Msg#:   47 *SYMPOSIA*
11-01-93 18:44:41
  To: ALL
According to Jerry Herron (in Representations 43, 1993, pp. 5-6), unlike the
classic neighborhood toy store accessed on foot or through public
transportation, in which there were "actual clerks, with specific knowledge of
the largely touchable merchandise," the contemporary toy store "seems intent on
prohibiting--both practically and culturally--a child's interacting with the
toys themselves." In Toys R Us, for example, the atmosphere is that "of a
commercial stockroom, with high ceilings, exposed structural elements, harsh
fluorescent lighting, and massive shelves where products are stockpiled rather
than displayed." Clerks provide means of accessing the products for purchase,
routing the consumer to the locations of the items desired; in other words,
they provide a means of accessing a database. Fueled by an "informational
elsewhere," in which the toys, and the desire for them, are already scripted,
the toy store relies less on the chance encounter--in which the actual,
situational play models the desire--and instead relies on a "prior
textualization" in which the play is "an almost always already transacted
affair." The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn't become toys, in other words,
"until they had proven themselves desirable as information"--that is, been
transformed into informational currency. Dude.

This expanded field of play, then, extending out of the toy store and the home,
is the environment in which the product is produced and consumed. The product's
processes of production, distribution, and consumption are extended,
circulating in informational space; the product is not an end-point, but a
temporary, circulatory arrangement of elements which arises through an ongoing
coded dialogue between producer and consumer. You don't throw it out, in other
words, but continually consume it as you continually produce it; you interface
with its system of possibility at varied points. Since its content is
information-based, it's an informational fulfillment that is an end in itself,
which of course doesn't really have an end. It's not perishable, but consists
of a constellation of possibility, a database of circulating informational
potentiality. You locate yourself in relation to it as you locate it in
relation to you in expanded processes of productization which
penetrate--interpenetrate with--the body, casting it adrift on the market.

Consider, for example, the Clinton Administration's marketing of the "health
security card," by any terms a product *par excellence*. According to Michael
Kelly in yesterday's New York Times Magazine (p. 71), "in the selling of the
Administration's health plan, politics, policy, advertising, and journalism
have become, finally, a single organism." Speaking before Congress to introduce
the plan on September 22, "the President holds aloft a red, white, and blue
card of gleaming Visa-like plastic, on the back of which is printed, in the
language of a late-night-television insurance pitch, a promise of such largesse
as to give God pause: 'This health security card guarantees you a comprehensive
package of benefits that can never be taken away.'" Here the body is rescripted
as the utopian body of the market economy, a site of extraordinarily complex
circulatory efficiency. Enmeshed in market relations--which now provide both
objects and subjects--we engage in the continual production and consumption of
the self. (We are as fascinated by bodies on the market as we once were by
bodies in nature. Where we once went to the Zoo, we now watch Beavis and
Butthead, who gleefully, primally, exist within the market--our new nature. The
shriek or grunt becomes the huh-huh-huh, the oral scrawl, the call of the
manufactured wild.)

We can say that the product consists of relative sets of transactional
relations, arising in a transactional space staked out by its agents, who may
or may not be reducible to individual bodies. The exchange-processes through
which this occurs take place in vast informational landscapes fueled by new
info-currencies and info-socialities yet to be articulated. (As Morgan Garwood
suggested recently here on The Thing, money and information are merging
[infocapital?], and a new sociality--the "infosocial"--is emerging.) Rather
than slicing up this landscape into "real" or "virtual," natural or
telecommunicational, and so on, it is perhaps more productive to examine these
currencies and socialities which produce, and are produced by, it--the
informational environment in which all such space is produced. In other words,
it's not virtual reality or cyberspace--it's simply reality. As Jeffrey Schulz
suggests in his work, we navigate real and virtual space always, never wholly
in one or the other. And so it must be for our products.

Slide this situation along a contextual slide-rule into the realm of art (or
rather, change aisles), and consider the informational elsewheres and
transactional spaces in which the product--the work of art--and the desire for
it are produced and circulated. (Which is, uh, not to say that the gallery is
like today's toy store, even though its products are, like the toys in Herron's
text, "on high shelves, or else behind glass, or encased...forever out of
reach.") If artwork has increasingly become what Laura Trippi has called
"configurative"--dispersing into configurations of elements, relative
arrangements of components--then through what social, cultural and historical
*transactions* is it continually produced? How do we locate it, and give it
significance and value?

As boundaries between disciplines, and between author and reader, blur, and
assumptions from the age of print dissolve, such a task becomes increasingly
difficult. We can say that such artworks, consisting of sets of transactions or
relations, necessarily include aspects of theoretical and critical texts,
spanning many discursive spheres, in oscillation between "natural" and
constructed spaces. We can say that, as the work of art is dispersed into a
circulatory, shifting configuration of elements, it is not limited to one
arrangement or depiction, but becomes, as in Rainer Ganahl's work, a changing
construction enmeshed in a network of linkage. Reaching outside of its frame or
window, it extends itself and spins a space of depictive potentiality, in which
it is located by transactive relations. We can say that it exists in terms of
transferals, ceaseless jostlings among elements, interplays of codes and nodes
which sweep up relationships and refigure them, refiguring the work itself.

In such transactional space, what are the forms art's symbolic capital takes,
the processes of exchange by which this capital is produced, and the methods of
its circulation? How does its structure reflect global economic and
informational system-structures, and what are the negotiations, the currencies,
the socialities, which produce, and are produced by, such phenomena? What new
relations do they prompt between subject, object, and context, between the
human, the natural, and the artifactual, between materialization and mediation,
between encounter and understanding?

Our participants here in The Thing's first curated symposium are asked to
consider these issues, in the context of developing a new theory and practice
of art. I would like to welcome our panelists--Jan Avgikos, Marisa Bowe,
Marshall Blonsky, Rainer Ganahl, Morgan Garwood, Ingo Gunther, Peter Halley,
Ben Kinmont, Curtis Mitchell, Klaus Ottmann, Joseph Nechvatal, Warren
Niesluchowski, Glenn O'Brien, Jeffrey Schulz, Laura Trippi, Wolfgang Staehle,
Benjamin Weil, and Olivier Zahm--as well as all Thing participants, who are
encouraged to participate in this discussion.

Our forum will proceed as follows: (continued next message)

Msg#:   48 *SYMPOSIA*
11-01-93 18:45:29
  To: ALL
A two-month period, beginning today and ending December 31, is allotted for
opening statements and discussion among the panelists; beginning January 1,
1994, the floor will be open to all participants on The Thing. The forum will
continue indefinitely--possibly into the spring--and it will eventually be
closed, compiled, and published in a book. By participating in this discussion,
all participants grant permission for The Thing to publish their work in this
compilation. Is such a linear, standard book antithetical to our concerns here?
Should a networked, hypertextual discussion be "flattened out"? Perhaps this
issue will be addressed, and the form of this "book" will evolve; in this case,
it may speak of the tensions between the diminishing age of print and the
emerging age of digital media--the former we clearly do not intend to dismiss
but, after its deconstruction, engage in structural dialogue with the latter.

Such tensions are increasingly manifest everywhere. And it is painfully evident
that art is undergoing a crisis as it seeks a role in a society which sees it
as increasingly insignificant. As Jose Luis Brea, in the current Flash Art (pp.
106-8), writes, "Certain conjectural crises--the crisis affecting the market or
the art institutions--might well be concealing the real contemporary crisis of
art: that of its real significance in contemporary societies." And as Benjamin
Weil states elsewhere in that issue (p. 66), "The art world needs to
re-evaluate its relationship with the social structure at large." Perhaps, to
begin, our panelists might consider this relationship. If our art is to, as
Brea writes, occupy a "founding role in the organization of knowledge and forms
of experience," acting as a "symbolic, structuring device addressing culture,"
establishing "a new order of discourse capable of mediating a possible relation
with new forms of language and, consequently, all relations with the world,"
then what might its "activist" role be? Perhaps as a point of departure we can
consider "transactivism" as an activism within the informational
landscape--which is to say, the market--which foregrounds the exchange, the
negotiation, the circulation, rather than the "oppositional stance," as the
means by which social energy is reworked (as in, for example, the work of Ben

Msg#:   49 *SYMPOSIA*
11-02-93 23:01:23
should we begin by asking what is of real significance in contemporary society,
or contemporary societies ? Assuming that basic needs are met, what
replenishment does the soul require ? Can we say that we, as citizens of
something or other, feel completed by what is available to us, or is there a
basic deficit, a poverty of means to conclude one's life, which we all
eventually must, with a sense of satisfaction, of a job well done.
  In my scheme of things, Art isn't a particular, it's a way of living life
that matters, that leaves you feeling like the day has been worth the struggle.
Anything you do at this level becomes art, when it dignifies you, rounds you
  When you look at egregiously bad art, the first thing that comes to mind is
what kind of sphere of meaning does the person who created it exist in? You
can't help but see through the art into the point of the life. It takes a lot
of guts to look at your life in an ongoing way. But if we arent talking about
the value of life, the ways we can make it mean more than another commercial
grind, some moves, some dance steps, then why bother? Why exert the energy to
live if there isn't a wonderful mystery at its core being subtly unfolded to
anyone willing to bother enough, to care enough?


Msg#:   50 *SYMPOSIA*
11-03-93 11:03:03
Evaluating the current social, economic, and technologial (media) situation I
would be more reluctant in "praising" it as somehow "NEW" since there are too
many "old" practices (relating to power and domination) circuiting these new
superstradas of digital information exchange. This, I think, could be seen when
one zooms into the relationship between the so-called old print media and the
new digital interface media. Too often, and also in your expose', one talks in
terms of substitution. But contrary to a substitution of the printmedia,
computers, with their capacity of desktop publishing, of remote simultaneous
publishing, enforce and strengthen the printmedia. It is precisely the fusion
of all these technological advanced media that makes up a powerful hybrid
unimaginable a few decades ago. The making (writing, printing) of books and
magazines has been totally changed through the help of these tools. So the
question of whether or not this forum should be published in book form is
already wrong (too purist) in its assumptions. Of course it should be published
since this is the way things are efficient. So if for the production of the
text, the BBS seems to be the most convenient, and for the presentation to the
public, a more traditional format is best, don't even ask. I'm writing here in
Tokyo with a simple pen, not having access to a modem that is linked to your
local NYC BBS. So I just fax it and Jordan keys it in, since this is the
easiest, most economic solution. But again, this is symptomatic for the state
of things: the combination of a variety of practices, technologies, and
strategies is what you find out there. I'm more interested in seeing how the
old, already existing structures and media change with the arrival of new
communicative capacities; what is it that become obsolete, and what is it that
gains, or even regains, importance in a new configuration of tools and media.
        And talking of the token ART, it is interesting that with the
integration of the art object and speculation and investment, it is first the
old stuff that exchanges best in it; and obviously work that is precisely
addressing these issues will be entering this cycling art.
        So I'm not expecting anything from "new forms of language" but more to
observe how the "old" ones are doing within a widened array of possibilities.
And isn't this also precisely the message we get from science fiction writings
that always just project existing relationships into a new blueprint? Tokyo, by
the way, a city that always scores best as a screen for accelerated fantasies
(of people who don't know it), is a perfect tableau, when basically only "old,
existing" dispositions are reworked, remodeled and converted in an interesting
way, that is far from the "apocalyptic" advent of another NEW yet to come. Your
liquid screen brain storm might happen only when your national plastic health
security card, in green, blue, or gold, doesn't give you access to a dentist
when you really need one: and all behind that is a very basic equation that
hasn't changed for thousands of years.

Msg#:   51 *SYMPOSIA*
11-03-93 12:09:24

One principal quality of the transactional space about which you have written
is that relationships in this space are never fixed. Alliances and connections
are perpetually created, broken, recombined, exhausted, and replenished,
paralleling the ways in which a personal computer system is continuously
upgraded, added to, re-configured, retired, and replaced.  This situation
applies not only to relationships and physical components, but also to
individualities.  Virtual identities are forever morphing, with information
about virtual bodies constantly updated, cross-referenced, mapped and marked -- but seldom, if ever deleted --
in virtual space.  The dissolution of one into another (and another, and
another, ad infinitum) is perhaps one of the central characteristics of life in
the intersection between real space and virtual space.  Consequently, the morph
can be regarded as one primary symbol of this intersection.  The spatial
mapping of a morph highlights connections and interconnections between a
variety of nodes, the end product of which is non-existent, in part due to its
perpetual incompletion/creation.

When Benjamin Weil states, as quoted by you, "The art world needs to
re-evaluate its relationship with the social structure at large," one of the
issues that it needs to address is the fixity of its productions in relation to
the social structure.  My primary problem with most of what I see in Soho is
the underlying terminal condition of much of the work.  That is, the temporal
and spatial dimensions of the work are most often completely fixed, which
renders much of the work irrelevant to our multi-dimensional spaces.  Experiences outside of the art world are often much more
compelling.  The conceptual implications of Michael Jackson telling me, "I'm
black, I'm white.  Yeah, yeah, yeah," and showing me a morph sequence that
actually addresses issues pertinent to transactional space (should this
sequence have been included in the Whitney Biennial?) are far more interesting
to me than the conceptual implications of most visual art.  Given the choice of
going to galleries or watching the morphed shaving commercial (is it for
Gillette?), I would most likely choose the latter.  This is not to imply that
all cultural productions need to utilize advanced technology, or that
technology will miraculously produce work that speaks to an
information-drenched culture.  In fact, technology-based exhibitions like
"Iterations," currently at the ICP, often simply result in more terminal
objects.  But if the art world is to assume, as Brea writes, more of a
"founding role in the organization of knowledge and forms of experience," it
must address the ways in which its productions can interact and engage with the
shifting, multi-dimensional spaces of contemporary life. Whether or not this
interaction explicitly utilizes technology is irrelevant.

Msg#:   52 *SYMPOSIA*
11-04-93 22:40:51
     Art's activism lies in its character: to pay attention. Its attention is
necessarily of the market cause it is active. (There can be no such thing as
"oppositional stance". From where could one oppose?) If the market is
everywhere, and has been since Massachio (?), the difference of art in the
present seems more to center around the shrinking of the world - aspects of
culture as well as cultures are losing distinction.
 Art has always been popularly insignificant. The insignificance is more
salient now because art has lost its base of power, which was built on the aura
of elite exclusivity. (When Jose Luis Brea writes of art as "a founding role in
the organization of  knowledge", a "device addressing culture", establishing "a
new  order of discourse", I get a nosebleed.) With information  exploded and
distinctions imploded, exclusivity and elitism  become synonymous with
insignificance. Art's aura becomes  insignificant, not its power. The power of
attention will never  be lost. Paying attention to that which is
"market-friendly"  usually is usurped by a market more equipped to do it
better. So that attention resonates for a nanosecond before sliding to
insignificance. No small length of time, but it could be longer. If this
attention is spent focussing on what the market  overlooks, what the market
sees as counterproductive, or non-  productive, then art's power to imagine the
market reaps the  activism for which it exists. At this late stage, one does
not create a market/product. One interacts with a market/product.

Msg#:   53 *SYMPOSIA*
11-04-93 22:44:50

 The soul requires no replenishment. If it exists, it is full. It's all one can
do to digest the replenishment already out there. The idea one needs more
divulges a substantial editing of what already exists. Yes, we are completed -
by at least the very fact that we cease, that the job is done, satisfied or no.
Is satisfaction really of significance?
 I agree with a "life that matters", though i'm not sure anything is *worth* a
struggle; it may just *be* a struggle. The worth lies in that it matters. It is
this mattering that dignifies and rounds out. It is this mattering that, as you
say, means. It is this mattering that makes this mystery wonderful. But i doubt
what it's worth.

Msg#:   55 *SYMPOSIA*
11-05-93 08:36:14
we may have to agree to disagree on *the basics* here. In your view, is there a
difference between a well lived life and a dissipated one ?
   While it is true that there is a great load of stuff out there, I have my
doubts about how replenishing it is. Las Vegas was a draining experience for
its very *soullessness*. People became smaller machines interacting with
machines, all inside of a larger machine. These machines have cute names like
Circus Circus, but they are nothing more than icing on incredible tedium.
   What we are talking about is that which makes us other than machine.

Msg#:   58 *SYMPOSIA*
11-05-93 13:46:52
        Michael Jackson is endlessly fascinating, isn't he? Did you see the
televised Super Bowl extravaganza? The people with whom I watched it fell to
their knees and clasped their hands as if in Holy rapture. It was absolutely
        I agree with you--work of this kind can be far richer than the work of
artists in galleries. But the question is, how do we articulate such work as
"art" (that is, project it *into* the art-context) and how do we expand the idea of art in the galleries
(project it *onto* a larger socio-cultural horizon) such that the art *work*
itself is constituted by this kind of traversal? The gallery or museum, then,
could be a crossroads of this kind of activity, an agency for modes of
capturing, reworking, and re-relating information-- *as* art. However we must find ways to do this other than including elaborate
installations of work--illustrative relics or what you call terminal objects,
which is what Michael Jackson's music video, if it were at the Biennial, would
be. And we must have tools to articulate new author-constructs, for whatever the art work is, it is not necessarily authored by an
author, but an author-function. This requires a deep exploration of alternate
modes of intellectual property, and it requires one to loosen one's hold on
one's work, freeing it to circulate, recombine. And last but not by any means
least, we must develop economic structures and systems to support this kind of
work, for our current art world structures do not allow for it. If we do not
change, and follow the lead of the information technologies, art as we know it
may become more and more ancillary--a marginal, elitist activity stuck in a
time-warp, a twilight zone of galleries stocked with endless supplies of paintings.

        The Rodney King thing (what to call it?) is an interesting case. To
have shown that video at the Biennial is an important breakthrough, but the
fact is that the video itself--such as it is--wasn't really the "art," and the
man who videoed it wasn't really the "artist." So authorship here is an assumed
position, and the question is not "whose work is it?," or "is it art?," but,
"what are its modes of production, circulation, and control--*as art*?" The
former fixes it as a "terminal object," the latter frees it into a
constellation of possible objects, an active relationality which has no end. In
other words we don't fix a subject but map subject-positions in transactive
relations. The Rodney King "work" can only be a socio-historical construction.
It happens to be one which has had so many implications, and has been so
profoundly illustrative of socio-cultural mechanics, that it can be studied for
years and years, the way any great work of art can be. And it continues. Of
course, I'm not suggesting that it was an enormous art work. But aspects of it
can be as they intersect within the art-context at various points.
        What is of interest as art is not the video itself, but the way in
which that video text was translated and transcoded into various discursive
spheres and claimed as property of one form or another (ideological, aesthetic,
etc.)--in order words, the way in which it was circulated, negotiated,
deconstructed into constellations of signs or logos and colonized, continually
the material of transaction. The way in which it reworked social relations of
which it then became the product (and vice versa, and so on--an
exchange-reaction coursing through infosocial configurations). And it becomes a
kind of cloud, an energy-concentration constituted by multidimensional, overlaid nets. And here we have
a focus on modes of production and infosociality, rather than a kind of
inherent content or "message." All of which is exactly what you are saying
about the relationships within transactional space.
        In this sense we don't author a work so much as negotiate it. What the
work is, and what our role is in its formation, is a matter of point-of-view.
And so this process of locating participates in the work's production. The work
then arises as a shared construction, a social and historical trans-action, an
index of socio-cultural energy.
         We have a wealth of material *out there* just begging to be transcoded
into the realm of art, that needs no author per se but only the discursive
systems into which it is brought, the tools for analysis, and the relative
subject-constructions who can engage its ongoing interpretation. We don't need more
artists; we need more mechanisms. And this means that the artist, rather than
being put out of a job, has new responsibilities as a *structurer of systems*,
staking out fields of potentiality, leaving the "works" up to others to
actualize. Although this author-role is too displaced as relationships are
continually jostled between element and system (a *langue* functions as a
*parole* in another *langue*). One has to let go, in other words, and free
oneself to enter into any relationship in transactive situations.
        As Fredric Jameson writes (in _Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of
Late Capitalism_, Duke Univ. Press, 1991, p. 77.) , "objects that were formerly
'works' can now be reread as immense ensembles or systems of texts of various
kinds, superimposed on each other by way of the various intertextualities,
successions of fragments, or, yet again, sheer process (henceforth called
textual production or textualization). The autonomous work thereby--along with
the old autonomous subject or ego--seems to have vanished, to have been
volatilized." Perhaps in theory this is so but certainly not in practice, and
this is because we do not yet have the market-structures to support this
perception. I believe that the way to proceed is to accept the fact that the
entire structure of the art world, and perception of art, as we know it, is
based in economics. (If anyone here feels otherwise, please state your case.)
In coming to terms with the market, we can begin to develop new systems in
dialogue with it--new modes of production. And we can begin to see how
information operates as an economic resource. We find this occuring in the
information technologies, but not really in art.

Msg#:   62 *SYMPOSIA*
11-05-93 21:14:17
I agree with you on the level that art does have a relation to life, to our
everyday activities and needs.  Ultimately, it is on this point that Beuys'
idea that everyman and woman is an artist takes its full meaning.  However, for
me, the real issue then becomes "what is it that we will choose to do with our
time?"  And, "should we worry about becoming too moralistic during our
decisions about what to do during the day?"

Msg#:   63 *SYMPOSIA*
11-06-93 09:35:39
  To: BEN KINMONT (Rcvd)
a decade ago our finances, public and private, ran amok, and seemingly, our
minds went with them. Generally speaking. Gilding the Lilly became our project.
Substance was a mere annoyance. Archtypically, it was the hour of Jupiter,
swollen, inflated, unreflective. Body fluids everywhere.
   Now what? The winter of our discontent? The dominion of Saturn? Cold,
restrictive, hard, judgemental. Down to the *redex*, the root of things*. Basic
questions again.

Msg#:   65 *SYMPOSIA*
11-06-93 10:02:46
*economics* is the fancy way of saying *relationshps of supply and demand*.
Demand can mean anything from baseline need, like water, to ecstatic transport,
as in fine Humbolt county boo-ray and a giant screen teevee to groove on monday
nite football with. Art slips its skinny little fingers in there somewhere.

Msg#:   66 *SYMPOSIA*
11-06-93 12:44:34
Looks like even the White House Image Master is changing from an 1980's Saulus
to a 1990's Paulus.  According to Michael Kelly's article in last Sunday's
Times (and what a nicely executed piece of journalism that was), Dave Gergen
now admits that he was "overselling" and that he now wants to return to "basic
values" and do some good for the community.  Jugding from the glitz surrounding
the "sell" of the national health insurance card he can't let go altogether.
At least he's using his undeniable talent for some "good cause" instead of
planning how to smear political adversaries. But what does it all mean?  Is the
time of image over?  Is "overselling" out? Do we now have to pay 10 bucks
instead of only $9.99?

Msg#:   67 *SYMPOSIA*
11-06-93 17:34:22
oh, don't trouble your heart. This is America, and we don't do selling, we ARE
   Did you, perchance, notice that before the big Helf Plan push got moving,
that the First Two x Chromosome Presidential Adjunct had to be sold as a
concept to the American public. It had the texture of "we'll get them to like
her, take her personally in a homey, nonthreatening way, just us chickens kind
of business". So, you saw her all sweet'n'nice on the cover of every ladies and
family heartland magazine in non envy producing polyester daywear, mit der
soft'n'cuddly dewey eye look much approved of out yonder. No commie lesbos
round here, no sir. (this is all subtext I am interpreting for all you check
out stand challenged types and damn limousine liberals that wouldn't know a
good wholsome publication if it hit you over the head).
  So, once we got that piece of business finished (fingerprints of Ira
Magaziner all over this one?), Hillary established as righteous chill def from
sea to shining sea qua ontological person huggable being phenomenon, then we
gets down to business of her utterances, which should by now be utterly
trustworthy. A fine butter sauce by Chef Dave to complete a splendid meal.

Msg#:   69 *SYMPOSIA*
11-07-93 19:14:02
In your view, is there a difference between a well lived life and a dissipated
one ?

I'm not sure what you mean by dissipated, but if you mean one not planned, or
not controlled by intentionality, or one not infused with a structure, or in
any way one not manipulated willfully;
and if you mean by a well lived life the opposite of these descriptions, then
yes, i see quite a large distinction, but no, no difference in validity. Both
nodes, and the more prevalent everything-in-between, carry the potential for
elevation. To be aware is to elevate.
 When in Las Vegas, i perceive what you describe, but see it differently. This
incredible tedium, which is so blatantly apparent there, occurs in every other
sector of our community, only less forcefully. When seen in such an exaggerated
form my reaction is more awe than repulsion. The experience of tedium is part
of that which makes us other than machine. I do not believe one could program a
machine to experience tedium, except in such a simplistic way as to ruin any
concept of the word. Whether tedium could be commodified, could be introduced
into an info-social realm, thereby making us more fully *marketable*, is a question.
 I'm having problems with your use of the term: soul. What is that? Are you
including its meaning as defined through millenia? Or are you intending more
just a human-as-such? If it is the latter, cannot Las Vegas be seen as an
abstracted paradigm of some of the issues this forum is foregrounding: tedium
as one element of the human-as-such, interacting with another element:
mechanized rationality, each feeding each other and mirrored by the machine,
design, and decor of and in the casino? 

Msg#:   70 *SYMPOSIA*
11-08-93 14:31:52
I dont know if we should try to talk about how we could manage to be other than
machines. May be its a waste of time because I dont think there is a way out.
Regaining entities like nature or harmony or self-determined life is quite a
romantic approach to an inescapable system of conditioning that basically male
humans have set up in order to respond to the drive of the biological material
that is bugging us from the inside. Working against this material (what you are
trying to do) creates deadly stress and a bleeding heart and no answer. May be
we really do have to acknoledge that we are changing from being humans to being
cyborgs. May be we shouldnt try to scream about THE SYSTEM that tries to suck
us in and turn into robots, may be we should acknoledge that we want to be
robots and find solutions from there. A self-conscious machine might be easily
bored with the cheap entertainment machinery in Las Vegas while a human, even
if she/he tries to fight it, might loose against its strange charme.

Msg#:   74 *SYMPOSIA*
11-09-93 17:10:31
But I found the phrase, "Welcome to Caesar's Palace" incredibly pornographic.

Msg#:   88 *SYMPOSIA*
11-10-93 23:08:29
Jeez...what does the modern Cyborg really want? The rich,living,vital, personal
is quite possible, and a good reason to go on living. But, the *Transactivist*
world, albeit a dangerous place, isn't an absolutely deadly one. Its the
pockets of psychic anti matter you have to be on red alert for. Itims a whole
new jungle out there, and it may take a Yanomamo's feeling for the environment
to get through in one piece. the Transactiovironment is dangerous, but
empowering too. It offers significant tools to leverage ones psychic strength,
but that same tool can cut off a limb if used without consummate skill.
Samurainformation. Baaad Shit, dude.

Msg#:   89 *SYMPOSIA*
11-10-93 23:17:22
soul? I know, a fuzzy logic word if ever was one. I can't even define it to my
own satisfaction, so surely not to yours. Roughly, very roughly, the part of me
that keeps me company...the guy I am talking to when I talk to myself...part
gut feelings, part pseudomystical mishmash picked up along the way, part LSD,
part reflection on circumstances, bundles of memory, dreams, aspirations,
disappointments, reconciliations, Buddy Guy records, good lays, broken stuff... wazzit?

Msg#:   90 *SYMPOSIA*
11-11-93 08:41:36

 > and it may take a Yanomamo's feeling for the
 > environment to get through in one piece.

It's my opinion that we canNOT get through transactive space in one piece.  Due
to the fact that we now inhabit many spaces and inter-spaces, the experience of
wholeness is no longer a valid construct.  We can no longer be "one piece," and
we can never even hope to pull all of our virtual bodies and identities
together into some semblance of wholeness.

Msg#:   92 *SYMPOSIA*
11-11-93 09:21:51
how do you know that you're "Jeffry Schulz" then? To borrow a title from a book
long out of print, where is the curve of binding energy?
   This virtual space is inhabited by noone, it is our documentation, a system
of referents that has grown up around us.
   Sure, TRW will have exhaustive credit reports on us, and BBSs (I'd wager
100,000 of them in two years at this growth rate) will have an immense file of
opinions, telecommuters will telecommute, ad infinitum. There will be a small
population of Otaku, asocial zomboids that can only relate through computers,
info Nazis, info Sluts, and interchanges between the brilliant and gifted.
   We will witness the arrival of a new set of adjectives that mark fine
distintions of system adeptness and informational quality. Virtual finesse.
   And so on. But, somebody will always be physically located, have biological
needs, lives outside. Virtuality will supplement more than it will supplant,
but it will bring about radical organizational change (where it does supplant
traditional authority structures), and it will bring about radical changes in
urban design.
   The most vulnerable phenomenon of the 20th century will be the office
building itself. Its structure was a reflection of a giv}fen way of dealing
with information. Close packing and physical proximity was essential to
efficient administration. That's not the case anymore, and it is going to be
less so by a power of ten before the century is up.

Msg#:   99 *SYMPOSIA*
11-11-93 21:54:28

I completely agree with you that there will always be a physically located
body, and that that body will have biological needs.  The rhetoric surrounding
virtual reality, which is some of my least favorite, is most bothersome in that
it often elides the fact that a real body even exists.  But I disagree with you
in that I do think we occasionally inhabit virtual space.  We have virtual
addresses, we occupy chat rooms, we play in multi-
user dungeons, etc.  That these metaphors are all associated with real
locations (usually associated with domestic spaces) is indicative of our desire
to feel comfortable inhabiting space on the net.

I also think we have virtual bodies.  My virtual body exists in a number of
forms:  mail order catalogues have data on my waist size; medical institutions
know that I have scars on my abdomen and ear; government records reveal my eye
color, hair color, weight; etc.  Each transaction which my physical body
performs makes a mark on my virtual body, facilitating the process by which I
am further constructed.  In "The Mode of Information," Mark Poster indicates
that "(postmodern) individuals are constituted through their place in the
circuit of information flows."  (Poster, Mark.  "The Mode of Information:
Poststructuralism and Social Context."  Chicago:  Univerisity of Chicago Press,
1990.  136.)  In this situation, the concept of a profile is the perfect
metaphor:  it is a representation of a bodily appearance.  Never full frontal
(i.e., never a total picture), but a picture nonetheless.  A moving picture.
My profile is an almost-living entity that accompanies me in transactional
spaces.  It is sometimes hidden, restricted from view.  But, like my virtual
body, it's almost always there.  And it's constructed, in part, by someone

I do exist outside of myself.

Msg#:  110 *SYMPOSIA*
11-12-93 09:16:36
but you have one *locus of sentience*. If the "real" you were to cease to be,
there would be a body of dross, profiles, records; informational wake of your
passage through life, but the core reason for its being would have passed.
   Abraham Lincoln, for example, still exists in a multiplicity of historical
materials and writings. Noone confuses virtual Abe with the man who prosecuted
the Civil War. He was a man who lived and did. You could say that the
Gettysburg Address extended his virtual domain, but only a specific man at a
specific time could have produced it.
   For that type of reason, I don't believe that we have arrived at true
virtuality yet. This is an interregnum, a period between dominant phases. When
technologies do, which they will, reach a point that a proxy being can be
created, a combination of soft and hardware, or whatever we will use, that can
speak for us, act in our place, as if they possessed our sentience, then we
will have virtual space.
   For now we have to content ourselves with quasi-virtuality. It's not Kansas
anymore. The possibilities of connection exceed anything history has come close
to knowing. However, we aren't quite there. By 2003, nothing would come as a

Msg#:  126 *SYMPOSIA*
11-13-93 14:07:09
I am in the midst of recovering from a two-year addiction to Echo, yes, I can
proudly say that I am the first on my block to need a 12-step group on account
of being powerless over my modem.  I'm sort of kidding, but not really; WIRED
referred in some back issue, to "connection addiction," which I know I had a
bad but not comparatively extreme case of.

The various realities of my addictive virtual existence (and of course, I'm
using myself only as an example) bring up a number of, I think anyway,
fascinating philosophical questions, such as, what was it I was addicted to
anyway?  What was the nature of the sensation I repeatedly sought, what was the
makeup of the feedback loop I was in?  It's not an easy one to answer, and I'd
be interested to see what other people here have to say before I say any more
about it.

Also, I used often to get cyber-crushes, and what was I responding to in those
cases?  Then when I met the people in real life, there was always an awful,
usually disappointing, adjustment to make.  What was the difference between the
persona I came to "know" online and the persona I met in the flesh?  Again, I'd
be interested in hearing speculation from others before I start in on all my
little thoughts and theories on the subject.

One thing I will say is: there are no pheremones in virtual reality.  I suppose
that's easily fixable, though.

Msg#:  128 *SYMPOSIA*
11-13-93 15:16:41
 I'm sorry. I didn't understand your message. Can you explain it

 I think the stupor one sees on many faces in a casino in Las  Vegas has
everything to do with what we are talking about here.  We can talk at length,
and usefully, about the ramifications and

assets and deficits of slipping between the virtual and the real.

And the examples of Michael Jackson and Rodney King are important

and timely. But i don't see any reason to discount Las Vegas as  irrelevant
when, for decades, we have here a clarified picture of

a type of transactional space. A person stands in front of a  machine, a
logically ordered mechanistic program, and *plays*  with it. S/he tries to
understand it, second-guess it, manipulate

it, in other words interacts with it. Granted, there is no  attempt to change
the world, but there is an enmeshing of real  and virtual, and it does have its
 In Neuromancer, jacking into cyberspace renders the body non-  functional, if
not unconscious. In Snow Crash, checking into the

Metaverse renders the body completely out of contact; it is not  as radical a
break with physical actuality. While the mind  colonizes physical virtuality
the body becomes either unconscious

or asleep. The only time virtuality and actuality coexist is at  the point of
jacking in. Except for Molly and sym-stim. Molly's  got implants; the machine
is used as an adjunct to the body, a  modifier of those organs which can be
rendered technologically:  the eyes as data assimilators, the nails as weapons.
Sym-stim is

the most fascinating; one checks in not to virtual space as  analog to the
forgotten frontier (Neuromancer's Daniel Boone with

no noble savages) or as analog to a Nintendo/data processing  hybrid, but to
another body. Here is a full confluence of virtual

and actual; neither the voyeur nor the voyee lose themselves in  the event.
 The question is: in Las Vegas, are all those bodies working the

slot machines unconscious or asleep to the world, sincerely  reflecting the
remainder of the body-machine interaction? Is that

stupor necessary for adequate engagement of virtuality? Are they

lost to the event, or engaged in a necessary manner? One can see

the same stupor on each one of us as we check into this space. I

think it's less a result of unfamiliarity and more of a priority

put on mechanistic perception. If it is a mechanistic space, one

engages mechanistically.
 In other words, the future of art production seems less to be  rendering
virtuality so as to make it more familiar, and more to

be describing that which cannot be virtualized; maybe with the  purpose of
*fleshing out* a full transactive body, one exploiting

technology where possible, commoditizing where possible, and also

informing, qualifying, coordinating, intensifying, and extending

these with what is exclusively human actuality. Neither subject nor object,
virtual and actual only encounter.
 The slot machine players are interacting with a virtual space  inside a
machine inside a technological space. It is a simplistic

space. We see tedium. Tedium seems to be germane to the human. Is

the reason it is the most salient thing we see a product of the  qualities of
the space or a reflection of the human remainder of

the interactive event? 

Msg#:  133 *SYMPOSIA*
11-13-93 19:54:14
weird scenes inside the gold mine

Msg#:  136 *SYMPOSIA*
11-14-93 18:15:39
Yeah, soul. Of your list of ingredients, the only one difficult to relegate to
virtuality is *gut feelings*. Which makes you one heluva pillar of amalgamated
virtual-actual overlap. Considering these rich ingredients, and not uncommon
ones, how can you possibly look at a casino full of persons and term it
*soulless*. The ingredients listed in your *soul* form a profile which overlaps
with most of them. Is the draining experience to which you have referred due to
envisioning to commonality of this
*soul*, or to confronting the perceived inadequacy of it, or to the perception
that you *need* these people for the continuation of this *soul*? And with a
soul as hybrid virtual and actual, in what arena do you see replenishment
needed (to rephrase you question in #914)?

Msg#:  137 *SYMPOSIA*
11-14-93 18:26:01

 > Virtuality will supplement more
 > than it will supplant, but it will bring about radical
 > organizational change

When this change takes place substantially is when virtual will supplant more
than it ever has. Urban and organizational design are becoming more cork than

Msg#:  144 *SYMPOSIA*
11-15-93 11:09:12
*soul* is a toughie, not in the least because it is a catchbasin word, global
and unspecific. Being so, it ranks as one of the most context sensitive words
in our lexicon.
   What is curious is, that outside of the spiritualizing professions, (whether
or not that includes organizations such as the Church of Scientology will be
for history to decide) the notion of *soul* is met with polite embarrassment or
outright hostility.
   James Hillman, a specialist in Jungian archetypes, wrote very eloquently,
and at some length, on not only *soul* per se, but on its relationship to a
"counter-archetype", *spirit*. You will find this essay in the second half of
the Puer Papers, often carried by metaphysical bookstores.
   Are we talking about Judeo-Christian *soul*, an irreducible, mysterious
component of being that (in theory) causes us to rise above our animal
appetites (so one might say that environments that pander to base appetites,
are by definition heading in the direction of soullessness), or,
   A more Buddhistic *void* at the center of being, or
   simply a feeling of empathy, connectedness, commonality, acceptance?

