Where the Hell is Duckburg?

And what the hell is Donaldistics?

/ by Gerold Wallner

The first and obvious answer is that Duckburg is a town in the U.S. state of Calisota, according to the revelations of Carl Barks. A less obvious answer is that Duckburg is somewhere in one of the Disneylands.

 

The two different answers point to two different approaches of the questioner. It goes without saying that the first answer doesn’t respond to anything. It only shifts the question onto another level: Where the hell is Calisota? And, by the way, what sort of U.S. are we talking about? The localisation of some Disneyland all over the world is comparatively easy. But do we really find Duckburg in, say, the Disneyland near Paris? We don’t. Nor in Disneyworld in Orlando? Nothing like that, either.

 

To answer the question of where to localise Duckburg, we have to delve deeper into this matter. That means, in the first place: Does Duckburg exist at all? Only if we are sure that there really is somewhere in some universe a town called Duckburg, where Donald Duck, his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and his cousin, Gladstone Gander, and other characters live and thrive, can we ask where this town is to be found.

 

Of course, this leads away from reading comics only for pleasure, fun, and escaping and takes us into the realm of serious scientific involvement. But let’s be careful about this point. The science I’m speaking of is not literature or textual criticism, it is not about arts or popular culture, it is not history of art or sociology. I’ll give you a fine example of what we have to take into account.

 

Donald Duck has three nephews, as mentioned above. Also, his girlfriend Daisy has three nieces (April, May and June). Donald is the nephew of Scrooge McDuck. In spite of those uncle and aunt relations, there must be maternal relations in Duckburg, too – mothers appear with their children time and again, marginal at least, and Donald, the nephews, and maybe even Uncle Scrooge are related to an elderly woman referred to as Grandma Duck.

 

A commonplace survey on the phenomenon of those uncle and aunt ties in comics might cite, besides Donald Duck, the Belgian comic Suske en Wiske or the German comic Fix und Foxi, where the infantine heroes of the stories live together with an aunt (Sidonia) or again with an uncle (Onkel Fax). Also, the negative counterpart of Fix and Foxi, Lupo, lives together with his sister Lupinchen and their grandma, Oma Eusebia. Of fathers and mothers nothing is known. And the famous and famed reporter Tintin (Tintin by Hergé) appears with puerile or, at the most, juvenile traits and his ties to grown-up people are not parental ones or of any blood relationship at all.

 

The commonplace survey might consequently come to the conclusion that authors of comic books avoid the appearance of parents in order to please the kids reading and buying their products. If fathers and mothers are omitted, if the grown-up attachment figures are further-away relatives or just elderly friends, children might find a quicker access to the world of their comic heroes and identify with them more easily.

 

Not so in the case of Duckburg and its respective scientists. Their task (or should I say ours, since I’m a member of a Donaldistic council) is not to analyse the comic as a specific form of literature or art, with its specific relationship to its consumers, neither to explore the public for these works, its social composition and its other features. If we deal with the peculiar phenomenon of nephewship, we ask for kinship and reproductive systems in Duckburg itself. Having nephews instead of children is not to be seen in its relationship to youthful readers in, say, Vienna or Hamburg or Copenhagen, it is to be seen as a specific occurrence in Duckburg itself. We ask for the natural and social laws of sexual and social reproduction, of education and family life in this universe of its own. And so, the question of the placement of Duckburg arises.

 

This is, of course, the one and only and striking difference with all other occupations concerning comics. We act on the assumption, the scientific assumption, that Duckburg exists. In some universe of its own, a parallel universe according to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, but there are scholars, too, who localise Duckburg in our own world. In any case, Duckburg at least exists as the subject-matter of the academic discipline called Donaldistics or Donaldism. On the other hand, when André Stoll, the teacher of Romance languages, wrote his grand survey Asterix. Das Trivialepos Frankreichs. Bild- und Sprachartistik eines Bestseller-Comics (Asterix.The Trivial Epic of France. A Bestseller Comic’s Artistry of Text and Drawing), the question of whether the little Gallic village existed and where it honestly could be found, was of no importance and consequently not posed, either.

 

Donaldistics is a rather young field. It is, alas, not represented in the curricula of universities and academies. It is practised, therefore, in rather private circles in German-speaking and Scandinavian countries. But nevertheless, the rules and behaviour of scientific communities are regarded and obeyed. That means, in the first place, that there are annual conventions, a congress, and that there are professional journals edited. In the case of D.O.N.A.L.D. (Deutsche Organisation nichtkommerzieller Anhänger des lauteren Donaldismus; founded in Hamburg in 1977) you can follow the research results in the paper Der Donaldist (DD), the Swedish public is informed in NAFS(k)uriren. Eminent ankistisk tidskrift (NAFScourier. Eminent duckish magazine) of NAFS(k) = Nationella Ankisförbundet i Sverige [Kvack], National Duckish Union in Sweden [quack]), and so on. A summary of the existing Donaldistic consortia, their research work, and their publications in the German-speaking and Scandinavian countries is given in DD #154 by Susanne Luber.

