Book//mark – Tomorrow’s Eve | Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, 1886

Villiers2Bde2BL2527Isle Adam
Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, The Future Eve, 1886                       Villiers de L’Isle-Adam (1838 – 1889)

“Even among the noises of the past, how many mysterious sounds were known to our predecessors, which for lack of a convenient machine to record them have now fallen forever into the abyss? Dead voices, lost voices, forgotten noises, vibrations lockstepping into the abyss, and now too distant ever to be recaptured!”

“Isn’t it exasperating to think of all the pictures, portraits, scenes, and landscapes that it [photography] could have recorded once, and which are now lost to us?”

“Every human occupation has it repertoire of stock phrases, within which every man twists and turn until his death. His vocabulary, which seems so lavish, reduces itself to a hundred routine formulas at most, which he repeats over and over.”

“There are even some stars so remote that their light will reach the Earth only when Earth itself is a dead planet, as they themselves are dead, so that the living Earth will never be visited by that forlorn ray of light, without a living source, without a living destination. Often on fine nights when the park of this establishment is vacant, I amuse myself with this marvelous instrument (telescope). I go upstairs, walk across the grass, sit on a bench in the Avenue of Oaks – and there, in my solitude, I enjoy the pleasure of weighing the rays of dead stars.”

“Yes, that’s what these women are: trifling playthings for the passing gadabout, but deadly to men of more depth, whom they blind, befoul, and bind into slavery through the slow hysteria that distills from them.”

“I have come with this message: since our gods and our aspirations are no longer anything but scientific, why shouldn’t our loves be so too?”

“If I could record them and transmit them to the present age, they would constitute nothing more, nowadays, than dead sounds. They would be, in a word, sounds other than what they actually were, and from what their phonographic labels pretended they were – since it’s in ourselves that the silence exists. It was while the sounds were still mysterious that it would have been really interesting to render the mystery palpable and transferable.”

“Dead voices, lost sounds, forgotten noises, vibrations lockstepping into the abyss and now too distant ever to be recaptured!…What sort of arrows would be able to transfix such birds?”

“Brunettes are full of electricity.”

“Thoughts and feelings change sometimes, as one crosses the frontiers.”

“My own self-consciousness cries out to me coldly: how does one love zero?”

“Consider this: when you stand at the entry to a steel factory, you can make out through the smoke some men, some metal, the fires. The furnaces roar, the hammers crash; and the metalworkers who forge ingots, weapons, tools, and so on are completely ignorant of the real uses to which their products will be put. The workers can only refer to their products by conventional names. Well, that’s where we all stand, all of us! Nobody can see the real character of what he creates because every knife blade may become a dagger, and the use to which an object is put changes both its name and its nature. Only our ignorance shields us from terrible responsibilities.”

“Drops of sweat stood like tears on the brow of Lord Ewald; he looked upon the features, now glacial in their austerity, of Edison. He felt that beneath this strident, scientific demonstration two things were hidden in the lecturer’s infinite range of severely controlled secret thoughts.
The first was love of Humanity.
The second was one of the most violent shrieks of despair — the coldest, the most intense, the most far-reaching, even to the Heavens, perhaps! — that was ever emitted by a living being.”

“The Android, as we’ve said, is only the first hours of Love, immobilized, the hour of the ideal made eternal prisoner”

“Within this new work of art a creature from beyond the reach of Humanity has insinuated herself and now lurks there at the heart of the mystery, a power unimagined before our time.”

“You’re doubtless well aware that most of the great hypnotic patients wind up referring to themselves in the third person, like little children. They see themselves from outside their own organisms, outside their own sensory systems. In order to get further outside themselves, and help them escape their physical personality, some of them, once in the state of clairvoyance, have the curious custom of re-baptizing themselves. The dream name comes to them, no one knows whence, and by this they INSIST on being called as long as their luminous sleep endures – to the point of refusing to answer to any other name.”

“And in any case…there are no more supernatural noises nowadays…”

L’Ève Future / Tomorrow’s Eve, Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, 1886
tr. Robert Martin Adams

A brilliant scientist builds an android (an andraiad) with a woman’s body but not her base soul. This is the first use of the term Android.

L’Eve Future engravings by Raphael Drouart, 1925
L’Eve Future engravings by Raphael Drouart, 1925

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *