ARTIFICE AND VICE...
The Artaud/Stooges Connection
By Shane Jesse Christmass
Antonin Artaud's last work was a radio broadcast entitled To Have Done With The Judgment Of God. It was recorded at the end of 1947 and the January of 1948. It has five parts, intercut with Artaud's noise effects. It's a recording that exhausted Artaud, using up his remaining strength. He aimed to reach The Body directly, to establish an existence for The Body in which all influence, all nature and all culture are torn away. Artaud wanted The Body to be by itself, honed to only bone and nerve, without family, society or religion.
Antonin Artaud is THE archetype. A man accursed by his own ideas, but who in the end just became a benefactor for insanity and the visionary process. His name is ARTAUD ... THIS IS no coincidence... (ART)hur Rimb(AUD).
From 1937 to 1946 Antonin Artaud was incarcerated in a succession of French lunatic asylums. Here he suffered and gained from all the aspects of starvation and was committed to undergo over fifty electroshock treatments.
Artaud experienced delusions of buckets that contained mud that fucked, saw first hand the extracts that lay behind in dealing with carnal waste and the hand of God whose skin was beauty and who walked with a prosthetic limb occasionally.
Hallucinations were committed that were at once auditory and that bored into Artaud's body, by dismissing metal clamps and turning his teeth into caked opens that investigated eternity. The doctors looking after him continued to dedicate every pinned and pointed image towards Artaud, but he sculpted and molded these images into animated objects, unknown to the unseeing eyes of the medical staff. He pushed these objects through the soil and away from his one second of fate.
As some sort of pathetic attempt involving ancient art therapy, Artaud experienced violent tantrums that compromised ink, charcoal and paper. He obliged the influx of the summoning doctors and salvaged personal asylum from the stirrups of modern art, and drew in a fury of a callous place - a common place. The other patients essentially were never there- they just listened to Artaud screams coming out of the brush strokes, they had either windpipes or perfume made by pests. The electric cord wrapped round Artaud's wrist was God's though assumed those very doctors. Artaud was kicking over all icons and conning whoever to get let out. His mind was waking up into all seizures - up above all sidewalks and streets. There was a huge bruise in regards to the crucifixion and Artaud had surmised that it was ALL the fixed starting point to the evening that eternity must enter.
Artaud's final work is his final judgment - it's a glossolalia involving invective swearing and a tirade of anti-American and anti-Catholic crumbling. He comes at you 'To Have Done With The Judgment Of God' - with his burnt eyes brimming, arrives with twisting limbs, making the listener's eye get buttoned and then wince from the infamous earth glow. The ill he commands in signaling and acknowledging America as a baby making war hoarding slut, is the sort of ill that most cry babes, mummy boys and middle class anarchists couldn't even begin to imagine bowing down to at all.
Listening to the performance inspires moments of wanting to destroy ones own body. It's clear to me now that The Body is just the compost of sloth that we are incarcerated into from birth. The Body is the paradox of a slavery inherited that makes me, into a wayward breach.
Artaud was never insane- sure he may have banged on his unkempt forehead a couple of times, but he was just a contrary Saint. The rest of his theories however, continue to push up into meat handles of a staid culture. A diseased society consisting of boiling leaves scattered upon scalding imprints. He was always the champion in regards to the dissociation of language. This is evident and is upheld from the original theories belonging to The Theatre Of Cruelty. They lowered him into the sky and he saw that the stars are all just Icicle Whines, humming against broken eardrums. Antonin Artaud was just the facing fever before the shift of sight. The mainstay of the muttering earth however, hasn't change due to him confirming that the muttering earth stinks. Ideas and more importantly actions change because he was the Hangman Of Space. Make no mistake, since the crucifixion of Jesus, the human body has been splintered from this layer, into a layer that has no effort in tapping the vital spleen. Artaud had no more vocals to give - so he rotted and then died of cancer.
His incarceration gave us what? It delivered the renowned and expected involvement of revenge. Artaud enacted it upon his keepers with a diabolical disregard, it was more violent because of the lack of violence. His tongue became the slashing barb and he made us all feel erotic in the slicing up of our skin. His keepers who once held him captive were now hooked into the trapeze by Artaud's mechanical day of atonement. Before his death, Artaud became celestial - he held the radio audience with a microphone of piss, blood, bleeding and sperm. He made us realize how of us are the REAL MEAT!
Artaud went beyond language - what is heard in this recording is a delirious, scarring chant. It is designed to inspire a terminal panting in the listeners. Shouts and outcries litter the air like exploding bombs being jacked by flung limp flints. This is a miasma of Artaud's inner driving, held over from his trips to Mexico, but this recording wasn't some inner driving against the background ingestion of peyote - it was something more sinister and tempestuous, but also peaceful to some. It all resides in front of a oracle of drums and percussion, and small sections of bizarre music.
The world wasn't ready and after hearing this work, the director of French radio censored it immediately. Artaud had become one of the eternal punks...
1970. During three days of May, The Stooges went into Elektra Sound Recorders in Los Angeles to record their second album, and ultimately the last one for the Elektra label. It was a far cry from the mid-western abode of their upbringing, this was Los Angeles. Palatial excess of The United States Of America was littered on every sun soaked street corner. The band was out of their depths.
