Cybertwee is a contemporary foil to Cyberpunk. Cyberpunk of the 1980’s and 90’s was dark, dystopic, and rejected softness in favor of cold tough hybridity. Cybertwee, which adopts the twee suffix from the music genre of that same era, proposes that what we need now is a cyborg existence that embraces tenderness as a survival mechanism, that holds dear our vulnerabilities because they are what connect us to each other. It is a reclamation of emotional complexity and sweetness, characteristics that have been devalued by capitalism’s demand that we be tireless and patriarchy’s demand that we harden in self-defense. Cybertwee is cuteness as retaliation as well as pleasure. “Our nectar is not just a lure, or a trap for passing flies, but a self-indulgent intrapersonal biofeedback mechanism spelled in emoji and gentle selfies.”
- Emily Gaynor, “Artist Interview: May Waver“
‘Surface elements,’ by which I take it he means ogres, dragons, Arthurian knights, mysterious boatmen, etc., which occur in certain works of great literary merit such as Beowulf, the Morte d’Arthur, and The Lord of the Rings, are also much imitated in contemporary commercial hackwork. Their presence or absence is not what constitutes a fantasy. Literary fantasy is the result of a vivid, powerful, coherent imagination drawing plausible impossibilities together into a vivid, powerful and coherent story, such as those mentioned, or The Odyssey, orAlice in Wonderland.
Familiar folktale and legendary ‘surface elements’ in Mr Ishiguro’s novel are too obvious to blink away, but since he is a very famous novelist, I am sure reviewers who share his prejudice will never suggest that he has polluted his authorial gravitas with the childish whims of fantasy.
Respect for his readers should assure him that, whatever the book is, they will honestly try to follow him and understand what he was trying to do.
I respect what I think he was trying to do, but for me it didn’t work. It couldn’t work. No writer can successfully use the ‘surface elements’ of a literary genre — far less its profound capacities — for a serious purpose, while despising it to the point of fearing identification with it. I found reading the book painful. It was like watching a man falling from a high wire while he shouts to the audience, “Are they going say I’m a tight-rope walker?”
- Ursula K. Le Guin, “Are They Going To Say This Is Fantasy?“
Surging glaciers engage the senses. Visually, they are spectacular. Aurally, they are alarmingly noisy. Hunters, scientists, hikers, and Aboriginal elders all remark on the thunderous cracking and explosive noises they make. Tactile imagery is central to many stories that portray glaciers as bitterly cold but also, surprisingly, as emitting unbearable heat. Glaciers in these stories appear to be sentient themselves. They respond to humans and especially to smells when meat is fried nearby. They are also quick to hear and to take offence when humans demonstrate cockiness by making jokes at their expense. They are apparently equipped with vision when, for example, they are characterized as giant worms “with eyes as big as the moon.” Ambiguous entities like glaciers call to mind other ambiguities. Stories told about glaciers slide into other stories.
- Julie Cruikshank, Do Glaciers Listen? p.69
MICROMOLAR is an art collaboration that I am one half of, and during the next few months we are going to be putting together a book around the concept of “the bleak.” We are inviting submissions of essays, visual art, and sound art. Accepted submissions will be paid a (meager/literary journal-ish) rate.
If “the bleak” interests you, please check out the CFP here.
Also, please share this around on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, and all of the other websites where it might gather interest. Thanks so much for reading!
If, then, you are receptive to it, the videogames’ interactions do more than just lead you through a linear series of events that might have been communicated as effectively (if not more so) as a prose novella. Similar to the way that Gaston Bachelard wrote of a “poetics of space,” playing Gone Home encourages you to explore a narratology of space. Over the conventional meanings of the representational spaces found in the eponymous home, the incremental unspooling of the story superimposes additional significance, gradually guiding the player toward the increasingly secretive spaces where the most momentous decisions were made. The kitchen is not just a room outfitted for the usual functions of a food storage and preparation; it’s also freighted with the memory of a young woman’s changing relationship to a childhood friend. The dining room is not only where the family eats, but also where her parents refused to come to terms with the person she had discovered herself to be.
Thus, each of the discrete interactions required to play one’s way through the videogame—explore, examine, read, listen—point the player to a more significant set of underlying behaviors. The house becomes a spatial pattern, and the detective work of uncovering clues serves as an inducement to shape the narrative according to that pattern. While the narrative elements are placed before the player more or less linearly, the effect of play is to arrange them into a 3-dimensional skein congruent to the space where they were told or took place. “Home” ends up being something more than “house.” The difference is in how we imbue the structure with interpersonal meanings no architect could have anticipated.
- L. Rhodes, “Phantom Interaction“
What an amazing piece — please more essays that take seriously the genealogy of Gone Home out of first-person shooters into immersive sims and then whatever we have now.
A quick promotional moment: Five Out of Ten has recently made a shift to Patreon and if you like games criticism you should pass the publication a few bucks a month. I’ve had the opportunity to write some really exciting stuff over there, and bringing that editorial vision into a broader circulation seems like a really great thing.
To write (this book), then, is to be forced to march through enemy territory, in the very area where loss prevails, beyond the protected domain that had been delimited by the act of localizing death elsewhere. It is to produce sentences with the lexicon of the mortal, in proximity to and even within the space of death. It is to practice the relation between enjoying and manipulating, in the in-between space where a loss (a lapse) of the production of goods creates an expectation (a belief) without appropriation but already grateful.
- Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life