MESSAGE TO THE KRAKEN
The Kraken! Rising from the blackness of the uttermost deep to embrace me. Who else has such a companion? There’s been nothing like it in my life before: a geographically scattered gathering of kindred spirits, most of whom I’ve never met face to face, all of them wishing me well round the clock and all of them keen to ask and answer questions, supply information, give notes and photographs for my researches and generally armour me with good vibes, unflagging encouragement and birthday bottles of ardent spirits. Thank you, Kraken. I am proud to call you my friends.
Wishing you all a strong and healthy 2005!
[Note: The Kraken is the Russell Hoban community/forum/fan club, established in 1999.]
About 50 or 60 pages into Russ’s novel Turtle Diary (depending on which edition you have), Neaera H., one of the book’s co-protagonists, observes darkly that, “It is not always a comfort to find a like-minded person, another fraction of being who shares one’s incompleteness.”
Although I have always been impressed by the general wisdom of Neaera’s remark, I’m pleased to be able to disagree with it in at least one particular case: finding and getting to know my fellow Hoban fans has turned out to be a pure delight. In fact, it has been something more and better than a comfort for us to share our like-mindedness through the miracle of the Web and email: it has been downright energising.
Elsewhere in this booklet is a piece where I relate the history of how the amorphous mystical collective entity we call The Kraken came into being, and grew into the many-tentacled worldwide force behind this first ever Russell Hoban convention. At the moment, I’ll merely note that I’ve moderated quite a number of online communities in the years since the internet took over my life, but none of them have thrived or created such a convivial, addictively sociable atmosphere as The Kraken. It’s as if each member instinctively understands that to find a group of highly literate oddballs to whom one can talk about “the flicker of being” and the “limited-reality consensus” — and get in return a supportive nod of the head, instead of directions to the nearest mental health facility — is a rare and precious thing to be treated with the utmost respect and appreciation.
Now we get to take the experiment a step further, and spend a weekend rubbing shoulders and clinking glasses instead of pecking keys and clicking mice, or meeces, or whatever is the proper plural of those things we’ve been clicking all these years.
Some of us have met each other on an individual basis, and sometimes a cluster of three or four of us have gotten together. But this convention is the first time a conclave of Hobanistas numbering in the dozens will come together in the physical world for a weekend of bonhomie, camaraderie, and all sorts of other subversive French nouns, and in the process attempt to enlarge the limited-reality consensus ever so slightly by sheer force of group will.
I suspect, like Neaera H. and William G., we’ll find the crossing of our paths to be rewarding, energising, full of surprises — and who knows? Maybe even a bit of a comfort.
In that spirit, and in celebration of the 80th birthday of “the man himself”, it is my distinct pleasure to welcome you all to the first Russell Hoban Some Poasyum, in his adopted home city of London, where he has documented so many fortuitous first meetings.
Founder of The Kraken and The Head of Orpheus