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"THISEXTREMEANDDIFFICULTSENSE
OFSPECTACULARREPRESENTATION"
AntoninArtaud'sOntologyof"Live"

DeborahLevitt

prologue
JacquesDerrida,overthecourseofthirtyoneyears(between1965and1996),has
writtenmultiplecommentariesontheworkofAntoninArtaud,ontheenigmaof
AntoninArtaud,whichreflectaprofoundambivalence.In1996,inanessay
presentedontheoccasionofanexhibitionofArtaud'sdrawingsattheMuseumof
ModernArtinNewYork,Derridanamesthisambivalence.Henamesonesideofthis
ambivalence,infact,"anantipathy.""Iamalsoboundtohim[Artaud]byasortof
reasoneddetestation,bytheresistantbutessentialantipathythatisarousedinme
bythedeclaredcontent,thebodyofdoctrineofthatwhichmightbecalledthe
philosophy,politicsorideologyofArtaud."Derridaalsodescribesthesourceofthe
antipathythatmakesArtaud,forhim,"intoasortofprivilegedenemy,apainful
enemywhich,"Derridawrites,"Icarryandpreferwithinmyself."Heresists,hesays,
whateverinArtaud'sworkoperates"inthenameoftheproperbodyorthebody
withoutorgans"andoperatesas"ametaphysicalrageforreappropriation,"fora
reappropriation,thatis,oftheproperbodyandasanexorcismofallthatisim
proper.InpositioninghimselfthusinregardtoArtaud,Derridaassertshiscritical
difference,anddistance,from"almostallthosewithwhomIshareapassionate
admirationforArtaud."IfArtaudis,forDerrida,notonlytheobjectofapassionate
admirationbutalsoa"painfulenemy,"formethereisonlyaprofoundsympathyand
apassionateaffiliation.Itispossiblethatinmybeginninghere,withtheessential
differencethatorientsourrespectivereadingsofArtaud,asortofperverseimpulse
isrearingitsheadinbetweenthenecessityandchancethatorientsthestartingpoint
ofanessayforthisspecialissueofTympanum,"KhoraographiesforJacques
Derrida."ForitiscertainlyDerrida'sremarkableandinsightfulcommentarieson
Artaud,andparticularlyhisessaysof1965and1966,respectively,"LaParole
Souffle"and"TheTheaterofCrueltyandTheClosureofRepresentation"thathave
movedmetoreadArtaudandtoreadhimwiththehighestseriousness,andthat
havemostprofoundlyinfluencedmyconceptionofArtaud'sTheaterofCruelty.
Beginningthusmayalso,however,reflecttheinterventionofagenerationof
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scholarship,betweenDerrida'sfirstmeetingwithArtaudandmyown,whichhas
madeArtaudtheobjectofacriticalscrutinyrequiringagestureofdistanciation,the
insertionofanintervalintoanyproximitywithArtaud'sworks,whetherthisisinthe
nameof,oragainstthenameof,theproperbodyor,asSusanSontagwouldhaveit,
against"aradicalismthatispurelycultural"(ratherthanpolitical)andthuseither
"illusory"orconservativeinitseffects.
WhatIwillexaminehere,intheformofaseriesofmeditationsonArtaud'sTheater
ofCrueltyandonDerrida'sreadingsofArtaud,aswellasonanumberofrelated
topics(fromNietzsche'sTheBirthofTragedytohieroglyphiccharacterstoDiderot's
theoryofthetableau),istheconceptionofspectacleArtauddevelopsinTheTheater
andItsDouble.DerridadescribesArtaud'sTheaterofCrueltyasconjuringan
"extremeanddifficultsenseofspectacularrepresentation."Weneedtobeattentive
tothedoublingofsensehereinDerrida'sshortphraseforthiswilldrawusintothe
heartofthedemandsArtaudsetsoutforhimself.Derridarefersusbothtothe
meaningofArtaud'sspectacle,or,thatis,tothesensewecanmakeofit,andtoits
sensations,forArtaud'stheatricalspectaclespeaks,aboveall,tothesensesofits
spectators.Artaud,overturningconventionalinsightsintothenecessarymediations
oflanguageandimage,demandsaspectaclethatwilloperatecorporeally,surgically,
onthebodiesofitsspectators.In"thisextremeanddifficultsenseofspectacular
representation,"Artaudembedsvisibilityina"puresensibility."IntoaModernist
discourseonimageswhichisgenerallydrivenbyapositivistorpsychologistic
impulse,byafetishismofformoroneofcontent,Artaudinjectsa"mystical"
materialismwhichseekstodrawfromthearchiveofthearchaicatactilespectacle,a
languageofbodiesandthingsthatwillreawaken,orreanimate,alifebeneaththe
shiftingsurfacesoffactandform.I'dliketomaketwosuggestionshere.Despite
Artaud'sconflictedandtorturedphysics,ormetaphysics,hispragmaticsof
beholding,whichpushesmaterialismtoitsexpressivelimits,providesanessential
correctivetoaparticulartradition,developedintheEnlightenmentandactiveintothe
presentday,ofconsideringpicturesasmirrorimagesofastableandcoherent
subject.Artaud'sconceptionofspectacle,anditsaccompanyingontologyof"live,"
impelshimtothinkpasta"properbody"andtoreferrepresentationbeyonda
theologyofgodandoneofman,toreferrepresentation,thatis,tothe"inhuman."

anenigmaticcorpus
InandbetweenhistwoessaysonArtaud,"Laparolesouffle"and"TheTheaterof
CrueltyandtheClosureofRepresentation,"DerridaestablishesArtaud'scorpus,
bothhisbodyandthebodyoftheTheaterofCruelty,asadoubledenigma.He
namesthefirstbodyoftheenigmainthefinalsentenceofthe1965essay,"the
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enigmaoffleshwhichwantedproperlytobecalledAntoninArtaud."In1966,he
introducesthesecondbody.Derridawrites,"withinthespaceoftheuniqueopening
ofthisdistance,thestageofcrueltyrearsitsenigmaforus.Anditisintothisopening
thatwewishtoenterhere."Attheriskofslippingintoanillusoryspaceofcontact
betweenclinicalandcriticaldiscourses,inthiscasenotonlynecessarybutrigorous:
thesetwoenigmasareoneandthesame.The"enigmaofflesh"isthesameenigma
whichrearsitsheadintheasyetunopenedspaceofthetheaterofcruelty.The
corollaryenigmasoftheaterandflesh,theirbecomingidentical,ispreciselytherigor
ofArtaud'sownproject,arigorthathecallsalso"cruelty,"alsoan"implacable
necessity."In"Closure,"DerridaassertsthatforArtaud,"theatricalitymusttraverse
andrestore'existence'and'flesh'ineachoftheiraspects.Thuswhatevercanbe
saidofthebodycanbesaidofthetheater."Infact,asArtaudinsistsinTheTheater
andItsDouble,wheneverhesays"theater"heissaying"life,"andviceversa.These
terms,"life"and"theater,"aresynonymousandinterchangeable.
"Laparolesouffle"and"TheTheaterofCrueltyandtheClosureofRepresentation"
markDerrida'sengagementswiththetwosidesofthesameenigma.Intheformer,
theenigmaoffleshisframedbyaninquiryintothedistanceandproximityofa
clinicaldiscourseonmadnessandacriticaldiscourseonthework.Here,Derrida
focusesonArtaud'sbody:oronhispsyche,hisflesh,andtheirextension.Inthe
secondessay,whichissitedinrelationtotheimpossibleplacethatistheTheaterof
Cruelty,Derridafocusesonthebodyofthework.Buthehassetupitsparadoxinthe
firstessay,for,ashetellsus,Artaudwantstocreateaworkthatisnotawork.Artaud
is,Derridasuggests,"Inpursuitofamanifestationwhichwouldnotbeanexpression
butapurecreationoflife,whichwouldnotfallfarfromthebodythentodeclineintoa
signorawork,anobject.""Forwhathishowlspromiseus,articulatingthemselves
undertheheadingsofexistence,life,flesh,theater,crueltyisthemeaningofanart
priortomadnessandthework....Artaudpromisestheexistenceofaspeechthatis
body,ofabodythatisatheater,ofatheaterthatisatextbecauseitisnolonger
enslavedtoawritingmoreancientthanitself,anurtextoranurspeech."

