‘Capturing Beauty’ is about the choices we make. Christine and I chose to get sober and follow the principles and steps of Alcoholic Anonymous. In 1987, while attending the New Hope Program at Serenity Lane, I came upon the complete works Antonin Artaud. I carried this book to meetings. Some brothers questioned my choice of reading material. I told them it reminds me of the second step, and my long journey to be clear and sober in regards to my creativity.
Step 2 Came to believe a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
In the long First Step I did in New Hope, I talked about my use of LSD in the sixties. The two councilors interrupted this important reading in order “to get control of the group back”. I went to the head of Serenity Lane, Hillary Larson, who began to see me one on one. Hillary was a writer and after reading my first step, she called the two councilors in and bid them to apologise to me. They knew nothing about the complex struggle of a human being who came to own extraordinary gifts that have him, or her, in its grip, and like a higher power, has taken complete control of your life.
I told Hillary of my dilemma, being how could I give up my gifted life, even though it may be what I have to do – to save my life. I surmised any attempt to do so would be met with failure. I had read Malcome Lowerys ‘Under Volcano’ and made this my goal;
“I refuse to be a creative being who self-distructs!”
Artaud became my Sober Guide, even my Muse of Recovery. His ‘Van Gough – The Man Suicided by Society’ became my anthem. There was nothing in the Big Book that came to the defense of a Artist in dire peril. I would attend Art’s Anonymous and Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings and bring my sister Christine with me – in spirit! Our abuse of drugs and alcohol had driven a wedge between us. As children we made up our own language. James and Lucia Joyce did the same, and thus Lucia is seen as her father’s Muse.
The suggestion James wrote Finnigans Wake for his daughter, is unbelievable to those who are not writers and artists in touch with their Muse. In CB I will reveal why Rosamond rendered her infamous beautiful women, for me, for my approval. Christine gave me full credit for her success;
“You let me look over your shoulder while you painted. You took time to show me books and explain what constituted good and bad art.”
When I suggested to Charles Shields on his facebook that the story of Lucia Joyce and Samuel Becket be associated with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (LSD) the chortling began. When I introduced Artaud to Lucy, you could hear a cyber-pin drop. No one had done this, saw this coming. Both of these creative beings ended up in mental wards, alone and forsaken. These two souls, driven by their Muse (Music Museum) had contributed greatly to the foundation of Modern Dance and Modern Theatre. And then there is Finnigan’s Wake’ considered the greatest novel in the English Language – and very few people can read it! It reads like an Acid Trip. Surely it was written by someone locked in an asylum.
To put Christine, Rena, and myself in the same leagues as Artaud, Becket, and the Joyce’s may be a stretch of the imagination, but the Struggle remains the same. I will explain how we three changed the look of Art in a social setting that permeates several modern lifestyles, including the internet. Rosamond was famous for her Beautiful Faces that were like mirrors hung on the wall.
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall…….who’s the fairest one of all?”
To read Jame Joyce’s rosy poem to his daughter, put me in a trance, as I have followed the theme of The Rose in this blog. On the envelope of Rena’s letter, she writes my full name, and under it she wrote;
In the upper left is the town she lives near…BOZEMAN. Take away the bottom of the B and you get a R.
Rena reveals in written word that she and her brother were battered children, and her abusive father died of alcoholism. Rena informs me her brother was showing signs of mental illness. Rena’s brother disappeared in 1987 the year I got sober and saved my life. My being was hanging by a thread about the break, and drop me into the void. Instead, the world will get to read how three very beautiful children overcame their extremely violent upbringing to become creative souls, verses Serial Killers. We did much more than survive the Theatre of Cruelty.
“I still struggle with the severe psychological consequences of repeated episodes of violence and emotional cruelty from my childhood.”
To behold this beautiful woman, one wonders how anyone could be cruel to her. It is this extreme cruelty of a beast that has captured this beauty who has found a tower on a hill to dwell in, in almost total isolation. Rena is married, and lives a very humble life. Her humility is a beacon on a hill. I will reveal what does for a living in my book. It’s almost shocking. But, what truly blows my mind, is what she does while she works.
“I have a million poems memorized. I can always gauge my highs and lows by my focus, and my desire and ability to recite them while I am _______ at work.”
Here arise the opportunity for Rena and I to tell our story, that can be told in the same book that is about bonds with angels, and Phoenix Birds rising above the ashes of total despair. From whom, from what, did we get our permission? One can say it was our glimpses of a beautiful sanity that drove us mad, and our madness drove us to do amazing things just to behold that sanity again.
I own twenty seven years of sobriety, and all day yesterday I entertained a vision. In a little while I will board a train for Rozeman. I will check into a hotel and prepare for the performance of my life. I will take a seat, front row center, and a curtain will rise…..and there she be, after forty five years, my beautiful Muse, dancing the Bolero for me.
“Here I am!”