Msg#:  145 *SYMPOSIA*
11-15-93 11:17:59
notice the ridiculousness of cars, the monstrous inefficiency in resource
allocation that they represent.
  Pick up a copy of the latest issue of Fortune (mag.) to get a sense of how
the struggle to "virtualize" America is boiling behind the scenes.
   Bill gates is looking at full implementation by late 1996, and Oracle  is
already trying to push him out of the way. The article mentions that the 500
channel cable feast won't be implemented because it is already too obsolete to
bother developing. I get the feeling that we are going from blunderbusses to
railguns in a few short years. Can cities, and modes of transportation survive
as we know them? Very, very doubtful.
   The downside is inevitable displacement of jobs dedicated to the old
economic chain. Look what a defense industry shrinkage did to California's
economy. This change will be easily twenty times as disruptive.

Msg#:  146 *SYMPOSIA*
11-15-93 11:22:26
welcome back to the true church, Brattyslavia. What sorts of discussions made
ECHO so compelling? Were there topics that had to be addresssed, in the sense
of working through issues, or was it so emotionally charged that participants
got on board for the adrenaline hit?

Msg#:  149 *SYMPOSIA*
11-15-93 12:09:53

 >    I don't believe that we have arrived at
 >    true virtuality yet.

I don't think we'll EVER arrive at true virtuality.  Yes, we are in an
in-between period.  But I think we'll *always* be in this period:  we'll never
exist fully in virtual reality.  As you've written before, "somebody will
always be physically located."

There is a long conceptual leap from comparing the historical documents that
traced the life of Abraham Lincoln (most of which were available only after he
died) to our current situation, which facilitates almost constant monitoring of
the physical location of bodies as well as the registering of many of those
bodies' actions.  Whether we like it or not, records of our actions are
available to almost anyone.  Abe could have willed that his records be burned.
However, we have almost no agency with which to conceal our actions -- you
can't burn a virtual body.

 > This is an interregnum, a period between
 > dominant phases. When technologies do, which they will, reach a
 > point that a proxy being can be created, a combination of soft and
 > hardware, or whatever we will use, that can speak for us, act in our
 > place, as if they possessed our sentience, then we will have virtual
 > space.

In some ways, technologies have in fact reached a point at which proxy beings
exist.  The organization/business Check Free has already, in a way, done this.
Check Free is a method by which a person can have all of hir bills paid in
virtual space.  The Check Free system maintains a profile of all of the monthly
bills a client is required to pay, and dispenses virtual money from the
client's bank account directly to the virtual space of the bills' accounts.
Thus, the combination of hardware and software of Check Free acts in our place
to take care of our bills.  This is not true virtuality but, as I already
indicated, I don't think there is, or will be such a thing.

Msg#:  150 *SYMPOSIA*
11-15-93 14:30:54
For whom the bell tolls, and all that...Here is a blurb from one Rick Roderick,
in the catalog of The Teaching Company ( they put various undergrad level
courses out on audio/video tape, so you can avoid some of the misery of
academia while getting a portion of the benefits: ominous forebodings for the
Eduindustry...another discussion)
   " For me the idea is of creating a self. I am afraid of a world where people
don't even worry about the boundaries of distinction between themselves and
Vogue magazine. This is frightening, and it ought to be frightening....When I
talk about an "authentic" self, I could have as easily said *interesting*, or
*powerful*, or many other adjectives. I think that what is getting lost is what
might be called the journey of selfhood.
   What is getting lost is the idea that there is a narrative continuity  to
your life, a story, that it makes sense, that it is not a Pinter play, full of
terse dialog, and an ambiguous ending or a play by Beckett. There is a
narrative that the self has, a sense that it could be a story, an interesting
story, a story worth telling, worth listening to.
   There are many choices you could make and many sets of them that could lead
one to have this adventure of becoming the self..."

   Any thoughts is reply to this? Are we looking for the *domain of the
narrative*, the essential thread, vs. a field of background information?

Msg#:  155 *SYMPOSIA*
11-16-93 15:58:22
There's nothing wrong with you that a little theory and a polo mallet won't

Msg#:  161 *SYMPOSIA*
11-17-93 09:40:42

Mr. Roderick's sentiments bring up one of the issues that I have recently been
thinking about:  what kinds of social/psychological/cultural problems will
develop in a culture that bases itself on hypertexts/hypermedia (instead of
books)?  Although he does not directly address issues related to hypertexts,
his statement

 > I am afraid of a world
 > where people don't even worry about the boundaries of distinction
 > between themselves and Vogue magazine.

describes a quintessential hypertext characteristic:  that the boundaries
between a reader and an author are blurred.  In such systems, there is no
longer a linear "narrative continuity" in which to situate one's self; it's no
longer self-as-thread, but self-as-net.  Thus, the full excerpt that you
included here indirectly expresses a fear of the direction in which such
technologies are leading us because Mr. Roderick's "journey of selfhood" is
radically reconfigured by hypertext systems.  I wonder if he encourages
educational institutions to continue to implement hypertext-based learning
environments:  any indication in the information that you have?

Msg#:  163 *SYMPOSIA*
11-17-93 22:33:51
 I'm not sure why this redundancy is taking place. Several messages ago i asked
you what you meant by the term
*soul*, citing the same problem with the word which you just  reiterated in
this last message. I just assumed we knew the  different uses to which it has
been applied (without needing to read a book about it). That's why i asked  you
what it meant to you. No hostility or embarrassment. It does

not matter to me what it's meant to signify or dignify, so long  as i know what
sense it makes. Your definition was fine, so  therefore that is the one we are
talking about. That is the one  that makes me curious why you see Las Vegas as
 In terms of the choices of soul given, they all have a strong  relation with
virtuality, and can be pushed to an extreme which  cancels actuality. One could
argue that these renditions of the  soul are each manifestations of a
virtuality that has been part  of us, part of our *programming*, since day one.
And only  recently has technology matured to the point where it could reify

that aspect (the virtual) also.
 The consequence of all this virtual explosion, maturation, and  evolution will
be a redefinition of the soul, or the transcendent

self. It seems inevitable, since almost all of the  characteristics of the soul
are included and being perfected by  virtual space. Omniscience, omnipotence,
unlimited potentiality,

etc., etc. This redefinition should take place as a reaction to  the intrusion
of virtuality into everyday life in an undeniable  way. In other words, when
virtuality substantially supplants  rather than supplements. (I agree about the
cars and the cities  becoming vestigial).
 The soul has been used to delineate between human and lower life

forms. Well now we have a (not quite life) form which if not  higher, ain't too
much lower and by possessing most of these  transcendent, supranormal, and
paranormal characteristics it will

force us to reevaluate the constitution of the self. Since you  and Jeffrey
have agreed we can't deny this latter's existence,  the question is what is it?
At least as fruitful as the rendering

of virtuality is the quest for what ain't. *Gut feelings* is a  good beginning,
for though not considered present in lower life  forms, it has still been
considered of too base a nature to be  included in the transcendent. ..........

Msg#:  168 *SYMPOSIA*
11-18-93 10:29:46
I am reading Art & Discontent (pub. Documentext) by Thomas McEvilly, which
tackles this question from a historical and philosophical position, albeit
   The third chapter, " 'I Am' Is a Vain Thought" states:
   "Still other thinkers have made an additional leap beyond the body, to the
existence of something (a soul) that is not dependant either on the stream of
impressions in consciousness or on the chemical combinations in the body. This
soul,being somehow outside the finite changing body and mind will survive them
both. This type of view, which may roughly be called Platonist, is found
primarily in the Western monotheistic religions, among the soulists, as Douglas
Hofstadter has called them. Modern American culture has inherited the
Platonic-Christian concept of the eternal soul as its most common
presupposition about the self; the idea of the unique value of the individual
and his or her ethical and aesthetic decisions is a somewhat secularized
version of it." (p. 109).
   He traces a conceptual path from the Egyptian priests at Heliopolis to Plato
to the Judeo-Christian bulwark, to its hidden or embedded forms of the here and
now. I seems to me that the "sacred" personal narrative that Roderick alludes
to is inextricably bound up with the Western soul-notion; a Pilgrim's Progress
retold over and over today in the cult of the Winner (the Redeemed).
  McEvilly contrast this with a Buddhist framework whic is far more dynamic and
contextual; self as by product or trace. The Buddhist self concept appears to
be more alligned with the Hyper-Textual environment you describe.
  He quotes the Heart Sutra, (p 111) "Here in this emptyness there is no form,
no feeling, no perception, no impulse, no consciousness, no eye, no ear, no
nose, no tongue, no touch, no mind, no form, sound, smell, taste, touch, touch
object, concept, no sight sense, hearing sense, taste, smell, touch or mind
sense". In other words, a profound void at the center around which the self is
constructed. Such a self does not require a narrative in the same way a Soul
base self does.
  Is one model superior to the other? Jury is out on that. One is certainly
more adaptable, especially under cybernetic conditions.
  However, there is an alternative view of the soul, articulated by Jung as an
archetype; thus one wouldn't talk about The Soul as a personal thing, a one on
one possession, but Soul, a transpersonal resonant myth form hardwired into our
humanity from a preconscious homoninid ancestry. McEvilly acknowledges such a
possibility, but only briefly glosses over it, perhaps due to its sheer
inconvenience to his argument.
  An imperfect, provisional conclusion might be that various being forms
concurrently are "self", and that there is no clear, exclusive description of
what it is or how it ought to function.

Msg#:  169 *SYMPOSIA*
11-18-93 10:35:10
check the blurb I posted to J.S.

   Do you ever get the feeling that the deepest recesses of antiquity and the
hyper contemporary are moving in opposite directions in curved space and have
met each other in another reality phase? Virtual Krishna as machine soul? What
happens when you drop acid in the presence of it?

Msg#:  170 *SYMPOSIA*
11-18-93 11:14:24
I think this relation of soul-ness to virtuality is very powerful and

Msg#:  182 *SYMPOSIA*
11-21-93 18:27:58
 The difficulty of considering this subject is only heightened by an abstract,
theorizing, and academic treatment. It lends itself too easily to veiled
reformulations of entrenched systems of belief, which necessarily means a lot
of time is spent rooting out old ghosts that have a comfortable form but stale
and sometimes rancid substance. McEvily's penchant for stressing longevity over
other, more trenchant, characteristics glosses over all the different
designations of soul as well as the evolution of the definition of soul within
each different designation. The impression this gives is of a constant and
unyielding construct defining an evolving culture, when in fact they are
mutually affecting. He mentions a secular trope as a distinguishable
subcategory, rather than a player in the continual flux that is the history of
*soul*. One only has to watch the Catholic church's tortured writhing to see
one example of the morphing of *soul* in process. It seems important to
understand this in the midst of constant tremors to our sense of self: peoples
have constructed this soul and are continually renovating it. There is no need
to have the wind whistle through the ears in order to adapt.
 The void is not a soul. It is a lack which has supreme value, thereby
qualifying materialistic surfeit. The soul is an entity, first of all, and one
of sublime surfeit, thereby nullifying materialistic surfeit. Nullifying and
qualifying are two very different processes. The soul accepts the world for
what it is and partakes in it, though it doesn't get in a dither about it;
the void doubts the world's value, sees it as a somewhat boring and only
*virtual* existence, and lobbies for non-engagement. (Virtuality could
therefore have a completely different effect on these cultures: The political
and economic world map might need redrawing after virtuality sets down deep
roots: Multinational economics might be short-lived.)
 Mr. Disney would have loved the idea of virtual Krishna, but it cheapens
virtuality as it misrepresents spirituality. The soul is a construct. So is
virtuality. But the soul is a construct of core desires and fears. Virtuality
is a construct of rationality. Other than ill-fated and specious attempts to
combine the two (like Gnostics and Kabbalists) the soul primarily remains a
construct in contradistinction to rationality. When virtuality comes into its
own as an undeniable element in our existence (which still entails some
evolution on its part and reorganization on the part of our culture) there will
be cults which treat it as the second coming. They will see it as a user-
friendly Second Coming, much like the followers of Jim and Tammy Baker. But
this will not be very effective, since it is a fetish rather than a belief.
Since virtuality is based on rationality, it banks on the commonality of
humanity rather than its communion. It is based on the assumption of value
rather than the certainty of lack of value. Faith is unnecessary for
virtuality, whereas for those who need a soul, faith is an essential component.
It is the single most important component for creating value.
 Now that our technology is approaching infinity, both in a finite way
(redundancy, repetition) and an infinite way (the only limit cyberspace or the
metaverse has is that of human consciousness, if even that) a redefinition of
soul must take place, for the simple reason that soul resides in the uniquely
human, the one aspect of human most distant from all other forms of life. One
of the causes for formulating the idea of the soul is the dual feeling of the
singular power of human consciousness and the will to enhance that power. There
is the power to act, the power to know, the power to continue, and the power to
experience feelings and desires to which other forms of life are not privy.
Cybernetic technology has made major inroads into each of these areas except
the last. Considering the strides taken in the other areas, it is doubtful much
can be done with emotion. It is then conceivable that emotion, more than
catalyzing a conception of soul, will become the resource for a reformulation
of it.
 It seems that we are in the Paleolithic stage of virtuality. The whole
necessity of understanding transactivism bespeaks new dawn rather than coffee
break. As Rainer mentioned, we are still umbilically connected to print. (One
can see the festering in process already by just noticing the regular use of
this BBS as some sort of steroidal serum for academics. It's no wonder artists
and such get intimidated.) As Jeffrey and Jordan mentioned, our lives are
bloated with transaction to the point of a dissipated sense of self. The idea
of each of us as a network makes rational sense, but not common sense because
it does not include the desire to be a discreet entity. This desire is primal
enough that it will overlook to any extent possible a dissipation of de facto
autonomy. When oversight doesn't work, it will redefine autonomy, which means
redefining a sense of self, which means in the end redefining a sense of soul.
(I am meaning soul here in its inclusive sense, both secular and visionary, as
well as in the sense of the human-as-such.)

Msg#:  187 *SYMPOSIA*
11-22-93 18:37:49

Unfortunately, I can't at the moment give enough attention to your text.  But I
would like to respond to one of the things you bring up in the last paragraph.
Your conceptual pylon that the desire to be a discrete (I am interpreting your
"discreet" as "discrete") entity is a *primal* desire has of late been under
heavy amounts of structural stress.

Discrete, adj.:  separate, autonomous; not attached to others.

If our culture does, in fact, aspire to be discrete, how do we explain the
enormous amount of energy that is expended on breast implants (both male and
female), facial adjustments, lyposuction, and other cosmetic adjustments?  When
done voluntarily, these and other modifications suggest that we are *repulsed*
by our discrete-ness.  We can't stand to look like we do.  We want to change
our identities.  We want something to *attach itself to our bodies* and adjust
that body in some way, usually permanently.  As our role models in this realm,
Michael Jackson and Madonna are perhaps as far from being discrete entities as
bread and water are from being true sustenance.  Aside from the constancy of
his name, Michael's physical appearance is the exact opposite of discrete:
endlessly closing in on Diana Ross.  And how many Madonna's have there been in
the last ten years?  Boy Toy, Virgin, Pregnant, Cool Blue, Vogue, Erotic,

Who the fuck is she, anyway?  And *what* the fuck is Michael Jackson??

Discrete, ant.:  combined, conglomerated, confused.

Dazed and confused?

Of course, this issue is much more complicated than a few simple paragraphs.
But I really think we're past the stage where the desire to be a discrete
entity is anything but a primal one.

Msg#:  188 *SYMPOSIA*
11-22-93 18:46:04

Sorry about the snow in my message.  I hit [s]end by mistake, and there's no
chance to change something once it enters virtual space!  Unless, of course,
you're the sysop.

Msg#:  197 *SYMPOSIA*
11-24-93 17:41:10

Ok, since no one else has taken you up on speculating as to the root(s) of
connection addiction and cyber-crushes, why don't you

 >  start in on all [your] little
 >  thoughts and theories on the subject.

Msg#:  207 *SYMPOSIA*
11-28-93 21:05:04
 I thought it was clear: I am referring to that structural stress, not ignoring
it. But if discreteness has structural stress, the idea of progressive stages
has fissures a postmodern mile wide. I don't think it is possible to relegate
the primal to obsolescence for reasons of inconvenience to the program of
modernist enlightenment. This primal that you relegate to passe won't be
extinguished. If people cannot rid themselves of it, they deny it or use it. We
seem to agree - the desire to be discrete is a primal one - unless you mean to
say the primal is an irksome element better excised. If you show me how it can
be or when it has been excised, i would be glad to listen.
 Your antonym describes us as well, but not how we want to see ourselves or how
we accept ourselves. If you're exempt from seeing yourself as discrete, i then
mainly have questions about what it's like: Why the confusion, what's to be
combined or conglomerated? And if confusion is a given, then where did you get
the wherewithal to be condescending about the primal? Do you still really have
enough of a clue what you are to care about changing who you are? Do you care
what anyone thinks of you, or what you think of anyone, if this delineation
between You and Them has melted? How do you construct a conscience,a conscience
that sees the primal as something outmoded, or defunct?
 I didn't say discrete throughout time or as a constant character. I mentioned
more an amalgam of qualities, probably ones more "primal", and even ones that
may shift from group to group, and from time to time. There is no need for it
to be etched in stone, only a discrete amalgam that would be convincingly
describable as constant. The idea of the self changes, the concept of the soul
changes, but they are always describable as inviolable.

 It is not that the culture does aspire to be discrete, it is that as
virtuality begins to make serious, undeniable inroads into the discrete entity,
when they are felt as inroads and as inroads which have travelled too far,
persons will not give up their sense of self but redefine it. At present, these
inroads are providing options which have never been available before, and
people are availing themselves for various reasons. These inroads are not, as
yet, undeniable. Most of the population still sees the various forms of
virtuality a novelty, something which can be ignored when not used.

 > If our culture does, in fact, aspire to be discrete, how do we
 > explain the enormous amount of energy that is expended on breast
 > implants (both male and female), facial adjustments, lyposuction,
 > and other cosmetic adjustments?

 All these processes change looks. Cosmetics seeped subsurface. It did not
further the impulse it has always existed to satisfy, such as a dissatisfaction
with a limitation. Most see themselves as much more than their looks, including
Michael Jackson and Madonna. We change our identity, not our self. We want to
be identified as someone else, with different attributes, not to be someone
else. Most modifications are done either to please another self, to come in
line with how another sees our self, or to become more in line with who we feel
we are
- our concept of our self. It doesn't mean we are repulsed by our discreteness.
It *might* mean a repulsion with our self; one would have to ask the person
involved to know. Michael Jackson's impersonator gets plastic surgery "in the
same way an aspiring concert pianist takes lessons."

Who's Madonna? She's a media personality. So is he. The transformation of her
image is more important than her image, as Jordan has mentioned. As far as i'm
concerned, that's all she is. She sings pop songs of the consistently narrow
(read discrete) emotional range germane to pop. So does he. But you know this,
so i imagine the question is referring to who she is in actuality, since the
expectation that she has a discrete physical or psychological makeup in
virtuality would be ridiculous. But given the rest of your message, it must be
a rhetorical question. Even if it were not rhetorical, why pick her rather
than, say, Clint Eastwood, Harry Connick Jr., Dan Rather, Bill Clinton, David
Dinkins, or Anselm Kiefer? We know all of them only virtually. From where comes
the interest to know who they are actually?

Msg#:  210 *SYMPOSIA*
11-29-93 09:37:38

I'm not necessarily suggesting that the primal must be excised, or that it is
passe.  But it is, perhaps, important to consider that the condition of
primality (that which is primary?) might have morphed, and that the discrete
entity is no longer a sufficient concept with which to orient ourselves to our

The interest in Michael and Madonna, rather than Eastwood, et. al., is due to
the fact that the identity *styles* with which your examples market themselves
are based on constancy.  We know what to expect from each of them:  Eastwood,
tough; Connick, croony; etc.  With Michael and Madonna, however, their styles
are based on mutation, instability.  Dan Rather is (to some) a faithful dog.
Madonna is a chameleon.  At her core (that primal level?) she is liquid.  The
transformation of her image is the transformation of herself.

Does anyone else have anything to say about this?

Msg#:  227 *SYMPOSIA*
12-03-93 14:15:55

 >  The difficulty of considering this subject is only heightened by
 > an abstract, theorizing, and academic treatment.

Curtis, if your writing is not "abstract, theorizing" then I don't know what
        Have you actually *read* McEvilley? (Note the spelling of his name.) He
writes about the soul in his art writing sometimes in the context of Modernism,
particularly to point out the absurdity of Soulism in art theory. McEvilley is
a thorough and extremely insightful writer, whose grasp of ancient and modern
philosophies is deep and profoundly relevant to today. He's not talking about
an unchanging soul at all -- he's uncovering patterns and configurations of
ideas which appear in various forms throughout history. His work is very
important in our culture of no memory.
        So why do you think he gives the impression of a "constant and
unyielding construct"? His idea of the soul
*does* exist in terms of flux, in terms of the relation of a historically
positioned people to their idea of God or Spirit or whatever. It's always in
process, configurative, actively relational.
        While I remarked earlier that the relation of the soul to virtuality
was somehow beautiful, I don't know that I see it that way today. (Maybe it's
because I just had a restful vacation.) I now find it more disturbing. Perhaps
it's because of your authoritative claims for what the soul is and is not.
        A redefinition of soul *is* taking place. I think we can leave it to
the New Age religions, who are doing a fine job of reworking it as a market
product. (*Anything* is better than the Church.) I don't think that I want to
join in the chorus of voices seeking the soul. There will be an increasing
number as we approach the millennium, and I don't think that I want to be a
part of a new Soulism, or a soulistic division of Spirit and Matter in any
form. For me, it's bad enough that we have to slice up space into the Virtual
and the Real (which I, incidentally, do not do).
        I think, far from being off the mark with regards to the Soul,
McEvilley can offer us a much-needed historical perspective. We can see the
signs that we're going to fight the same battle in new terms. Only now Soulism
may be more powerful: after it finishes off the Church it can enter the market,
where it will have endless new possibilities for exploitation.
        I find, more than ever, a renewed interest in the body, in this body
here and now, which stands in relation to the "dissipated sense of self." This
body, which is constructed as it is deconstructed, which is separate yet
joined, part of a network and an embodiment of that network. In locating and
defining myself as such, I have no use for a concept of the soul.

Msg#:  235 *SYMPOSIA*
12-04-93 19:17:47
perhaps this business of the virtual and the actual is the spirit matter debate
raising itself again in a new form. For Jung, as I understand him, Soul, not
*the Soul* was a third position between spirit and matter. He may have been
unwittingly talking about limbic brain functions that have a simplified,
symbolic, yet "concrete" way of processing the world. A wiwld guess would be
that the early brain mentates in a RISC (reduced instruction set computation)
manner, while the "higher mind", where we could be locating *spirit*, thinks in
a complex, abstract CISC way. It may be distasteful to take eons old concepts
and find that they have physical analogs, but I don't know what else we have to
go on. The danger is in assuming that the limbic mind is unintelligent simply
because we are typically not very in touch with it. Contrariwise, the
virtual/actual polarities may exclude this essential dimension of mind. The New
Age faiths (one hesitates to call them religions) may be an instinctive attempt
at the reanimation of this core mind. Being good Americans, they wouldn't
hesitate to make a buck in the process, you understand.

Msg#:  264 *SYMPOSIA*
12-07-93 21:23:54
Does the dispersal of the self necessarily *jettison* the desire to be a
discrete entity?  Isn't such a dispersal, worked as you describe not just in
cyberspace but by many means, at least equally capable of multiplying and
escalating that desire?  The examples of Madonna and Michael Jackson do seem
the opposite of discrete:  "combined, conglomerated, confused," morphing all
over the board.  But what they seem to be about, at the same time, is the
desire to be desired--the desire to be the object of another's desire, to be
taken as an entity, embraced, made whole.  Expressed at such a fever pitch of
pastiched cross-identification, it's above all the desire for discreteness that
comes through.

As for Clint Eastwood, he does offer a constancy of *type*, but not exactly of
style.  The irony with which he has inflected his most recent roles--The
Unforgiven and In the Line of Fire--shifts such constancy of subject position
into a highly self conscious register that announces *character* as an adopted,
ie. constructed and so disposable,

In this way, they all end up addressing--Madonna and Eastwood I think
strategically, Michael Jackson perhaps symptomatically--the splintering of
subjectivity you've been describing.  Or, more precisely, the splintering of
and confusion within the drive to be desired, and the dizzying proliferation of
desirable objects with which to identify.  (This brings to mind the work of
Morimura, generally understood as merely a comedic critique of the global
hegemony of Western art history.)  It isn't clear to me what Curtis and you
mean by primal, but I suspect it may be related to the locus of the drive:
"the *psychical* representative of an endosomatic, continuously flowing source
of stimulation" (Freud,
*Three Essays on Sexuality*, New York:  Basic Books, 1975, p. 34;
emphasis mine).

Where you say, "I do exist outside myself," and mean this as an artifact of the
electronic information system, I answer, "I have always been beside myself,"
engaged in a contradictory and endless effort to stablize my self and freeze
the frame while--especially as a feminist and enthusiast of post-
structural theories of various kinds--seeking to shake the drive to stablize.

I don't think the situation has structurally been transformed by
telecommunications, that is I don't think the desire for discrete
being--Hegel's Master-Slave relation, the Mirror Stage, and all that--has
atrophied. The examples of Madonna and Michael Jackson tell me instead it's in
state of frenzy.  And certainly the pace of posturing has picked up while the
array of available positions has multiplied.  This may *eventually* lead to a
substantial mutation in the orientation and structure of "the drives," as a
code word and a cogent theory for investigating the interface of body/mind and
the basic, basically *social*, structures of human thought.

When, citing Poster, you describe "[o]ur primal state [as] one of multiplicity,
or multiplicities; shifting arrays of subject positions and alliances which are
in a constant state of flux," I hear the rhetoric of the drives, but wonder
what you make of the construct.  There is a close fit between, on the one hand,
this picture of a presubjective (?) and/or infantile (?) organization of
identity and, on the other, a self dispersed along the information
infrastructure.  But what type of fit is it?  Historical?  Developmental?
Accidental?  While your next message is enthusiastically titled "Primal morph,"
as in "the primal state is morphing," what you actually seem to argue is that
everything is morphing into accordence with some primal structure.  An
untroubled marriage of convenience between a theory of human personality and
historical unfolding? And where and how do you *situate* the body in all this?
Like Jordan, I find the slippage between metaphoric and virtual appendage to be
unpersuasive; it doesn't stick. Can you specify and elaborate on these leaps?

Msg#:  265 *SYMPOSIA*
12-07-93 22:40:29
 Please forgive me for the disturbance. I will try to say I think more often.
 The messages, i agree, are exactly "abstract and theorizing".  I meant to
express a desire for something else.  It was a criticism of my own message as
 I'm sorry for spelling his name wrong.  Yes, i also have a lot of respect for
his writing.  I'm not trashing it.  I read the message and responded to how it
read.  I mentioned him mainly to try to steer clear of his usage of the term.
 Up until McEvilley, soul had been used here to describe: a something that
needs replenishing, a construct that aspires to be a discrete entity, the
non-rational, a non-materialistic surfeit, a human-as-such, "the guy I am
talking to when I talk to myself...part gut feelings, part pseudomystical
mishmash picked up along the way, part LSD, part reflection on circumstances,
bundles of memory, dreams, aspirations, disappointments, reconciliations, Buddy
Guy records, good lays, broken stuff..." (Morgan)

It seems like a lot to have no use for.

 Morgan brought the term up, and at first it seemed out of place.  Then it
began to seem important in its connection to non-rational substance, to
animating principle.  As i have inferred from McEvilley's statement, we're not
just abstractly referring to another population out there.  I think religion
uses it one way, we use it differently.  I never saw the soul as *out* of the
market, and i think it's endless new possibilities are upon us.  I think this
morphing of the idea of soul is exactly what is happening even as we discard
it.  I think it morphs into whatever.  Maybe with some of us, it's still in the
process, and will continually be so.  But when it is in process, i think that
one symptom is a lack of agency.  If you start out talking about needing to
create an "activist" role for art, it seems the first question is how can one
*act*.  Knowing the information and material that constitutes you doesn't seem
to be enough to act. You and Jeffrey are talking alot about what an individual,
or whatever, is, but at least for me, the thread keeps slipping when it comes
to how this individual, or whatever, is able to act.  I read how you described
an "agent" with great interest, and no comprehension of anything in that
description that could cause an action to take place.  It is as an agent that
one can exist as more than inert matter in the relational universe, i think.
Knowing where your location is in this relational universe only buys you
spectatorship or victimhood, i think.  So that, to revert to one of your
earliest messages, it seems one of the most important projects for any producer
would be to attempt to understand how one node can act at all.  Yes, of course
it includes the awareness of what we are, but i think also who we are when we
attempt an action.  It seems it could be possible that the impetus for agency
is one of the reasons for constructing a sense of self, whether for a
nanosecond or forever.  I think that this might involve not only the illusion
of discreteness, but the faith that that illusion has worth.  Whatever self is
constructed may unfairly be distilled into a concept similar to soul, but they
seem to still be analogous in their reason for being.  The terms you used in
your mention of the body sound to me like the beginning of such a construction.

Msg#:  279 *SYMPOSIA*
12-08-93 11:47:52
at what point then, do "you" cease to exist. Not the virtual you, nor the
concatenation of records of all that you have said and done, but the you that
sits down and has opinions and is motivated to tell us about them.
   If you were brain dead/body alive in a vegetative state, would "you" exist,
despite your credit rating? If you were in solitary confinement in a windowless
room for the rest of your life, would "you" exist. What would distinguish
"you", then, from, say, a dog, also in solitary confinement?

Msg#:  280 *SYMPOSIA*
12-08-93 12:03:26
Eastwood stays closely wedded to the avenger trope. There is an unspoken force
that assigns him the dirty work. Dirty Harry for instance. He is the one who
must come to terms with hypocracy, and is transformed by his contact with the
underworld. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly was, of course, the Superego (Lee
Van Cleef qua sadistic father), the Id (Eli Wallach as Tuco the eternal child),
and the triumphant Ego, played by None Other. This tripartite self passes
through the construct of civilized society (think of the milquetoast who is the
town's gunsmith that Tuco terrorizes) into Hell (the civil war) to confront the
finality of death (opening the wrong grave to expose a rotting corpse). Only
after the showdown, the assertion of the self passed though the trial (ah,
wonderful metaphor, by the way, of their having to cross the river to get to
the gold) can the sadistic superego be triumphed over, and the resolved self
get the gold. Masterful myth fusion, psychoanalytic western. Where is Sergio
Leone now that we need him?

Msg#:  285 *SYMPOSIA*
12-08-93 20:41:35
I must admit that I haven't seen The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, or in fact
any Eastwood film prior to The Unforgiven--at least not all the way through (on
a personal note, I *appeared* in the opening scene of Magnum Force, playing a
roving reporter for an alternative press publication (courthouse doors are
thrown open and an exiting personage announces:  "It's an acquital!"; members
of the press converge with pens and mikes to the ready).  And though I know
*of* the work of Sergio Leone, I have not seen any; I'm woefully illiterate on
the whole Western genre--at least on film (though I of course grew up watching
Bonanza and The Rifleman on t.v.). When you say, "Where is Sergio Leone now
that we need him?" is there some particular super-egoic force you think we're
facing as a (viewing) public?  Or is it just the general self-mending drift of
the whole genre?

It is interesting, though, what has happened in recent years to cowboy
mythology.  And perhaps under the rubric of "The Activist Stance" it is worth
investigating.  Saying this, I realize that I may be less ill informed than I
at first realized, for I have been a great fan of Sam Shepard (on a personal
note, I appeared in a production of his "Tooth of Crime:  A Rock and Roll
Mystery Play," which was much more a rock and roll western than a mystery, and
I did get to sing with a band).  Is anyone on here familiar with his most
extraordinary early play, "Cowboy Mouth"?  Its two main characters are based on
Sam himself and Patti Smith; the Smith character has an incredible speech about
the role of the performer in which she says:  "You've got to reach out and grab
all those broken little parts of people, and give it back to 'em, bigger than
life.  You've got to be a rock and roll Jesus with a cowboy mouth."  So it is
Patti who is the cowboy, and not the other way around--and was she ever!  What
a cowboy mouth!  The cowboy, in this picture, is a performer, who performs a
profoundly caring act of cultural exchange with her audience.  She takes the
broken bits and gives them back made whole, giving back the myth of the

Two things have been happening:  gendering has morphed and type has been
ironized and scrambled.  After his early, radicalizing work as a playwright in
the western genre, Shepard became sentimental.  In his later plays, the cowboy
mythology congealed into a warmed over Tennessee Williams take on the
dysfunctional American family.  As an actor in film, though--in Days of Heaven
and The Right Stuff--he briefly and beautifully romantized the demise of the
western hero.  Not unlike the death of the avant-garde. . . .  No irony there,
though, not Sam, these are finely wrought elegies marking the end of the
authentic western hero, how history is passing him by!  The end of a certain
myth of the authentic individual.  Years later, Eastwood picked up the thread,
with the cowboy aging, sniffling, too old and out of shape to ride or run.  His
machismo manhood has crumbled, he is feminized, but with such style--and women
love it.

Meanwhile, Madonna and Michael Jackson have taken over the stage; it's The
Tooth of Crime with a different character ascendent at the end than Shepard
ever imagined (his hero is done in by a cold killer, a kind of machinic
skin-head punk).  Having lived and worked with Patti, he should have seen it
coming.  With the end of the mythic individual, he saw the end of all that was
human, the end of ethics altogether; instead, we have a gender-fucking
celebration of inauthenticity par excellence.  Admittedly bizarre, but with a
heart and oh, *so* human.

Perhaps what we should be discussing is not "trans*activ*ism, but
"trans*passiv*ism."  So much more transgressive, so much more au courant.

Msg#:  287 *SYMPOSIA*
12-08-93 23:03:24
could we be ending up with *trans*passive*agressivism*?
   Well, anyway, with the *Sergio Leone* trope, I wasn't speaking to the man as
much as the impulse towards mythic bigness, where roles are depersonalized in a
way, and function as mirrors of conditions.
   Naturally, Leone was aware that this could take the wrong turn and end up
being so much bunk, hence his rebuttal of the mythic in Once Upon A Time In
America, where the "winner", a ruthless mobster, cannot live with his own
degeneracy, and commits suicide in a trash grinding machine. I wish I had seen
the director's cut of that one.
   John Wayne's last movie was The Shootist (I didn't see it) about an old
gunslinger dying of cancer (as was Wayne). The mythic became reanchored in
reality as Wayne (and his art form), died on two levels.
  I did see Shepard's play (name escapes me) that Malkovich was in, involving a
screenwriter who prostitutes himself to get ahead and his antisocial brother
who comes in from the Mojave desert. This was at the Cherry lane theatre,
Malkovich's breakthrough performance, David Bowie in the first row watching.
 I have never,ever seen an energy like that. Didn't know that theatre could
attain that level of intensity. One could sense Shepard's  divided feelings
about being true to one's instincts, about the price you pay for being too
real, and the self abnegation, but acceptability, and sociability, of remaining
within the system.
   Eastwood has found himself a niche on the margin of the two, his role a
balancing act of a ticking bomb and military restraint. Nonetheless, he is
boxed in, caged by his environment. His only release is the primal encounter.
  Compare this with Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, where the snotty academic is
trapped within his comfortable home by a family of Scottish Psychotics and must
blast his way out. He is forced to confront. Eastwood IS the impulse to
  Peckinpah's masterpiece of anti-sociality was The Wild Bunch, structured
around a Kurosawa theme of magnificent Samurai, but turned on its head.
Peckinpah had no love of pieties, of a false civility that masked and
distorted. In the opening shootout on of the bandit gang lies wounded on the
bank floor while the townspeople gather round to gawk. His last words are "you
can kiss my sister's black cat's ass", he grasps his still loaded gun and blows
a few of them away just for the heck of it before he is shot good and dead.
Does Peckinpah comment on the dangers of the spectacle? Does the voyeuristic
impulse bring us close enough that we get blown away by it?
  Hitchcock was the ultimate student of voyeurism, and there is a nod to him in
Eastwood's characters, a cool fascination. He shot one movie in the '80s (I
forgot the title) where he pursues a demented clown serial killer through the
sleazyest sexual underworld, nude mud wrestling, day glo whorehouses, etc.
  Oddly, although he triumphs within his environment, he cannot arrive at
consciousness of his environment, and can never transcend it. There isn't a
suggestion of awakening, of breaking the frame. It is all within.

Msg#:  290 *SYMPOSIA*
12-09-93 00:21:00
I think I know the Shepard play you mean, "True West," though I didn't see it
performed:  two brothers, polyester mother, the desert. . . great, searingly
focused piece of theatre.   But speaking of focus, what I'm getting at here is
more in the way of K.D. Lang.  The cowboy as authentic transpassivist poseur.

Msg#:  302 *SYMPOSIA*
12-09-93 10:16:23
I haven't delved into the K.D. phenomenon, but she is supposed to have great
pipes. Much of her strength comes from the lightness of her role.
   She seems to take pleasure in her construction; none of the leaden, dead,
soggy ironic histrionics of the production number. Madonna can barely sing, a
pouty yappy whine: if you can't give them cake, let them eat cheeze.
  Her morphings were never the product of ascending to a new ontological plane,
they were born of the necessity to have new product to replace the rapidly
wilting old. The same logic that drives model changes in cars. Shades of Dorian
Grey, she is looking old and tired, exhausted. The lethality of morphhood.

Msg#:  305 *SYMPOSIA*
12-09-93 11:33:22

 > "trans*passiv*ism."  So much more transgressive, so much more au

    Now that's my kind of forum.  Is it save to come out or is the USS Schulz
still cruising below us?

