Rest here - http://www.brooklynrail.org/2004/06/books/the-provocations-of-arthur-cravanThe Provocations of Arthur Cravan
by Andy Merrifield
"Every great artist has the sense of provocation"
-Arthur Cravan, Maintenant
I can't remember where I first encountered Arthur Cravan, the poet-boxer and wild man deserter of seventeen nations. Perhaps it was in the Banquet Years, Roger Shattuck's brilliant analysis of Jarry, Apollinaire and Satie, and the birth of the European avant-garde; or maybe it was Greil Marcus's wonderfully zany Lipstick Traces, which likewise locates itself in those anarchical Dada years, but then ends up reveling in the even more anarchical years of Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols; then again, perhaps it had been via Guy Debord, the Situationist guru and subversive, whose work I loved and who admired Cravan as he admired no one else-save perhaps Lautréamont, another poet rebel who died as Cravan died: that is to say, at a tender age, and mysteriously.
Whatever the case, I remember enough to know that my attraction had been instinctive: Cravan seemed to have mastered the weird and wonderful vocabulary that I'd hitherto only mumbled in my dreams. Henceforth I was beguiled by his sense of provocation, by his desire to live a rich and full life, a poetic life, in spite of it all. Cravan quickly became some mythical figure for me, an alter-ego demon, a Mephistopheles who began to patrol my every move, achieving what I'd always wanted to achieve: to be forever on the move and on the run, fleeing institutions and social fetters, fleeing everything and anyone who held him up or who took away his air, including himself. Cravan was happiest, as I'd been happiest, wandering between pages and places: "I have twenty countries in my memory," he said, "and trail in my soul the colors of one hundred cities." It was a beautiful image, an amazing affirmation of the self in the world that often tried to crush the self. Cravan knew how to be thyself better than anyone, perhaps even better than Nietzsche. He could only feel at home, he said, "in voyage; when I stay a long time in the same place, stupidity overwhelms me."
Audio doc with Arthur Smith (Comedian) - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01r9c9c