The Gecko Awakes

I keep returning, like a restless dog, to the oft-sucked bone of strange search terms. I claim a literary interest (the procrastinater’s habitual excuse), but it is probably a mere thirst for the absurd, or the simply silly, that draws me back to this peculiar well. And why not assuage this chaotic thirst of mine? Especially when there are so many bizarre search terms shuffling around the ruffled fringes of this blog.

To explain. Someone has found their way to this site by typing the words ‘gecko waking up’ into a search engine. Why they have done this I cannot say. How they found themselves here, well, I can only guess. I suppose it must have been this rather ancient post on the subject of Art Gecko. This, as far as I can recall, is the only occasion on which I have evoked the name of the famous sticky-toed lizard. I don’t remember, all the same, ever dealing with the issue of a gecko emerging from a somnolent state. And why would I?

Perhaps I am missing something. Perhaps the sight of a newly waking gecko would overturn the old bucket of my tiresome life. Perhaps it would tear a hole in the dirty blanket of my existence. Perhaps it would offer a bloody kick to the rough shins of my most cherished traditions.

Or perhaps it would amuse me, briefly – to be forgotten, gladly.

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Tiny Pieces

It has, I think, been some time since I brought your worthy attention to a favourite ‘search term‘, perhaps because so few of the recent examples I have come across have caught my elegant fancy. Either that, or my mind has been on other things. In any case, a suitably strange term has just emerged. And this, if you will, is it:

‘animals breaking a rock into tiny pieces’

Is any further comment required? I can only hope that my humble blog offered this particular internet-surfer what they wanted. Somehow I doubt it, but one cannot be so hasty as to assume that one has a hold on the expectations of the contemporary web-wanderer. Perhaps this site is just the place for someone seeking information on/footage of/poems about rock-breaking animals. On the other hand…

On Sertin’s Terms

Last night at The Crippled Bee, Jean-Pierre Sertin and I, after a drink or five, got down to the business of discussing search terms. I say ‘got down to the business’: this sounds as though our discussion was pre-ordained. It wasn’t, of course. Sertin’s mind, and mine, move along uncertain channels of wind. Our thoughts flutter like flakes of late winter snow. Down the weird stream of fancy we flow. Through the tides of…

Anyhow. Where was I? Yes: search terms. This is the subject to which we turned, apres much meandering. Sertin had, I fancy, read this post and it had, as well it might, turned on a switch in his creative mind. He was, as ever, full of ideas. And one idea bobbed to the surface more than all the others. And it was this:

To create a work of fiction directed solely by search terms. One starts – on a blog, perhaps – with a story. In time, restless web-adventurers find themselves paddling in the sea of your story. The search term that has brought them there offers for you, the writer, a new departure. You leave by the route by which people came to you. The reader directs the writer, but without knowing it.

There are all sorts of implications, no doubt, though one (i.e. ‘I’) would need to see how such a thing worked out in practice before offering full judgement. Which brings us, I guess, to the tricky part. Sertin is already notorious for working on twenty or so projects at once. His creative pockets are overflowing. He has more ideas than he knows what to do with. Will he, can he follow this particular one up?

Google Knows Your Grandmother

It’s been some time, I fancy, since I last lowered my hairless hand into the lucky dip of search terms (last september, as it turns out). One would expect a sea of strangeness waiting to engulf me – and one would be right, for strangeness is certainly never far away when it comes to search terms. The world is simply jam-packed full of people typing peculiar things into search engines, only to arrive, for one reason or another, at my battered old door. Today I have picked just four of the many weird and wonderful lines I found lurking on my search term list. Trust me when I say that there were many more.

The first is ‘it becomes difficult not to fall in love with death’: an unsurprisingly mournful statement – one which must have led, I imagine, to one of the many articles on everybody’s favourite miser Pyetr Turgidovsky. But who might have written this, and what exactly were they looking for? Consolation? Like-minded nihilists? Or is it the title of an early Turgidovsky short story?

The aim of our second searcher seems more obvious. One doesn’t type ‘bapless burger’ unless one is, well, after a bapless burger. The question remains (and it is, I think, one of the big questions of our age): why is one after a bapless burger? To what extent would a recipe for a bapless burger differ from a regular burger recipe, save the absence of the bap? And how did this phrase link to my website? (is this, too, a title of a short story by the young Turgidovsky; the bapless burger being a symbol of his empty adolescent life perhaps?)