Msg#:  306 *SYMPOSIA*
12-09-93 13:47:41





Thank you.

Msg#:  309 *SYMPOSIA*
12-09-93 17:20:19
There's nothing wrong with you that a little Lacan and a polo mallet won't

Msg#:  345 *SYMPOSIA*
12-11-93 15:11:44

 >                             . . . a little Lacan and a polo mallet

A polo mallet?  Could you perhaps attach your intertext?  I mean, does this
relate to the *cowboy thread*, by any chance?  PLEASE FOCUS DIALOGUE!  :)

Msg#:  346 *SYMPOSIA*
12-11-93 15:22:37
It's from that often-quoted line by Woody Allen, speaking to Diane Keaton, in
his last movie. It seemed to have a lot of currency so I thought it would be
easily recognized. (He doesn't say "Lacan" of course; he says "Prozac.")

Msg#:  347 *SYMPOSIA*
12-11-93 15:30:53

 > thought it would be easily recognized. (He doesn't say "Lacan" of
 > course; he says "Prozac.")

Of course he says "Prozak" -- who wouldn't?  Interesting substitution on your
part.  Is that what you mean by an activist stance?

Msg#:  310 *SYMPOSIA*
12-09-93 17:35:00

 > If you start out talking about
 > needing to create an "activist" role for art, it seems the first
 > question is how can one *act*.  Knowing the information and
 > material that constitutes you doesn't seem to be enough to act...

 > at least for me, the thread keeps slipping when
 > it comes to how this individual, or whatever, is able to act.

I don't know what to say at the moment, but I do know that this is crucial for
us to consider here. I hope that we can all keep this in mind as we continue...

Msg#:  320 *SYMPOSIA*
12-10-93 09:47:10

The connection between Mark Poster's statement, "Staying tuned in [in the
circuits of information] is the chief political act," (Mark Poster, The Mode of
Information:  Poststructuralism and Social Context.*  Chicago:  The University
of Chicago Press, 1990, p. 136.) and Deleuze and Guattari's chapter
"Micropolitics and Segmentarity" in *A Thousand Plateaus* seems to be something
that will help with Curtis' slippage.  I'll try to get to this.

Msg#:  340 *SYMPOSIA*
12-11-93 00:05:47
I agree that the question of how one should act is of great importance; a few
weeks ago I asked two questions to try and better understand this point: what
is it that we will choose to do with our time and should we worry about
becoming too moralistic during our decisions about what to do during the day.
The latter question may be more important to me than others; I don't know.
However, as I believe that it is my responsibility as an artist and a member of
various communities [ever changing] to concern myself with healing and
understanding [personally and socially], I find it very difficult to not come
up with a notion of good and bad, of healthy and unhealthy.  Perhaps this is
made so difficult due to the elusive nature of selfhood, of finding oneself in
what I call the Third Sculpture, the space between people, ideas, cultures,
etc.  I am simultaneously of another and yet not, of myself and yet not.
Strangely, the idea of good and bad then becomes both my own and yet not.  It
is at this time, however, that I remind myself that then there are those
experiences which are so profound, so demanding, that they don't allow us the
luxury of being between or within another, or, at least, the luxury of being
aware of it.  For some reason, it is these experiences that I always use as my
litmus test for the validity of my notions of good and bad, as the litmus test
for judging my behavior [actions] with others, whether personal and at home or
on the street. [Please forgive my spelling, etc., if it goes awry; as a
net-pleb. I have not yet figured out how to up-load and am just winging it.]

Msg#:  341 *SYMPOSIA*
12-11-93 13:44:17
  To: BEN KINMONT (Rcvd)
I guess it's and an old song and dance that you can tell the most about a
culture, or a sub-culture, by considering the distinctions that members of it
make. Would it be too great a leap to say that the greater a culture values
something, be it material, "transactional", emotional, historical, or
spiritual, the finer its distinctions regarding the same will be.
   Russian, it has been said, has more varieties and subtleties for the concept
of *lying* than any other language, as does Hindi for *love* (as reported in a
lecture by Robert Johnson), or classical Arabic for *pain*. A cursory scan of a
wee part of the Talmud, in translation, made it clear that the Judaic culture
at that time (or span of time that the various rabbis commented on the text)
made crucial distinctions of *quality of mind*. Thus a rabbi would comment
(paraphrasis), "the inferior mind will interpret this text in such and such and
such way, the average mind thus and  so, and the superior mind like this". Thew
would go on to suppose what kind of questions each level of mind would ask when
presented with certain material.
   Most interestingly, *quality of mind* appeared to be different from raw
intelligence, although definitely supplemented by it. It has the texture of an
integration of intelligence, intuition, moral orientation, sense of
intellectual purpose.
   For the Russian, lying may have been raised to an art form when one had to
live in absolutely dominated circumstances. Muzhik smarts, farmer wisdom.
   IMHO, we live in an era of degenerate perspectivalism (meaning that there
are no truths, only perspectives) *Perspectivalism* has become one of our
dominate values. Vide, the most abased, hate filled, misogynist rap claptrap is
seen, by some, as being on the same moral and imaginative plane as the speeches
of Martin Luther King. Rather than going throught the struggle of ascertaining
the meaningful, and winnowing it out from the spurious, the superfluous, the
coarse and gratuitous, we are encouraged to adopt, unquestioningly, from
whatever menu is slapped down on the table.
   I wouldn't be concerned about your familiarity with the sys., just tell it
like it is as well as you can.

Msg#:  363 *SYMPOSIA*
12-12-93 22:43:48
Thanks for your support re: my being a first time user.  What is an IMHO?

Msg#:  369 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 12:26:44
  To: BEN KINMONT (Rcvd)
IMHO= in my humble opinion

Msg#:  378 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 12:53:35

 > just tell it like it is as well as you can.

Some of the best advice I've ever heard.

Msg#:  513 *SYMPOSIA*
12-18-93 23:36:16

 If we are not sure who we are, and not certain precisely how we are able to
act, then it is doubtful we can speculate successfully on our cessation.  But
we can, and do, form opinions, whether veiled in authoritative statements,
interrogative statements, metaphors, politesse, or a bibliography:
 We cease to exist when our potentiality to act ceases. Not a potentiality to
act which has a moral pedigree, but any potentiality to act. (I am probably
misunderstanding, but this is the first time i've heard it stated seriously
that a dog's life is equivalent to no life at all.)  But even the distinction
between life and death seems to be on a moral gradient.  Who knows, when the
potentiality to act ceases, *i* only *as i know i* might cease.  It seems
equally impossible to track morphing, what determines it and when it ceases as
 As far as solitary confinement, i have but vague memories of films and
articles.  It does seem there is a progression through personalities equivalent
to social confinement, a serial progression of "you"s all with varying degrees
of "effectiveness", though not necessarily with any narrative linearity. The
differing progression would reflect the differing environment.  When every
civilizing accoutrement is denied, a regression to animalistic acts. One
fashions oneself in terms of one's environment?
 Virtuality could be seen to exist as a sort of brain dead/body alive system
which is on a life support of human agency. As yet, it does not act, but
reacts, albeit in some very subtle and sophisticated ways. Human input is the
fuel. But when we act, during the process of agency, we move outside ourselves,
become less ourselves, less self-aware ("less" in the sense of having to
choose an illusion of a self in order to act, as well as "less" in the sense of
awareness during the course of acting).  We can be more self-aware when not
acting.  But we are not a self when not acting, more a bouquet of relations
with or without a belief, wallowing in a puddle of potentiality.  The sisyphean
process of
*reacting* seems closest to agency coupled with awareness.  It makes as few
claims as possible to a willful self, and yet retains agency. A self defined by
reaction to a reactive system.

Msg#:  515 *SYMPOSIA*
12-19-93 13:56:37
isn't it interesting that in *virtuality* physics and metaphysics become
indistinct? On several occasions I have written letters to the editors of a
couple of magazines. One was altered by taking a few lines out of their context
and making it appear as it that was the whole of it. It sounded so different
from the way that I think, once it hit "print", that I had trouble recognizing
myself, reflected in that way. My virtual self was a distortion that suited the
needs and attitudes of the editors. But, people who had read the published
letter would talk to me in the context of what they had seen, so I ended up
speaking from my person in terms of the distortion. The distortion "created"
me, or a version of me that hadn't existed before.
   Another time, an editor changed one word, out of fear that his readers would
be intimidated, perhaps. However, that one word mattered to the point I was
trying to make. So, "psychosocial" became "psychological". And yet another
time, the word "implicate" (as in implicate order) became "implied".
   In every case, there was a felt need on the publishing end to downshift,
take the edge off, recreate the writer in a blander, less passionate way.
   We can be sure that once the self extends beyond the totally private
interior, the forces of social construction are busily at work.

Msg#:  571 *SYMPOSIA*
12-28-93 18:24:39
Why don't you think we can regain nature and harmony and self-determined life?
I mean, I didn't know that we lost it in the first place, but I am curious to
know why you think we can't regain it.

Msg#:  572 *SYMPOSIA*
12-28-93 18:26:50
What is pronographic about "Welcome to Ceaser's PAlace?"

Msg#:  579 *SYMPOSIA*
12-29-93 09:03:33
  To: CAROL BROAD (Rcvd)
Well, palace, jewel box, you know, welcome in...

Msg#:  581 *SYMPOSIA*
12-29-93 09:50:48
Oh, but I don't think thats pronographic... You see, I am very sensitive on
this subject, because I used to dance in that town --to support my Art--, and
we were always having to defend ourselves against these accusation. You know,
when everyone here is supposed to talk about Transactism, it puzzles me that
there is no sexual talk. For me this is what transaction is, sex... So not only
is there no art, there is no sex. Too bad MOrgan G. is leaving, because he's
the only one who does it.

Msg#:  584 *SYMPOSIA*
12-29-93 12:59:33
  To: CAROL BROAD (Rcvd)
he is the only one who does what?

Msg#:  308 *SYMPOSIA*
12-09-93 17:16:56
        Poor Brattyslavia! She logs on in desperation, informing us of her
addiction, then checks into Rehab, unaware of the discussion she has
inadvertently launched. If only she were with us now, a cure would certainly be
at hand! She could be restructuring the drives, but instead she's
auto-amputating her prosthetics.
        It's interesting to consider that the biological unit of selection as
posited by Richard Dawkins--the gene or genetic replicator--is, theoretically,
able to extend its effects outside of the individual body in which it resides.
Dawkins describes (in *The Extended Phenotype*, Oxford University Press, 1983,
p. 247) the degrees of gene control over phenotypes (a phenotype is a physical
characteristic such as eye color) as ranging from a nuclear gene controlling
the shape of the cell in which it sits, to a gene controlling the shape of some
other cell, to a gene effecting the entire body. From his studies, he finds the
next logical step--extending genetic effect outside of the body--a
comparatively minor one. He describes this as "genetic action at a distance,"
and suggests that "the living world can be seen as a network of interlocking
fields of replicator power." Thus all phenotypic characters and all extended
phenotypic characters (i.e., those outside the body) "will turn out to bear the
marks of compromise between internal and external replicator forces" (248).
Thus the dam of the beaver--an extended phenotype--exists in terms of
compromise between internal (individual/biological/organism) and external
(social/cultural/environment) forces of replication. This logic of
replication--evolution--can, arguably, translate into evolutionary and economic
modes of production.
        I find a wealth of interesting material here which can, in fact, draw
correlations between "the biological substratum and the level of
representations" indicated in your Kristeva quote, and which can give insight
into the processes by which, as you say so well, "traffic
travels...circuitously, back and forth across the border"--
traversing all borders, into and out of the computer screen, sweeping up all
relationships, simultaneously locating and dislocating them, placing and
displacing. These interpenetrational processes must indeed become the emphasis
of our study, shifting it toward what Stone's "prosthetic sociality" evokes for
you. (Did you know that you wrote "connection addiction" as "connection
addition" twice? A wonderful play in relation to "prosthetic sociality.")
        All of which I bring up, of course, in relation to your call for
"'open-ended architecture' between the biological body and the social,
physical, and virtual environment." In your drawing of connections to the
cognitive, it's interesting also to note that thought and information do not
exist in discrete units, and neither does Dawkins's gene. Information is not
reducible to its embodiment, and neither is thought, or, for that matter, value
(what is X worth? In terms of what? In relation to what?). But of course we
always fool ourselves into thinking that we can, and this provides a
significant tension (between our ability and our inability to do so). Between
the embodied and the disembodied, the present and the absent: a dialectics
which N. Katherine Hayles (in "Virtual Bodies and Flickering Signifiers,"
*October* 66, Fall 1993, pp. 69-91) recasts in terms of the information economy
as that of pattern/randomness. Hayles argues that "[t]he contemporary pressure
toward dematerialization, understood as an epistemic shift toward
pattern/randomness and away from presence/absence, affects human and textual
bodies on two levels at once, as a change in the body (the material substrate)
and a change in the message (the codes of representation)" (73, 76). There are
many points in her thesis that apply here, and her building on Lacan,
indicating that signifiers flicker rather than float, may also be of interest
to Josefina Ayerza, who will be joining us soon. (Hayles: "In contrast to
Lacanian psycholinguistics, derived from the generative coupling of linguistics
and sexuality, flickering signification is the progeny of the fascinating and
troubling coupling of language and machine" [80]). (Doesn't her title, "Virtual
Bodies and Flickering Signifiers," sound like the perfect Christmas gift for
that special someone?)
        I've heard of Latour's "actor-network theory" (I think that's what it's
called, I really don't know anything about it), and I'm glad you brought it up,
because it seems to tie in nicely with emerging cognitive science. (And a
reconsideration of objecthood in terms of the circulatory dynamics that we're
indicating is vital to this symposium, in terms of articulating a
transactionist *practice* in response to the crisis of art objecthood.) As
objects are converted to information, or rather, as objects exist in charged
fields of informational interconversion--enmeshed in the ebb and flow of
informational transformation which constitute them and whose dynamics they
mark--they become inextricably linked to the processes of thought, enmeshed in
dialectics of embodiment.

Msg#:  311 *SYMPOSIA*
12-09-93 17:48:52

 > Because your work often
 > focuses on information gathered *about* agents, exchanged and
 > manipulated in a Kafka-esque bureaucracy of information

"the word 'precursor' is indispensable . . .  The fact is that every writer
*creates* [hir] own precursors."  1

"Thus . . . I do not know which of us has written this page."  2

"With relief, with humiliation, with terror, he understood that he too was a
mere appearance, dreamt by another."  3

"a fearful sphere, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is
nowhere."  4

"I do not know which of us has written this page."  5

"The voice of the Lord answered from a whirlwind:  ' . . . I have dreamt the
world as you dreamt your work . . . and among the forms in my dream are you,
who like myself are many and no one.'" 6

"My solitude is gladdened by this elegant hope."  7

All taken from *Labyrinths:  Selected Stories and Other Writings.* New York:
New Directions Publishing Corp., 1964:

1 "Kafka and His Precursors, " p. 201.  2 "Borges and I," p. 247. 3 "The
Circular Ruins," p. 50.  4 "The Fearful Sphere of Pascal," p. 192.  5 "Borges
and I," p. 247.  6 "Everything and Nothing," p. 249.  7 "The Library of Babel,"
p. 58.

Msg#:  313 *SYMPOSIA*
12-09-93 19:38:51
        I had erased an earlier message to you, which I wanted to rework, so
here it is revised.
        When you are rollerblading in and out of heavy traffic, dodging cabs,
how much of your virtual body's condition impacts your physical body? If your
virtual body had a bad day, so to speak, could that affect your physical
prowess? Or perhaps a cabbie's virtual body is under siege by Citibank; can
this affect the probability of his colliding with you? Especially today, when
cab drivers no longer speak English and no longer know where they are located
or where they are headed, just a tiny little virtual perturbation could send
them careening into the park.
        What must be theorized here is the relation between informational
construct and physical embodiment. How does information circulate such that it
translates into physical injury? If indeed the virtual body and the physical
body are coexisting, symbiotic entities, intertwined at every level, then
perhaps we are misleading ourselves to separate them and speak of them as if
they were isolated. In other words, I feel the challenge is to, primarily,
articulate the ways in which information circulates, producing systems and
being produced by systems. Through this circulation, we may be compelled to
stake out areas we call the virtual and the real. These are not primary, but
functions of the circulation. So the issue becomes not how X affects the
virtual body and how Y affects the physical body, but how XY is produced and
circulated such that it manifests "virtuality" and "actuality" even as these
contexts, in turn, manifest it. There is a constant interaction between element
and system, each in turn displacing the other, generating charged transactional
fields which constitute, simply, "reality."
        Your "virtual body" is a highly situational informational construct,
determined by point-of-view. It's only from a narrow, situation-specific view
that it would be "fit" or "unfit": it depends on who is doing the observing and
why. This does generate an explosive configuration of potential bodies: endless
constellations of elements which can be pieced together to form composite
pictures valid only for one viewer and one act of viewing. But, again, these
potential bodies are highly situational, materializations of the context and
the intentions of their perceivers.
        Perhaps we can regard these virtual bodies as potentialities, from
which I will continually choose, consciously or unconsciously, to actualize as
my own flesh-and-blood. The challenge then becomes, again, how do I realize the actual from
the potential? How do I continually construct a body that I call my own own
sexual, breathing being, cognitively as well as biologically? Will I assume and
dispense with those subject-positions and cells which are in accordance with my
beliefs, desires, and evolutionary impulses, defining that which is "I" in
relation to that which is "not I"? But this relies too much on individual
awareness and choice; we must also posit it as an infosocial construction: the
body as traversal of energies, circulatory organ, which extends itself, in
McLuhan's sense, as it is extended.
        One aspect of what you are developing that is important to understand
is that we are striken with disease both bodily and cognitively. (Your work
says a lot about this, though it's probably not something of which you're
aware.) The cognitive aspects of disease are only beginning to be uncovered. So
in this sense informational constructs translate into bodily harm and
vice-versa. We "assume" an illness both ideologically and bodily. We can be
"infected" from informational space; a virus enters both the belief system and
the body. Joseph Nechvatal's recent work speaks of this quite powerfully. There
is much material to be explored here.
        All of which is why the connection to "activism" is important. So, in
mentioning the transactivist or transactionist politics, this involves the
political organization and embodiment of our multiple subject-
positions, which is of course a contradiction. How do you politicize the body
which embodies conflicting subject-
positions? The body which is both a physical and an informational construct?
How can I assume an oppositional stance if I am also that which I oppose? As
Curtis indicates, we've got a lot of work to do in this direction.

Msg#:  322 *SYMPOSIA*
12-10-93 09:57:50

Perhaps I can try to link one of your points with one of mine in order to
answer your question

 > There is a close fit
 > between, on the one hand, this picture of a presubjective (?)
 > and/or infantile (?) organization of identity and, on
 > the other, a self dispersed along the information infrastructure.
 > But what type of fit is it?

When you point out in an earlier message that

"Recent work in cognitive psychology reveals ways in which the neural networks
of the brain are shaped by interaction with the external world, especially but
not exclusively during infancy"

I think of the mirror stage.  (Obviously, Lacan is important to this
discussion, and I am presently re-reading some of his work. He also has
interesting things to say about virtuality.  Perhaps Josefina will be able to
help us out here.)  The mirror is, obviously, one object from the external
world that helps to shape the brain *during infancy.*  The representation of a
physical appearance that is reflected in this object is a signal to the infant
that an (imaginary? symbolic?) entity exists outside of the infant's actual
body itself.  But the representation (the reflected image) is singular:  there
is only one.

As you suggest, however, there are objects from the external world that help to
shape the brain *during adulthood.*  The various forms of data through which we
exist as adults are just such objects:  they are representations of our
identities, i.e., they are mirrors.  When we look at our credit reports,
financial records, etc., we are looking at externally constructed mirror images
of our bodies and actions.  The fact that these information constructions are
called "profiles" indicates that we are *looking at portraits of ourselves.*
But these portraits are never full frontal:  a profile is from the side.  We
are never permitted the "full view."  We can't look into our own eyes (toward
the soul?).  The existence of these mirrors-in-the-forms-
of-profiles is what I meant when I suggested in a previous message that, as
adults, we might exist in various "Mirrors Stages" (which does not, however,
negate the existence of the Mirror Stage).

This is, I think, where I was going when I created the Primal Morph subject

Msg#:  360 *SYMPOSIA*
12-12-93 20:17:49
Thank you for the clarifications on desiring dispersal vs. discreteness, and on
your concept of the primal morph.  I'll have my agent get back to your agent
about that.

You are right that I was describing the desire to be desired (as a discrete
entity) from a projective posture, as it were, *within* a given
subject-position, and granting that these positions rapidly, and ever more
rapidly, shift.  The tension between pitching oneself into position, and
shifting to a different pose, is what I would want to emphasize.  To your
statement that it is a

        different situation when the *object* changes along with *desire*

I can only quote Freud on the drives when he writes:

        They have this distinctive characteristic--that they have in a high
        degree the capacity to act vicariously for one another and that they
        can readily change their objects.  In consequence of the last
        mentioned properties they are capable of activities widely removed
from their original modes of attaining their aims (sublimation)"
                (Freud, *General Psychological Theory, Papers on
                Metapsychology*, New York:  Collier Books, pp. 90-91).

And then there is Lacan:

        In their structure, in the tension they establish, the drives are
        linked to an economic factor.  This economic factor depends on the
        conditions in which the function of the pleasure principle is
        exercised. . . .  The drive is precisely that *montage* by which
        sexuality participates in the psychical life, in a way that must
        conform to the gap-like structure that is the structure of the
                (Jacques Lacan, "The Partial drive and Its Circuit," in *Four
                Fundamental Concepts*, p. 175-76.)

In other words, attachment (desire) traveling readily from object to object is
built into the concept of the drives, as into the concept of the unconscious,
where the subject is founded *in* the gap between desire and its object:

        I think where I am not, therefore I am where I do not think.
                (Lacan, *Ecrits*, p. 166)

Through condensation and displacement, desire flows along chains of
transactions that are linguistic in structure and economic in their mode of
operation.  Much that is relevant, yes, but not so fast!

As for your idea of "multiple Mirror Stages" -- yikes!  Please note that the
Lacanian concept is less about actual mirrors than it is about functions of
*mothering*, for goodness sake, the bonds of cross-identification and desire
that intertwine infant and adult as the infant passes through the pre-Oedipal
period.  True, the concept of the mirror stage tells the story of the formation
of the ego in appropriating as its own a virtual image, a representation of the
self as whole (the mother mimics the infant's facial gestures, for example),
with which it identifies.  You argue that:

        When we look at our credit reports, financial records, etc., we are
        looking at externally constructed mirror images of our bodies and
        actions.  The fact that these information constructions are called
        "profiles" indicates that we are *looking at portraits of ourselves.*
         But these portraits are never full frontal:  a profile is from the
        side.  We are never permitted the "full view."

This is certainly true.  But, again, the idea of self-construction in terms of
an internalized oblique view, of incorporating and identifying with partial,
distorted, even quite specifically *anamorphic* images of the self reflected
back from "outside," is already part of the Lacanian picture.  I would urge you
to tread carefully, surf carefully, and keep your wits about you -- for the
sake of your dear readers, if not your own!  Please see Jacqueline Rose on
this; feminist psychoanalytic theories on the structure of femininity; and the
whole British psychoanalytic and feminist film theory movement of more than a
decade ago.  And finally, consider (instead of the multiple mirror stage idea?)
post-Freudian, mostly feminist, psychoanalytic models of identification:

        Mikkael Borch-Jacobsen writes of . . . a tendency in Freud's texts to
        describe the ego as an agency without center, simply as the *movement*
        from one point of identification to the next, across the whole
        "envelope of circumstances." . . .  In this other, more disquieting
        model of identification, the self actually exists *at* and *as the
        sites* to which it is drawn.
                (Norman Bryson, "Interim and Identification," in *Mary Kelly:
                Interim*, New York:  The New Museum, 1990, p. 28; emphasis

I don't mean to rain on your parade, but there is so much that has already laid
the groundwork for what you are describing:  mappings of the radically
de-centered subject.  The great and dangerous thing about Lacan's writing, as I
suggested in an earlier posting, is the way in which to read him and to follow
his logic, is to let the text work through you, in an almost somatic fashion --
to be processed *by* the text (this is partly why it can be so difficult to
translate the concepts out of Lacanian jargon).  Synapses sputter and pop; the
flow of language sucks thought down into something like neural networks, and
carries the reader along pathways of thought felt nearly physically, that
twist, turn, and diverge:

        The eye and the gaze -- this is for us the split in which the drive is
        manifested at the level of the scopic field. . . .
                We can apprehend [the] privilege of the gaze in the function
of desire, by pouring ourselves, as it were, along the veins through
        which the domain of vision has been integrated into the field of
                (Lacan, *Four Fundamental Concepts*, p. 73)

Can we similarly pour ourselves (as it were) along the veins through which the
domain of sociality has been integrated into the field of virtuality and
electronic networking on and off line?

I don't think so.  But I suppose we can try.

I'm exhausted by the pace of theorizing, as I have said before!

You confuse me when you call demographics an "agent".  Is it better described
as a location technology?  Having been thus located, I identify with that, fold
it in with the other locations I am said to occupy.  I make it my own, more or
less.  Again, this is not something structurally new, not even the
non-singularity of object(s) with which one identifies -- except as we have
both been stating, the cumulative effect of the mounting pace, approaching
critical mass perhaps, and a different mode to maintaining multiple
"identities" at once.

You still leave me wondering whether you think the "primal state" is morphing,
or the structure of sociality is morphing in accordance with the (theorized)
structure of the drives.

Finally, I find myself wondering whether the difference between our points of
view -- I emphasize the tension within wanting-to-become, you describe a
changing state of wanting to have -- might devolve, in part, from our
respective genders -- respectfully submitted and with all deference to
whatever.  The difference between wanting to *be* and wanting to *have* is, for
Lacan, the difference between the gendered positions, feminine and masculine,
that each of us has been allotted.

Msg#:  371 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 12:36:40

 > I would urge you to tread
 > carefully, surf carefully, and keep your wits about you -- for the
 > sake of your dear readers, if not your own!

Yes, I'm trying!!  And I'll also try at some point to get back to the long text
of your message.  But for now I'm still trying to get back to location
technologies and choreography!  MEGO!!


 > I don't mean to rain on your parade, but there is so much that has
 > already laid the groundwork for what you are describing:  mappings
 > of the radically de-centered subject.

Yes, that's certainly true.  As you can probably tell, I have RTFMs of some of
the theories that have de-centered the subject (ok, ok, maybe I haven't read
every FM in its entirety!).  But it seems to me that we now have an *actual
hardware system* (the net) that utilizes those theories *as software.*  We've
had the manuals for a while, we've known what they've been capable of. But it
seems to me that the hardware which operationalizes the software is just now
beginning to be set in place.

Msg#:  388 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 20:49:23

 > But it seems to me that the hardware which operationalizes the
 > software is just now beginning to be set in place.

Yes! exactly, I agree.  Except of course if we think of women's bodies as the
hardware that has operated the transgressive software of feminine identity. . .

Msg#:  314 *SYMPOSIA*
12-09-93 22:47:41
  To: ALL

This message is addressed to ALL, but the impetus behind it was an online chat
between myself and Laura a few nights ago.  After typing in a remark that, if
expressed in the real world, would have relied on verbal inflection and body
language to deliver a good portion of its meaning, Laura "experienced [her]
first qualm with the lack of intonation on-
line."  So, in order to ease the stress of disembodiment, I thought I might
start a list of net protocols.  Some of these, which are fairly well used,
appeared on p. 117 of the November, 1993, *Wired.*
Others have become standards. Should we add more terms to this thread as they
become necessary? If anyone else knows of useful protocols, please contribute!

LOL:  laughing out loud.  ROTFLOL:  rolling on the floor, laughing out loud.
-g- (also  or ):  grinning; smiling. RTFM:  read the fucking manual (my
personal favorite).  MEGO:  my eyes glaze over.

: )  grin
: (  frown
;)  right eye wink
: - )  happy face
>: - (  displeasure

(Note:  Please don't take this information for what it's worth: I'm really not
as nerdy as it might seem.)

Msg#:  316 *SYMPOSIA*
12-10-93 00:10:46

 > (Note:  Please don't take this information for what it's worth:

If I *don't* take this information for what it's worth, then what do I take it
for?  "Take it for what it's worth":  you determine the value, I give you free
reign, I make no claims for it.  AND YOU CALL YOURSELF A BUSINESS MAJOR!

Msg#:  318 *SYMPOSIA*
12-10-93 09:40:40


Msg#:  350 *SYMPOSIA*
12-11-93 15:58:54

 >                   :(

Was that
                -g-  :(

or just

                      :(                ?


                                                } : -}

                                                furrowed brow with stupid grin

(And if this isn't nerdy on my part, I don't know what is!)

Msg#:  352 *SYMPOSIA*
12-12-93 14:07:39
Ok, enough already! I can't take take anymore of this orgy of typographic
physiognomy! I can't stand it! I hate those beastly little things!


together with this



                                        phraseology its driving me nuts!

Msg#:  355 *SYMPOSIA*
12-12-93 17:56:09
Does this provide further evidence of the kinds of gaps and discrepencies in
on-line communication that Jeffrey's suggestion of certain network protocols
was intended to address?  Granted, my response was silly.  But it had this
serious dimension:  that in his use of a protocol intended to assist in
clarifying intonation, I was still left at sea as to the intonational context
or content of his reply to my reply.  So I sought clarification within the
syntax he had suggested.  These silly things sprout for a reason, and, more
than just spinning theories, I think we should be tracking the imprint of the
technology we're employing here on the substance of our exchanges.  Perhaps I
should have spelled this out rather than leaving it up to the reader to gather
the more serious side, but I was also wishing to demonstrate my full
participation in the nerdiness of being on-line.

As for the object of your second outburst of exasperation, I definitely should
have explained the derivation of the line structuring and repetition in that
posting.  It wasn't arbitrary, but integral to the point of the text (it
represented in a very concrete way the electronic means of its composition).
So I'll go post an addendum.  Frankly, I find dense, run on paragraphs, though
I also write those, just as exasperating sometimes to read on-line as you do
such quirky trends as intonational modifiers and the incorporation of empty
space into the bodies of text.

Msg#:  370 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 12:30:41

 > I certainly don't want to
 > squelch the humor and the personal dynamics at play here; but, just
 > as if this were a "live" panel, such play can get out of hand, and
 > become distracting, and diffuse the energy require to concentrate,
 > and to feel comforatble developing arguments.

Yes, such play can get completely out of hand.  But it seems that we need a
sense of play here at least as a way to balance the vertigo that we all seem to
periodically feel.  Perhaps humor keeps us honest, too?

Msg#:  373 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 12:43:33

I was, actually, fully aware that my protocol would be puzzling,
non-clarifying.  But this was because your message caught me off guard, and I
didn't know how to respond.  So, in this case, the
:( was, in fact, indeterminate.

Msg#:  390 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 21:14:16
I thought (and think) the protocols were (are) useful, actually (which I meant
to indicate in my initial response by employing one).  Only when I recieved
your one character reply did I realize that they raised complexities as well.
But the indeterminacy may also be, quite simply, accurate, as it was in that
instance, as you point out:

 >            I didn't know how to respond.  So, in this case, the
 > :( was, in fact, indeterminate.

The again, I didn't include an  ;)  in my message which might have clarified
matters from the beginning and thus avoided this whole discussion, a lack of
certainty as to intonation your posting meant to assist in ameliorating!

Msg#:  476 *SYMPOSIA*
12-15-93 02:15:00
I thought these tiny signs on the screen were called "smileys", not protocols.
The protocol is the mode of transcription and transfer of your data.
     I think the smileys and the dots are important signs that came up with the
unsecurity of net talk. They surely are supposed to work as indexes to verify
the inscription. But since there is no *real* inscription in cyberland (but
virtual transcription
) there could be nothing to be verified or justified. So the smiling or whining
faces are twinkling through data space like cartoon characters.
     Sorry, not perfectly clear yet. Not even sure if unmistakeability should
be the goal.
 -> Alice4Mac 2.1.4E QWK Ser#2-103


Msg#:  315 *SYMPOSIA*
12-09-93 23:48:47
Yes, I do perceive a sort of crisis.  There is not enough empirical information
- i.e. ideas based on direct experience - passing between the art world and the
non-art world.  Or, if there is, it is usually horizontally, between the
anthropologists at Princeton and the theorists in the art world, for example.
[My earlier concern of replacing the white room with the plastic cube was also
a concern with such horizontal alliances.}
        Perhaps, if I were to describe this co-dependency between information
technology and art, I would use terms of sadness.  A sadness at our desire for
the first and a sadness at the necessity for a response in the second.  Yes,
Laura, you are right in that there are parallel systems of interaction between
"emerging networking technologies" and the art practices of those of us "who
take social intercourse as the actual material of art"; however, I do know that
I spoke with a real person, and I do believe that standing in front of someone,
hearing what they have to say, is more fundamental and provocative than
anything I hope to encounter on-line.  As old fashioned as it may sound, I
still feel that direct human interaction is the primary source for change.

Msg#:  323 *SYMPOSIA*
12-10-93 10:22:41
  To: BEN KINMONT (Rcvd)
or is it that *art* is overgeneralized; the concept has lost its binding
strength as too many directions are taken in its name? *Debacle*, in its
original usage, meant the roar of an iced over river breaking up in the spring
thaw. It appears that a similar process is at work here.
   The virtual world has an ascetic flavor to it, hermitish, the house of
*spirit*, the thinking function, denial of the flesh except in the form of
notes slipped through cracks.
   No distracting aromas of sweaty genitalia, unwashed. Poesis? Yes, a form of
its own, offhand. Passions that can be withdrawn as quickly as they are
offered. Hatreds?
   Always the danger of drowning in the tarry gook of cerebration. You may
notice how very few choose to participate in these discussions. Why? No place
to hide. A fundamental loss of nerve? Perhaps an atrophy of conviction abetted
by television culture. A blank passivity, mythic bedrock replaced by landfill.
hce  Our flight into Egypt, into bondage, the virtual cornucopia, or unbounded
space, liberation?
   Perhaps into an even greater constipation, rivers of trivia flowing into
oceans of it. Anybody have a map on them? Which way is North?

Msg#:  339 *SYMPOSIA*
12-10-93 23:40:09
        Perhaps, I'm just not sure yet if I'm willing to spend my time swimming
in it.  Or, at least, if I do decide to venture into it, my North will be my
purpose.  Maybe I'm just a hick destined for the mountains.

Msg#:  349 *SYMPOSIA*
12-11-93 15:48:21

 > You may notice how very few choose to participate in these
 > discussions. Why? No place to hide. A fundamental loss of nerve?

Oh, please.  I mean, I don't think so.  It takes a psychological machete
prosthetic to make your way into this jungle of jibbering succotash.  Maybe
they have better things to do with their time?  Maybe they are playing other
places on-line?  Maybe *we* have some responsibility for creating a less than
porous and inviting environment?  Maybe, just maybe:  their eyes glaze over.

Msg#:  353 *SYMPOSIA*
12-12-93 14:23:53
Bingo. Righto.
  good metaphor too. Could be that scanning is an aquired skill that takes
years to develop. People that think/work in informational overload conditions
are forced to develop it. You unconsciously zero in on what you can handle and
filter out the rest. If one isn't used to it, some of these raps must be as
dense as tungsten.
  I wonder why mental culture has bifurcated to the degree that it has in this
here post modern world. The other "name" systems I have tried either go no
deeper than lame party talk, i.e. sex,drugs, rok'n'role, or specialized
technical (the best deals on radial tires in the Northeast), or domestic stuff
(I did learn that pasta machines are a waste of time but bread machines work
ok), or wacky diatribes. No blame, mind you. There is some useful, practical
info to be had for the asking, esp. if you have computer questions. So much the
  ECHO remains a mystery, which I know from nada about. Maybe it is more fun,
more accessible. It has been described as being "in your face", as opposed to
the "granola crunchy" WELL sys out of Berkeley.
  Does "in your face" mean mind expanding or mind grinding? Some mental
barnacle removal is always needed. Trim the excess fat, cut the blubber. Not
enough by itself, though. No more than a diet of amphetamines is. New ideas,
perspectives, subtleties, nuances, partial refutations, information,
correlations, references, too.
   Flannery O'Conner gets "in my face" in the right way, constructively
disturbing, giving permission to enjoy, see the humor in doubt, in looking
again, *re-specting*, at assumptions.
   Ideally, we proceed along the same lines here. Much staring at the navel,
perhaps too much. Inward turned gaze disorder. Isn't that the problem with
"art" culture? Couture kulture, pretty things for the cognoscienti, and nobody
really gives a damn. What can the courtier do, if indentured into that role,
but spin confections, harmless finger food to sustain the occasional posture.
   Watch out for postural hypotension, the blood rushing from the head when you
stand up on your feet too quickly.

Msg#:  358 *SYMPOSIA*
12-12-93 19:06:18
I'm surprised to find that in your cruising of various nets you have found no
BB's of serious conversational substance.  Perhaps others could contribute
their experience on this one?  Brattyslavia, come in?  Jeffrey?  Anyone?  The
form seems just so *encouraging* of follow-your-train-of-thought-type

I'm afraid that I'm still learning how to

 >                                           . . . unconsciously zero
 > in on what you can handle and filter out the rest.

It is extremely dizzying, this symposium, and demanding!  Phew!  I have all
these responses to my responses to which I want to reply, in addition to other
postings that jogged a thought or two loose.  But developing an answer takes
time.  Not to mention merely *finding* the various postings and passages once
they've slipped past.

