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May 2005: Pagan Poetry

Wonderland. Down the hole and well beyond the acid stained peripheries masqueraded by Grace Slick comes the threat, and the promise. Give us $50,000 or the rabbit dies. Take one garden variety suburban rabbit, roll a SUV over the only foot that could matter. Retrieve the rabbit from beneath the porch where it waited for what rabbits do hesitate for--- name it Toby, then nurse it back to health. Decide you are hungry. Take pictures. Write Recipes. Build a website called Await reply. This, the story of one rabbit subject to the least conventional, and, most literary assassination plot of recent times. This despite the media stranglehold on all things “hostage” and “crisis” amidst the “war on terror”. What if there was nothing that could be done?

From my childhood, at least three stories involving rabbits come to mind. Two are well known; the repackaged fable The Hare and the Tortoise starring Bugs Bunny, and, Alice in Wonderland. The third story involving rabbits from my childhood, a not so Disney-fied version of the rigors/wry of the protestant work ethic ---is the story of how I grew up working on a rabbit farm watering/feeding and yes, eating rabbit. To allay any concerns of Bias, it tastes like chicken. What doesn’t? Cow and pig? To the young children we teach: the cow goes “___________”, the pig says “_________”. Mom and dad, safe in the SUV, busy on their way to affirm other meats, don’t see it coming. As the race begins from the edge toward a likely margin, the rabbit says nothing. It’s nobody’s fault if Toby lives or Toby dies. Toby is a fiction. Shaking, pissing as it placed in the hands of an audience which must ascertain the allegory required to resolve the story.

Choose Your Own Adventure…
It would be disingenuous to suggest is the first/only/successful storytelling that has been accomplished on the internet. Observable distinctions set First, stories found online are more oft “content”. Unique information which would compel visitors to return to a site, more closely related to examples of publishing in a medium, and not realizing the medium as the fuel for the story. No deception that looking at, we can trace roots in literary manifestation of more a common sense vein; is the story and the audience. No artifice. No flash-y intro. No sanguine biography about never getting published. No mega-medias behind it pushing an ad framework. No tie in. No logo to rally behind that is another story in and of itself. Second, achieves where previous internet storytelling ventures have not; using the bare bones amount of storyline to achieve a richly complex, the one already available.
     Weekend whodunit getaways, choose your own adventure books, the unfinished work of didactic poetics --- are all of examples where the audience is invited to influence the outcome of a storyline. However incomplete a map these analogies provide for the territory occupies, a few simple facts should suffice that is first literary. Speculation, the need for further exploration lay the framework will for the question of whether savetoby is a unique literary manifestation.

I’m Late…It’s always about yesterday! engages the audience toward conviction of the situation by a simple visit to the site. There is a place, a time, an outcome. employs common story telling techniques, obvious from the creators selection of a quasi-urban myth to convict the viewer of the protagonist fate. applies knowledge of a common suburban experience, dealing with injured/maimed dead wildlife as central to the plot and outcome.

I’m Uninvited!...I’m Not Here? is media savvy. It’s not that savetoby is on the internet. It’s that is insulated by the internet. would not happen in your local arts district. Definitely could not muster the end credit credentials that “no animals were harmed in the production”? For all that may be profane about it, how do you censor something that requires attention to actualize it? Only those involved, more carefully, those who choose to be involved, are participant. employs the energy of all attraction, not select attraction, to derive the outcome of the story. expands upon previously understood storytelling techniques (telephone, guerilla marketing, urban mythology), but in ways that had not been realized as they are with this story. Complexity is what every guerilla marketer wants, but eventually must freely give up as they understand things change once you find out that curious logo/poster/commercial/sticker is simply, a bid for your money. provides a simple story but develops complexity because the outcome is of the story, the “campaign” is unknown. Even if they do take your money. achieves merit as the story line is realized in space and non-space. That is, develops a narrative which requires an audience, but re-draws the setting. Not in a traditional outlet, rather the tangible “theater” of everyday living. No Ushers. No tickets. No boring Playbills., as a story, is available to its readers in ways literary works rarely are. All ideas, notions, that result from the work can influence the outcome of work. Point in case: PayPal, the vendor the creators chose to collect the ransom funds through, who has "temporarily"pulled the plug on accepting funds, and, outcry from groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Despite the fact that these agencies can/are lending gravity to the outcome that Toby will die if the money is not collected, the story is maintained, arguably, strengthened. Losing nothing from the input, reaction. Find it rather resilient.

Waterships in the Briar Patch:
Bigwig: I'm from a warren where life is free. Where you can do is as you wish. I've come to bring you all out of Efrafra.
                                             -Watership Down

Un-cited altogether, are the known credentials for those who take up the work of declaring a unique literary manifestation is working. Witnesses are flawed and makes it no easier being both, is a precocious fete from the usual expectations of online literature, and like nothing seen before. Certainties can be assessed in the interim. People will say it’s about the money, it always is. People will say “I” did it first, they always do. The first picture is rarely the most accurate, and more than a thousand words have already been spent. Toby is waiting

Lance Oditt
editor at semantikon dot com


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