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  • Writer's pictureJOE WOODWARD

Anybody Out There

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay with homage to Jimmie Durham who created the sculpture

Anybody out there? Anybody?

Anybody want to create something that breaks through the belief matrix?

I wonder if people actually realize just how much their thinking is being predetermined? The parroting of key phrases and sentiments on social media has such obvious patterns that one wonders if there is really any possibility anymore of art that goes beyond identity? agenda? the straitjacket of one's DNA and cultural fixations? Is it possible? Does one have to be a psycho like JOKER in order to escape the fixations and repetitive articulating of current fads in order to think or say something? I mean anything! Just saying! I mean, have you noticed how much the terms "gratitude" and "thankful" have appeared on the social media platforms in the past year or so? Let's be clear, there is nothing wrong with being grateful and being thankful ... But really! It's nauseating to see the extent to which isolated souls are competing to express their thankfulness ... and stating it loud on social media! Why state it to the world. Why not just be it! Quietly and perhaps on a one to one ... Instead of convincing oneself through overuse and constant repetition that one has to be grateful in order to be sane and exist! Why can't everyone just get over their neurosis and move on ... ??? Grateful or otherwise! But this isn't just about one's petty social media statements, patterns or even need to feel somehow connected by expressing apparent feelings and discoveries that simply must be shared with the world. It goes much deeper and we can see on a serious note how we are generally fooled by the semantics of propaganda and hype. As we might like to believe our thoughts, responses and feelings result from our own free will, we might sometime stop and actually think through our own basis for beliefs, reactions and decisions. Perhaps we will see the nonsense of any suggestion that we are free from the social, cultural and political straitjackets that have us enthralled.

Is Art all just Neurosis and Agenda?

Caitlin Johnston writes very persuasively on the topic of the control of free will and perception. It is certainly challenging writing and one is always tempted to double down with a "oh yes ... BUT" reaction.

She writes:

"The clearer you are on the false narratives about the world, the more effective you are at helping others see them. The clearer you are on the false narratives about yourself, the happier and more effective you become." (Awakening From The Narrative Matrix, 30 Dec 2022)

Now there might appear to be elements of Utopian thinking in aspects of her writing. The adage that "politics is the art of the possible" would no doubt be thrown up as a defense against her attack. Johnston equates The Matrix film and its central thesis as an analogy for what is happening in our world; the lack of reality and the continuous false narratives that co-opt our attention and thought patterns: thus our very lives and existence!

We see children in schools who have high levels of perception being diagnosed with a disorder because of their apparent symptoms that suggest some maladjustment. Some are drugged over to dull their perceptions and dull their physical departure from what Educationists and the Medical profession has labelled as 'normal'. But even after treatment, many still will not fit.

So the question is: where does the disorder lie? Is it with the child? Or is it with culture and society? The context or "matrix" through which one has to navigate an existence! Perhaps we might consider looking at the Artaud quandary to see where neurosis and agenda might collide and depart.

The Artaud Quandary

No doubt, much of Artaud's writing and creative responses to the world were influenced greatly by his mental states and pathological treatments both self-inflicted and thrust upon him. However, history and the arts have not dismissed Artaud's work as a rant or as deluded thinking. Quite the opposite! Artaud gained a tremendous respect for much of his contribution to the body of artistic and cultural knowledge that has influenced artistic work for much of the last century.

One very significant element of all his insights and arguments is that of "seeing". As with Plato, Artaud recognized that our experienced reality is forged by forces beyond our control. All views we hold and all our experiences of culture, society and relationships are shaped by convergencies of multiple facets over which we are constrained from actually understanding or even a cultivated awareness to any significant degree.

His view of theatre then is one that seeks shocks and contrived experiences to break through these blinding forces that prevent the seeing and experiencing of reality beyond the socially constructed abstractions that are forced by agendas, media, social relations, one's very genes and the mental states that generated by such abstractions.

His views were counter to the prevailing Surrealist connections with the Communist Party of the time and he was subsequently expelled from the movement. Unlike Brecht, Artaud saw the world more through a microcosmic lens. While both Artaud and Brecht recognized the necessity to consider the epic context through which individual action took place, Artaud postured that it was absurd to think that any rational discourse from within this context would have any benefit in being able to reveal truths or suggest different paradigms for seeing anything. Semantics and intellect were captive to the restrictive contexts of agendas and cultural precepts. So Brecht's use of "alienation" might go some distance towards theatre art as a revealing mechanism; but it would simply be coopted for use as a promotion for an idea or belief system. Artaud was more concerned with blasting and obliterating the very notion of belief ... let alone a belief system.

In "To Believe is to Kill" I propagated an argument that suggested it is the very nature and definition of "belief" as a phenomenon that results in the most extreme and destructive acts that human kind can inflict on one-and-other. No matter how benign, even altruistic, the belief might be, the result will ultimately end in a kind of carnage at some point. Is there any religion or belief system that has not fallen foul in various degrees to this infliction? I would be interested to hear of it.

The contradictory writing of George Orwell is pertinent on this point:

"Political language—and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists—is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable." (George Orwell, "The Road to Wigan Pier")

So is there anybody out there?

Anybody Out There?

So dear friends and others who might stumble upon this essay; is there anybody out there who still thinks art can be separated from identity? from political and social agendas? from narcissistic introspection? from Disney? from defining Belief Systems of religion, political ideology and social theories?

If you ARE interested in following through, I would be keen to talk up a project or two that might just create something of Artaud's shocks to challenge culture and the straitjacket of thinking.

Sounds a bit pretentious? Maybe? But surely nothing as pretentious as the social media pontificating we see every hour!

Anyone out there who might be interesting in high level performances that feature CONTENT with STYLE and that can be produced on near zero budgets (with some judicious and clever planning) and that might have some effect with audiences?

Get in touch:

Joe Woodward


See also previous relevant articles:

Have a look at the DTC movie:


... and note what happens at the very end ...

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