Surrealism-Plays is a site devoted to the history and creative works of the Surrealist Movement, as well as the anti-tradition of avant-garde theatre.



by Antonin Artaud

Antonin Artaud

Note: Having spent much of his final years in various mental asylums, Artaud resurfaced in 1947 with a radio play To Have Done With the Judgment of god. Although the work remained true to his Theatre of Cruelty, utilizing an array of unsettling sounds, cries, screams and grunts, it was shelved by French Radio the day before it was scheduled to air, on February 2, 1948. Artaud died one month later.

kré puc te
kré Everything must puk te
pek be arranged li le
kré to a hair pek ti le
e in a fulminating kruk
pte order.

I learned yesterday
(I must be behind the times, or perhaps it's only a false
rumor, one of those pieces of spiteful gossip that are circulated between sink and latrine at the hour when meals that have been ingurgitated one more time are thrown in the slop buckets),
I learned yesterday
one of the most sensational of those official practices of American public schools
which no doubt account for the fact that this country believes itself to be in the vanguard of progress,
It seems that, among the examinations or tests required of a child entering public school for the first time, there is the so-called seminal fluid or sperm test,
which consists of asking this newly entering child for a small
amount of his sperm so it can be placed in a jar
and kept ready for any attempts at artificial insemination that might later take place.
For Americans are finding more and more that they lack muscle
and children,
that is, not workers
but soldiers,
and they want at all costs and by every possible means to make and manufacture soldiers
with a view to all the planetary wars which might later take place,
and which would be intended to demonstrate by the over-whelming virtues of force
the superiority of American products,
and the fruits of American sweat in all fields of activity and of the superiority of the possible dynamism of force.
Because one must produce,
one must by all possible means of activity replace nature
wherever it can be replaced,
one must find a major field of action for human inertia,
the worker must have something to keep him busy,
new fields of activity must be created,
in which we shall see at last the reign of all the fake manufactured products,
of all the vile synthetic substitutes
in which beatiful real nature has no part,
and must give way finally and shamefully before all the victorious substitute products
in which the sperm of all artificial insemination factories
will make a miracle
in order to produce armies and battleships.
No more fruit, no more trees, no more vegetables, no more plants pharmaceutical or otherwise and consequently no more food,
but synthetic products to satiety,
amid the fumes,
amid the special humors of the atmosphere, on the particular axes of atmospheres wrenched violently and synthetically from the resistances of a nature which has known nothing of war except fear.
And war is wonderful, isn't it?
For it's war, isn't it, that the Americans have been preparing for and are preparing for this way step by step.
In order to defend this senseless manufacture from all competition that could not fail to arise on all sides,
one must have soldiers, armies, airplanes, battleships,
hence this sperm
which it seems the governments of America have had the effrontery to think of.
For we have more than one enemy lying in wait for us,
my son,
we, the born capitalists,
and among these enemies
Stalin's Russia
which also doesn't lack armed men.

All this is very well,
but I didn't know the Americans were such a warlike people.
In order to fight one must get shot at
and although I have seen many Americans at war
they always had huge armies of tanks, airplanes, battleships
that served as their shield.
I have seen machines fighting a lot
but only infinitely far behind them have I seen the men who directed them.
Rather than people who feed their horses, cattle, and mules the last tons of real morphine they have left and replace it with substitutes made of smoke,
I prefer the people who eat off the bare earth the delirium from which they were born
I mean the Tarahumara eating Peyote off the ground
while they are born,
and who kill the sun to establish the kingdom of black night,
and who smash the cross so that the spaces of spaces can never again meet and cross.

And so you are going to hear the dance of TUTUGURI.


The Rite of the Black Sun

And below, as if at the foot of the bitter slope,
cruelly despairing at the heart,
gapes the circle of the six crosses,
very low
as if embedded in the mother earth,
wrenched from the foul embrace of the mother
who drools.

The earth of black coal
is the only damp place
in this cleft rock.

The Rite is that the new sun passes through seven points before blazing on the orifice of the earth.

And there are six men,
one for each sun,
and a seventh man
who is the sun
in the raw
dressed in black and in red flesh.

But, this seventh man
is a horse,
a horse with a man leading him.

But it is the horse
who is the sun
and not the man.

At the anguish of a drum and a long trumpet,
the six men
who were lying down,
rolling level with the ground,
leap up one by one like sunflowers,
not like suns
but turning earths,
water lilies,
and each leap
corresponds to the increasingly somber
and restrained
gong of the drum
until suddenly he comes galloping, at vertiginous speed,
the last sun,
the first man,
the black horse with a

naked man,
absolutely naked
and virgin
riding it.