The Phantom of the Opera is my favorite movie. The Angel-Muse of Music was subjected to emotional and physical cruelty that as a Phoenix Bird he attempts to rise above. When I saw this movie, I wondered what was in a name Christine and Christensen. I inspired two women with Christ in their name, and they rendered images of beautiful women reciting poetry, and giving unto the world……….a rose!
Jon Gregory Presco
The young Joyce girl, who had a cast in her eye, spent her childhood travelling through Europe until her parents settled in Paris. The author and his daughter were very close and shared a private language that often baffled others and fed into his books. As a young woman, Lucia joined the renowned dancing school run by Raymond Duncan, the brother of the experimental dancer Isadora Duncan. Her performances were well received, but her grip on reality faded when she was rejected by Beckett, who told her that it was her father, not her, that had been the real draw.
When Lucia’s hospital visitor, MacTaggart, later told her that she had once met Beckett in Paris, the patient was quick to ask after him. “She asked me privately if I had noticed if he was with anyone. She meant a woman. She was still in love with him. And I do think, as many do, that Beckett had used her,” said MacTaggart this weekend.
Lucia’s behaviour had become erratic by her mid-20s and her father referred to “her King Lear scenes”. At the novelist’s 50th birthday party in 1932 she threw a chair at her mother and so her brother, the musician Giorgio Joyce, took her to an asylum. Following the death of her father nine years later, Lucia was left inside Nazi-occupied France in an institution at Ivry, near Paris, and was later moved to Northampton at the age of 43, where Beckett visited her once.
Originally published in France under the title ‘Les Tarahumaras’ (1947), ‘The Peyote Dance’ by Antonin Artaud describes the author’s experiences with Peyote and the Tarahumara in Mexico, in 1936. Written over twelve years and covering Artaud’s stay at a psychiatric hospital in Rodez, the book is an important work of drug literature, so far as it provides an intriguing discourse on a possible essential value in psychedelic drugs.
A Flower Given to My Daughter
By James Joyce
FRAIL the white rose, and frail are
Her hands that gave,
Whose soul is sere, and paler
Than time’s wan wave.
Rose-frail and fair—yet frailest,
A wonder wild
In gentle eyes thou veilest,
My blue-veined child.
An unprecedented glimpse into the hidden life of Lucia Joyce, adored only daughter of James Joyce, and the lover of Samuel Beckett, has revealed the loneliness of her final years in England.
Born to Joyce and his wife Nora Barnacle in 1907 in Trieste, the flamboyant dancer was to be shut away in mental institutions for most of her adult life. Treated by Carl Jung for supposed schizophrenia, she spent her last 30 years in Northampton’s St Andrew’s hospital for mental diseases, rarely meeting anyone from outside.
“The tragedy was that she had once been so creative and accomplished. She was gentle and kind and it was a very touching visit,” said Helen MacTaggart, a Joyce enthusiast who met her one afternoon in 1977 and who took a rare photograph, published here for the first time. “Even her mother hadn’t ever visited her. I don’t think she spoke to many people.”
Perhaps because his interest had been aroused by an enthusiastic newspaper account or perhaps because of the controversy surrounding the fire in the Dutch Pavilion, where the performance was held, Antonin Artaud went to the Paris Colonial Exposition in early August 1931 to see the Balinese dances being presented. The review he wrote of them immediately afterward, published in October that year in the Nouvelle Revue Française (Artaud 1931), reappeared seven years later in the form of a longer and more complex essay in The Theater and Its Double ( 1970).
The various additions and annotations to the 1931 article, the notes and fragments scattered throughout other writings, the copies and reworkings — changes that essentially repeated the outline of the original essay — are evidence of the degree to which Artaud returned continuously to the subject of Bali. This frequent fine-tuning of the article was probably Artaud’s way of trying to improve his description of the impression the performance originally had made on him. In any case, even in the review, the first draft of the text, it is very clear that Artaud wanted to use Balinese theatre as both example and confirmation of something of which he had become convinced during that period: that the theatre must have its own language, a language that is not the same as the language of words but which is based on the actor’s physicality. In the review, he writes:
In fact the strange thing about all these gestures, these angular, sudden, jerky postures, these syncopated inflexions formed at the back of the throat, these musical phrases cut short, the sharded flights, rustling branches, hollow drum sounds, robot creaking, animated puppets dancing, is the feeling of a new bodily language no longer based on words but on signs which emerges through the maze of gestures, postures, airborne cries, through their gyrations and turns, leaving not even the smallest area of stage space unused. ( 1970:37)
Artaud’s assertion is so explicit that it can be taken as a veritable declaration of principles, especially when one considers the fact that his text “On the Balinese Theater” was, of all the articles collected in The Theater and Its Double, the first to be written. The last to be written, on the other hand, was the emblematically titled “Oriental and Western Theater,” written in December 1936, shortly before Artaud’s departure for Mexico. All the other texts in The Theater and Its Double fall in between, from “Metaphysics and the Mise-en-Scène” (December 1931) and “The Alchemical Theater” (September 1932) to “The Theater of Cruelty (First Manifesto)” (October 1932) and “Theater and the Plague” (April 1933).