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The Animation Pimp: Unsung Animators #2: Andreas Hykade's Great Balls of Fire

Animator Andreas Hykade inspires Chris Robinson relate and recall raw memories.

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You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain.
Too much love drives a man insane.

Forget Lacan. Forget Freud. Jerry Lee Lewis knew the truth about desire, greed and lust, and how it fucked you up. He knew it was bad shit, but his body ached for it. Check out Lewis' `64 Starclub performance. Made not long after his young son died, the concert is a violent, drunken, frenzied testament of desire, pain, anger and hate. It's raw. It's honest. In life he maintains the image of the Dionysian spirit, a hard drinking, hard fucking, don't give a crap about nothin' man's man, but in art, the pain, anguish and uncertainty seeps through every note of his music.

Andreas Hykade ain't no Jerry Lee Lewis, but his films breathe from the same polluted air.

Animation has too many scientists. Too many technical masters making cold, polished, certain films. They create within the calculating sanctity of a sanctuary. All the furniture has been replaced, the bodies removed, blood mopped up. Hykade is different. He's a raw, faulty, honest poet in the vein of Nick Tosches, Hubert Selby, and, yes, OK, Charles Bukowski. I'm not talking some macho hardboiled nonsense either; I'm mean a man torn between sin and salvation, good and evil and the struggle to cope with the redeeming power of humility and weakness.

Hykade has given us We Lived in Grass, Ring of Fire, an assortment of TV stuff including a nifty young kids' series called Tom.

I watch Hykade's beautiful, troubling films and remember that I knew some dandelion girls. When I was six, I pushed her into a brick wall. When I was 15 she dumped me. I was heartbroken, wouldn't let her leave the locker bay. Then I shoved her and pushed her down the hall all the way to first class. I think I saw her put her head on her desk and cry. I followed her the rest of the day.

I don't remember this.

She reminded me last year.

I think it was the former Toronto Maple Leaf winger, Busher Jackson who said, "Hey, Primeau, there's only trouble and desire." Ain't that the truth, fella. Always chasing time instead of livin' it. What happens when the now suddenly vanishes? You're confused, angry, and lost. You don't know where to turn because you don't know where you are. You're not prepared. You get angry and lash out. You want to hurt what hurt you. Isn't that why the boy burns the dandelion girl, the cowboy beats the angel, the ape goes crazy when his TV goes out? That guy chasing the clock, he's nowhere. Why this burn, burn, burning desire?

Lacan said it was all a ruse. When we were little pissers we think we're at one with the world. Then we see our mug in the mirror, see that we're separate from everything around us, and spend the rest of our lives trying to become one again. Course, along the way, it's also being ingrained in our noggins that we're incomplete. First came the church, then came the advertisers Dirty, soul-sucking con men (themselves doin the deed just to preserve their own desires) telling us we're no good without God, the bible or a bar of fucking Dove. Meantime they're snorting and guffawing as they guzzle the holy water and thrust their lust sticks in places they don't belong. We all have the beast inside.

Good. Beauty. Truth, value judgements all of `em; given meaning and relevance only by us. To further the myth we create fictional characters to back it up: God. Jesus. Santa Claus. Ricky Martin. Icons of perfection. Flawless truth and beauty. Good God. Bad Devil. Beauty Ugly. Life. Death. You can't have one without the other. Ying yang. We also created icons of imperfection too. Dean, Monroe, Manson and Elvis. Lost souls and all that shit. No in-betweens. We're hell bent on living in one of these either/or states.

Hykade's work, like Lewis, Tosches, Selby etc. try to sort through the extremes, to come to terms with the fact that there is no pure good or evil, just faulty liner notes to get us by. Snoozers like to ridicule assorted macho `misfits' like Hykade for romanticizing violence, lust, and all the supposed essences of masculinity. They got it all wrong. These guys are ridden with guilt and conflict, trying to come to terms with the fact that there are no absolutes, yet being driven toward them all the same. It's not that they won't believe, it's that they can't believe. It's as if they know and see too much; yet not enough to extinguish the fires of alienation and desire that isolate them from world.

This isn't about dandelion girls, cousins, whores, cowgirls or even Beatrice. Hykade, like the rest of them, is seeking the father. The father of night, day, darkness, love, and pain the whole kit' and caboodle. Wasn't Jesus just lookin' for pops? Did the boy burn the dandelion girl because he believed his father or because he lost his father? Revenge for bailing on him. The sins of the father

Fatherless fathers. I had two of them. Both were dicks. Real one came (nudge, nudge) and went. Fake one was violent, scary and nasty. I hated him most when I became him. I'm a father now. I want to forgive my fathers. Why is it that I blame them for the bad days and don't thank them for the good ones? They were too busy looking for their fathers to be one. Fucked up fatherless-fathers; boys being asked to emulate something that isn't there to begin with.

As some 15th century Italian poet told us, to find heaven, you have to go through hell. Ya gotta stumble before you rise. If you ask me, and you didn't, too many animators, too many people wanna skip the bad to get the good. That's bad (heh heh). Ya gotta know the bad to know the good. Hykade, a new father, uses the dirt and darkness of the past as soil to fertilize a future of light, darkness, and hope, not to mention a bit of bread with honey and jam on it.

This was originally written for the 2003 Ottawa International Student Animation catalogue.

Check out more about Hykade at:

Chris Robinson is little more than a man. In his spare time he cares for the elderly.