Friday, April 16, 2021

2. The Wabbit and What the Spider Knew

They met with Duetta at the Cathedral of St. John. The Wabbit had an arrangement with the Cathedral and no-one was around - just a few pilgrims to see the Shroud of Turin. But Duetta was hard to ignore. Lapinette had forgotten how huge the spider was. She jumped in the air and all her fur stood on end. Skratch was first to greet Duetta and he stepped forward with all the courage he could muster. "Greetings Marshall Duetta Spyder. What brings your illustrious presence to our humble church?" Duetta rattled her legs. "Less of the feline flannel, Skratch. This is an important mission." Now the Wabbit hopped forward and saluted. "Marshall." Duetta replied with a squiggly salute. "Commander, a matter of common interest has come our way." There was an intake of breath that everyone could hear. Then she began. "As you know our view of the universe is different from yours." The Wabbit waved his paw in a squiggly motion. "For six months south constantly, for six north the sun goeth." Lapinette chimed in. "Ordaining the days and nights, like a cunning spider." Duetta laughed. "You have it in a walnut. The universe is a matrix of geo-celestial rhythms. But something has happened to upset the rhythm." Skratch wasn't going to be left out. "Bark is not smooth and lightning does not travel in a straight line." Duetta looked at him and her eyes bored through his skull. "But it's becoming so. Imperceptible yet inescapable." Lapinette looked at the Wabbit and the Wabbit looked back. "We have to check. I'll get Wabsworth on it right away." Duetta rattled as she bowed. "Your android is a wise one and no mistake." The Wabbit grinned. "Don't tell him, we'll never hear the end of it."

[I'm indebted to Harriet Witt for the idea. Here's the link to her article.]

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

1. The Wabbit has a Chance Meeting

The Wabbit hopped down Via Nizza and was thinking as he tended to do. His brain buzzed with opportunity and he couldn't quite put corners on it. There was so much he could achieve and so little time. He giggled. That was when Skratch the Cat caught up with him. "Hello Wabbit, you look happy." Skratch's meaow was rather suspicious because, in his experience, it was seldom that the Wabbit's demeanour was so relaxed. The Wabbit looked up. "Hello Skratch, I was just thinking of all the wonderful things we can do." Skratch took a step back. "Name one!" The Wabbit became quite rigid. He found he couldn't recollect a single one. He played for time. "It's so nice to be walking in the sun, along Via Nizza." "It's always sunny," said Skratch. "it's summer in Torino and Via Nizza is..." He paused, "Via Nizza is variable." The Wabbit's smile continued. Skratch was alarmed. "Wabbit, have you taken a mind altering drug?" The Wabbit was appalled. "Certainly not." He had a moment's hesitation. "Where could I get them?" Skratch sighed in relief. The Wabbit seemed to be returning to normal, so they both continued to hop down the road. "Do you think we have enough weaponry?" mused the Wabbit. "Plenty," said Skratch, "are we expecting trouble?" The Wabbit dug his paws in his fur. "It's been too quiet for my liking." His ears pricked up as he heard a whispering of gossamer threads. "Now that sounds like Duetta." Skratch threshed his tail. "When Duetta arrives, it usually means trouble on the way..."

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Wabbit and his Adventure Caffè

The team assembled at the designated Caffè just off Via Roma. Wabsworth was in fine fettle and had brought a bottle of prosecco. Lapinette looked with amusement. "It's frozen, Wabsworth," she giggled. "Ah yes," said Wabsworth, "I tried my new wine chilling routine, and it went a bit far." The Wabbit laughed and laughed. "We can try blowing on it, speed up the defrost." Wabsworth merely chortled. "We can wait - or order a new one." He held up a paw. "While you're doing that," said Skratch the Cat, "I'll try and explain what kind of adventure that was." His tail thrashed against the back of a chair. "Computeracy as I call it, deals with stories concerning computers, where computers really stand in for toys." The Wabbit leaned forward. "Like puppets?" Lapinette leaned forward too. "Perhaps more like a motif of folkloric transformation?" Skratch purred gently. "That's about it. I haven't forgotten the codes and algorithms though. They stand in for the deception involved in children's games - like hide and seek." Wabsworth took the opportunity to speak. "That's a cultural embeddedness, refracted through our daily interactions with computers and passwords." The Wabbit nodded in agreement. "No longer a commodified object, but a jolly thing with a personality." "Or a devil," said Lapinette. "Or a child!" said Wabsworth. Being an android he had something of a handle on that. "How's that wine going Wabsworth?" asked Lapinette. "It appears to be lightly chilled now," said Wabsworth. "Let's order four glasses!" grinned the "Wabbit.

