Poetry News

Fire Struck on the Hylic Plane: Entropy Magazine Debuts with Will Alexander on Antonin Artaud

By Harriet Staff


We're into the description for Entropy, "[a] new website featuring literary & non-literary content. A website that seeks to engage with the literary community, that becomes its own community, and creates a space for literary & non-literary ideas." We feel like this every day! AND, co-editors Janice Lee and Peter Tieryas Liu have got Will Alexander as one of their columnists. He's just written about Artaud et agony in a piece called "A Glossary of Fumes." Right up our corridor: "No one is left unmarked, one becomes engaged in telepathic endurance, for Artaud is relentless. There is no aspect of matter which is not engaged in his war against darkness." MORE drang:

For Artaud, the plunge into darkness was the overcoming of darkness. Simplicity of tenor was not a part of his character. Anais Nin once related that on a bright sunny Parisian afternoon Artaud was exhorting passersby to overcome their inner darkness which they clearly had no consciousness of. His warfare with the caliginous consumes all of his tragic moments. He is constantly hounded by the friction which imbues his body and his mind. For Artaud, the body and the mind were inextricable, and functioned as one. His fire was always struck on the hylic plane. He was lightning struck petrifaction, unclassifiable, moody, plagued by seeming error, yet always staunch with perseverance. A perseverance which enabled his pursuit of the Tarahumara, all the while engaged in mountain climbing on a burro, simultaneouusly disgorging heroin. Unlike Cesaire, Artaud’s activity did not commit itself to correcting the great social issues of the day. He seems to be constantly engaged in the overthrow of a fradulent God. A God whom the Gnostics accused of holding all souls in universal embranglement. Thus, he imparts his absence to others, so that they, at some level, no longer partake in their own biographical deception. Within this gnostic drama Artaud’s two dates of 1896-1948 become nothing more than an ancillary item. His, was a realm where only forces were exchanged. This was the true invisible grammar, the grammar where superficial fact could never extend.

The writer as agent of literature was loathsome to Artaud. He knew this to be the author as conductor of distortion. Such was the sub-text of his reasoning in rejecting Breton’s invitation to participate in “The International Surrealist Exhibition of 1947. He states to Breton “Î have my own idea of birth, of life, of death,of reality, and of destiny, and I do not participate in any of the general ideas through which I could have with any man than myself.” He states further that he has been “in open struggle every night and day with all the sects of all the sorcerers and initiates of the earth.”

He is not being subversive for reasons of personal enhancement, he is uttering a language of mortal burning, like fumes from a smouldering radium fish. Radium in this instance, not as super-imposed disturbance, but as power which issues from interior agony.

Read the rest of this piece, and others--including an interview with JonBenet Ramsey fan Michael DuPlessis, who talks about the great subgenre of the "breakup novel"--at Entropy.

Originally Published: March 26th, 2014