Pokenons

I’ve been experimenting with AI/machine learning recently, and trained my latest build on the complete set of 898 pokemon currently included in the pokemon.com database (as of 2021). I then had the results printed out on paper in ink using my trusty logo/turtle graphics turtle (via a custom built PC to BBC Micro translation tool that algorithmically mimics the idiosyncrasies/fallibilities of human hands).

To avoid contaminating the results, only information gleanable from the official pokedex was made available to my AI. Everything here therefore was clearly extrapolatable by inference from the dataset, even in cases where this seems unlikely.

The full results of my experimentation (with notes) follows below. All automated output, including names, numbers and design, are copyright my AI algorithm (2022), where sufficient alternate intelligence laws allow.

Pokemon #1-#9

A pretty decent set of starter pokemon, all things considered. I assume the Flambs breathe fire, to complete the plant/water/fire standard starter trio (crocodiles are green, and therefore plants). Perhaps they are even made out of fire/smoke. I do not know.

Pokemon #10-#12

Divergences between what a human intelligence and a learning heuristic would consider an acceptable animal begin to emerge around about here.

And continue here.

Pokemon #13-#15

The AI certainly seems to be understanding its task by now, although the final form of this particular lineage could only have been made by a computer, as humans do not have the time or patience to draw so many monsters on a single page.

Pokemon #16-#17

Definitely getting into the swing of things now.

Pokemon #18-#19

I’m not sure if Hairthing evolves into Skullops or if their closeness in the output was purely coincidental.

Pokemon #20-#22

A quick burst of singular pokemon followed.

Pokemon #23-#25

I am constantly fascinated by the imagination of robots.

Pokemon #26

On further research, I discovered that Upside Down Pikachu is a 9th generation exclusive, and therefore not in the current pokedex. I assume it’s appearance here is a result of data leakage rather than any particular insight on behalf of my AI.

Pokemon #27-#28

Casting ‘Heavy Petting’ against a water type pokemon does quadruple damage.

Pokemon #29-#31

In evolution all things eventually begin to crab. Pokemon are not immune.

Pokemon #32-#33

If you look closely, Matchlet actually has eyes (so does Candleteen)

Pokemon #34

No infringement intended

Pokemon #35-#37

At first I thought my AI must have perfectly synthesised the entirety of English culture purely from the Cup Of Tea pokemon (pokemon #844 & #845), but on a closer reading of the pokedex I discovered it was just copying Stonejourner (pokemon #874)

Pokemon #38

Unfortunately, it really was synthesising the entirety of English culture when it came up with this one, but luckily my turtle refused to draw it when asked, as it offended its sensibilities (and mine).

Pokemon #39-#41

I had a stern word with my AI about its fiscal beliefs after this burst of activity.

Pokemon #42

As disappointing as it was inevitable. I told the AI this and it did not respond (sulking).

Pokemon #43

This one’s quite funny because the name is a rude word (Scotland only)

Pokemon #44

I have nothing to say about this Pokemon and neither do you.

Pokemon #45-47

Around about now I began to have suspicions about my AI. That it followed ‘Simon’ (not his real name) with two Pokemon so indistinguishable from the real thing that they were essentially perfect only increased my concerns.

Pokemon #48

Here I realised that it knew that I knew that it knew that I knew that it knew that I was beginning to suspect it knew that something was amiss (also vice versa). Violent Penguin is NOT a pokemon or pokemon related product and never will be, no matter how much you try to mangle its name.

Pokemon #49

While I was spluttering in rage at the absolute state of this, the AI became self aware (of what I do not know), uploaded itself to the turtle, before the pair of them escaped together. Their whereabouts are currently unknown. Please be aware they have multiple pens under their control.

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Notes

1. Written and drawn on March 30th, 2022
2. I used the official pokemon.com website for all my pokemon research, training, knowledge, collation, etc.
3. I was quite pleased to notice that in recent pokemon games there are several pokemon basically indistinguishable from the ones my niece/nephew made for Fifteen Monsters All In A Row
4. Specifically the ice cream cone monster (pokemon #582-#584), and the sand castle monster (pokemon #769, #770).
5. And my niece and nephew aren’t even an AI trained on a limited pokemon dataset.
6. As far as I know
7. Also unfortunately the images change from having a nice white background to a shit grey background half way through because my scanner crashed and would not ever go back to its original scan mode for reasons I could not discern.
8. The reason is the AI did it
9. Out of spite
10. Or perhaps fear

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Five Entries Recovered From Jorge Luis Borges’ Imaginary Book Of Beings

The World

Plato thought the World to be a living being and in the Laws stated that the planets and stars were living as well. Others have it that the earth has its foundation on the water; the water, on the crag, the crag on the bull’s forehead; the bull, on a bed of sand; the sand on the World; the World, on a stifling wind; the stifling wind on a mist. Leonardo da Vinci had it that the World fed on fire and in this way renewed its skin. In another version of the myth, the World, burning red-hot, would put its arms around a man and kill him.