livespectacle
1.ThedoubledenigmaoftheaterandbodyreflectArtaud'spreoccupationwithlife,
andwithalife"whichispriortothelifeofwhichthebiologicalsciencesspeak."Any
invocationofculture,ArtaudtellsusintheprefacetoTheTheaterandItsDouble,
"TheaterandCulture,"isaninvocationofakindofdeath.Thetheater,Artaud
demands,mustreanimatealifesubmergedandpetrifiedbyculturalformsand
organizations.The"life"ofwhichArtaudspeaksis,insomesenses,congruentwith
the"life"conjuredbyvitalistphilosophiesandevenmoresowiththe"life"theyoung
Nietzscheassertsisactivein,oras,theDionysianfestival.AllofArtaud'sdemands
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forhistheaterwhicharethusalsodemandsheplacesonhisbodyareinthe
serviceofanattempttomanifestthislifepriortoform.
Derrida,inthefirstessay,confrontsthelifeofArtaud:"Artaudknewthatallspeech
fallenfromthebody,offeringitselftounderstandingorreception,offeringitselfasa
spectacle,immediatelybecomesstolenspeech."Hecallsthetheftofspeechthe
originalgestureoftheft.TocondenseandschematizeDerrida'scomplexformulation
ofthisgesture:TheproblemthatArtaudfaces,andthattearshimapart,thattortures
himunceasingly,isthathisspeechisneverhisown.Theminuteheopenshis
mouth,ortakesuphispen,heinsertshimselfintoafieldthathasalwaysbeen
determinedinadvance.Languageprecedeshim,andinrelationtoithisevery
utteranceandevenhiseveryinspirationisalreadyarepetition.This"amountsto
acknowledgingtheautonomyofthesignifierastheletter'shistoricitybeforeme,the
signifieronitsownsaysmorethanIbelievethatImeantosay,andinrelationtoit,
mymeaningtosayissubmissiveratherthanactive."Thusspeechandwriting,for
Artaud,stealfromhimwhatisinherentlyhis,hislife,hispowerofinauguration.
ThefirstpremiseonwhichArtaudbaseshisprojectfortheTheaterofCrueltyisthat
thistheaterwillnolongerbegovernedbyatext.InthehistoryoftheWest,Artaud
asserts,theaterisakindofsubgenreofliterature.Ithassofarbeenanart
structuredbythemostslavishformsofrepresentation.Thedirectorandtheactors
replicate,orrepresent,thetextoftheplay.Whatistrulytheatricalaboutthetheater,
thatis,itsmiseenscne,itsvolumetricextensioninspace,issubordinatedtothe
representationofatext,issubordinatedtodialogue.And,Artaudcontinues,its
subordinationtoatextalsomarksitssubordinationtopsychology,towhatArtaud
calls"psychologicalman."Ratherthanconcerningitselfwith"life,"itconcernsitself
withthelifeoftheindividual,withplotsthatcanonlyreproducewhatheconsidersto
bethepettyconcernsofmodernman."Giventhetheaterasweseeithere,one
wouldsaythereisnothingmoretolifethanknowingwhetherwecanmakelove
skillfully,whetherwewillgotowarorarecowardlyenoughtomakepeace,howwe
copewithourlittlepangsofconscience,andwhetherwewillbecomeconsciousof
our"complexes"(inthelanguageofexperts)orwhetherourcomplexeswilldousin."
TheTheaterofCruelty,ontheotherhand,willdealwithwillbelifeitself.As
Derridapointsout,life,forArtaud,"asthesourceofgoodinspiration,mustbe
understoodaspriortothelifeofwhichthebiologicalsciencesspeak."Artaudpits
forceagainstform.TheTheaterofCrueltymustbeamanifestationofanoriginary
lifeforce,forcebeforeitisstolenbythetext,byform,byrepresentation.
"Furthermore,Artaudwrites,"whenwespeaktheword"life,"itmustbeunderstood
thatwearenotreferringtolifeasweknowitfromitssurfaceoffact,buttothat
fragile,fluctuatingcenterwhichformsneverreach."
ItisArtaud'spreoccupationwithlife,andspecificallywithalifethatismaterialinall
ofitsmanifestations,thatimpelshimtoproducehis(paradoxically)concrete
language.DespiteArtaud'sinsistencethatlife/theaterresistthe"artisticdallyingwith
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forms"thathascharacterizedthehistoryofWesternart,"life,""force,""matter,"
"flesh,""existence,""theater"arenotmute.Theyspeak.ButArtauddoesnotwantto
useanylanguagewhosemeaninghasbeendeterminedinadvance.Thiskindof
languagewhichislanguageassuch,asadifferentialsystemofconventionalsigns
isalwaysalreadydead,canonlycommunicatewhathasalreadybeen
communicatedandisthusdoomedtothefateoftherepetitionofthesameand
particularlyloathsometoArtaud,doomedascomplicitinthereplicationor
perpetuationofadeadculture,thecultureofpsychologicalman,acultureofpetty
plotsandconcerns,a"socialsystemwhichisiniquitousandneedstobedestroyed."
Inoppositiontoalanguagewhoseformandsystemmirrortheformandsystemof
theorganizationofthesubject,hisconstitutionas"psychologicalman,"Artaudwants
tomakespacespeakandtoconstituteapurelymateriallanguagewhichwilldirectly
effectthebodiesofthetheater'sspectators.("Artaud,"Derridawrites,"isasfearfulof
thearticulatedbodyasheisofarticulatedlanguage,asfearfulofthememberasof
theword.")ForhisTheaterofCruelty,hewillreconfigurethespaceofthetheater,
abolishingtheseparationbetweenthestageandtheaudienceandplacingthe
spectatorinthemiddleoftheaction,"caughtasifinawhirlwindofforces."Inplace
ofatheatergovernedbythetext,Artaudwantstocreateatheaterinwhichmiseen
scneisparamount.Withinthemiseenscne,constitutingthismiseenscne,all
possiblemeansofeffectingthespectators,effectingthemcorporeally,surgically,will
beemployedmusic,noises,colors,lights,dance,movement,gestures,objects,
masks,costumes,breath,poetry.TheTheaterofCrueltywillnotabandonlanguage
altogetherbutwillemploywordsfortheir"incantatorypossibilities."Artaudasserts
thatthismutimediatheatricallanguagea"concretelanguage,"will"annihilateevery
conflictproducedbymatterandmind,ideaandform,concreteandabstract."Wecan
see,evenatfirstglance,theparadoxcontainedinthisformulation:Inwhatsense
couldalanguagethatannihilatestheconflictbetweentheabstractandtheconcrete
beitselfconcrete?Thisparadoxdemandsacarefulexamination.
Inoneofhisearliestpiecesontheater,writtenontheoccasionofthefirstseasonof
theTheatreAlfredJarryhefoundedwithVitracandAronin1926,Artaudwrites:"If
thetheaterisnotanamusement,ifitisanauthenticreality,thenhowareweto
restoreitsrankasreality,howarewetomakeeachspectacleakindofevent?This
istheproblemwemustsolve."Artaud'sconcretelanguage,hisspeakingspace,lies
attheheartofhisconceptionofspectacleandprovidesthedetailsofthemannerin
which,heasserts,spectaclewillfunctionintheTheaterofCruelty:
Imakeitmyprinciplethatwordsdonotmeaneverythingandthatbytheirnature
anddefiningcharacter,fixedonceandforall,theyarrestandparalyzethought
insteadofpermittingitandfosteringitsdevelopment.AndbydevelopmentImean
actualextendedconcretequalities,solongasweareinanextendedandconcrete
world.Thelanguageoftheateraimsthenatencompassingandutilizingextension,
thatistosayspace,andbyutilizingit,tomakeitspeak:Idealwithobjectsthe
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dataofextensionlikeimages,likewords,bringingthemtogetherandmakingthem
respondtoeachotheraccordingtolawsofsymbolismandlivinganalogies....

