Notes on "In Madness There is Order" (1992)
A Music Video
In Madness There is Order is a music video in a genre I have titled “Synthesizer Theater.” The narrative of the video is constructed on a mythical meeting of two ghosts in an insane asylum in Paris. The great German-language poet Paul Celan, survivor of the Holocaust, "meets" the French poet--and the most influential visionary figure of modern theater--Antonin Artaud, who was himself the survivor of lunatic asylums.
In his last works Artaud introduced verses of glossolalia or nonsense words in his poetry. Celan's last poems proclaim the virtual disintegration of natural language. Artaud, who lived in poverty and suffered from a life time cocaine addiction, died in 1948 at the age of 51. While at the peak of his public recognition and artistic success, Celan committed suicide in 1970 at the age of 50 by drowning himself in the Seine.
The late poems of Celan and Artaud share the experience of the total destruction of the human spirit and explore the limitations of language to describe that catastrophe. Language itself is a wounded body, torn to pieces by experience. The synthesizers play a spoken "ghost choir" constructed from Artaud's nonsense language and the composer’s voice. The singer/actor's text is derived from Celan's poem "the broken music of remembrance". The music and images takes the text one step further and pulverizes it in an explosion of mad, uncontainable anguish.
Music video version by Jerome Fortier
Performers: Daniel Nelson, voice
Yehuda Yannay, synthesizers
Projections: Marie Mellott
Direction: Dick Blau