From Book 1: Language

Suddenly his lids closed and his head fell peacefully against the chair and remained there. His breathing stretched, settling into a steady rhythm. I waited but he didn’t speak again. Like a sage he sat there, hands folded, lips pushed aside a bit from the pressure of the cushion on his cheek, his legs stillContinue reading “From Book 1: Language”

From Book 3: Gaston Ferdière

As soon as he was settled, Desnos invited Justine and me to his new, shabby flat near the Boulevard Montparnasse for a dinner party with Artaud and Louis and a new acquaintance, a medical student named Gaston Ferdière. After only a few minutes of speaking with this Ferdière, I decided that he was the mostContinue reading “From Book 3: Gaston Ferdière”

From Book 2: Breton’s Speech

We were crossing a long, grassy mall toward a soot-darkened stone edifice, very square and squat, with dull beige tracery. A dilapidated iron balcony in a recessed alcove overlooked the long rows of steps to the entrance, where two huge oak doors were propped open. I swore when I saw Youki Foujita disengage herself fromContinue reading “From Book 2: Breton’s Speech”

From Book 2: The Sex Discussions

Author’s note: What Antonin Artaud had to say about sexuality can raise the hair on your neck and it did mine, at first – but you have to dig deeper to understand that the mania-catatonia that dogged him all his life extended into his sex life in the form of swings between uncontrollable erections andContinue reading “From Book 2: The Sex Discussions”

From Book 2: Waking Dream

            Suddenly, Desnos reappeared. “Hey, everyone,” he interjected, in a snotty tone of false enthusiasm. He gave me a shriveling look. He was so unforgiving! Angered now, I slumped in my chair, shaking my head at him. “Let’s revive an old Surrealist tradition. In honor of our uninitiated guests.” His glare was definitely for me.Continue reading “From Book 2: Waking Dream”

From Book 2: L’Étoile de Mer

Author’s note: My protagonist, yoked to a six-pointed starfish, changes the histories of real people’s lives by entering them, bringing with him the spectre of Fantômas and the possibility of love. Therefore his perception of Desnos’s film is his own. “Let it go, Geoffrey,” Desnos repeated. “Lay low for a couple of weeks.”             “You’reContinue reading “From Book 2: L’Étoile de Mer”

From Book 2: Desnos, the Select, and Theatre Alfred Jarry

Author’s note: I have long been frustrated with misinterpretations of Artaud merely as “mad,” a cold person, and a failure. Like Martin Esslin correcting the Beats’ version of Artaud, Kimberly Jannarone unearths the powerful admiration Artaud’s friends and colleagues had for him and I am grateful to her for restoring the Theatre Alfred Jarry toContinue reading “From Book 2: Desnos, the Select, and Theatre Alfred Jarry”

From Book 3: Hazing

While working one day at my desk, which was separated from the bank lobby only by a partition, I looked up suddenly into the grinning, absurd face of Benjamin Péret. “Kind sir,” he oozed from that wide mouth of his while Breton hung back to laugh at me, “the authorities have decreed that every bankContinue reading “From Book 3: Hazing”

From Book 3: Lise Deharme

This is the night of Balthus’s suicide attempt. Previous scene here. “Desnos really wants to get Artaud into radio,” Deharme said gently to me as the car pulled forward, guided by our faceless driver. “Artaud has a great voice for it; his portrayal of Fantômas was unforgettable! I’ve appreciated working with him. It’s a pityContinue reading “From Book 3: Lise Deharme”

From Book 3: A Tragic Misdiagnosis

Author’s note: In adolescence Artaud was diagnosed with hereditary syphilis. He denied this and I doubt he had it. However, Artaud sought out doctors for various cures that may have done him even more damage. This paper describes the consequences of a tragic misdiagnosis.             At last I convinced Artaud to see my own doctor,Continue reading “From Book 3: A Tragic Misdiagnosis”