From the profane to the sacred. ‘Sunday of last judgement simplified’ is our third term (and here’s the article, I fancy, towards which it led). Now this one moves my mind in all sorts of ways. People do yearn for simplicity, and who am I to roadblock their highway of desires? Having said that, the Last Judgement (one of those strange historical things that is nonetheless yet to happen) is one of those things that, I would say, tends to resist simplicity. Here is someone, however, who clearly wishes to have the whole thing not only cut down to size, but timetabled. Maybe their Sundays tend to be busy, and they’d rather the Last Judgement didn’t encroach too heavily. Would it be possible to be judged after lunch, since I was planning to invite the vicar? How long do you reckon the judgement will take? Will there be toilet breaks?

Talking of last things: ‘conclusion on my grandmother’ is our last term (this the destination, I presume). Yet another case, it seems, of using the internet to seek the answers to purely personal questions. Someone is perplexed by the behaviour of a grandparent. They seek elucidation. Options abound. They could use their own mind. They could ask the help of other people: family, friends or professional counsellors. Or they could, of course, just see what google says. Google knows your grandmother like nobody does. This, as we well know, is nothing short of a fact.

Extra-marital Protocol

It’s been a while since I last buried my old ostrich head into the strange sands of ‘search terms’, so here’s a little something that has for some days been bouncing about like some misshapen rubber ball in the playground of my mind. Sometime over the last month, an anonymous web surfer entered a sentence into a search engine, and ended up at a page in Underneath the Bunker. This was the page – and this was the search term: Does a man love his mistress?

Let’s not throw any time away relating the term to the page. Though the issue in hand may not be explicitly answered in Heidi Kohlenberg’s review of Stephen Harringer’s biography of George Forthwith-James, one can see easily enough why a search engine might think the article relevant to anyone posing what is, at heart, a rather bizarre sort of question. Does a man love his mistress? What kind of answer might our anonymous ponderer be expecting? Is it right for a man to love his mistress? Could there possibly be some sort of consensus regarding the duty of a man who is, essentially, not doing his duty? The question is so beautifully general; so stunningly free of specifics. Does whatman love his mistress? Perhaps our unknown searcher has a mistress, or desires one, or desires love, or desires… what? It’s hard to say what he/she desires; what he/she is after. The internet is a wide, weird world, but it is no oracle, and can no more stand peculiar queries than any of us. And yet it’s nice to see someone put these questions forward; these unfathomable, unanswerable, inexplicable musings, tossed into the air like rare goose feathers, like fine grain, like paper snow, like dry grass in a stiff summer wind.

In honour of this, allow me to answer the unanswerable. If art is a man’s wife, and a man’s wife is his mistress, why then he loves his mistress.

Baboon Face Tor

As I have already established (and others are consistently proving) search terms are an endless source of fascination; all the more so since the majority of those I encounter seem to correspond to no clear logic, offering an immediate portal into the scrambled brains of some anonymous web-weevil. I could understand it if readers flocked to my gates in search of ‘obscure European fiction’ –  instead I get people on the lookout for ‘consumption rate of pomegranates in Greece’, ‘square-like bruises’ and, last week, ‘baboon face tor’. Obviously I will take whatever reader comes my way, but I cannot help but think that these strange souls aren’t the people I had in mind when I first took up literary criticism.

Still, they never cease to inspire me, in their weird little way. They’ve even begun to weave themselves into my dreams. Last night, for instance, I dreamt of taking a pilgramage to Glastonbury Tor, only to discover on reaching my destination that someone had painted a massive baboon’s face on the southern slope of the famous small hill. Around this face stood a circle of naked revellers, their bottoms painted red, dancing to the whisper of the West Country wind. When I approached they started jumping up and down and reciting passages from James Joyce (at least that’s what it sounded like – it might have just been gobbledygook). Needless to say I didn’t hang around for long.

I wonder what Tor Borsen would make of all this? It was his name, after all, that acted as the vital bait for our curious visitor. But alas, I know not where the man with the name-that-means-conical-hill-in-Celtic is (as explained here).

…And a Pint of Skunk Juice, Please

It has been said before, but search terms frequently reveal worrying trends, offering us a curious view into the strange web-searching habits of some of the world’s more sinister citizens.

Two days ago, for instance, a web-wanderer found his or herself at the gates of this site, armed with the search term ‘purchase skunk juice’. Whilst it is not a great surprise that they should have washed up here – this, naturally, was the bait that lured them in – I am nevertheless disturbed by the idea that someone is actively seeking to ‘purchase skunk juice’. To what end, might we ask? The excitable trouble-maker in all of us can probably think of half a dozen ways in which a pint of skunk juice might be employed, though few of us (I fancy) would go so far as to submit to these fantasies.

Unless, of course, our skunk-juice-seeker was thinking of stealing Turgidovsky’s idea of soaking books in the repellant liquid – in which case I confess that I am intrigued, and would love to hear the results of their experiment.