Friday, April 09, 2021

6. The Wabbit and the Meaning of Life

The Wabbit's viewing theatre was formerly in Via Nizza but when it went up for sale, he bought it and moved it, brick by brick. The Department paid. It had become a talking point and as such, could hardly be refused. The Wabbit made one change. It now boasted a state-of-the-art digital cinema projector. Wabsworth scanned the old copy of Byte magazine and using the flash drive, projected the selected page. When they enlarged the page, there it was. Hidden amongst the pixels was a single word. The Wabbit shook his head like a donkey. "'Sign' is hardly a very good password." Lapinette laughed. "It doesn't have to be. It's repeated several times on each page in different formats." Wabsworth cleared his throat. "Any attempt to get closer will bring catastrophic catastrophe." The flash drive laughed. "I told you so." The Wabbit looked stern. "You said it would explain the meaning of life." "That is the meaning of life," replied the drive, "it's as close as you get. Il n'y a pas de hors-texte, so the meaning of life can only be what's left." Lapinette grinned. "Skratch the Cat should be here." "I'll give him his own preview," scowled the Wabbit. Lapinette asked flash drive to keep the old copy of Byte magazine safe - in case anyone unsuitable found it. "What should we call you, we can't keep calling you flash drive." The USB detached from the digital cinema unit. "Jack," he said. "Why Jack?" asked the Wabbit - although he had a clue what he was going to say. "Jumping Jack," came the reply. "He's a gas gas gas." added Wabsworth.

[ Il n'y a pas de hors-texte. From Derrida. "There is nothing outside the text."    Pixel image by by Gerd Altmann at Pixabay]

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

5. The Wabbit and the Dismal Old Office

The scene changed dramatically. They were in a very old office with very old things. Everything was seedy, tarnished and neglected. Lapinette looked around with distaste. "I hardly believe Byte magazine lived in such seedy surroundings." The Wabbit jumped on an old drawer and started to rifle through a cabinet. "I don't care. Where is it? Where is it? Where is it?" He jumped up and down so hard, the filing cabinet threatened to topple. There wasn't much there at all. Just an empty bottle and an old aspirin. Wabsworth jumped on the other cabinet and made a methodical survey. He finished all the drawers and waved, "Not in here." The flash drive merely sat and waited. He could remember he put it somewhere but not exactly. It was in a magazine in the dingy room, that he knew. Lapinette let out a loud shout. "Must be this one." The cover depicted burglars and she thought that was appropriate to the day. "I remember now!" said the drive, "that's the one!" The Wabbit was getting tetchy. "I want to know now. I want to know the meaning of everything." Wabsworth was philosophical. "If we knew that, we'd know the location of the password." Lapinette leafed through the ancient copy of Byte magazine and then back again. "There's talk of algorithms here." Wabsworth looked at the flash drive and said, "There's debate about who invented you - and when." The flash drive gave a hollow laugh. "I'm here aren't I?" They all turned as Lapinette yelled. "Got it!" "The answer to the meaning of life?" asked the Wabbit. "No," said Lapinette, "the encrypted password. I'll tell you all about the meaning of life - later."

[Original background picture by Tama 66 at Pixabay]

Monday, April 05, 2021

4. The Wabbit and the Encryption Set-up

They followed the flash drive until the basement. That was where it all happened. A keyboard appeared beneath their feet and a metal honeycomb slammed down, cutting it in half. A USB slot with a blue glow shone from the centre as the flash drive moved to dock. They lost their footing as they were pulled close to the slot in the honeycomb. "What's happening, Wabsworth?" The Wabbit was closest and didn't like it. Lapinette followed him, pulled by an enormous force that twisted her arms and legs. Wabsworth let himself go - but he was listening as a stream of characters passed in front of him. He memorised everything. "I think it's best to let go Commander." "We've hardly any choice," said the Wabbit. The Wabbit noticed the drive had nearly docked and he wasn't surprised when it was the wrong way up. It reversed and this time docking was successful.  He smiled. "Maybe that's the password to the meaning of life?" speculated Lapinette. Her frock flattened against the honeycombs. "I wouldn't be surprised," muttered the Wabbit. They were flat against the hexagon, just like on the wall of death. "Honeycomb over here!" shouted Lapinette to the Wabbit as she blew him a kiss. But the Wabbit was in no mood for jokes. He shouted to the flash drive. But the drive had more important business and it made a faint sound as it completed data transfer. "Do you remember Byte magazine," yelled Wabsworth. The Wabbit signified that he did. "Didn't that come with a bottle of vodka?" Wabsworth grinned. "That's where the password is now." 

