Artaud Essay Research Paper Marc Brotman

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Artaud Essay, Research Paper Marc Brotman Theory of Drama 11/15/00 TWO NIGHTS OF ARTAUD IS JUST NOT HEALTHY Cornell West writes, culture convinces you not to kill yourself. This, I ve come to realize, is a partial articulation of Atraud s idea of culture -in-action (which also mandates his idea of metaphysics-in-action ). Writing from a spiritual perspective, Artaud believes that something makes us live. This something is empirical and existent in all things. For Artaud, the human need for a transcendent state is part of life. Culture, he thinks, is the best arena for the satisfaction of this necessity. He likens this compulsion to that of hunger. Hunger for food is the same as the necessity for the expression of and attempt at a poetic state. The need to consume culture in

order to quench this sensory need is intrinsic to survival. Seeing contemporary civilization separating culture from life, Artaud points to public areas of crime, love and drug abuse as corrupt expressions of this need. Because of the blocks put between cultural consumption and the capacity to support life, Artaud sees a grave disconnection between human construction and the forces of life. His Theater of Cruelty is an attempt to break down these barriers and repossess man s divinity. Through spectacle, he wants to achieve an immediacy that disallows digestive or analytical approaches, and demands a total sensory immersion. Working more as a Shaman than a dramatist, his mise-en-scene aims to be a language which develops all its physical and poetic effects on every level of

consciousness and in all the senses(44). On a much broader scale, this satisfaction would redefine human understanding and action, making it directly compelled by the mysterious depths of ourselves(7). Artaud defines the consideration of civilized man as a person who thinks in forms, signs, representations(8). This thought process, which is instructed in systems, separates culture from the basic elements of survival. Recognizing how a consciousness instructed in systems dictates even our subtlest behavior(8), Artaud comments on the pervasive and damaging effect of European culture. The system which separates things and words, is an installed interruption that maintains a method of removal from the divine. From this viewpoint, Artaud s theater is one of destruction. It breaks down

the boundary that civilization puts up between modern and total man. Total man, here, is inclusive of intrinsic and extrinsic divinity. It is a wholesome poetics in form that representation, or our imagination of representation, denies. He writes, far from believing that man invented the supernatural and the divine, I think it is man s age-old intervention which has ultimately corrupted the divine within him, (although, he later contradicts this by saying it is not the divine that is corrupt, but man s understanding and expression of it.) The divine is immanent, yet the system of removal and deriving thoughts from acts, disturbs the human faculty from appropriately enacting its holiness. Viewing the expression of pain as a demonstration of ever-present forces, Aratud s theater

asks for a redirection of culture. The redirection is in pursuit of the divine and thus, an acquisition of pure form that will pave the road for the rule of magic. Life is then the enactment of a direct compulsion from divinity, which is reached through culture. Culture is the stuff of life, not a separation from it. It is simultaneous expression and feeling, a refined means of understanding and exercising life(10). Borrowing from ancient cultures he envisions as pure and connected to nature, his theater aims to induce savagery(which is not defined by simplicity, but spontaneity). The achievement of immediacy dictates much of the way he conceptualizes space and spectacle. All aspects of The Theater of the Cruel coalesce to form a totalistic experience where every theatrical tool