The structure of the "threads" is most particularly strange:  maintaining the
sense of connection and continuity within dialogues spreading out along several
thematic lines at once -- tree structure -- and sometimes weaving back and
forth among them. It requires a certain managerial oversight-type presence of
mind toward the different discussions unfolding under ones name:  concrete
instance of multiple selves.  I keep thinking of the term "managed competition"
as somehow relevant to the structure of agency in this environment.

Msg#:  359 *SYMPOSIA*
12-12-93 19:20:48
  To: BEN KINMONT (Rcvd)
I don't think I understand what you mean by information traveling
"horizontally" between the art and the non-art communities.  You mean as two
dimensional lines of information, rather than as a three dimensional experience
of face-to-face communication?

The loss of context, of interaction between conversants in an enclosing horizon
that is shared, is certainly bizarre.  Much is lost, I agree.  Then again, some
things are gained.  Personally, as a person often shy in social situations, I
find the privacy liberating -- to a degree.  I can respond in some ways *more*
fully, more honestly, because I have the space and silence to to work out what
I think and feel in relation to what everybody else is saying.  This is one way
in which it offers a chance of change that is peculiar to network environments.
There are others, which I'll think on.

Msg#:  362 *SYMPOSIA*
12-12-93 22:27:26
When I spole of information traveling horizontally, I was refering to
communicatioin between similar types.  That is, I consider the anthropologist
and the art theorist to have an already established similarity in that they
probably both have degrees in higher education, spend a great deal of their
time reading similar books, have chosen to find the time to think about
expression, etc.  They may even be invited to participate in a symposium
        Another type of movement of information is perhaps more vertical:*
taking an idea such as a critique of Beuys' notion of Social Sculpture and
finding out what people passing around us on the street think of it; or,
perhaps, having a suburban teenager write a column in ArtForum on his or her
impressioins of exhibitions currently up in SoHo.
        (In the above descriptions, I have dealt with the two ideas nominally
for the sake of explanation.  In actual experience, although such
nominalization often helps to understand what's happening, it also tends to
overly simplify the picture.)
        *Note: there are probably other spacial metaphors better suited to this
type of communication/interaction.  For better or worse, my tools for
communication (e.g. the horizontal/vertical metaphor) are made increasingly
practical due to the demands of my public projects.
        ABOUT your feeling of communication on-line: I think that it's
wonderful that it opens up a new voice for you, one which doesn't have a chance
in public social situations.  I wish that mine were so positive; I find that as
I read over my past messages, although I feel very strongly about what I've
written, I am often surprised at how much of a curmugeon I sound and how many
times I have to qualify what I say with references to my experiences in my art
or my being a first time user of a network.

Msg#:  364 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 01:02:59

 >> You may notice how very few choose to participate in these
 >> discussions. Why? No place to hide. A fundamental loss of nerve?
 > Oh, please.  I mean, I don't think so.  It takes a psychological
 > machete prosthetic to make your way into this jungle of jibbering
 > succotash.

   I think Morgan has a good point here. Just look at how the members of the
various art world cliques huddle together, nervously trade information in most
secretive manners, and flaunt their respective social status at every
conceivable occasion.  Of course members of these "societies"

 > ... have better things to do with their time.

   Uhuh, they are busy playing "symbolic monopoly" (since the onset of the
recession even more symbolic than ever) and they simply have no clue (yet)  how
to proceed in their pursuit in this strange new telecom bazaar.  I mean,  given
the choice between writing a glitzy story for Artforum (or doing the  "show"
that serves as the point of origin for the glitzy story) and being the  toast
of town or sitting at home with a keyboard, talking to a bunch of  "virtu-real"
nerds... you decide which pays more dividends.  Seems obvious  enough, but hey,
wait a minute, wasn't there something left out of the  equation?  Wasn't there
this thing called the "Paradigm shift?"

                                              - to be continued -

Msg#:  367 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 12:13:06
there have been conversations worth having on other systems, but they tended to
exhaust fast. Not to discount their value. I have picked up quite a bit of
useful concrete information from them, especially in the areas of music and
personal experiences with drugs. The big syss are wide open as the prairie,
some enlightened beings, some amazing buttheads, dogmatic wierdos, seekers,
bored people, scholars; very democratic in its way. Dense with its own
undergrowth, often not too fertile soil. Dense like clay, hard to dig through
for the nuggets.

Msg#:  368 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 12:20:15
  To: BEN KINMONT (Rcvd)
you could be getting to know yourself better than you ever could in a less
*reflective* situation! One result of participation may be a transformation in
self understanding. Transient emotions and opinions gain enough solidity to be
seen from another day's point of view. How interesting that transactional space
has a de-epemeralizing quality about it as well. It makes the solid vaporous
and the vaporous solid.

Msg#:  384 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 19:58:26
  To: BEN KINMONT (Rcvd)
*Thank you* for the clarification as to what you meant by information
travelling horizontally rather than vertically.  I don't think its an
inappropriate spatial metaphor at all; I simply didn't understand the way in
which you were using it. I tend to think of "horizontal" versus "vertical" in
terms of information travelling out into the social sphere instead of grounding
itself in some transcendental authorial authority.  At the same time, in my
reply, in trying to characterize a three-dimensional horizon or context for
speakers face-to-face, I was drawing on my readings of Mikhail Bakhtin who
quite beautifully tracks the ways in which dialogues and voices are embedded
within specific, highly stratefied social spheres, and develops ideas of the
carnivalesque, novelistic discourse, and polyphony to describe modes of
cultural production that break out of enclosure within a single class and
cultural strata, which he terms "speech genres."  In case you aren't familiar
with his writings, here is his description of artwork:
        Every element of the work can be compared to a thread joining human
        beings.  The work as a whole is the set of these threads, that creates
        a complex, differentiated, social interaction, between persons who are
        in contact with it.
                (Bakhtin, in Tzvetan Todorov, Mikhail Bakhtin:  The Dialogical
                Principle, trans. Wlad Godzich, Minneapolis:  U. of Minn.
Press, 1986, p. 40) I think his work is quite relevant to your adaptative
critique of Beuys' concept of Social Sculpture and might be useful to bring
into the symposium.  On his model of speech genres, your "vertical" would
become horizontal out into the world, but at oblique angles, toward different
and divergent social strata.  Bakhtin on virtual community -- there's a
thought!  I agree with your concern to complicate the circuits of information
and art.

As for where I trailed off last night, my other argument for the relevance of
networking technologies to art was suggested in my first "connection addiction"
posting, and provides the larger picture for the personal point in my last
message to you:  personality prosthetic related to the exclusive use of text.
Especially in this age of information, there is something . . . *something* --
empowering, productive -- about learning to manage maintaining many postures,
voices, dialogues at once and a distance.  Others are increasingly determining
our virtual voices for us -- the kinds of "profiles" Jeffrey is tracking.  This
is difficult to concretely working through, especially for an on-line neophyte
like me!  And I believe in the concrete instance as the proof of theoretical
puddings.  But your comments that

 >                   I find that as I read over my past messages,
 > although I feel very strongly about what I've written, I am often
 > surprised at how much of a curmugeon I sound and how many times I
 > have to qualify what I say with references to my experiences in my
 > art or my being a first time user of a network

are telling, I think.  I actually asked Jordan if I could delete my first three
messages because they seemed so cramped and crabby.  It's embarassing to learn
(to surf or ski-board) in public, but I find I'm learning a lot about modes and
manners of communication that are applical off-line as well as on.  And not
only about my own!  The self/selves of group interaction stamped starkly before
me in print.  Not unlike watching onesself on video, only more so because the
representation of voice and style is so condensed.

I don't think its likely that you'll be persuaded by any argument I might
offer.  But I'll keep cooking them up anyhow just to keep up the conversation
and see whether the fact of participating itself alters your opinion.  Only as
a very slim sideline do I think we might convincingly elaborate a theory of
cybersociological art.  Still, what do think of the theorizing around the
democratizing nature of networking media in themselves?  Doesn't it tempt you
in the slightest bit?

Msg#:  385 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 20:09:36
 >       How interesting that transactional space has a
 > de-ep[h]emeralizing quality about it as well. It makes the solid
 > vaporous and the vaporous solid.

Good point!   We must develop it.  It brings to mind your comment on the, mm,
who was it, the Sufi you spent time with who turned the music *way down* in
order to listen.  Shutting out the "noise" of context (which in general I hold
in the *highest* regard) focuses attention on the ways that much of what
constitutes context is crystallized in voice.

Msg#:  386 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 20:35:09

 > enough, but hey, wait a minute, wasn't there something left out of
 > the
 > equation?  Wasn't there this thing called the "Paradigm shift?"

You are absolutely right to take me up on my one-dimensional treatment of why
more people don't participate in artworld on-line forums; I was meaning to send
an addendum as I rethought issues of "intellectual property rights" in
connection with my response to Morgan.  I think that there is also the matter I
have just raised in a posting to Ben about how it's embarassing to learn in
public, and too the strange way that being on-line invites intimacy despite (or
because of) the distance, the disembodiment.  This last can be rather
disorienting, especially to those who have a lot invested in image maintenance.
The "threads" of the discussion run away with the floor -- so to speak.  And
the crafted image disperses -- I said *that*?! -- to untold recipients.

At the same time, I think we have take responsibility for the environment we
create, and the repercussions.  I still think Ben's questions are good ones.

I await the continuation.

Msg#:  387 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 20:41:24
Could you elaborate on your experience of the way that the "wide prairie" of
the large networking system(s) is "very democratic in its way"?  I think it's
important to this particular discussion and I can only bring it in second hand,
as a story somebody once told me. . . .

Msg#:  528 *SYMPOSIA*
12-21-93 21:01:51

 > This last can be rather disorienting, especially to those who have a lot
 > invested in image maintenance.

  Well, poor things.  Haven't you heard?  Image is out - dead as a dodo bird.
Even Dave Gergen said so.  My heartfelt condolences to all those who lost all
their investment.  Now it's  time to "Hosen runterlassen" or "let down your
pants", as one of my favorite expressions from the Gruene Eck goes.  Yet some
people still act like Great Britain after it lost the Commonwealth.  Strange.
  But tell me more about "intellectual property rights."  What is it?  Do I
have to get a patent lawyer now?  Do you think people don't participate
because they can sell their "intellectual property" better somewhere else? What
about barter deals?  No?  Then shoot the speculators!  Where's Bakunin  when we
need him!  And where the hell did I leave my footnotes?

Msg#:  570 *SYMPOSIA*
12-28-93 18:17:37
I want to say that I think you are a very interesting person, even though I
don't understand what you're talking about. I read your messages very
carefully... they have a nice poetic quality, a gentile, inviting, touch. I
think everyone here (the men) are too hard on you. I am going to reread so I
can ask you a inelligent question, but for now I just wanted to say hello. (I
am very self-conscious, coming in here with all you important people...)

Msg#:  319 *SYMPOSIA*
12-10-93 09:46:14

 > We can be "infected"
 > from informational space; a virus enters both the belief
 > system and the body.

This is a large part of the primary plot of *Snow Crash* by Neal Stephenson.
It's a trendy sci-fi novel that is based on the idea that computer programmers
can be physically debilitated via infection with a computer-based virus.  By
virtue of their occupations, programmers can process the binary language of
computer programming in their brains:  this capacity exists in their neural
networks.  So, in a sense, they are "wired":  they can actually *process* code.
But, like computers, they can also crash, become inoperative.  The "Snow Crash"
in Stephenson's work is a virus, like a bad drug.  And when a programmer
"process" it, s/he crashes physically.

You're right, Jordan.  There is much material to be explored here.

Msg#:  321 *SYMPOSIA*
12-10-93 09:49:39

The Japanese concept of ma shares with the concept of virtual space some
provocative features.  "Itoh Teiji says that *ma*
'cannot be seen since it is void, vacuous, blank and of nothingness in
character; but it can be symbolized.'  He goes on to say, '[f]or instance,
posts in the plan of a building, representing the structural system of the
skeleton of space are symbols of the interior space; and the blank area around
the posts suggest an imaginary space which has no walls, and no function.  This
blank area or imaginary space is regarded as the fundamental basis of physical
space in Japanese epistemology . .
."  ("A Comparison between the Japanese Approach to External Space (Kaiwai) and
Western 'Common Place,'" Fred Thompson, in
*Japan and America:  A Journal of Cultural Studies* Space Issue, Vol. 1, No. 1,
Spring, 1984, p. 46.)  In a very similar way, our conception of virtual space
is also regarded as the fundamental basis of our physical space.  Perhaps the
most striking demonstration of this was the recent advertising campaign for the
American Express Card by Chiat/Day/Mojo, Inc.  The campaign is no longer
running, but the following verbal descriptions should recall it.  The images
showed landscapes such as the Manhattan skyline, a bridge over a river, and a
golf course, all of which had AmEx cards inserted into them.  Some of the
buildings in the skyline, for example, were cards; one of the trestles of the
bridge was a card; a walkway on the golf course was a card; etc. These ads were
almost shocking in their indication that our physical infrastructure is now
*founded* on information technologies.  The "blank" and "imaginary" area that
we call virtual space has come to support and sustain our physical world. As
such, it has become, as ma is in Japan, the "fundamental basis of [our]
physical space."

There is more here, but I don't have the time at the moment to develop it.
Laura, do you have anything to add to this?

Msg#:  343 *SYMPOSIA*
12-11-93 14:08:32

 > There is more here, but I don't have the time at the moment to
 > develop it.  Laura, do you have anything to add to this?

Nothing additional but perhaps something ad*dict*ional.  Not to add, but
perhaps to take away. . . .

The space above is a space between, but is it ma?  In the concept of ma, time
and space are indivisible:  it is not just the space between, but the
time-space between objects, the interval.  In reading on-line, empty space
scrolls by in time

space scrolls by in time

space scrolls by in time

space scrolls by in time

space scrolls by in time

space scrolls by in time

, and the fusion of the scroll with the space of the screen is one of the most
salient, sometimes diso


ienting, features of communicating in

within the virtual community.  Space

One more minute without input and you will be disconnected!!

The space above is a space between, but is it ma?  In the concept of ma, time
and space are indivisible:  it is not just the space between, but the
time-space between objects, the interval.  In reading on-line, empty line
*space* scrolls by in *time*, and the fusion of the scroll with the space of
the screen is one of the most salient, sometimes disorienting, features of
communicating within the virtual community.

This raises complex issues concerning time, space, and speed speed




, and tech


technology, such as Bernard Steigler has suggested in his contributions to
*Electrotecture*:  "Maurice Blanchot in *L'Entretien infini* writes that we
are passing a time barrier, which means--if we understand it as we do the
sound barrier--to go faster than time.  This would seem paradoxical because
until now we have thought that speed was determined by time in relation to
space.  But. . . [w]e must reconsider space and time from the question of
speed, for the question of speed is a question of technology" (Bernard
Steigler, "Electrotecture," in *Electrotecture*, ANY no. 3, p. 45).  For
Steigler, speed is *the* question of technology, with reference to Heidegger
(see his "the Question Concerning Technology), and leads to considerations of
Being and community in virtual space.  But the question for us remains, here,

 i.  But the question for us remains,

in.  But the question for us remains,

"t.  But the question for us remains,

th.  But the question for us

 ("the Question Concerning Technology), and opens onto considerations of Being
and community in "the acceleration of technology past or beyond culture"
(Steigler, "Developing Deterritorialization," in *Electrotecture*, p. 18).  But
the question for us remains, here, that of ma

Type P to Pause, S to Stop listing


Msg#:  344 *SYMPOSIA*
12-11-93 14:53:36

The following commands are available in the full screen message editor:

 Editing Commands                         Cursor Movement

is it ma?  In the concept of ma, time and space are indivisible:  it is

the interval.
                       line *space* scrolls by

the interval.

You argue that ma is a void, nothingness (nice archival sleuthing!  So where
was that source text back when we working on the *Pocket Dictionary*, huh?).
Is the "emptiness" of cyberspace an emptiness of the same order?  It is, in
some sense, an imaginary space.  Is it a space of *any* kind otherwise existing
or imagined?  Is it a space at all?  Or is it a matter of network protocal to
conceive of it as space in any way?  Is it a wormhole in time?  A phase space?
I think it is the phase space of a strange attractor.

Ma isn't simply the interval itself, but as I understand it, "the *effective
use* of time and space intervals" (uncited source text in *The Pocket
Dictionary of Spatial Drives*, edited by Laura Trippi, a TNM/Archer Fields
Press/Border Editions/X-Art Foundation joint publication, 1992 and working;
emphasis mine):

        The best answer is given by the Zen ideal of nothingness and
        incompleteness:  things precious are unsaid and unperformed.  Thus, a
        rest between sounds conveys its own special significance.

In the derivation of the concept, ma is an emptiness in which, out of which,
the gods and goddesses could be invoked to appear.  It is a sacred space that
relates to *sunyata*.  This becomes clear, or rather filled with the telling
shadows of etymology and historicity, in the *tokonoma*, an architectural
feature of traditional Japanese homes down to the present day.  The tokono*ma*
is an empty alcove in which a hanging scroll and flowers are placed, unlit,
lurking, attracting the straying gaze of the room's occupant:

        For the beauty of the alcove is not the work of some clever device.
        An empty space is marked off with plain wood and plain walls, so that
        the light drawn into it forms dim shadows within emptiness. . . .
        [W]hen we gaze into the darkeness that gathers behind the crossbeam,
        around the flower vase, beneath the shelves, though we know perfectly
        well it is mere shadow, we are overcome with the feeling that in this
        small corner of the atmosphere there reigns complete and utter
        silence; that here in the darkeness immutable tranquility holds sway.

                (Junichiro Tanazaki, *In Praise of Shadows*, trans. T.J.
                Harper and E. Seidensticker; New York:  Letee's Island Books,
                Inc. 1977, pp. 18-20; originially pub. 1933)

Is this the emptiness of cyberspace?  Does Being-on-Line invoke the sense that,
in this small corner of the atmosphere, absolute tranquility holds sway? Or is
the similarity the work of some clever device?

(Certainly we could *think* and *speak* of ma as an imaginary space along the
lines of credit listings and the gods and of goddesses of late capitalist
consumer culture, and vice versa.  And we could have fun with that.  But what
would be the point?)

Such a consideration seems valuable only insofar as it returns us back to
issues of the *effective use* of textuality

in the prosthetic sociality

of space, on-line or otherwise (enlightenment under erasure).

Msg#:  356 *SYMPOSIA*
12-12-93 18:35:27
This is a *note* that should have been included with the previous two-part
message.  The structure of the text, including repetition of phrases and their
scattering across the page, was the result of having written the first two
thirds of the message while on-line within the message reply editor, but with
the capture function operating in case I couldn't complete the text.  It was
written "straight," ie. in regular paragraph format; when I pulled the text
into my offline editor, I found the repetition and scattering of text.  I only
cleaned the posting up a bit, deleting additional repetitions, and completed
the posting in the offline editor (you may have noticed that it shifts into
regular format two thirds of the way through).

I wasn't simply trying to be cute in treating the theme of "ma."  I was
surprised to find that the capture function registered the temporal nature of
the writing process in the way that it did.  It defied any logic I tried to
apply, and converted the *topics* of 1) technology and speed, and 2) ma as a
fusion of time and space, into the *form* of the message.

Msg#:  372 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 12:42:29

 > It
 > defied any logic I tried to apply, and converted the *topics* of 1)
 > technology and speed, and 2) ma as a fusion of time and space, into
 > the *form* of the message.

And the conversion of those topics provided an *experience* of those topics,
rather than an *explanation.*  Would that we can do this more often.

Msg#:  375 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 12:47:44

 > (nice archival sleuthing!
 > So where was that source text back when we working on the *Pocket
 > Dictionary*, huh?).

I think this was the only issue of the publication, which I found on a library
shelf completely by chance.  Oh no!  Does this mean we have to talk about John
Cage now?!!  And his relationship to ma, zen, and information technologies?

Msg#:  389 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 21:03:03
Thank you.

And thank you for your remarkable posting on the Kafkaesque, to which I have
been utterly unable to concoct a worthy reply!  It too fused the time and space
of reading/writing and the theme of "who is speaking?" into experiential form
and through (in part) an effective use of the interval.  I don't mean simply
the empty space between the quotations that comprised that text, but the
interval implied *within* the voices.  It gave me pause. . . much as elipsis
gives pause, indicating elsewheres of the text.

Msg#:  338 *SYMPOSIA*
12-10-93 19:46:18

 > perhaps a cabbie's virtual body is under siege by
 > Citibank; can this affect the probability of his colliding
 > with you?

If we believe that the butterfly effect exists, then yes, I suppose this
situation might occur.

Seriously, in response to your question

 > When you are rollerblading in and out of heavy traffic,
 > dodging cabs, how much of your virtual body's condition
 > impacts your physical body?

I would reply that the state of my virtual body is *inseparable*
from the state of my physical body.  If my virtual body was not "in shape," I
could not have even purchased my skates or my clothing, all of which were
bought with a credit card.  The strength of my virtual presence, then,
*enables* my physical presence to act.  (Buying-on-credit as "virtual body
building?") Likewise, if I perpetually pay my credit card bill just a few days
late, my credit rating will be affected.  This might eventually lead to a
"virtual lesion:"  a potentially cancerous spot or mark on my credit report
which might someday bar me from acquiring a "gold" card, or from obtaining a
higher credit ceiling, which in turn would prohibit me from certain (real)
bodily pleasures. * (See note below.)  So my virtual *body* and my real *body*
are complexly intertwined.

This is not to say, however, that virtual *space* and real
*space* are inseparable:  there are still some aspects of real space that do
not overlap with virtual space (i.e., a walk in a forest).  I cannot think of
any aspects of virtual space that do not overlap with real space, however.
Suggestions, anyone?

Anyway, I think you're completely correct when you write that

There is a constant interaction between element and system, each in turn
displacing the other, generating charged transactional fields which constitute,
simply, "reality."

In choosing to distinguish the real from the virtual, I do not mean to suggest
that they are polar opposites.  I think, as I indicated above, that in terms of
the body they are complexly intertwined.  In terms of space, too, they are
intertwined, but it seems that there are some situations in which they do not
intersect.  Social relations in virtual space, for example, are realized in a
completely different fashion than are social relations in real space.  One
demonstration of this is surveillance:  in real space, surveillance via vision
is the norm.  In virtual space, however, surveillance is done by mapping and
tracking:  chains of transactions are electronically traced back to a virtual
source.  Thus, I think it is important to investigate the dynamics of virtual
space *at the same time* as a similar investigation is underway into *both* the
dynamics of real space *and* the overlap between the two, which I have called
"virtu-real" space (Another dreaded triad structure?  Real, virtual,
virtu-real, aka, real, imaginary, symbolic?).  In this way, it is possible to
regard the body as existing in both realms, but also to think of space as
consisting of numerous intersections.

This is all getting very confusing for me.  I seem to be visualizing in terms
of two-dimensional venn diagrams when what I really need is a cad-generated,
three-dimensional, moving model that can show how I think of the spotty and
irregular intersecting patterns of virtual and real space.  For some reason, my
instinct and intuition tell me I am on the right track, but there is also a
nagging doubt.

      }: - |        furrowed brow

*  I have written before that virtual space is a very racially segregated
space, and I think it's crucial to recognize this fact.  "Due to the fact that
large proportions of racial minorities are economically unable to obtain credit
cards, and because of the low percentages of racial minorities in college and
university programs where consumers often obtain their first credit cards, it
is clear that [the] virtual space [of credit] is dominated by virtual white
bodies.  The relative presence of racial minorities in virtual crime space,
however, is sure to be much higher than that of whites."  ("Virtu-Real Space:
Information Technologies and the Politics of Consciousness," Jeffrey Schulz, in
*Leonardo,* Vol. 26, No. 5, p. 439, 443.) Hence, virtual identity politics.
Hopefully, this fiber of my thread will be continued by someone else.

Msg#:  342 *SYMPOSIA*
12-11-93 13:50:53
could "we" begin to behave like self mutating genetic algorithms in virtual
space? If virtual space supports a vastly higher mutation and selection rate
than nucleotide based genetics can, perhaps the *individual* begins to act as a
platform for a chain of identity mutations.

Msg#:  348 *SYMPOSIA*
12-11-93 15:32:21

Msg#:  374 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 12:44:51

MEGA = My Eyes Gaze Afar?  My Eyes Gasp Awkwardly?

Msg#:  377 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 12:52:18

Interesting . . .

Msg#:  376 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 12:51:38

 > the question of speed is a question of technology

Speed is also at work behind the metaphor of hyper-everything, which is
increasingly used to characterize our culture.  I do have more to say about
this, too, but, again, alas and alack, I don't have the time to develop it yet.

Msg#:  379 *SYMPOSIA*
12-13-93 15:09:04
      Today's comment comes from Anthony Hayden-Guest (see attached file).