[Honeycomb by Pete Limford at Pixabay]

Friday, April 02, 2021

3. The Wabbit and the Flash Drive

The leap seemed to span centuries. The key changed materials and with it, its colour.  Now it hung in the air above them. They looked up and couldn't help raising their arms as if in supplication. The key spoke solemnly. "I am the key to end all keys. No key shall go before me." The Wabbit recovered enough to see that it was a computer drive and he said so. "You're a flash drive!" The floating flash drive continued. "I contain the password to the meaning of life." Lapinette swiftly grasped all this. "So what is your password?" she said. "The password is 'password'," said the drive. It laughed long and hard. Wabsworth knew there was rather more to it than that. "And that gets you ... where?" The flash drive performed a swirling revolution and his USB connection sparkled in the light. "That gets you to a series of honey-encrypted algorithmic blocks." Wabsworth knew only too well where that led. "What if you get it wrong?" The Wabbit interrupted. "It blows you to kingdom come?" The flash drive sneered a bit. "Nothing so crude." Lapinette stepped forward. "I know. You have to get it wrong to get it right?" "Maybe, maybe not," said the flash drive, "but if you find me a computer I can plug into, you might find out." Lapinette was intrigued. "Lead the way." The flash drive turned and made it way downstairs. The Wabbit nudged Lapinette. "Do you have a lot of time?" Lapinette looked over her shoulder. "It takes three years to get it in the right way up?"

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

2. The Wabbit and the Key with No Lock

Wabsworth and the Wabbit followed the key - or rather the key tugged them along. When it turned right into a building and floated upstairs, they were obliged to follow. Lapinette was on the stairway and the key seemed to know because it nodded a kind of greeting. "I've seen that key before," shouted Lapinette. "Hello Lapinette," said the Wabbit. He couldn't stop because the key was pulling hard, and he was stuck. Wabsworth had space to look around. "These stairs go up and down, but which way is up and which down - and which way are we going?" Lapinette peered down. "This is a museum and I'm always confused by these stairs." The Wabbit was tired and his limbs ached. "This never ends well," he puffed. The key came to a halt and hung in mid-air. And then it spoke. "I am the key and I open doors." Lapinette put her paws on her hips. "I expected nothing less." They all stood there for a while, not knowing what to do. The key spoke again. "I require a lock." Wabsworth prodded the Wabbit in the back. "It requested a lock." The Wabbit flounced. "I'm a rabbit, not a locksmith!" The key span around. "With a lock and a key, you're always safe and secure." Lapinette sighed. "Of course!" She looked at the Wabbit. "Wabbit, you have a habit of collecting strange creatures." She gazed at the key and the key became adamant and spoke tersely. "Without a lock, there is no place for a key. Each and every key needs a lock and vice versa."  Wabsworth grinned impishly. "Then what is your particular function, key?" The key faced him. "I am a warded lock key, but I can change into other types of key." The key began to shine, then glow - and then it changed into something quite different ...

Monday, March 29, 2021

1. The Wabbit and the Unexpected Key

The Wabbit was hunting for a particular fabric with Wabsworth his android double. Wabsworth was due at a swish do and he wanted something different to wear. When it came to fabrics, Wabsworth was more adept at rummaging than the Wabbit. The preference of the Wabbit was for ancient vinyl and discarded nuclear motor units. The Wabbit watched Wabsworth turn over items when he noticed something familiar. "It's that key again, Wabsworth." Wabsworth looked across. "My goodness so it is. How did it get here?" The Wabbit was nonplussed. "The last time I saw it was in a drawer full of similar yet miscellaneous objects." Wabsworth laughed. As an android everything he possessed was neatly ordered. "You need lists to make sure keys are accounted for." The Wabbit's obsession with lists was well known. He'd created more and more lists until he needed separate lists to keep track. In consequence, nothing could easily be found. "It's glowing," said the Wabbit. He poked it with a paw. Wabsworth continued to sort through items. "Probably a bit of luminous material rubbed off on it. Perhaps from an old alarm clock?" The Wabbit studied it closely but kept a bit of distance. "Radium, tritium ..? Maybe it's dangerous?" Wabsworth laughed. "You're hardly going to eat it, Wabbit." The Wabbit contemplated eating the key and smiled. "I was trying to find the right keyhole for it." Just at that moment the key span round and lifted into the air. The Wabbit shrugged. "Better follow it!" Wabsworth sighed and gave up sorting. "Low key or a high key adventure?" "Off key," shrugged the Wabbit.

