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Hobo Lobo of Hamelin

Created and designed by Stevan Zivadinovic, Hobo Lobo of Hamelin retells the tale of

the pied piper and takes it in a new direction. Focusing on satire of a political nature, as well as

what the author proclaims is internet snark, Hobo Lobo showcases a story that is both socially

and politically relevant today. But at the same time, it is the way in which it delivers its story that

makes it more impactful. Through the authors statement on the official website, Its flat yet 3D,

still yet animated, linear yet temporarily scrubbable. The pure visual design of Hobo Lobo

reminds me of the classic pop-up storybooks that were read to me as a child. This imagery seems

intentional, as it lures you in with a fairytale aesthetic, but then delivers on a commentary about

capitalism and classism.

The ways in which the storys arborescent narrative guides you along as you are

experiencing a wholly new take on the pied piper works incredibly well, to the point in which it

removes from the context of the originals very creepy story. The new take on what the pied

piper does is not as pleasant as the original story was, but it reinforces a criticism lobbied at the

upper class at how they view the lower class, as well as what they ultimately want the lower

class to be. In this instance, Hobo is trying to make a living for himself when the mayor of the

town comes up to him. The mayor is characterized early on as a very greedy, capitalist minded

individual, who resembles very strongly to one very rich man in our modern culture. The mayor

comes up to Hobo and says, Providence has brought you here, my dear Lobo! The mayor then

goes into explanation that the rats (who represent the poverty stricken in this context) are

destroying the lives of those who pay taxes in the town, and must be swept out of western

society. Through this, the implications of the upper class wanting to commit genocide of an
entire class of people who do not make the same amount of money as the billionaires do, is made

much clearer in this conversation.

This ergodic text has a clear message to the reader who partakes in the story, but what

happens if someone else interprets the text in a different way? In Roland Barthes The Death of

the Author, Barthes speaks on the notion that once a piece of text is out in the world, it is no

longer the authors place to give decrees on how someone should interpret the text. Though the

author may have written the text, they no longer own the text. One choice quote that Barthes

hammers with this point is, we know that to give writing its future, it is necessary to overthrow

the myth: the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author. (Barthes 148) In

the context of Hobo Lobo, this makes absolute sense. While Zivadinovic created and brought

forth the commentary he wanted to make, there will still be other interpretations of the text that

he may have not expected to be made. The scene in which the rats are guided away from town by

Hobo via his harmonica, can be interpreted in many different ways. By the end of the scene, can

be determined that not only did Hobo lead the rats out of town, but that he also ate all of them as

well? In this narrative he is a literal wolf, and by the end of this scene, a scythe and a giant

wolfs mouth is showcased to symbolize death. Or, is it a red herring, and the true outcome for

the rats are never witnessed in the story? It can be interpreted in many ways, even if one

interpretation is incorrect. Once Zivadinovic released Hobo Lobo to the world, it is no longer his

to speak about. Barthes is not necessarily saying that a text that was written by someone is not a

text written by that same author anymore, but the way in which the text gives life to new readers

brings further comments by the author to a halt.


Another aspect of this ergodic literature that goes into the state of authorship is how the

author presents himself. Stevan Zivadinovic has not much information about themselves. For one

thing, we only know he went to a university in Texas, and teaches in a non profit after-school art

program. While there is nothing wrong with putting oneself that much in the public space as

possible, it is more interesting to me to know a little more about who the author is, and why he

chose to put the text in the form that he wanted for the narrative. Granted, in Michel Foucaults

Aesthetics, Method, And Epistemology, he brings up the notion that it is not the works directive

to understand the relationship between the text and the author. He writes, It is a very familiar

thesis that the task of criticism is not to bring out the works relationships with the author, nor to

reconstruct through the text a thought or experience, but rather to analyze the work through its

structure, its architecture, its intrinsic form, and the play of its internal relationships. (Foucault

207) With this in mind, while having thoughts of wanting to know more about why the author

did what they did, the text speaks for itself in its way of providing commentary on a facet of

society that is unavoidable everyday. The fact that he lives in Texas, as well as teaching in a

facility there, already gives me an idea on how the notions of capitalism and classism might

affect him. Even though the story takes place in Germany, there are many parallels to the United

States in the narrative in both how capitalism is established in the town, as well as caricatures to

real life figures in society. In one scene of Hobo Lobo of Hamelin, where the mayor is being

interviewed by a radio host in the studio, the comparisons to Rush Limbaugh (a noteworthy

republican radio host), and Rupert Murdoch (a well known billionaire) is made very apparent.

