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By Sylvère Lotringer, Joanna Spinks

Those who're mad like Antonin Artaud, are they simply as mad as he was once? insanity, just like the plague, is contagious, and everybody, from his psychiatrists to his disciples, kin, and critics, every person who will get just about Artaud, turns out to take part in his delirium. Sylvère Lotringer explores a variety of embodiments of this shared delirium via what Artaud known as “mental dramas”—a sequence of confrontations along with his witnesses or “persecutors” the place we discover the uncooked delirium at paintings, even in Lotringer himself. Mad Like Artaud doesn't intend so as to add yet another layer of statement to the sour controversies which were surrounding the cursed poet’s paintings on account that his demise in 1948, nor does it take aspects one of the various camps who're nonetheless haggling over his corpse. This e-book speaks of the positioning the place “madness” itself is simmering.

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In fact, the posture of the man in the drawing seems to match the description that Latremoliere himself gave in his pedantic discussion of the "accident" that occurred during the first series of electroshock treatments. "Starting from the second session, he talked about having vague back pain, which became violent after he woke up from his third fit . it forced him to walk hunched over, with his thorax bent far forward . " The man in the drawing is shown in the same position , with his thorax bending down , dragging all the pain of "his diarrhea of nails" along behind him like a bunch of sacks.

Chemical treatments for mental illness did not yet exist and the patients were left to rot on the premises of the establishment, as was Artaud's case throughout the years leading up to his arrival at Rodez. "Asylum rot" was an expression often used by staff to refer to them. It would seem unj ust to consider electroconvulsive therapy as, essentially, a form of punishment. In Artaud's case it constituted an attempt, albeit a brutal one, to improve his mental state and it actually succeeded to a certain extent-certainly more so than anyone today is ready to admit .

With Artaud , this expressed itself through that wrenching feelings of dispossession he had described to Jacques Riviere about twenty-five years prior. The German psychiatrists, who were the first to use to this technique on a large scale , explained this state as "the anguish of the broken ego" (schildge) . Artaud said that each time he lost consciousness he "suffocated inside himself' for a whole day. He then felt so disoriented that he didn't know where he was. This state of terror lasted several hours, becoming more and more unbearable as his memory returned , at which point a profound depression arose .

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