His works are now considered major precursors of surrealism, Andre Breton and the surrealists hailed him as an immediate predecessor and Ubu as a prophetic figure. Although the coarsness of his language was deliberately shocking, Jarry's humour was often metaphysical in nature. He would for example, often give a logical demonstration in lucid style of an absurd proposition. Ubu gave us a terrifying image of the animal nature of man, his cruelty and ruthlessness.
Born in Laval, Mayenne, France, he was of Breton descent, moving to Paris when he wa 17 where he gained attention for his poetry and prose poems and general outlandishness behaviour.
A life of bachaalian excess was his main preoccupation, drinking was to him his 'sacred herb' and absinthe in particular made his heart warm.
A mephisto in miniature ,wild, extravagent and unhibited, in his use of language,permanently dressed head to toe in black,another devotion was to cycling, an obsession . His life lived hardcore to the extremes, an anarchic adventurer chasing the sweet excesses of the absurd. A hardcore eccentric he also took very seriously the art of taking nothing seriously and referred to himself in the third person. Often painting himself green, in homage to his favourite tipple, eating his meals in reverse , adapting his own living quarters to such an extent that visitors had to stoop on entering his myterious lair, which was full of strange things.. He followed closely the footsteps of his hero Rabelais. Reading a book by Jeremy Reed at moment called ' Isodore' about Isidore Ducasse who called himself the Comte de Lautreament (1846-70) and who wrote 'Les Chant de Malador whose dark , brooding, haunted world Jarry also belonged to. Jarry also owes a debt to Verlaine, Rimbaud and Mallarme, visionaries too, revolting against the rational. A lot of his writings predate science fiction in their othertherworldiness.
Illustration for Ubu
Welcomed by many symbolist poets , painters and journal writers, because of and not despite his extremity.
Throughout all his excessives , he maintained his sense of humour, and his unigue sensibility. Speaking with exagerrated and flowery precision. Drink practiced as discipline! He wrote ' anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so solvent and corrosive than out of all substances, it has been chosen for washing and scourings, and a drop of water, added to a clear liquid like absinthe, muddies it'. That's right he took his absinthe neat, and when without funds resorted to ether.
People could apparently tell when he was coming, because sometimes he did not wash for long periods, and he had a general disorder about him, guzzling from whatever drink he had available, whilst swaggering around waving two pistols, which he had about his person,at all times, between riding his bicycle in hell raising style,often in a drunken haze, but how I imagine how he must have dazzled, this swaying subversive, dressed head to toe in tall stovepipe hat and black hooded cape, full cycling gear worn at all times, a wildness about him , that makes many a modern rock god look like mere pussycats.
Almost mythological now is his status, burning bright, dissipating suddenly into the Paris night.
Never bowing to boring convention, this inspiring even on his death bed, his last words which were " Bring me a tooth pick."
What a guy, what a time. My god he must have dazzled. Long may his memory be kept green. We are all Ubu, still blissfully unaware of our destructiveness, the world still rich in its ridulousness..
What follows is a small selection of his writings
The Passion Considered as an Uphill Bicycle Race
Barabbas, slated to race, was scratched.
Pilate, the starter, pulling out his clepsydra or water clock, an operation which wet his hands unless he had merely spit on them - Pilate gave the send-off.
Jesus got away to a good start.
In those days, according to the excellent sports commentator St. Matthwe, it was customary to flagellate the sprinters at the start the way a coachman whips his horses. The whip both stimulates and gives a hygeinic massage. Jesus, then, got off in good form, but he had a flight right away. A bed of thorns punctured the whole circumferance of his front tyre.
Today in the shop windows of bicycle dealers you can see a reproduction of this veritable crown of thorns as an add for puncture-proof tires. At Jesus's was an ordinary single-tube racing tire.
The two thieves, obviously in cahoots and therefore "thick as thieves," took the lead.
It is not true there were any nails. The three objects usually shown in the ads belong to a rapid-change tire tool called the "Jiffy."
We had better begin by telling about the spills; but before that the machine itself must be described.