 

These papers inform about the current state of research as reported at the congresses, and also deal with the question of the location of Duckburg. But there is something important to be considered. Why and how do we know of the existence of Duckburg? Of course, because there are the various Disney comics in America and also in Europe. But we act on the assumption that Carl Barks, as well as Erika Fuchs, the German translator, got the relevant information directly from Duckburg. So, we speak of warranted reports, when we regard what is published by Barks in the Disney books as sources in the sense of historical science.

 

The interpretation of these recognised sources originates, as it is well known from any other discipline, a multitude of theories concerning the respective objects of investigation. In the case of where to find Duckburg, two competing complexes of theory, as mentioned above, can be observed in the publications of D.O.N.A.L.D. The one prefers to locate Duckburg in our universe and world, shifting Duckburg either into the past or into the future. To cite two instances, I refer to an essay published in DD #154 by Reinhard Mohr Entenhausen – wo es wirklich liegt (Duckburg – where it truly is) and to another essay by Peter Jacobsen and PaTrick Martin, in DD #149 Die Theorie von Allem – Quantenphysikalische Grundlagen der Welt Entenhausens (The Theory of Everything – Quantum Physical Foundations of the World of Duckburg). The other body of theoretical tendencies aims at a Duckburg in a universe of its own, the so-called Anaversum.

 

The essence of Mohr’s proposition is that Duckburg existed in the past, about 2000 BCE, where now Los Angeles is situated and he cites and explains artefacts and troves of cultures younger than Duckburg that do tell of incidents in Duckburg’s history, saved in the respective traditions and heritages of their historical successors. Though parts of this theory seem convincing, there are some flaws to be recognised. The question of Calisota remains unanswered and there is no explanation for the high, sort of modern or contemporary, technological level of a civilization 4000 years ago.

 

Jacobsen and Martin, to make a long story short, propose that Duckburg is a phenomenon of our own world, can be described by means of quantum mechanics and is located on one of the compactified, ‘rolled-up’ dimensions the string-theory demands. The elegance of this suggestion lies undoubtedly in its simplicity: No further theories are to be invented or established. All that happens in Duckburg can be explained by applying well known physical principles and doctrines.

 

An advocate of a parallel universe called anaverse (from the Latin, ana, for mallard) is the founding father of D.O.N.A.L.D. and the pioneer of Donaldistics, Hans von Storch. He asserts a world, different from ours and with its own natural principles, where for instance the second law of thermodynamics is not in effect. Examples are given for it, citing some episodes and incidents from Duckburg that are conveyed to us through the warranted reports of Carl Barks.

 

Defenders of the many-worlds theory are often rebuked for the alleged arbitrariness of their explanation and for leaving the solid ground of Ockham’s razor in favour of rampant theory-making. But those rebuffs don’t keep in mind that the many-worlds theory is clearly compatible with the standard model of physics and derives from the quantum mechanics and is their application to macro-physical phenomena. Following this idea, I proposed in an article (Eine kleine Ergänzung zur Theorie von Allem – A Small Amendment to the Theory of Everything, published in DD #153) a theoretical approach of information transfer between those different worlds of a multiverse, explaining by the way, how Carl Barks and Erika Fuchs could have achieved their knowledge of things happening in Duckburg in that sense that information was ‘hopping’ from one universe to another, differing from the former only insofar as the information or the informed about incident is lacking or is to be recognised.

 

Thus, I combined the option of placing Duckburg in our own theoretically well-defined universe (on a compactified dimension) with the possibility to explain the transfer of information between the various worlds by an expanded model of time traveling (time travel being regarded as the same as information transfer). It would lead too far to delve into the specific details of these debates, but let it be remarked that there are, at present, other wonderful results of scientific research to be marvelled at, for instance the complete map of Duckburg and its surroundings or an elaborate presentation of the moons and planets in the cosmic neighbourhood of the orb on which Duckburg is located, or a surprising statement as to whether and how the three nephews can be distinguished (they can’t) or why a duck in a hurry (which isn’t an anthropomorphic animal, either, but a zoomorphic human) can turn his legs into wheels.

 

It may be objected to some of the cited examples that they might contradict the quantum physical approach in Donaldistics, but as in any righteous scientific community, theories are in dispute with one another, and so are the scholars. Donaldistics, in any case, doesn’t confine itself to the mere description of pieces of arts published in daily papers, pulp magazines or comic books. It seeks for much more. Duckburg exists. Go for it!

....
Gerold Wallner

, born in 1953, lives in Vienna, occupied with the bourgeois and civil society, its arts and politics, both actively and passively. Publications: Gültige Aussagen. Was ist die bürgerliche Gesellschaft und warum hat sie keinen Bestand? (with Petra Haarmann and Jörg Ulrich), G. M. Tamás, Kommunismus nach 1989. Beiträge zu Klassentheorie, Realsozialismus und Osteuropa, translated and edited by G. W., Carl Michael Bellman – der Beginn der modernen Dichtung in Schweden, translations of Bellman’s songs from Swedish into German. lamentationes, poems, and in illo tempore, short stories at www.gerold-wallner.info 


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