Saturday, October 11, 2008

Gremlins: A New Function For Faery Beings?

While riding my mountain bike out in the open spaces and the woods here on the West Coast of North America I've encountered three faery beings who function something like gremlins--they do mischief to mechanical systems, arrange accidents for the unwary or careless, and make riding more eventful than it otherwise might have been:

Caughtapedal--in general, this entity plays tricks with the bike's propulsion and control systems, as well as with the rider-trail interface (as when a pedal catches on a rock or stump).

Wheelzipochtli--in general, this entity plays tricks with the bike's support and suspension systems, as well as the rider-trail interface (as when a tire goes flat way out where from the trail head or a shock fails on landing a jump bigger than any other during a ride).

Omehurtsteotl--in general, this entity play tricks with the rider, leading to painful body english, slips, falls, sprains, scrapes, breaks, blood loss, and other such things (as when a tree branch jumps suddenly on a rider's head, cracking her or his helmet and making the return ride both very slow and quite memorable, in a keen, nebulous sort of way).

I don't think that they are actual gremlins, even though they do stuff that gremlins do. I get the sense that they used to do other things in the past, but took up this gremlinish activity because changed circumstances kept them from doing what they used to. Their names have an Aztec resonance.

Gremlins appeared on the scene during the early part of the 20th century, mostly around aircraft. So maybe all gremlins are faery being who changed areas of activity in response to more and more human technology whirring away. Maybe their earlier functions got displaced, or suppressed, or extinguished. Maybe the historical cultures they used to have close links to were altered or disrupted or came to an end. Maybe these beings found something new to do that paid humans back a little--or a lot, depending--messing with human aircraft technology. Later, with all kinds of our human technologies.

A few more comments:

1.) The mischievous names--These Somewhat Aztec sounding names are ones that these faery beings have taken specifically in relation to mountain biking and how their activities mess around with mountain biking. The names that they allowed me to know. I got, as I realized the names, that the faery beings had other, older, and probably more telling names, names that linked to the historical cultures and functions that had somehow been lost or barred to them.

They did not allow me any clue about that. In fact, it was pretty clear that it was none of my affair and that I better not go poking around after such stuff.

Let me add that a quick search reveals that, included in the Aztec pantheon alone, are lots of potential candiates to take on a gremlin function.

Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting that these gremlins used to belong to the Aztec pantheon. There are a range of pantheons some or all of whose members could have gone gremlin. These three just identified themselves to me with Aztec sounding names.

They chose to reveal only the names that linked with a particular somewhat prankish function and limited sphere of enterprise.

2.) The activities that they have undertaken--even though disruptive and sometimes leading to injury--are not "chaotic," if that's the correct term. Mechanical breakdowns, component failures, malfunctions, friction and obstruction, lack of appropriate situational awareness, poor judgment, profound fatigue, lack of suitable skill sets, escapes, falls, sprains, bone breaks, and such like all occur within the ordinary domain of riding mountain bikes.

What I'm getting at is that these three beings--and gremlins in general--do not seem to do much of anything extraordinary. They may take a technological system, or a technological system plus humans interfaced with that system beyond the envelope of reasonable, safe, comfortable operation. They may cause components to break, or systems to glitch, or riders to brag to themselves about their skills--trying what they shouldn't--or riders to lose situational awareness, or other stuff.

Gremlins playing tricks with mountain bikes and bikers don't break Murphy's Laws. They stick with them. Gremlins urge things that can go wrong to go wrong.

But gremlins do not, say, convert complex components into pebbles or riders into jellyfish or swoop bikes and riders up in to ufos. Their mischief has to do with the world far more than other realms or dimensions. They don't go outside the greater world and bring back anything beyond the pale.

3.) In my eyes, these faery beings are not "harm-doers." They are not horrible shamblers or beings to be feared or shunned or exorcised. Rather they are one more aspect of the living Land that we take into account as we go about doing things--an aspect of the living Land deserving of our respect.

Powered by Zoundry Raven

No comments: