Heliogabalus by Antonin Artaud, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide. In , Stephen Barber explains in his introduction to “Heliogabalus,” publisher Robert Denoel commissioned Antonin Artaud to write a book. Antoine Marie Joseph Artaud, better known as Antonin Artaud was a French dramatist, poet, .. to Artaud, including seven CDs: “Astronome”, “Moonchild: Songs Without Words”, “Six Litanies for Heliogabalus”, “The Crucible”, ” Ipsissimus”.
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Heliogabalus: Or, the Crowned Anarchist – Antonin Artaud – Google Books
The life and work of Antonin Artaud is so rich that there seems to be hundreds of different approaches on what can be said about them. Deleuze and Guattari, as we will see later, based their book Anti-Oedipus on his concept of body without organs. Several architects saw, in his very spatial description of his Theater of Crueltyan architectural embodiment of surrealism. His translation of Through the Looking-Glass as an anti-grammatical attempt about Lewis Carroll and against him also constituted the topic of various academic papers.
In fact, influenced by his trip hrliogabalus Mexico in which he was initiated to the social life and rites of the Tarahumaras, he then developed a poetry celebrating forces of the earth. My ignorance in anthropology about helioogabalus people and its rituals is wide and artuad that I could say about them could escape from generalizations or simplifications.
Heliogabalus : Or, the Crowned Anarchist
However, what I can say about it consists in what Artaud recounts about his experience there, as centered on the consumption of atnonin, this cactus that allow an access to the state of trance when ingested. This experience greatly influenced him in this elaboration of what I called here, sacred matter.
The book that is the most illustrative in that matter, at least in my aratud, is expressing it via a very interesting mean. The book, Heliogabalus, or the Crowned Anarchistpublished inmixes the traditional mediums of documentary and fiction to tell the story of helogabalus Roman Emperor who acceded to the head of the power when he was only fourteen years old and was assassinated four years later.
In antonon narrative, Artaud describes life in the city of Emesa in Syria where Heliogabalus grew up, its market, its temple and more importantly its religious rituals that deserve that we stop here to hear directly from the book itself:.
For in the temple of Emesa, this service entrance is below the ground, and nothing must disturb the empty space bordering the temple beyond the outermost wall. This mysterious intersection of men, of live or flayed beasts; of metals humped by a species of little Cyclops that only once a year sees daylight; of foodstuffs, of things fabricated —creates at certain hours of the day a paroxysm, a cluster of complaints and of noises, but it never actually stops. He emphasizes on the bodies —animal and humans- the built environment —mostly underground- and the substances offered to a God who cannot be understood in a antknin way.
In fact, a bit further in the text, he explains that the word god here has to be understood as forcesor heliogabals solid manifestations of an energy whose heavier aspect is the Sun. I thus go back to the previous question: In fact, what is sacred for Antonin Artaud is the matter produced by the body —blood, shit, sperm, urine, sweat, saliva, etc.
If we remain with Heliogabalus, he artaux in his text what happens to the blood of human sacrifices in a magnificent piece of text:.
Through these sewers, coiling into broiling corkscrews whose circles diminish the further they descend to the depths of the earth, the blood of those sacrificed according to the needful rites will find its way back to the geological seams, the congealed cracks of chaos. This pure blood, thinned and refined by the rituals, and rendered acceptable to the god of the underworld, splashes the groaning deities of Erebus, whose breath finally purifies it.
From here, an observation needs to be made: Artaud is very far from idealizing this sacred matter and his books always carry their smells and challenge our common aversion for them. In Heliogabalus he evokes the mingled emanation of blood, sperm, sweat and menses, combined with that intimate stench of putrefying flesh and unclean sex rising from the human sacrifices as being part of a violent spirituality. The bodies themselves become sacred after life ceases to animate them and that they go back to the earth.
The inversion of what is normally understood as being sacred and what Artaud describes, touches here its paroxysm.
The unconscious —and by extension the body- is not a theater, it is factory they claim. What Deleuze and Guattari called desiring machine as a body continuously producing fluxes of matter is nothing else than the same body Artaud is celebrating in his writing.
The very first paragraph of the Anti-Oedipus is highly expressive of this influence:. It is at work everywhere, functioning smoothly at times, at other times in fits and starts. It breathes, it heats, it eats. It shits and fucks. An organ-machine is plugged into an energy-source-machine: The breast is a machine that produces milk, and the mouth a machine coupled to it.
If we continue with this assumption that the body is a machine, or rather an assemblage of machines, a factory, we can understand that Artaud is particularly interested in what he calls himself an overheated factory. He likes to talk about a perpetually explosive body from which the very matter we have been talking about erupts out of the body like lava erupts from the earth. In this regard, in his book The Theater and its Doublehe draws a parallel between the diseased body, more specifically the plague-stricken body and what should ideally be the body of the actor in theater.
Both of those bodies are for him hosting a strong force that ends up in a spasm thus expelling violently the power of this same force from the body. That is very likely in this understanding that, in his radio broadcast To Have Done with the Judgment of Godhe asserts that he has been sick all his life and he asks only that it continues. He indeed does not deny the social status of the sick person.
To emit the cry I empty myself. Not of air but of the very power of sound. Audio excerpt from To Have done with the Judgment of God.
The power of sound is thus liberated the same way that a body shits, sweats, spits, or ejaculates.
Such declamation leads us to understand the ambiguous sentence in which Artaud explains that his entire work is nothing else than his waste. From what we now know, such claim is clearly his confession of him having reached his goal.
To Have Done with the Massacre of the Body. In this text, he describes simultaneously how the body and its production of desire is continuously being hijacked and dispossessed by capitalism as well as the needs for a revolutionary body to antojin re invented.
In the following excerpt, he calls for us to reclaim the property and freedom of use of our own body-machines of production:. We can no longer sit idly by as others steal our mouths, our anuses, our genitals, our nerves, our guts, our arteries, in order to fashion heliogabalsu and works in an ignoble mechanism of production which links capital, exploitation, and the family. We can no longer allow others to turn our mucous heloogabalus, our skin, all our sensitive areas into occupied territory —territory controlled and regimented by other, heliogagalus which we are forbidden access.
Capitalism is a system that exploits the production for another end than itself. By attributing a finality that ignores the essence of its materiality, including the body itself, it recreates a transcendence similar to the one developed by monotheist religions. The constitution of a revolutionary body implies therefore a materialist practice of its capacities. Artaud shows us the way by inviting us to be the snake that music acts upon, as he feels and reacts to the vibrations of the earth in which sound is transmitted.
As an architect, I would like to believe that the modification of the matter that we order can be thought in such a way that it acts as atraud same music. If this belief is founded, Antonin Artaud is probably the right person to follow.