Excerpt from the book Children of the Neon, 2000s by Jacek Pasnik

Before that, my first connections to the Internet were cowardly, slow, and fragmented; we seldom saw each other, and more and more often they interfered in my life and the lives of my peers. At first I used it with a tentacle and secretly, on the computer in the school library or with my family – we publish an excerpt from Jacek Pasnik’s literary debut “Dzieci”.

  • Dzieci is the first novel by Jacek Paśnik, the creator of the Dzieci Neo Facebook fan page. There he speaks with nostalgia from his childhood and adolescence in the 90s.
  • “At the time, there was very little connection to the network, although on billboards, in newspapers and on television, the presenter, who had the silhouette of an alien, watched Internet videos graphically framed with futuristic elegance and silver.”
  • “My mother also warned me against piracy. Don’t try to load anything illegally, because it’s a crime and they will come for all of us, just like this boy who walks with a rattlesnake.”
  • “The old tin was hot and sweaty. The year he had access to the Internet was his last year. We replaced it with a new computer and said goodbye to him like an old pet that died after a long, tiring walk and exploring the world together.”
  • You can find more extracts from books on the Onet.pl homepage

The first novel by Jacek Paśnik, the creator of Dzieci Neo’s profile, is a perfect composition of critical thinking about the Polish reality of the 90s and 00s and the bitter longings for the carefree world of childhood, along with some boundaries. experience, gone into the past without return. Children is a book full of vivid observations and invigorating metaphors that mirror the experiences of millennials and Generation Z.

The protagonist of the book, Theodore, is the same age as the first McDonald’s and is located in his hometown – one of the largest provincial cities, symbolically in the center of the country. The protagonist of his story goes back to the past – the years before the leap of 1989 and the years immediately after the transformation. However, it is growing along with the new, capitalist Poland. He observes with dynamic eyes the dynamic changes taking place in the environment: both aesthetically and economically. Although he focuses on his immediate surroundings, he does not miss the most important political, social and (pop) cultural events. At the same time, he makes authoritative and convincing diagnoses, which shed light on the truth of his personal experience. “It was so, it should have been so,” he repeated stubbornly, as if checking that his memory was not playing a game on him.

“Children” Jacek Paśnik

Uncle Jose was already very rare in our home, although he sometimes came to stay longer: when both parents were away or when their work was very busy, such as when doing homework or preparing dinner for me. they will not be able to give. Josek was always very serious about cooking, and when he came to us, even when I was older, his wide hips cut through the kitchen, making it inaccessible to others. At that time, he prepared various dishes, which he learned mainly from magazines and recipes sent by readers.

When I was in elementary school, his visits were dominated by the table: instant soup salads, pate canned with homemade cumberland sauce, kebab soup, bouillon cubes, and his signature apple pie for dessert, sometimes replaced with blue lagoon cake. Uncle Joseph loved to cut food, making it unfit for consumption: once he made me a computer mouse sandwich with a ball – the body was made of white renne cheese, and the ball mimicked the yolk of a hard-boiled egg.


Jacek Paśnik debuted with the book “Dzieci”

Photo: Laura Bielak / Foxal Publishing Group

He would tell tales while cooking; about the weather outside, about the weather the day before, about the weather that this guy announced on TV, the fake man who said he would fall down and break his stupid nose; “My talent!” or a phone call that my son called and talked for seven minutes like never before.

He was kneading dough with his big, soft hands, thinking of an apple pie, and he asked me about the girls and smoking as I often did, and asked if anyone had my eyes. plans for the day. She was no longer a nanny, her nurses were largely replaced by computers and the Internet, and she became a full-fledged nanny with a white mustache and yellow teeth.

I replied that I was looking at someone and waiting for him to answer me, because I had been waiting for two hours to hear a message from a communicator from one of the parallel classrooms, Claudia. I did not know that he would never reply to me, and I would soon forget him; Only years later, one day, I will remember when I met him in a stroller.

*

I used the communicator from the middle of elementary school, when my father came home from work and greeted my mother, and after eating rice and tomato soup, he said it was delicious and that he would come from telecommunications. had arranged a meeting with him on the phone, although he usually rejects such nonsense, because his cell phone and home are repeatedly called, but well, you will set up the Internet for us.