*Enclosed File: ahg.gif

Msg#: 381 *SYMPOSIA* 12-13-93 16:16:23 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: WOLFGANG STAEHLE (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 379 (COMMENT) Is a GIF viewer necessary for this file? Msg#: 382 *SYMPOSIA* 12-13-93 16:48:09 From: WOLFGANG STAEHLE To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 381 (COMMENT) > Is a GIF viewer necessary for this file? Unless you are skilled enough to read the code and visualize it in your head, I recommend CSHOW for PCs and the GIFFER for Macs. Both available on this system in their respective file areas. Msg#: 972 *SYMPOSIA* 01-10-94 14:25:10 From: GISELA EHRENFRIED To: WOLFGANG STAEHLE (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 379 (COMMENT) Theorist? Terrorist? I opt for Therrorism. Msg#: 383 *SYMPOSIA* 12-13-93 17:53:27 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: ALL Subj: PROCEDURE I would like to say that I am very disappointed with the increasingly casual tone this symposium is taking. I feel that we have diverged considerably from what this forum has set out to do. I find this banter annoying and distracting. One of the reasons we wanted to try a curated symposium is so that we could concentrate on issues much more deeply that we are normally able to do. Here on The Thing, as in many BBS's--as Morgan indicates--the dialogue diverges and scatters rapidly. The purpose of a curated symposium is to counteract that somewhat, and to create an environment more structured and formal than usual. The atmosphere I would like to create here is one of serious study and consideration of what we have set out to do with the idea of "Transactivism." I would like to suggest that everyone familiarize themselves again with the opening texts in the symposium. Messages should address some of the more vital issues which have been introduced here, aspects of which we have only begun to work through. I feel that each of us should only introduce brief, chatty commentary when we feel it is of interest to everyone and serves a purpose in advancing the dialogue. In other words, when you log on, PLEASE focus your energy on developing substantive work. Rather than dashing off a series of quick comments, concentrate your energy on developing just ONE of them. Don't carpetbomb with several messages at once; plant one strategically. Trod carefully. Pick up a thread, and spend some time on your response. Develop it slowly. Take several days. Think and work it through. It will ultimately be of more benefit to us and to our readers. One can argue that the topic of "Transactivism" is broad and anything goes, and that our conversation provides an interesting record of on-line dynamics within its context. But that is not our purpose here; The Thing in general--the system in its entirety--already provides that. We must draw the line somewhere or we're never going to get anywhere. We must focus on the core issues. I would like everyone to think carefully about what these core issues are. If you want to develop issues more peripheral, spin them off into another forum. Our discussions can easily spill over into other forums, which are allotted for the discussion of art in general, cultural theory, literature and textuality, sex and eroticism, science and technology, and so on. In other words, there are other rooms to play in. It doesn't mean we can't play in here: let's just spread it out, and use the whole damn house. Msg#: 392 *SYMPOSIA* 12-13-93 23:17:56 From: LAURA TRIPPI To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 383 (PROCEDURE) Nemo's sunken treasury remains both invisible and frozen in its connection to historic plunder, to the process of what Marx calls "primitive accumulation[,]" . . . confiscated by a magical fable of inheritance: ". . . He was heir direct, without anyone to share, in those treasures. . . ."(1) Nemo's wealth, despite his patronage of revolutionary movements, remains liable to the charge of barrenness. His project is blocked on the one side by aristocratic nostalgia and on the other by an abstract and futuristic motto of perpetual flux within flux: *mobilis in mobili*. . . . For all his genius as a naval engineer, Nemo is also a philosophical idealist. Matter is always subordinated to will and thought. Nemo embodies the secret idealism of all science fiction. He can flaunt the laws of economics because his relation to wealth is consistently magical. Verne's narrator observes that Nemo's voluminous library aboard the *Nautilis* contained "not one single work on political economy; that subject appeared to be strictly proscribed." Nemo's answer to the misery of the land lies in the imaginary pre-industrial plenitude of the sea. . . . I am tempted to think that . . . the indifference of Verne and his narrator is reciprocated. And this reciprocated indifference is the function of an economic attitude: the distrust borne toward submarines by those who work the surface of the sea. Allan Sekula, *Message in a Bottle* 1) Jules Verne, *Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea*, trans. H. Frith, London, 1908, pp. 189-90. Msg#: 393 *SYMPOSIA* 12-14-93 13:00:36 From: MORGAN GARWOOD To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 383 (PROCEDURE) a casual tone doesn't always equate with a casual intent. Plants grow better in loose, aerated soil. Overly refined ecosystems, monocultures, are fragile, sensitive things that need loads of fertilizer and insecticide to produce. So go the problems of *will to purity*. Lao Tzu would probably appreciate that knowing exactly how to lose control of a situation, in exactly the right way, is actually a much better form of control than what appears to be control. Doing the *trans* on the sys is kyaking, you let the water do the work. The water image+metaphor is springing through the floorboards around here anyway! The surface of the sea, and all that is below it. Permission granted to the creative unconscious. Sunken treasures...wet suit time. Msg#: 568 *SYMPOSIA* 12-28-93 16:54:51 From: CAROL BROAD To: LAURA TRIPPI (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 392 (PROCEDURE) Excuse me, but to see your exhibition "Trade Route"? Msg#: 391 *SYMPOSIA* 12-13-93 21:53:53 From: LAURA TRIPPI To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: KAFKAESQUE > on a library shelf completely by chance. Oh no! Does this mean Well, well, look at that, an *enticing* little instance of a chance operation at work in aiding composition. . . . But this particular unexpected archival encounter has more of the Borgesian than the Cagian about it, I think. Don't you? I mean, you didn't toss it into the discussion based on an identification with "no matter what eventuality," did you (Cage, "Indeterminacy," in *Silence*, etc., p. 39)? With the previous posting in this domain, were you arguing (among other things) that the Kafkaesque bureaucracy of information has been re-articulated into a Borgesian labyrinth of information? Msg#: 479 *SYMPOSIA* 12-16-93 13:37:30 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: ALL Subj: PRAXIS & INFO-INTERCONVERSION I would like to try to steer our discussion, or at least parts of it, toward a more specific exploration of what an artistic practice of Transactivism might entail. We have generated a great deal of relevant information in our dialogues, with which we can begin to sketch out some possibilities. In "The Politics of the Signifier: A Conversation on the Whitney Biennial," a roundtable published in the Fall 1993 *October* (#66, pp. 3-27), there is an interesting dynamic at work as the participants discuss a range of issues from the "privileging of the signified and [the] jettisoning of work on the signifier" (Rosalind Krauss, p. 21) evident in work in the Biennial and in much current artistic practice (which Krauss finds "damaging" and Hal Foster finds "disabling"), to the contradictions which arise in the "politicization of artistic practice" and in "activist production" in general (Benjamin Buchloh, p. 25). This last polarizes the group somewhat, Krauss calling for the artist, critic, and audience to above all honor the complexity of work--its multiplicity of meaning--while Buchloh, on the other hand, allowing for the possibility of direct activistic intervention--"activist cultural practices which forego traditional notions of differentiation and complexity for the sake of specific cultural goals" (24), a position to which he does not entirely subscribe. I find much here which applies to our topic; and while it constitutes a rift, between which Krauss "[doesn't] see an easy bridge" (25), it is one which Transactivism may resolve while, at the same time, complicating further. On the one hand, we have an emphasis on asthetic complexity, of subject differentiation, and on the other, the possibility of a practice which Silvia Kolbowski disparagingly calls "teleological," since it "would result in a narrowing down of potential readings and a limiting of the possible positions for the spectator" (12). Buchloh defends the possiblity of such a practice, and speculates that it would necessitate the structuring of the work "along different parameters--precisely because some authors have now understood that this presumed capacity to read the aesthetic experience is not at all universal but overdetermined" and that "a concept of universality can be highly privileged." Unless steps are initiated "to provide other conditions that enable people to generate that kind of reading capacity, nothing will ever shift in terms of who is an author and who is a recipient of a certain definition of culture" (14). These two positions, which Kolbowski labels the "activist" and the "aesthetic," are found by her to be neither complementary nor comfortably coexisting: "They don't have a productive relationship to one another; they are not allowed to complicate each other" (25). The key challenge for a Transactivist practice, then, would be that of forging such a productive relationship--one developed in the spaces, systems, and socialities which produce, and are produced by, the emerging information economy. These two seemingly opposed practices (manifest here, perhaps, by our uncertainty of whether to use "Transactivism" or "Transactionism") present an interesting tension, played out in the work of two of our panelists, Ben Kinmont and Jeff Schulz, who offer two very different but interconnected approaches, both, as Laura Trippi has pointed out, impacted by emerging information technologies. Ben's emphasis on responsibility for "healing and understanding (personally and socially)" which may problematically involve moralistic decisions (such as between "good and bad"), and his strategy of involving "not-art" individuals in daily life situations, necessitates the kind of "teleological" approach Buchloh suggests above. Yet Ben finds the "elusive nature of selfhood" difficult, and in his positing of a "Third Sculpture"--the "space between" objects and individuals (which is a kind of virtual space)--he is prompted to blur the boundaries between subjects and objects while, at the same time, trying to fix them ("I am simultaneously of another and yet not, of myself and yet not"). His emphasis, then, is understandably on daily personal activity, individual wants and needs, decisions about what to do with one's time, and so on, which require one to limit possible positionings and possible meanings. It is "activist" and teleological in that sense--that it results in a decision (what am I going to do this moment? Is that good or is that bad in this situation?), an action, and a result--but it is complexified by its emphasis on social transactionality and what Laura called transactional geography, wherein "work" and "self" are continuously negotiated and circulated, products of exchange. Thus a landscape is generated which shifts this situation out of focus, casting about subjects and objects in that elusive "space between." Jeffrey articulates this dialectic in terms of the virtual and the real body, virtual space and real space-- most recently, in terms of speed and control (a tension manifest during the last week in the dizzying pace of this symposium and my attempt to regulate it). With both he and Ben, it is not clear at all where the artwork is located (such as in the virtual space between, in real space, in the interaction or interpenetration of these spaces, in the relation between subject and object positionings), where its perceiver is located, or how that perceiver exists in terms of these spatial systems. Jeff's notion of the body in daily life is one which exists in oscillation between the virtual body and the real body--which are not dichotomous but symbiotic--and which is located by embodied modes of information production. His body traverses the transactional fields of the information economy as easily as it goes to the store for bread, biological organism and informational circuitry intertwined but bewilderingly so (though increasingly seen in terms of extended or expanded biological process; see Alan Kay and Danny Hillis in this month's *Wired*, pp. 104-5; my earlier comments after Dawkins on the relationship of genotype to phenotype; and Laura's call for an "'open-ended architecture' between the biological body and the social, physical, and virtual environment"). When Jeff speaks of "fitness" or "unfitness," he does so in terms of a specific situation or set of situations in virtual space; when Ben speaks of "healthy and unhealthy," he does so in as limiting and determining a situation as possible, in terms of an individual's decision about what to do or not do on a daily basis. It is as unclear how Jeff's "virtual" perturbation translates into real life as it is how Ben's "real" one "is simultaneously of another and yet not." Both express a frustration at this situation, which is not unlike the one Laura describes when she writes "'I have always been beside myself,' engaged in a contradictory and endless effort to stabilize my self and freeze the frame while...seeking to shake the drive to stabilize." --continued next message-- Msg#: 480 *SYMPOSIA* 12-16-93 13:38:40 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: ALL Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 479 (PRAXIS & INFO-INTERCONVERSION) --continued from previous message-- As the Transactivist project, then, requires work to be structured along alternate boundary conditions, it requires the production of new audiences to co-produce it, who, as Buchloh suggests above, may not have the capacity to read the aesthetic experience as we know it (as such, we must "provide other conditions which enable people to generate that kind of reading capacity"). This audience (if it must be called such) does not view it and collect it, however, as much as it *accesses* it, since a "viewer" position is not fixed but a function of the transactions, and one cannot own or collect something so intangible and bewildering that even the artist is unsure of what it is. What we have then is an emphasis on strategies of embodiment and location and a renewed attention to signifying practices--a hyper- signification which Katherine Hayles calls "flickering signification." (Perhaps Josefina Ayerza and Marshall Blonsky will comment on this.) Thus the Transactivist has the difficult task not only of framing such work, but of producing its audience, which is to say simply: building relationships. The gallery, in this situation, becomes a kind of agency, structured around process rather than product, about which I will have more to say later. It would be interesting to consider, at this point, just what this elusive Transactivist artwork or art product would be. As it is first and foremost a product of the information economy (and a new stage of capital--what Peter Drucker calls "post-capitalism" or "information capitalism") it requires a study of such dynamics, which is exacerbated by the fact that we have no theory of how knowledge and information operate as economic resources, even though they are now primary, superceding land, labor, raw material, and capital. The situation is bewildering for everyone, to say the least; the challenge is to make information productive without knowing how it operates. And here the relationship between speed and control, which Jeffrey indicates, mainfests in all aspects of life as the speed of money flow is no longer controllable even by a central bank. (Drucker: "the amount of money traded every day on the transnational greatly exceeds anything needed to finance national and international transactions that the flows escape any attempt to control or limit them, let alone manage them" [*Post-Capitalist Society*, New York: HarperCollins, 1993, p. 143]. If money moves this fast, information has to move faster.) Perhaps Laura will post some of her catalogue text from her exhibition *Trade Routes* at The New Museum, which is very relevant in this context. The information economy breaks markets into smaller, more differentiated pieces and results in what Alvin and Heidi Toffler call "niche markets," "niche products," and "niche financing" (*War and Anti-War*, New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1993 p. 89) which push business closer and closer toward "real time." Former economies of scale are replaced by economies of speed. The artwork, then, must exist in terms of a heightened, accelerated, specialized set of transactions, which, as it is located, is displaced by the expanded processes of productization that I wrote about in my first message in this symposium: a kind of circulating, oscillating information-transformation- representation which exists within the transactional space of informational interconversion. (That thought is for Ben.) Or something like that. Msg#: 500 *SYMPOSIA* 12-17-93 10:53:40 From: MORGAN GARWOOD To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 479 (PRAXIS & INFO-INTERCONVERSION) can we assume that the concept of *art* is always highly determined by its social context? It is hard to imagine a time when Flaubert was nearly imprisoned for writing Madame Bovary, but he was. He violated a taboo on what one could publicly express, namely that there were selves under the social mask that were entirely different from it. Bovary was, then, a public unmasking. The energies of much art production now are going into this attempt to get to the truth of the matter. Of course, there is a tacit assumption mxhere as well, and perhaps a philosophically simplistic one, that there is a "truth" to expose. The ambiguities, the inability to arrive at a single point reading, may be more right than a *this is the answer* stance. Msg#: 482 *SYMPOSIA* 12-16-93 18:01:51 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: INFO AS ECONOMIC RESOURCE > we have no theory of how knowledge and > information operate as economic resources, even though they > are now primary, superceding land, labor, raw material, and > capital. There *are,* in fact, organizations that have both a theory *and* a practice of how information functions as an economic resource that is capable of generating profits. Demographics organizations are one example, information brokerage houses another. Both scatter themselves over the soil of information, latching onto other information sources in order to harvest (increasingly lucrative) bushels-full of produce. The sale of mailing lists, which are no more than informational by-products (the dry, brown stalks left after corn is harvested), is a long- accepted method of generating revenue for the demographics industry. Likewise, information brokers - who are sprouting up like weeds in the rows of virtual space, looking for traces left by information farmers, workers, buyers and consumers - are well aware of the economic potential of an act as simple as making a deposit in a checking account. The metaphor that these organizations spread themselves out over the soil of information is important: both demographers and brokers can be thought of as weeds that take over a plot of virtual space after it has been used for other purposes. Mailing lists and checking account deposits are the informational fertilizers on which the weeds of demographics and brokerage houses grow. In this way, neither of the above organizations actually *sow* anything, but both reap huge benefits. They are essentially unregulated rhizomatic entities, weed-like organisms that inhabit a location only after something else has been sown, spreading out over the surface of various transaction-based virtual locations. Although I do think these types of organizations are becoming primary and that more and more of the global economic climate will be determined by their states of health, I think it is also important to mind the fact that one of the recent GATT agreement's primary foci was agriculture. "The agreement would . . . bring . . . farming into the purview of global trade agreements for the first time." (Keith Bradsher, "Big Cut in Tariffs," in *The New York Times,* Wednesday, December 15, 1993.) To be a farmer, it seems, is still the most important occupation in the world - a sentiment that resounds both practically and poetically through every bone in all of my bodies. Msg#: 496 *SYMPOSIA* 12-17-93 10:38:01 From: MORGAN GARWOOD To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 482 (INFO AS ECONOMIC RESOURCE) ah, back to terra firma after a dip in the ocean. All of this points to a drift into high precision culture. Good, because resources can be efficiently allocated, and development loops get tighter, and bad because this corresponds to a loss of privacy and autonomy. Population, climatic, epidemiological, behavioral forces, etc., may give us no choice. The classic Darwininan intermodualtion of mutation rate and selection pressures will *arrive* us at a condition, whether we are dealing with a genetic, or societal, history. Case in point, for all you true fans of the *police blotter* collumns in the paper...A new style of criminality is emerging in New York's Upper East Side. The perpetrators are still acting in the tried and true modus operandi of robbery at gunpoint. The twist is that they now wear expensive, top of the line suits. (in a Darwinian sense, they have evolved the markings of the flock so as to be confused with it, a "brilliant" mutation) Then, instead of lurking outside of places like the Four Seasons to knock over the chump, they hang around inside, at the bar, being taken for legit while they scope the goodies. They follow the target outside for a block or two, then do the deed. Of course, this behavior begins to act as a selection pressure, and people begin to avoid fancy places out of fear....which in turn causes social changes among the "prey". Thus, next year the guy in the suit looks like a perp. The dynamics of predation and evasion are alive and well. How this evolves in virtual spaces remains to be seen. Msg#: 490 *SYMPOSIA* 12-17-93 09:45:00 From: SUE HAIKEN To: ALL Subj: JUMPING ONTO THE MOVING TRAIN Where to jump in. I woke up this morning and realized I had not been "connected" to anything (Mindvox, Thing, C-Serve, AOL, Connect-Ed) for days. The thought of what awaited me kept me in bed for quite some time. Virtuality requires more maintenance, more consistent sustenance, than the physical self. If not fed daily, it begins to wither and fade. Lately, it seems that I do not have the time and/or the resources to keep both entities alive and flourishing. Which should be sacrificed, or at least diminished -- my virtual self, or my physical self. Virtuality, in the sense that it exists here, is born with a monstrous growth rate. One day a cute infant slowly guiding you through a new shiny playground, then suddenly, a whining adolescent, dragging you to and fro, demanding that you see it all. I'm in my mid-life crisis of virtuality, looking forward to the graceful reflection of old age. In this first post, I wanted to introduce myself before attempting to respond to all I've read here in the last few weeks. Anonymity is one of the beauties of on-line communication, but in a dialogue such as this, I think it's nice to know where we're all coming from. I graduated from college five years ago and immediately started an environmental consulting company with a partner -- a man I'd met in London a year earlier. A few years into the company, I realized I felt stifled creatively and intellectually. The business scene was not for me. I'd developed an interest in computers, virtual reality, hypertext, etc. and decided to go back to school. For what, I wasn't certain. I was fortunate enough to find Connected-Education, a company that offers on-line Masters programs through the New School. For two years I have been pursuing a Master of Arts in Media Studies with a minor in Technology and Society. It's been a wonderful and fascinating experience -- more satisfying than any "in-person" educational situation I've had. A few weeks ago, I wandered over to the Thing, wandered over to the Symposium and was shocked and thrilled by the discussion that was so similar to those I've participated in at Connect-Ed. I look forward to joining all of you here, and sharing these experiences with my Connect-Ed community, and vice versa. I'll be back soon with a bit more relevance, but for now, there is just one thing I noticed during my recent 9600 baud scroll storm. Jordan expressed his disappointment in the direction your discussion had moved toward and in it's "casual" tone. One thing that has been stressed during my connected life is that nothing is inappropriate. Disappointment seems out of place. I understand that you are all here with a purpose, but with virtuality comes a sacrifice of control to the extent that here, it is what it is. On-line, it is a thin line between "facilitation" and censorship. To tell people what they should be saying is not unlike telling them what *not* to say. I don't think that should happen here. It's a difficult issue and one that has become a hot topic in most on-line communities. It will become more difficult as cyberspace continues to grow and more people arrive with less rules. I think it is an interesting point of discussion. So, it is a pleasure to meet all of you, and I look forward to spending more time here. -Sue Msg#: 493 *SYMPOSIA* 12-17-93 10:11:37 From: MORGAN GARWOOD To: SUE HAIKEN (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 490 (JUMPING ONTO THE MOVING TRAIN) fear not, this sys is positively green Kryptonite to unreflected conformity. The attrition rate must be the highest in the industry. Why? you might ask. Probably because you will find intellectual resonance ( and dissonance), but not very much sympathy of the cliquish genus. Lacking the reassurance of clearly defined boundaries, each posting takes on a life cycle of its own. There isn't any right thing to say. You should collide with Blackhawk sometime, wherever he lurketh. Msg#: 563 *SYMPOSIA* 12-28-93 14:37:14 From: CAROL BROAD To: SUE HAIKEN (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 490 (JUMPING ONTO THE MOVING TRAIN) Excuse me... I am new here... and I just wanted to say hello to you, because you seem like a nice person. I thought it was very helpful that you introduced yourself, because it makes you real... I hope that you won't sacrifice your person, by the way... I want to know more about you and Con-Ed. Msg#: 600 *SYMPOSIA* 12-30-93 22:28:08 From: SUE HAIKEN To: CAROL BROAD (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 563 (JUMPING ONTO THE MOVING TRAIN) Hi Carol- Thanks for the message. I haven't logged on for awhile, otherwise I would have replied sooner. I wish either I had been here from the beginning and knew people here, or that they would "introduce" themselves too. To an extent, it is nice to know who you're talking to -- and who's talking to you. Anyway, it's nice to "meet" you, and I look forward to talking with you. -Sue Msg#: 499 *SYMPOSIA* 12-17-93 10:43:34 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: ALL Subj: APPLE BLITZ I received this message today via the Internet. It came from a friend in Minneapolis who received it from someone else in Minnesota who received it from a friend in Oregon. If you support it and have access to the Internet, please participate in the Blitz. If you don't have access to the Internet, you can phone Apple Computer, Inc. at 408/996-1010. Then transmit this message to more people. _________________________________________________________ Dear friends, I am sending you this because I think that it is important. Please read this message and decide whether you think that your contribution can make a difference. Then ACT! Apple Computer is under a well organized phone-fax-mail attack by the Religious Right, demanding that Apple Computer drop its pro-human rights policy of non-discrimination against lesbian and gay employees. Basically, far right groups including religous fundamentalists are pressuring the company to "see the light" and discrimate. Right now there are about 500 callers in opposition to every 1 in support of current policies. Let's change this. Blitz and say that you support the company's non-discrimination policy, which includes sexual orientation and benefits for partners of lesbian and gay employees. Thanks, and PLEASE forward this to anyone you know who might support this cause. P.S. If you don't have the time to write something, copy this and send it out, and maybe add something about how you own a mac, or are mac dependant (if you are!): I strongly support your current non-discrimination policy, especially in regard to lesbian and gay employees, as well as benefits for partners of those employees. I also would like to recognize Apple's brave role as a pioneer in the search for equal opportunity, and hope that more companies will follow and not be pressure by the far right to discriminate against people based on who they are. With my sincerest thanks and hopes that you will receive more support for your actions. Msg#: 514 *SYMPOSIA* 12-19-93 13:09:24 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: LAURA TRIPPI (Rcvd) Subj: VIRTUAL CHOREOGRAPHY Your earlier postings on location technologies did, indeed, pique my interest on a number of fronts. When you quoted Sandy Stone's belief that > "[i]t is th[e] constellation of fixed > relationships that virtual communication prosthetics, instantiated > as cyberspace, disrupts so thoroughly." my attention was immediately drawn to the word "fixed." If, as both she and I believe, virtual communication serves as a solvent to un-fix relationships (perhaps most importantly, to un-fix the stability of a subject), then these "location technologies" are much more than mere objects to think with. It's probably more appropriate to think of location technologies (i.e., ATMs, telephones, machines that read credit cards for purchase approval, modems, etc.) as entryways into *environments* that extend the capacity to think, rather than as objects to think *with.* To regard them as objects seems to me to limit the way we are capable of thinking about them. For example, an ATM is not simply an object. It's one node in a massively interconnected network environment that, when interacted with, both checks and distributes our personal information instantly throughout that environment: ATMs are connected via telephone lines to databases that contain financial and other information about us, thus enabling us to perform (or disabling us from performing) certain functions. To think of these technologies as environments and gateways/entryways (which is exactly what much of the information technology industry does: there is the Windows environment, the hypertext environment, the Internet gateway, etc.) is crucial to begin to assess the importance of the ways in which unfixed relationships and space (both virtual and real) are operationalized and utilized in those environments. One of the uses of virtual space is what has been called "data choreography." If choreography-as-movement in real space is a discipline, then choreography-as-data-manipulation in virtual space is, too. As such, it is carefully studied and researched, especially but not exclusively by the demographics industry. Data choreography is primarily the very involved process of creating a database and insuring that the information in that database is correct: indeed, "data choreography" demands a "workhorse [software] application . . . to see that data is entered, processed, and stored accurately and efficiently." (Charlie Darling, "ObjectView joins best of PC GUIs and SQLs," in *InfoWorld,* June 28, 1993, p. 135.) In other words our virtual bodies actually enter virtual space and are compartmentalized in that space. We are choreographed: as we move through real space, enacting our own personal choreographic trajectories and moving from one node of information technology to another, we are also choreographed in virtual space. But we do this by entering an environment, not by simply thinking with an object. That environment is one in which speed is increasingly seen to play a key role. The faster the choreography can occur, it seems, the better, and the meteoric rise of modem baud rates alone (I now easily and economically travel in the fast lane at 14,400 bps, whereas even a few years ago it would have been prohibitively expensive) suggests that we have a strong desire for faster and faster movement; or that we are *forced* to keep moving quicker and quicker by an information technologies industry that seems to know no bounds. This phenomenon of acceleration can also be regarded as an attempt by our demographic-demanding culture to constantly stay informed of (to control) the movements of its subjects, who are primarily consumers. So, choreography - movement in general - is accelerated both in real space and virtual space. Of course, there is a political dimension to virtual choreography, and it is partially manifest in the current debates about privacy in an electronic age. If the patterns of my movements in real space are choreographed in virtual space, and if a variety of institutions and individuals have access to that choreographic space, my actions can essentially be tracked. In a polemic against institutionalized/nationalistic regimes, Deleuze and Guattari write, " . . . the State . . . requires that movement, even the fastest, cease to be the . . . state of a moving body . . . to become the relative characteristic of a 'moved body." (Deleuze and Guattari, *A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia." Minneapolis: the University of Minnesota Press, 1987, p. 386.) Although their concept of the "State" is exceedingly totalizing for my purposes - as evidenced by the fact that the FBI and other federal agencies use *private* information brokerage houses like Information America to obtain some of their data - this seems to be one of the central characteristics of our culture: regardless of how fast we might move in real space, our movement is also the movement of a "moved body" that is choreographed in dataspace. Again, Mark Poster's statement that staying tuned in is the chief political act in an information-based culture seems right on the mark. For to remain aware of the many ways in which one's virtual bodies are choreographed is to also remain aware of the many ways in which one's actions are known by others. Msg#: 541 *SYMPOSIA* 12-24-93 00:50:39 From: BEN KINMONT To: ALL Subj: OURSELVES Below I have transcribed excerpts from a recording I made of the Thing Party, 17 December, 7:45 - 8:30 pm. Not all of the people quoted knew that they were being recorded. However, all have given their o.k. to my making the following quotes available to everybody in the symposium. My initial purpose in doing this was to compare people's way of speaking in person with their way of speaking on-line. It became apparent, however, that two other issues were of equal importance. Firstly, everybody communicated on levels much more emotional than I had perceived while on-line. Secondly, the issue of the parameters of the symposium - the who and how people should communicate - were ever present on people's minds. I think that it was this, this issue of parameters, which caused such emotional response. Jordan Crandall: Did you like my last thought on my message to you? Ben Kinmont: Yes, I did. I read it aloud... [Introductions with other participants and then a discussion regarding sending messages on-line. Jokes with Wolfgang Staehle regarding my ignorance of rules during conferencing.] B.K.: I thought that it was really helpful that you came out with a, after your "daht-da-da" statement, that you came out with a idea of what you wanted to happen, the second message. J.C.: Oh, you mean... B.K.: First you said "Hey, people, you know, get focused" and, then, you came out with a idea of what you wanted to happen, the second message. J.C.: Oh, the long one... B.K.: About, yea, the long one. 'Cause I thing it's kinda hard to get a sense just from the criticism of where to go... J.C.: Yea, I felt really bad after I wrote that 'cause, you know, it's this really delicate thing, you know, like, between, wanting to steer it a certian way and being too harsh. And I'm like so easy going. Sometimes I've erased things that I've written because they sound so, like you know, authoritarian, and so harsh, and abrupt and cold, and I'm not that way at all. But, you know, the dialogues go all over the place so quickly, everywhere, you know, if you don't have somehting like that, that's why we wanted to try a curated thing, but now I feel real bad 'cause now nobody's participating. B.K.: Yea, it got real quiet. J.C.: And, Laura's mad at me... Laura Trippi: I beg your pardon... _________________________________________________________________________ [About 5 minutes later:] J.C.: You know Ben... Gisela Ehrenfried: Oh Ben...Faces to messages. You're Ben Kinmont? The one that's been leaving messages? B.K.: Who are you though? G.E.: I'm Gisela... B.K.: Oh, you're the one who didn't introduce herself last night. I sent a message to you saying [introduce yourself]. G.E.: Oh, well you know, W.S. was there and I see this guy everyday and every night...cause I screamed at him at home last night and I didn't want to...[G.E. and W.S. were both on-line but in different rooms of the house at the time.] G.E.: He [W.S.] said go to conference Laura is there also, and then I went, but unfortunately, he went too, so I wasn't in the mood yesterday to... [G.E. then explains that she never received my message asking her to introduce herself.] __________________________________________________________________________ [15 minutes later:] B.K.: So you didn't post anything after reading J.C.'s second message... L.T.: B.K.: I was looking for it tonight. L.T.: Well, we're not "allowed to" post anything unless we thing about it and work on it for a *really* long time...and, frankly, I've a full time job...So, I don't know. To respond really seriously, I'd also have to respond to the Procedures posting. [L.T. then introduces me to Norman Ohler. He tells me that I wrote some friendly messages. I get embarrassed and explain that this is my first time on-line...] N.O.: So, what do you do with it [the recorded sound of the party]? B.K.: I don't have any idea what I'm going to do with it. The only person I knew beforehand was J.C. and L.T. I was just so shocked at how people were talking on-line. I wanted to see and compare what people were saying [with what they were writing on-line] of my points on the symposium is that I find things very stitled. N.O.: You'll bee missing a lot of things on this tape...because of communication in the real world has so many levels. B.K.: Oh, yea, definately...but I still think that there will be vestiges of a difference, even through a transcription of what people say. So, how did you feel about being asked to leave [the syposium]? N.O.: It made me very suspicious about this new form of communication. I think of these [networks] as a free flow of doesn't matter what you look like or what you're status is. B.K.: My discussion about the vocabulary used on-line and the inaccessibility of the language. Much a review of what I'd said earlier in the symposium] _________________________________________________________________________ THAT'S IT. I HOPE IT'S OF INTEREST. BYE! Msg#: 542 *SYMPOSIA* 12-24-93 00:58:08 From: BEN KINMONT To: ALL Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 541 (OURSELVES) Sorry about all of the typo.s in the first posting "to: all; subj: ourselves" containing the transcript excerpts. It is late and I just wanted to get it out. I accept responsibility for any gramatical errors, etc. Bye! Msg#: 545 *SYMPOSIA* 12-24-93 14:17:49 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: BEN KINMONT (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 541 (OURSELVES) In like real life I like really sound like, you know, like that. I want to apologize to everyone for my "disciplinary" message. I wish now that I hadn't posted it--or at least that I hadn't stated my concerns in such a manner. I regret the effect that it had on everyone and on the general spirit of the symposium. It's been difficult for me to deal with because it's so unlike me to do something like that. (Or, on the other hand, maybe It's much more like me than I realize. But I really don't think so.) It's been very confusing and saddening for me. What is very strange, and I think this holds for everyone, is how this type of communication becomes so intimate and emotional so quickly. And as it is so fragmented, sensorially isolated, *infosocial*, it affects us socially in unfamiliar, disorienting ways. It can be very difficult to deal with emotionally. But it's never become so difficult for me as it has now. Each of us confronts this medium differently, and pursues different aspects of it at different times. My emphasis has been in developing a certain kind of discourse which is hypertextual yet focused, in flux between print and electronic media, leaning toward the academic yet rooted in popular culture and humor. But it's different for everyone; everyone brings different assumptions and interests to the dialogue. My mistake is to assume that there's one right way to conduct the symposium, and impose that on everyone else, in a manner that is not respectful of their contributions. I find that I enjoyed the symposium most when it was at its height of activity, although that was the same time that it was the most frustrating. I felt a frustration similar to what one might feel if one is holding a meeting, or discussion, and all of the participants talk amongst themselves about many different things, and the agenda of the meeting is never respected. Nothing is "accomplished" except exchanges of information (which is not to say that that isn't fascinating in itself). And the people to whom you're responsible look at what you've done and say, "Talk, talk talk. That's all you do is talk. What have you produced? Where's the action? Where's the praxis?" I remember when Laura first logged on, and expressed her displeasure that the symposium was leaping about, quickly touching on a multiplicity of issues but never really exploring them substantially. She was disappointed at the lack of substantial dialogue, about our speedy and surface treatment of issues. It was a "ride." And shortly thereafter, Joseph Nechvatal logged on, later phoning me and expressing his extreme displeasure with the dialogue. As many of our invited panelists haven't yet left a message-- most have not yet gotten their modems operational, of course, but some have--I felt a pressure to create an enviroment that was inviting and productive. But of course, I ended up making it uninviting and silent. I apologize to everyone for the difficulty and hurt feelings I've caused with my message. Something happened which will take some time for us to grasp. I don't know if its something we can dwell upon now. In retrospect we may be able to deal with aspects of it. At this point, especially as the forum is now being opened (as of Jan. 1) to all users of The Thing, I would like to ease up on my responsibility as moderator, and just let the dialogue fall where it may. However I will make one point: I feel strongly that dialogue which isn't of general interest should go in to e-mail. I feel that everyone, before they leave a message, should think, "will this be of interest to more than the person whom I address?" If not, do it e-mail, if so, post it publically. I think it is fascinating to have these two levels of dialogue going, private and public, and that everyone should take advantage of this. Like in a social situation, you sometimes speak out into the group, and you sometimes speak just to one person. My "disciplinary" concerns, for example, could have better been expressed if I addressed specific individuals, rather than the whole group. I don't know what else I can do to make everyone feel comfortable again. But I hope that we can regain some of the spirit and energy. Perhaps we can even bring back Curtis's Soul. But of course, it won't be the same again, something new awaits us in this new stage... Msg#: 554 *SYMPOSIA* 12-26-93 20:51:43 From: MORGAN GARWOOD To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 545 (OURSELVES) there's nothing to be upset about. This is a conversation. It is exploratory and tentative. Nobody's changing the course of history. Maybe a little bit. Maybe the precious geniuses with their "extreme displeasure" are too uptight, hung up, overwrought to participate in anything that doesn't meet their lofty standards. They have to realize that outside of the nasty ghetto of art thought that nobody gives a damn who they are or what they think or how displeased they are. What completely sucks about this mentality is that it sees itself as being on a higher plane of an intensly stratified world of the thoroughly and unmitigatedly petty. Nobody gives a FUCK, not a lousy syphlitic fuck, about art or anything that smells like it. People in general give even less of a fuck about art theory, art people, art vanity. It's rotten half assed bullshit to the core and everybody knows it and nobody can look in the mirror and and watch the wrinkles and lines spread over their disitegrating facelifts. These fucking dinks want to be taken seriously! Why should they be? Art is either a business for interior decorators or dick beaters who are groveling for tenure. Its low stupid corrupt foolishness populated by self deceived assholes. Its stars are stars in the asshole universe. Does this offend anyone out there? Too fucking bad. I am terribly sorry for you. Msg#: 555 *SYMPOSIA* 12-27-93 11:01:06 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: MORGAN GARWOOD (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 554 (OURSELVES) Yikes! I'm pressed into service as Santa, and now you're scripted as Scrooge. Msg#: 558 *SYMPOSIA* 12-28-93 01:00:10 From: MORGAN GARWOOD To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 555 (OURSELVES) Oh, don't mind me, a teensy hot phlash. I think a piece of testosterone broke loose and lodged in my brain. Msg#: 562 *SYMPOSIA* 12-28-93 12:14:45 From: WOLFGANG STAEHLE To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 555 (OURSELVES) Can we call back the reindeers and get this sledge moving again? --- TBBS v2.1/NM Msg#: 567 *SYMPOSIA* 12-28-93 16:47:10 From: CAROL BROAD To: BEN KINMONT (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 541 (OURSELVES) Excuse me... Thank you fro your transcript, which is so helpful to see you people as persons more. You seem like a very nice person. I am new here... and tip-toeing around, becaues I don't see faces. I see that you are an artist, from a message that Jordan C. wrote, but I don't understand what art you make. JOrdan C. doesn't either, because he wrote that long text that took me two days to get through (though I stil don't understand a word) only to find that he admits at the end that he doesn't know what your art is. All that, and no ending! So he doens't know what you do, and he says that you don't know what the art is, so where is itit? Msg#: 590 *SYMPOSIA* 12-29-93 22:47:06 From: GISELA EHRENFRIED To: BEN KINMONT (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 541 (OURSELVES) Ben, that transcript is very funny! But, compared to recent (and previous) developments online I cannot see at all that online personae communicate on levels less emotional than off-line, quod erat demonstrandum. Or do you still? What I agree is, that there is a discrepancy... less in terms of emotionality, but because people *reinvent* themselves. Everybody does it, some more some less... sometimes leading to quite melodramatic or comedic effects. Don't you think so? Btw, did anybody read the recent Village Voice article "Rape in Cyberspace - A Tale of Crime and Punishment On-Line" by Julian Dibbell? Faszinating! Msg#: 577 *SYMPOSIA* 12-28-93 23:59:43 From: MORGAN GARWOOD To: ALL Subj: BYE BYE its been real, folks. I think I have overstayed my welcome. So many voices have come and gone. My frustration and anger are honestly felt, but nothing personal toward anyone here. Maybe the world is changing to fast for the institution of "Art" to keep up with it. I believe so, and am voting with my feet. Wolfgang & Co. have done a smashing job of keeping this board going. I sure wish more people would have used it, but so it goes. It has been one Hell of a virtual year for me; more strenuous than many an academic course, in its own ways, shapes and forms. Simply put, though, my percDeption is that art, qua institution, faith, organizing principle, or what have you, has lost its power to make any sort of difference in the world we live in, other than to those more or less professionally involved in it. It has no impact on events. My belief is that it is a dying "mind form", swiftly being replaced by a nascent fusion of technology, aesthetics, entertainment, propaganda, and Lord knows what. So, with my last post, I wish you the best of luck, good health, good fortune, and lives you are proud of living. Adios, Morgan Msg#: 578 *SYMPOSIA* 12-29-93 03:51:52 From: WOLFGANG STAEHLE To: MORGAN GARWOOD (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 577 (BYE BYE) > So, with my last post, I wish you the best of luck, good health, > good fortune, and lives you are proud of living. > Adios, > Morgan No way Jose - no you don't. And if I have to keep you at gunpoint. So what if art is a "dying mind form?" Do you think I would have started this enterprise if I thought otherwise. What matters here is a redefinition of what has been - and occasionally still is - called art. I think I'm not only speaking for myself here when I say that your contributions in this effort have made a big difference on this board. I share many of your frustrations but I would never give up like that and leave the field to either the techno/entertainment/Viacom/Time-Warner-vultures or the ancien regime of October-FlashArt-Whitney programm-party circuit-art-nerds. No, no, we are in this all together. You think there's an exit for you? Forget it. One more word and I have you courtmartialed for defeatism! Msg#: 587 *SYMPOSIA* 12-29-93 17:47:02 From: LAURA TRIPPI To: MORGAN GARWOOD (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 577 (BYE BYE) Oh, Morgan, don't go. Don't jump ship now, just when we really need you! The unwashed hordes are arriving (no offense to anyone, just a figure of speech -- and what a figure!). At this critical juncture, Captain Nemo -- not to mention the rest of us! -- needs the balast, buzz, and experience that you and only *you* provide. Wasn't it you who said that [t]he other "name" systems I have tried either go no deeper than lame party talk, i.e. sex,drugs, rok'n'role, or specialized technical (the best deals on radial tires in the Northeast), or domestic stuff. . . , or wacky diatribes. (MG, MSG#1038) And that there have been conversations worth having on other systems, but they tended to exhaust fast. . . . The big syss are wide open as the prairie, some enlightened beings, some amazing buttheads, dogmatic wierdos, seekers, bored people, scholars; very democratic in its way. Dense with its own undergrowth, often not too fertile soil. (MG, MSG#1068) So, what are looking for, radial tires? You're fed up with us. We see that. We accept that. We're dogmatic wierdos in our own right. But this small piece of plankton prairie -- Morgan, it's up to us. Besides, Wolfgang has you held at gunpoint. It's been quiet out here, deathly quiet, but I figure it's just a lull. A little nuclear winter, fall out from the anti-carpetbombing warhead that the good Captain so tragico-strategically placed. So what's wrong with a little online silence? When I said [s]ilence puts the mind in question. . . . I wonder: what would be a mind-squirming/mind-unwinding on-line environment? (LT, MSG#681) nuclear winter silence was not exactly foremost in *my mind*. But it came forth. Issued forth from the far reaches of our collective cyber-socializing horizon. So, like, chill out. You answered that for Hamza-el-Din, who turned the volume down on music the better to listen to the embedded silence, [t]here was a mystical element at work, too. He was training his students to be conscious of the liminal, all that normally passes us by in an oily blur as we strut and fret our hour. . . . (MG, MSG#699) Sounds a bit Shakespearean, if I catch your reference -- but never mind. You described your experience of hanging out in isolation tanks as offering an instance of "[c]onstructive, fecund silence" (ibid.). Apparently, you're not averse or immune to the strange, straining strains of silence. So what is the huff? And finally, wasn't it you who said, in a reply to Ben, that you could be getting to know yourself better than you ever could in a less *reflective* situation! One result of participation may be a transformation in self understanding. (MG, MSG#1061) Well, let's get liminal! We've already gotten *sub*liminal. Oh my god, we're back to submarines. Tinkering in the interstices of one another's psychical horizons (as you yourself have, repeatedly, so eloquently described). Now everyone knows I was mad as hell about that Procedures posting. In the intensity of my anger at its anti-democratic aspect, I hid out under someone else's words, hurling back a chunk of text that had -- as you know -- been resonating in my mind. While I found it incredibly apt, even uncannily so, seems my missive missed its mark. In the interest of clearing my desk for at least attempting to return to the fray, I want to say that Jordan, sadly, has mis-characterized two main themes running through my postings. In the Procedures posting, he says that [o]ne can argue that the topic of "Transactivism" is broad and anything goes, and that our conversation provides an interesting record of on-line dynamics within its context. (JC, MSG#1102) Perhaps he was referring to my insistence -- conveyed privately in Email as well as publicly in the postings -- on keeping a close watch on the ways that the online symposium format altered the style and substance of our interchanges. This is not the same as saying that anything goes, or as taking a decorative interest in online dynamics. It is rather that, as I understood it, our focus here is on how networking technologies affect, ultimately, art practice and I've thought: how can we theorize this without letting it disrupt our own *discursive* practice, and what better instance to analyze than that? Than this? Than that? Than this? But perhaps I go too far in the direction of self-scrutinizing, and for that, I apologize. Second, though, and to the object of your own testosterone attack -- it seems a loose bit may still be lodged in your brain -- Jordan describes my entry-level displeasure that the symposium was leaping about, quickly touching on a multiplicity of issues but never really exploring them substantially. She was disappointed at the lack of substantial dialogue, about our speedy and surface treatment of issues. It was a "ride." (JC, MSG#1379) In part, I was disoriented, purely and simply, as others apparently are at looking in. But it was not the multiplicity of threads that disturbed me, not the leaping about. It was rather, and again, the tendency to mainline theory at the expense of praxis. "The expense of spirit in a waste of shame /is lust in action," as the Bard would have it. Theory lust run rampant. "[A]nd, till action, lust /is perjur'd, murd'rous, bloody, full of blame, /savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust." Curtis, Jordan, and Jeffrey have been carping about "how to act," and I must say I've found it fairly irritating, but they are of course responding to something in the experience of being online. Action, words and action. . . . You say, speaking of art, > My belief is that it is a dying "mind form", swiftly being > replaced by a nascent fusion of technology, aesthetics, > entertainment, propaganda, and Lord knows what. What I was trying to say in my own stubborn, circuitous way in previous postings was that I think that this symposium functions less as an exercise of art theory than as one of praxis in something like the direction you describe: pitching thought and persona into this nascent fusion as it bubbles up. I agreed to participate for that reason, and that reason alone. So to my mind the idea of publishing a book of these proceedings seems absurd: it isn't about looking in at all -- what is there yet to say that can be extricated? -- but risking immersion in a cyber-environment. I had carefully explained in a posting to Jordan about the "ride" that in fact I want a joy ride as much as anyone; I'm just insistent toward getting truly *good* ones, which are more than merely entertainment; and language is about the best vehicle I know, "On purpose laid to make the taker mad." Well, "talk, talk, talk," as Jordan cites the extreme displeasure of nonparticipating symposium voyeurs, is "words, words, words," as again Shakespeare has it (sorry about the line spaces here but otherwise the editor runs the lines together, for some reason): Hamlet. Words, words, words. Polonius. What is the matter, my lord? Hamlet. Between who? Polonius. I mean, the matter that you read, my lord? Hamlet. Slanders, sir. . . . Polonius. [Aside.] Though this be madness, yet there is method in't. So let the games begin again. We few, we happy few, Mr. Garwood. . . . Damn the torpedoes! Once more into the breach! Those that were not with us on this day shall think themselves accursed they were not here. And, oh -- it's fine to be a genius. Of course. But keep that old horse before the cart. First you've gotta have heart. And "art" can follow and drift and shift where it may. Msg#: 592 *SYMPOSIA* 12-30-93 01:06:25 From: MORGAN GARWOOD To: WOLFGANG STAEHLE (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 578 (BYE BYE) one last shot, urged back by Crandall. Where I am coming from is not about The Thing per se. TT is the best of its