You asked how I’m spending my time when I’m not watching the OJ trial. On the Internet at a friend’s house. Testing my limits in the screen/face of seeming limitlessness, testing the machinery before I buy into it totally or semi-totally. (Reminds me of an aristocratic English guy I knew who was asked, after he crashed his car into two police cars, why he’d done it, why he’d wantonly wrecked those cars, and he answered: I was testing my machinery. His machinery worked—his grandfather’s a lord, he wasn’t in Bow Street jail even an hour.) My digression, association, isn’t really wack; it’s part of what the thing’s about—relating, associating, digressing. As well as limits. Because while you seem to be homing in on or sensing the infinite, “accessing” an infinite variety, inundated with choices, threads and threads, you can feel powerless or powerful, depending upon how you navigate in a ocean/ notion like, the infinite is in a machine on your desk. Some people might develop a cortisone-type high, imagining everything in the machine is them, they can master the course/ship; others will get lost at sea, devastated by how much they can’t do. I have both feelings. (You know I question the idea of access anyway.) Remember when I bought my computer years ago and fell in love with the delete key, wanted to delete everything. Sea metaphors—you “navigate” on the Internet. A new frontier, discoveries are expected, a journey, a narrative, and some new terms specific to it. I like seeing the way old words appear in new contexts as new clothes. Weirdly predictable material in a new world is expected. Remember how carrying a Porta-Pak was going to change everything? It’s important to believe you redo it all with new techie toys, I guess, so even if the Internet carries old problems, it adds possibility, promise and dimension, some new problems, has effects no one can absolutely predict. Obviously your own little world is instantly changed, how you spend your time, whom you meet and what happens to you in cyberspace. You might learn to have different expectations, when people talk the talk, cyberspeak, a telegraphic shorthand. But how will sociality change—did the telephone change how people relate to each other, do we know? How will people’s minds change or be changed? Technology and science are already so embedded in our thinking and lives, maybe it’s impossible to recognize it. I keep remembering Wittgenstein’s horror of science, his fury at the growing dependence on it.
Traveling into libraries, cool; I hated returning books (but library as physical space, as possible sanctum, will be missed; the idea will be missed). The ability to “access” knowledge replays the old Information v. Knowledge prizefight. What’s knowledge? I can see, so can you, the movies, mixing animation with live action, the cyber world entering the “real” world, boring. A TV sitcom with the nerd at the computer, all the trouble he—maybe she—gets into. You know. But what’s interesting is you can’t encompass it, you ride it, surf it (I skim it), you choose. (You have to pick Echo, Panix, Netcom, America Online, Compuserve, one of the delivery systems first, which reminded me of another great divide: IBM or Mac.) Immediately arresting and annoying, to me, overwhelming, the magnitude. What you decide to look into and lurk around, voyeuristically, is self-evidentiary. (Watching trials has changed me. I get worse all the time.)
A showbiz gossip group—“Keanu Reeves’ publicist, Robert Garlock, has just issued a release stating that Keanu has never met David Geffen and Keanu is not gay. . . . Any comments, folks?”
A group around dry cleaning—“All of my suits have cleaning labels that say ‘Professionally dry clean only.’ Has anyone ever heard of an amateur dry cleaner?” “Actually, yes: there used to be, and perhaps still are, coin-operated dry-cleaning machines.”
"The Extropians”—“The Extropy Institute now has an official home page and a gopher site as well. Extropian interests include transhumanism, futurist philosophy, personality uploading, critical analysis of environmentalism. . . .”
(I love the use of the word gopher; the hiddenness of cyberplaces realized by a furry, furtive animal is futurist anthropomorphism.)
“Alt.Baldspot”—“Oh, my shiney head, my achin’ baldspot. I’m writing to ask all of you what is the best baldspot shining method. . . .”
See, one Alt.Baldspot member imagines he can reach “all of us.”
People join groups just for flaming, flaming’s a raging element of apparent endlessness. The term’s telling. Compare it with “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never harm you.” Flaming’s more abstract, even if you think about fire, maybe a play on “reaching out,” which involves the idea of touching but also implies a larger, nonphysical embrace. (NYPD Blue uses it too much lately.) A galaxy of sex discussions/groups—”alt. sex.bestiality.hamster.duct tape” is my fave. Haven’t mentioned the serious conferences, haven’t gotten serious, yet. I did go into a house, “a virtual community,” LambdaMOO, and moved from room to room, trying to talk to somebody, but everyone was asleep, virtually.
So, I’ll go on it, get E-mail, and become involved in a few conferences. Maybe you’re already doing it, like sex, or you’re not, because what is it, anyway, or you’re apathetic. I don’t know. I’m curious, not driven or obsessed, yet. It further marks and divides an already divided world, haves v. have-nots, and being literate or not is evidence of access, obviously, and disposition and more. A thing that seems limitless is all and nothing, what you make of it, like everything else. Massiveness, its volume, if not depth, is attractive and repulsive. I’m living approach/avoid anyway.