(a poem from The Eyes of a Man)
Since I began to read him again, I have the humour of an assassin. No other writer makes my blood boil with fever, sending dark looks of silver steel through the brains of ordinary lambs. I am afar on the rafts of invective. I have loosened the final knot of inhibition. He is pulling me. Rest assured I must come back. His country is parched and pale like ours. His black sun shines and brings the desert in an instant. There are snakes too rustling through the fires. His stars at night are paintings. His moon and its eclipse call to us. They are poetry. All I need do is open my lips to the cool northern wind. He is calling me again. All these years hence. His suffering like a second skin. I say to myself: thank goodness they refused his poems! Thank goodness they told him he couldn’t write! Thank the Lord they said he couldn’t think!
You come asking for me. You come looking for me. You come touching my skin. You come asking me questions I cannot answer. You come looking for me when I am not here at all. You come feeling with your hands when I have lost all attributions. You come seeking one who has taken flight.
It is in the little things that love grows. In the smiles that pitch happiness on a wall. In the sentences we write on napkins and tablecloths. In the songs we invent at midnight for the sole echo of a star’s approbation. In the kisses a newborn blows through his laughter at dawn.
Power had no hold upon him, still less the medicine he loathed and its paltry knowledge of the body’s capacity. The doctors didn’t understand a word he was saying because they never listened. They just consulted books and compared pictures. They diagnosed him with a thousand ills but the deep pounding passion in his body, the miraculous feed of paints and lines and sounds, this, they could never diagnose. They claimed it was some excrescence of a rotten organ. They could not imagine that he had been robbed of his beauty, that he had been extracted from his true being and dumped into a rotten, senile world. They could not see the poetry in his hatred. They had studied hard but could not read. They had studied too hard and become short sighted and hard of hearing. They had learnt to count and read graphs but forgot to look for beauty. In fact the world of beauty closed itself off to them and Artaud with. Nor did they ( didn’t) know how to laugh. They could not see how ludicrous they were, these jailors of the soul. They had no training in how to give birth to their tiresome mothers or how to invert maternal and grand-maternal influence into laughter. How then could you expect this apprentice sorcerer, Artaud le Momo, to trust them?
He could howl and bite all he liked, there was no contest. The white coats outnumbered him. As they encircled him with their organ measuring brains, they had everything but he had nothing. They stripped him of all he had down to his very mind, till he had no mind left. They left him there with oceanic breath shouting in his veins. And all the spells his avenging mind could concoct to keep the psychos at bay proved in vain.
How many exercises must one learn to protect oneself from this putrid stinking disease called society? Life as they call it being a form of contagious bug , no reasonable free soul would ever wish to be pushed into - nor death, for that matter, which they use as a means of keeping the mass in tow.
You come again and again and I hug your every breath with hope. You must keep looking until you find me. You must not give up. I am not far away. I do not care to swim away to sea. I prefer the rocks and the bushes, the fig trees and the olives, the cactuses and the lizards, these ancient stones where the Greeks sat. I am sorry I do not like pets. I do not like cats nor dogs. I have no sympathy for tears. I prefer to follow the snakes across the rocky plains. I prefer to sit in the Mediterranean bush and inhale pungent aromas. I may seem angry. I may glare into the open spaces but I am on a journey, way out there, with the greatest poet. I am in the land of the Tarahumara.
He believed ferociously, and how great his disappointment must have been to see the traitors and the pariahs, the liars and the cheats ruin his every initiative – their derisory scorn, hand in hand with their medicine. Lets give him the treatment, they intone. We’ll teach him the straight and narrow, they declare. The asylum gates slammed shut. Nine long years of electro-shock treatment in the stench of mad folks’ faeces, drinking down his inmate’s piss, his body slowly eaten away, his bones bashed, his teeth eroded, his anus devoured by cancer.
And still the indomitable breath of words came, and still he wrote, and still he strived for beauty, and still he recited his heart’s hopes and collected his thoughts in volumes of infinite ledgers. Saint Antonin of Parigi, Turkish Gypsy from the middle ages, father of your grand mothers, fearless son from beyond the history of names, lend us some light, strike up some hope from the dark caves, make us laugh again, make us roll around on the floor in stitches,
teach us to love again, teach us to see again, teach us to breathe again.
I am coming back now with fire in my lungs. I am running on the rocks overlooking the Adriatic seas from Albania. I have been away a long time I know but I have poems in my pockets. I have figs and I have fennel. I have the scent of thyme and the taste of wild rosemary on my lips. I have my hands stained with black olive. I have convinced the stars to expand the principles of mystery. I have been running for days. I have been sleeping under black night. I have mated with freedom.
I am waiting for you.
You are the gift.