kind, mental free trade zone. For the year before I appeared here, I put a shitload of myself into another project that turned out to be a graduate program in advanced mind bending. I went into it optomistic and I think stupidly idealistic. I left it with an intense disgust for the whole of "culture production" and many of the personalities involved. There were some angels, but IMHO the bulk of the scene was damn grim. You can't believe the number of useless pukes who think they have a direct line to God. Like I mentioned in the E-mail, there was such a preponderance of selfish little shits who only thought in terms of what they could grab, and so few who were willing to walk the walk, lay it on the line. I still had a lot of hope and positive expectations, though, and put a year of work into this. I find myself fed up and disgusted, if for no other reason by the thin participation in what ought to be a major resource. I don't think the problem is with the Thing, it's with me. I catch myself drifting into a cynical nihilism that scares me, like I've made a MAJOR error in having any kind of expectations from this environment. I can either give myself an ulcer and cardiovascular disease by trying to make the environment change, whit it isn't and can't, or I can define deviancy down, lower my expectations, and join the ranks of the lame. I have to go for lame, watch tv, slough off, drop the load. OK, thats a sucky conversation stopper, but I've tried, really hard, and all I am is tired. Msg#: 593 *SYMPOSIA* 12-30-93 01:32:33 From: MORGAN GARWOOD To: LAURA TRIPPI (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 587 (BYE BYE) please, you misread me. You are beautiful people and The Thing is a beautiful project. I am not mad or upset with this sys or anybody on it. I am deeply, profoundly saddened by what and who isn't on the system, won't get involved, won't risk an opinion. I put the better part of 20 years busting my ass, some in art and some in other places. I believed in it, trusted its redemptive powers, knew it could lead us out on the nightmare of common idiocy. Damn was I wrong. I was expecting a bigger, opener, more expended mind set, or that I would find the place where the needle in the haystack was. It was a mystical search, for what I can hardly remember. But I found a world of petty, bickering, small minded, limited, gross, vain, cheezy hustlers. This wasn't total, there were some incredible moments, some really God Damn incredible moments, but most of them were back in San Francisco. Less hang up on making it, more freedom. New York was/is a different scene, so many phony motherfukkers, jive ass two bit bullshitters. There's angels, good metal, here too, but so much timidity, company boy/girl, all this groveling and fake emotion. I LIKE the Thing, I like what Wolfgang has done, this shit is cool! I, me, personally, though, am wickedly burned out, evil drained, feel like screaming. To get the .001% real, authentic as John Coltrane, strong as Burmese skag, fast as greased lightning, real get down kick ass human fireball no two ways STUFF is nasty rare hard. Like, child, I just wanta scream WHAT THE HOLY FUCK AM I LIVING FOR INNA MIDDLE OF THIS ORCHESTRATED WAX HORROR SHOW????!!!! MUst lose myself in the desert, find the healing waters, all that cliche bibleesque stuff. Help Me Jesus! Chastise these sinners!! Find me a vein, lose all this bad shit. Msg#: 604 *SYMPOSIA* 12-31-93 15:09:27 From: BEN KINMONT To: MORGAN GARWOOD (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 592 (BYE BYE) Dear Morgan, thanks for not leaving on that note. I agree that the art world only has a few important moments; in fact, it is really more about the effort - perhaps just personally - than the accomplishments, at least that is how I manage to keep going. At a certain level, we will never know our effect and perhaps that is why I think it important to have a certain amount of faith in what do and say, just to keep going. However, we - or at least I - also have to learn when to say no, or just stop for a while. Unfortunately, the art world doesn't have any sort of support system for this decision; if you are not there then "something must be wrong" - you're gallery dropped you, you haven't any ideas, you can't afford NY, etc. But I've seen some people I love dearly who have left, some temporarily and others don't yet know if they will return, whereas another has left permanently. The one who has left permanently is now living a better life, for himself and those around him. So, who knows? Look out after yourself and, remember, it will always be there. You can always jump back in or, perhaps, find answers in another place. Wherever you go, good luck. Msg#: 607 *SYMPOSIA* 12-30-93 15:21:00 From: HEIKO WICHMANN To: MORGAN GARWOOD (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 604 (BYE BYE) O Morgan! I surely will miss ya if I could believe your good-bye. You probably aren't aware of it, but you've been one of my favorite personas in intellectual cyberspace. One tends to forget that the msgs on screen have been written by some living person and tends to take them for granted. I feel sorry thinking that this rush could have been already the first generation of net/web pranksters exploring the horizons (and breaking barriers) in data land. I got the feeling too that it won't get better. But I will stay tuned with a perhaps despaired optimism against all odds. And I won't take no free thought for granted anymore. What a sad and painful stepping into new year's eve! -> Alice4Mac 2.1.4E QWK Ser#2-103 * Origin: THE THING BERLIN (box/fax 030:4528534) (42:1002/3) Msg#: 610 *SYMPOSIA* 01-01-94 12:42:45 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: MORGAN GARWOOD (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 577 (BYE BYE) Morgan, I thought this was the most appropriate response that I could provide for you and your dilemma. It's a quote by John Perry Barlow that was in the Sunday, December 16, 1993 *New York Times* Business Section on page 8. In a response to a question concerning the relative fragility of virtual communities compared to those of real communities, JPB answered: "All they've (people in cyberspace) got is a shared interest, not a shared necessity. . . . I have been part of many different discussion groups on the Net which I found very easy to leave once the signal-to-noise ratio deteriorated to the point where I didn't dig it any more. I had a choice. I had too much choice, really. It's not that easy for me to leave my little town in Wyoming. There, we have to learn to stick it out and make it work." Maybe that's what we have to do here, too. And it seems to be one of the primary challenges of virtual communities: to make them *necessary* in some -More- way. Msg#: 621 *SYMPOSIA* 01-02-94 15:12:40 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: LAURA TRIPPI (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 587 (BYE BYE) I can't tell you how thrilled I was to read your message. I can't think of anything to add to what you--and Ben, Jeff, Wolfgang, and Heiko--have said to Morgan. In speaking to him on the phone, I saw that there is a good chance he will return. For the record, I want to say that when I said "one can argue that the topic of 'Transactivism' is broad and anything goes" I was referring specifically to Morgan's position, which he has taken right from the beginning, which caused me to back down on more than one instance, only to wrestle with the issue again. I also want to say that I wholeheartedly agree with you when you write, > as I understood it, our focus here is > on how networking technologies affect, ultimately, art practice and > I've thought: how can we theorize this without letting it disrupt > our own *discursive* practice, and what better instance to analyze > than that? Than this? Than that? Than this? Very well said! My perception of this symposium has broadened greatly and been enriched by you and our other panelists. I am grateful to you and to everyone. Let's indeed pitch > thought and persona into > this nascent fusion as it bubbles up. Msg#: 588 *SYMPOSIA* 12-29-93 19:05:19 From: LYNN ELIZABETH CRAWFORD To: CAROL BROAD (Rcvd) Subj: ART Hey Carol, were you a good dancer. I always wanted to be one. What was it like? Msg#: 603 *SYMPOSIA* 12-31-93 13:40:25 From: CAROL BROAD To: LYNN ELIZABETH CRAWFORD (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 588 (ART) \\\/// ^o^ (( . )) (( . )) ^ Msg#: 635 *SYMPOSIA* 01-03-94 11:26:42 From: LYNN ELIZABETH CRAWFORD To: CAROL BROAD (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 603 (ART) I just asked about the dancing because it seems you were on the verge of so e point, some connection, and I hoped to ease you along... Msg#: 1316 *SYMPOSIA* 01-23-94 15:30:49 From: CAROL BROAD To: LYNN ELIZABETH CRAWFORD (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 635 (ART) Yes I was on the verge of a connection... but I lost it. What about you you dont seem to have one either. Msg#: 602 *SYMPOSIA* 12-31-93 11:42:20 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: ALL Subj: ONLINE CONVERSATIONS Just to let everyone know what it's line in some other online situations, I've sent along the following transcript from an America On Line live chat room called "Twenty Something." Imagine surfing through this when it's live! And no, I did *not* contribute the surf messages at the end. The very last message is, I think, interesting in the context of our conversation here in the symposium (but I didn't post that one either!). A free gold card awaits the first person who correctly guesses which participant I am (I *am* in this conversation somewhere). E-mail entries only, please. Msg#: 634 *SYMPOSIA* 01-03-94 09:51:06 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: ALL Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 602 (ONLINE CONVERSATIONS) Msg#: 1522 *SYMPOSIA* 12-31-93 11:42:20 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: ALL Subj: ONLINE CONVERSATIONS [Ok, after consulting with Wolfgang, I'm going to try this again.] Just to let everyone know what it's like in some other online situations, I've sent along the following transcript from an America On Line live chat room called "Twenty Something." Imagine surfing through this when it's live! And no, I did *not* contribute the surf messages at the end. The very last message is, I think, interesting in the context of our conversation here in the symposium (but I didn't post that one either!). A free gold card awaits the first person who correctly guesses which participant I am (I *am* in this conversation somewhere). E-mail entries only, please. Msg#: 636 *SYMPOSIA* 01-03-94 15:40:45 From: JOSEFINA AYERZA To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 634 (ONLINE CONVERSATIONS) Are you Lacimist? Msg#: 638 *SYMPOSIA* 01-03-94 18:45:51 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: ALL Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 636 (ONLINE CONVERSATIONS) I'm sorry I failed to mention this in my earlier message, but only one guess per person can be submitted in regard to my identity in the AOL transcript. Please submit any guesses to me via *e-mail.* Msg#: 606 *SYMPOSIA* 12-31-93 20:41:01 From: JANINE GORDON To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: AOL I also spend hours online ....I am compiling some scripts based on private rooms....Being a female online .we are outnumbered by men probably you know that through the use of instant messages and the Flirts Nook many of the men either use AOL as a surrogate sex line/dating service.Consistantly I am being approached by all sorts to enter a provate room .My intentions are more of a psychological game ....I collect men.After spending time in other rooms and have established an on going dialoge with interested parties..I then suggest a gangbang sort of room.. where I see how many men I can entice into a room with me at once..and see how long I can keep them there..I guess the longest has been about 2 hours with about 8-9 different guys.I wonder if they really get turned on.But the strange thing is is thats its all about language.I couldnt imagine being in a room with 8 other females...but the ratio factor predominates the situation. ill try and enclose a file now but Im not sure how to do B00000000000000 B00000000000000 B00000000000000 JanineG : somebody wail my ASS Msg#: 618 *SYMPOSIA* 01-02-94 14:10:17 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: JANINE GORDON (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 606 (AOL) You're a dangerous woman indeed. It's enough to make me log on to AOL, although--alas!--I am not a member and have never been there. I think you meant to address Jeffrey. Msg#: 778 *SYMPOSIA* 01-05-94 20:05:29 From: LAURA TRIPPI To: JANINE GORDON (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 606 (AOL) > with about 8-9 different guys.I wonder if they really get turned > on.But the strange thing is is thats its all about language.I > couldnt imagine being in a room with 8 other females...but the ratio > factor predominates the situation. ill try and enclose a file now Unfortunately, Janine, no file was enclosed. I wonder whether it would have shed light on your comments? When you say you couldn't imagine being in a room with eight other females, do you mean a *real* room, or a virtual room as in AOL? Either way, why does this follow from your observation that "its all about language"? What erotics of writing among women have been fostered by various strands of feminism, especially those that ponder the erotics *of writing*! I can't help but note the shift from "guys" to "females" in your comments; doesn't being online offer the potential of interesting ambiguities of gender? Msg#: 784 *SYMPOSIA* 01-06-94 19:49:01 From: JANINE GORDON To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 618 (AOL) sorry Jordan........It must have been silly to hear me rant and rave....I saw Blast Msg#: 801 *SYMPOSIA* 01-07-94 21:43:58 From: JANINE GORDON To: JEFFERY SCHULZ Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 800 (AOL) Hi jeffery ..I hope you recieved the file I sent you inthe previous E-mail but this is a project that Im doing on AOL..As you know the ratio of men to females is about 10-1 and with a constant flow of IMs containing men who want to talk dirty I started collecting scripts of staged "gangbangs". I act like a host and entertain as many men as I can seduce into a private room. Let me know what you think Msg#: 927 *SYMPOSIA* 01-08-94 16:51:10 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: JANINE GORDON (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 801 (AOL) > As you know the > ratio of men to females is about 10-1 and with a constant flow of > IMs containing men who want to talk dirty I started collecting > scripts of staged "gangbangs". I act like a host and entertain as > many men as I can seduce into a private room. What a coincidence! We have that same male-to-female ratio here on The Thing. Perhaps you'd like to set up shop over in "Le Boudoir"? Msg#: 938 *SYMPOSIA* 01-09-94 13:26:07 From: JANINE GORDON To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 927 (AOL) Sounds like a good idea..but I haven't , as of yet explored "Le Boudoir".. by the way Jordan do you use a Mac??? im having trouble uploading files to The Thing and would love some assistance (if you know of anyone that could be of help I would sure appreaciate it !)... Msg#: 1196 *SYMPOSIA* 01-17-94 19:31:35 From: MICHAEL JOHNSTON To: JANINE GORDON (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 801 (AOL) Mount that modem and toggle those cables babe-- get your luscious little files uploaded and lets have some action. Msg#: 608 *SYMPOSIA* 12-30-93 16:06:00 From: HEIKO WICHMANN To: ALL Subj: INFO-SOCIALISM I don't think Jordan has to apologize for his style of moderation. It's such a hard job that only can go wrong. It _must_ go wrong and provoke all the misunderstanding, dissatisfaction and uncoordinated messages that cross each other while not getting sub stantial. The net conversation is superficial and artificial like party talk. And it has the same funny and laugh aloud passages that irritate deeply since there is no one around physically who shares the laughter - only the silence of the room. I think t hat's a new experience that on the one side still is much more radical than the isolated life modern life is tending to (concealed with the help of multi media home entertainment) - but on the other side it is an experiment to create new links and relatio ns in thought and behavior. So we came to the point to give up the idealistic believe in the singular work of art - without trashing the creative energy that (in former times?) leaded to artistic manifestations. The space we are deposing our scriptings in is so new that is still not clear how to understand it. I won't believe that it is made out of the logic of more and more damaged car industries (the data highway). Sure the exchange is very fast, but in no way it's just the fun of racing. This is one more example of the american way of judging things by the way they feel, and not by the inner logic of production. I think that the msg exchange, the discussion about transacti(on)vism here never trusted this new state religion. And the deep irritation about the way this curated symposia seemingly evolved in its own logic shows that there is more feeling in it than driving on the passing lane. I would like to compare it to the education you get while watching the t.v. screen. It's strange but I really feel disgusted with it more and more each day the program gets better, the channels to chose from multiply and the issues fit more the thing s that are in my head - uncoordinated. I feel captured turning the switch and seeing e.g. Snoop Doggy Dog, though I still like the music. The same with the music clips. It's just the fabrication of gestures to feel save again - after the music, some stran ge sound, some strange thought gave so much irritation, a kind of a shock you were absolutely puzzled. I think the net conversation here is not so much on the pictured level but more on the level of buzzing sounds and ideas. That's the big problem of course if you are interested in concentrated exchange. And it really is. I often think about turning away and grabbing a hard edged book out of the shelf. There's not so much self-related reasoning about the way it is to com municate with the reader via the printed medium. It seems as if there is a focused issue that is developed and explained. But with the experience of net conversation the experience of reading a book or an article changed in retro. It became a print-out of the furious arsenal of the cyber-brain (Hegel called it Weltgeist and injected his famous logic in it). -> Alice4Mac 2.1.4E QWK Ser#2-103 * Origin: THE THING BERLIN (box/fax 030:4528534) (42:1002/3) Msg#: 624 *SYMPOSIA* 01-02-94 18:31:34 From: LAURA TRIPPI To: HEIKO WICHMANN Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 608 (INFO-SOCIALISM) How good to be hearing from Berlin! Nothing in your message though has explained to me what you mean by your subject heading, "info socialism." This "new state religion" that you think the symposium has never trusted but fail to describe? The inner logic of production. . . in this instance is, what? I gather, mostly, that you are taking high exception to all the driving metaphors thrown about in discussing networking communications. But info socialism remains unexplained. When you say you "think the net conversation here is not so much on the pictured level but more on the level of buzzing sounds and ideas," I'm really not sure what figure you're proposing as an alternative for conceptualizing online transactions and interactions. You counter the "fast lane" metaphor by commenting on the extreme emotionality conjured up in online communities, as if driving were not such a stimulating thing, but personally I find driving can be *very* emotional -- in ways not unlike the unleashing of emotionality I've experienced online -- and, from James Thurber to recent gun-related highway deaths on L.A. freeways, culture to some extent at any rate bears this out. What is similar about driving to being online is, first, the engagement of intentionality, body and mind, with a prosthetic device, and, second, the objectification thanks to distance of others inhabiting the field. The prosthesis magnifies inner states and their upsurges and swings. The distance allows a certain scope or freedom to one's shifting states of mind, instantiated in positions, maneuvers, responses, and a certain latitude in fielding the gestures and statements coming at you. I'm not saying that I think the "driving" metaphor, the "data highways" idea, is altogether adequate. But I do think it harbors valuable analogies, ones that touch on issues of agency and persona, about how selves are constructed in virtual communities on the fly. By the way, I very much like your phrase "stay[ing] tuned with a . . . despaired optimism against all odds." I'd like to send that over to the activism thread where Jeffrey has been citing Mark Poster's comment that "staying tuned in is the primary political act." Hm, staying tuned in with a despaired optimism against all odds . . . it's a very Buddhist conception of activism, I'm tempted to say. A kind of Nietzschian "Greek cheerfulness," cheerfulness despite, *within* a tragic outlook. Msg#: 626 *SYMPOSIA* 01-02-94 22:30:33 From: WOLFGANG STAEHLE To: HEIKO WICHMANN Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 608 (INFO-SOCIALISM) > But with > the experience of net conversation the experience of reading a book > or an article changed in retro. Isn't that so. For me the experience of - let's say - reading an art magazine has changed dramatically over the last two years. Before getting involved in telecommunication in general, and TT in particular, the ritual of reading reviews and articles in these glossy mazines was dutifully performed almost every month. After all, there it was, the whole symbolic order of the art world, who's who and what's what. Like a monolith it sat there, not much you could do about it. Today this kind of authority is hard to imagine. Not that I was naive then, I knew the machinations, I knew who wrote the tickets. All that was required was to play along - go to the right dinner parties, be nice to the players, maybe say something intelligent or be a bit provocative. In other words a tremendous waste of time. [Well here's the news for all you gravy train conductors and bigwigs of all couleur: I am no longer buying your tickets. From now on I am going to write my own!] Anyway you get the gist. So for a good laugh try about any art magazine and start reading the reviews... the gravitational tone, the efforts of the writers to maintain the illusion of a meaningful discourse, the transparency of the publishing politics etc., it almost feels like the experience of a century past. Msg#: 617 *SYMPOSIA* 01-02-94 12:28:20 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: ALL Subj: ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES I think I've finally figured out how to respond to some of the things that have been going on here these past few weeks. At one point in the conversation's development, I would have perhaps responded similarly to the way Morgan responded: to either become way upset at those who chose not to participate (upset, to a large degree, because those who chose not to participate also chose to criticize our dialogue here); or to simply give up and log off. But there was something that kept me here. I stayed because this is a virtual *community.* Yes, it is small. But it is a community nonetheless. If it did not exert some kind of community-like pull, would any of us continue to communicate with each other? I think not. There's something that we get from being here that we can't get (or don't get) from our lives in real space. This community is, in a particular and peculiar way, *necessary.* Would Wolfgang or Laura have responded to Morgan in the manner they did if this symposium was not, in some way, needed? One of the things that results from this fact, and also from the fact that this is a *virtual* community, is that the relations here are democratic in a way that is not always the case in real space. How many people can honestly say that they belong to a tangible, neighborhood-like community in their real lives? The number is sure to be relatively small. But even if a person belongs to some kind of community that meets regularly, has a structure, etc., it is often the case that all that is required to be a member of that community is to be *present* -- to attend the meetings, to walk on the street, to go to the bars and after- bar parties, etc. In other words, to be *seen.* In contrast to physical communities, virtual communities rely on a different kind of presence (which cannot be seen) *and* contribution. If you simply show up to this symposium, for example, but do not contribute, you not only have no say in the direction the symposium takes; but no one else even knows you're here! You leave no marks. You can't be seen. Granted, I can check the userlist to determine the last logon dates of certain individuals. But I have no clue as to whether or not those individuals are actually reading the contributions here. And they're OBVIOUSLY not contributing. In other words, it takes *active* participation to be here. The politics of this situation are not of the bi-polar type: it cannot be analyzed with the tools of traditional and totalizing media critiques that regard television as bad, to be resisted, etc. (how many of us would subscribe to a slogan like "Kill Your Computers!!"?). Virtual communities do not, indeed *cannot* operate on the "us vs. them" paradigm. No one can stand *outside* of this symposium and criticize it. It is *radically democratic* in that those who exist here (those who have access to this "place," who, now, is anyone) determine it's structure, flow, policies, necessities, etc. If something runs counter to what I, for example, think should be addressed by the symposium, I can't simply write a letter to an anonymous Editor. I must bring it up *here,* where it happens. It's a WE that must address OURSELVES, not an I who address YOU OTHERS. Thank you, Gisela, for bringing up the *Village Voice* article, which is a perfect example of my point. In the article, Julian Dibbell describes instances of "virtual rape" in a virtual community, and the ways in which the rapes forced that community to grapple with one of the fundamental challenges of their virtual environment: that it was entirely *up to them* to determine how the relationships in that environment would be structured. It's the same way here: it's up to *US.* If anyone has something to say about the direction of the dialogue here, fucking well SAY IT!!!! This is *not* the ABC Nightly News! Talk back! And if you don't talk back, don't say we should talk about something else! Does anyone else feel similarly? I'd like some responses, please. I think we *need* some responses. Would anyone who hasn't yet contributed like to contribute? It's now or never. Msg#: 627 *SYMPOSIA* 01-02-94 22:44:35 From: WARREN NIESLUCHOWSKI To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 617 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) hhh h Msg#: 628 *SYMPOSIA* 01-02-94 23:06:37 From: BEN KINMONT To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 617 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) Well, well. Well put Jeffrey. Yes, in some odd sort of way, a community has grown here [perhaps only odd to myself, I don't know]. At least I am suprised. And I certainly found myself confronting issues of responsibility to others when Morgan left slamming the door [here I refer mostly to his second to last posting]. I felt hurt and wanted to hear what others were feeling [note the emotion here, Laura; I am.] As for those who were originally invited to participate and didn't, so what. I really don't care. In effect, they are not in the community and if they don't disrupt what's happening, then if they want to voyeuristically [sp?] piss and moan about what others are doing, fine. It's a shame that they haven't more courage and a feeling of responsibility and/or interest, but so be it. It's their loss not ours. I do think, though, that it is wonderful that Wolfgang and Jordan gave them the opportunity to participate; it's just their own problem if they want to stay in the closet about their reasons for not participating. Honestly, I haven't given them much thought until Morgan and Jeffery's comments. I do think, though, that those of us who have gotten involved and shared in this interaction deserve a communal thanks. I have definately learned something new which will take me a while to fully understand/appreciate. Msg#: 629 *SYMPOSIA* 01-03-94 00:19:36 From: WOLFGANG STAEHLE To: WARREN NIESLUCHOWSKI (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 627 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) Gesundheit! Msg#: 632 *SYMPOSIA* 01-03-94 09:38:59 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: WARREN NIESLUCHOWSKI (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 627 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) . Msg#: 637 *SYMPOSIA* 01-03-94 18:19:05 From: JFS To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 617 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) The Voice article is interesting to me in the way *virtual* is factored out of the logic describing the rape incident. There have been years of hype about Virtual Reality. This article examined an incident that resulted from a fallacy in the Utopian philosophy of Virtual Reality. What the rapist didn't understand was: people are still people behind all the gear. The discussion that resulted from the incident solidified a group of people (not virtual people) into a community. I read (too many) on-line discussions and return to The Thing because of the community. Msg#: 640 *SYMPOSIA* 01-03-94 21:40:03 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: JFS (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 637 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) Yes, I *TOTALLY* agree with you that there are > people behind > all the gear. I (and I think others here as well) would be interested in any comments that you might be able to provide as to the *kind* of community that draws you back to The Thing. Msg#: 768 *SYMPOSIA* 01-04-94 23:30:07 From: BEN KINMONT To: JFS (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 637 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) Perhaps, then, it is on this point that we can go forward. Perhaps we should be thinking of our involvement in this symposium as one of community activism, as a way to focus our concerns about the potential ways [both good and bad] that on-line interaction can develop. In a way, there is the opportunity for thoughtful involvement with one another, for contemplation and consideration of one's actions. As much as I hate to admit it, my previous feeling of isolation has become more one of paced-out conversation with others. I just hope that this doesn't mean that the solution is to develop an on-line utopianism. Msg#: 771 *SYMPOSIA* 01-05-94 10:48:09 From: JFS To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 640 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) I think a compelling on-line community exists somewhere between light conversation and reviewed literature. No one has time or can afford to make their on-line writing as well thought out as a professional publication yet everyone gets annoyed when the conversation lacks substance. The best usenet news groups are the ones which are moderated - postings are filtered by someone. The symposium (and sometimes the THING in general) seemed to be a comfortable medium - sort of free and sort of moderated (self-moderated) . People here for the most part try and say *something*. Fully moderated groups lack a conversational tone but I trust spending my time reading them. Often a moderated group will be accompanied by a non-moderated group that is for more converstional discussion of the same topic. Are we talking or are we writing? We are doing something in between and trying to define it at the same time. Msg#: 773 *SYMPOSIA* 01-05-94 15:35:39 From: WOLFGANG STAEHLE To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 617 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) > I stayed because this is a virtual *community.* Yes, it is > small. But it is a community nonetheless. If it did not exert > some kind of community-like pull, would any of us continue to > communicate with each other? I think not. There's something > that we get from being here that we can't get (or don't get) from > our lives in real space. This community is, in a particular and > peculiar way, *necessary.* Now that we know that we are in this together, what are we going to do with it? I still hear voices now and then calling for a *praxis.* How are we going to do that? What is our agenda? Why do we think that "this community" is "necessary?" Maybe the most common denominator here is a shared dissatisfaction with the way things work in the "real" [art] world. The task then would be to build a virtual infrastructure that addresses these conditions and allows us to work free from the existing institutional constraints. On-line utopianism? Yes Mr. Kinmont, it may sound naive, but how else do you explain the allure? The question of praxis remains. Then again, Peter Halley sold 6 gifs last month. That doesn't make me Gagosian (not my ambition anyway), but it is a start. Msg#: 796 *SYMPOSIA* 01-07-94 16:22:24 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: WOLFGANG STAEHLE (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 773 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) I really wonder if we can talk about such a thing as "praxis" with what we're doing here (and perhaps with information technologies in general?). In order for there to be a praxis, there must also (usually first) be a theory. And, because praxis is so bound up in Marxism, and because I don't think I'd call what we're doing here Marxism, the descriptive term "praxis" seems in many ways to misrepresent our . . . circumstances. In JFS' words, "We are doing something in between . . . talking and writing . . . and trying to define it at the same time." What we're doing seems already to be a combination of *both* theory (writing) and practice/praxis (talking/speech). The theory is *not* coming before the practice. Consequently, I don't think we need to define a praxis as much as we need to define a community. How do we do that? To begin with, I don't think we can position what we do here (our community?) as *radically* different from that which exists in the "real [art] world." Donna Haraway has written to the effect that, despite the fact that she is critical of the rationalist, white, heterosexual, male method of inquiry, it is important to remember and retain those aspects of that method which are invaluable, and to use them as indispensable reconstructing tools. I think the same must be said of what goes on here: that the *entirety* of art world practices should *not* be discarded due to the simple fact that our community doesn't fit neatly and completely into its classifying system. Msg#: 923 *SYMPOSIA* 01-08-94 09:58:44 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 796 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) > I don't think we need to define a praxis as much as we > need to define a community. But isn't our community *already* defined, at least to a certain degree? If it wasn't, JFS wouldn't have been able to write I . . . return to The Thing because of the community. Msg#: 924 *SYMPOSIA* 01-08-94 15:03:27 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: WOLFGANG STAEHLE (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 773 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) If we share a > dissatisfaction with the way things work in the "real" [art] world. And if we want to > build a virtual infrastructure that > addresses these conditions and allows us to work free from the > existing institutional constraints. Then why are we selling Peter Halleys? Msg#: 925 *SYMPOSIA* 01-08-94 15:43:59 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 796 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) Why do you think praxis is "so bound up in Marxism"? And when you say that what we're doing here is "not Marxism," do you mean to dismiss it entirely? Praxis just means practice. It's in the dictionary as such. We always have both theory and praxis, although we sometimes emphasize one over the other. Praxis is a kind of mark-making, a doing, within a language, or social construct. They go hand in hand, or we have no meaning. Msg#: 926 *SYMPOSIA* 01-08-94 16:37:12 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 617 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) I think it is important for us to see that our "real" communities are produced through virtualities. What we call real is not something that exists apart from, and exists prior to, the virtual, but something that continually arises out of virtuality. The real is a result, what Marx calls a determinate abstraction. We do not build complex ideas out of given, basic ones, but rather, we build specific determinations out of larger abstractions. But then of course we go on to determine abstractions from specifics--we build virtualities from realities--and forget how our "givens" are built in the first place. However I don't mean to argue that either is primary. I mean to point out the dialectical processes through which reality is built: a process of locating the particular in the potential while building potentialities from particularities. And as with the idea of wave/particle duality, we see that these processes are inseparable, and mutually determine what we call reality. Reality is not waves (virtualities) or particles (actualities), but both simultaneously. So I think it is extremely problematic to speak of a virtual community as some "other" community, something which exists apart from what is "real." What we must articulate are the transactional processes through which both are shaped--that which mediates the social relation, whether on or off screen, "in person" or not. The currencies and textualities which, increasingly fluid and fragmented, determine relation even as they are determined. What mediates my relation and my reality is not the mirror, the newspaper, the telephone, the computer screen, *itself*, but that content that is produced in my interaction with it. That content is a configuration, part cognitive and part social, whose elements span systems-- "real" or "virtual"--as stars span the sky. How does this content become informational currency; how is it circulated? What subject and object positionings does it call into play? All of which is to say that we've got to get away from this either/or, virtual/real, way of thinking. Everything has virtuality and reality like everything has content and form. These are mutual, co-determining aspects of reality which exist in varying degrees of emphasis. Like wave and particle, theory and praxis, *langue* and *parole*, they cannot be separated. So it's not a question of a difference between a "real" and a "virtual" community; it's a question of how a community exhibits those aspects, and produces those distinctions. Msg#: 930 *SYMPOSIA* 01-08-94 18:11:39 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 925 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) One of Marx's principal ideas was praxis, and he thought praxis would transform individuals' lives. In one interpretation of his work, "(p)raxis . . . mean[t] *free,* creative engagement in the world by the individual . . ."1 Marx was drawn to this idea because it provided him with a way to oppose his conception of alienated industrial labor. It was his way out. Indeed, he regarded praxis as the *opposite* of that labor: if industrial capitalism created alienation, praxis would create its opposite, a holistic classless society. In the context of information technologies, I have trouble thinking about praxis as something that's going to "bring everyone together." There are still going to be thousands of people who work for nothing in China and Mexico, thousands more who suffer with jobs in which they find no meaning, and many who make millions from information technologies, (perhaps) regardless of what we're doing here. Also, bound up in Marx's concept of praxis was the notion of a kind of visionary genius. It was the individual artist who epitomized his model praxis-worker, and it was through *his* control over and execution of a unique idea that both the world *and* the artist *himself* were transformed. Although I find myself in Laura's curious position of stabilizing/shaking (that is, I find myself both thinking that there *might* still be some use in these terms and thinking that they're completely outdated), I still have a hard time swallowing the idea of praxis. My comments should not be read as a complete dismissal of Marxism but, rather, a serious *trepidation* with the use of the word Marxism to characterize what we're doing here; and a trepidation with what information technologies are capable of doing in general. But that's all it is: a trepidation. I am completely open to other opinions on the matter. 1 Donovan, Jospehine, *Feminist Theory: The Intellectual Traditions of American Feminism.* New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., Inc., 1986, p. 70, asterisks added. Msg#: 1037 *SYMPOSIA* 01-12-94 14:24:55 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 930 (ON VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES) Thanks. "Praxis" doesn't have those associations for me. But I won't use it anymore--I'll just use "practice," which is what I really mean and clearer anyway. Msg#: 639 *SYMPOSIA* 01-03-94 21:35:20 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: LAURA TRIPPI (Rcvd) Subj: INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAYS > I'm not saying that I > think the "driving" metaphor, the "data highways" idea, is > altogether adequate. Yes, I could have written that, and it's mildly interesting to remember where and why the descriptive phrase "information (super)highway" began; to remember why all the talk is about "highways" instead of "channels," "streams," or various other travel metaphors. Way back in '79, when disco was dying and we didn't even know what a junk bond *was,* Senator Al Gore, Jr., from Tennessee began to push the idea of a network of information superhighways that would link businesses together to make the United States a more competitive force in a global economy. In what is probably the most brilliant marketing device that he or anyone else could have used to sell this idea, he has said of his superhighway, "I think it will enable this country to leapfrog the Japanese." ("How Do You Build an Information Superhighway?" in *Business Week,* September 16, 1991, p. 108.) Could any other declaration have more effectively poured attention on his project? I think not. Aside from the obvious questions that this maxim raises, Gore's use of the suffix "highway" is completely with precedent: our now-vice president's father, Senator Albert Gore, Sr., was a primary proponent of the movement in the 1950s to create the interstate highway system, an endeavor that was promoted on a number of fronts, including the facts that it would propel business *and* that it would serve to secure the nation's defense. All of this is to say that there is some sense in the fact that we are talking about a "highway." Of course, this posting doesn't go very far in determining the adequacy of the highway as a *metaphor.* But it is interesting quasi-net trivia, I hope. Msg#: 935 *SYMPOSIA* 01-07-94 12:02:00 From: FRANK KRUSE To: ALL Subj: MUSIC&SPEED Y'all! Please find enclosed excerpts from some some words I found on a CD sleeve of John Zorn's SPILLANE: "Wether we like it or not, the era of the composer as autonomous musical mind has just about come to an end. At this point in musical history, the relevant question is, `What exactly does a composer do?' (...) (...) specialized talents are contributed to create a work much richer than what one mind could create alone (...) (...) that every note needs to have a function, and that there always has to be a sense of going somewhere, the feeling that a personal vision is being realized. (...) (...) I believe the human ear , being so sensitive, gets tired of the artificial sound of tape edits real fast. Maybe that's why tape music went anywhere. Edgard Varese described himself as an `organizer of sound'. That concept is probably more valid today than in any previous era.(...) (...) without fear of musical barriers, wich somatimes are even stronger than radical or religious ones. That's the strength of pop music today. It's universal.(...) (...) In Schoenberg's early atonal compositions, he didn't know what he was doing. To give his atonal pieces a sense of unity, he worked with texts and the only way he knew when a piece was over was when the text ran out!(...) (...) Still you've got to realize that speed is taking over the world. Look at the kids growing up with computers and video games-wich are ten times faster than the pinball machines we used to play. (...) we've got to keep up with it. I'll probably die tryind." This was released in 1987.. --- * Origin: THE THING BERLIN (box/fax 030:4528534) (42:1002/3) Msg#: 954 *SYMPOSIA* 01-09-94 16:20:59 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: FRANK KRUSE Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 935 (MUSIC&SPEED) Yes, Zorn!! For some reason, his work (which I find *EXREMELY* provocative) completely slipped my mind in the context of speed. We'll ALL probably die trying! Msg#: 1056 *SYMPOSIA* 01-11-94 10:10:00 From: FRANK KRUSE To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 954 (MUSIC&SPEED) JS>Yes, Zorn!! For some reason, his work (which I find *EXREMELY* provocative) If you're talkig about his latest stuff, I guess he's jut a copy cat. Making grindcore compatible for Jazz listeners...? What's so provocative about that? JS>completely slipped my mind in the context of speed. JS>We'll ALL probably die trying! Sure thang! Frank. --- * Origin: THE THING BERLIN (box/fax 030:4528534) (42:1002/3) Msg#: 1155 *SYMPOSIA* 01-15-94 00:58:00 From: FRANK KRUSE To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1056 (MUSIC&SPEED) JS>Actually, I haven't been following his work all that much lately. I was JS>talking about Spillane, the Ennio Morricone (sp?) cd, etc. Err...I'm afraid I can't follow. When where you talking about Ennio M.? `know what Zorn means in german?..."anger" Frank "thank you for using sky pager" Kruse. --- * Origin: THE THING BERLIN (box/fax 030:4528534) (42:1002/3) Msg#: 936 *SYMPOSIA* 01-09-94 12:13:46 From: BEN KINMONT To: ALL Subj: WINSTANLEY'S *SAINTS PARADICE* LONDON.[1648 To my beloved friends, whose souls hunger after sincere Milk. Dear friends, it hath been the universall condition of the Earth (Mankind) to be over-spread with a blackcloud of darkness; and the knowledge of the King of righteousness hath been manifested but in some few scattered ones, so they have been as lights in the darke world, and others have warlked [sic.] in their light, and rested content to drink of their streams, as if their declaration of truth had been the very Fountain it self.... Well, as darkness hath over spread the Earth (Mankind) so now is the time come, that knowledg shall abound, and cover the earth (Mankind) light begins to arise, the spirit begins to appear in flesh, he spreads himself in his sons and daughters, so that as the Sun shines from East to West, so shall the appearing of this Son of righteousnesse be; he comes not new in corners, but openly; the poor receive the Gospel, (which is this everlasting spirit) wise men in the flesh are made fools, fools are made wise, scholars are declared to be ignorant, the ignorant ones in mens learning, become abundantly learned in the experimentall knowledge of Christ. I do not writ to teach, I only delcare what I knew, you may teach me, for you have the fountaine of life in you as well as I, and therefore he is called the Lord, because he rules not in one, but in every one through the globe, and so we being many, are knit together into one body, and are to be made all of one heart, and one minde, by that one spirit that enlightens every man. I have yeelded to let these few experiences come abroad, and partly unwilling, because I see more clearly into these secrets then before I writ them, which teaches me to rejoyce in silence, to see the Father so abundantly at work; and it shall cease speedily for men to stand up as they do to teach one other, for every one shall be taught of him, and I shall be as ready to hear as to speak, and to give as to receive, and every one delighting to do as they would be done unto. Msg#: 965 *SYMPOSIA* 01-10-94 10:57:43 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: ONLINE/VIRTUAL We've come to this point a few other times in our conversations, and it always leaves me wondering why I still retain some trace of a belief that sometimes there is a small aspect of the virtual that is different in some way from the real. It's very puzzling to me, given my interest in negotiating the space that has been produced by information technologies, that I should at times maintain a distinction between virtual and real. I agree with you completely when you write > What we > call real is not something that exists apart from, and > exists prior to, the virtual, but something that > continually arises out of virtuality. We negotiate space and time as an admixture of biological and informational entities. My identity is constantly and permanently produced by myself *as well as* by information. I exist in a dispersed and diluted form. This is what is real. This is my reality. I don't exist in informational space in any way that can be separated from physical space. Consequently, when I walk down a street, I am also walking through informational space: if I leave my apartment and walk to the nearest ATM, for example, I am tracked informationally from my last phone call to the use of my ATM card to get cash. There is no way to separate the physical from the informational realm in this scenario. My "problem" comes when I get into certain online situations. I can't get away from my habit of sometimes separating the virtual from the real because of the fact that I really do *become* someone else in certain online situations. Here on The Thing, I am myself: to a large degree, it's how I act in everyday situations. I don't *become* someone else here. But my experiences both on AOL and in the Postmodern Culture MOO (Multi-User Dimension, Object Oriented), the latter of which is a more recent experience, suggest strongly that I am able to *be* someone (or something) online who I could *never* be in a f2f situation. For example, I have three identities on AOL, one of which is myself, for which I use my given name as a screen name; and two others, both of whom are constructed so as to be *extremely* sexually promiscuous (I won't give the screen names, but trust me). The things that I do with these two other identities are things that I would never *dream* of doing with the body that inhabits my given name. Everything I do when I become these other identities is *based on* that which can be acted out with my physical body but, for various reasons, I could never EVER actually do with that body. It really makes me feel like I have a virtual body. Of course, that body is viscerally entangled with the body I can touch, and the sensations of both are mediated by the interface in the form of a computer screen. But I can't get over the fact that I *am* someone else online -- that I enact situations online which I could never do offline. Likewise, my character in the PMC-MOO is called "fidget." When people look at me, they see a "short, round, smooth, elastic" thing (I was not given this character. I constructed it). I'm not even a person. While online, I can act like this thing, again something I could never do in my physical body. And the community of entities that exists in the MOO is something that *cannot* exist in physical space. Again, it makes me feel that I exist in virtual states: a "being . . . in effect, although not in actual fact." (definition of "virtual" in *Webster's New World Dictionary.