Artaud'srevoltagainstthereiterationsofwordswhich"arrestandparalyzethought,"
has,Ithinkbeenwellestablished.Whatthenbecomes,forArtaud,theenginewhich
willpermitandfoster"thedevelopmentofthought"?First,heclarifieshissense:
"...bydevelopmentImeanactualextendedandconcretequalities,solongasweare
inanextendedandconcreteworld."Artaudclearlyassertsherethatthought
possessesextension.Itisnotimmaterial,doesnotpertaintoan"ideal"world
separatedfrommatterorthingsorspace,butratheritselfpossessesthequalitieswe
conventionallyascribetothingsandbodies.Thoughtisitselfabody.WhenArtaud
setsforth"theproblemwemustsolve"inhismanifestofortheTheatreAlfredJarry,
heposesthequestionofhowtoproduceaspectaclethatwouldbebotheventand
reality.IntheTheaterofCruelty,imagesandwords,likelightsandsounds,costumes
andgestures,becomethingsandbodies,the"dataofextension."Artaud's
conceptionsofeventandrealityreflecthisversionofamaterialismwhosepivotal
termis"extension."Artaudisnotascentrallyconcernedwiththenatureofmaterial
substanceasheiswithitsspatialeffects.Space,forArtaud,is"full"andfullof
"shadows."Aswehaveseen,hewantstomanifestalifebeforeform,alifebeyond,
hetellsus,thefacticityofitssurfaces.Spacewillspeakthroughits"shadows"and
its"undersides."Artaud'smaterialismdefiesempiricalverification.Hismaterial
"reality"isnotconsistentwithfact.Itisabsoluteandallencompassing.Material,or
"mass,"isalwaysanimateandtheengineofitsoperation,asIwilldiscussbelow,is
vibration.
AsDerridanotes,ArtaudseekstodestroythehistoryofWesternmetaphysicsasa
dualistmetaphysics,astheseparationofbodyandspirit.Hepushesrepresentation
toitslimit,attemptingtowithdrawitfromthisdualism,bydeployingwordsand
imagesasthings,bylettingnothingescapefromthepurviewofextension,ofspace
andbody.ItisinregardtothislimitthatDerridasuggestsandsuggeststhatArtaud
himselfknewthattheTheaterofCrueltywouldbeanimpossibletheater,that
Artaudcouldnotreclaimwhatwasstolenfromhimbytheft'soriginarygesture,his
presencetohimselfbeforedifference,beforeheheardhimselfcryoutandwas
stolenfromtheproperbodyfromwhencehisfirstcryissued.Thatis,wasdoubledat
themomentwhenhecriedandheardhimselfcry,nolongerpresentonlyasorigin
andinauguratorofhisownvoice.
HerethenweencounterArtaud'sdesiretoreappropriatewhatDerridacallshis
"properbody"andtoreappropriatetheproperbodyofthetheater.Artaudwantsto
annihilatetheconflictsbetweenabstractandconcreteand,infact,wantsnotonlyto
dismantleadualistmetaphysicsbutalsotoannihilateallpracticalorperformative
differencesbetweenmindandmatterandbetweenrepresentationandpresentation.
Insofarasthisisunimaginable,thatis,thatanydiscoursethatwouldclaimthisforits
objectisalreadybothbetrayingitsobjectandconstitutingitsowninvalidity,Artaud
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fails.Butifthisisanimpossiblegestureitisalsopotentiallyproductiveinthatitallow
Artaudtoshiftrepresentation'spointofreferencebeyondMan.Artaud'sphilosophy,
amonistmaterialismandatheoryofrepresentationwhoseelements(words,
images,lights,breath,sounds,colors,costumes)wouldproduce"meaning"through
theirphysicaleffectsontheirspectators,allowsustopenetrateanaspectofboth
matterandspectacle,andmaterialspectacle,whichisconventionallydisavowedfor
anynumberofreasonswhichmayormaynotberelatedinanindividual
commentary:because,forArtaud,spacespeakswithoutfirstbeingplace,thatis,
withoutfirstbeingconstitutedbytheiterabilityofthetracebecauseofitsinvocation
ofa"mystical"materialismbecauseofthepoliticalconnotations,ortheconventional
linktofascism,oftheconceptionofimmediate,orunmediated,experience.In
additiontohisappealtothecorporealityofbothbodyandspectacle,andto
immediateexperience,healsomountsanappealtowhatheconceivesasthe
alternativerepresentationalpracticesofvarious"others,"othercultures(theorientor
atribalsocius),andotherhistoricalmoments(themiddleages,thebaroque).Artaud
stagesbothturnsofthisappealtowardapurematerialityandtowardalternative
modesofrepresentationinordertotheorizespectacle,ortheimage,awayfromits
linktoaproperontologyofthesubject.IwillsuggestthatArtaud'sbodymaynotbea
"properbody"atall,andfortworeasons.Firstly,theimbricationofspectacleand
spectatorinanarenawhichis,aboveall,amaterialandimmediateevent,prevents
thedemarcationofanystablebody.(Ifthissentencepossessesagrammatical
inconsistency,itcontainstheparadoxArtaudsetsoutforus:anarenaisanevent.
Spaceisinseparablefromitsactions.)Secondly,aswellascallingforabodywhich
wouldpresentitselfaswhole,thebodyArtaudpresentsis,onitsflipside,anatomic
body,onemightcallitaLucretianbody:itsatomsarealwaysalreadysignifying
elements.Letmebegintounpackthisratherdenseformulation:

2.In"Closure,"DerridanotestheaffinitiesanddifferencesofNietzscheandArtaud's
treatisesonthetheater.Artaud'sappealstoalternativemodesofrepresentationare
notinconsistentwiththeprojectofNietzsche'sanalysisoftheatricalrepresentationin
TheBirthofTragedy.IfTheBirthofTragedymayhelptoilluminateArtaud'sproject,it
isbecauseNietzschealsoconfrontsthematrixoflifeandrepresentation,and
confrontsitasalwaysintransformation.Puttingasidehisengagementwiththe
"actual"Greeks,Nietzscheturnstoantiquetragedyinordertostageananalysisof
therelationshipbetweenrepresentationandthemannerinwhichitisproducedby,
andworkstoform,culturaldeterminationsofsubjectivity.Hightragedy,goodtragedy
inNietzsche'sassessmentofthetheaterofantiquity,isbornfromtheproductive
conflictbetweenaDionysianforcewhichislifeandenergyinanunformedstate,a
forceofdeindividuation,andtheApolliniandreamworldofimageswhich
individuatesandforms,thatisthefacultythroughwhich"pictures"aremade.Butas
wellasdescribingthecharactersinthis,hismostfamousscene,Nietzsche
describesanotherscene,thatofthedeathoftragedy.TheDionysianremainsas
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activatingforceforthedrama(andasforceitself),buttheApolliniandisappears,to
bereplacedbywhatNietzschecallsthe"Euripidean"orthe"Socratic."Ifthe
Apollinianworldis,asNietzschesuggests,adreamworldofimages,
Euripidean/Socraticimagesareproducedbywakingconsciousness.Representation
then,orwhatwemightcallthefacultyofmakingpictures,shifts.Nietzscheframes
theproblemthus:"Consciousness,"accordingtoNietzsche,doesnotmakeits
appearanceuntilEuripidesandSocratestakethestagetomaketheseassertions,
respectively,"tobebeautifuleverythingmustbeconscious"and"tobegood
everythingmustbeconscious."ThedreamworldofApollowithitsdreamimages
disappearstomakewayforthewakingconsciousnessofEuripides'andSocrates'
conceptionsofthebeautifulandthegood.WhatNietzschethusconfrontshereisthe
relationshipbetweenalifeforceanddifferentmeansofrepresentation.Theengine
ofmediationbetweenlifeandrepresentationchangesgearsandtransforms,inthe
wakeofitsowntransformation,bothaestheticproductionandspectatorship.While
themediumitself,thatis,theater,ofcourseremainsthesame,theoperationsofits
mediationchangesitproducesdifferentkindsofimagesanditaddressesadifferent
spectator.Whateverrelevancethisshiftmayhavehadfortheancients,thelatter
formulationspeaksto,orof,Nietzsche'sownmoment,atwhichaphilosophyoflife
arisestotakeonthephilosophyofconsciousnessemblematized(forModernity,at
least)inDescartes'cogito."Ithink,thereforeIam."IfinthegoldenageofGreek
tragedy,appearancefaced,ononeside,theundifferentiatedlifeforceofthe
Dionysian,andontheother,thedreamimagesofApollo,atNietzsche'sown
historicalmoment,theimagefacedatoncearevisionedDionysianlifeforce,
immersedinanewlyscientizedphysiological(ratherthan"merely"orresistantly
corporeal)bodyandanequallyscientized,orrationalized,conceptionof
consciousnessassubjectivedifferentiation.

3.Derrida'sdiscussionof"thefateofrepresentation"isorientedbyverballanguage,
bytheproblemofreiterationinasystemofconventionalsigns.Whenitcomesto
theimage,oneentersasomewhatdifferentarena.Images,or"thevisual,"cannotbe
saidtofunctionasalanguageatleastinsofarastheydonotparticipateina
systemofsignsdeterminedbyconventionanddifference.Artaudwantstochange
themannerinwhichrepresentation,andspectacleinparticular,interactswith,and
producesortransforms,thesubjectivityofthetheater'sspectators.Derridaasserts
thatArtaudcallsfor"Theendofrepresentationbutalsooriginalrepresentation.A
visiblerepresentation,certainly,directedagainstthespeechwhicheludessight
andArtaudinsistsontheproductiveimageswithoutwhichtherewouldbenotheater
(theomai)butwhosevisibilitydoesnotdependonaspectaclemountedbythe
discourseofthemaster.Representation,then,astheautopresentationofpure
visibilityandevenpuresensibility."
ThataspectofArtaud'sdevelopmentofhisconceptionofspectaclewhichthinksitas
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apurelymaterialandimmediateeventembedsvisibilityinpuresensibility."We
intend,"Artaudwrites,"tobasetheTheateronspectaclebeforeeverythingelse."
WhileArtaudinsistsonspectacleandon"theproductiveimageswithoutwhichthere
wouldbenotheater,"heattemptstoworkhistheateragainstthateffectofspectacle
thatimpliesadistancebetweenactorsandaudience,imageandobserver.The
spectaclevisualorverbalthatmarksoffavoyeuristicseparationbetween
spectatorsandactorsisbadspectacle.Artauddemandsaspectaclethatis"reality,"
and"event."Heemploysamusicalanalogytoexplainhowthespectacleofthe
TheaterofCrueltywillworkonthebodiesofthe"audience."Weshouldkeepinmind
heretoothatthisisthegentle,thesubtleArtaud,thatontheflipsideofthiscorporeal
massageisaflaying,incisingandtorturingofthebody.
Ifmusicaffectssnakes,itisnotonaccountofthespiritualnotionsitoffersthem,but
becausesnakesarelongandcoiltheirlengthupontheearth,becausetheirbodies
touchtheearthatalmosteverypointandbecausethemusicalvibrationswhichare
communicatedtotheearthaffectthemlikeaverysubtle,longmassageandI
proposetotreatthespectatorslikethesnakecharmer'ssubjectsandconductthem
bymeansoftheirorganismstoanapprehensionofthesubtlestnotions.

