Bucky Living Through Chemistry and Planetary Synergy

Bucky Living Through Chemistry and Planetary Synergy

Buckminster Fuller developed a game he called 'world game' that gives the players the opportunity to manipulate and 'play' with the global 'planetary' life-support systems, putting players in the most powerful positions of world power and sharing the agency to change policy and trade and spending within specified territory. Players can experiment with various strategies for creating a healthy co-operative relationship with other players, and with luck a 'planetary synergy' of shared, interconnected resources and intelligence.

Alternatively you can play a more realistic and popular strategy of secretive deals and even 'war' if you like, a strategy including force, coercion, and massive waste of resources, and often severe injury and loss of human life, civilian casualties, torture, rape and pillage. But in a virtual physical-game space.

The world game allows individuals and/or groups to play with various strategies, to promote 'Killingry' or 'livingry' to a greater or lesser degree. From playing the game, and with luck, the players can learn by experience that co-operation and sharing of resources and intelligence makes for an efficient and 'synergetic' planetary system.
Private, secretive and closed systems lead to conflict, miss-communication and often 'war'. I hope this defines a punch line that leads me into a specific glossing and focus for a possible 'future world game' scenario: i.e. world-around drug tolerance and 'legalization', and an end to the failed and failing war on some people who use some drugs.

Using the Global Internet to collect data and statistics we can calculate, through statistical analysis the optimum strategy in any game? But do Governments and major corporations also do this calculating, albeit with a different data 'set' to the average citizen of earth and with the agency to implement their calculations in any specified territory. It seems to me that some have access to secret or private information, and others do not, and therefore the probable outcomes are spoiled by this disproportionate representation of information, and we have an unfair, unbalanced game. At this point I would ask the reader to consult Wikileaks for a huge information update for the Global 'world game' scenario, and consider once more Hagabard Celine's Law: National Security is the chief course of national insecurity" or "The more laws they pass, the more criminals they create."

Steve'fly agaric 23' Pratt
Amsterdam, 25th December, 2010.


Organization theory and Claude Shannon

Organization theory

In 1988, on the basis of Shannon's definition of statistical entropy, Mario Ludovico[19] gave a formal definition of sintropy, as a measurement of the degree of organization internal to any system formed by interacting components. According to that definition, sintropy is a quantity complementary to entropy. The sum of the two quantities defines a constant value, specific of the system of which that constant value identifies the transformation potential. By use of such definitions, the theory develops equations apt to describe/simulate any possible evolution of the system, either toward higher/lower levels of "internal organization" (i.e., sintropy) or toward the system's collapse.

Finnegans Wake and Banking Bastards

The bank particularised, the national misery
(now almost entirely in the hands of the four chief bondholders
for value in Tangos), declined to pay the draft, though there
were ample reserves to meet the liability, whereupon the trusty
Coppercheap negociated it for and on behalf of the fund of the
thing to a client of his, a notary, from whom, on consideration, he
received in exchange legal relief as between trusthee and bethrust,
with thanks. Since then the cheque, a good washable pink,
embossed D you D No 11 hundred and thirty 2, good for the figure
and face, had been circulating in the country for over thirtynine
years among holders of Pango stock, a rival concern, though not
one demonetised farthing had ever spun or fluctuated across the
counter in the semblance of hard coin or liquid cash. The jury (a
sour dozen of stout fellows all of whom were curiously named
after doyles) naturally disagreed jointly and severally, and the
belligerent judge, disagreeing with the allied jurors'
disagreement, went outside his jurisfiction altogether and ordered a
garnishee attachment to the neutral firm.


Transformations in World Life and Media in the 21st Century

Transformations in World Life and Media in the 21st Century
ISBN13: 9780195079104ISBN10: 0195079108 Paperback, 240 pages




Extending the visionary early work of the late Marshall McLuhan, The Global Village , one of his last collaborative efforts, applies that vision to today's worldwide, integrated electronic network.

When McLuhan's groundbreaking Understanding Media was published in 1964, the media as we know it today did not exist. But McLuhan's argument, that the technological extensions of human consciousness were racing ahead of our ability to understand their consequences, has never been more compelling. And if the medium is the message, as McLuhan maintained, then the message is becoming almost impossible to decipher.

In The Global Village , McLuhan and co-author Bruce R. Powers propose a detailed conceptual framework in terms of which the technological advances of the past two decades may be understood. At the heart of their theory is the argument that today's users of technology are caught between two very different ways of perceiving the world. On the one hand there is what they refer to as Visual Space--the linear, quantitative mode of perception that is characteristic of the Western world; on the other hand there is Acoustic Space--the holistic, qualitative reasoning of the East. The medium of print, the authors argue, fosters and preserves the perception of Visual Space; but, like television, the technologies of the data base, the communications satellite, and the global media network are pushing their users towards the more dynamic, "many-centered" orientation of Acoustic Space.

