In 2004 I was contacted by Digito of America to review some film footage they had acquired in litigation with the estate of a young Pokkypet Master named Hemlock Pyne. While I have occasionally played boardgames such as Parchesi, and various pen and paper role playing games involving dwarves and wizards, in vain hopes of escaping the nightmare ordeals that infest my soul, I was hardly the target audience for the global phenomenon of Pokkypets. I knew only the bare lineaments of the young man’s story—namely that he had been at one time considered the greatest captor of Pokkypets the world had ever known. Few of these rare yet paradoxically ubiquitous creatures had escaped being added to his collection. But he had turned against his fellow trainers, who now hurled at him the sort of venom and resentment usually reserved for race traitors. The childish, even cartoonish aspects of the story, were far from appealing to me, especially as spending time on a hundred or so hours of Pokkypet footage would mean delaying my then-unfunded cinematic paean to those dedicated paleoanthropologists who study human coprolites or fossil feces. But there was an element of treachery and tragedy that lured me to look more carefully at the life and last days of Hemlock Pyne, as well as the amount of money Digito was offering. I found the combination irresistible.
To be a Pokky Captor was for me the highest calling—the highest calling! I never dreamed of wanting anything else. All through my childhood, I trained for it. It was a kind of warrior celebration…a pokkybration, you might say, of the warrior spirit. I lived, ate, breathed, drank, even pooped the Pokky spirit. Yes, pooped. Because there is dignity in everything they do. When it comes to Pokkypets, there is no room for shame—not even in pooping. In a sense, I was no different from many, many other children who dream of being Pokky Captors. The only difference between me and you, children like you who might be watching this, is that I didn’t give up on my dream. Maybe it’s because I was such a loser in every other part of my life–yeah, imagine that, I know it’s difficult, right?–but I managed to pull myself free of all those other bonds and throw myself completely into the world of Pokkypets. And I don’t care who you are or where you are, but that is still possible today.
Hemlock Pyne’s natural enthusiasm connected him ineluctably with the childish world of Pokkypets—the world he never really escaped. The more I studied his footage, the more I saw a boy trapped inside a gawky man-child’s body. It was no wonder to me that he had such difficulty relating to the demands of the adult world. In cleaving to his prejuvenile addictions, it was clear that Pyne hoped to escape his own decay, and for this reason threw himself completely into a world that seems on its face eternal and unchanging. The irony is that in pursuing a childish wonderland, he penetrated the barrier that protects our fragile grasp on sanity by keeping us from seeing too much of the void that underlines the lurid cartoons of corporate consumer culture, as they caper in a crazed dumbshow above the abyss.
(I will post details on the full story’s publication when I have them.)