Mapping the Pits of Fandom

It was day one of my Electronic Literature course. I sat at a table with three complete strangers, and scrolling on our shared monitor screen was Nick Montfort’s landscape poetry generator “Takaro Gorge”. It was morning, for me 9:30 AM is early morning. Sitting there, I was sluggish, and on top of that I had no idea what to learn or expect from Electronic Literature, let alone what it all even meant. As the words steadily scrolled I was lulled into a daze. I thought then that I could get used to this kind of tempo if this is all what e-lit is about. 

No more than ten minutes into the poem we were encouraged to branch out to the other poets on the right hand side of the screen. It had been explained that these poets had used Monfort’s original coding to create their own landscape poems. Our table’s cursor hovered over a few names, and I paid attention to the displayed url that appeared to show where we could go. One of the names, Flourish Klink, stands out in it’s username-like quality. The url linked to her name gave me even more to go on, the poem’s title: “Fred & George”. I thought then with some excitement fan fiction. I believed from that nugget alone we’d made the best choice for poem to investigate following “Takaro Gorge”. I am maybe still right about this line of thinking.

Displayed on a violently saturated orange background with a burgundy colored font is as Klink describes, “a remix with a Harry Potter incest twist”. In this case, twincest might’ve been a better descriptor, as the poem follows Weasley twins Fred and George engaging in acts never described by Rowling herself. The generative poem is uncomfortable both in presentation, and word, as every line is just as sexually driven as the last:

Hands ride the wand.
Mouths love.
Hands dream.
Wands fondle the lip.
 
  breathe in the redheaded matching ginger —
 
Taboos soothe the mouth.
Mouths dream.
Wand strokes the shaft.
 
  fuck the beloved matching ginger
 
Seeing it for the first time among what was then a group of strangers  was something of a mix between great discomfort, and timid curiosity to see how the others at my table responded. Overall, we seemed familiar with the concepts of fandom, slashfiction, and the strange attraction to the taboo of incestual relationships that seems to exist among small pockets of fans. From there we passed off the generative poem as nothing more than a joke, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that there had to be more at play within Klink’s work.
 
Considering the original generative poem by Monfort that inspired this remix is a topographical poem I think is partially key to unraveling his wife’s (Klink and Monfort have been married since 2013) spinoff. Topohraphical poetry works to describe (and often praise) landscapes and places. These poems usually have a picturesque quality to them as rivers, mountains, moonlight, and stars are all described in vivid detail. It’s by this model that Klink works to share a darker beauty within the landscape of the Harry Potter series and it’s fandom following. 
 
A randomly generated excerpt from "Fred & George"

A randomly generated excerpt from “Fred & George”

 
The fandom surrounding Harry Potter is a behemoth of a landscape to consider. The subsequent fanfiction, fan theories, fan canon created following JK Rowling’s popular fictional series has turned into a world all it’s own. Within “Fred & George” Klink spelunks with us through a dark damp cavernous pit of the underside of this fandom. She plunges us deep into a region so infrequently traveled, so off the beaten path, that what we thought we knew of the source material is all but unrecognizable within the remote space. It’s uncomfortable to see it in this way, and yet it’s strangely beautiful with some light shed upon it.
 
Actors James and Oliver Phelps are not so keen on twincest.

Actors James and Oliver Phelps are not so keen on twincest.

 
 
While the actual act of incestual relationships do disgust and offend, here the loving descriptors and sexually charged nature of the text is interpreted with the same beauty and revere as any other topographical poems. Klinks play on fandom and the idea that they can establish a landscape of their own is unique, and how she accomplishes it through a poetic play on twincest is bold. It’s easy to spin lyrics on something that’s popularly understood as a thing of beauty, but to transform an uncomfortable relationship by loving details shows that Klink is cunning in her craft- mischief managed. 

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