The authors warn, however, that this movement towards Acoustic Space may not go smoothly. Indeed, McLuhan and Powers argue that with the advent of the global village--the result of worldwide communications--these two worldviews "are slamming into each other at the speed of light," asserting that "the key to peace is to understand both these systems simultaneously."

Employing McLuhan's concept of the Tetrad--a device for predicting the changes wrought by new technologies--the authors analyze this collision of viewpoints. Taking no sides, they seek to do today what McLuhan did so successfully twenty-five years ago--to look around the corner of the coming world, and to help us all be prepared for what we will find there. 


McLuhan's Dream Solliquoy (Final sequence)

McLear Dream Solliquoy (Final sequence)

The night of the 1st of August 1936, Mclear’s dream.

Mclear’s father drinks some tea from a chalice, and then climbs a ladder set against a house to fetch down the toad that is stuck up high, the pet toad of his cousin, and, while on his way down he slips, on a snake mimicking the wrong of a ladder, falls and crushes his head, and the toad in the process. Brains, Toad slime, jewels and flies merge together.

Mclear’s cousin turns into Alice through the looking glass, in wonderland, and shrinks down to the size of a small rodent, she begins munching on Lotus petals that have suddenly sprung up around his father/mothers corpse, where a fly swoons and across the body that is now wearing a white gown and has breasts 

A bomb comes whistling out of the sky, changing into a figure resembling Cuchulain, a giant with twelve arms, and each hand holding an object: A boomerang, a Robert Johnson 78’ disk, a golden jewel encrusted chalice, a smoking pipe styled into the shape of a toad, a totem pole, A telephone receiver/speaker, a printing stamp-press, a calendar, an Umbrella, A TV set, a Video-Camera.

The smoking pipe was now in the giants mouth and the clouds of smoke drifted up and up to become huge clouds, nebulous, ten miles high or more. 

One cloud takes the form of a giant mushroom and descends back to the scene of the accident, pitching itself next to the androgenous corpse. The mushroom then morphs again into a small Santa Claus doll, and proceeds to administer coca-cola to the body, pouring it up the nostrils and letting it fizz all over the face, the body begins to shake. 

[due to a disturbance in the dream sequence, ultimately down to an early lecture with G.K Chesterton, but setting his alarm clock one full hour earlier than he needed]

Mclear’s father/mother, his cousin and himself were now up and running from the house, jumping away from the garden on pogo sticks, away from where the toad-corpse ooze had now released a green fog into the air, that set everybody laughing uncontrollably.

Arriving in a wooded area they eventually stop and slump down onto the ground leaning against a birch tree. Suddenly a wheel rolls into the clearing in front of them with a golden apple lodged inside the axis. Then, as Mclear recalls his dream, ‘we all eat a small piece of the apple and go sit down back under the tree again’ 

In a flash the dreaer has morphed into a Mushroom stood right there in the spot where he once sat.

His Father/mother had transformed into a fly, and his cousin Mary changed quickly from his grandmother, then to a toad who also sits where she once sat in the wooded clearing. 

At this point Mclear describes the sense of eternity passing, then a jumping of perceptions between the three shapeshifters, triangulated in their positions.

The mushroom had only single sight, a tiny periscope inside a wart, but it released a constant humming sound that Mclear heard as the sound of a tribal drum in his head when he looked at the fly and the toad looking at him.

Suddenly Mclear experienced total ESP with the others, plus he heard voices from the tress and the foliage and the leaves; a low chatter beneath the canopy, they sat motionless, in awe of the infinite stars above them.

In a flash, the fly lands on the mushroom, licks it, flies off towards the toad, who swiftly, and Ninja like, snatches the drunken fly out of the air, and swallows it in one gulp.

Cuchulain returns and lands in front of the Toad with a drawn sword and slices it in two. Gold and jewels fall-out from the toads head while the fly shakes, buzzes, flinches a little,  staggers up to gather itself and flies off, only a few feet to then land on a floating lotus flower upon the pond, and is swallowed by a huge salmon, which then in turn is fished out by Cuchulain and set free, plus Cuchulain discovers a golden ring inside the salmon that fits perfectly with his elaborate zoological breastplate.

Ants came marching into the clearing and gathered up the toads parts, and some Lapis Lazuli jewels and carried them back to their nest, where together with a beetle, a snake and a unknown miniature jellyfish-scorpion creature, they remade the toad with spittle, venom and special green fungus.

The toad jumps out of the nest and leaps back to the clearing, where he spits on the mushroom’s periscope, which then transforms the whole mushroom into a geodesic object, but still bejewelled crystallized and sparkling.