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Wabbit's Adventure Caffè

The team gathered at the Caffè of their choice but something was different. They couldn't sit beside one another. Lapinette arrived and the Wabbit got up to offer her a seat. Skratch the Cat didn't know whether he was coming or going. "It's because of this COVID crisis," explained the Wabbit, "I told them we were rabbits but they seemed adamant." Lapinette was calm as usual. "We just have to fit in," she said. "Well, I'll stay over here and shout," said Skratch. Wabsworth was fortunate in having arrived first, but he was gracious. "Sit here Skratch. I'm an android and I don't mind." "Oh, never a bother," said Skratch, "Maybe I could have that pole?" Lapinette giggled. "Dance or climb?" she asked. Skratch sat down at the next table although he felt awkward. "Perhaps I could tell you what sort of Adventure you just had?" Wabsworth quickly agreed and kept his seat. "We're looking at what I call a hauntology," said Skratch. "Derrida again!" Lapinette was quick to spot repetition. "It's extremely important, Lapinette," said Skratch. "The past living in the present is always - already." "Different forms of temporality can't be interpreted by your philosophy," said Wabsworth. "They're already both dead and alive?" added the Wabbit. "Yes, they can't be captured by the sign - or indeed, the signifier," argued Skratch. Lapinette became intrigued. "Husserl did say there are certain phenomena that cannot be perceived." The Wabbit laughed. "Husserl is a bit of a spectre when he's at home!" But it was Wabsworth who had the last word. "A spectre is haunting our table." They all paused. "The spectre of the missing drinks!" smiled Wabsworth.

[I'm indebted to Asunción López‐Varela Azcárate for Semiotic Hauntologies of Ghosts and Machines.]

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

6. The Wabbit and the Disappearing Ship.

The sea phantoms had vanished, but the ship began to disappear too. It shimmered as it broke into crystals, then faded to nothing. It was as if it had never been there. Only an empty berth remained. Moloch turned and spread his arms. "They've gone." He seemed disappointed. "We fight another day, shrugged the Wabbit. "But they said they'd be back," said Lapinette. "I'll be ready for them," said Moloch. Lapinette considered for a moment. "How do we know they're on the ship?" The Wabbit knew the answer. "It's how they travel. Any ship will do. They just take it over." Lapinette sniffed. A faint smell from the bottom of the sea lingered on. They began to walk back along the berth, but turned as the invisible ship gave a prolonged blast on its foghorn. The Wabbit nodded gravely and waited for the next. After two minutes it sounded again and the Wabbit said, "They're telling us they're making way." Lapinette shuddered. Moloch loped along. He was quiet for a monster. "What are they for?" he said. "For?" echoed the Wabbit. "What is their purpose?" said Moloch. Lapinette paced silently behind Moloch. "I think they're harbingers of doom." "So I guess we'd better keep on bewaring," said the Wabbit. "Like the man in the bookshop said," whispered Lapinette. The Wabbit gave it consideration. "Perhaps we weren't supposed to beware of the sea phantoms, more what they portend." It was all too much for Moloch. "I don't beware much, as a rule," he chortled. Lapinette poked him in the back and he jumped in the air. "Beware of alphabet grenades," she quipped. "Why?" said Moloch. "They could spell disaster," giggled Lapinette.

Monday, March 22, 2021

5. The Wabbit and the Delayed Boarding

The chase lasted until dusk. They ducked and dived until at last the team found themselves behind their adversaries. They were in the docks. The m/v Dagmar bobbed on the water as it waited for high tide. The ghouls had chosen wisely. No one would look for them on such a vessel. Moloch was spoiling for a fight and the Wabbit couldn't stop him. Before the ghouls boarded, he let out a cry and jumped at them. "You think you can scare me, ghoul? I am Moloch, you insubstantial fiend. I'll cut out your liver and eat it on toast." The head ghoul stood his ground and sneered "I have no liver, monster. Just the ill cut weeds of a thousand leagues, bitter to the taste." Lapinette drew her edged weapon. I'm going to cut out whatever he's got." The Wabbit held her back. "Leave Moloch to do his thing." Moloch's claws were sharp as a fistful of box cutters. With his first swipe he shredded the head of the ghoul, but the head merely re-assembled. His second swipe cut it in half - with much the same result, except for a rank smell of seaweed. But the ghoul was in difficulty and stepped back to join his fellow spectres. "You think you've won, Moloch? Far from it." All three gradually faded from sight until there was nothing left but smell. "Where have they gone," shrieked Moloch. The air whispered on the dockside like lingering body odour and a voice hissed." "We'll be back!" Lapinette swung her edged weapon at nothing much. "Did they board the ship?" They were uncertain but the Wabbit couldn't resist a quip. "They bought tickets to the Dead Sea."

