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By Adem Luz Rienspects
Adem Luz Rienspects
Self-publishing is a critical activity in 2023. Everything is on the author, and all aspects of the book process have to be done by him. That is not only writing, but also formatting, designing, and releasing the book. This likely has to do with a careless economy that wants to squeeze the function of the worker and get rid of the resources and markets required to sustain a literate audience. With this in mind, that gives the artist total freedom from anyone to publish what they would want on Amazon.com.
Adem Luz Rienspects’ self-published novel, Mixtape Hyperborean, is a special case in that it relies on the auditory senses in a visual format. It compiles a series of vignettes, cued with popular music and “mixes” with the products and technology of the 90s to 2000s. We digress into the many “hyperobjects” of Object-Oriented Ontology and make sense of the world around us through collage and the object’s desire to function with us.
And yes, this novel has a soundtrack! There are 26 songs, or a “mixtape,” that are cued when the text tells you to play it. The list can be found on the last page. This is assuming that the director, Luz Rienspects himself, wants the reader (or “viewer”) to concentrate on a certain scene and the intention of how the text (the “film”) should be read (or “watched”).
It takes place in the year 2007, senior year of high school. I remember the year 2007. I remember going to Barnes & Nobles in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and I bought KMFDM’s (then) new album, “Tohuvabohu” on CD. Lucia Cifarelli sang on half the tracks on that album, it was far from what WWIII or Hau Ruck sounded like. I remember there was an iTunes review of the album, and the record was given 1 star out of 5 because she changed the band’s direction.
How is 2007, not 1997? I realized there were so many similarities over the years. I recall going to FuncoLand in 1997 and picking up the Sonic & Knuckles expansion for Sonic 3 on the Sega Genesis. Maybe some other places, like Camel Beach in Tannersville, Pennsylvania also came to my childhood mind, and I enjoyed the taste of imported Chubby Soda from Trinidad. And Depeche Mode’s Ultra album came out, which I enjoyed as a child.
I am guilty of contributing to “sound poetry” in an age of illiteracy, “social media,” short attention span, dopamine hits, and visual technology overreaching all mediums to a point where we can’t think for ourselves anymore. If we isolate the music from a song and just read the lyrics, then I guess it’s poetry. We forget that music, especially popular music, is rooted in music theory, harmony, and craftmanship that requires a different discipline and skill set than language, writing, and formatting. What remains is performance. Sometimes, it’s not appropriate to “perform” written instructions in a board game or sing a Wikipedia article. This confuses poetry, the aesthetic interest in text, with music or singing, because technology is a superior format. The existential crisis of the poet is that his medium is obsolete unless he becomes a performing singer instead.
The paradigm of Brion Gysin did not die.
What are Hyperboreans? Accordingly, they might have something to do with “innocence and security.” Otherwise, they could be described as people of the north. Maybe these hyperboreans in question are the origins of mankind or the “golden age” of modern living.
Good Morning, Captain plays in the first chapter. I never was a fan of Slint, but mark my word, it meant something to the 2000-era white boys. When we listen to this kind of math rock, we are bombarded with images of “the S symbol with the six parallel lines,” PowerPoint projects, and Mortal Kombat. And like many of us, he called the project file, “Faggot.ppt.”It’s both a music criticism narrative mixed with a cultural memory prose. If a picture has 1,000 words, then a word can have 1,000 pictures. It’s like “recording” everything without a camera. The “poetry” is about the hyperobjects that have power over us.
It’s something like the inlay art of Boards of Canada’s 2005 album, The Campfire Headphase, where we remember the pictures, but don’t add up if they are real or not.
There is also a similar interest found in the work of fiction writer Dennis Cooper and his obsession with “George Miles.” We don’t know if there is a real “George Miles,” or if it is rather a placeholder name for a real person that Cooper grew up with. We can’t tell if the images presented here are also fabricated evidence and meant to dig into a traumatic memory that isn’t real. This is similar to the artificial construction of the “creepypasta” on the internet and the urban legends that are passed as real.
Mixtape Hyperborea gives me that same feeling that this memoir, including the photos in the book, is fabricated with actors and digital filters.
But who knows? I am not here to ruin the magician’s tricks.