Cuchulain returned from a gap in a nearby tree trunk, plucked the mushroom, put it in his red sack, and sprang off into the air again back to the town, where he fairly divided the crystalized mushroom up between all the towns people, everyone got a piece and said a prayer:



Steven James Pratt.


“Bucky" Ez said to Joyce,
“See you Down the old Vic’ Bucky said to Ez
“You’ll raise Merry Hell" Joyce said.
Narrator on Bruno: “The notion of verbal, spatial, numeric and “figurative” combinatorics.”

“I slice the heavens and soar to the infinite.” Bruno said.
Narrator “The purpose of Bruno’s lists appears to be satire”
In the town of Dalkey, on Vico road stands a man shouting “Where terms begin?”
McLuhan to James Joyce: “Trivialized and quadrivialized.

Ez “A Rhetorical generator?”

McLuhan: “Madison ave?”

McLuhan: “The Four part cycle creates the corners of a square!”

“A Cube?” Shouts a voice in the street.

Bruno: “To whom shall I address my beautiful play?

James Joyce: “a rhythmatick or other over Browne and Nolan's divisional tables.”

Yeats: “Sirius?”

Bruno: “Through sirius’s celestial influence in these sweltering days and nights called dog days.

RAW: “Sirius seems very important to me.”

Bruno: “The fixed stars rain down into my brain.

Ernest Fenollosa: “Stars for the final Asian man”

Bruno: “Beautiful lights of the firmament shower upon me, the ocean of twelve signs hit me in the head, and the seven wandering lights whisper into my ears.

Joyce: “And I shall be misunderstord if understood to give an unconditional sinequam to the heroicised furibouts of the Nolanus theory.

Vico: “There are in fact three lights of divine providence....
Ez to
Joyce: “See you Down the old Vic’

--Steven James Pratt 'TTOTT Situation.

Versus TTOTT Versus

This tale begins when the record [1] spins to the days turn of Gio Bruno and his heretical sins. Learn em', 
turn em'. Seen by the clergy as a sheen against God and King, no center to things, he said, he said that everything spins (everything spins), they 'everything' sins. had to wait till late for Bucky synergy. 

Vico wrote recorso to describe a new course so the rotorio [2]of ages can turn through the pages of man, he made new gauges that span the historical myth of grammar, a geography of man, man as word, word as man. 

Nietszche killed ‘god’ in the name of his good and started a flood of eternal returns so that new thinking caps burned 

under this very moonlight, and the spider learns to spin a social web and define terms as we move into the Celtic twilight. Billyum Yeats and his Irish mates contact the spirit levels of French Symbolism, perfected synesthesia in times on National Amnesia, of the swift wit and synge'd tongue, Yeats carried Ireland on the tip of his song. And the mighty Joyce trots into the tale, like a Lion, a Lamb and a whale, Joyce enthralls the reading with multiple choice, a quantum prose of the Hermetic nose craft, a smell for the wave particle swell, a feel for the silk satin stockings and the hard stainless steel, hyper-fiction, genius diction, resolution of the contradiction, of life and of time, of love and what's above like that which is below. Yeats living with Ezra Pound in the smoke feet on the ground, Pound helps Joyce find a distributor for his voice, and a nice letter and short stories to better and butter the idle chatter and chortle of Tories. And Ernest Fenollosa's spirit enters the London melting pot, by way of a manuscript most American scholars forgot, handed to Ez by his Widow, a study in Chinese Poetry, a window, into new worlds of imagist beauty, film in translation [3], Noh play a thousand new ways to say amore'. Through the first world war these writers and more struggled against the banking dinosaur threat, and lost friends and would never forget the destruction and suffering war begot. Korzybski developed a science of meaning, a map of the ceiling of language and math, he put the heat on the scriptures, testing sentences for god, for truth, and shows the multiple choice voice of Joyce as a formula, mind body brain control structures and neuro-linguistic systems, to balance the romantics Korzybski helped to create General Semantics. Bucky Fuller did a similar thing with a similar swing, using math and science and philosophy to produce new systems, and Bucky made pistons, nuts, bolts and volts, Bucky made us think outside the box into the Icosa, look at LAW as a hidden variable, to balance the equation, technology versus the will to life of humanity, the science and sanity of Korzybski cast as innovative tools against fools on the war game trip. Bucky tripping up the bad man killers with alternative ideas, the mental resources spill out from Bucky's mind-spray of Synergy like 12 flavors of ice cream sources. Ez said Bucky went in for structure, but consumption is still done by animals. Yes the world should feel lucky to have had an inventor like Bucky, thinking for all of us, all on the bus, on a trip to enlighten us. Shannon shoots 'bits' into the tale like they were fired from a cannon aimed at you. Yes you, dear reader you know who you are by now, your a collection of 'bits' in the information age, a field of 'control' of various 'bits' of information, your the cybernetic navigator, alright mate, see you later. 'What are you doing' said Orson Welles to Marshall McLuhan, and our tale was wrapped up and bound with glue in. 'Keep chewing' Said McLuhan, "Keep going' said Orson. "Awesome" said McLuhan, "Those letters to Harold Innis, innit" said Orson. And internet came.      

