Antonin Artaud and Negative Theology: Ontology between Apophatic Spirituality and Performance


Author: GUO Yuchan, Ph.D. candidate, School of Humanities, Tsinghua University.


There exists a profound connection between Negative Theology and the theological discourse of Antonin Artaud in his later years. In using deconstruction to understand Artaud’s writing, Derrida interprets Artaud’s soteriology as a path of negation heading towards impossibility and thereby “saved” Negative Theology from its own historical fate through this reconceptualisation. However, upon reading Artaud’s texts, two key observations emerge: firstly, Artaud’s theological discourse draws upon a rich tapestry of influences, including Gnosticism, occultism, solar mythology, astrology, and more; secondly, Artaud’s thought exhibits a pronounced inclination toward dichotomy. By embracing the spirit of negation, Artaud seeks a return to existence within Être. For us, Negative Theology cannot be confined solely to the approach and discourse of an entirely transcendent God through negation. Artaud offers a “new way,” one that transcends the dichotomy between positive and negative, ushering us into an entirely different mode of expression.


Antonin Artaud, Jacques Derrida, negative theology, Performance

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