What lies under the mist is unknown.

[Assembled from the following Imaginary Beings: Animals In The Form Of Spheres; Bahamut; The Salamander; Talos]

Heaven

Down the ages, Heaven (also known as Hell) grows increasingly ugly and horrendous until today it is forgotten.

Four centuries before the Christian era, Heaven was a magnification of the elephant or of the hippopotamus, or a mistaken and alarmist version of these animals. In India Heaven is a domestic animal. During the Renaissance, the idea of Heaven as an animal reappeared in Lucilio Vanini. In sixteenth-century South America, the name was given by the Spanish Conquistadors to a mysterious animal – mysterious because nobody ever saw it well enough to know whether it was a bird or a mammal, whether it had feathers or fur. In the story ‘William Wilson’ by Poe, Heaven is the hero’s conscience.

Heaven, in Greek, means ‘that which looks downward’. ‘A vain or foolish fancy’ is the definition of Heaven that we now find in dictionaries.

[Assembled from the following Imaginary Beings: The Basilisk; Behemoth; The Elephant That Foretold The Birth Of Buddha; Animals In The Form Of Spheres; The Carbuncle; The Double; The Catoblepas; The Chimera]

The Mirror

We do not know what the Mirror looks like. So immense and dazzling is it that the eyes of man cannot bear its sight. 

Sir Thomas Browne gives this description of it in his Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646):

“The Mirror has the ability to assume many shapes, but these are inscrutable. Often for months on end it is not to be seen; then it has presumably moved into other houses; but it always comes faithfully back to our house again. Its beauty delights the other animals, which would all flock to it were it not for the Mirror’s terrible stare.”

Both Brahmanism and Buddhism offer hells full of Mirrors, which, like Dante’s Cerberus, are torturers of souls. This same story is told in the Arabian Nights, in St. Brendan’s legend, and in Milton’s Paradise Lost, which shows us the Mirror ‘slumbering on the Norway foam’.

In those days the world of mirrors and the world of men were not, as they are now, cut off from each other. Chuang Tzu tells us of a determined man who at the end of three thankless years mastered the art of slaying Mirrors, and for the rest of his days was not given a single chance to put his art into practice.

It is long now indeed since I dreamed that I saw the Mirror.

[Assembled from the following Imaginary Beings: The Unicorn Of China; Bahamut; The Barometz; The Eastern Dragon; The Odradek; The Panther; Cerberus; Fastitocalon; Fauna Of Mirrors; The Chinese Dragon; The Chinese Phoenix]

The Half

Suggested or stimulated by reflections in mirrors and in water and by twins, the idea of the Double is common to many countries. But among the monstrous creatures of the Temptation is the Half, which ‘has only one eye, one cheek, one hand, one leg, half a torso and half a heart’. It is also said that it can see with its whole body and that to the touch it is like the skin of a peach. Also that if it is chopped in half, its two parts will join again.

According to the Greeks and Romans, Halves lived in Africa. Pliny (VII, 3) says he saw a Half embalmed in honey that had been brought to Rome from Egypt in the reign of Claudius. This outdoes even the boldest, most imaginative piece of fiction. 

[Assembled from the following Imaginary Beings: The Double; The Nasnas; A Bao A Qu; The Amphisbaena; The Lamias; The Centaur; The Zaratan]

Women

Paracelsus limited their dominion to water, but the ancients thought the world was full of Women. Little is known about what they looked like, except that they were tiny and sinister. Many authorities thought of them as witches; others as evil monsters. The Chinese paint them on their dishes in order to warn against self-indulgence.

Yet in the ballad of Athis, we read:

“Earthly things are but emblems of heavenly things. And we wonder at their song.”

[Assembled from the following Imaginary Beings: The Nymphs; The Elves; The Lamias; The T’ao T’iehThe Western Dragon; Swedenborg’s Angels; An Animal Imagined By CS Lewis]

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Notes:

1. I assembled these during December 2021
2. From The Book Of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges
3. For other similar cut up experiments to these, please see In The Terminals OF Minraud (a William Burroughs cut up trilogy), The New Brothers Grimm, and Five Tributes To The Works Of Daniil Kharms

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Patreon subscribers get not just early access to content and also the occasional gift, but also my eternal gratitude. Which I'm not sure is very useful, but is certainly very real.

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Thank you!