footnote 1:
Terence and the singularity.....
RAW and Heretic Factor.
I-Ching and foundation for Singularity
Rather than Liebnitz, King Wen?

Software and Hardware.

Update your reality Operating system.
The Hierarchy of values.
Maybe leftfield scientists Shannon, 
Weiner, and Von Neumann
Bucky and 
McLuhan in the muddle

And Bruno, Vico, Joyce, Yeats and Ez on the
Rightside of the brain.

Orson Welles conducting the symphony.

Dr. Wilson and his Heretic factor

Hold out for a paradigm shift superior  to any 
singularity yet proposed

A RAW singularity or
(Non-simultaneously apprehended event)

      Coincidance: A Head Testicle

Information = surprise, Shannon and 
Joyce waltz to
Kurzweil Pounding the piano 
like Frank Bruno with his Weiner.

footnote 2:

‘V’ co.  Said the Fellow Gnosa, Pounding his Weiner down in the Welles Fuller’ McGluon’s Brew.

“Noh, Rejoyce” Said Fried Rick. 

“Cor’ Seb Ski?” said Shannanigum.

‘V’ for vicorecorsi." Said Ezybski 

footnote 3:

Philosophers David Chalmers at the Australian National University in Canberra, points out that “consciousness” is an ambiguous term since it can refer to a variety of phenomena. “Each of these phenomena needs to be explained, but some are easier to explain than others,” says Chalmers. “At the start, it is useful to divide the associated problems of consciousness into ‘hard’ and ‘easy’ problems. The easy problems of consciousness are those that seem directly susceptible to the standard methods of cognitive science, whereby a phenomenon is explained in terms of computational or neural mechanisms. The hard problems are those that seem to resist those methods.” Here’s David Chalmers on consciousness:

I FIRST MET DR. WILSON... (from September 2006)

Introduction 2010:

Hi, I met BOB a number of times between 2000 and 2005 in the USA, and regret not being allowed back into the U.S due to VISA issues, to see him again before he passed on. While he was still with us I already started a piece of writing that started to describe his influence upon me and how that amplified since traveling to America to meet him and having a most excellent adventure.

The following is what I wrote in mid 2006 while living with my parents at their home near Stourbridge in the West Midlands of England. I thought it was about time I put this up, as its just sitting on my hard-drive gathering moss, enjoy, love, steve.

P.S I now have the audio recording I made from the Prophets conference I can share here.

Universe Contains a maybe monday by rawmemorial

I first met Dr. Wilson on the 17th December 2000 A.D at the Prophets Conference in Palm springs, California, only 4 days after Al Gore said ""This is America, and we put country before party."  conceding  to Bozo the clown in what might have been the most crooked election in U.S history, although the 2004 election may prove to even topple that.  RAW opened his presentation titled "The Universe contains a maybe" with the line "George W. Bush is the president of the United States...maybe?" and continued to keep the audience smiling and in high spirits all throughout his epic, encyclopedic sit-down comedy cornucopia. 

Six years on, and RAW seems as optimistic and cheerful as he ever was, perpetually glossing the world and its "other" with practical and scientific solutions, models, metaphors for our human condition. His alchemical unity of science and mysticism through the lenses of social psychology, humor and poetry illuminates, to me in (2006), the observation that language and the "other" places beyond language will provide us, the stewards of spaceship-earth, with new portals of discovery that can help nurture communication between different people's, nation's and species. His humble wisdom and teachings are an immortal kind of "Timespace capsule" as any bookshop or internet search will indicate his increasing presence throught the mediasphere, to not speak of his rather under acknowledged shadow as countercultural legend and outer head of the inter-galactic super Illuminati.

I would like to extend my gratitude to Dr. Robert Anton Wilson for his time and patience towards his merry tribes of interacting readers and processing patients everywhere. I will also take this opportunity to thank my family, friends and fellow poets for their critical support and optimistic humour that helped sustain me, as an independent artist within various challenging environments.
I first met Dr. Robert Anton Wislon in Palm Springs California at the Prophets conference where i was fortunate to have been asked to provide assistance to Bob throughout the conference, we enjoyed dinner together and had a Manhattan or two together with Paul Krassner and his wife.