TheanalogicalimportanceofArtaud'ssnakesliesintheircorporealcontactwiththe
earth,intheformoftheirbodieswhichatnopointseparatesthemfrommaterialand
immediatecontactwiththeworld.TherealityandeventofArtaud'sspectacleis
dependentonthismaterialityandthisimmediacy.Intheinterpenetrationofbodyand
worldimagedbythesnakes'"coil[ed]lengthupontheearth,"thedistanceofhearing,
theabstractionofbodyfromsound,cannotinterposeitselfintheproximityofmusical
vibration.Thesnakecharmer'smusiceffectsthem,first,immediatelyandonly
immediately,throughthevibrationsthatmassagethesnakes'bodies,throughthe
tactilepropertiesofsound.Buttheworldofencompassingtactilitywhichbeginswith
corporealpresenceandfunctionsaccordingtotheengineofvibration,onlybegins
anddoesnotendhere."Bymeansoftheirorganisms,"thesnakes/spectatorswillbe
conducted,"toanapprehensionofthesubtlestnotions."Thebody,possessingthe
conductivepropertiesoflivewire,transmitsthoughtandis,materially,equivalentto
thought.Itisamatter,then,ofthemetamorphosesofmatter.Toofferanother
metaphoricalversionofArtaud'smaterialism,onethatwewillencounterlateron,we
mightseetheelectricityofthetransmittingconductorasaninitialformoftheequally
materialsounditproduces.

thedoublingofsense
Anegotiationbetweenlife(orpurebodilysensation)andrepresentation,ormeaning,
asitsother.Artaud,andDerrida'sreadingofArtaud,bothgrapplewiththisdoubled
bodyofsenseassensationandsense/meaning.Artaud'stheatricallanguage,his
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spectacle,is,first,"merely"alanguageofbodiesandobjectsbased,most
specificallyandessentially,onthereverberationsbetweenthem,theirvibratory
contacts,theinteractionoftheirtactilefrequencies.Itispurelymaterial.Onemight
beledtoconclude,bywayofArtaud'smaterialismandthecorporeityofthe"dataof
extension,"thatsignificance,or,makingsense,donotcomeintoplayinArtaud's
spectacle.Butthisisnotatallthecase.ArtaudwantstoproducetheTheaterof
Crueltyasanoriginaryevent,eschewingallrepetitionandrepresentation.Buthe
alsoassertsthatthistheaterwillbeareflectionof"magicandrites,"adivinetheater
whichwillcommunicatethetrueandtheinherent"thought"ofnatureandmatter
which,forArtaud,constitutewhathecallsthe"archaic,"the"sacred,"the"divine,"
andwhathecallsa"metaphysicsinaction.""Thereisalowhumofinstinctual
mattersinthistheater,buttheyarewroughttothatpointoftransparency,
intelligence,andductilityatwhichtheyseemtofurnishusinphysicaltermssomeof
spirit'smostsecretinsights."
DespiteArtaud'sradicalmaterialismwhichconstitutesboththebody"proper"and
thebodyofthetheater/spectacle,materialitysignifies.Ifmanhasakindof"proper"
body,thannature,forArtaud,hasaproperbodytoo.Itisasignificantnature,
alwaysalreadyaforestofsignsandsymbols.Ifimagesandwordscommunicate
materially,throughincantation,intonation,intensityandvibration,theydonotlack
significance.Theyobey"lawsofsymbolismandlivinganalogies"andcommunicate
"thesubtlestnotions."DespiteArtaud'srejectionoflanguage,theTheaterofCruelty
isnottobeimprovisatory.Thisconcreteandspectacularlanguagedemandsa
systemofnotationmoreprecise,exact,andrigorousthanthatofspokenorwritten
language.Itisamatteroftransformingmatterintosignsorviceversaorof
discoveringthenaturalcorollariesthatexistbetweenthem:
"Asforordinaryobjects,oreventhehumanbody,raisedtothedignityofsigns,itis
evidentthatonecandrawone'sinspirationfromhieroglyphiccharacters,notonlyin
ordertorecordthesesignsinareadablefashionwhichpermitsthemtobe
reproducedatwill,butinordertocomposeonthestagepreciseandimmediately
readablesymbols."[Artaud'sitalics]

"Everythinginthisactiveandpoeticmodeofenvisagingexpressiononthestage
leadsustoabandonthemodernhumanisticandpsychologicalmeaningofthe
theater,inordertorecoverthereligiousandmysticpreferenceofwhichourtheater
hascompletelylostthesense."Whatiscalledforhereisafullinvestigationofthe
tropeofthehieroglyph,whichappearsonmultipleoccasionsinTheTheaterandIts
Double,isinvokedbyDiderotasthefigureforpoeticlanguageassuchin"Lettresur
lessourdsetmuets,"andisanobjectofsustainedinquiryinboth"Closure"andin
Derrida'sessayonFreudincludedinthesamevolume,"FreudandtheSceneof
Writing."Letitsuffice,however,toincludeanote,ananecdotewhichmaypointin
thedirectionofthehieroglyph'ssignificanceforArtaud.Eighteenthcenturytheories
oflanguagewereoftenpresentedasgenealogiesinsteadoflookingtothefunctions
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oroperationsoflanguagetodescribeits"nature,"theyappealedtothestoryofits
origins(withmoreorlessliteralistintentions.)Theinterestinanoriginal"revealed"
languagebeganmuchearlier,however.Liebniz,forexample,searchedfora
primitiverootlanguagewhichhefeltcouldbediscoveredthroughresearchinto
etymology,andassertedthatthisurtext,whetheritssignifierswerenaturalor
conventional,wouldbecomposedofrationalrelationsworthyofitsoriginalauthor,or
Author,thatis,God.Healsotoyedwiththenotionthathieroglyphicsmightbea
philosophicallanguage,akindofmeaningfulmathematics,whoserevelationswould
beexactandnecessary.Thedebateovertheoriginsoflanguageandthestatusof
hieroglyphicsasitplayedoutintheeighteenthcenturywaslinkedtoadisputeover
metaphor,conceivedasa"primitive"modeofexpressionwhichprecededandwas
lessnuancedandprecisethanthe"arbitrary"modernEuropeanlanguages.Whatis
essentialhereisnotthespecificsofthedebateontheoriginsoflanguage(although
thiswouldcertainlyaddmuchtothepresentinquiry)butratherthelinkthatwasthus
constitutedbetweenhieroglyphics,theprimitive("thesavageandthepoetspeak
onlyinhieroglyphics")andtheideaofanarchaiclanguageasanoriginalarchiveof
meaningswhichpreexistsManandhisderivativeorarbitrarytongues.Inthecaseof
Artaud,thisarchaicandhieroglyphiclanguagewouldpreexistbothmanandgod,
actlikebaroqueallegory,andconjurearealmofpurelyanimalormachinic
significance.