…There is a level of homonationalism in the text. Socrates was a well-known historical homonationalist who wanted to improve the lives of the people. Together as a high school clique, “we begin to lift.” There is also the “My dick…” Game Grumps joke, and the cliche of “Who’s the hottest girl in your school?" It’s cute that “she a Mexie,” but negates this as embarrassing.
I question the homosexuality of the characters when they jerk off together while watching “A Midsummer Night’s Cream.” I don’t know anyone who has ever done a jerk circle with straight intentions. There is a level of “quiet” intimacy when they look at each other masturbating. How could T.J. comment on Britney Spears being so “fucking hot” when he just masturbated in front of a bunch of high school boys in a no-touch orgy? “Did you beat off?” is an inquiry of “Are you gay?” Dennis Cooper also wrote something similar about gay kids and heroin shooters in his 1994 novel, Try.
Pornography should be beautiful, not ugly. There are a lot of ugly and crude scenes of humorous masturbation in the text, which accidentally comes off as homosexual. Sometimes there is sadism in the text, which I like. Any fictional sex scene should be described as beautiful, but instead, “I should put tobacco on my dick to make it go down easier.” That’s ugly. In this case, there is a large amount of condescending irony that is found in this middle-American culture, from belittlement to anger. “Don’t smoke in the car” is met with “fuck you.”
Nonetheless, Mixtape Hyperborea follows the tradition of Aaron Cometbus, with his long-lasting punk zine to novel format, “Cometbus,” and John Updike’s “A&P,” which advocates dialectical materialism as the new paradigm in creative fiction. The Anarchist collective Crimethinc had a 2001 book called “Evasion” which told, through narrative, how to shoplift and use resources like a homeless person. Mixtape Hyperborea reminds me of Evasion in many ways.
Mixtape Hyperborea follows sentence pauses and jams that read like a song.
“The light background music.
The wind through the trees.
Everything coheres into a symphony of calming white noise.”
And also something like this,
“Some go past the big rock.
Some take a seat and look out at the horizon.
Some take pictures.
Some sit on boulders and dangle their feet.
Some are telling secrets, others are shrieking with laughter.
Some are skipping rocks, others are rubbing their shoulders.
Some will drop out of college and start selling real estate, some will work at Toyota, then quit Toyota to become a full-time electrician. Some will waitress at a really fancy restaurant, then cheat on their boyfriend with their shift manager. Some will move to Korea for a year.”
Poetry nuggets like these are written throughout the text. And for a second, you forgot that this is a linear narrative. The novel follows the nonlinear function of cultural memory. Any passage that can be read as reminiscent, the novel becomes a sensory experience, that you, the subjective reader, make sense of.
Memory fades away from the work they did. Where are the Hyperboreans now?
The clash of technology and culture plays a huge role. What is the “mixtape” is a printed book, brought upon the new software in 2023 that allows us to make edits and designs that were not possible in the English language. We can’t put a book in a cassette player, but the old technology is invoked again through new tech. It becomes a synthesis of the “old-new” than of the “new-old.” The novel has been digitized as a .docx, .pages, .txt, or whatever popular file type to make of. Its digital reinvention means that what is “novel” can take shape to what the computer limits us to do with it.
This entire time, I though I was going to listen to a literal mixtape, not read a novel!
Mixtape Hyperborea has promo videos that simulate virtual readings to entice you to buy the “product.” The videos alone could pass as art films trying to persuade the visual-minded to get up and read a book for once.
This also brings up the issue of whether Vilém Flusser is correct in Does Writing Have a Future? and Into the Universe of Technical Images. Will people become illiterate in the future because of technology? Or will literacy and writing be engaged only by the elite, and everyone else must suffer from peer pressure internet memes, and delusional Instagram envy? Flusser acknowledges that technology will continue to accelerate, and the medium around us will become a cyborg enhancement. Unlike Marshall McLuhan’s delusional “global village,” Flusser believed that dialectic materialism cannot be contained with ever-increasing post-scarcity technology, and like Fredric Jameson’s criticism of postmodernity, there will be a global crash.
Mixtape Hyperborea will survive the crash when it happens. It’s not just about 2007 and the generation around it. It’s a cultural study of advanced social control technology and how it has influenced preferred aesthetics and memory. The novel is an artifact intended for the post-history period that will eventually come into being. It doesn’t matter if the Hyperboreans are real or not.
Imagination is a social weapon that shall prevail over institutionalized arrogance and gatekeeping.