Thursday, 22 May 2014

Supermale Accelerationism

Alfred Jarry's Supermale (1902) is another of those fantasies of the fusion of the human with the machine, but also of the competition between the 'human forces' ('Ha, ha, human forces!') and the emergent forces of the machine. Andre Marcueil, the (anti-)hero is a veritable sex machine, or love machine. He is the supermale in all senses, including the most obvious one. 
He is out to prove his statement 'The act of love is of no importance, since it can be performed indefinitely'. He can also outrun, on a bike with no chain, both a racing locomotive and its competitor - a 5 man racing bike, with the men fed on 'perpetual motion food.'

This could be another of those 'modernist' male fantasies of mastery (sexual and technological)  we have, supposedly, abandoned. It seems the most extreme, if comic, statement of 'technological vitalism', literalised as a sex scene. Yet the scene of fantasy is one dominated by Ellen Elson, the railway heiress, who desires an 'Indian', an ever virile male.
She exhaust the supermale on her own, without the use of the 'reserve' prostitutes, and faints rather than dying - unlike one of the unfortunate bike riders, who dies in (literal) harness, but keep pedalling, or even the supermale, who dies fused to an electromagnetic 'love machine' at the climax (pun intended) of the book. The supermale overpowers the machine with his virility, but the result is that it melts into his head (it is something like the 'cap' from an electric chair) and drives him mad and kills him. Jarry's visions of male fusion are both competative and deadly.

Elson herself is another male fantasy, but perhaps not exhausted by that status. Jarry's comic vision explodes a mastery of technology, explodes the 'accelerationist' fantasy, without simply disregarding technology (as Deleuze makes clear).