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Golden Cylinders: Inscription and Intertext in L ’Eve future John Anzalone I N HIS INNOVATIVE STUDY OF LES MACHINES CÉLIBA­ TAIRES (1954) Michel Carrouges returns repeatedly to inscription as one of the key elements of the bachelor machines. Each of the instruments presented in the works discussed by Carrouges contains a device or, more ambiguously, a zone that determines the effective func­ tion of the machine, and defines it in terms of reflexivity, solitude or redundance: the needles of Kafka’s harrow, for example, inscribe the Law from above into the ready (and willing?) flesh of the victim; the upper plate or “ fourth dimension” of Duchamp’s large glass, La Mariée mise à nue par ses célibataires, même, sends the silly bachelors sliding and spinning in their pursuit of the unreachable bride they hope to lay bare. In various other examples, Carrouges proposes inscription as the primary theoretical feature of these oddly compelling mechanisms; the implicit suggestion is that a bachelor machine would cease to function without some inscriptive device or, as we might more readily say now, without a program. But while he insists upon the inescapable presence of inscription and inscribing devices and emphasizes their significance in the elaboration of the bachelor machine, Carrouges rarely attempts an analysis of their nature or importance to a given text. This essay will take a closer look at the phenomenon of inscription and what it portends in one of the most haunting and unusual texts of fin de siècle narrative fiction, Villiers de l’lsle-Adam’s L ’Eve future (1886).' Both Carrouges and, later, Deleuze and Guattari in L ’Anti-Œdipe, present Villiers’ novel as a paradigm for 1. Carrouges summarizes the incidences of inscription in L ’Eve future but does not sharpen the focus of what is perhaps the central element in his formulation of the bachelor machine myth. See Michel Carrouges, Les Machines célibataires (Paris: Arcanes, 1954), pp. 146-49. See also H. Szeemann, Junggesellenmaschinen/Les Machines célibataires (Venise: Alfieri, 1975), the catalogue of the 1975 exhibition held at the Musée des Arts décoratifs. See also Rodolphe Gasché on L ’Eve future and undecidability for some pertinent remarks on the question of inscription: R. Gasché, “ The Stelliferous Fold: On Villiers de l’lsle-Adam’s L ’Eve Future,” Studies in Romanticism, No. 22 (Summer 1983), pp. 293-327. 38 W in t e r 1986 A n za lo n e the bachelor and desiring machine myths. Carrouges states that Villiers had an acute awareness of the implications his android Hadaly had with regard to what we might call the sexual politics of the decadent period: “ [...] il est le premier après Poe à évoquer une machine authentiquement célibataire. Il possède une conscience aiguë de ce que signifie pareille entreprise de son imagination [...] il aboutit à la peinture, peut-être unique, d’une hiérogamie artificielle manquée” (op. cit., p. 145). And Deleuze and Guattari claim that Hadaly’s Golden Cylinders contain “ the most impressive sort of inscriptions.”2 In the same passage of AntiOedipus the authors claim that the transfiguration of the desiring machine (their formulation for the next “ stage” of the machine céliba­ taire), its manifestation of what they call “ solar force,” is not the result of the inscriptions it contains. In the case of L ’Evefuture, however, such a claim is debatable: virtually everything the android Hadaly produces in terms of energies she commands and releases both in herself and in others can be traced back to the inscriptions with which her creators endow her; moreover, the novel’s thematic and metaphoric structures place inscription at its very heart, in the same place, in effect, that the Golden Cylinders occupy in Hadaly’s anatomy. Villiers’ novel, it will be recalled, recounts what transpires when, to repay a moral debt, the scientist-inventor Edison undertakes to rescue Lord Celian Ewald from that most drastic of fictional disasters, a love affair with the wrong woman. And why, one might well ask, is the actress Alicia Clary the wrong woman? Quite simply, in the implacable logic of Villiers’ universe, because though her body is sublime perfection, her soul...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 38-47
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
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