*) Given this definition, perhaps what I have called the "virtual community" of The Thing is something of a misnomer: online community? I look forward to your (and others') thoughts on these ideas. Msg#: 1034 *SYMPOSIA* 01-12-94 13:23:36 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 965 (ONLINE/VIRTUAL) We all have to manage the various subject-positions into which we're called in life within the various discursive worlds we inhabit, somehow collating them into this ongoing construction that we call our self. In this sense we are a constellation of actively transactional elements: a center of narrative gravity, a dense concentration of elements which are configurative and circulatory. We're expanding ourselves while trying to locate ourselves (Laura's now-famous dance-step). Maybe our virtualities and "virtual selves" are but modes of expansion, and what we call the real is when it contracts, and (temporarily) snaps into place. So the real is a function of the virtual and the virtual a function of the real such that your virtual selves are *you*--modes of you-- in a way that may be uncomfortable to deal with. It's much more comfortable to make that separation--especially if your "virtual selves" do sexually extreme things that you would "never do" in "real life." Say you do frequent phone sex, and you have a persona who engages in communal orgies and one-on-ones in a rather sadistic mode. Your name is Saint-Florent. Do you think of him as a "virtual self"? Or just an extension of you, a way for you to role-play, engage a rich fantasy life? Why does the phone--which allows for much much more intonation--not allow for a "virtual" entity while the computer, which uses the phone line to send signals, does? When you think about it, you assume so many subject positions in daily life, you're so many different people, that you just can't divide which is "real" and which is "virtual" with any fixity. You're sliding around, not even whole, always with some aspects which are "real" and some which are "virtual"--but always in motion, shuttling from one to the other, displacing each. Say you have a job which requires you to adopt an authoritative, hard-line stance. You're a manager in a business and you have 100 people to manage, and numerous bosses to which to report. Your superiors put pressure on you and you put pressure on your workers. Adapting to this situation, you are called into a certain position. You are the sort of boss who instills fear in his workers. (Granted, this schema harkens back to the machine age, but I'm just using it as an example.) At home, however, you're a pussycat, a loving, devoted father, generous to his children--perhaps too much so--and inordinately kind to his wife. But, secretly, you are having an affair with a younger woman, who thinks you are not married, with whom you stage elaborate sexual scenarios played out in public places. You also write stories, in which you adopt the position of an aristocratic turn-of-the-century gentleman, though you have not shown those to anyone. You also log onto a computer network, where you have a female identity, with which you seduce both women and men. When you go to the store for bread, you have a pleasant exchange with your old hippy friend, where, if only for a short time, you find yourself back in that sixties, anti-establishment, acid-induced banter, speculating about the nature of life and reality and consider giving everything up and moving west. We all have so many worlds to negotiate and navigate. We have to accept them and see them as ways in which we expand our selfhood. If we embrace this multiplicity, see our selves as active constructions, we can see that we actively, continually incorporate certain elements and reject others. There are some elements of your online sexual promiscuity which will be (or are) incorporated into your "real" life. The problem is when you see your online identities as a virtual identities in toto, and not as actively relational/transactional to your "real" one. They're not divided, but constitute nodes in nets. At any given time, a certain configuration of nodes is what you call your real self; some lie inside and some outside, but the pattern is always shifting, reconfiguring. So in this sense, there are not virtual and real *lives*, but virtual and real elements, which can flip back and forth in various combinations. If the above man in our hypothetical scenario were to consider some of his "identities" virtual in toto, he would be missing out on the implications of his rich tapestry of life. Who is he *really*: is he the guy who loves his wife, fucks young girls in public, or plays out bisexual scenarios? An authoritarian boss, an aristocrat, or a hippy-revolutionary? Such a question has no meaning, because it's not a matter of either/or. And if he were to engage that line of reasoning, he would be at odds with himself, unable to deal with it, possibly becoming completely unhinged. Characters in theater or film are "virtual," right? I was an actor for about four years, and my studies were based on Stanislavsky's teachings (popularly called the "method"), though I ended up with my own approach which was a hybrid of that and others. With Stanislavsky you use your own personal experiences to generate appropriate actions for your characters. You then incorporate those actions *as* your adopted character. The character is always a hybrid of you and the character as scripted (a living dialogue with that text; an embodied discourse). Character development is incredibly intense. If you are playing a character who suddenly has to get angry and hit someone, and you would never do that, then you have to try to understand how you *could* do that. Instead of saying, I would never hit anyone! You have to say, what *has* made me that angry, such that given alternate circumstances--constructed or real--I might strike someone? And you have to set up those circumstances. If it hasn't happened, you have to make it happen. You have to really try to understand that, and justify it. In so doing, you're expanding yourself. This character-development is an important part of life: it's how we go out of ourselves, broaden our horizons, learn tolerance, compassion, understanding. And, of course, to participate fully, joyfully, in the rich tapestry of life. The point is that there is no clear separation between a virtual and a real character in this situation. You always take away something from character-development, you learn from the character that you develop, as that character is colored by you. It is always and at all points a symbiotic relationship. You astral-project not only into the great transactional matrices of the Internet, but elsewhere and everwhere in life, through all channels, in all directions-- energies which traverse you, chris-crossing your locus of sentience, exchanging and playing in shifting patterns, configuring self and identity. (Actually, we can probably attribute that thought to Shirley Maclaine.) Msg#: 1043 *SYMPOSIA* 01-12-94 21:02:40 From: CURTIS MITCHELL To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 965 (ONLINE/VIRTUAL) > My identity is constantly and permanently > produced by myself *as well as* by information. I exist in a > dispersed and diluted form. This is what is real. > My "problem" comes when I get into certain online situations. I > can't get away from my habit of sometimes separating the virtual > from the real because of the fact that I really do *become* someone > else in certain online situations. Here on The Thing, I am myself: if there is a need to log in to another form of informational space, then there must be a lack in the one one is in. it makes sense then that you are *not* becoming someone else, but merely realizing another aspect, not altogether different than the walk to that ATM because you lack money, or at least lack the experience of exchanging same. it is not a large point, but to see the online leap as satisfying a partial lack rather than offering an alternative might provide more ease with which to see the shift as seamless. the impression of *becoming someone else* could result merely from a sort of "cult of personification" or "cult of objectification" ingrained in every online situation i've ever heard of (it seems the object, the entity is alive and well, proliferating online). i wonder to what extent these "cults" are necessary to an online practise, or if their necessity is only a result of organizational consensus. Msg#: 1361 *SYMPOSIA* 01-24-94 19:36:52 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: CURTIS MITCHELL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1043 (ONLINE/VIRTUAL) Your mention of a "lack" is an interesting one, especially in terms of psychoanalysis. Much has been made of the lack of the penis in psychoanalysis (will Laura offer any examples?), and to think of a visit to information space (ATMs) or online situations as means with which to satisfy some kind of a (partial) lack is, to say the least, rich territory. The fact that the language of information is completely binary -- it's either a number (i.e., one) or lack of a number (i.e., zero) -- suggests that there might be something very important in what you suggest. Msg#: 986 *SYMPOSIA* 01-11-94 03:21:18 From: GISELA EHRENFRIED To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: MASTERPIECE THEATRE I like to bring up an issue that hasn't really come up yet. While a lot of the discourse is focused on social issues, questions of identity, the soul and the body, I like to draw some attention to the object, or rather the absence thereof. Although this issue has been thoroughly explored in this century (conceptual art, for one), current info technologies finally provide the environment for ideas in art to florish without a "body." It seems, that the monolithic art object has finally met its match. Art now is travelling at the speed of light. It is readily available for everybody who cares. No more clunky objects to ship around. Has the modernist\postmodern project come to an end here? If so, what's coming next? Is it the end of art history? Msg#: 1041 *SYMPOSIA* 01-12-94 20:49:35 From: CURTIS MITCHELL To: GISELA EHRENFRIED (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 986 (MASTERPIECE THEATRE) > Art now is travelling at the speed of light. It is readily > available for everybody who cares. when they can afford 200 megabytes. after they've sat down and booted up. Msg#: 1123 *SYMPOSIA* 01-15-94 14:56:45 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: GISELA EHRENFRIED (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 986 (MASTERPIECE THEATRE) "We are witnessing...the sudden eruption of a new civilization on the planet, carrying with it a knowledge- intensive way of creating wealth that is trisecting and transforming the entire global system today. Everything in that system is now mutating, from its basic the way they the speed of their the interests over which countries the kinds of wars that may result and which need to be prevented." (Alvin and Heidi Toffler, *War and Anti-War*, p. 242.) The "trisection" that the Tofflers speak about is a division of the world into three coexisting civilizations, which they call First Wave, Second Wave, and Third Wave: the agrarian, the industrial, and the informational. In this diagram, the Realist, the Modern, and the Postmodern periods have not subsequently "replaced" each other; rather, they coexist--sometimes within the same nation, as with China (which, as a result, is thrown into conflict with itself). It's interesting to consider this in response to your question, of whether modernism and postmodernism have come to an end, and if so, what follows it. Most interestingly, we have reached a point in history when we can no longer think in terms of such a progression. What we have is their breakup into actively relational elements, which circulate and come into play in various combinations; in our new period, market capitalism (Realism), industrial capitalism (Modernism), and multinational or late capitalism (Postmodernism) coexist. What subsumes them is information capitalism, the purest and most powerful stage of capital, a kind of Absolute Spirit which marks the end of History as we know it, the absorption of matter (currency) into spirit ("pure" information). And the logic with which we propel and articulate such a schema is the logic of informational interconversion. While attempting to grasp this new worldspace and locate ourselves within it, we must, as you say, devote attention to our objects, in this case our art objects. If art's function is to examine and articulate historically- specific cultural meaning-systems--as Kosuth would say, to investigate the *meaning* of *meaning*--then it must seek to understand how this meaning is negotiated and circulated today, when the logic of informational interconversion sweeps up all history and refigures it, enmeshing us in its transactional nets. In my first posting in this Symposium ("Shopping Channels"), I tried to sketch out a scenario in which the product--the art object--can exist. The key to our art object is informational currency: an information-transformation- representation which mediates, and is mediated by, social relation, historically-positioned (in a "history" which no longer advances linearly, but which *circulates*). When you mention in your message "the object, or rather the absence thereof," you hit the nail on the head, as this object can be seen in a dialectics of presence/absence. What we must do is look carefully at what constitutes presence and absence in this new informational landscape. Katherine Hayles, whom I quoted earlier, casts this dialectic in terms of pattern/randomness. If our art object is present in terms of pattern, then this pattern is not held or exhibited, but *accessed*. We access the art through transaction. We must look at interfaces, prosthetics, and erotics (and, for that matter, transactional teledildonics--and if you can envision *that*, enmeshed in speeded interconversional data flow, through which mediating points of reference [currencies] arise, then you can see how profoundly biological and sexual all of this is). Today art suffers a crisis of meaning and purpose in a world which sees it, at best, as increasingly insignificant, or worse, as a joke that they're not "in on" and don't want to be the butt of. In the last scenario, the art world is seen to take a perverse pleasure in baffling innocent people. As James Gardner, the art critic for National Review, puts it, "whenever Holzer flashes her words at Candlestick Park, or Piccadilly Circus, or Times Square, the art world experiences a frisson of excitement at the thought of all those people who have not the remotest idea of what's going on; all those people who do not go to art galleries, who do not read Artforum, who are not in on the joke" (*Cuture or Trash*, Birch Lane Press, excerpted in the Jan. 9 New York Times Arts & Leisure section). The truth is, of course, that we *do* experience a "frisson of excitement" at the thought of baffling "all those people," though not for the reasons Gardner indicates. I don't want to go into this, but I do want to point out that it is *our* responsibility, as artists, to produce the audience for art. It is not the responsibility of the gallery, the magazine, or the museum. And while we may bemoan the situation, we must understand that we have perpetuated and fueled it by our all-to-eagerness to jump into our assigned role in the machinery, unthinkingly accepting the premises instead of radically questioning and reworking them. We must devote as much attention to producing an *audience* as art *work* itself (and in this situation, the audience may not be labelled as such any longer). But what must occur is a radical reexamination of what art *is* now, or can be, by *artists*--not critics! And on that note, here are some closing thoughts by Gardner, with a comment of mine added in bracketed italics: "...Yet radicalism is so intoxicating to these artists that they are loath to abandon it. Instead, a new kind of radicalism had to be devised, one so purely theoretical that there could never be any risk of its being put into practice. Thus by adamantly withdrawing from the real world, art has become the medium by which radicalism is redeemed. Just as you can have Marlboros without the tar and Big Macs without the fat [*and criticism without the insightful content*], you can now have the rush of radical politics, the virulent, expansive joy that only bracing jolts of self-righteousness can confer, without having to descend into the arenas of action." Msg#: 1219 *SYMPOSIA* 01-18-94 01:40:23 From: GISELA EHRENFRIED To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1123 (MASTERPIECE THEATRE) In this context I find Richard Lanham's/Dennis Dollens' interpretation very intriguing. Btw, Dennis Dollens' "HyperArchiTEXT" can be read online in the ournal section. Msg#: 1310 *SYMPOSIA* 01-21-94 17:00:00 From: PIT SCHULTZ To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1219 (MASTERPIECE THEATRE) JC> coexisting civilizations, which they call First Wave, Second Wave, and JC> Third Wave: the agrarian, the industrial, and the informational. In JC> this diagram, the Realist, the Modern, and the Postmodern periods have JC> not subsequently "replaced" each other; This reminds me to the triple F. Guattari develops in "Regimes, paths, subjects, ZONE 6". There are three historical zones: The age of European Christianity, the age of abstraction or deterritorialization of knowledge and technique, the age of planetaric computerisation. He puts them in analogy to the three capitalistic paths/voices of power (over territory), knowledge (about human activities and machines) and self-reference (processual subjectivity). The third p/v he links to the *universes of virtuality* or the concept of the "body without organs". He demands a *right of singularity* and the end of infinity/transcendent references. Subjectivity stands under the massive control of the machines of power and knowledge, but they are not eval, they are produced subjectivities. He sees a future, a possibility of social progress in the dissensual post-media-era, because of a new ballance between the three path/voices, a subjectivity which connects machinism and animism, hitech and local archaisms. I must say I would like to follow his optimism, BUT. A central reference of the American Dream/Panamericanism seems the colonisation of infinity, the transformation of a non-referenced no-where, a desert, a white area on the maps, - into a referenced, dollar-measured space of recources, men, land, power, psyche or whatever. This filling of the abyss, a process of endless expandation, which is now going into the third phase, the deterritorialisation of deterritorialised territory or colonisation of the new spaces, surely isn't an north-american invention, but the certain risky pragmatism is better understandable in the historic memory of railway-pioneers, trecks and so on. The european view into the future isn't that emphatic, reductive and positivistic , at last after the experiences of modernism/fascism, which weren't so bad for the US (compared to Vietnam). The III. Reich produced a universal mega-machine, linking the one social body with an industrial and scientific apperatus with a myth of the nation/earth and race/evolution, under a central significant, the archaic figure of the Fuehrer (similar to a pharao or the babylonic sun-cult for example). This is getting is not easy to follow the anti-fascist, marxistic, materialistic, and modernist utopy of Guattari. Sure the US is definetly not a fascistic system, but...a mixture between the concepts of the pyramid and the rhizome. Pentagon and stock-market. Post-Industrial myths. It is not easy to mark the clipping points between the two phases, modernism and postmodernism. Tertium non datur, we like to forget the third. Here: the fundament, the real, the material, the earth-reference. And I assume that if we think that it's the body against something, than the system shifts, and the body becomes the leading sign. It is important to have a lot of triads, (a mobilee), to avoid the one shifting pyramide. The control of energy-matter-information. The US-military Command - Control- Communication- Interface is like the undestroyable internet a war oriented project. War as the maximal state of communication. Maybe one can say that war is a system-crash-test. Every part of the machine is working at its maximums, developing new machines, wider frontiers, or breakdowns and restarts. I remember that operation desert storm was named as the biggest american art-work ever made. Art as art is an endangered species. It is haunted. But it defends itself. The art-system is a joke, an screaming opera-buffa, but a violent one, aestetification kills sense, in transporting symbolic material from context to context, playing with entropy and references to "the real". Look at Jenny, Susan and Bosnia. What comes next? Does there exist any life out of the media? Maybe the women who cut off that dick is making art... In this context *access* is becoming doubtful again. Who wants to get access? The user or the principle of access, the system itself? And to what? Access says I wanna have it, I wanna get there, I wanna get in. It is part of the logic of wish-production. Maybe access is following a male sexualisation of the data-objects. So radicalism as an art-object becomes a kind of masturbation. And maybe the images of "the radical", "the political", are refering to a myth of materiality and power, to a B/W world view. To a bourgoise narration of "our revolution". It is definetly not the same if Mark Pauline is visiting Sarajevo without the Press or Susan Sontag is visiting it with it. One problem is that there s too little understanding of the logic of media, that idealism is transforming to disney or a false prising when it is distributed trough the common nets. The art of beeing informed is maybe activism enough. --- MacWoof Eval:13Nov92 * Origin: thing net point berlin (42:1002/3.3@thingnet) Msg#: 1362 *SYMPOSIA* 01-24-94 19:41:10 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: PIT SCHULTZ Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1310 (MASTERPIECE THEATRE) > It is important to have a lot of triads, (a mobilee), > to avoid the one shifting pyramide. Yes, let's avoid the Father and the Son, who always seem to leave us with a Holy Ghost. Do we really even need the dreaded triad anymore? > The art of beeing > informed is maybe activism enough. Yet again, "Staying tuned in is the chief political act." (See various [S] ymposium references to this quote by Mark Poster.) Msg#: 1577 *SYMPOSIA* 01-18-94 01:37:00 From: FELIX BERNOULLY To: GISELA EHRENFRIED (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1362 (MASTERPIECE THEATRE) > It seems, that the monolithic art object has finally met its match. Art > now is travelling at the speed of light. It is readily available for > everybody who cares. No more clunky objects to ship around. except for the clunky object youre staring at right now --- GEcho 1.00 * Origin: *FAKE* ThingNet Point Ffm (42:1002/4.20) Msg#: 1847 *SYMPOSIA* 01-28-94 09:59:25 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: FELIX BERNOULLY Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1577 (MASTERPIECE THEATRE) She's not staring at a clunky object, though -- she's staring through the screen. The frame dissolves. Msg#: 1960 *SYMPOSIA* 01-30-94 10:50:11 From: CURTIS MITCHELL To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1847 (MASTERPIECE THEATRE) the mechanism behind all work with conceptual underpinnings entails a certain amount of frame dissolution. some dissolve the frame in order to look at it anew, some to refocus elsewhere. until the hardware changes, a monitor is a monitor is a monitor. to disregard it is a project of illusionism. one has to afford it, locate it, install it, turn it on, and sit in front of it. one still enters this space with a clunk. Msg#: 2017 *SYMPOSIA* 01-29-94 20:37:00 From: HEIKO WICHMANN To: FELIX BERNOULLY Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1960 (MASTERPIECE THEATRE) GE> It seems, that the monolithic art object has finally met its match. GE> Art now is travelling at the speed of light. It is readily available GE> for everybody who cares. No more clunky objects to ship around. FB> except for the clunky object youre staring at right now How to capture the object if it is permanently changing? An object that permanently is cross-referencing the subject positions it's connected with? -> Alice4Mac 2.1.4E QWK Ser#2-103 * Origin: THE THING BERLIN (box/fax 030:4528534) (42:1002/3) Msg#: 2076 *SYMPOSIA* 01-31-94 22:28:13 From: PETER SEIDLER To: HEIKO WICHMANN Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 2017 (MASTERPIECE THEATRE) something akin to bootstrapping questions - or can you install a system disc if the operating systems require the same Msg#: 1014 *SYMPOSIA* 01-11-94 23:06:12 From: DANIEL GEORGES To: ALL Subj: HELLO HELLO I spent all day yesterday reading the postings in Symposia of the last two months. I was one whose immediate reaction to learning that I couldn't contribute to the happening forum till January was to tune out. Though I admit I peeked once or twice. And the surfeit of generalized theorizing, diffusion, disciplinary strife, and non-participation by the chosen that lead up to Morgan Garwood's sacrifice of his corpus virtualis seemed as I read through it to confirm my inclinations. I am not of the religious bent, however it did seem that Garwood's abnegation had a highly cathartic effect. It seems to have been a trully historic event in the story of this nascent little outpost community on the Internet E-mail frontiers. Even as MG's last message posted, Jordan Crandall spoke of the possibility of his second coming. I am sure it will not be as himself but as some other alias whom we must recognize through signs and oracles. He really was a free-thinker who kept alive "the creative energy that (in former times?) leaded to artistic manifestations." (HW) His dis-apparation produced really genuine emotions because it seemed as if the hope his words maintained would be lost with that loss. But instead, the very authenticity of those emotions (and coming as they did simultaneous with reopening of the forum to the masses) seems to have created the realization of the possibility that the Thing could already be a community This is the first time I have felt a real thrill of inspiration here! And we should not forget that austensibly this community is one of art (or it's former spirit). JC spoke originally of Transactive art as one in which the artist would give up authorship and pick up a mediating role for the user's authorship. I do believe that the author's authority has been debased here, but I am not so sure that these meandering, flowing, free-falling, fractally permuting hypertextualities are the only answer. Can't another form of non-authoring develop under the general concept of collaboration? We already see it in our info societal attempts to deal with new problems of scale: where corporate managers are giving laborers the authority to stop the assembly line,between corporations seeking to compete in the micro chip market, between scientists working on the genome project and the super-collider (soon to be unemployed), and (not always with success) between nations trying to find non-violent means of forcing some kind of humanity into politics (e.g. international boycotts and embargos like the one that froze out South Africa). The vastness, the unsensible quantities of information that can be accessed from our desk boxes and the exponential metastasy of perceptual resources that seems on the verge of occurring in here threatens us with its unknowability. My natural nostalgia for a book where I can look at its thickness and jacket and say to myself, I can read that and when I finish it I can set it on my shelf and anyone who comes to visit will be able to see it and believe that at least its gist is now resident in my brain is supplanted by a frantic need to find the surface, to ride the highway or surf the waves of information that wash through-just as Sysop's message numbers are constantly changing so that I can never find the messages I have read if they are more than a few days old-without any hope of mastery of its substance because of the sheer quantities in all these interconnected bbses and on-line chat rooms and data bases and up-grades It often feels more like the need to tread water to keep from drowning than the thrill of the ride. And yet there is a thrill. It is the thrill of the possibility of coming to know the unknown space. The thrill of the frontier. I am a sculptor who came to practice art from a liberal arts college background, so I have always thought of my work as a kind of research into the unknown; however, as a sculptor and as a contractor (which is how I make my living) I build things. Fear of this place is of its muting morphing unknowability, it's capacity to swallow us up like the Echo addict or to lose our sense of identity in its scalelessness. But its thrill is the exploration of the unknown, the making of settlements and landmarks and discovering the natural features (though with properties like morphing we have to reconceive the idea of nature in virtualis) to be found in the new spaces. Though I am not a village elder, I would like to propose that we construct some kind of virtual monument to Morgan Garwood's noble self-deletion. If, as a community, we do not begin to have a group memory, then there will only be these passing and cascading metaphors of highways and surfing here. We will all be dark aliases meeting in brief encounters that fade like infatuations. Perhaps such a commemorative could appear on screen as one connects to TT each time, or pop up when one selects the message menu. It could be very primitive consisting of text characters only so that no one need down load it, and as the multi-media interface develops, the crudeness of the monument's nature will remind us of the primitiveness of our pioneer architecture. And dang it all, let's build it together, just for us. ! ! :e possibility of his second comof that these meandering, flowingour givings the authoritydata basesis M@ Msg#: 1020 *SYMPOSIA* 01-12-94 01:38:28 From: WOLFGANG STAEHLE To: DANIEL GEORGES (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1014 (HELLO HELLO) Perhaps when we build our MOO dwelling we can all work on a monument for MG in the lobby. Msg#: 1119 *SYMPOSIA* 01-15-94 12:21:43 From: MICHAEL JOHNSTON To: DANIEL GEORGES (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1014 (HELLO HELLO) Maybe once in a while we can place a pile of stones by the side of the information highway. Msg#: 1054 *SYMPOSIA* 01-11-94 02:32:00 From: HEIKO WICHMANN To: PIT SCHULTZ Subj: BOBO PS> heyho, your origin settled to Berlin ? No way. Yeah, of course there is always the type of machine social life can be compared with. There's an interesting approach by Deleuze (written just recently) about the controlling societies. He says they overcame the type of society that based on isolation (th e school, the prison, the hospital, the military bases). Now there are the cards (that combine identitiy and bank account in one code). D. speaks about neck -laces (like in Star Trek). Or think of the metal injection (the lethal injection) in "Fortress". I don't think the net conversation relies on the train rails or the highway. There might be a feeling like the colonializers in the old days. But the decisive steps are done invisible. There is the official saying that goes: we make your life more comfort able, more convenient, more like life is meant to be. And there is the backlash that results out of mistaking social identity as a modell for cyber identity. What I like Gibson for is his vision of an electrical force that is like a life force, only imagi nable never seen, that goes through your mind, your body, your soul, and stimulates the complete nervous system. Deleuze says it's not the individuum anymore, but the dividuum. The hallucinating nervous/electrical-system with its endless power of producin g pictures, instant identities, dreams and nightmares. -> Alice4Mac 2.1.4E QWK Ser#2-103 * Origin: THE THING BERLIN (box/fax 030:4528534) (42:1002/3) Msg#: 1067 *SYMPOSIA* 01-13-94 11:33:43 From: DANIEL GEORGES To: HEIKO WICHMANN Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1054 (BOBO) "there is the backlash that results out of mistaking social identity as a modell for cyber identity. What I like Gibson for is his vision of an electrical force that is like a life force, only imaginable never seen, that goes through your mind, your body, your soul, and stimulates the complete nervous system. Deleuze says it's not the individuum anymore, but the dividuum. The hallucinating nervous/electrical-system with its endless power of producing pictures, instant identities, dreams and nightmares." Whooah. Instant identities, hallucinating nervous system, etc. It sounds like an awfully solipsistic future. I crave the intensity of experience too, but while perceptual hyperstimulation for its own sake may give you a rush, it makes cyberspace into chiefly a medium of escape from the reality with which you are discontented. The more difficult path is to come to know some of these identities and regions of stimuli as bases of communication. Information space is already social as in Big Brother is watching you. If jacking-in is going to be mainly for mental masturbation then we have given the power of the mysteries of scaleless, non-physical space over to the info-controllers who will use it to maintain control of our physics-bound space. Msg#: 1611 *SYMPOSIA* 01-25-94 22:46:00 From: HANS-CHRISTIAN DANY To: HEIKO WICHMANN Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1067 (BOBO) I read (or dreamed that I`ve read) a small message in the NZZ that the canadien state makes now tests with neck-laces (I think thats a nice image, there was only said, that people were not charged to prison, but to move with a sender for the whole time of the penality). While reading now here about the virtual P.Haley, I thougt the police-protocolls of the electronic-prisoner, might produce something like a virtual On Kawara. I`m very curious about the Deleuze-txt, could you tell more about it? PS: could you give the bilwet on sunday? PS.2: The charged people in canada were enviromentalists, what made me smile for the first time and the Langenscheidt told me, that they are also called conservationist. I'm sorry, but Mark Dion with neck-laces bumped up in my brain tryin to hide one of his eco-adventure-boxes... Msg#: 2019 *SYMPOSIA* 01-29-94 21:23:00 From: HEIKO WICHMANN To: HANS-CHRISTIAN DANY Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1611 (BOBO) Remember? We saw "Fortress" (with Mel Gibson) at the pictures. -> Alice4Mac 2.1.4E QWK Ser#2-103 * Origin: THE THING BERLIN (box/fax 030:4528534) (42:1002/3) Msg#: 1247 *SYMPOSIA* 01-19-94 19:20:05 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: *.* Subj: REAGAN'S LINES After a seven-year investigation, the independent prosecutor of the Iran-contra affair, Lawrence E. Walsh, published his final report yesterday. In this report, Walsh concludes that while he has found no evidence that Ronald Reagan had broken the law, the former President had "knowingly participated or at least acquiesced" in covering up the scandal. A very retired Reagan, at 82, whose most visible activity since leaving the Presidency in 1989 has been the publication of *An American Life* (Simon & Schuster, 1990), has today issued a rebuttal, in which he calls the report an "encyclopedia of old information, unwarranted conclusions, and irresponsible speculation." Reagan's lawyer, Theodore B. Olson, offered a more detailed rebuttal in a separate statement, in which he stated that Walsh's conclusion was a "fantasy." Interestingly, the report itself maps a President Reagan whose position shifts so frequently, whose statements contradict themselves so readily, that it is difficult to locate him in this text and in the historical period to which it refers; a President so oblivious to events occuring around him and so willing to play the fool that he could never be implicated in any wrongdoing because he never occupied a fixed position; a President who demonstrated, as Walsh puts it, a "seeming blindness to reality"--in other words, who lived a fantasy. Consider one of Walsh's attempts to locate Reagan in a contradictory situation involving his positions, statements, and actions regarding his Iran and hostage policies. Walsh states that in Reagan's deposition given to Independent Counsel in July 1992, "His memory had obviously failed. He had little recollection of the meetings and the details of the transactions. When his diary notes or other documents were presented to him which expressed his 1985 and 1986 position, he was again firm in his statements that they sounded like something he would have said and that he still believed them to be true." As the political scientist and historian Michael Rogin wrote in 1988, Ronald Reagan is a man "whose most spontaneous moments--('Where do we find such men?' about the American D-Day dead; 'I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green,' during the 1980 New Hampshire primary debate)--are not only preserved and projected on film, but also turn out to be lines from old movies." (Michael Rogin, *"Ronald Reagan," The Movie and Other Episodes in Political Demonology*, Berkeley, Univ. of California Press, 1988.) In other words, the former President's own script weaves so easily between fantasy and reality--lines from his own films or popular films interwoven with those of everyday life-- that he is unable to distinquish between them. Further, what we know of Reagan today is that which we glimpse through a kind of historical movie; the man himself is not easily locatable within any of the familiar coordinates or any of the matrices we draw. Such is a phenomenon we can glimpse from the Iran-contra "real-life film": Reagan temporarily emerging from the historico-entertainment complex only to dissolve back into it, eluding any of the maps which we draw to locate him or his stance, now or then, whether "real" or constructed. He is a momentary actor who quotes a long-ago role as President, athough one who has not only forgotten which side of the reality-fantasy spectrum these lines fall into, but who has forgotten the lines themselves. And we too, having no constructs with which to fit together the pieces, surrender them to circulation. What remains are not the actors themselves but their positioning mechanisms, their circulating coordinates, their modes of oscillation and transformation, for a history and a culture always-in- conversion. Briefly shifting from the MGM lion on the movie screen to the (real?) one which stands in stone at the entrance of the new $1 billion MGM Grand in Las Vegas (the largest hotel on earth), requiring one to enter through its enormous belly, one can briefly glimpse the state of the art of this conversion. And nearby, consider the logic with which one of the last "old guard" hotel-casinos in Las Vegas, The Sands, is now being remodeled. Facing tough competition from the Luxor, a monstrous pyramid replete with Sphinx and river Nile in the lobby, along which one can float on a barge, and Treasure Island, a Caribbean-Mediteranean village with a 65- foot deep lagoon in which a pirate battle involving 22 actors, explosions, fires, and sinking ships is staged every 90 minutes, the p.r. spokeswoman for The Sands has declared that "We're going to theme, definitely. But we don't know what the themes are yet" (Kurt Andersen, "Las Vegas, U.S.A.," *Time*, 10 January 1994, p. 49). In mathematics and logic, as Wittgenstein has pointed out, process and result are equivalent; in Vegas, in America, and in a global system currently undergoing major renovation, they mark an oscillation which renders them increasingly indistinguishable, while, of course, retaining their former meaning as a strategy of productization. It is important "to theme," to engage in the perpetual act of theming, marking or punctuating this activity with the particular themes themselves, which stand only as reference- points in a kind of connect-the-dots thematics which results in no particular picture, no recognizable image, only a trajectory of transformation--not only on the surface of play but within the networks of social constructs. Such a process does not convert *to* but continually converts *to* and *fro*. It is an "interconversion" which, as its material is information, has no end while offering the illusion of ends, all the while becoming an end-in-itself. As with an aging former President and an entire culture inflicted with failing memory, who continue to live with one foot in the movies, we have "little recollection of the meetings and the details of the transactions" but we retain the will-to- theme. As Reagan would say, if the scripts sound like something we would have said we still believe them to be true. Which was one of his lines in *The Killers* in 1964, or someone else's lines, or another movie entirely. Msg#: 1257 *SYMPOSIA* 01-20-94 00:49:48 From: RAINER GANAHL To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1247 (REAGAN'S LINES) as reagan stood for movies, clinton stands for tv-adds selling you optimistic products with an eternal smile, and endless and ignorant optimism. (he doesn't even engage in the pathetics of famous nonsens sentences... (I don't want to blame clinton entirely for the yugoslavian desaster but he defenitly played a cruxial part in letting things just happen... probably the most shamefull happenings of the second half of this century Msg#: 1261 *SYMPOSIA* 01-20-94 10:10:31 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: RAINER GANAHL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1257 (REAGAN'S LINES) I agree. You know, I really sort of miss Reagan. He was so damn funny. Clinton is so oddly blank. Msg#: 1578 *SYMPOSIA* 01-22-94 01:44:00 From: FELIX BERNOULLY To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1261 (REAGAN'S LINES) Some more of HIs lines... (Used in an advertising campaign by CNN/ABC/NPR/PBS for CD-ROM-Transcripts of their news reports (btw quite fun fo read, because all the "well, yes...", "Oh, Hello!,..." and "Can you hear me?.." stuff is in too, at least in the demo I had)): ---------------clip on------------------------------------- "I don't recall." -Ronald Reagan (Oliver North Hearings, ABC, 7/12/87) "I don't recall." -Ronald Reagan (Adm. Pointdexter Trial, CNN, 3/21/90) "I don't recall." -More- -Ronald Reagan (Iran-Contra Hearings, PBS, 9/18/91) ---------------clip off------------------------------------ Yes... The precision of the origins in comparison with the vagueness of the statements themselves... a kind of "Fallhoehe" I like. --- GEcho 1.00 * Origin: *FAKE* ThingNet Point Ffm (42:1002/4.20) Msg#: 1282 *SYMPOSIA* 01-19-94 23:00:00 From: HEIKO WICHMANN To: PIT SCHULTZ Subj: RADIO After talking at the phone today, I thought about this trend or shift to the spiritual and electrical side of life. There is always a multitude of channels you travel and a multitude of voices. More than being dissolved through energy, they are decoded an d marked by their ability to be shared and exchanged. Perhaps it's more the code that produces objects than the resources in form of energy and will. Each object inhabits its place in a matrix, a field of structured relations. Each knot consists of four t hreads. There are centers of gravity in narrational space that mark trespasses. Gateways, corridors and links are established to decode and transcode information and products. Information is not exchanged between sender and receiver anymore but it's devel opped by means of the negotiated space of abstract communication and symbolic chains. Thoughts are always abstract and practice is transversal. Not from one point to the other but combining and dividing patterns of reality or rewinding them. This place is not there without communicational events, transmissions of virtual and actual experience. The language of the media apparatus breaks up not only by switching and floating and rolling, but also by turning and deviding. So I more and more think that the in formational space does not dissolve personality into the amorphous body of electricity (there's also the radioactivity and connectivity of the brain) but into clusters that are coded and transcoded. Now the kids in Japan are battling with the bar codes to imagine and build up new relations between products. They are inventing new forms of getting in touch with an object which means comparing it to other items. Or think of the Gen-Project (they have problems identifying the chromosom because of its close r elation to the autosomen). I don't think you are escaping reality by hooking on a trip. It gets deeper and deeper (higher and higher) and you're discovering new realities. Real relations betweens terms, expressions and thoughts. New ways to create objects of thinking and modes of behaviour in real and virtual life. -> Alice4Mac 2.1.4E QWK Ser#2-103 * Origin: THE THING BERLIN (box/fax 030:4528534) (42:1002/3) Msg#: 1289 *SYMPOSIA* 01-21-94 20:18:12 From: RAINER GANAHL To: HEIKO WICHMANN Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1282 (RADIO) I even wonder to what degree in times "media ante" - if they existed - an identity wasn't devides and split into a variety of interlocutors... - or pushing this even further: if one needs an active interlocutor /electronic or voice, or whatever/ to get an identity "running", taking off in many directions... ? from there, all these questions going for a "real" have to be anyway rescheduled... Msg#: 1309 *SYMPOSIA* 01-21-94 16:56:00 From: PIT SCHULTZ To: HEIKO WICHMANN Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1289 (RADIO) back to the archives. It gonna gets longer. electricity feeds different areas of meaning and connotation. There was a long fight about it's "principle". Today electricity is domestified as carrier for energy or information, and a lot of its physical/chemical/biological uses in technology especially the use of electromagnetic fields (wireless info-transmission) shows that the technical use is exchanging its metaphorical use. The concept of electricity today is materialistic and reductionistic. The cartesian voice inscribed their coordinates into alchemy's analogies. The history of E. is often used as an example of the history of Science. (-> Bachelard, Kuhn) After Siemens' generator E. was a central factor of industrylisation and modernism of 19/ (-> Lenin) Electricity as energy stands for the omnipresence of the replacement of human work and power with the technical body. With information it becomes kind of the universal voice or soul of technology. (soundrack by Jimi Hendrix and Kraftwerk). This leads to the "metaphoric" use of electricity, which has a history since the Greeks. Narration about the Other. Elektra the female Oedipus. The sexual connotation of electricity is overscribed by freudian psycho-mechanic, the male voice of the locomotive. A central figure is president Schreber receiving wireless transmissions from god whith his ass. (And what says Lacan?) There's another strong metaphor, the machine. Both are working together producing semiotic processuality, the trans-classic-machine, the computer. It could be seen as a metaphor for the head. (memory, audio, visual, inter-face). The different forms of the net (info, energy, guts) are forming a "body". (->McLuhan). The conscious of this body is certainly bounded to feeling and sensuality. Low energy fields will connect he human nervous system to the net. (not radioactivity). The next project after the genome could be the decodation of the enzephalogram,the brain-waves. (N. Wiener began with it) This would realize a lot of paranormal and paranoid narrations. You talk about the primary role of the code above the carrier. A lot of communication is totaly redundant, only to stay connected, to hold the node, or to transmit meta-messages on other channels. The overload of information will show that there exists a certain materiality, that the medium is still the ground on which we travel - we can hide comlexity behind the sub-layers, or conventions of communication, but we can't erase their existence, we can't stop their processuality. I see no possibility of total abstraction. The absolute mind is a male phantasma in fear of amorphic nature/mat(t)er. I think semiosis and linguistic methods don't explain what they promised to explain, they are just planting trees in the wood. I think there's always a metalevel on which a meaning of a message can invert or extend. This process is NOT controlable by yourself. As long as dymnamification is productive, as the fields of experience could be extended, I like to try not to produce redundancy, which has it's sense in giving us security. Contradictionism is a communicative, group oriented strategy, a certain position of producing "static" or "magnets" but not authorship. So what ARE these clusters, these information-clouds, can we name it objects, or things? Or better ideas, or Wesen. The neural nets combined with the OOPs bring in a paradigm shift from sequence to paralell processing, an analogisation and qualification of the strictly quantitative and diskrete digital universe. (Jungs Pleroma and creatura). There is a growing selfreference, auto-poiesis in technical complexity. It has it's own sometimes grotesque logic (history of MS-DOS, intel). And maybe we have to go to the next level, the user-interfaces, the social-systems which are builded around operating-systems, the modellation of workgroups and workflows, certain functionality/philosophy in the concepts of C+C-Industry. A very interesting figure is Bill Atkinson (he made parts of Lisa (Quickdraw), Macpaint, Hypercard and now Telescript), who believes in the positive creativity of men. He wants to replace the telephone with a more intelligent, autonomic apperatus. First there's a soft standard. Telescript is like Postsript for networks, the concept of agents, knowbots or here PICs, which are using the net as a big computer, sitting somewhere and doing jobs for you, travellig through the web, and sending postcards into your pocket. Future is fun. But is centralism really dead? Look at CompuServe or AT&T. --- MacWoof Eval:13Nov92 * Origin: thing net point berlin (42:1002/3.3@thingnet) Msg#: 1340 *SYMPOSIA* 01-23-94 02:45:00 From: HEIKO WICHMANN To: PIT SCHULTZ Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1309 (RADIO) I read about the activities and concepts of General Magic too. Atkinson says the technique of the telephone is not flexible and handy enough. Would you take it under the shower if it would be waterproofed? he asks. I can't imagine myself taking the PIC under the shower - waterproofed or not. There are different zones of time and temporality. The shower, the super market, the street, the subway, the bed etc. Each zone is determined by its use and function and its relation to our every day life and a time of day. GM now are extending the digital desktop metaphor, now there is a AT&T-post office added on the screen (while the "real" ones - at least in Germany - are being closed), a train station, a hotel etc. It would be interesting to ask what kind of concept of time and history gets pixel ed on the screen now. It's a kind of frozen High Noon world. Some predefined relations, swinging doors to enter and memos to leave. Wouldn't it be more interesting not to recycle the screen of the famous movies but the experience of life today? But what does that mean if experience today is very much constructed by digital relaunches and re-versions? Modern communication technology comes in a carmouflage. And everybody is asking what it could mean absolutely for itself. The people of GM are probably right considering the net as the new electro-machinically materialised form of the phylum. There is no special addressee to speak to but the intersections and integrated circuits of the net. But there's no surf board icon, no hack utilities, no not even temporary autonomous zones, no whole earth underground activity. You could expect to see a locomotive running out of the pixeled train station. -> Alice4Mac 2.1.4E QWK Ser#2-103 * Origin: THE THING BERLIN (box/fax 030:4528534) (42:1002/3) Msg#: 1610 *SYMPOSIA* 01-25-94 12:34:00 From: HANS-CHRISTIAN DANY To: HEIKO WICHMANN Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1340 (RADIO) I also like the idea of the `barcode-battler', as far as I read about in `Bild am Sonntag'. But they are also available in germany. The BamS wrote about it from an critical position, cause kids force there mother to by things they normally don`t buy, to check out the b-codes. I think thats nice, cause I remember my mother being so stereoty in buing products and you never know, what you may be need tomorow. I think the barcode-battler are nearly learning toys. As far as I understand it, the worth (or effect) of a barcode - if you let it run trough the scanner of the game has nothing to do with the price the b-code stands for in the shop(-scanner). Every new b-code is a surprise in the game. I don`t think thats so differnt from the adventure at the end of a supermarket. You allways think you`ve find the sense behind the code-system, but than it got a new surprise for you. I`m not shure if the knowledge helps or only the surprise makes the game entertaining. Msg#: 1858 *SYMPOSIA* 01-28-94 13:18:56 From: MICHAEL JOHNSTON To: RAINER GANAHL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1289 (RADIO) > I even wonder to what degree in times "media ante" - if they existed > - an identity wasn't devides and split into a variety of > interlocutors... - or pushing this even further: if one needs an > active interlocutor /electronic or voice, or whatever/ to get an > identity "running", taking off in many directions... ? from there, Could you explain this further? Msg#: 2018 *SYMPOSIA* 01-29-94 21:20:00 From: HEIKO WICHMANN To: HANS-CHRISTIAN DANY Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 1858 (RADIO) You're right, there is much similarity between the fun battling with bar codes and the surprise and astonishment at the checking cash station at the end of the super market. It's a bet. A game that reflects the relation and tension between signifier and signified. You are looking in the trolley (actually I go with a yellow acryl shopping net), measuring the length of your loot on the conveyor belt, but it's impossible to get to grips with the price the shop assistent tells you. The price never is right but always too high. There's the link to the mild hysteria of the pop game shows. But the bar code battling is different I guess. It's a parody on cash exchange and super market scanning. The combat fighters neither are using their skill, nor their strength but the rest of nothing. If productivity is annihilated by price-and-value-rating system, you get nothing in return after your loot has been cash scanned. The instrument or signifier of the whizz kids is the unreadable sign. They are using it to charge the authority of the banking system. If bar code battling would be as popular as game and talk show viewing, if virtuality of gaming would take over everyday life, the products more and mor wouldn't be bought for their attraction on the consumers anymore but because of their possibility to be a play thing outside the super market. -> Alice4Mac 2.1.4E QWK Ser#2-103 * Origin: THE THING BERLIN (box/fax 030:4528534) (42:1002/3) Msg#: 1363 *SYMPOSIA* 01-24-94 19:45:59 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: DANIEL GEORGES (Rcvd) Subj: MEMORY > If, as a community, we do not begin to have a group > memory, then there will only be these passing and cascading > metaphors of highways and surfing here. The concept of a group memory is, I think, an important one, both for us here as you indicated and for a culture that gives more and more of its memory capacity over to hard disks. We ALL know the importance of computer memory -- its precariousness, its preciousness, its *NECESSITY* -- for without memory, there's not much a computer can do. In the words of Chemical Bank, "Capacity. You Can't Have Too Much Of It." Although the repercussions of this dictum reveal a need to continually increase profits, as well as a strong belief that technological progress will deliver us from daily struggle, it does indicate that we *need* memory. In response to your excerpt above, the memories of my online screen names' actions are stored away in disks. I have forgotten many of my activities because they were anonymous and fleeting. The memories of what has happened here, however, are not stored away and forgotten. They're much closer to me. Part of this is because I actually *met* f2f many of those who participated here. This is a big part of what seems to be important to me. But it's also that the dialogue here is more long-term. Of course, this is exactly why it is important to preserve in some way that which has transpired. For without some semblance of memory we will have no past to reference and, consequently, we will forget Morgan. Unless, of course he returns . . . Msg#: 2146 *SYMPOSIA* 02-02-94 08:34:13 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: JORDAN CRANDALL (Rcvd) Subj: TERRITORY MARKING This is a reply to MSG# 2423 in rt. There are some very interesting ripples that emanate from the concept of "marking a territory" in telecommunicational space. One such ripple is the idea that each transaction by which we access telecommunicational space creates, in a way, a marking of small amounts of territory in various informational spaces. When we subscribe to a magazine, for example, we mark a small amount of territory in the publisher's data space as well as in various other demographic/informational spaces. Regardless of whether our transactions are registered on a floppy or hard disk, these transactions are *allocated* certain amounts of digital spaces. In this way, we not only mark those spaces, but we are marked *by others* in those spaces. Each marking of an informational territory, then, fundamentally destabilizes our relationship both to that territory and to ourselves: locating ourselves by our markings in those territories is not fully possible. Identity is destabilized. Related to this is the fact that a *complete* record of our transactions is impossible -- we can never *completely* and *totally* mark a territory; in part because the territory *itself* is constantly changing. In the context of the conversation to which this posting is a reply, I would maintain that the dynamics of an uploaded image that can be captured as a unique "object," detached from other systems/spaces, is contrary to the dynamics of the "territories" -- always plural -- of informational spaces. This is not to criticize anything or anyone -- it is merely to point out an important aspect of the spaces with which and through which we negotiate. Msg#: 2186 *SYMPOSIA* 02-03-94 17:42:37 From: RAINER GANAHL To: JEFFREY SCHULZ (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 2146 (TERRITORY MARKING) it is true what you say if you don't take into consideration what actually is happening right now on this board: that these objects, which might be defined as "dead ends" - downloaded images - are more then just 'down loaded' and 'disapeared'. I would say, they can reclimb the stage by being talked about, making up the subject of discursive exchange... I am always a bit disturbed if things are seen so exclusively, since a lot of those socalled new medias actually come to terms with 'old' stuff in a more efficent way then those they might replace... (the remarks about marking a space... I find very interesting, but the logical consequences you talk about I find too reductive, since you can't really reduce electronic communication too just interactivity (defenitly one of the most interesting element, but not just ...) Msg#: 2217 *SYMPOSIA* 02-04-94 09:17:54 From: JEFFREY SCHULZ To: RAINER GANAHL (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 2186 (TERRITORY MARKING) Yes, you are right. I don't mean to reduce informational space to any single component or set of circumstances. When I wrote, "the dynamics of an uploaded image that can be captured as a unique "object," detached from other systems/spaces, is contrary to the dynamics of the "territories" -- always plural -- of informational spaces," I was overlooking the important aspect of these spaces as archival spaces. What I do think is significant, though, is that access to various archived materials on the net, for example, is normally provided with some kind of option for a dialogue to be set in motion. If I download a particular text, image,whaterver, from somewhere in Australia, I can usually comment on/respond to that download in some way. This exchange is what interests me most. Msg#: 2176 *SYMPOSIA* 02-03-94 03:19:41 From: WOLFGANG STAEHLE To: *.* Subj: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE A good friend of mine, an American writer living in Paris, sent this from his winter retreat in Marocco. It is said to be widely distributed in Paris art circles. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE "Weight-Loss by Modem: New Dial-Diet Amazes Health Experts!" A symposium--by COMPUTER, no less!--recently released a revolutionary solution to weight-loss problems which trouble men and women of all ages. THE THING, a loose collective of transactivestite socialites, reports that their new invention guarantees WEIGHT-LOSS, or your full payment is refunded if not completely satisfied: a gimmick-free, limited offer. There are no rubber attachments, no messy belts, no unsightly grease stains. AND, it slips easily under your carpet for convenient storage. Due to an innovative formula of "ceaseless jostlings among elements" and "interplays of codes and nodes," pounds seem to fall of by themselves. Brainchild of world reknown health-care expert, the former director of the exclusive Schwabischehallgesundheitsinstitut, THE THING is based on a clinical formula so simple that experts were at first dumbfounded! By nothing more than simple digital displacement, linked with left-right eye motion, WEIGHT-LOSS problems are a thing of the past: a job anyone can perform while SITTING DOWN. ""We lost approximately three-hundred sixty pounds, going nowhere, just during our first week on the thing." (Names withheld) Volunteers' identities must be protected for reasons too obvious to mention. YET THESE FACTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES! "Buttocks downloading for art world wideloads has never been easier." (Berliner Mau-Zeitung) "Hey you kids, get offa that THANG!" -More- (James Brown) Yes, even the King of Soul has worked out on a thing, and is astonished by its efficacy. After just one session, he went away SHAKING HIS HEAD! Do you have trouble: Walking, Talking, Thinking? Meeting new people? Within moments, THE THING'S computerized telecommunications space-modulator will improve color, tone, and circularity. Watch as it extends itself, and spins a space of depictive potentiality. Students, teachers and administrators SWEAR BY IT. The Thing has been tested on artists. It posits and problematizes AT THE SAME TIME. As THE THING'S Ceaseless Jostlings flow over you, see it develop talents you didn't know you had, as it proffers tools you didn't know you NEEDED! WARNING: The THING may be addictive. Side-effects may include mood-swings, headaches, disorientation, sleeplessness, irritability. Consult family art consultant before using and KEEP OUT OF REACH OF HYPERACTIVE CHILDREN. Msg#: 2189 *SYMPOSIA* 02-03-94 17:49:10 From: DAVID PLATZKER To: WOLFGANG STAEHLE (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 2176 (FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) Hey, it's been proven that sugar has no effect on children. What's going into The Thing that makes you think that it's going to make users heads spin? Msg#: 2260 *SYMPOSIA* 02-05-94 16:45:13 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: WOLFGANG STAEHLE (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 2176 (FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) Alan has way too much time on his hands. Msg#: 2262 *SYMPOSIA* 02-05-94 16:50:14 From: JORDAN CRANDALL To: WOLFGANG STAEHLE (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 2176 (FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) We must include Laura's dance-step in this program, especially Carol B's nightclubbing of it. Msg#: 2295 *SYMPOSIA* 02-06-94 02:12:23 From: WOLFGANG STAEHLE To: DAVID PLATZKER (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 2189 (FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) Now you make my head spin! I didn't write that stuff. Msg#: 2204 *SYMPOSIA* 02-04-94 00:19:38 From: WOLFGANG STAEHLE To: DANIEL GEORGES Subj: GARWOOD MEMORIAL > Though I am not a village elder, I would like to propose that we > construct some kind of virtual monument to Morgan Garwood's noble > self-deletion. *Enclosed File: MEMORIAL.GIF

