Alfred Jarry (1873-1907)
by Theodocious of Rotterdam
It helped to live in Paris where money was loose and things could be brought together and made to happen. Where the new ruled the old, and innovations and change got celebrated. Where the bright and resourceful all came together in bars, restaurants, and coffee houses, and the great thing was to run a salon and have interesting and important people come together to talk and consider.
It helped to live in Paris where you could ride around on a bike with a couple of pistols to intimidate pedestrians and get them out of the way. Where the provincials and the city-slickers could mingle under the banner of the bourgeoisie.
It helped to be Jarry, a studied eccentric among others of the avant-garde, who drank too much, scorned the middle class and the government too much, laughed at the emptiness and greed around them which can never be done too much. Like Moses he wanted to overthrow the idols of rationality and bourgeois living. He knew the power of the fantastic and the destructiveness of the smile. Like a prophet he sought to abolish the bright futility of good taste, love and possession.
He anticipated the modern of our day. As a theologian he saw the passion as an uphill bicycle race. As military strategist he congratulated the French army on its new rifle which invariably jammed and hence, in case of defeat, could not be taken up and used against it. He invented pataphysics which is the basis for modern quantum physics. His concept of a time machine anticipated the theories of Einstein. He said, "merdre" which caused a riot, shortly before he drank himself to death.
As for his idea that chaos is God, it is still too early to tell.