the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

reed on artaud and abjection

Posted by rigorousm on February 5, 2015

Futurism and Burroughs … help[ed] to pain the world that industrial music sees as its inheritance; Artaud helps us to see how the genre communicates this worldview to others. Futurism avails new artistic frameworks through technology, culminating (for the genre’s purposes) with Russolo’s technophilic noise-as-music, and the techno-paranoid Burroughs provides the cut-up logic as a means to disrupt the all-surrounding, invisible control machines; for his part, Artaud empowers an aesthetic means of shock, calls on the grotesquery of the gothic, demands the bodily, and implements all this in a political framework. (P 168-9)

By focusing on what audiences keep internal but don’t recognize themselves, Artaud calls on everything a person dares not admit to thinking or secretly enjoying:”the truthful precipitates of dreams, in which his taste for crime, his erotic obsessions,his savagery, his chimeras, his utopian sense of life and matter, even his cannibalism.” … Rather than focus on semantic clarity, the Theater of Cruelty’s tools are instead “Cries, groans, apparitions, surprises, theatricalities of all kinds, magic beauty of costumes taken from certain ritual models; resplendent lighting… concrete appearances of new and surprising objects, masks, effigies yards high….” … Artaud frames much of his manifesto with the desire to restore the power of theater so that it might forcibly pull viewers out of themselves by denying the decorum that differentiates private thought and behavior from public, by silencing the language that reduces inner experienceto mere words, by alienating these audiences through summoning the otherworldly, and by upsetting their physical comfort with sound’s tactility. This invasiveness, despite exstasy as a possible goal, is the cruelty in Artaud’s theater. He points out the numbness of common audiences when he writes, “Without an element of cruelty at the root of every spectacle, the theater is not possible. In our present state of degeneration it is through the skin that metaphysics must be made to re-enter our minds.” (169-171)

…abjection is a response to the realization that a peaceful and primordial kind of meaning—one of a unified, fully knowable world-womb—is necessarily unrecoverable, severed at birth as a precondition of being. … abjection strives for an Artaudian rebirth into a new flesh uninterrupted by the real world and untouched by that most fundamental logic, the subject-object division. Abjection is a gross attempt to counteract the inescapability of the control machines. It rages against the irreconcilability of the exterior with the interior. And because abjection seeks to erase the borders between the inside and outside of bodies and objects, it shows up in human art and action as willful bleeding, vomit, and excretion. By refusing bodily order and behavioral rationality, abjection is a model for rejecting the fact that any experience of worldly meaning begins with an act of differentiating. (P 177-8)

— S. Alexander Reed, Assimilate: a critical history of industrial music.


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