Archive for July 9, 2013

The hokey pokey

The hokey pokey is a fairly famous children’s song used by educators to get children to repeat key concepts in an enjoyable environment. The song has no really definable structure beyond doing some basic actions and then singing the chorus: “you do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around..” They key thing is no one knows what the hokey pokey is, it is literally Nonesense, but something in its juxtaposition of sensibility and surrealism it acquires a freedom rarely scene in speaking: it is free from meaning and hence an invitation for fun.

The hokey pokey works as a gate way, a means of relieving ourselves of the strictures of meaning and simply having fun. Teachers have been using it for years and it’s puerile charms never wear off.


What the hokey pokey becomes is a means of avoiding meaning while engaging in meaningful play and in this sense it’s a lot like Super Mario Brothers. Miyamoto’s handiwork simply avoided the pitfalls of meaning entirely, it is not profound in a narrative or literally meaningful way, it’s design decisions eschew taste and narrative in favor of a mixed up world where plumbers navigate through a surrealism more intense than in any other pop cultural artifact I can think of. Where the game becomes useful is in a similar manor as to how the teacher employs it: brief spurts of relief from meaning in the midst of some intense learning. Mario Brothers lets us carry around a portable space to return to when we no longer want meaning in our lives. In this sense it is art, and possibly more affecting in Dadaism than Dada itself.

What Mario Brother also reveals is the way surrealism is coded in literature, when Dali sought to escape meaning he meant it in the narrative / literary sense hence his paintings willing subvert the narrative traditions of Western painting. What he avoided is what Mario Brothers fills in is the ability to not make sense and enjoy it. The void in Dali is a dark and unnavigable dungeon, in Mario it is rather a dance we do to entertain ourselves. That we’ve enshrined both surrealisms suggests that None sense is a bigger and more important thing than it’s unassuming manor projects.

July 9, 2013 at 5:25 am Leave a comment


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