Whoever's idea it was, it was a grand one, and one that possibly looked like these boys wouldn't be able to achieve. The idea was to capture as closely as possible, the sounds of a Stooges concert on vinyl. How was this gonna happen? The Stooges were an industrial, liquid water guitar chord. What were the band trying to prove, all they seemed to know was a narcotic spit, many spumes of a garage phlegm that could only get thrown out by dirty punks from Michigan.
Funhouse is the album that put an amassed moist disgust into your stereo's speakers and made no bones about the horrible meltdown that was definitely going to occur. The Stooges highlighted a teenage disaffection with syrupy peace and love, that was slowly slinking into it's middle aged twenties. It was the ability of these amped amphetamine kids that they managed to actually get paid for this type of venom to be released. Music is a commodity after all, it has to sell, and how was Elektra going to sell this?
So is it a calculated version of music or just some drunken spat? Iggy Pop confirms this during the opening few seconds of the song "TV Eye" - where he screams and unleashes, the most horrendous vocalization EVER committed to black wax. Iggy lets loose an incantation to terrify, but to also spark upon your soul some exact reaction. He starts the song, abusing his microphone by bellowing 'Lorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrd!!!!!!!' If there is a lord, I'm sure he's repulsed by this unyielding clarification in his name. Natural rebellion, and we're not talking some market product, is charged up and flown against the boring world.
Each track was recorded live in the studio, numerous times over those days in May. At the conclusion, all we care about is the infinite facets of all the noise that can be absorbed by our eardrums. Seven tracks were edited out of these session reels and re-arranged and assembled to make up the original 36-minute opus to degradation.
Funhouse bounces off every object as the sound sidles into the skull, with an electric buzz, with white washes of grandiose blasting through dense amplitude. Funhouse is all about the very brawl in the human abattoir that The Stooges had at once made, but later realized they had to outrun. Rumor has it that the running time was as long as a Stooges concert could go for, until Iggy's brain had a convergence with every coma of decoded flame, and he had to either pass out, or go backstage and once again get bound to the trifle vices of heroin. Like Artaud, The Stooges had to enlist many fated pleasures to succeed.
I asked Deniz Tek, lead guitarist/songwriter with seminal band Radio Birdman his impressions of Funhouse, as well as any thoughts on Artaud he may have. He told me this:
'Funhouse was the result of some rather spoilt lower middle class white kids (think Wayne's World two decades from two decades later) from Ann Arbor, Michigan being turned loose in the studio in LA with Don Gallucci, who had been in The Kingsmen of "Louie Louie" fame. The boys were in a wonderland of excess, having been given a generous budget from Elektra, and were living in a state of constant partying at the Hyatt House hotel, otherwise known as the Riot House. Mornings after the studio were sometimes spent drinking at the hotel bar with Robert Mitchum.
'Like all great bands they defined, rather than followed, hipness and cool. From this context comes one of the greatest rock and roll albums of all time...totally compelling in it's sincerity, passion and innocence. With totally banal lyrics and average playing ability, the album somehow became more than it should have had a right to be. It seems to give an infusion of optimism and a feeling of boundless energy in some listeners. It has inspired thousands of lesser efforts.
'It is interesting to compare this to Artaud since it comes from a diametrically opposite sensibility, and goes to a polar opposite place, and yet somehow achieves a similar degree of reaction in certain people.'
Thinking about this it appears fairly blatant NOW, that To Have Done With The Judgment Of God is 'diametrically opposed' to whatever Funhouse is on about. Artaud's diatribe is anti-American/anti-Catholic, whilst Funhouse appears to have been conjured by all-American orphan-savants, albeit estranged from society, who were blurry eyed with a dashed splendor, which they just tumbled about with.
If the devil was ever going to open up your head, and scoop out what was left, you'd hope that the hymn playing would be one called "L.A. Blues." No valuable answer is offered to the listener in this song, it's underlying metaphor is just held in with drought and clay. "L.A. Blues" is the confirmation, the left over elements from this recording session. It's a certain piece of uniqueness, a song with no viable logic, either external or internal. It's the least accessible Stooge's song on one of their least accessible albums. "L.A. Blues" denounces song structure for a misplaced guidance, letting this guidance be led by some hilarious avant-garde saxophone. Steve Mackay's sax playing comes off sounding like carted sun spots getting lanced from the universe. It thuds with a stalking, thuggish menace, only available to annoy the listener. It's not music, it has no lyrics, and it's a pile of anarchic chaos that is heading into totalitarian regions of pacification and magnificence. Someone opened the world up and "L.A. Blues" was it's total collapse. This is the seismic fault of California, dripping forwards to the molten magma, collapsing into the Pacific.
"L.A. Blues" discharges itself through the ghosted radiobody with a feverish condition, consuming The Stooges as well as the listener. It dismantles the usual culprits, obscenity and sacrilege in much the same way as Artaud. Both To Have Done With The Judgment Of God and Funhouse are dispersed within a dreamland with the dead, offering only self-cancellation, aspects of a persona being splintered and a intoxication by the atom particle being made fibrous. Both To Have Done With The Judgment Of God and Funhouse are unprecedented and are out of their minds. Both are tailor made for hybrid kids...
'On reflection I was thinking a better comparison to Artaud might have been Trout Mask Replica.' - Deniz Tek.
The nascent romantic poet, Charles Baudelarie said the following It sums up my feelings in regards to Funhouse and To Have With The Judgment Of God. In conclusion it's a worthy compliment to conclude this rabble of writing -
'I love Wagner, but the music I prefer is that of a cat hung up by it's tail outside a window and trying to stick to the panes of glass with it's claws...'
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