Mean Week is This Week What Does that Mean
The whole literary scene is a pigpen, especially this one.
All those who have vantage points in their spirit, I mean, on some side or other of their heads and in a few strictly localized brain areas; all those who are masters of their language; all those for whom words have a meaning; all those who are the spirit of the times, and have named these currents of thoughts — and I am thinking of their precise works, of that automatic grinding that delivers their spirit to the winds —
Those for whom certain words have a meaning, and certain manners of being; those who are so fussy; those for whom emotions are classifiable, and who quibble over some degree or other of their hilarious classifications; those who still believe in ‘terms’; those who brandish whatever ideologies belong to the hierarchy of the times; those about whom women talk so well, and also those women who talk so well, who talk of the contemporary currents of thought; those who still believe in some orientation of the spirit; those who follow paths, who drop names, who fill books with screaming headlines,
are the worst kind of pigs.
And you are quite aimless, young man!
No, I am thinking of bearded critics.
And I told you so: no works of art, no language, no word, no
Nothing; unless maybe a fine Brain-Storm.
A sort of incomprehensible and totally erect stance in the midst of
everything in the mind.
And don’t expect me to tell you what all this is called, and how
many parts it can be divided into; don’t expect me to tell you in
weight; or to get back in step and start discussing all this so that by
discussing I may get lost myself and even, without even realizing it,
start THINKING. And don’t expect this thing to be illuminated and
live and deck itself out in a multitude of words, all neatly polished as
to meaning, very diverse, and capable of throwing light on all the attitudes
and all the nuances of a very sensitive and penetrating mind.
Ah, these states which have no name, these sublime situations of the
soul, ah these intervals of wit, these minuscule failures which are the
daily bread of my hours, these people swarming with data… they
are always the same old words I’m using, and really I don’t seem to
make much headway in my thoughts, but I am really making more
headway than you, you beard-asses, you pertinent pigs, you masters
of fake verbiage, confectioners of portraits, pamphleteers, ground-floor
lace-curtain herb collectors, entomologists, plague of my tongue.
I told you so, I no longer have the gift of tongue. But this is no
reason you should persist and stubbornly insist on opening your mouths.
Look, I will be understood ten years from now by the people who
then will do what you are doing now. Then my geysers will be recognized,
my glaciers will be seen, the secret of diluting my poisons will
have been learnt, the plays of my soul will be deciphered.
Then all my hair, all my mental veins will have been drained in,
quicklime; then my bestiary will have been noticed, and my mystique
become a hat. Then the joints of stones will be seen smoking, arborescent
bouquets of mind’s eyes will crystallize in glossaries, stone aeroliths will fall,
lines will be seen and the geometry of the void understood:
people will lean what the configuration of the mind is, and
they will understand how I lost my mind.
They will then understand why my mind is not all here; then they
will see all languages go dry, all minds parched, all tongues shrivelled up,
the human face flattened out, deflated as if sucked up by shriveling leeches.
And this lubricating membrane will go on floating in the
air, this caustic lubricating membrane, this double membrane
of multiple degrees and a million little fissures, this melancholic and vitreous membrane,
but so sensitive and also pertinent, so capable of multiplying,
splitting apart, turning inside out with its glistening little cracks,
in its dimensions, its narcotic highs, its penetrating and toxic injections,
all this then will be found to be all right,
and I will have no longer further need to speak.
— Antonin Artaud, (circa 1924 – 1937)
Translated by David Rattray