The infamous creator and advocate of the "Theatre of Cruelty," Antonin Artaud probably had the worst life of anyone, ever. At the age of four, he was stricken with a terrible virus that ruined him. It left him with not only a severe nervous disorder, but also with a rare condition that caused his face to randomly break out in two minute long bursts of "lightning-esque" pain. These outbreaks of pain could be brought on by such activities as eating, talking, breathing through the mouth, or being brushed by a gust of wind.
When he was a teenager, Artaud went out on an errand, and a pimp stabbed him in the spine for no reason, perhaps mistaking him for someone else. This ordeal left him a panic-stricken wreck and only added to the multitude of his debilitating health problems, increasing the severity of his nervous disorders by many orders of magnitude.
In an attempt to ease the pain that was his lot in life, Artaud became addicted to heroin. However, he ended up stuck in the desert at one point, and unable to obtain a fix in the middle of nowhere. He suffered through terrible withdrawals. In his own words, his body turned into "a giant, inflamed gum," and he was driven insane.
He was found and brought back to France, whereupon he somehow came upon a walking stick that he believed belonged to both the Devil and Jesus. He ran away from the friends who were watching over him to Ireland in an attempt to return the stick to its rightful owners.
He never found either the Devil or Jesus, and instead only succeeded in running up a massive hotel bill that he couldn't afford to pay. The police were called and they dragged him away in a straitjacket.
Artaud was subjected to electroshock therapy that supposedly "cured him," and he was released into the custody of his friends. He did resume writing, but the remainder of his theatrical works consisted largely of cacophonous xylophones and actors communicating only through grunts and screams.
After his release from the asylum, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He was found dead two months later, sitting on the edge of his bed, holding one of his shoes.
Posted by harlock on Mon, 28 Apr 2008 12:41:43 -0400 -- permanent link