Paolo Javier | Fel Santos: Violent Affection

    I. Perhaps one could speak of language experiences which are an embarrassment to literature. They embarrass literature because while they are not of it, they encroach upon it. Such experiences may be as embarrassing to the encroacher as they are to those who are encroached upon. Think of Antonin Artaud, who spent his life wondering how to escape personal and public hells, and yet writes in a letter, a form we may already think of as para-literary, too intimate to be conveyed directly, “Someone who does not know depression, who has never felt the soul encroached upon by the body,…

Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, Philippe Sollers | What is the Meaning of the Avant-garde’s Death?

FIRST PUBLISHED: DIAPHANES How could Dante be avant-garde? Mehdi Belhaj Kacem: Mr. Sollers, for 23 years you were the editor of Tel Quel, doubtless the very last important literary review that can be considered “avant-garde.” It published some of the biggest “avant-garde” writers of its time, like Pierre Guyotat, Maurice Roche, Jean-Jacques Schuhl and yourself, as well as still-unknown academics like Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes and Gérard Genette. You also published Pierre Boulez and Jean-Luc Godard, who, like the writers and thinkers I just mentioned, were the leading avant-garde figures in their respective fields. In 1983 you left Les Éditions du Seuil,…

Best Books of 2019

    Miyó Vestrini | Grenade in Mouth Those who write are not even of a race. Nor a caste. Nor a class. Nor are they one. They ruin the point of living, like women in a world of science. Behind thick lenses, the court is never dull. They have all privileges: from philosophy up to anger, passing through conjugal relations, and the length of the paragraphs. Between the rights of man it is figured that the writer should write largely for himself first, then for the others, with a purpose well or poorly defined: to flood the window displays,…

riots and/or poetics [10/2019]

TRILCE XXVII    That flood frightens me, / good memory, strong sir, implacable / cruel sweetness. It frightens me. / This house does me complete good, complete / place for this not knowing where to be. // Let’s not go in. It frightens me, this favour / of returning by minutes, by blown up bridges. / I’m not going ahead, sweet sir, / brave memory, sad / singing skeleton. // What content, of this haunted house, / gives me deaths by mercury, and blocks / with lead my conduits / to sheer reality. // The flood that doesn’t know how…

Antonin Artaud | Van Gogh the man suicided by society

  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…

Mehdi Belhaj Kacem | Tomb for Guy Debord

Guy Debord was the avant-garde’s Christ. Guy Debord was the avant-garde’s Christ. He was immolated by his own ideology, which he more than anyone (Tzara, Duchamp, Artaud, the Viennese Actionists…) had pushed to its extremes. He covered all of its possibilities, all of its impasses. His extreme attempts were neither successes, nor failures. Today, his path should be evaluated through other methods: the ones left to us in the wake of the avant-garde’s disappearance. To put it as Reiner Schürmann does: truth is a “conflictuality without agreements.” It is within Debord’s insurmountable contradictions, whose political, aesthetic, and existential preoccupations were…

Antonin Artaud : Years of Incarceration | by Stephen Barber

The asylum incarceration which Artaud underwent in the years from 1937 to 1946 has as much contradiction and productivity as the other phases of his life. But it was certainly the most deeply painful phase. The internment began with a period of self-preoccupation which Artaud broke only to berate his doctors and to demand external confirmation for the hallucinations he was experiencing. During the early part of Artaud’s internment, at Rouen and Sainte-Anne, his behaviour gives the impression of great austerity and of a profound, self-sufficient calm. Although he spent his time in the company of the many different kinds…