The bicycle frame in use today is of relatively recent invention. It appeared around 1890. Previous to that time the body of the machine was constructed of wo tubes soldered together at right angles. It was generally called the right-angle or cross bicycle. Jesus, after his puncture, climbed the slope on foot, carrying on his shoulder the bike frame, or, if you will, the cross.
Contemporary engravings reproduce this scene from photographs. But it appears that the sport of cycling, a a result of the well known accident which puta grevious end to the Passion race and which was brought up to date almost on its anniversery, by the similar accident of Count Zborowski on the Turbie slope - the sport of cycling was for a time prohibited by state ordinance. That explains why the illustrated magazines, in reproducing this celebrated scene,show bicycles of a rather imaginary design. They confuse the machine's cross frame with that other cross, the straight handlebar. They represent Jesus with his hands spread on the handlebars, and it is worth mentioning in this connection that Jesus rode lying flat on his back in order to reduce his air resistance.
Note also that the frame or cross was made of wood, just as wheels are to this day.
A few people have insinuated falsely that Jesus's machine was a draisienne, an unlikely mount for a hill-climbing contest. According to the old cyclophile hagiographers, St. Beiget, St. Gregory of Tours, and St.Irene, the cross was equipped with a device which they name suppedaneum. There is no need to be a great scolar to translate this as "pedal."
Lipsius, Justinian, Bosius, and Erycius Puteanus describe another accessory which one still finds, according to Cornelius Curtius in 1643, on Japanese crosses: a protuberance of leather or wood on the shaft which the rider sits astride - manifestly the seat or saddle.
The general description, furthermore, suits the definition of a bicycle current among the Chinese: "A little mule which is led by the ears and urged along by showering it with kicks."
We shall abridge the story of the race itself, for it has been narrate in detail by specialized works and illustrated by sculpture and painting visible in monuments built to house such art.
There are 14 turns in the difficult Golgotha course. Jesus took his first spill at the third turn. His mother, who was in he stands, became alarmed.
His excellent trainer, Simon the Cyrenian, who but for the thorn accident would have been riding out in front to cut the wind, carried the machine.
Jesus, though carrying nothing, perspired heavily. It is not certain whether a female spectator wiped his brow, but we know that Veronica, a irl reporter, got a good shot of hoim with her Kodak.
The second spill came at the seventh turn on some slippery pavement. Jesus went down for the third time at the eleventh turn, skidding on a rail.
The Israelite demimondaines waved their handekerchiefs at the eighth.
The deplorable accident familiar to us all took place at the twelfth turn. Jesus was in a dead heat at the time with the thieves. We know that he continued the race airborne - but that is another story.
Alfred Jarry's portrait of Jesus's feet.
- Days and Nights, Book IV, Chapter 1
Sengle had taken it for granted that, owing to his proven influence on the behaviour of small objects, he had the right to assume that the entire world, in all likelihood, obey him. If is not true that the vibration of a fly's wing " makes a bump in the back of the world," because there is nothing in back of infinity, or perhaps because movements are transmitted, accordind to the Cartesian equation, in rings ( it is established that the stars describe narrow ellipses, or, at least, elliptic spirals; and that a man in a desert, believing himself to be walking in a straight line, walks to the left; and that comets are rare phenomoena) - nevertheless, it is evident that a small vibration radiates outward in a series of significant displacements and that the reciprocal world is incapable of moving a reed in such a way as to make it take notice; for this reed, carried along in the retreat - which is never a stampede - of its surroundings, would remain in its particular rank and file and could confirm thaty, from every point of view, its relationship to its surroundings has remained fixed.
Under a glass bell Nosocome had suspended side by side a straw and a cocoon of silk, and verified the fact that a source of animal heat, which brought near, did not displace the enclosed air sufficiently to provoke a liberation. Fromseveral yards away Sengle obtained declinations with a brief glance.
Sengle rolled dice one day, in a bar, against Severus Altesch playing for the first fifteen. He rolled five, five, and five three probable combinations to Severus in advance, while the dice were srill whirling round in the opacity of the dice box. And on the second roll, already drunk on absinthe and cocktails, he threw a five, a four - the bourgeois idiot within Severus cackled derisively - and a six. Nobody would play with him any more, since he was cleaning them out of considerable sums of money.