Saturday, May 11, 2013

MC by earworm

Last week I stumbled onto a video by a band I'd never heard of - which isn't surprising because they're Norwegian, and, unfortunately, bands don't achieve lasting popularity in the US unless they sing in English. I'm not counting one-off hits like "Gangnam Style," which IMO only took off here because of the video. Anyway, I guess the band Kaizers Orchestra will be familiar to a lot of my European readers. If so, you have my envy.

My introduction to Kaizers Orchestra came through the video below. Not only does it sound great even if you don't understand the lyrics, but the video has all kinds of fetishy goodness from gas masks to hints of mind control to prominently displayed cleavage...okay, well, cleavage isn't fetishy, but bear with me here. I liked this song so much that I downloaded it - and a lot of other music by the band - and listened to it several times last week. In the end, the song below wormed its way so deeply into my head that one night while I was trying to work on "Sleepwalkers," I couldn't concentrate on anything but "Knekker Deg Til Sist." It was like it was playing right inside my head, drowning out every other thought.

Well, naturally, once I could think again (the next day) I started thinking about MC. The first thing that occurred to me was Sara H's story Hiss, in which a woman puts on a pair of ear buds and then can't get them out, which eventually leads to her being brainwashed by subliminal messages (Tabico's New Tunez follows a similar pattern). A little later, I started thinking how appropriate it was that the song stuck in my head was sung in Norwegian, because how better to hide subliminal messages than in words the listener doesn't understand? I could build all kinds of interesting EMC stories around this idea. Maybe the words really aren't in a known language, but they've been scientifically designed to hit certain receptors in a listener's brain. Or maybe the words that don't make sense are covering the words that do make sense, on a subliminal level. Or maybe the music comes from an alien technology.

Run with it. Have fun.

As for me, I now have to get this music out of my head again so I can keep working on "Sleepwalkers" today. Wish me luck.


Unknown said...

I would draw your attention to Herr Doktor Pandemonium, a villain the DEMON sourcebook of the Hero System. He's a German linguist who discovered the language used by eldritch horrors to make humanity obey. Exposure to "that which man was not meant to know" awakened ancient racial memories of that time, in which his ancestor was a kapo, an overseer. He uses a specially made voice box to allow him to speak the language.

It's always struck me as a wonderful idea, although considerable tweaking would be needed as it's currently horror themed, but it would be fun :)

thrall said...

That definitely sounds interesting! And now that you've got me thinking about books, I remember that the MC in Snow Crash is also based on language. I can't believe I forgot that when I wrote the post.

Anonymous said...

Have you read Alan Moore's The Courtyard (and the sequel Neonomicon)? The story deals with exactly the topic you are talking about; transforming people mentally through a language they don't understand (possibly through some genetically programmed MK-Ultra device). Most of the time those affected end up killing people instead of having sex with them, but the ideas are interesting.

I havn't read the sequel yet, but this is is what Moore had to say about it: "Lovecraft was sexually squeamish; would only talk of ‘certain nameless rituals.’ Or he’d use some euphemism: ‘blasphemous rites.’ It was pretty obvious, given that a lot of his stories detailed the inhuman offspring of these ‘blasphemous rituals’ that sex was probably involved somewhere along the line. But that never used to feature in Lovecraft’s stories, except as a kind of suggested undercurrent. So I thought, let’s put all of the unpleasant racial stuff back in, let’s put sex back in. Let’s come up with some genuinely ‘nameless rituals’: let’s give them a name."

More of the same ideas in other comics:

"The Anti-Life Equation is a string of symbols that represents that darker impulse, symbols that brings it to life inside other people. That idea that the “right words” have the power to transform both human beings and the world is central not only to Anti-Life, but also to the fundamental concept of writing. And of course to magic, which is a practice that Morrison engages in a very real way in his own life. When circulation dipped on his run on the comic The Invisibles in the mid-’90s, he created a symbol called a sigil that he imbued with a request for sales to increase, and asked his readers to help charge it with their energy by masturbating to it collectively on Thanksgiving evening. They did, and circulation went up."

In Flex Mentally, two heroes are able to alter the reality by becoming so small they become a part of its fabric, destined to respond to a certain word that is said and felt, but that's probably not entirely related to the main topic here.

thrall said...

I've heard about the Neomonicon and keep meaning to buy it, but somehow I never get around to it.

The thing about the sigil is hilarious.