Rusty pipes, cultural genesis

One of the intriguing aspects of digeracy is the meandering, serpentine path one walks when searching online. In the world of digital objects, mirrors, hidden paths, trapdoors, false walls and conceptual doppelgangers, a simple search can lead one to new, often uncharted territories. In the old days, one had to get a ship & crew, beg for funds and pray to the Gods to look favorably upon the journey of discovery he wished to undertake, nowadays one simply clicks away. 

Case in point: 

I Googled for “Enemies: a love story” (a Paul Mazursky movie based on Noble Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer’s novel of the same name.) A miskeying error ended up in a Google results free-for-all. 

One of the results that caught my eyes was a book named “Troll: A Love Story” — I followed the link and found that the book was written by Finish Sci-Fi author Johanna Sinisalo. By now, my original quest was all but forgotten; I was hot on the trail of Johanna and her Troll! Click! Click! Click! I meandered further to discover that the book (published in English as “Troll: A Love Story” and also under the title “Not Before Sundown“,) tells the story of a commercial photographer who finds a troll in his block of flats and decides to adopt the beast. The troll exudes a scent that causes people to fall in love with each other – which spins the book’s narrative, while various characters fall all over themselves and each other as they chase, stalk, grab and pine for the object/s of their desire. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, anyone?) The dark side of the troll is that the creature has the ability to hook on to people’s darkest desires. I added the book to my holiday reading wishlist. 

I then Googled further and found a neat Wikipedia biography of Johanna Sinisalo, – I learned that Sinisalo wrote the script for a movie called Iron Sky for a company named Energia Productions. ToingToing!!!! Energia Productions are the people behind Star Wreck: in the Pirkinning – a full length sci-fi parody of the iconoclastic TV series Star Trek. Star Wreck is available online and claims to be the most viewed online movie in history – with a few million downloads under its digital belt. 

I set sail to find more about Johanna Sinisalo’s ‘Iron Sky’ and ended up on the movie’s website.  I realised how far I was from Kansas (here and here), If you followed my journey so far, we are forty odd clicks away from my original search (now, what was I searching for!?), but here I was, reading about Iron Sky

The movie straplines tells it all – and it is really captivating: “In 1945 the Nazis fled to the moon. In 2018 they are coming back.” Wow, a narrative to live for. “It’s a captivating project, it’s offered free online and it’s pukka dieselpunk. OK. Cyberpunk, I know, but what is dieselpunkl?? 

The term Cyberpunk, coined by Bruce Bethke 25 years ago, opened a serious sluice gate of semantic follow-ons, clones, copycats and onward-inspired theories, all related to human misfits with a technological edge: steampunk narratives set “in an era or world where steam power is still widely used-usually the 19th century”,  biopunk (generic term for a crazy scientist or science-reject that plays around with hardcore biological issues, Seth Brundle, the disturbed yet determined scientist in the movie The Fly, is a classic biopunk), clockpunk (very much like steampunk, but with a penchant for cogwheels and mechanic clockparts),  nanopunk — nanotechnology based pathologies, for example: Michael Crichton’s page-turner Prey carries this publicity honey trap: 

“In the Nevada desert, an experiment has gone horribly wrong. A cloud of nanoparticles — micro-robots — has escaped from the laboratory. […] It has been programmed as a predator […] Every attempt to destroy it has failed. And we are the prey.” Electronic nonopunkers.. delicious! Sadly, Michael Crichton has passed away recently – this genius wordsmith and outstanding narrator will be sorely missed.   

Squidpunk is “Fiction that … is at its core not only about squid, but about the symbolism of squid as color-changing, highly-mobile, alien-looking, intelligent ocean-goers… Squidpunk is almost exclusively set at sea and must contain some reference to either cephalopods or to anything that thematically relates to squid, in terms of world iconography and tropes.” 

Iron Sky is a dieselpunk movie… click click click!! According to Wikipedia “Dieselpunk … describe[s] a fantasy society with an industrial level of development, … Dieselpunk is an alternate-history environment in which the most important aspect of society is diesel fuel, and the machinery that depends upon it.” Movies like Indiana Jones, for example, are said to be an example of Dieselpunk artwork, quote: “Some people have complained that the motorcycle styling in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was incorrect, though it was built for the film. Personally, I think it’s just evidence that Indiana Jones takes place in an alternate universe with advanced motorcycle technology.” The website also covers Dieselpunk fashion

One can keep on a perpetual search-path, an ever-branching, constantly developing journey, Mazursky to Bashevis Zinger, Finish Sci-Fi author Johanna Sinisalo to an adopted troll, Shakespeare to Michael Crichton, Cyberpunk to Dieselpunk, The Fly to Indiana Jones…  a digital, dynamic Odyssey that may go on forever, adding new items as one goes along, linking to social networks, blogs, deep Net databases, flexible content — imagine a Googlebased semantic clouds as an endlessly moving narrative. While this digital Odyssey would never amount to a serious literary (or even digerate) form of storytelling, it could become an exciting past time – maybe an avenue for online tourism, moving as a group from search to search, from one result to another and from one link to another… 

“What people forget is a journey to nowhere starts with a single step, too.” Chuck Palahniuk 

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