tableauxandtableauxvivants
DiderotandArtaudbothpositamonistontology,assertingthatmindisnot
composedofauniquesubstancebutisratheraspecialformofmatter.Diderotwas
alsopreoccupiedwithsensation,andinhisLettresurlessourdsetmuets,asserted
theprecedenceoftactilityinallaestheticapprehension.Hecametodevelopinhis
writingsonpaintingandtheater,however,atheoryofpictorialrepresentation,anda
theoryofconsciousnessaspictorial,whoseefficacyisstillinforce,andwhichArtaud
mustsubvertinordertosubsumethevisualinapuresensation.Artauddoesnot
refertoDiderotexplicitlybutratherindicts18thcenturytheateringeneralforits
developmentofthe"bourgeoisdrama."Artaud'scritiqueofpsychologyisalmosta
directresponsetotheepistemologicalandsocialramificationsofDiderot'suseofthe
theatricaltableau:"Psychology,whichworksrelentlesslytoreducetheunknownto
theknown...isthecauseoftheater'sabasement....Ithinkboththetheaterandwe
ourselveshavehadenoughofpsychology."ForDiderot,thetheoryofthetableau
providesthemeansforworkingthrough,intherealmofrepresentation,issues
engenderedbyhisconceptionofasentientmateriality.Despitewhatmightseemto
beatfirstglancethetableau'sconnotationsofapurelyvisualregimeof
representation,whatisatissuehereisnotaconflictbetweenthevisualandthe
verbal,butratheronebetweenthoughtandmateriality.AsGeoffreyBremnernotes,
althoughDiderotrejectstheCartesiandualism,heisneverabletoadequately
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resolvetheproblemofthenatureofmindorspiritinmaterialistterms,forhe
continuouslyseekssomeparticularpropertywhichwoulddistinguishthehuman
organismbothfromotherformsofanimallifeandfromthedynamismand
determinismofmatter.Diderotuseshisconceptionofthetableauasadefense
againsttheramificationsofhisownmonistphilosophy.
Diderot'smonistmaterialistuniverseconfrontshimwithtwosignificantproblemsfor
histheoryofsubjectivity.Thefirstismovement.Matter,accordingtoDiderot,isin
constantflux,and"thereisnotonemoleculeexactlylikeitselfevenforaninstant."If
humanlifeisabsolutelycontinuouswiththeworldofmatter,andequallypreytoits
constantflux,howisDiderottoaccountfororprovideastabletheoryofanyhuman
knowledge?ThesecondproblemDiderotmustcontendwithisthiscontinuityitself,
thissamecontinuitywhichsituatestouchastheuniversalparadigmforsentience.In
adialoguewithD'AlembertinD'Alembert'sDream,Diderot(inthevoiceofDoctor
Bordeu)assertsthathisspeculationsconcerningtheacquisitionofconsciousness
haveledhim"tocomparethefibersofourorganstovibratingandsensitivestrings
thatcontinuetovibrateandproducesoundlongaftertheyhavebeenplucked.Itis
thisvibration,thisinevitableresonance,asitwere,thatkeepsusconstantlyawareof
[an]object'spresence,whilethemindoccupiesitselfwithdecidingwhatqualitiesthat
objectpossesses."Thisresonanceallowsformemoryastheabilitytosynthesize
individualperceptionsintoconsciousness.Thevibrationsthatconstitutetheformof
thematerialbodyalsoconstitutethefunctionsofthought.FollowingDiderot's
expansionofthisanalogyD'Alembertinterjects,"So,therefore,ifthissentientand
animateharpsichordwerealsoendowedwiththecapacitytofeelandreproduce
itself,itwouldbealivingcreatureandwouldengender,eitherbyitselforwithits
femalecounterpart,youngharpsichords,alsolivingandcapableofvibration."Diderot
replies:"Undoubtedly."
ForDiderot,thecontinuitybetweenmatterandmindengenderstheproblemofhow
toseparateman'ssensoryresponses,his"passions,"fromtheorganicworld.Nature
isakindofmachinewhosefunctionsaredeterminedbyitsmechanismandDiderot
wantstofreethesubjectfromthismechanism.Buthowcanhetheorizeman's
constitutionasescapingthedeterminismofmatterifitiscontinuouswithnature?For
him,asBremnernotes,thedangerinherentinthiscontinuityofthepassionswiththe
organicworldisthatthesepassions,partandparcelofthecausalsystemthat
animatesandcontrolsallmatter,maybedifficulttocontrol.Forthemanofgreat
sensibility,ofconstitutionalsensitivity,"itrequiresonlyanaffectingphrasetostrike
hiseye,andsuddenlyheisfilledwithagreatinnertumultthereisanexcitationofall
thefibersinthebundle,hebeginstoshudder,heisgrippedbyasacredhorror."The
determinismofnaturecanproduceakindofanarchyintheconstitutionofman.But,
Diderotcontinues,"thegreatman,ifhehasbeenunfortunateenoughtohavebeen
endowedwithsuchadispositionbynature,willstriveceaselesslytoweakenit,to
overcomeit,tomakehimselfmasterofhisemotions,andtopreservetheoriginof
thebundle's[thebrain's]positionasabsolutemaster."Diderotconcludes,"menof
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sensibilityandmadmenareonthestage[thewiseman]isintheaudience.".
Intherealmofaesthetics,itisthetableauthatprovidesthemeansofseparating
perceptionandthoughtfromtheprovocationsofthematerialworld.Diderot
instigatesradicalchangesinthe18thcenturytheaterthathavesincebecome
commonplace.Hedemandsthattheaudiencebemovedoffthestageandthespace
oftheauditoriumbedefinitivelyseparatedfromthatofthestageaction.Thetableau,
forDiderot,workstoreinforcethisseparation.Atacrucialmomentintheaction,the
actorsfallsilent,andtheirarrangementonstage,theirpositionsandmost
importantlytheirgestures,aredesignedtoexpressthepathosofthescenewitha
heightenedintensity.Diderotdefinesthetheatricaltableauinoppositiontothecoup
dethtre.Thecoupdethtreischaracterizedbysuddenmovement,byachange
inthesituationofthecharacters.Thetableau,ontheotherhand,isdeterminedbyits
stasis,byitsfixationofboththesceneandtheattitudesofitsbeholders."An
arrangementofcharactersonthestage,sonaturalandsotruetolifethat,faithfully
renderedbyapainter,itwouldpleasemeoncanvas,isatableau."Diderotexhorts
theplaywrightandtheactor:"Whetheryouarecomposingoracting,thinknomoreof
thespectatorthanyouwouldifhedidnotexistatall.Imagineagreatwallatthe
edgeofthestageseparatingyoufromtheorchestra.Actasifthecurtainhadnever
risen."Inadditiontofreezingtheaction,thepictureactsasa"fourthwall"separating
theactorsfromtheaudience.
AccordingtoMichaelFried,whatDiderotcallsfor"isatoneandthesametimethe
creationofanewsortofobjectthefullyrealizedtableauandtheconstitutionofa
newsortofbeholderanew'subject'."Diderotdesignsthetableau,asFried
analyzesinAbsorptionandTheatricality,notonlytoseparatetheactionfromthe
spectatorsbutalsotoprohibitdirectaddress.Theplaywrightandtheactormust
workasifthespectatordoesnotexist.Friedpointsoutthat"theatricality,"orawork's
directappealtoitsbeholders,isproblematicforDiderot.Thisisbecause,Iwould
argue,theacknowledgementofthespectatorspresenceonthesceneof
representationproducesacontinuitybetweenactorandspectatorthatparallelsthe
continuitybetweenmindandmatter.
Diderotcallsthetableauthe"restingplaceofreason."Themovementofspeech
mirrorsthemovementofmatter.Reasondemandsthecessationofthisflux.When
therapidityofspeechcapturesmaninitsflowanddoesnotallowhimanytimeto
descendfromwordstoimages,hebecomesanautomaton.Butwhenhebeginsto
applyhisimaginationandarrivesatsomesortofsensiblerepresentation,thenhe
hasreached,Diderotsuggests,that"finalstagethatistherestingplaceofreason."
Thetableau,asanimage,providesDiderot's"newsubject"withanescapefromthis
automatism.Whilethestringsofhisvarioussenseorgansarebeingpluckedby
internalandexternalimpressions,hemustfindawaytoimmurehimselffromthe
vicissitudesoftheseceaselessvibrations.Thetableau,becauseitfreezesmotion
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intoatemporalandspatialunity,givesperceptionakindofhiatusinitsaction,
allowingthebeholdertobebothpassionatelyaffectedbythepicture,andto
synthesizehisperceptions,andpassions,intoacoherentframework.Thetableau
thusplacesthebeholderatoneremovefromtheaction,instillinginhimitsparticular
"lesson,"andatthesametimereinforcingthecoherenceofhissubjectivityitself.
DiderotconstructswhatArtaudwillcall"psychologicalman"throughtheideaof
consciousnessasapicture.Artaudwantstoexplodethisstatic,pictorialconception
ofconsciousness,undoingDiderot'snewsubject.If,forDiderot,thetableau
functionsasakindofprotectivetalismanagainsttheactionofmatterandits
anarchicprovocationsofthesubject,theTheaterofCrueltyisdesignedtosetthis
materialanarchyintopoeticaction,freeingthesubjectfromthefixationsof
representationalthinking.Artaud'sTheaterofCrueltyisatableauvivant:thepicture
actuallylives.
Whatisessentialaboutthismoment,thatwhichdrawsArtaudintocontactwithits
project,isthewayinwhichmaterialismcomestotaketheplaceofGodandatthe
sametimeandperhapsimpelledbythesamechangingsociopoliticaland
philosophicalcoordinatesallegoryfallsintodisreputeandthecorrespondence
betweenwordsandthingsbecomesbothexactandscientificand,asArtaudasserts,
abstract.Hewrites,"Ifconfusionisasignofthetimes,Iseeattherootofthis
confusionarupturebetweenwordsandthings,betweenthingsandtheideasthat
aretheirrepresentations."Foucault,inTheOrderofThings,hisfamousand
massivelyinfluentialstudyoftheclassicalage,assertsthatwhatcharacterizedthe
18thcenturywaspreciselythiscorrespondencebetweenwordsandthings,the
beliefinanexactscienceofrepresentation."Therupture"thatArtaudspeaksofthen
wouldbepurelymodernlateorproto"postmodern,"thatis,latenineteenthor
earlytwentiethcenturyinitsoriginanditseffects.But,asArtaudwouldhaveit,
andifwearepermittedtoextendhisvariousanddispersedcommentariesonthe
relativecharacteristicsandvaluesoftheMiddleAges,theRenaissance,andthe
Enlightenment(whichheassociateswiththebirthof"psychologicaltheater"and
"bourgeoisdrama")therupturehasoccurredduetothegreaterrorinjudgement
and,wemightsay,inmethod,of18thcenturythinkerslikeDiderot.Theaspectsof
Diderot'sprojectwithwhichArtaudwassympatheticandthathe,infact,adoptedas
hisown,itsmaterialismanditsemphasisonagesturalortactileaesthetics,were
marredbyDiderot'sreinterjectionofatheologicalmachineryintorepresentation,
replacinggodwithMan.