    After they leap up, they advance in winding circles
    and the horse of bleeding meat rears
    and prances without a stop
    on the crest of his rock
    until the six men
    have surrounded
    the six crosses.

    Now, the essence of the Rite is precisely

    The Abolition of the Cross

    When they have stopped turning
    they uproot
    the crosses of earth
    and the naked man
    on the horse
    holds up
    an enormous horseshoe
    which he has dipped in a gash of his blood.

    The Pursuit of Fecality

    There where it smells of shit
    it smells of being.
    Man could just as well not have shat,
    not have opened the anal pouch,
    but he chose to shit
    as he would have chosen to live
    instead of consenting to live dead.

    Because in order not to make caca,
    he would have had to consent
    not to be,
    but he could not make up his mind to lose
    that is, to die alive.

    There is in being
    something particularly tempting for man
    and this something is none other than
    (Roaring here.)

    To exist one need only let oneself be,
    but to live,
    one must be someone,
    to be someone,
    one must have a BONE,
    not be afraid to show the bone,
    and to lose the meat in the process.

    Man has always preferred meat
    to the earth of bones.
    Because there was only earth and wood of bone,
    and he had to earn his meat,
    there was only iron and fire
    and no shit,
    and man was afraid of losing shit
    or rather he desired shit
    and, for this, sacrificed blood.

    In order to have shit,
    that is, meat,
    where there was only blood
    and a junkyard of bones
    and where there was no being to win
    but where there was only life to lose

      o reche modo
      to edire
      di za
      tau dari
      do padera coco
    At this point, man withdrew and fled.

    Then the animals ate him.

    It was not a rape,
    he lent himself to the obscene meal.

    He relished it,
    he learned himself
    to act like an animal
    and to eat rat

    And where does this foul debasement come from?

    The fact that the world is not yet formed,
    or that man has only a small idea of the world
    and wants to hold on to it forever?

    This comes from the fact that man,
    one fine day,
    the idea of the world.

    Two paths were open to him:
    that of the infinite without,
    that of the infinitesimal within.

    And he chose the infinitesimal within.
    Where one need only squeeze
    the spleen,
    the tongue,
    the anus
    or the glans.

    And god, god himself squeezed the movement.

    Is God a being?
    If he is one, he is shit.
    If he is not one
    he does not exist.

    But he does not exist,
    except as the void that approaches with all its forms
    whose most perfect image
    is the advance of an incalculable group of crab lice.

    "You are mad Mr. Artaud, what about the mass?"

    I deny baptism and the mass.
    There is no human act,
    on the internal erotic level,
    more pernicious than the descent
    of the so-called jesus-christ
    onto the altars.

    No one will believe me
    and I can see the public shrugging its shoulders
    but the so-called christ is none other than he
    who in the presence of the crab louse god
    consented to live without a body,
    while an army of men
    descended from a cross,
    to which god thought he had long since nailed them,
    has revolted,
    and, armed with steel,
    with blood,
    with fire, and with bones,
    advances, reviling the Invisible
    to have done with GOD'S JUDGMENT.

    The Question Arises...

    What makes it serious
    is that we know
    that after the order
    of this world
    there is another.

    What is it like?

    We do not know.

    The number and order of possible suppositions in
    this realm
    is precisely

    And what is infinity?

    That is precisely what we do not know!

    It is a word
    that we use
    to indicate
    the opening
    of our consciousness
    toward possibility
    beyond measure,
    tireless and beyond measure.

    And precisely what is consciousness?

    That is precisely what we do not know.

    It is nothingness.

    A nothingness
    that we use
    to indicate
    when we do not know something
    from what side
    we do not know it
    and so
    we say
    from the side of consciousness,
    but there are a hundred thousand other sides.


    It seems that consciousness
    in us is
    to sexual desire
    and to hunger;

    but it could
    just as well
    not be linked
    to them.

    One says,
    one can say,
    there are those who say
    that consciousness
    is an appetite,
    the appetite for living;

    and immediately
    alongside the appetite for living,
    it is the appetite for food
    that comes immediately to mind;

    as if there were not people who eat
    without any sort of appetite;
    and who are hungry.

    For this too
    to be hungry
    without appetite;


    the space of possibility
    was given to me one day
    like a loud fart
    that I will make;
    but neither of space,
    nor possibility,
    did I know precisely what it was,

    and I did not feel the need to think about it,

    they were words
    invented to define things
    that existed
    or did not exist
    in the face of
    the pressing urgency
    of a need:
    the need to abolish the idea,
    the idea and its myth,
    and to enthrone in its place
    the thundering manifestation
    of this explosive necessity:
    to dilate the body of my internal night,

    the internal nothingness
    of my self

    which is night,

    but which is explosive affirmation
    that there is
    to make room for:

    my body.

