Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spanner R4: Looking Back So Far: Mad Love, or Romantic Love as the Destruction of Society

I've posted on this theme before, but I never managed to fully integrate it into Spanner until Revision 4, including Chapters 22 and 23 which I'm racing to finish as I write this. André Breton, leader of the twentiety-century Surrealist literary and artistic movement, defined "mad love" (l'amour fou) as a love so extreme, so far beyond the limits even of unreason, it can destroy the entire social order itself. It drove Shira to her suicidal lover Leila, Leila to declare war against the Brinkman clan and erase her name, and the couple to copulate using a power crystal under the speaker's platform in Chapter 15 in order to fuse their boosted powers into a "binary system" that killed King Patriot. Now they are escalating their love into full-blown revolution, and bringing in Shira's blond cousin Jennifer to make their couple a threesome.

The Fourth Revision finds the couple/threesome doing insane things for the sake of mad love. In Revision 4.1, the final one-pass edit and ebook stylesheet hackathon, I intend to strengthen the last weak points in their love arc and integrate it better into the revolution and Student Union storylines which converge on the final three chapters of Book 1, as some weaknesses remain from Revisions 2 and 3; also, I should bring forward such counterpoint romances as the unstable one between Charmian and Bart that implodes in Chapter 20, or the four-sided love triangle centering on Corporate villain Oliver and involving a mad scientist, a high-school mean girl, and the world's most evil pop idol, and which used to be five-sided until Leila ditched her name and patriarch-arranged marriage and left him for her tempestuous lesbian romance with Shira.

One of the inspirations for importing "mad love" into the Shira-Leila romance was an analysis I read in a film book of Surrealist director Luis Buñuel's last film, That Obscure Object of Desire, in which the author speculated that, Buñuel being the Surrealist he was, this movie was at least in part about l'amour fou, and that though bourgeois French protagonist Mathieu and his tempestuous Spanish lover Concha (played by two actresses, one Spanish, one French, alternated at whim, sometimes even in mid-sentence) did have a crazy relationship involving mutual torture, Mathieu was too much the bourgeois Frenchman to let himself go and destroy the bourgeois French society to which he belonged. Since I had planned the Shira-Leila relationship as a lesbian romance since that fateful day in 1996 when I discovered yuri manga on the Internet, I realized the best way to fit that romance into the longer revolution plot was l'amour fou: a teenage lesbian mad romance between a prank-loving superslut and a suicidal fashion model. As Jennifer has been in love with Shira since childhood, she proved easy to suck in (and her role will be strengthened in Revision 4.1). Add the moral fascism of the Eugenics Institute and Shira's eight-year-old niece who happens to be a rare "true loli", and watch things go completely to hell — exactly (cackles the evil mad scientist) as planned.

As a side effect (whether fascinating or annoying depends on the reader), my quest for l'amour fou led me to the Surrealist poets (one of Breton's own poems is of course titled "L'amour Fou"), and from there to Allen Ginsberg and the Beats and American Modernist poetry in general (particularly William Carlos Williams and Sylvia Plath) — and when I started writing my own poetry under their influence, I suddenly found my poetic voice, and naturally it ended up all over Spanner R4, another of the ways it's so radically different from Revisions 2 and 3. For R4.1, I found myself re-editing the climactic moment of 1.6 as one of the surreal passages from a novel by science fiction writer Alfred Bester (that proto-cyberpunk who got a Babylon 5 villain named after him) in the form of a free-verse poem written by the likes of Breton or Ginsberg. Which seems appropriate enough, considering that Bester's short story "Fondly Fahrenheit", a major influence on the cyberpunks, is itself a complete Surrealist mindfuck involving wavering identity.

In La Révolution Surréaliste #12 (the final issue), the the editors posed these questions:
  1. How would you judge a man who would go so far as to betray his convictions in order to please the woman he loved?
  2. Do you believe in the victory of admirable love over sordid life or of sordid love over admirable life?
To which the only proper Surrealist answer is: yes.

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