lundi 31 août 2009

Open letter The Artaud Affair Le Monde — 3/6

Plea for resuscitating the drowned
Open letter (as form demands) to Jean-Louis Jeannelle* and Le Monde des livres. *Writer of the article “L’Affaire Artaud : journal ethnographique de Florence de Mèredieu : Artaud et les jésuites” (11 June 09)


As has always been the case in the past sixty years, there are two big losers in this Affair :

- Artaud and his work, which remain under control, under influence, with orthodox books that play into the hands of the ‘owners’ or ‘copyright holders’ (publishing houses, institutions that conserve archives, heirs, etc.).

- the public, who are given (as Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe so aptly wrote to me in 1994) not ‘Artaud’ but ‘part of Artaud’. Meaning works that have been formatted and re-formatted to suit editorial and commercial ends. The reading public is led by the nose, since by the silences and pretences of the Affair the media continue to keep it under influence.


In 1994, when I sent off to some 900 persons my ‘Open letter to Josyane Savigneau’ (1), there was quite a stir. Besides criticizing the work of Paule Thévenin, my open letter (blithely) swept aside another major taboo: you shall not indict a journalist. He (in this case she) is persona non grata.
Authors may not recognize their books in what is said of them by the so called ‘critics’, they may (why not) be unjustly attacked ; they may feel they have been betrayed, manipulated. But whatever the case they must never ‘talk back’ nor take to task the big names of the press.

This situation is abnormal. A cultural journal is under an onus to further the discussion of ideas IN ACTUAL FACT and not only for appearance’s sake. Authors must be able to explain.

The situation of the written press has changed. The Internet has broken the monopoly that the papers once held.

Jean-Louis Jeannelle remarks that it is a ‘delicate’ matter to criticize this new book. Which implies that I have been too hard on the papers.

Enough of these games : what could be more normal than to ‘sift over’ and criticize a journalist’s article. That is exactly what journalists do with authors’ books. Healthy reciprocity does no harm to intellectual life. On the contrary, our journalists should be delighted. It shows that they are still read a little.

Which is why we have an article written with long-handled pincers, you can feel it. Shuffled together. The Jesuits, the real ones, were far more gifted !

Not to mention this supposed final paradox, by which Jean-Louis Jeannelle accuses me of ‘jesuitism’ and also reproaches me for :
- the fears that I touch on as to an entrenching of attitudes on one hand and on the other, after the book has come out, with the ‘increased fixation, crystallisation and projection of phantasms at work since the origins of this affair, sixty years ago’.
- and the wish that this situation be surpassed and the ‘Artaud Affair or Affairs cease at last to be written about’.

Well, why not ? We can be lucid and just as well wish that things be clarified and move forward ! - And that is just what is happening right now. Opinions expressed by readers, on the Internet, and various letters show me that certain readings are changing, and changing VERY QUICKLY.

On the other hand, the attitude of Le Monde, and of almost all the paper press, shows that my fears were not unfounded. - Come, come, Monsieur Jeannelle, what you need to finish off your articles is a little more rhetoric. Spite is an art and it is not so easy !

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