Antonin Artaud was a playwright, actor, poet, director, and theorist of the dramatic arts. Artaud experienced a number of psychotic episodes at the age of 41, and went on to spend about 15 of his 52 years in psychiatric institutions. Despite his mental and physical afflictions (hereditary syphilis, meningitis, chronic headaches), Artaud was nevertheless incredibly productive in his creative and theoretical work. Below is a poem created by Artaud whilst in a psychiatric asylum. It is at moments rather crude—this seems only a natural consequence, however, given the context and experience which it is reflective of.
A work like this demonstrates the creative impulse exercising its utility in aiding one to cope and to articulate their psychological experiences.
There is a Hole in things
that resists classification
and cannot be understood in the terms
that explain it
resists being determined
and cannot be understood as part of a system.
which sodomizes it from behind.
and yet they continue to provoke Artaud.
worth the blood from a dirty needle
is just this stink
from the anus of a God
who is against Life.
getting too close,
don’t need to be surprised or astonished.
of my vital substance by spectral intelligences
that resist being nailed down,
which let loose a battalion of craven ghosts
just filthy lucre
and that’s nothing new.
and then closes for good.
It’s just too much when you get that near
the rim of the pit,
food for angels.
I rage against the obscenity of God
whose pure spirit is the light of Satan.
– Antonin Artaud