With regards to authorship, Zivadinovic is able to carve out a spot in the large variety of

authors who have had their work digitally created. But because of this literature being of the
ergodic nature, it runs into the issue of being technologically reproduced and not having the

author reap the benefits of it being reproduced. What I mean by that is, due to the open source

nature of the text, where the tools and the basic form of the text is made available to a very wide

audience, it can lead to legal trouble. Not only can it lead to issues of legality, but the ways in

which an author allows users to take the tools that helped create the text, would ultimately stop

happening. In Benjamin Walters The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological

Reproducibility, Walter mentions how the notion of the aura can be lost once something is

reproduced in a technological sense. He writes, One might focus these aspects of the artwork in

the concept of the aura, and go on to say: what withers in the age of the technological

reproducibility of the work of art is the latters aura. (Walter 22) What Walter meant by this is,

once something is reproduced, the original source loses it status as being a one of a kind thing. In

the context of Hobo Lobo, it is not necessarily the narrative that is being reproduced but the way

in which the narrative was constructed through open source tools on the internet. Also, in the

way that Stevan Zivadinovic created his own assets to develop the narrative. Through creating

his very own toolset, he states on his website that if anyone wants to use his tools to make their

very own game, those tools need to be properly sourced if a person creates an ergodic text and

charges for it. This is where issues of legality come in. If a user utilizes the tools that were

created by another author and did not properly source where those tools came from, many factors

can derive from this. Zivadinovic can demand that person to stop selling their game, or have a

lawsuit on their hands. This is a major issue that is not just in ergodic literature, but in video

games in general. From the marketplace on mobile devices, to digital storefronts on computers

and personal video game consoles, the issues of technological reproducibility is very apparent

throughout. Properly sourcing and not stealing from other creators is an ideal mindset to have
when creating art, but a lot of people do not understand or listen to this rule. Because of this, the

notion of copycats in video games run rampant, and the original creator loses financial gain

because of it. Zivadinovic can run into this very same problem as well, even if he does not

charge people for using his assets. Walters piece on reproducibility stays relevant as time goes

on, and as technology in capitalism becomes more and more readily available.

With Hobo Lobo, this ergodic piece of literature is able to bring in a simple but complex

commentary of how capitalism is very dangerous to the most vulnerable. Using aesthetics and a

visual palette that is reminiscent of folklore and fairytales, the author is able to gather more eyes

on his text that would have not normally have gravitated towards it. There have been many

narratives out there about the dangerous nature of capitalism, but Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is able

to take on that central idea and fully embrace what it is trying to say to the reader. Without

heeding to how the rats are perceived by the towns mayor, as well as the nature of Hobo Lobo

himself, can take away from the ultimate message the author is trying to make. It does not

necessarily mean you can not take the story at its face value, but digging deeper into what it is

trying to say only adds to the enriching and complex nature of the story.

WORKS CITED

Barthes, Roland. The Death of the Author.

http://artsites.ucsc.edu/faculty/Gustafson/FILM%20162.W10/readings/barthes.death.pdf

Accessed November 8th, 2017.

Foucault, Michel. Aesthetics, Method, And Epistemology. The New Press New York. 1998
Walter, Benjamin. The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other

Writings on Media. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 2008.

Zivadinovic, Stevan. Hobo Lobo of Hamelin.

http://collection.eliterature.org/3/work.html?work=hobo-lobo-of-hamelin Accessed 16 December

2017.

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