    And truly
    must it be reduced to this stinking gas,
    my body?
    To say that I have a body
    because I have a stinking gas
    that forms
    inside me?

    I do not know
    I do know that

    are nothing to me;

    but there is a thing
    which is something,
    only one thing
    which is something,
    and which I feel
    because it wants
    the presence
    of my bodily

    the menacing,
    never tiring
    of my

    however hard people press me with questions
    and however vigorously I deny all questions,
    there is a point
    at which I find myself compelled
    to say no,


    to negation;

    and this point
    comes when they press me,

    when they pressure me
    and when they handle me
    until the exit
    from me
    of nourishment,
    of my nourishment
    and its milk,

    and what remains?

    That I am suffocated;

    and I do not know if it is an action
    but in pressing me with questions this way
    until the absence
    and nothingness
    of the question
    they pressed me
    until the idea of body
    and the idea of being a body
    was suffocated
    in me,

    and it was then that I felt the obscene

    and that I farted
    from folly
    and from excess
    and from revolt
    at my suffocation.

    Because they were pressing me
    to my body
    and to the very body

    and it was then
    that I exploded everything
    because my body
    can never be touched.


      - And what was the purpose of this broadcast, Mr. Artaud?

      - Primarily to denounce certain social obscenities officially sanctioned and acknowledged:

    1. this emission of infantile sperm donated by children for the artificial insemination of fetuses yet to be born and which will be born in a century or more.

    2. To denounce, in this same American people who occupy the whole surface of the former Indian continent, a rebirth of that warlike imperialism of early America that caused the pre-Columbian Indian tribes to be degraded by the aforesaid people.

    3. - You are saying some very bizarre things, Mr. Artaud.

    4. - Yes, I am saying something bizarre, that contrary to everything we have been led to believe, the pre-Columbian Indians were a strangely civilized people and that in fact they knew a form of civilization based exclusively on the principle of cruelty.

    5. - And do you know precisely what is meant by cruelty?

    6. - Offhand, no, I don't.

    7. - Cruelty means eradicating by means of blood and until blood flows, god, the bestial accident of unconscious human animality, wherever one can find it.

    8. - Man, when he is not restrained, is an erotic animal,
      he has in him an inspired shudder,
      a kind of pulsation
      that produces animals without number which are the form that the ancient tribes of the earth universally attributed to god.
      This created what is called a spirit.
      Well, this spirit originating with the American Indians is reappearing all over the world today under scientific poses which merely accentuate its morbid infectuous power, the marked condition of vice, but a vice that pullulates with diseases,
      because, laugh if you like,
      what has been called microbes
        is god,
      and do you know what the Americans and the Russians use to make their atoms?
      They make them with the microbes of god.
      - You are raving, Mr. Artaud.
      You are mad.

      - I am not raving.
      I am not mad.
      I tell you that they have reinvented microbes in order to impose a new idea of god.

      They have found a new way to bring out god and to capture him in his microbic noxiousness.

      This is to nail him though the heart,
      in the place where men love him best,
      under the guise of unhealthy sexuality,
      in that sinister appearance of morbid cruelty that he adopts
      whenever he is pleased to tetanize and madden humanity as he
      is doing now.

      He utilizes the spirit of purity and of a consciousness that has
      remained candid like mine to asphyxiate it with all the false
      appearances that he spreads universally through space and this
      is why Artaud le Mômo can be taken for a person suffering
      from hallucinations.

      - What do you mean, Mr. Artaud?

      - I mean that I have found the way to put an end to this ape once and for all
      and that although nobody believes in god any more everybody believes more and more in man.

      So it is man whom we must now make up our minds to emasculate.

      - How's that?

        How's that?

      No matter how one takes you you are mad, ready for the straitjacket.

      - By placing him again, for the last time, on the autopsy table to remake his anatomy.
      I say, to remake his anatomy.
      Man is sick because he is badly constructed.
      We must make up our minds to strip him bare in order to scrape off that animalcule that itches him mortally,

        and with god
        his organs.

      For you can tie me up if you wish,
      but there is nothing more useless than an organ.

      When you will have made him a body without organs,
      then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions
      and restored him to his true freedom.

      They you will teach him again to dance wrong side out
      as in the frenzy of dance halls
      and this wrong side out will be his real place.


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    "Todd Bash is one of the few contemporary playwrights who captures the spirit of surrealism. In fact, surrealist figures from the past, such as Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí and Paul Eluard, appear as characters in a couple of his plays. Dream-like, funny, and sometimes disturbing, SANCTUS FUMIGACI (which, in English, loosely translates to "Holy Smoke") is recommended for fans of avant-garde literature and experimental theater."