Deleuze, Artaud – thought without image

Artaud said that the problem (for him) was not to orientate his thought, or to perfect the expression of what he thought, or to acquire application and method or to perfect his poems, but simply to manage to think something. For him, this was the only conceivable ‘work’: it presupposes an impulse, a compulsion to think which passes through all sorts of bifurcations, spreading from the nerves and being communicated to the soul in order to arrive at thought. Henceforth, thought is also forced to think its central collapse, its fracture, its own natural ‘powerlessness’ which is indistinguishable from the greatest power – in other words, from those unformulated forces, the cogitanda, as though from so many thefts or trespasses in thought. Artaud pursues in all this the terrible revelation of a thought without image, and the conquest of a new principle which does not allow itself to be represented. … He knows that thinking is not innate, but must be engendered in thought. He knows that the problem is not to direct or methodically apply a thought which preexists in principle and in nature, but to bring into being that which does not yet exist (there is no other work, all the rest is arbitrary, mere decoration). To think is to create – there is no other creation – but to create is first of all to engender ‘thinking’ in thought. For this reason Artaud opposes genitality to innateness in thought, but equally to reminiscence, and thereby proposes the principle of a transcendental empiricism:

“I am innately genital. … There are some fools who think of themselves as beings, as innately being. I am he who, in order to be, must whip his innateness. One who innately must be a being, that is always whipping this sort of non-existent kennel, O bitches of impossibility! … Underneath grammar there lies thought, an infamy harder to conquer, an infinitely more shrewdish maid, rougher to overcome when taken as an innate fact. For thought is a matron who has not always existed.”

It is not a question of opposing to the dogmatic image of thought another image borrowed, for example, from schizophrenia, but rather of remembering that schizophrenia is not only a human fact but also a possibility for thought – one, moreover, which can only be revealed as such can through the abolition of that image.

 – Gilles Deleuze, Difference & Repetition, pg. 147-148

Anselm Kiefer - 'Antonin Artaud Heliogabalus' - 2010-2011

Anselm Kiefer – ‘Antonin Artaud Heliogabalus’ – 2010-2011

About Michael Johnson

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