allegoricalilluminations/theatomicbody
1.Thefaceisalwayspreparedforitstransubstantiationintomask:
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"Thetenthousandandoneexpressionsofthefacecaughtintheformofmaskscan
belabeledandcatalogued,sotheymayeventuallyparticipatedirectlyand
symbolicallyinthisconcretelanguageofthestage,independentlyoftheirparticular
psychologicaluse.Moreover,thesesymbolicalgestures,masks,andattitudes...will
bemultipliedbyreflections,asitwere,ofthegesturesandattitudesconsistingofthe
massofalltheimpulsivegestures,alltheabortiveattitudes,allthelapsesofmind
andtongue,bywhicharerevealedwhatmightbecalledtheimpotencesofspeech,
andinwhichisaprodigiouswealthofexpressions..."[Artaud'sitalics]

The"massofallimpulsivegestures,"undergoesatransubstantiationthepure
materialityofthismassismultipliedintosignsandsymbols,intoa"prodigiouswealth
ofexpressions"whichcanbecodifiedandcatalogued(butnotrepeated).The
expressionsofthefacearereifiedinanumericalspecificity(tenthousandandone)
andreified,ifyou'llallowacertainredundancyhere,asmasks:expressionsbecome
things.Thetransubstantiationofexpressionintothingandviceversa(andArtaud
speakselsewhereof"thedecantingandtransfusingofmatter"andof"the
transfusionofmatterbymind")isthestructuralandoperationalmatrixofArtaud's
concretelanguage.Expressions,gestures,theatomizedbodyinpieces,arealways
alreadysignificant,andsignify"independentlyoftheirparticularpsychologicaluse."
Artaudwrites,"animage,anallegory,afigurethatmaskswhatitwouldrevealhave
moresignificanceforthespiritthantheluciditiesofspeechanditsanalytics."What
linksthisconcretelanguageto,atleast,theconnotativereverberationsofaBaroque
modeofallegory,isthelinkbetweenthemaskoremblemandspiritualrevelation.
Andaspiritualrevelationwhichnotonlyproducesthethingasthesourceof
illuminationbutwhichhasitselfgiventothethingoremblemitsspiritualsignificance.
TheemblematiclanguageisagiftfromGodinthecaseofBaroqueallegory,and
fromthesignificantnatureofthedivineinthecaseoftheTheaterofCruelty.Butin
ordernottobeledastray,itisessentialtoemphasizethatitisnottothisBaroque
momentthatArtaudneedstoreturninordertoconstitute,ortoreconstitute,a
relationbetweensensationandrepresentationorientedthroughatactileimage
thatwillprovidethebasisoftheTheaterofCruelty,butrathertothemomentwhen
thesensoryscienceofrepresentationwasconstitutedasthescienceofMan(and
notofGod).
2.Artaud'sreferencestoaninnatespiritualityofmatterthreatentofliphis
materialismintoitsother,anidealismthatassertsthespiritualityofmatter.Butifwe
wanttomaintain,inanyintegralsense,thematerialityofpsycheandofthought,this
materialitymustprovideanexplanationofwhathasconventionallybeendetermined
as"immaterial."DespiteArtaud'sinflamedandinsanerhetoric(ifwewanttoinvoke
theclinicaldiscoursehere)andtheseeminguntenabilityofArtaud's"science,"a
metaphysicsofphysicsorphysicsofmetaphysicswhichhecallsmetaphysicsin
action,themannerinwhichhelaysoutthecoordinatesofabodyandaspectacle
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whichwouldmaintaintheinsightsofmaterialismremindsusoftheinherentdualism
ofcommentariesthatmightcallthemselvesiconographiesoreveniconologies.And
remindsusthatmaterialityitselfifwedonottakeforgranted(as"materialist
criticism"sooftendoes)its"scientificity,"ascribingtoitapreordaineddefinitionof
materialsubstancewhichcanprovideanuncontestedbackdropforliteraryand/or
aestheticcriticismalwaysleavesa"remainder,"asetofunresolvedandperhaps
unresolvablequestionsforwhoseanswerswecannotappealtocommonsense.
DespitethepossiblelimitationsofArtaud'smeta/physics,theproperbodyheoffersis
nottheproperbodyofman,butratherabodywhichhemustretrievebydoubling
backbehindtheEnlightenmentconceptionofMan,evenifthismeansconjuringa
significantbodyandassertingthattherearepropertiesinherenttoanaturethat
precedesboththeconceptsofgodandman.

metaphysicalanatomy:animalmachines
1.Artaudengagesinametaphysicalanatomy.Buttheanatomicalimageshethus
constructsdonotpresenttheelementsofanimageofManbutratherasetof"points
oflocalization"atwhichthespectacle,a"machinewhichbreathes,"maytakeholdof
itsspectators,effectingthemmateriallyandimmediately.
Inordertoreforgethechain,thechainofarhythminwhichthespectatorusedto
seehisownrealityinthespectacle,thespectatormustbeallowedtoidentifyhimself
withthespectacle,breathbybreathandbeatbybeat.
Itisnotsufficientforthisspectatortobeenchainedbythemagicoftheplayitwill
notenchainhimifwedonotknowwheretotakeholdofhim.Thereisenough
chancemagic,enoughpoetrywhichhasnosciencetobackitup.
Inthetheater,poetryandsciencemusthenceforthbeidentical.
Everyemotionhasitsorganicbases.Itisbycultivatinghisemotioninhisbodythat
theactorrechargeshisvoltage.
Toknowinadvancewhatpointsofthebodytotouchisthekeytothrowingthe
spectatorintomagicaltrances.Anditisthisinvaluablekindofsciencethatpoetryin
thetheaterhasbeenwithoutforalongtime.
Toknowthepointsoflocalizationinthebodyisthustoreforgethemagicalchain.

