Pwn4g3 In Literary Criticism

The writing reminds me of the surreal, experimental use of language of Samuel Beckett in Waiting For Godot. Or perhaps James Joyce’s lucidity combined with Hemingway’s brevity. The user has thrown off convention’s shackles, which dictate the use of plot, character, chapters, paragraphs, spelling and proper grammar, and created a masterpiece in the process. The user even employs numbers instead of letters, and in a revolt against classic literature, spells O.K. as Ok. Thus we are left wondering- is the user’s intent actually to spell “O.K.”, or perhaps to invoke the grassy plains of “Oklahoma” (pining for a lost home? Evocation of that yearning for untamed spaces which drove the westward expansion?). Or perhaps “Ok” is a misspelling of “Auk”, presumably referring to the majestic Great Flightless Auk and the tragedy of its extinction. Perhaps this ambiguity is the author’s intent: to create a rorschach blot in prose, a blank literary canvas upon which to project our hopes, our dreams… and our fears. 

I think it is naive to read the work as a pro-capitalist treatise. The author may be speaking through a character who claims to love capitalism, to emphasize how the tragedy of modern capitalism requires not merely subjugation, but acceptance: shadows of Orwell’s “1984”, where the victory of the System comes not when Winston Smith is broken down by the state, but when he embraces the state. Perhaps, by reducing society to a single, spare word, almost unrecognizeable- “pwn4g3”- we are instead offered a critique of the 21st century, and how our life boils down to something so spare, so unfulfilling, and ultimately even strips us of our identity? 

Orwell leads us to examine another issue: pseudonyms. Now, George Orwell was of course the pseudonym of Eric Arthur Blair. I do agree with L that this is a work of genius and I applaud recognizing it as such (it takes little effort to find works of art when they have been labelled as such for a hundred years, but to recognize a genius that others have overlooked- to stand up in a crowd and rouse them, saying, “This is a work of genius.”- well, that is also a kind of genius). Yet, I must criticize L on these grounds: why must we assume that our unnamed author is a “he”? What part of artful prose “pwn4g3” belongs exclusively to the male sex- is it because “pwn4g3” is an act of domination and you make the sexist assumption that men are dominant? 

Stewie is masculine, but women sometimes assume male pen names (George Eliot, for instance, was the pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans). Since almost all users are pseudonyms, why is it so hard to believe a female user might go one step further and assume a male name? Are we so brainwashed by modern literature’s patriarchy that we cannot admit that a woman might be this generation’s crowning literary jewel? Perhaps the author defies the conventions of sex and sexuality as well as those of literature and is instead a polyamorous hermaphrodite or albino transsexual? Even a promiscuous, unusually gifted bonobo monkey? This rigid establishment thinking merely plays into the hands of- and perpetuates- the arrogant Harvard school of Humanism which teaches that old, white and thoroughly “Western” heterosexual men made all things of value in human culture. 

InfiniteMonkey 19:26, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

Literary criticism gold! 🙂

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