now i am just writing what comes into my mind after reading the paragraph you quoted above. i wonder what it means, this paragraph of mine as it comes out from beneath these gnarled old fingers, but i suspect it has something to do with some kind of for want of a better word resonance with what you have written above in that it doesn't really have any relevance outside of this being a response to having read what you wrote...
    -- A Don (1)

Parallel to this perceptive understanding of the source of much e-mail is another: that the habit of responding to "what you wrote" overrides the habit of generating original material. I say 'parallel' rather than 'equivalent' by emphasising what is perhaps an inadvertent phrase on AD's part: hers is a response to having read.

Nor are these two perspectives in opposition: one cannot have read unless there is writing, nor respond to writing without reading it.) Rather, the distinction is one of focus: is it the 'readerly act' (for which the writing is 'input data' or 'stimulus') or the 'writerly idea' (for which the reading is 'process')? The proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating: which focus will incline the other to say, "That's not what I meant," and which, "That gives me an(other) idea"?

This then is the predicament of the 'autogenerative' writer: does one work to clarify what one has just written, or to express the newer idea which it generates? To say one does both is a mere truism; what I'm after seeing is that how one decides to do one or the other is neither more nor less than this self-same change of focus -- and perhaps the origin of time (tho I haven't time to go into that right now!)

What I meant

There are other contexts in which parallels may be seen. On the verge of completing an email composition, one inadvertently deletes it: why is it so unutterably difficult to reconstruct? And why is it (if it was being written in response), that having the sender's text to work from makes it easier to recompose rather than reconstruct?

Again, what is the psychology of the 'contempt' which breeds from familiarity? Is it the fact that 'everybody knows' how to speak that makes it difficult to comprehend the linguistic and communicative implications of 'political' statements such as Chomsky's? (3) If I get almost as much inspiration from viewing my writing in the browser (after marking it up in a text editor) as from reading someone else's feedback, is it because it simply looks different, or is there a real sense of translation?

And again, in view of the argument that 'computer literacy' is closer to orality than to traditional concepts of writing, surely the ability to edit remarks before they are dispatched is a major point of difference?

An other idea

To write merely what can be written is a waste, not merely of time and paper or bandwidth, but of intellect. Its the difference between know-how and knowledge; between , as Wittgenstein said, the statement 2+2=4 is true and 2 + 2 means 4. Language was not an invention, but a discovery (perhaps the first, but certainly a most profound one) of a 'virtual reality': the mental equivalent of parallactic vision (by which we not only can perceive depths but symmetries and Pythagoras' 'place to stand' while wielding the lever to (re)move the world. (4)

To use such a vantage tool merely to replicate what exists on the 'other side' is the functional equivalent of an algebra in which one defines only constants: X = 0 and neglects to 'realize' the 'potential' of gradients and curves. Certainly it is a place to start, but just as certainly gradients are not the 'ultimate' math either, as Laplace and Newton showed, and as others, following them, extended calculus and vectors into n-dimensional Riemannian space.

We speak of mathematics as a language -- but do not usually operate with ordinary language as if it is a math. We hold our 'facts of life' and our 'statements of fact' as identities, and relegate every venture away from such plain speaking to 'imagination,' never imagining that the world of imagination contains ours as a trivial case, or that this very stick with which we scratch out a living is a fool tool, full of magic.

...and along comes Jones

So lets look at imagination as a space. What do we see, looking to the west? Joshing to the orange? Peculiar to the extreme? What possibilities are there in IS that we have not exhaustively explored in mundane life (ML)? I think one of the most comprehensive (but equally perhaps most incomprehensible) is the incorporation of the unknown and uncertain as a basis for action. That is to say, in ML-speak, once one accepts that 'what is known' is (say) 10% of what is knowable, then the 90% is not any longer to be ignored, but integrated. (One's 'mind' may not mind so much as one thinks!) Instead of cowering under the cover of authority and regimen and duty and the known, one takes up the insecurity and incoherence of 'what is known' being a consequence of how one perceives.(6)

In particular,

Enok Kippersund wrote:
{  Could it happen we would be in very many positions
{ (multipositioned) at the same time, and also turning into both analytic
{ and synthetic directions (multidirected), both far from (at the same time
{ close to) and close to (actually far from) grabbing the entity?
Something like that, I think. On our present level, it will seem that 'life as we know it' has totally disintegrated, but this is to say that life as moved on, leaving our perceptions behind. On the emergent level, a whole new structural organization will be perfectly clear - and it'll take an incarnation or generation or three before our powers of recognition (not to mention appreciation) catch up with it.

Therefore, in the meantime, what is our best strategy to facilitate the transition? Imo, we should give up anthood, quit trying to sort our 'decisions' according to any tree, and learn to fly or spin webstrands between the branches. The harder one struggles to stay with the familiar forms, the more traumatic the changes will be. That of course is nothing new in human history; by the same token, learning from -- that is, transcending -- history (for once) may be all the gossamer one needs.

In language consisting entirely of familiar forms, I remain, etc.,


(1) Posted 3 Dec 1998 on [CM].
(2) See Ong, Literacy?
(3) They are, of course, abundant:
"In my view, the struggle against oppression and injustice will never end, but will continually take new forms and impose new demands. This is not a reason for pessimism, but for honesty, commitment and forthright efforts in defence of freedom and justice."
(4) Note the ellipsis: a lever is not simply a pole, but a pole on a fulcrum; language is not simply words but the 'symbolism' they 'transmit'; VR is not simply a 'space' or a 'medium' but an agentive relation to the physical world.
Technology never constitutes an end in itself, although its message may indeed be the media by which it expresses our lives. So we have become vapid, mere ciphers, indicating that there is in fact someone home, but after endless knocking no one answers. The cough and the sputter by which writing undertakes itself is similar to this occasional bumbling discussion of technology, its metonymic tentacles fingering. As strategy, as technique, languages are developed which account for this sputtering, these aphasic disturbances which preclude the possibilities under possibility's name.
    -- [Kuszai]
(6) William L.Shirer once said that every German family could have been provided a comfortable home... had the Nazis chosen peace instead of war.
    First, why is Shirer's nationalism any better than the Nazis'? But more importantly, why should any such ability to provide be seen as separate and distinct from the ability to choose? Are they not equally the products of a state (emphasis supplied on request) of mind?

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