Literature and Psychoanalysis

By Edith Kurzweil; William Phillips | Go to book overview

tween different regions. Artaud is neither Carroll nor Alice. Carroll is not Artaud, Carroll is not even Alice. Artaud plunges the child into an extremely violent alternative between corporeal passion and action that conforms to the two languages of depth. Either the child must not be born, which is to say, must not leave the chambers of his future spinal column, upon which his parents fornicate (which amounts to an inverse suicide -- or else he must become a fluid, "superior," flaming body, without organs or parents (like those whom Artaud called his "daughters" yet-to-be-born).

Carroll, on the contrary, awaits the child in accordance with his language of incorporeal meaning. He awaits her at the moment at which the child leaves the depths of the maternal body without yet having discovered the depths of her own body, that brief moment of surface when the little girl breaks the surface of the water, like Alice in the pool of her own tears. Carroll and Artaud are worlds apart. We may believe that the surface has its monsters (the Snark and the Jabberwock), its terrors and its cruelties which, though not from the depths, nevertheless have claws and can snatch laterally, or even pull us back into the depths whose dangers we thought we had averted. Carroll and Artaud are nonetheless different; at no point do their worlds coincide. Only the commentator can move from one dimension to the other, and that is his great weakness, the sign that he himself inhabits neither. We would not give one page of Antonin Artaud for all of Carroll; Artaud is the only person to have experienced absolute depth in literature, to have discovered a "vital" body and its prodigious language (through suffering, as he says). He explored the infra-meaning, which today is still unknown. Carroll, on the other hand, remains the master or the surveyor of surfaces we thought we knew so well that we never explored them. Yet it is on these surfaces that the entire logic of meaning is held.


Notes
1.
"Perspendicacious" is a portmanteau word used by a schizophrenic to designate spirits that are suspended above the subject's head (perpendicular) and that are very perspicacious. Mentioned in Georges Damas, Le Surnaturel et les dieux d'après les maladies mentales ( Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1946), p. 303.

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