Although the network was not very specific to me at the time, although the host, who had a silhouette of an alien, watched internet videos in futuristic elegance and silver-framed graphics, on billboards, in newspapers and on television. David and Szymon talked about the Internet, they already had it, and watched various short clips there, some guests jumped off the roofs and cursed as we had never heard before.

Before that, my first connections to the Internet were cowardly, slow, and fragmented; we seldom saw each other, and more and more often they interfered in my life and the lives of my peers. First, I used it conditionally and secretly, in the school library or on a PC with my family, for example, I remember a game where you had to gently touch a mouse to walk around drunk in shades of blue. the screen will not collapse; I also looked at reports from one of my uncles about terrorist attacks in Western Europe, sometimes through the arms of my older cousins, who were chatting online with a child, bot, cultured and omniscient, but unfortunately non-existent. sorry they said.

Jacek Paśnik

Jacek Paśnik debuted with the book “Dzieci”

Photo: Laura Bielak / Foxal Publishing Group

We grabbed the rice fish from the remaining tomato soup by tapping the spoons on the blue plates with tulips at the bottom.

My father murmured that it would be easier for me, because the Internet would turn the computer into a multifunctional, interdisciplinary factory of knowledge, and finally, a computer for learning.

The mother added that both to learn and to have fun, but to be careful of this fun, because the network is full of elderly men who are out of place in the social campaign, with orange skin, spitting in their mouths. the hands are on the keyboard and you will never know who is on the other side. He also warned me against piracy, don’t try to load anything illegally, because it’s a crime and they will come for all of us, just like a boy walking on a pebble. Well, one of the young couple living in the next cage. Police approached them, and they handcuffed him and seized several hundred illegal records. “Yes, that’s right, that’s what happens,” he said.

He was right with the latter – when I think of The Toy Story, I don’t think about the cowboy or the astronaut, but rather the horizontal stripes floating on the screen and the chronic noise from the cassette being played repeatedly.

When the bell rang, the air outside was already gray, and I jumped up and ran to the door as a sudden wave of heat engulfed me. My father jumped out of his chair in the big room and sat quietly, so as not to wake my mother after work, before work. He opened the door, in a black suitcase, a white hat with a wrapped telecommunications logo, in heavy work boots, and in a woolen dress that advertised Internet services, laughed and shook hands with the engineer passing by, and whispered, “Good morning.” A thousand services had already been provided that day.

My father said that he welcomes you, greets you, knows why you are here and we have a computer in the living room, there we invite you.

I sat in my room with the engineer and watched as he slid his computer, then his drawer, then his bookcase aside, crawled on the floor, smelled the carpet, crawled, and finally sank behind the sofa to look for an electrical outlet. finally my eyes behind me looked at me, worried that he was. I went to the kitchen to drink water, took a sip and heard it was over.

My father gave money to the engineer, took him, his uniform and black suitcase to the exit, said goodbye and closed the door behind him, because my mother was still asleep.

An hour later, when it was already dark outside the window, my father read more articles about our football team losing all possible matches and the Lotto draw, and I yawned as I drove my virtual car on a gray twisted track.

My father and I took turns sitting on the screen, and the evening was illuminated by its cool glow and the honey-colored light of the lamp placed next to it, and there have been many such evenings since then.

The old tin was hot and sweaty. The year he had access to the Internet was his last. Replacing it with a new computer, we said goodbye to him like an old pet that has died after years of long, tiring walks and discovery of the world together.

Jacek Paśnik

Jacek Paśnik debuted with the book “Dzieci”

Photo: Laura Bielak / Foxal Publishing Group

*

Uncle Josek’s verbal crusade against technology, the Internet, international databases, observations, cyberspace, liquid crystal screens, people sitting in the sun, melting the brains of young children, forcing them to open their eyes had just ended. eyes on the computer, lost children.

The computer was sobbing, I put on my shoes, and as I was leaving, I heard Josek call, “In that case, Theodore, see you later, breathe, you’ve been all day in the yard, what are you doing?” now, lost children, network children, neo children ”.

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