Cyber Pamphleteer: Imagined Stations, A Poem


 

They insert their hands in my mouth,

these passerby pedestrians in the in-between

electric places that simultaneously

exist but do not exist,

(much like a deceased living cat in a physics experiment),

and with errant fingers feel my tongue

reading my words like braille

chiseled on electric, hovering

boards of keys.

These strangers, bathed in

blue white light,

wade next to me

in pools of infinite connectivity.

 

And they like me,

and they share me,

and they give me plenitudes of hearts, thumbs, and

winking yellow faces,

never before seen in other realms

but the face of us now.

These are the coins

they flip casually into my digitally open

case, begging for money,

so as to receive art and wisdom.

 

Another cyber pamphleteer asks

if I think this is the end?

What, with our digital apocalypse

reigning down?

What about HUMAN CONNECTION!

He asks me, as we stand in those imagined stations,

What about THE COFFEE HOUSES!

What about THE PUBLIC SPHERE!

Where people used to,

supposedly it was supposed,

sit and

talk?

I reply that such a place had never existed,

or at least

did not exist in the existentialist crises

he now describes in

derision to the denizens of this digital

imaginative landscape.

 

 

No. We were still connected.

Children still laughed

Lovers still loved

Enemies…

 

Oh, you get the idea.

I turn back to my audience, the

busy people in busy businesses bustling by at

speeds that are achieved only via

advanced telephone technology stuff.

I’m not really sure how it works.

Like the newspaper

boys or pamphleteer

rabble rousers

of other centuries previous

who could not tell you the

first thing about Gutenberg

yet nonetheless screamed and yelled

at a world on fire with activity.

I am no different.

A direct descendant of writers who wrote

in a way that was never quite right

yelling, hollering, raising a ruckus

in places in-between there

and here

hoping to attract a small enough audience

to gain some noble notoriety.

An ideas salesman,

tacky clothed, going door to door,

into the minds of some stranger

knocking on their skull, and asking

if I could sit in their brains, beside

memories of loved ones,

and fears of untold horrible deeds.

 

Could, I? Trouble, them? Please?

 

And some did, momentarily,

allow my words to assimilate to their thoughts

changing them in chain link emails

with “!” points to get my “!” across.

 

A regular customer of my pamphlets

walks by in this digital place in-between

and I say hello,

and I see me

walking around in their heads

and quickly I begin to work.

I snip a part of my soul and graft

it onto a digital set

of information that begins

to bounce about in

electric excitement. HELLO!

My severed piece of soul says to me.

HELLO, I respond.

I stare at me and it stares back,

this marvelous technology of

writing inhabiting nothing

more than

free floating electricity.

WHAT NOW? My soul shard asks.

I explain. It is no longer me,

but a reflection of me.

Assuming it is not erased or

destroyed, as pamphlets often sometimes are, it will live on after I am dead.

WHOA… my soul shard says.

WHAT IF I AM ASKED QUESTIONS?

I tell it that I have tried to anticipate that,

but unfortunately it

will eventually be asked something

it cannot answer.

At which point it is to say,

politely of course,

WE DO NOT HAVE THE INFORMATION TO THAT.

They are a just a soul shard,

after all,

really only a verbally written hologram

of an organic being that will soon be dead.

They are a technology I have infused myself into.

DOES THAT MAKE SENSE? I ask.

YES, the soul shard responds, BUT ONLY BECAUSE YOU WROTE IT.

I reason their reason is reasonable,

and before the soul shard can share

another thought I hit “SEND”

and off it goes.

Living but dead,

a zombie cyborg.

And it burrows into the heads

of those passerby pedestrians

and I see it light up certain skulls,

like XMAS lights or NEON sale signs.

Some readers quickly throw the pamphlet away.

Others mull it over

for a moment and play with my soul.

A few tuck it away into the archives of their being.

Me, a member of their ontology,

adding a layer of new to their growing

archaeological phenomena

in our shared carbon conscious silicon existence.

 

 

 

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Living InFinite Museums

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The Internet is a museum that goes on forever. This is what I want to believe, at least.

We are firmly in the grasp of the Digital Humanities revolution. This means things are irreparably different now. The Digital Humanities—and what that term is going to encompass is a question we are still working out—will bring us everything and nothing new all at once.

Do not ask me what that means exactly. No one quite knows. The best definition I found was a website that generated a new definition each time you refreshed the page. But we can mostly agree that the Digital Humanities probably involves computers and the Internet.

The changing reality of the Digital Humanities era means that we can no longer function in a single framework. We need to find ways to push beyond the frames we inherited, to find where that frame can be connected with others to form new structures. Periodically, these structures will be ruined so that we can begin again.

We are the first generation that is able to hold 2,000 books or more in our hand at one time without being crushed under them, on a device equal in weight and smaller in size than your average poetry collection. Whether we will remember these works and use them, or not, is another matter. This is one of many paradoxes of the Digital age.

A museum holds what we value, or at least what we are supposed to value. Value always has a particular concern behind it. We should always ask who is deciding where value is to be found. There are things we value too much for questioning. We call these things traditions. These are the things, of course, that we must question most.

The Internet is a museum that goes on forever. The art of museum directorship lays in having a knack for knowing what to keep and what to expel. No one vessel can encompass everything.

The Internet is the most democratic form that exists–so long as you have access to a computer, electricity, wi-fi, modems, consumerism, a capitalist world, money, time and the English language.

If you have access to this ‘launch pad’ you can find anything.

But as anyone who has tried to find Truth will tell you, it vanishes rapidly before your eyes. This is where we start to find our limits.

The Internet is finite and infinite, something that stretches outside of the dimensions of space, while still suffering from the borders of reality.

The Internet is a museum that can be demolished without the weight of a falling bomb.

On the Internet, things end with a whimper, not a bang.

We surround ourselves with the things we value, and the things we are supposed to value, both in reality and on our Facebook walls.

We can try to archive the Internet, either in other digital spaces, or we try to print it out as a form of banal artistry, only to find that it reproduces like a family of rabbits.

No one will ever see the entirety of the Internet.

It is imperative that we recognize the limitations of our space in the same way that we recognize what this same space capable of. We need to know how to break the frames of our existence, but to break them well, in the best way we can.

This is true of life as well as the Internet.

We exist in finite museums, sectioned off from an infinite world. That is the joy and terror of our condition in a sentence.

This finite space is here to find what is worth preserving and replicating, to find an aspect of the previously unfocused and unfeatured.

The Internet is a lot like the vanishing point in a painting. The Internet lives in that moment where space seems to go on forever. You cannot see the whole of the Internet. And yet you can put this image within a frame and place it on your refrigerator, to make it a smaller part of your larger world, to capture it if only for a moment or two.

We can still find space in finite museums.

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