Thursday, July 8, 2010

text || Alan Sondheim


Living alone in my loft, there is an entire phenomenology of entering and
exiting; the external world literally floods my presence when I _emerge_
into the light. The rite of passage in signing on to a MOO is different;
one is already on-line, and the passage may occur among various
applications, including ytalk, IRC, and so forth.

The threshold in fact occurs with the initial logging-on, a trivial act
in itself. The community then appears, with the secondary log-on in its
entirety; ontologies shimmer, epistemologies crash, and so forth.

It's difficult for an outsider to understand this transformation occurring
with the movement of a few keys. The body remains in place. Nothing floods
the room, and it's the flooding that ordinarily separates interior and
exterior - along with the relative lack of ownership and privacy the ex-
terior occasions (which is more problematic in cyberspace), and so forth.

This is where prosthesis, the uncanny, projection/introjection, and the
like come into play. The user is at home or in the office; the mind is
moving fast-forward elsewhere. It's going to seem useless, artificial,
non-existent. It's going to be incomprehensible from the outside, and so

The space is dry. Nothing is illuminated. Words crack either darker or
lighter than background, light background flattening the screen, dark
background an illusion of inconceivable depth; Pascal comes to mind, and
so forth.

In dreams real and virtual coalesce, ascii-dreams, livid dreams, maroon
dreams of womb interiors, dreams of classification, conflagration. They
flicker in and out of the preconscious, lists of sexual graphemes and
regions centered around the penis, perineum, anus, nipple. I wake in the
middle of the night, fingers half-inserted, erect, sweated; there are
monsters. The image: cuneiform word-lists, transliterated and translated,
sharp spikes penetrating the body, mouths held open. There are no screams
in cyberspace, not even with Iphone's advent; there is the collusion, the
_substance_ of the computer, and it's this _substance_ as well which
remains untranslatable to those unfamiliar, and so forth.

Circulating among the home pages, one rarely runs into community; language
is pasted onto signboards, even on those refreshable chat sites. Crack the
Web, split it open, and words, neighborhoods seethe forth. I resist this,
this splitting, even the surface, resist the Net; for me, totally succumb-
ing to its narrowed modalities is the sign of death, hungering for too
long too near the screen. But I understand the promise in this hungering
as well, the ability to achieve satiation, find commonality. I have to
remind myself constantly that I'm a freak, that the lure of the threshold
is the lure of paste compared to the flood of the out of doors, and so

It's a litany of occasions, events, each with their temporal horizons,
subjective projects, relevances, avatars, sublimations, repressions,
identities, political and monetary economies. As I said last night to the
interviewer from NPR (not broadcast), humans will find communicative and
communal possibilities in any ecological niche; there are Iphone and IRC
societies as well as those in MUDs, MOOs, newsgroups, email lists, and so
forth. Communication in this fashion parallels capital and late capital-
ism, extending and expanding through all those devices of -jectivity, hy-
steric embodiment, that I've documented elsewhere. So there are thresholds
and rites of passage, there are communities and projections, there are hy-
sterias and issues of governance/framework/political economy, and there
is a majority off-line public out there, meeting explanation with bewil-
derment, uncomprehending of community external to the obdurate existence
of bodies, trails, buildings, streets, and so forth.

And so forth into the night of the darknet, day of the real, vacillating
among illuminations, uneasy dreams, sexual-depressive twists of the body,
corporate-celebratory twists of the machinic, and so forth.

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