Later in different company we shared a fragrant bit of Marijuana - a recent cannabis-cup winning weed called Williams Wonder which transformed Bob into the image of Yoda before my eyes, wise, old and green. The wonderful weed was provided courtesy of Richard Metzger. 

Earlier that day i had offered Bob some Liberty Cap mushrooms i had carried some 6000 miles with me in my pants, Lovingly picked from the Wychbury hills in the West Midlands of England close to where i grew up, alas Bob turned down my offer but seemed to enjoy my wry smile and laughed with surprise when i produced the mushrooms.

AHA! At the Prophets Conference 2000 A.D in Palm Springs i had gave Bob a copy of a book called the Stargate Conspiracy by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince and he was reading it while at the conference and even talked a little of his initial impressions of the book. I gave this book to him because he was mentioned in the book and i felt an author should at the very least have a copy of any book they are mentioned in. 

Two and half years later i gave another text to Bob at his home in Santa Cruz, the book was "The Cosmic Serpent" by Jeremy Narby that i had with me and wanted to leave with Bob when i discovered he had not read it plus the fact that it had recently come up in an e-mail Bob received. Another 2 years later - September 2004, myself and over 50 other critters were exchanging blooks, essays, poetry, art and music with Bob during various courses he led at the new internet based Maybelogic Academy. 

In San Francisco i saw Bob on four occasions, two at the learning annex San Francisco and one of these events i was an assistant in video taping the event for Soundphotosynthesis archive. I also worked upon some editing of this presentation afterwards but am unsure if the recording is finished and available at Soundphotosynthesis. Another in S.F event was called Pantheon conference 2001, held at the Renaissance hotel - i sent a Manhatten to his table as i knew what his favorite drink was.

On september 10th 2002 i travelled to Bob's home in Capitola and spent three or four hours that felt like several days in fascinating conversation with him.  A partial textual transcription of the recording from this afternoon has been published in the online magazine (Maybelogic Quarterly Vernal Equinox 2006) co-created by members of the maybelogic academy. Considering that i turned up to Bob's house with no credentials, without flashing an I.D card, or waving a press pass or PHD.

I introduced myself as Fly Agaric on BOB's intercom and he simply asked me if i wanted to come up. He treated me with upmost respect and trusted me in his own personal home space, he allowed me to set up some recording equipment and fiddle with his electric plugs, drink cans of Guinness and smoke weed on his balcony. I mean... What a Giza! And to then continue to entertain me with his razor wit and encyclopedic trademark intelligence, me, a nobody from England, a young cosmic Schmuck with a passion to know more about what the hell is REALLY going on, and a lad who had found the living oracle and was now engaging with him, laughing a lot, feeling comfortable and having fun.

You might ask yourself how many other 72 year old celebrity writers, comedians and philosophers would tolerate such things, i mean imagine tracking down Dan Brown to his house, getting buzzed in and then only 20 minutes later drinking Guinness, smoking pot, eating Marijuana brownies and having a right good chin wag? More reasons to read Robert Anton Wilson, i discovered that day another secret of the Illuminati - be humble. 

The next time i met Bob was at the launch of his first and only biographical Movie premiere in Santa Cruz on the auspicious date 23 July 2003 (30 full years after his first telepathic experiences with doggies from the double star system Sirius.) On this occasion i was also celebrating my own contributions to this movie project and the very generous title given to me by Deepleaf productions of "Associate Producer". I felt ecstatic! After the show i saw Bob briefly while getting into a jaguar and riding off into the Santa Cruz night like the final scene from the Usual suspects. This was the last time i saw Bob in the flesh, he had the physical attributes of a Chan Buddhist monk, an Irish Bard and a witch. He also looked to me like Xavier from the X-men in the year 2023 but with wild Einstein-white hair. Always well dressed in a dinner jacket and a ruffled enbroidered silk shirt, his Celtic spiral ring  beaming off his large blue eyes, his speech slightly slurred due to a recent pair of teeth i believe, he must have wore out his last pair on that senator from Washington D.C? Yeah, i suppose Bob was like a grandad figure to me because of his age and appearance but also his influence upon this particular journey (all the way from New orleans) and my current life in America to some extent, having originally came to America to hear his presentation "The Universe contains a maybe" at the Santa fe Prophets conference, but he became Ill and could not make it.

This incident led to me being asked to help Bob at the next conference in Palm Springs - Dec 2000 A.D, and so it goes. My own journey into Chapel perilous had begun. Fortunately i was among kind family in the Bay area and got treated with much love and respect by the inhabitants, i was given food, lodging, access to the internet, gigs and the kind of trust and respect you might expect from close neighbors of fifteen years.

