Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Ubu Roi

The long haired fellow above is one Alfred Jarry, born this day 1873, in Laval, France. Apparently M. Jarry was a brilliant child who was "writing" plays and performing them for his classmates at the age of 15. At the age of 17, both of his parents died, and left him a small inheritance which he quickly spent. He was a shining example of the "live fast, and die young" type. Referring to alcohol as his "sacred herb" and, to absinthe as his "green goddess." He was drafted into the army in 1894, but since he was not even 5 feet tall, the quartermaster could not find any uniforms to fit him. I suppose he must have looked like a little kid playing grown up soldiers in a uniform many sizes too big for him. Eventually even the French figured out that fighting with midgets was not a good plan, and he was discharged for "medical reasons." His most famous play was Ubu Roi whose main character is an antihero — fat, ugly, vulgar, gluttonous, grandiose, dishonest, stupid, jejune, voracious, cruel, cowardly, and evil. Ubu was Jarry's metaphor for modern man. Sounds like a real lovely fellow, one you would love to invite to the mother in law's parties. The play was performed one time during Jarry's lifetime, opening night created such a stir that the theater director cancelled any further productions. M. Jarry was one weird cat, he lived in an apartment that was subdivided horizontally, rather than vertically, and while he could stand up in it, his guests has to stoop, or sit on the floor. He also liked to practice his shooting while at home, and when one of his female neighbors complained that his target practice was endangering her children he replied "If that should ever happen, ma-da-me, we should ourselves be happy to get new ones with you." He is credited with creating the world of pataphysics which are the laws which govern exceptions and will explain the universe supplementary to this one. He is even given credit for writing the world's first cyborg sex novel. Good stuff I bet. He lived to drink, and drank to live, and eventually it caught up with him. He died of TB, made worse by his drinking. His last request was supposedly for a toothpick, but for bringing the character of Ubu Roi to life, and the stage, Alfred Jarry (September 8th, 1873-November 1st, 1907), you are my hero of the day.

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