Sunday, September 21, 2003

William Gibson, the progenitor of the term "cyberspace," says the Internet, which was created by the military in concert with the nation's universities as a communications media that could survive a nuclear holocaust, would probably have been deleted, so to speak, had the creators of the World Wide Web foreseen what the Internet would eventually become. Interesting speculation and one, which I for one, rings true.

The Internet will, by its evolution from controlled data streams, originating in and switching between military bunkers and university campus basements, into a private, uncontrolled electronic territory available to the lunatic fringe, the pornographers and the crazy visionaries who stalk the alleyways and gutters of our cities, destroy its creators, according to Gibson. That's a beautiful thought to me.

What is this media to become? What "good" will it serve? What evil will it afford and support? And how do we put the genie back in the bottle?

We don't!

But that's all for the good, I suppose. If God, whatever – the Creator, the unconscious presence of divinity and force that creates and destroys matter, determines that the Internet has a role to play in humankind's existence, then here we are.

Why worry about negative consequences when they're inevitable and the best thing one can do is avoid contributing to the negativity and, otherwise, creating a ray of sunlight through the beam in one's eye.

Why do these lines of code create images, words and thoughts expressed through symbols?

Why not?

What this planet and its inhabitants mean in terms of the universe and its goal for procreation is very little, I'm sure. But it does have a tiny role to play in the big picture, whatever that is, and our experiment in living, our existence as a thinking creatures that create and use metal and change the form of molecules and atoms for our own ends, will add something to the course the unfolding universe takes, albeit minor course changes at best.

The wobbly earth's axis has a purpose beyond our understanding, but to think about it is to imagine the earth flipping over, like a ship awash at sea, spinning out of its orbit 'round the sun and simply drying out in the vacuum of space.

So what? What if it does. What effect can we, the planet's children so to speak, have on such a powerful momentum as that?

Science fiction writers like to imagine human existence going forward no matter what the level of destruction, no matter what the crisis, no matter what the impossible odds may be.

Perhaps this is the role of the science fiction writer, which is to say, one of bringing hope – false or otherwise – to his/her readers. Perhaps. But raising the spectre of apocalyptic events is, in and of itself, a conjuring of destructive forces. And human beings are filled with destructive impulses, no matter their race, creed or color. Religion, spirituality, asceticism, idolatry, witchcraft or any number of other-worldly yearnings can't hold a candle to the human drive toward self-aggrandizement, greed and lust.

How's that grab you? The one true religion is human desire, in all its beautiful, varied, perverse, magical, powerful, magnetic, hypnotic, disgusting, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, iterations.

The reincarnation of Christ from his death on the cross is only a desire for immortality couched in the lovely tale of a viscious-but-loving god whose "only begotten son" (who was Christ's mother? Well, it must have been god creating a male and female 'self' that allowed god to procreate, eh?) took human form to cleanse the world of sin by spilling his blood williingly for the sake of humankind. Wow. What a plotline! No wonder the book took 800 years to write! It took at least that long to polish the plot, flesh out the characters and imagine the possible beginnings, middles and ends, like all written works.

But I digress. When I began I was talking about Gibson (novelist) and his view of the world through weary eyes that long have searched the Internet for answers to unfathomable questions. Gibson, apprently, quite an introvert. And his vision of the world, the many worlds he envisions in the near and far future, conjure a resonance in the imaginations of millions of readers, most of whom, he thinks, don't have a clue what he's talking about. But then, Gibson himself doesn't have clue what he's talking about when he writes. Not my evaluation, but his. "When I write, it's a collaboration between the me who's talking to you now and my subconscious. And I don't have reliable access to my subconscious. The characters, when I'm doing my job well, take over and subvert the plot; they alter the course of the plot without my knowledge and there's nothing I can do but keep writing."

Well, that's life.


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