The Utopia i had only imagined was real, San Francisco, Oakland, California, with all the creative forces and cultural waltzing, i was living in a novel, and my friends reflected for me the kind of hero's and positive forces within classic stories and myths, tales - lending a helpful hand, asking you to come to the party, the show, the art opening. I began to feel and tune in the vibe, you know the VIBE, it seemed everybody was from somewhere else on the map, all around the world. I could feel the same kind of optimism and technological embrace and multicultural celebrations that i often get from reading RAW in some sense, although my gloss is skewed or maybe not skewed in a RAW fashion because i read him so damn much.

Steven James Pratt (September 2006)


c60 Buckminsterfullerene's and 2012 Geodesic Revolutions

I have a hunch, a Grunch, about Buckminster Fuller's innovations.

Lets make a new TTOTT football, based on the Buckminster Fuller "Carbon 60" structure, and featuring a new Hologrammic Language... that's what I think, or thought just earlier today after work.

A Football, everybody plays with a football, no? Lets make a TTOTT football and construct a TTOTT team (tribe), place them on a TTOTT field (map) and have them play the kind of games Herman Hesse envisioned for his 'Glass bead game', or.. whatever you like. Just play. Let us play.

The structure of buckminsterfullerene is a truncated (T = 3) icosahedron which resembles a soccer ball of the type made of twenty hexagons and twelve pentagons, with a carbon atom at the vertices of each polygon and a bond along each polygon edge. -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckminsterfullerene



The essay Reading Synergetics: Some Tips offers useful help for anyone struggling to read Synergetics.

[From Kirby Urner]

Synergetics: A metaphoric language for communicating experiences using geometric concepts.

Thinking is the tuning in/out of systems. Systems are spherical networks of interrelated points of interest. The density of points is a measure of a system's ``frequency'' -- super high frequency systems approach sphericity.

The minimal system with the fewest possible points is a tetrahedron -- four points make a primitive volume with an inside and an outside. The canonical tetrahedron has a volume of one.

The tetrahedron may be sliced into 24 irregular tetrahedra (12 left handed, 12 right handed) called ``A modules.'' The octahedron is comprised of 48 A and 48 B modules of equal volume = 4 x the volume of the tetrahedron. A and B modules may be used to assemble the cube (3 tetravolumes), rhombic dodecahedron (6 tetravolumes), and the Coupler (1 tetravolume). The Coupler, with the same volume as the tetrahedron (1), is an irregular octahedron that packs together to fill space without gaps.

Please, read on....



email to the tribe: a Maybe Logic Class by Fly Agaric 23

Fly Agaric 23

September 20 - November 5
email to the tribe
Homogrammic Prose

The tale of the tribe approximates a tale of humanity, or 'tales', a new global epic that must capture illuminating details from humanity and juxtapose them in a special way using special language (Hologrammic prose, the Hermetic style, Ideogrammic method, Joyce's 'epiphany' etc.) Dr.Robert Anton Wilson crafted his tale of the tribe to suit, among other definitions; the architects of post-modem' cyber-culture, reaching back to the renaissance and pulling up-tense to our decentralized--hyper connected--future present. 
During a six week period, I-fly will share his open interpretations of the tale of the tribe, performing an on-line multimedia vortex of signals, dialed into James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Giordano Bruno, Marshall Mcluhan, 'Bucky'Fuller, and RAW himself.

email to the tribe will reprocess communications from across time, and produce new maps, new metaphors, and mold new memes that help forward the tale of the tribe and the RAW wisdom oozing out from all quarters.

Each week fly will provide a spread of multimedia for you to process, generally keeping in step with the program, encouraging a wide variety of conversation and focused feedback. Feel free to drop in and drop out, as you like.

The wheels of the tribe go around and around.
WEEKLY DOSE: Decentralized and Rotational Map Warfare.

WEEK TWO - GENERAL EPIPHANY (Sep 27-3rd October)
Hologrammic Prose and meaningful common speech
WEEKLY DOSE: RAW-FLY interviews. (Oct 4-10)

The synergy of history
WEEKLY DOSE: Vicosahedron and Canto LXVI. Open Source History.

If its not connected its useless
WEEKLY DOSE: Shannanigums Wave & Future Present.

Moving pictures to TV/Internet
WEEKLY DOSE: Maybe Logic & RAW Multimedia.

WEEKLY DOSE: Work of the tribe. email to the tribe.

COURSE TEXTS: Recorsi by Robert Anton Wilson.
• $Pay-What-You-Can$ - Enroll Now •
[$50 recommended minimum price] 





December 16, 2000, Palm Springs, CA.
Speaking at the Prophets Conference ~ Palm Springs (number 8) held at the Marquis Resort Conference Center.