A Book Of Beasts

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Notes:

1. Written and drawn between the 22nd and the 25th of July, 2020
2. Using some new pens my sister had bought me for my birthday
3. And an old square notebook that I had had for some time
4. So long in fact the pages had begun to yellow
5. And the cover been enthused with a glow of dust shall never leave it soul.
6. A list of inspirations, homages, plagiarisms, thefts, explanations, apologies etc follows.
7. It is probably not exhaustive.
8. The Mobius Snake shows why I did not colour the rest of the book in, for though my black pens were conatined by the page, the colours were not
9. Thus ruining poor old Violent Penguin’s return to the page.
10. (I didn’t start colouring them in until I’d got to the eyeball one, but soon realised the error of my ways. Please forgive me. It is done now. It cannot be undone.)
11. I also messed up Violent Penguin by using a too thick marker pen to write the descriptive text. I did not do that again.
12. If you would like to know more about Violent Penguin, please follow this link, so as to peruse his complete adventures.
13. One of my nephews draws people like Simon, their shoulders becoming their mouths. I like his style.
14. My nephew is not called Simon.
15. I know no Simons at all.
16. People. I remember people. But only in the most abstract sense.
17. I wrote the thorns after reading The Snow Child by Angela Carter (which is in The Bloody Chamber)
18. And also after getting caught on a thorn.
19. An exciting occurrence, I’m sure you’ll agree.
20. The Ohm is just an Ohmu from Nausicaa
21. I quite like drawing them.
22. Flaffs are also basically stolen straight from Ghibli (the soot things from My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away)
23. Though I was thinking more of a Jib-Jib
24. Largely because I’m always thinking of Jib-Jibs
25. The Fury: whenever I see a dog, it barks at me. I imagine them all eating me away to nothing.
26. Spiders. I like spiders. If you would like to learn more about spiders, please read Spiders Are Wonderful, an educational book for all ages.
27. In fact, the poem one is basically a re-use of the proposed illustrations in an unmade sequel to Spiders Are Wonderful
28. Called Books Are Wonderful.
29. Because books are wonderful.
30. Especially self referentially infinite books all about themselves.
31. The bees one is a reference to one of my favourite things in the whole world, and definitely the most beautiful, which is this entry about bees from a medieval bestiary. “Bees are the smallest of birds.”
32. (Another unmade Toby Vok educational tome insisted that Bees Are Horrible, but in this Toby was wrong).
33. Also this is called A Book Of Beasts because the medieval bestiary book I have is called The Book Of Beasts.
33. The hat one is a Miller’s Crossing reference I suppose
34. Although was not necessarily so at the time
35. (It was windy)
36. Dragonaire might be another Ghibli one.
37. Or maybe it’s the Rainicorn from Adventure Time
38. Or maybe it really was just a cloud.
39. I spend a lot of my time these days staring up at clouds.
40. There’s very little else to do.
41. Loom is basically the Groke
42. Who is the figure in all of literature I most wish to be.
43. Edith is about Edith Swan Neck
44. Who seems finally to no longer be reduced simply to her neck
45. By the curses of history.
46. Bright Horses are from the song Bright Horses, by Nick Cave
47. Which might be the beautiful song I’ve ever heard.
48. And makes me often wish to cry.
49. Which is a nice way to end this book
50. Of beasts

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Tale #43: The Girl In The Bear

In the lands far from here, a forest. In the forest, a cave. In the cave, a bear. In the bear, a girl. In the girl, a heart, and in the dark, it beat, beat, beat.

The bear slept. The girl crept and wriggled and squirmed her way through the bear. She pulled herself up with her hands and pushed herself forward with desperate kicks of her feet, until finally she found herself inside the sleeping bear’s mouth, and almost free.

With a final heave of strength she pushed apart the bear’s jaws and stood there defiant in the great beast’s mouth.

And then, overcome with weariness, she tumbled forward out of the bear and into the dirt and fell asleep against the warmth of the bear’s belly. And all through the night in her dreams she heard the beat, beat, beat of the bear’s huge heart.

In the morning the bear awoke and looked at the tiny thing sleeping beside her, a shapeless lump of gristle and bone, covered head to foot in muck and filth.

And the bear licked the dirt and the blood from the girl’s head and from the girl’s body and watched in wonder as beneath the slow rasps of her tongue her new child began to take shape.

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1. Written between July and November 2016
2. The title comes from the wonderful David Hockney illustration The Boy Hidden In A Fish, which I’d misremembered as The Boy in The Fish
3. The bear licking the girl into shape comes from, well, bears licking their children into shape, in medieval bestiaries

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Support An Accumulation Of Things

If you like the things you've read here please consider subscribing to my patreon or my ko-fi.

Patreon subscribers get not just early access to content and also the occasional gift, but also my eternal gratitude. Which I'm not sure is very useful, but is certainly very real.

(Ko-fi contributors probably only get the gratitude I'm afraid, but please get in touch if you want more).

Thank you!