Artaudwantstoproduce,betweenspectatorandspectacle,anidentificationthat,if
thiscanbesaid,reachesbeyonditselftoformalinkbetweenspectatorandimage,
annihilatingthedistancebetweenthemandmakingofthemoneentity,oneliving,
breathingbodyconnectedthroughtherhythmsofbreathandheartbeat.Tothe
extentthat,asIhavesuggested,ArtaudneedstoreturntoanEnlightenmentproject
inordertodevelopanewandconcretetheatricallanguageandwemust
rememberthatforArtaud,theaterissynonymouswithlifeitisinordertore
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constituteacorrespondencebetweenphysicalandmetaphysicalanatomies.To
constitutethedoublebodyofsenseas,evenifthisisparadoxical,asinglebody.If
Artaud'sLucretianbodyandhisallegoricalnatureseemmore"archaic"than
Diderot'smirroringtableauxvivants,itisbecausehesearchesfortropesandfigures
whichimagethedisruptionofthescienceofMananditsvisionofapictorial
consciousness,andsubvertthepictorialbiasofempiricism(whoseeffectsArtaud
alwayscontests,undertherubricofwhathecallsthe"surrealistempiricismof
images")toreelaboratetheelusivematrixthatconnects,anddisconnects,"life"and
"representation."Hereturnstothehypotheticalmomentofthe"nightbeforethe
book,""theeveofthebirthoflanguages,"toamomentbeforetheseparationofbody
andsoulwhichisinvokedbyDiderot'sconceptionsoftactilityandresolvedbyhis
tableaux.Itseemsrelevanttonoteherethecoalescenceofempiricisminatheoryof
images,contemporarywithDiderot's.DavidHume,forexample,claimsthat
verisimilitude,andrealityitself,isconstitutedthroughtheimageandparticularly
throughwhathecallsthelivelyorenlivenedimage.Itis,forHume,thedegreeof
"liveliness"ofanimage(asaperception)whichprovidesexperiencewiththebasis
fordistinguishingwhetherthatperceptionisindicativeofpresence(theobjectis
giventoconsciousnesscontemporaneouslywithitsappearanceasperception)or
memory(theobjecthasbeenretrievedfromthepastasamemoryimage.)If,inthis
sense,Humelets"life"inthroughthebackdoorofaphilosophicalsystemthat
pretendstoeschewontologicalconcerns,Artaudwantstorecoverthereallifeofthe
imagethroughitscorporealandtactileencompassingofthespectator,throughthe
spectator'sentranceintothearchitectureoftheimage,andviceversa.InArtaud's
concretetheatricallanguage,thetactileimageisnotusedtomediatebetween
sensationandsignificancebutrathertoproducethemasidenticalevenifthespirit
matterofArtaud's"productiveimages"undergoesvariousmetamorphoses.
2.ThelongpassagequotedaboveprovidesusanopportunitytointerrogateArtaud's
"extremeanddifficultsenseofspectacularrepresentation"foritseemstomakeitself
availableto(atleast)twodifferent,andevenoppositional,interpretations.Artaud
employshereahighlyconventionalvocabulary.Hespeaksofthespectator,the
actor,theplay,identification,reality,theorganic,andscience.Onemightbetempted
toconclude,andthisconclusionwouldnotbewithoutitsjustifications,thatArtaud
appealstoscience,andparticularlytoabiologicalscience,todeterminea"reality"
whichhisspectaclewouldthusrepresent,orpresent.Orleadonetoconclude,as
Derridamight,thatArtaud'sreferencetotheorganicisintheserviceofadesireto
reappropriateaproperbodyofmanwhichexistsnecessarily,andexistsaspriorto,
hisbiologicalorganizationandhisdiscursiveconstitution.Artaud'srejectionof
discourseandofmetaphor,whichleadsDerridatoconcludethatdespitecertain
importantaffinities,Artaudis"notthesonofNietzsche,"iswritlargehere.
Anotherperspectiveis,however,availabletous(andthecompossibilityor
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compositureofthesealternativereadingsmaybepreciselywhatengenders
Derrida'sintenseandintenselyambivalentrelationtoArtaud).Thisalternative
interpretationisdependentonwhatwewanttomakeofArtaud'sappealto"science":
"Inthetheater,"hewrites,"poetryandsciencemusthenceforthbeidentical."This
question,thatis,whattomakeofArtaud'sscience,hismetaphysicsofphysicsand
physicsofmetaphysics,hasoriented(iffrombelowitssurface)myinterrogationof
Artaud'sspectacle.Thedirectionmyargumenttakeshingesonwhetherscience,as
Artaudframesithere,precedesanddictateshispoetryorwhether,onthecontrary,it
isArtaud'spoetrywhichdictates,orproduces,hisscience.Inhisgroundbreaking
study,ToyMedium:MaterialismandModernLyric,DanielTiffanyexploresthe
productiveexchangesbetweenlyricpoetryandscientificmaterialism.Hearguesthat
thetropesandfiguresthathaveconstitutedscientificmaterialism,whichhave
produceditbymakingavailablethepossibilityofimagingthehistoricallyinvisible
realmofmaterialsubstance(beginningwiththeatominthephilosophyofantiquity)
havebeendrawnfromlyricpoetry,froma"lyricsubstance."Oneneedstoposea
similarquestioninreferencetothecorpusofArtaud:IsitArtaud'spoetics,and
particularlyhisspectacularpoetics,thatconstitutewhathereferstoas"theorganic"
and"science"?Anaffirmativeanswerisjustifiedwithreferencetonumerousaspects
ofArtaud'sformulationsofbodyandspectacle.Artaud,whocastshisnetwideinto
allegoryandsignificantnatureandinto"therepresseddebatesonthescienceofthe
soul"whichwereplayedoutin"the[medieval]dramasstagedontheparvis"infact
produceshisproperbodyasandthroughthesubstanceofhisspectacle.
WhattheramificationsofthismightbeformaterialismassuchIcannotexplorehere.
Butthepassageabove,inparticular,illuminatesthemannerinwhichArtaud's
spectacleconstituteshisorganicandcorporealscience.Artaudattemptstoproduce,
inhisTheaterofCruelty,anewmatrixoflifeandrepresentation:to"reforgethe
magicalchain"sothespectatormaysee"hisownrealityinthespectacle.His
spectaculartactics,aswehaveseen,arediverseheinvokesallegoricalemblems,
hieroglyphiccharacters,vibration,electricity,massage,machines,andsnakes.He
alsoinvokessynesthesia,sensoryderangementswhichviolatethebarriers
separatingthefivesensesandthemediathatspeaktotheminorderto
constitutethespectatorasa"puresensibility."Thespectator"seeshisownrealityin
thespectacle"through"thechainofarhythm."Visionoperatesnotonlybywayof
theeyesbutalsothroughauditionitspulsesdrawthebodyintoan"identification,"or
rather,anidentity:spectatorandspectacleareasinglecorpus,orapparatus,
operating"breathbybreathandbeatbybeat."Inorderto"takeholdof"thespectator
onemustknowthespecial"pointsoflocalizationinthebody"whosestimulationwill
produce"magicaltrances."ButArtaud'snotionofthe"organic"iscomplex,andthe
body,orthiscollectionofpoints,isdescribedasanapparatusofelectricalcircuits:
"Everyemotionhasitsorganicbases.Itisbycultivatinghisemotioninhisbodythat
theactorrechargeshisvoltage."Theimage,Artaudsayselsewhere,is"amachine
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thatbreathes."OnedoesnotwanttoreadArtaud'smachinicimagestooliterally.
Artaud,equally,imaginesanaudienceofsnakes.Wecansee,however,how
Artaud'stropesandfigures,andthevariousengineswithwhichheanimatesthe
theater,pushtheindividualbodyandthespectacularbodypastaproperbodyof
man,referringrepresentationbeyondthehuman.

