Twenty years ago, I drove a 450cc Honda motorcycle into the Sierra Madre Mountains in search of Antonin Artaud’s granddaughter. My forehead became blistered with sunburn during the long trip from Chicago so I tore up a white pillowcase I had taken from an El Paso motel room, using it as a protective and medicinal bandanna. The 3 gallon motorcycle gas tank caused constant adventure because of the distance between petrol stations in Mexico. So eventually I found myself out of gas in a nowhere place west of Chihuahua City. I didn’t find the Raramuri (Tarahumara) as much as they found me. I think it was my white pillowcase bandanna that made them think my appearance in their desert was significant.
I lived with them for five days. They ferment ground-up corn into a kind of beer that they drink from quart-sized ceramic jars. This beer making and drinking is ritual but ritual is also just part of daily life. Although they can speak Spanish, they spoke in their native tongue to one another. I speak little Spanish so we didn’t try talking much to each other. I understood their word for peyote to be related in some way to the Spanish word “gringa’” but that may be mostly my own invention.
I never found Artaud’s granddaughter (attractive woman of French, Native American descent, approximately my age, the Creative Accident of the flesh in search of its completeness), but I did learn how to run full speed through a moonless desert night, naked except for a white bandanna.
I am speaking of the Tarahumara
eating Peyote right from the soil
as it is born,
and who slay the sun to establish the kingdom of black night
I am still working with Artaud. We recently translated and recorded an English version of his radio piece, To Have Done with the Judgment of God. Soon (not so soon) a butoh performance with a Steal This Radio broadcast.
To hear Artaud’s voice listen to the opening text at this site. Section 2 is the Artaudian Scream by the master himself followed by The Dance of the Tutuguri which was drawn from his trip to Mexico and encounter with the Raramuri.