Obliteration of the World
A Guide to the Occult Belief System of Antonin Artaud
by Peter Valente
'Obliteration of the World' is a series of essays which explores the hermetic side of Antonin Artaud’s thought, drawing from a selection of letters written late in his life, to André Breton, Georges Braque, Marthe Robert, Anie Besnard, and Collette Thomas. 'Artaud’s Sacred Triad' uses the Qabalah and ideas about the Tarot to explore his own sexuality and magick. 'Cubism and the Gnostic', explores Artaud’s criticism of Georges Braque where Artaud goes beyond mere aesthetics to question the essence of representation. 'Artaud’s Book of the Dead', explores the Tibetan idea of the afterlife and Artaud’s relation to it. 'The Incestuous Father and his Daughters of the Heart', explores Artaud’s relation to the various women in his life. To these women, Artaud was a force alternately sympathetic and cruel, manipulative and romantic. The final essay, 'The Jesus-staff of Artaud', is concerned with Artaud’s travels in Mexico and his obsession with the mystical staff of St. Patrick. Artaud’s apocalyptic vision for mankind led him on a journey, beginning in Mexico in 1936 and ending, tragically, in Ireland in 1937, with a mental breakdown and silence. In 1948, Artaud wrote:
At this moment, I want to destroy my thought and my mind. Above all, thought, mind and consciousness. I do not want to suppose anything, admit anything, enter into anything, discuss anything…
For Artaud, this constitutes his final obliteration of the world.
Softbound with flaps, 106 pages, 190 x 148mm
About the author
Peter Valente is a writer, translator, and filmmaker. He is the author of twelve full-length books. His most recent books are a collection of essays on several of Werner Schroeter’s films, A Credible Utopia (Punctum, 2022) and his translation of Gérard de Nerval, The Illuminated (Wakefield Press, 2022). Forthcoming is his translation of Nicolas Pages by Guillaume Dustan (Semiotext(e), 2024). He has shown twenty-four of his short experimental films at Anthology Film Archives.