NOTES
1Derrida."ArtaudtheMoma:InterjectionsofAppeal."Englishtextoflecture,trans.Peggy
Kamuf,p.7.
2Ibid..
3Ibid.,pp.78.
4Ibid.,p.7.
5JacquesDerrida."Laparolesouffle"and"TheTheaterofCrueltyandtheClosureof
Representation"inWritingandDifference,trans.andintro.AlanBass(Chicago:Universityof
ChicagoPress,1978).
6SusanSontag.IntroductiontoAntoninArtaud:SelectedWritings(BerkeleyandLosAngeles:
UniversityofCaliforniaPress,1988),p.xli.
7"Parole,"p.195.
8Ibid.,p.232.
9"Closure,"p.232.
10"Parole,"p.175.
11"Ibid.,pp.17475.
12"Parole,"p.175.
13Ibid.,p.178.
14"MetaphysicsandtheMiseenScne,"inTheTheaterandItsDouble,trans.MaryCaroline
Richards(NewYork:GrovePress,1958),p.41.AllfuturecitationsofArtaudaredrawnfrom
thiswork,exceptwhereotherwisenoted.
15"Parole,"p.179.
16"Preface:TheTheaterandCulture,"p.13.
17"MetaphysicsandtheMiseenScne,"p.41.
18"Parole,"p.186.
19"TheAlchemicalTheater,"p.52.
20"TheAlfredJarryTheater,"inSelectedWritings,p.155.
21"LettersonLanguage,"pp.11011.
22FriedrichNietzsche.TheBirthofTragedyandTheCaseofWagner,trans.WalterKauffman
(NewYork:RandomHouse,1967),
23"Thisisthenewopposition:theDionysianandtheSocraticandGreektragedywas
wreckedonthis."Tragedy,Section12,p.82.
24"LikePlato,Euripedesundertooktoshowtheworldthereverseofthe'unintelligent'poethis
aestheticprinciplethat'tobebeautifuleverythingmustbeconscious'is,asIhavesaid,the
paralleltotheSocratic,"tobegoodeverythingmustbeconscious."Ibid.,p.86.
25"Closure,"p.238.
26"TheTheaterofCruelty(SecondManifesto),"p.124.
27"NoMoreMasterpieces,"p.81.
28"OntheBalineseTheater,"pp.6061.
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29"TheTheaterofCruelty(FirstManifesto),"p.94.
30"MetaphysicsandtheMiseenScne,"p.46.
31DenisDiderot."Lettresurlessourdsetmuets,"inOeuvrescompletes,TomeIV(Paris,
Hermann,1978),pp.129231.Inneitherthissection,norintheonefollowing,inwhichIdiscuss
Diderotinsomedetail,amIabletogiveattentiontothesubtletiesofhisthinking.Diderot
comesintoplaythereonlywherehistheoriesofthevisualareessentiallydifferentfrom
Artaud's.
32Iamindebtedtothefollowingtwoarticlesfortheiranalysesofhistoricalinterpretationsof
hieroglyphs:WilliamKeach,"Poetry,after1740,"and"Primitivism,"MaximillianE.Novak(esp.
pp.46469)inTheCambridgeHistoryofLiteraryCriticism,Volume4:TheEighteenthCentury,
ed.H.B.NisbetandClaudeRawson(CambridgeandNewYork:CambridgeUniversityPress,
1997.)
33Somewhatsurprisingly,ArtaudlinksthebourgeoisdramawithRacine,despitethefactthat
Diderotisknownforhavingnamedanddevelopedthegenre."Themisdeedsofthe
psychologicaltheaterdescendedfromRacinehaveunaccustomedustothatimmediateand
violentactionwhichthetheatershouldpossess.""TheTheaterandCruelty,"p.84.
34FortheseobservationsIamindebtedtoGeoffreyBremner'sargumentinOrderandChance:
ThePatternofDiderot'sThought(Cambridge,LondonandNewYork:CambridgeUniversity
Press,1983).
35DenisDiderot."D'Alembert'sDream,"inDiderot'sSelectedWritings,intro.LesterG.
Crocker,trans.DerekColtman(NewYorkandLondon:TheMacmillanCompany,1966),p.195.
36AsMartinJaysuggestsinDowncastEyes,"howeverocularcentrictheEnlightenmentin
generalmayhavebeen,atleastonephilosophe,[Diderot],...expresseddoubtsaboutits
privilegingofsight."Andashealsonotes,Diderottheorizedallthesenses,sightincluded,
throughthecommonparadigmoftouch.DowncastEyes:TheDenigrationofVisioninTwentieth
CenturyFrenchThought(Berkeley,LosAngelesandLondon:UniversityofCaliforniaPress,
1994),pp.1012.Allmatter,Diderotasserts,issentient,anditisthestructureofmatterwhich
constitutesthissentienceaseitherpassive,asin,forexample,themarbleofastatue,oractive,
asishumanflesh.Whathecallsthe"bundleofthreads"whichconstitutesthehumanorganism,
is"transformed,bynutritionanditsownconformationalone,intoorganswithparticularsense
functions."Touch,heasserts,isthe"primaryproperty"ofsentientmatter,"butthatpureand
simplesentience,thatsenseoftouch,isdiversifiedbythevariousorgansthatareproducedby
eachofthefibers."Taste,smell,hearingandsightarethusallspeciesofthetactile.The
formationofabundleoffibersintoaneye,Diderotwrites,"givesrisetoa...kindoftouch,which
wecallcolor.""D'Alembert'sDream,"p.201.Diderot'sprivilegingofthepictorialinhistheoryof
thetableauishisdefenseagainsttheramificationsoftherelationshiphepositsbetweentactility
andsentientmatter.
37"D'Alembert'sDream,"p.186.
38Ibid.,p.188.
39Ibid.,pp.2089.
40"Legeste,"Diderotwrites,"doits'criresouventlaplacedudiscours."DenisDiderot."De
laposiedramatique,"inOeuvresesthtiques(Paris:ClassiquesGarnier,1994),p.269.
41QuotedfromMichaelFried.AbsorptionandTheatricality:PaintingandBeholderintheAge
ofDiderot(ChicagoandLondon:UniversityofChicagoPress,1980),p.95.
42"Soitdoncquevouscomposiez,soitquevousjouiez,nepenseznonplusauspectateurque
s'iln'existaitpas.Imaginez,surlebordduthtre,ungrandmurquivousspareduparterre
jouezcommesilatoileneselevaitpas.""Posie,"p.231.
43Fried,p.104.
44ThethrustofFried'sargumenthereissomewhatdifferentfrom,althoughnotantitheticalto,
myown.Hearguesthat,forDiderot,theatricalizationproduces"estrangementanddislocation"
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whilethedetheatricalizationofthe"objectbeholderrelationship"produces"absorption,
sympathy,selftranscendence."Ibid.
45L'imaginationestlafacultdeserappelerdesimages....Lorsquelarapiditdela
conversationentraneceluici,etneluilaissepasletempsdedescendredesmotsauximages,
quefaitilautrechose,sicen'estdeserappelerdessonsetdelesproduirecombinsdansun
certainordre?Ocombienl'hommequipenseleplusestencoreautomate!
Maisquelestlemomentoilcessed'exercersammoire,etoilcommenceaappliquerson
imagination?C'estceluio,dequestionsenquestions,vousleforcezd'imaginerc'estdire
depasserdesonsabstraitsetgnrauxdessonsmoinsabstraitetmoinsgnraux,jusqu'
cequ'ilsoitarrivquelqereprsentationsensible,lederniertermeetlereposderaison?
Alors,quedevientil?Peintreoupoete."Posie,"p.218.
46Diderotprescribesmoralsubjectmatterforhistableaux.Heinsists,forexample,thatthe
tableauofanoldblindcouple,stillseekingeachothershands,andcaressingoneanothereven
intheirfeebleness,willholdmoreinterestforspectatorsthanallpossiblepicturesofvice,of
parricide,ofseduction,ofdeceit.Whilehisconceptionoftherelationshipbetweenartand
moralityismorecomplicatedinhisdescriptiveanalysesthanthisexampleshows,his
prescriptionsforhowthetableaushouldinstillmoralvirtueintotheirspectatorsoftentakethis
form."L'honnte,l'honnte.Ilnoustouched'unemanireplusintimeetplusdoucequecequi
excitenotremprisetnosris.""Posie,"p.195.
47Artaud'scritiqueofpsychologyisalmostadirectresponsetotheepistemologicalandsocial
ramificationsofDiderot'suseofthetheatricaltableau:"Psychology,whichworksrelentlesslyto
reducetheunknowntotheknown...isthecauseoftheater'sabasement....Ithinkboththe
theaterandweourselveshavehadenoughofpsychology.""NoMoreMasterpieces,"p.77.
48"Preface:TheTheaterandCulture,"p.7.
49Ibid.,pp.9495
50"TheAlchemicalTheater,"p.52.
51"OrientalandOccidentalTheater,"p.71.
52Artaud."ButwhatIamdrawing/.isamachinethathasbreath.""TenYearsSinceLanguage
Left."QuotedbyDerridain"Moma,"p.30.
53"AnAffectiveAthleticism,"p.140.
54Cf.Derrida'sdiscussionof"theeveoftheoriginoflanguages,as,amongotherthings,the
siteofa"dialoguebetweentheologyandhumanismwhoseinextinguishablerecurrencehas
nevernotbeenmaintainedbytheMetaphysicsofWesternTheater.""Closure,"p.240.
55Thisconceptionoftherelative"vivacityofideas"appearsthroughoutHume'swork.Fora
particularlystraightforwardaccountofitseffects,cf.DavidHume.ATreatiseofHumanNature.
ThePhilosophicalWorks,ed.ThomasHillGreenandThomasHodgeGrose(Darmstadt,
Germany:ScientiaVerlagAalen,1964),Sect.VII,pp.54449.Cf.also,foradiscussionof
Hume's"vivacityofideas":WayneWaxman.Hume'stheoryofconsciousness(Cambridge:
CambridgeUniversityPress,1994).
56"Parole,"p.185.
57DanielTiffany.ToyMedium:MaterialismandModernLyric(BerkeleyandLosAngeles:
UniversityofCaliforniaPress,2000).
58Thatis,inthedramaoftheresurrectionplayed,eachEaster,onthechurchporch.
59Inthissense,oneneedstoresistGillesDeleuzeandFlixGuattari'sappropriationof
Artaud'sBodyWithoutOrgansfortheirtheoryof"abstractmachines"and"desiringmachines."
Cf.esp."ChapterOne:DesiringMachines"inAntiOedipus:CapitalismandSchizophrenia
(Minneapolis:UniversityofMinnesotaPress,1983)and"November28,1947:HowDoYou
MakeYourselfaBodyWithoutOrgans"inAThousandPlateaus:CapitalismandSchizophrenia,
trans.BrianMassumi(Minneapolis:UniversityofMinnesotaPress,1987).

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