Friday, March 19, 2021

4. The Wabbit and the Unexpected Guest

The Wabbit and Lapinette tracked the spectres to the sea. The ghouls seemed to have a destination in mind and they wanted to find out what it was. Moloch was an unexpected arrival. "Hello Commander, I was just taking a small vacation. Sea air and all that." His vast frame loomed over a rough canopy on the beach and makeshift though it was, the rough structure seemed to take his considerable weight. Lapinette spotted the ghoul at his back and tried to alert him. She waved her arms and jumped up and down. The Wabbit wasn't looking in the right direction and he gestured to the departing ghouls. "They went that way!" he insisted. Moloch was pleased to see his pals. "Are you having monster trouble?" he asked. "I can sort that out with a mighty sweep of my mighty arms." He swept his arms in both directions and the right hit the ghoul on the nose. "Whoops," said Moloch and turned. The ghoul growled and moaned and clutched his nose. "Is that him?" said Moloch, "what a poor excuse for a monster." He gave the ghoul a kick. It responded with a kick of its own. "You want trouble do you, pipsqueak?" said Moloch, "take that!" He picked it up and threw it along the beach, which had the unfortunate effect of alerting the other two. They turned and moved swiftly towards them screaming like banshee. "This wasn't in my plan," said Lapinette. "Nor mine," shrugged the Wabbit. "I think we should run," said Moloch. He vaulted the structure and grabbed them both. Then together they fled along the beach. "I think my original plan was better," puffed the Wabbit.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

3. The Wabbit and the Sea Phantoms

All the streetlights failed at the same time. What little light there was came from nearby shops and they were going out too. The Wabbit and Lapinette looked with horror as three spectres cut a dark passage along the street. Each time they passed a shop, lights dimmed and failed entirely. The Wabbit put an arm in front of Lapinette. "Don't go near them." Lapinette sniffed. "Yuk. They smell of bad sea." The Wabbit grimaced at the odour of seaweed and long dead things from the bottom of the ocean. "They're sea phantoms, I've met them before." Lapinette turned. "With Jenny. You told me." The Wabbit sniffed. "They're probably the things we have to beware of." He didn't like his sentence construction. Lapinette smiled and corrected him. "Of which we have to beware." The Wabbit let it go. "At the minute it's three ghouls to two." He chortled at his bad joke. "Well maybe we can even it up," said Lapinette, "What did you do the last time?" "Sulphur soap and a bell," said the Wabbit. "Sounds like Jenny," replied Lapinette, "Old school." The Wabbit twitched an ear. "What does new school say?" Lapinette spoke calmly. "Derrida says they are daemons from our own past." The Wabbit wasn't impressed. "Well. They are." Lapinette crept after the phantoms. "We won't fool them twice with the same trick." The phantoms wheeled and made their way onto Via Gregorio VII. Lapinette was still talking. "We have to figure what overall structure they're part of." The Wabbit struck. "Of which structure they're part?" Lapinette stood on the Wabbit's foot and he couldn't help giving a yelp before they ducked out of sight. A phantom turned and looked around. He shouted with a voice from the very bottom of the ocean. "Who goes there?" "Mice?" whispered the Wabbit.

Monday, March 15, 2021

2. The Wabbit and the Ides of March

Far from Torino, the Wabbit and Lapinette were enjoying a break. Round the corner from Largo di Torre Argentina they hopped along happily, when a voice spoke to them. Lapinette turned. "It must have been that nice old gentleman selling books." They stopped, but the man didn't look up. "Beware, small kinigl." The man seemed kind enough to give them a warning, but he also seemed busy with his museum. "What do we have to beware of?" asked Lapinette. "The Ides of March of course," replied the man. "That's today," observed the Wabbit. "It's Julius Caesar," said Lapinette. "What's that got to do with us?" said the Wabbit, who was puzzled. He knew Julius Caesar was stabbed not a hundred meters from where they stood - but that was some time ago. "It's Greek to me, but if I were you and I was a rabbit, I'd certainly beware." The man spoke while continuing to look at his phone. "Thanks very much, we're obliged to you," said Lapinette. She dragged the Wabbit onwards. "I'm always bewaring," said the Wabbit. "It seemed like a legitimate warning to me," insisted Lapinette, "It was nice of him to beware us." Lapinette was always polite and the Wabbit knew better than to be anything else. "I'm not expecting anything," he said. The Wabbit could be annoying and this was one of these times. Lapinette turned and addressed him forcibly. "We must look out. because the Ides of March are come." The Wabbit flounced in a Shakespearian manner and waved his paws. "But not gone!" Lapinette turned and walked on, shouting over her shoulder. "You'll be sorry!" That was when the street lights extinguished - and all became dark...