You’ve seen it before in video form: yawning, you click a link to see free porn and only get Rick Astley wiggling his ass while flickering in and out of funky 80’s outfits. Perhaps best understood as the internet’s preferred method of making sure you’ve been paying attention, the practice is commonly called ‘Rickrolling.’
Taking a cue from online innovation, one Reddit user, Mayniac182, decided to ‘Rick Roll’ his computer professor on a printed page as a method of proving the instructor didn’t “actually go through ANY work [his class handed] in.” A daunting, and creative, task indeed.
This “Rickrolling Essay” employs the common, but always exciting, artistic method of “[using] ridiculously complex words to confuse” the audience as a means of hiding a poetic message within a load of “complete bullshit.” (This also works with images; see, for instance, any film by David Lynch.)
Mayniac182, like most great poets, said he needed “eight cups of coffee” to complete his masterwork… meaning it was done in one sitting, and with the requisite help of stimulants — like Kerouac’s original ‘On The Road’ manuscript.
Snark aside, the work really could be called an admirable, if not avant-garde, example of an everyman effectively ‘writing under constraint,‘ using an imposed poetic form to craft something not only technically impressive (or at least time-consuming), but capable of aesthetically affecting the internet masses, many of whom have already elevated it to the enviable level of kitsch art classic.
To get the full effect, Mayniac182 explains: “Read the first word of every line that touches the left margin (so everything that isn’t indented).” The essay, aside from successfully reciting the opening lines to Rick Astley’s earsplitting music video at the margin, is semantically correct.
Could this mean there’s hope for printed poetry yet (as long as we post it on the internet)?