By Ros Murray
This ebook serves as research of the aesthetics of materiality within the multifaceted paintings of Antonin Artaud, certainly one of Twentieth-Century France's so much provocative and influential figures, spanning literature, functionality, artwork, cinema, media and demanding concept.
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Additional resources for Antonin Artaud: The Scum of the Soul
The use of immanence here seems to contradict Artaud’s idea that art should engage with a transcendent principle that life can only reflect. What Artaud rejects, then, is anything that constitutes a pale imitation of such a principle. This understanding of mimesis rests on an The Limits of Representation 29 unproblematic reading of Book Ten of the Republic, where mimesis is the imitation of reality which is in turn an incomplete imitation of the Forms. However, mimesis is a far more far-reaching term in Plato’s writing, because it is not only used to describe painting or poetry that reflects the sensible world, but also to describe theatrical performance, and, perhaps more significantly, the way in which music evokes emotions.
Does this mean that his readers should also fail to make a distinction? How are we to deal with Artaud’s perceived ‘madness’? These are difficult questions for anyone approaching Artaud’s work because he himself writes so vehemently about the psychiatric treatment he received; his texts are not only, in many cases, a direct result of this treatment but they also explicitly draw attention to it. It is perhaps, paradoxically, for this reason that psychoanalytic readings of his texts tend to fail: Artaud anticipates such readings, at times aggressively denouncing the whole of the psychiatric profession with harrowing lucidity, bearing witness to his own experience, and at other times poking fun at the facile interpretations one might be tempted to draw.
Excrement has a contradictory status in Artaud’s work, because it is on the one hand the undesired end of a process, marking it as over, 38 Antonin Artaud but on the other as something to be discarded it rejects the very idea of the product or the result being important. 6 Artaud’s difficulties with language, as we have seen, are to do with the inability to find the right words, which, throughout his correspondence with Jacques Rivière, he gradually came to realise was a problem related not to his own failure as a poet, but rather to the failure of words to adequately express the physical experience of thinking.
Antonin Artaud: The Scum of the Soul by Ros Murray