"All Writing Is Garbage": Reassessing the Fragment and the Anti-narrative of Antonin Artaud in a Post-narrative World

By Kenneth DiMaggio.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Theory and History

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

While not accepted by the Academy, brief, casual, fragmented text narratives or messages are changing the discourse of how we write. Twentieth century French playwright, poet, and “anti-rhetorician” Antonin Artaud foresaw such a future for writing in his early texts such as “The Nerve Meter,” where, in one section titled “All Writing is Garbage,” he dispels what he sees is a false rhetorical structure in traditional narrative technique. For Artaud, writing is essentially “a kind of incomprehensible stopping place in the mind, right in the middle of everything.” Along with this text and others, I feel that Artaud's attack against traditional narrative and rhetoric is more about seeing how writing is a “kind of [mental] incomprehensible stopping place” that we perform every day in our cellphones and computers. Furthermore, I feel that Artaud's anti or “post literary theory” of writing still maintains a link with earlier classical visions of rhetoric. If Artaud demystifies literature as “garbage,” is he also making a claim about the pervasive importance that literature and writing have always had in our everyday lives?

Keywords: Artaud, Rhetoric, Surrealism, Theater of Cruelty

The International Journal of Arts Theory and History, Volume 10, Issue 1, March 2015, pp.19-27. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 531.896KB).

Kenneth DiMaggio

Professor, Humanities, Capital Community College, Hartford, Connecticut, USA

I am professor of humanities at Capital Community College in Hartford, Connecticut. CCC is an urban community college where students are often reading and writing at a level that is below traditional college course work, thus making literacy a prime issue I must constantly address. As a teacher of literature and writing, I am continuously looking for texts and theories to help address the above issue.