Msg#: 2612 *SYMPOSIA* 02-09-94 22:53:34 From: MORGAN GARWOOD To: ALL Subj: REENTRY YO............................................................ .............................................................. .............................................................. .............................................................. .............................................................. attempting atmospheric reentry after protracted period of geosynchronous orbit above planit erf..... ............................................................... I must have changed during my visit to deep space.............. ............................................................... the language here is so incredibly strange, I don't recognize the dialect anymore................................................ ............................................................... it is all so alien and unfamiliar.............................. ............................................................... was I ever here ?.............................................. -More- ............................................................... what is all this stuff, these words, ideas..................... ............................................................... it is like visiting a city of ghosts........................... ............................................................... a dream where you can see through your hands................... ............................................................... I am back but I am not back.................................... ............................................................... the memory of a voice.......................................... ............................................................... ............................................................... is there anything left to say ?................................ ............................................................... ............................................................... ............................................................... ............................................................... ............................................................... ............................................................... ............................................................... ............................................................... ............................................................... -More- ............................................................... ............................................................... ............................................................... ............................................................... ............................................................... ............................................................... ............................................................... ............................................................... if sysop would be so kind, how does one append an "encl." to a posting? I need to know how to upload a wordperfect file, and also how to download one. I have written down some ideas and will make them available as soon as I can figure out how................................ ............................................................... ............................................................... I will be around, but slightly over the horizon................ ............................................................... Msg#: 2631 *SYMPOSIA* 02-10-94 22:12:08 From: BEN KINMONT To: MORGAN GARWOOD (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 2612 (REENTRY) Welcome back. Msg#: 2870 *SYMPOSIA* 02-13-94 14:11:46 From: MORGAN GARWOOD To: ALL Subj: NOTES am trying to master upload ooga-booga...this one is going to be funky, until the Noble One explains the incantation to make it nice and neat. Although this is a recent product of my imagination, the act of getting it out and fixed in a medium has, naturally, led to shifts, expansions, bifurcations, and partial retractions of the ideas herein plopped on your doorstep. If I were to write this again, this very minute, it would be somewhat different in focus and tone. I would go easier on the concept of *hegemony*, as a result of embarking on a reread of Karl Van Wolferen's EXCELLENT book, "The Enigma Of Japanese Power". K.V.W.'s demystification of thought control and exercise of power within the Japanese system has won him few overt admirers over there, but caused sufficient discomfort that we can safely infer that he knows what he is talking about. As regards the Japanese "method", *hegemony* may indeed be a useful distinction, but still, we would fain keep one eye peeled for words that can easily be transmuted downwards into pillow stuffing, or perhaps turkey stuffing. My position on compact disks and the trend to digitization of music would be softened by the realization that a profitable music industry can afford more quality projects and reissue lost gems than a busted one devouring itself and cranking out Black Sabbath albums. However, I would like to know what has become of Yusef Lateef's "Psychicemotus", or John Coltrane's "Kulu Se Mama", FOR EXAMPLE. The shift from analog to digital technology has occasioned a rewriting of history, for better and for worse. As for my ongoing disgust with the "arT worlD", it is really a feud with bad thinking, not with art, per se. We, presumably, have been around long enough to realize that it has to be seen through the prism of business, and what you ultimately have to say is epiphenomenal (that's Greek for "gravy"). In other words, if it sells, well, do your thing, boy, and if it doesn't, tough shit, no party, guy. Bugging out on the system on a regular basis and having a primal scream is most recommended, it has a way of flushing the mind and paving the way for new thoughts. We should be more suspicious of the tightly assembled personality facades than we are, but we have become inured to an endless stream of manufactured plastic pseudo-selves that we have come to accept them as normality, and the mess of human incongruities that we actually are as somehow deficient and tasteless. That, my friends, is a fatal ontological error. Now, sit back, are getting sleeepy...your eyes are getting are preparing for download...your printer is on...thats are reaching for your will internalize the following transmission as you personal reality...sleepier, relax...surrender your mind... *Enclosed File: newthing.doc Back to the Kingdom Of Thingdom by popular demand after a journey to the cave of the Furies to partake of their counsel: First, and by way of preamble, I must say that I was floored by the response that I got to my detonation. Those, combined with personal conversations, ranging from the sober to the thoroughly bombed, convinced me that I still might have something to contribute to TT on a continual basis. It is clear, though, that I will have to use a different form than I have before. The stakes are invigorating. At best we can change the quantum level that our part of the cultural periphery functions on. There is a lot to be said, considered, and reconsidered. Samuel Clemens put it neatly, "most people think they are thinking when all they are doing is rearranging their prejudices". The intensity of my emotions were a condensed, tighly folded packet of many thoughts, insights, reflections, and experiences that would be better represented in six dimensional space. The best I can do is try and iron them out into two dimensions for your monitor. Emotions can be theories of sorts. One might think of them as an *instinctual summary* of a period of cognitive effort that resolves into libidinized clarity. Of course, this can be a false clarity which is not automatically right, complete, and certainly not a nuanced analysis of the situation. Emotions do have a *verdictive* charge, though. Summation. This is going to take a while to unravel and make sense of, with numerous points of departure and return. With Jordan's transactivist phenomenology as a starting point, we have been, almost unwittingly, making a strenuous effort to get at the madness and brilliance of our times, its strange radioactive core. But first, some questions. Where does TT stand now ? Is this a project to build upon and nurture, or is it another distraction ? One of my peeves is the *art as diversion* concept. Have you noticed that you can tell volumes about a person or an undertaking by the *terms* of their thinking, or the *terms* of that undertaking ? Tell me what a person thinks *in terms of* and I will tell you who that person is. Can you separate personhood from the distinctions that person makes? Our culture makes numerous distinctions; among them it thinks and judges strongly *in terms of* entertainment values, convenience, and escapism. In other words, if you canprovide something to society that is sufficiently entertaining, escapist, and convenient, you are going to score big. What does TT "think" *in terms of* ? What are its crucial distinctions ? What can happen with it that can't happen elsewhere ? Your vote counts, people. This time last year everyone was all lathered up over the concept of Wirklichkeit-Maechtig, which went up in the smoke of attrition like most of the people who sign up for a while and find the ground here much too stony for their liking. Comfy, plumped up lite thought to soothe the troubled mind, predictable, scripted, amusing, Letterman flavored, nervous tight pointless muzique from the bandstand, some banter, will Demi name the baby Retsyn or Buttafuoco? I think my brain is leaking out of my sock. Excuse me while I locate a wet mop to deal with this mess. What was it you said, "reality mighty" ? Yes, words, distinctions. I knew we were in big trouble when people stopped *fucking* and started *having sex*. Do you sense the diminution in that shift, the clinicalizing, the insidious reasonableness, the shornness of it ? Fuckless sex. Is this what you had in mind, by the way ? Under such circumstances, to think for oneself, to opine against the grain, to ungo with the flo, is seditious and grossly uncool. You do want to get invited back, don't you ? The industry loves agood doggie. Better be the best little tail wagging poodle in the whole wide world. Who loves you, baby ? It looks like we have some rethinking to do, reconfiguring our expectations and beliefs. How do we go about determining who we are and what it means to be a "self". Digression: excerpted from an article by Keith Jarrett in the New York Times (8/16/92) "Listeners are swindled by the music industry's insatiable need to stay alive no matter what the quality of the music. If it can find talented young players, the industry will tell them how great they are and give them lots of money to keep them satisfied (more correctly, buy off their souls, if they have any left.) We must remember that music is not the music industry... This is a good place to mention that 'Do your own thing' came from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who actually said, 'Do your thing, and I shall know you.' In other words, you reveal yourself to others through what you do. Emerson's statement was not meant to be a kind of carte blanche to follow our shallowest whims: it's not about style or fashion or technique or casual choices. His statement contains a warning: I will only recognize you if you have a voice; I will not recognize you otherwise." While we are on the subject of music, turn yourself on to Archie Shepp's "Ju-Ju" and let your head get bad. Digression #2, suggested by Hannibal Lecter (sp?) in "Silence of the Lambs", from Marcus Aurelius (Meditations, book 3, #11) "To the aids already mentioned add this one also: Make for yourself a definition or description of every object presented to you, so as to see distinctly what it is in its own naked substance, complete and entire, and tell yourself its proper name, and the names of the things of which it is compounded and into which it will be dissolved. For nothing so elevates the mind as to examine methodically and truly every object which comes before you in life, and always look at things so as to see at once what kind of universe this is, and what kind of service each performs in it, and what value each has in relation to the whole, and what it has for man...What is this thing, and of what is it composed, and how long will it naturally last, this thing that now makes an impressionon me...What virtue does it demand of me...? So, who and what are we anymore? Cynics, Stoics, Epicureans, Skeptics ? What categories exist for us ? Digression #3, from George Santayana (as per Irving Goffman) "Masks are arrested expressions and admirable echoes of feeling, at once faithful, discreet, and superlative. Living things in contact with the air must aquire a cuticle, and it is not urged against cuticles that they are not hearts; yet some philosophers seem to be angry with images for not being things, and with words for not being feelings. Words and images are like shells, no less integral parts of nature that the substances they cover, but better addressed to the eye and more open to observation. I would not say that substance exists for the sake of appearance, or that faces for the sake of masks, or the passions for the sake of poetry and virtue. Nothing arises for the sake of anything else; all these phases and products are involved equally in the round of existence..." We have to make vital distinctions here, such as the difference between the *conscious* and the *merely slick*. One is about making discernments of Quality (along the lines of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance). The *conscious* mind makes distinctions about distinctions, it is conscious of what kinds of distinctions are being made, and interestingly, the Quality of those distinctions. The *merely slick* emulates what it perceives to be successful strategies without wanting to go through the effort of parsing out the distinction. The *merely slick* wants appearance without investment. To *pass for*, or be *taken for* is adequate and sufficient in this frame of mind. The *conscious* has a more formless quality, but at a deeper level, greater structure, albeit at a different logical level than the *slick*. The *slick* is more concrete, has structure at a lower logical level, but above that a murky confusion. One must continuously keep the two sorted out. There are no simple, clear cut answers or explanations. We have to place our faith in ongoing effort and continuous adaptation. There are huge, wrenching forces ( or momenta, or karmas, or whatever you want to call them ) gradually culminating in a diffuse global crisis that we are all in the middle of, no matter where we stand individually. Instead of a single splinter, like finding out that Michael Jackson has the H bomb and MEANS BUSINESS, there is a lattice of potent little nasties feeding off of each other, energizing each other, pathologizing each other, like a school of pirahna. This new phenomenon, the "critical lattice" is a new development, one of those self organizing dynamical systems that they are trying to decode at places like the Santa Fe institute. Unfortunately, this "system" is intensely anti-social; for lack of a better term, we might call it Anti-Civilization. And, friends and neighbors, this sucker is wide awake, real hungry, and about to gnaw through the bars of its cage. ( pick up a copy of Atlantic, February issue, for an analysis of this process in French West Africa, as it now stands ) Over here, ( here being the economically developed part of the world ) technologies are moving at a blistering pace, and have brought us to a different brink. Within five years, what we mean by the term "society", in the sense of civil society, and "self" will not be what they are now. How recognizable a self will be on one side of the chasm to a self on the other is quite open to question. However, something IS going disasterously, terribly wrong with the less developed parts of our world, a Goyaesque broth of weapons, hyper-diseases, overpopulation, biomass destruction, political dementia. There is no way we will not feel the effects of this, no matter how well insulated we imagine ourselves to be. Two trains going full throttle, headed towards each other on the same track. Centuries of momentum, and still picking up speed. I expect there will be a moment of truth within my lifetime, when either our eyes collectively open, or we are swallowed up by the Earth. But, you know this already. So much of "culture", or culture production has a desultory quality about it, adrift. *Coming to terms with* complicated, multidimensional realities in the present may be beyond its reach. Art, intrinsically, is assertive. But, it functions within the little domain carved out for it, with its dinky rituals, tawdry environments, flatulent pronouncements. Of anyone making art worth looking at, I think Jane Dickson nails this truth better than anyone else. Somehow she sees it for what it is and manages to encapsulate the hollowness of its promise. But, if one must assert, then assert one must. There is something unambiguous about the good stuff. It is possible to be unambiguously ambiguous and paradoxical. One responds to the *convicted* expression, as in *having the courage of your convictions* We have to make a vital distinction here, too. One one hand is the *aesthetic impulse*, and on the other there is *Art as institution*. The aesthetic impulse has been with us since the dawn of time, and I believe itis one of the great civilizing, humanizing, Quality giving urges of our species. If we are entering a twilight period, somewhere between a chaotic age and a period of high civilization, the aesthetic impulse will surely be one of the capacities that gets us through. On the other hand, there is Art-kudzu, a late blooming and potentially toxic hybrid of various institutional interests, from the university industry, the public relations industry, the publishing industry, the movie industry, and so on. Oh, not to forget the museum industry ( in whose vaults untold numbers of 20th century, er, "masterpieces" are quietly collecting dust, and will just as quietly become landfill within a generation ). This is a large cluster of interlocking and cross infected interests that noone contemplating a glorious career within is much tempted to piss off, understandably. They will snuff out your upstarty impertinent ass out solid, Jack. Threaten them and you will shortly cease to exist qua player within the system. Better stick to accessorizing your costume and your speech pat...patte...patter...patterns. There, finally got it out. Strange things happen as the novice is pulled deeper into the vortex. Manners become affected and mutate into mannerisms. Critical faculties atrophy. Ah, the bogus comaradarie ! The cloying, earnest, manipulative, sexualized head trips ! The chin tucked in, eyes up, "waif-slut" attentiveness to hit the collector with ! The totally stupid looking baseball ca ps ! The wide, "innocent" eyes ! ( I've got my slides right here with me! ) The overidentification with half digested role models, a "Sam Sheppard" here, a "Georgia O'Keefe" there, a "clown", an "Edwadian fop", a "criminal", and perhaps even a "Nazi" ! Where is Truman Capote now that we need him. He fully understood the exigencies of sucking major dick to get ahead. Argh! Horrid joke! Now, hypocrite that I am, I do like some of the big name artists managed by the big houses. Simply being in the machine doesn't entail being a bad artist. Nor does being obscure prove anything about you. It is simply that the machine, as it were, is primarily concerned that you work well within its structures, don't make waves, and aren't too hard to sell, especially to insecure rubes who need a little certification around when the neighbors come calling. Some of the work is good and worthy in spite of all the above. Being an outcast geek toiling away in Siberia doesn't make you noble. But you will see things in a different light. Charles Tart, years ago, made the distinction between *brains* and *mind*. Brains were all the stuff you knew, and your dexterity working with that knowledge. Mind was the inferences you made based on the interactions of everything you knew, how it all came together. You know the expression "small minded" ? Exactly what distinction is that, anyway ? We have a host of terms, which are not at all the same, *minor*, *trivial*, *detailed*, *specific*, *petty*, etc., and to distinguish among them may direct us to some *robust* (a distinction favored by scientists, as in a *robust hypothesis* ) thought. Paintings often announce, or declare, their (presumed) ambitions with scale. A large scale is often interpreted to indicate "large ideas at work". Of course, we know that nothing is farther from the truth. A big work can still be painfully *small minded* and *trivial*, and a tiny piece might be described as minor, specific, and detailed, however, anything but petty or trivial. Perhaps you are distingushing between *sincere* and *earnest*, *erotic* and *seductive*, *subtle* and *oblique*, *principled* and *obdurate*, *inflection* and *solecism*, *pretension* and *conviction*, *received wisdom* and *considered opinion*. Another term blew through here with last spring's breezes, in one ear and out the other. *Hegemony*. Whence *hegemony* ? It sounded good, lovely military-political ring to it, the grinding gears of the nation-state and all that, but what, exactly, or inexactly, was it? Could this be an instance of a *plastic word*, all big and bad, what you can't do squat with ? *Plastic words*, that's a distinction I can live with. Academic beer piss all over the place. It is curious that the music world has a serious side, meaning a side that feels the need to seek out and wrestle with basic issues. Another way of looking at it is that there are people who derive meaning from the engagement with the core, or the searching out of a core, or cores of their field. This is probably predicated on a deeply felt belief that one has a *core*, thatthere are central,organizing first principles which ones identity is constructed around. Quick and dirty: life purpose, belief, and identity are inextricable from each other, they are just slightly different perspectives on the same process. One of the distinctions that music people make, that I don't hear art people making, is *nutrition*. The term is encountered over and over again in the discussion of music, whether you talk to Neil Young (who publicly stated that "digital sucks", which for the most part it does), Keith Jarrett, Mark Levinson, or whoever. The stylistic differences are tremendous, but there is *robust* agreement that the *sine qua non* of music, and music reproduction, is that it have *nutritional* value, and that the nutrient of music has powerful evolutionary impact on the mind of the listener. The also are conscious of the *fragility* of this essential dimension, and how much violence is done to it with mainstream recording technology. Damned amazing, innit ? A thirty year old tube amp sounds better than most late model transistor stuff, vinyl records sound a shitload better than CDs when played on a half decent rig, the Blue Note sessions recorded on all tube electronics on 3 channels in the 50's by Rudy Van Gelder blow most digicrap 24 channel neo-trad Preparation-H jive ass cornpone peckerwood packaged farting off the map. Why, why, why? Because we were sold a mountain sized bill of goods, we were effectively propagandized in ways we are still trying to figure out! Sucker city, man. The truth is leaking out all over the place, people are going back to tubes, because they permit you to make distinctions you will be hard pressed to make with a transistor amplifier. Musicians are returning to analog mastering because it carries so much more vital information, you can hear much deeper into the mix. CDs saved the music industry, they are more convenient by a mile, but they come with a price that reaches DEEP into the way we think, the kinds of persons we are, what we are capable of *attending* to and what we *disattend* Crucial distinctions, to *attend* and to *disattend*. The older, albeit more cumbersome technologies, encouraged a higher degree of attention. Music offered its gifts on two planes, one was the gratification of the experience, and the other was the way (good) music seduced one into that higher degree of attention. The mind, constantly exposed to quality *nutrition*, develops habits and customs of attention, of *attending to* the world. Digital, I fear, has given us oversweet junk food. A quick sugar rush, then depletion. Beyond a superficial clarity, a falling off into nothing, little fine detailing, no pneuma, no life. The inherent and subtle danger is that the mind, no longer trained in the arts of attention, becomes blank, understimulated, etiolated, un*attentive*. My point is that the rapid acceptance of new technologies may carry the seeds of unanticipated future problems which may be next to impossible to identify and distinguish until they turn into something full blown, as the human race is becoming something different altogether. Do this: if you are in Manhattan, go to the store called Fi on 30 Watts Street,two blocks before the Holland Tunnel, uptown side. The guy there is friendly and open to having you come in and be exposed to tube/vinyl technology. All he deals with is tube, period. Sit down and listen awhile, maybe to Sonny Rollins "Way Out West", something real. Your head set to get real super bad. What is the distinction between *playing tapes* and *having something to say* ? So far, these assembled points must seem far flung; art, music, the developing world, technology, philosophy. However, it is their subtle interrelatedness which is compelling. If TT has any function on the order of "a mission", I think it has to do with subtle relations hip and non-obvious connection. Let's not look down on the non-obvious. There is a paradox that Alfred North Whitehead was acutely aware of: things could be non obvious due to their very obviousness, because they have merged with the background. If TT excels, it is at "its" ability to look at the obvious. Classical Deconstruction, though...blech. Deconstructionist art...blech squared. In the final analysis (as final as this day at least) such tedious, arid, leaden, joyless overapplication of tedious, arid, leaden, joyless theory. Suburb bound No Exit grinding slogging dead serious doofus as celebrity orchestrated cosmetic intellectualism. Bah and Humbug. Mark Tansey managed to find humor in it all, and for that he gets a little goldstar. The rest of'em need to take peyote enemas and go bungee jumping for a week to loosen up that rust encrusted branium. Go listen to Hendix play Drone Blues. God help us; DeMan, Derrida, what did we do to deserve those guys ? Divine punishment for playing in garage bands as teenagers ? Oh, yeah...the obvious. I perceive all of this ( if you have gotten this far I congratulate you ) as a way of returning to *common sense*, of bringing the locus of control back to ourselves. We need heros to form our "ego ideals", but we should shun gurus like the plague. The *distinctionist* school of though is a development of a teacher of mine, Dr. Fernando Flores, and the foundations of the ideas presented here are his, the elaborations are mine. Dr. Flores was the finance minister of Salvador Allende of Chile. Allende was assasinated by the partisans of General Pinochet, and Dr. Flores was brutally tortured until he was sprung by the efforts of Amnesty International. His experiences included being forced to literally eat his own shit, among numerous other indignities. His wife was reduced to a perpetual state of trembling. It is fascinating that Dr. Flores, in the midst of the horror of this experience, came to the insight that the conditions of freedom and tyrrany were inseperable from the thought processes of the people living under their respective conditions, and that their deeper thought processes were shaped by their language functions. Language patterns were not, in his thinking, identical to thought patterns, but acted as templates that strongly directed the ways though was formed, and from there, what kinds of actions a person was able to "do". "Distinction" is just a word, but not a *mere* word. You might prefer the peculiar verb *to foreground*, but to distinguish is a little more than that, the is a qualitative element to it, HOW you foreground, HOW you pop it out of its surround. Today, in the public sphere, at least, we do not so much distinguish as we *polarize*, as dramatic (even if false) oppositions are far more mediagenic, entering the bloodstream unfiltered. Stern, Limaugh, Zhirinovsky make waves and big bucks working the polarities, as do Paglia, McKinnon, Tonya (or Tanya, or whatever the hell it is) Harding, hard, garish, simplistic, all forbusiness. This is different fare than Jordan's *Transactivist* web, still raw, slapdash assembled, in search of focus. The inconvenient truth may be that *freedom* is directly related to how much work you are willing to do on you own thinking, how many concepts you are willing toexperiment with, and, perhaps, risking falling flat on your face. I have seen too many people now who have opted for an embarrassing pseudo-freedom of protracted adolescence, expecting, demanding even, that the world around them be responsible for their minds. As Truman Capote said about this state of affairs, its a great party for a while, but when you reach a certain age, it all turns into flames. Enough, already...there's plenty more where this came from, but the ball is in your court for now. Msg#: 3121 *SYMPOSIA* 02-14-94 23:55:25 From: SYSOP To: MORGAN GARWOOD (Rcvd) Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 2870 (NOTES) On that note the symposium is closing. Thanks to all Transactivists for their participation! A file of the proceedings will be soon available in the Message Area's Archive (in the File Area).