Recorded by Steven Pratt using a portable minidisc recorder. Special thanks to Robert Anton Wilson for encouraging me to record and inviting me to his room afterwards for an exclusive recording and some tasty clandestine reefers.

17th December 2000, Dr. Wilson gave a performance at the Marquee Hotel, Palm Springs, as a part of the Prophets Conference, now (Great Mystery) that marked the second leg of my five year travel excursion around the USA, studying his work and forwarding my own. I hope the sharing of this performance inspires like minded individuals.

I was RAWs care-taker during the three days of the conference and helped him around in his wheelchair, opening doors and getting him to his performance on time.

I recorded his presentation on my trusty old mini-disc recorder, that captured hundreds of hours of my American adventures. I only recently found the disc and transferred it to a 'digital format' so I can now share the entire show. Please accept my apologies for the sound quality and my sad state or organization that has led to this ten year gap from performance to distribution.

"I had a manhattan with my lunch" --Bob

Bobs performance was amplified for me by the fact that we were sitting together with Paul Krassner and his wife before the gig drinking Manhattan's and having a jolly good old belly laugh, I think that Bob was a little tipsy going up onto the stage and really let his bullets fly, getting into cock sucking, the Bush Gore election, Bell's theorem and more cock sucking to hilarious effect. I imagined Bob spiced up his act to impress Paul who was sitting at the front, I must admit that I had to hold back my laughter due to making the recording and not wanting to be chuckling throughout.

In retrospect 'The Universe Contains a Maybe' gives an example of RAWs comeback after his first stroke that left him wheel-chair bound, and his first public speech after the now historic turning point in American history, the Florida election and recount, and recount, and recount.

A line that stuck with me from early in his show was '...if the United States wasn't trying to dominate the whole world, we wouldn't be threatened by Terrorism' and Bob goes on to reference the first World Trade Center bombing, just nine months before 911, and when I now hear Bobs typically brilliant, erudite and fact-filled spoken prose on 'foreign policy' 'corporatism' and the 'Military industrial state's' I wish to accent his anarchist pacifism, considering earth 2010 culture, and his general good will to the disenfranchised, the down trodden and innocent victims of Imperialist, and in this case, American greed, ignorance and violence.


Add to Bobs 36 books and thousands of unique and ground breaking articles, his spoken freestyle genius and ability to educate and entertain a crowd like no other sit-down comedian (scientific philosopher) who ever lived, and you start to see the distance from the rest Bob was in his prophesy, although, he would probably not use that term, but here, I think it perfectly describes the content of his presentation, only months before something, like something from out of one or two of his fictional epics; became a new reality. 911, the war on terror, more stolen election activity, foreign meddling, and the banking heists, and the continued war on some drugs.

Even with Bob gone we can revisit his wisdom and wit and laugh along with him, at least temporarily, and each time I listen to one of his presentations I feel safer, I feel that the world is a safer place and feel more optimistic about our collective futures, the emergent technology for realizing the hermetic hologram of art, and collapsing the mechanism for centralized control, corporate monopoly and general brainwashing.

Bob wrote on taboo and censored subjects, subjects that still today still only a handful of investigative journalists would touch, perhaps wikileaks? he has been writing about some of the most challenging things to humanity in a caring and yet viral style, for a long long time, 'things' that some suspect might get you killed, harassed and just generally fucked with.

"Live with Integrity" --Bob

Bob taught a resilience and intelligence and that its OK to write about anything, really, even the truth, and to always question authority, the scientific, religious and militaristic, the richest and the most-powerful, the ruthless and the criminal, question authority and think for your self, and to live your life as if this is your duty, as a writer, philosopher and scholar activist. Whoever you are, I hope you can pass it on.

Please visit the following links that embody my thanks to those who have helped forward the life and works of Bob. May these recordings find bright future audiences and RAW scholars alike and tickle them.

For more details on this recording please visit my extended linear notes in progress at http://ataleofatribe.blogspot.com/

Love, steve fly

Released by: fly agaric 23

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What Ever Happened to the Book? (Future Present) Mark Pesce, Chu, Fly.

Mark Pesce - Words.
CHU - Images.
Steve 'Fly Agaric'' - Mixing

What Ever Happened to the Book?

Line Steppers / Christy
Line Steppers / Christy

I: Centrifugal Force

We live in the age of networks. Wherever we are, five billion of us are continuously and ubiquitously connected. That’s everyone over the age of twelve who earns more than about two dollars a day. The network has us all plugged into it. Yet this is only the more recent, and more explicit network. Networks are far older than this most modern incarnation; they are the foundation of how we think. That’s true at the most concrete level: our nervous system is a vast neural network. It’s also true at a more abstract level: our thinking is a network of connections and associations. This is necessarily reflected in the way we write.

