by Michael Diamond
Cy-ku. Or cyaiku. Whatever handle you slap on it, it's hot, it's new and it's sweeping the Web. This latest evolutionary twist in cybertalk resembles its oriental ancestor only in its pithy rapidfire gestalt style. Unconstrained by syllabic requirements, it slams over the Net like a Venus Williams serve. In spite of its neo-postmodern stance, cy-ku nods to its other classical predecessor, the Roman military form, graffiti. Consider this unattributed example--
Scribito ergo sum.
The existential questions of identity, locus and singularity as raised by virtual communication are answered by the form itself. Perhaps the tortured angst which underlies the horrors perpetrated by the impotent tyrants of the world upon their fellow beings may be assuaged by this trenchant and accessible form of personal yet universal communication. A new era is at hand--FAX Americana.
The current epidemic of viruses hacking their way through cyberspace represents the forme fruste of the cy-ku, both in its unexpected presence as well as in the shadow it casts over the virtual terrain. The increasing availability of dedicated space will serve as an innoculate against the deconstructing effects of some forms of viral expression. Virus protection software is currently under development which will send an empathic cy-ku response to the originators of viral information. Thus, instead of perpetuating the viral cold war, it will initiate a dialogue. A sub-genre of cy-ku, called psy-ku, provides a ready-made reservoir of pithy responses. It is widely recognized that one of the major underlying dynamics feeding into virus production is the parricide/infanticide dialectic of intergenerational hatred. An exemplary response might be the often cited neoclassical cy-ku, Head Line, by the artisit currently known as Diamond Dog--
Zeus Kills Time, Gets Life.
The criminal act is reframed as one of supreme liberation while at the same time acknowledging the slacker ideal. Swallow this virtual pill and expand your consciousness.
Ultimately, experiments conducted at Duke University, Princeton University School of Engineering and at the University of Arizona promise to skip-check the cy-ku into the New Millenium by exploiting ether-space. Though its existence was disproved by Lavoisier in the 18th century, The Ether has stubbornly refused to go away. Another sub-genera of cy-ku, the psi-ku, creates short verifiable messages of incredible information density to be broadcast recurrently on a medium that spans the Internet and beyond. There is emerging paleocybernetic evidence that similar practices not only predated Gutenberg, but most likely existed before early Sumerian cuneiform and, in the New World, prior to Mayan glyphs. Messages decoded from cave walls at Lascaux and from the oral tradition of the pre-literate cultures of the American Southwest and of the Ainu in northern Japan, all harmonically converge at the same iconic representation of the Great Bear. The power of this ancient form may still be felt today and its spore promises to disseminate universally. Though we find ourselves in a dark wood in the middle of life's journey, we must declare with the poet, 'Bears are Catholic.'
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