Quotations From ANTONIN ARTAUD


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  • There is in every madman a misunderstood genius whose idea, shining in his head, frightened people, and for whom delirium was the only solution to the strangulation that life had prepared for him.
    Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), French theater producer, actor, theorist. repr. in Selected Writings, pt. 33, ed. Susan Sontag (1976). Van Gogh, the Man Suicided by Society (1947).

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  • But how is one to make a scientist understand that there is something unalterably deranged about differential calculus, quantum theory, or the obscene and so inanely liturgical ordeals of the precession of the equinoxes.
    Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), French theater producer, actor, theorist. repr. in Selected Writings, pt. 33, ed. Susan Sontag (1976). Van Gogh, the Man Suicided by Society (1947).
  • Written poetry is worth reading once, and then should be destroyed. Let the dead poets make way for others. Then we might even come to see that it is our veneration for what has already been created, however beautiful and valid it may be, that petrifies us.
    Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), French theater producer, actor, theorist. The Theater and Its Double, ch. 6 (1938, trans. 1958).

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  • With society and its public, there is no longer any other language than that of bombs, barricades, and all that follows.
    Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), French theater producer, actor, theorist. Le Monde (Paris, Sept. 11, 1970). Quoted in Writers and Revolution, ch. 15, Renee Weingarten (1974). Remark to André Breton.
  • Tragedy on the stage is no longer enough for me, I shall bring it into my own life.
    Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), French theater producer, actor, theorist. quoted in the memoirs of Jean-Louis Barrault, "The Grenier des Grands-Augustins," pt. 2, Memories for Tomorrow (1972, trans. 1974).

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  • Ah! How neatly tied, in these people, is the umbilical cord of morality! Since they left their mothers they have never sinned, have they? They are apostles, they are the descendants of priests; one can only wonder from what source they draw their indignation, and above all how much they have pocketed to do this, and in any case what it has done for them.
    Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), French theatre producer, actor, theorist. repr. in Selected Writings, pt. 10, ed. Susan Sontag (1976). General Security: The Liquidation of Opium (1925).

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  • Hell is of this world and there are men who are unhappy escapees from hell, escapees destined ETERNALLY to reenact their escape.
    Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), French theater producer, actor, theorist. repr. in Selected Writings, pt. 10, ed. Susan Sontag (1976). General Security: The Liquidation of Opium (1925).

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  • If I commit suicide, it will not be to destroy myself but to put myself back together again. Suicide will be for me only one means of violently reconquering myself, of brutally invading my being, of anticipating the unpredictable approaches of God. By suicide, I reintroduce my design in nature, I shall for the first time give things the shape of my will.
    Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), French theater producer, actor, theorist. repr. In Artaud Anthology, ed. Jack Hirschman (1965). "On Suicide," no. 1, Le Disque Vert (Paris, 1925).

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  • So long as we have failed to eliminate any of the causes of human despair, we do not have the right to try to eliminate those means by which man tries to cleanse himself of despair.
    Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), French theater producer, actor, theorist. repr. in Selected Writings, pt. 10, ed. Susan Sontag (1976). General Security: The Liquidation of Opium (1925). Arguing for the free use of opium.

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  • Never tire yourself more than necessary, even if you have to found a culture on the fatigue of your bones.
    Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), French theater producer, actor, theorist. repr. in Selected Writings, pt. 36, Indian Culture and Here Lies, ed. Susan Sontag (1976). Ci-Gît (1947).

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