In 1900, ALFRED JARRY (1873-1907) published what remains the only convincing plan ever devised for the construction of a time machine. So it’s stupid to pretend that the pioneering French sci-fi author/playwright was not himself a visitor from a future in which religion, politics, violence, and other Ubu-esque social ills have been vanquished thanks to a widespread, passionate faith in absurdism; and ’pataphysics, “the science of imaginary solutions,” which takes for granted the truth of contradictions and exceptions, has triumphed over the vulgar positivism under which we suffer today. (We can also infer that the bicycle is the primary means of urban transportation, and bicycling costumes are worn everywhere; and that people are shorter — Jarry was five feet tall.) Those whom Jarry has influenced — e.g., Apollinaire, Picasso, Ionesco, Duchamp, Philip K. Dick, Boris Vian, the Situationists, Oulipo, Baudrillard, Charlie Kaufman — ought not to be regarded as artists, but activists determined to realize the noncoercive-utopian vision of their martyred hero. Yes, martyred! Why did Jarry insist upon speaking in a robotic voice, and die at the (Christ-like) age of 34? The ’pataphysician Geezer Butler informs us: “He was turned to steel/In the great magnetic field/When he traveled time/For the future of mankind.”
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Peter Sellers.
READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the Anarcho-Symbolist (1864-73) and Psychonaut (1874-83) generations. (Of course, Jarry was actually born in the far future.)
In 2012, HiLoBooks serialized and then republished (in gorgeous paperback editions, with new Introductions) five forgotten Radium Age science fiction classics! Five more titles will be serialized and published in 2013. For more info: HiLoBooks.
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