinoctial storms can no longer maintain the
same gravitation after Van Gogh’s passage on earth.
The institutions disintegrate even more on the social
level and medicine, declaring Van Gogh mad, passes for
an unusable and spoilt cadaver.
Faced with the lucidity of a working Van Gogh,
psychiatry is no more than a hovel of gorillas, themselves
obsessed and persecuted, and who only have ridiculous
terminology to palliate the most frightening states of
human anguish and suffocation,
the worthy product of their corrupted brains.
There is not one psychiatrist, in fact, who is not a
notorious erotomaniac.
And I do not believe the rule of inveterate
erotomania in all psychiatrists can admit any exception.
I know one who rebelled, a few years ago, at the idea
of me accusing, in their entirety, the whole group of
exalted crooks and licensed braggarts to which he
belonged.
I, Monsieur Artaud, he said, I am not an
erotomaniac, and I challenge you to show me one single
strand of evidence on which you base your accusation.
I only have to show you yourself, Doctor L. …, as
proof,
you bear the stigma on your face,
you sad despicable bastard.
You have the mug of one who inserts his sexual prey
beneath his tongue and turns it over like an almond as a
means of ridicule.
It is called making money hand over fist and
providing for a rainy day.
If in coitus you have not achieved chortling from the
glottis in a way you are used to, and gurgling at the same
time from the pharynx, the oesophagus, the urethra and
the anus,
you cannot declare yourself satisfied.
And there is in your internal organic convulsing a
certain habit you have taken, which is the embodied
testimony of a filthy debauchery,
and which you cultivate year in year out, more and
more, because socially speaking, it is not against the law,
but it is against another law where the whole injured
consciousness suffers, because, by behaving that way, you
prevent it from breathing.
You declare delirium the consciousness that works,
while, on the other hand, you strangle it with your
disgusting sexuality.
And that is precisely the plan on which the poor
Van Gogh was chaste,
chaste as a seraph or a virgin cannot be because it is
precisely them
who fomented
and originally fed the large machinery of sin.
Perhaps, Doctor L. …, in reality you come from the
race of iniquitous seraphim, but, for goodness sake, leave
men alone,
the body of Van Gogh, free from all sin, was also
free from madness that, in fact, sin alone brings about.
And I do not believe in Catholic sin,
but I do believe in erotic crime which precisely all the
geniuses of the world,
the authentic madmen of the asylums guarded
themselves against,
or if not they were not (authentic) madmen.
And what is an authentic madman?
It’s a man who has chosen to become mad, in the
socially accepted sense, rather than disregard a certain
superior idea of human honour.
That way, society strangled in its asylums all those it
wanted to rid itself of or to defend itself against, as they
refused to become party to certain major foul acts.
For a madman is also a man whom society did not
want to hear, and whom it wanted to prevent spouting
unbearable truths.
But, in that case, internment is not its only weapon,
and the concerted gathering of men has other means to
grind the wills it wants to break.
Beside the little spells cast by backcountry sorcerers,
there are the great periods of world spell-casting, in which
all alerted consciousness periodically takes part.
So during a war, a revolution, a social upheaval still in
its infancy, the collective consciousness is questioned and
questions itself, and also passes judgement.
It can also be provoked and taken out of itself in
some resounding individual cases.
So there were the collective spells cast on Baudelaire,
Poe, Gérard de Nerval, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Hölderlin,
Coleridge,
and there was one on Van Gogh.
It can happen during the day, but preferably,
generally, it happens at night.
Strange forces are lifted and brought into the astral
vault, into that kind of dark cupola that constitutes, above
all human respiration, the poisonous aggressiveness of
most people’s evil spirit.
So a few rare lucid and well-intentioned wills that had
to struggle on earth end up, at certain hours of day or
night, deep in states of authentic and waking nightmares,
surrounded by the formidable suction, the formidable
sprawling oppression of a kind of civic magic that will
soon be seen appearing openly in social conventions.

Faced with that unanimous filth, which has sex on
one side and the mass, or other similar psychic rites, on
the other, as base or point of reference, it is not delirium
to walk out at night wearing a hat fitted with twelve
candles in order to paint a landscape from nature;
for what could poor Van Gogh do to shed some
light, as our friend, the actor Roger Blin so rightly noted
the other day?
As for the cooked hand, that is heroism, pure and
simple,
as for the severed ear, that is straightforward logic,
and, I repeat,
a world which, day and night, and more and more,
eats the uneatable,
in order to bring its bad will to its own ends,
only has one thing to do on this point,
and that is to shut up.

 

 

POST-SCRIPTUM

Van Gogh did not die from a state of delirium as
such,
but from having been, in his body, the sphere of a
problem in which the iniquitous spirit of this humanity
has struggled since the beginning of time.
The problem of the predominance of flesh over
spirit, or body over flesh, or spirit over both.
And where in that delirium is a place for the human
self?
Van Gogh searched for his throughout his entire life
with an exceptional energy and determination,
and he did not commit suicide in a fit of madness, in
fear of not achieving it,
on the contrary, he had just achieved it and
discovered what he was and who he was, when the
general consciousness of society, in order to punish him
for having torn himself from its grip,
suicided him.
And that happened with Van Gogh as it always
usually happens, during an orgy, a mass, an absolution, or
any other rite of consecration, possession, succubation or
incubation.
It wormed its way into his body,
that society
absolved,
consecrated,
sanctified,
and possessed,
erased in him the supernatural consciousness he had
just acquired and, like a flood of black crows in the fibres
of his internal tree,
submerged him with one last jolt,
and, taking his place,
killed him.
For it is the anatomical logic of modern man to only
have been able to live, or think he could ever live, as one
possessed.

[…]

 

 

From
ANTONIN ARTAUD | Van Gogh the man suicided by society
TRANSLATED BY CATHERINE PETIT & PAUL BUCK
WITH A POSTFACE BY PAUL BUCK
VAUXHALL&COMPANY 2019
UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1adb
Vincent Van Gogh | Wheatfield with Crows
HCzqY2ptRkeUGoYfiIvtbA_thumb_10fa
Antonin Artaud | The Projection of the True Body

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