I became aware of this connectedness of our thoughts as I read Ted Nelson’s Literary Machines back in 1982. Perhaps the seminal introduction to hypertext, Literary Machines opens with the basic assertion that all texts are hypertexts. Like it or not, we implicitly reference other texts with every word we write. It’s been like this since we learned to write – earlier, really, because we all crib from one another’s spoken thoughts. It’s the secret to our success. Nelson wanted to build a system that would make these implicit relationships explicit, exposing all the hidden references, making text-as-hypertext a self-evident truth. He never got it. But Nelson did influence a generation of hackersSir Tim Berners-Lee among them – and pushed them toward the implementation of hypertext.

As the universal hypertext system of HTTP and HTML conquered all, hypertext revealed qualities as a medium which had hitherto been unsuspected. While the great strength of hypertext is its capability for non-linearity – you can depart from the text at any point – no one had reckoned on the force (really, a type of seduction) of those points of departure. Each link presents an opportunity for exploration, and is, in a very palpable sense, similar to the ringing of a telephone. Do we answer? Do we click and follow? A link is pregnant with meaning, and passing a link by necessarily incurs an opportunity cost. The linear text is constantly weighed down with a secondary, ‘centrifugal’ force, trying to tear the reader away from the inertia of the text, and on into another space. The more heavily linked a particular hypertext document is, the greater this pressure.

Consider two different documents that might be served up in a Web browser. One of them is an article from the New York Times Magazine. It is long – perhaps ten thousand words – and has, over all of its length, just a handful of links. Many of these links point back to other New York Times articles. This article stands alone. It is a hyperdocument, but it has not embraced the capabilities of the medium. It has not been seduced. It is a spinster, of sorts, confident in its purity and haughty in its isolation. This article is hardly alone. Nearly all articles I could point to from any professional news source portray the same characteristics of separateness and resistance to connect with the medium they employ. We all know why this is: there is a financial pressure to keep eyes within the website, because attention has been monetized. Every link presents an escape route, and a potential loss of income. Hence, links are kept to a minimum, the losses staunched. Disappointingly, this has become a model for many other hyperdocuments, even where financial considerations do not conflict with the essential nature of the medium. The tone has been set.

On the other hand, consider an average article in Wikipedia. It could be short or long – though only a handful reach ten thousand words – but it will absolutely be sprinkled liberally with links. Many of these links will point back into Wikipedia, allowing someone to learn the meaning of a term they’re unfamiliar with, or explore some tangential bit of knowledge, but there also will be plenty of links that face out, into the rest of the Web. This is a hyperdocument which has embraced the nature of medium, which is not afraid of luring readers away under the pressure of linkage. Wikipedia is a non-profit organization which does not accept advertising and does not monetize attention. Without this competition of intentions, Wikipedia is itself an example of another variety of purity, the pure expression of the tension between the momentum of the text and centrifugal force of hypertext.

Although commercial hyperdocuments try to fence themselves off from the rest of the Web and the lure of its links, they are never totally immune from its persistent tug. Just because you have landed somewhere that has a paucity of links doesn’t constrain your ability to move non-linearly. If nothing else, the browser’s ‘Back’ button continually offers that opportunity, as do all of your bookmarks, the links that lately arrived in email from friends or family or colleagues, even an advertisement proffered by the site. In its drive to monetize attention, the commercial site must contend with the centrifugal force of its own ads. In order to be situated within a hypertext environment, a hyperdocument must accept the reality of centrifugal force, even as it tries, ever more cleverly, to resist it. This is the fundamental tension of all hypertext, but here heightened and amplified because it is resisted and forbidden. It is a source of rising tension, as the Web-beyond-the-borders becomes ever more comprehensive, meaningful and alluring, while the hyperdocument multiplies its attempts to ensnare, seduce, and retain.

This rising tension has had a consequential impact on the hyperdocument, and, more broadly, on an entire class of documents. It is most obvious in the way we now absorb news. Fifteen years ago, we spread out the newspaper for a leisurely read, moving from article to article, generally following the flow of the sections of the newspaper. Today, we click in, read a bit, go back, click in again, read some more, go back, go somewhere else, click in, read a bit, open an email, click in, read a bit, click forward, and so on. We allow ourselves to be picked up and carried along by the centrifugal force of the links; with no particular plan in mind – except perhaps to leave ourselves better informed – we flow with the current, floating down a channel which is shaped by the links we encounter along the way. The newspaper is no longer a coherent experience; it is an assemblage of discrete articles, each of which has no relation to the greater whole. Our behavior reflects this: most of us already gather our news from a selection of sources (NY Times, BBC, Sydney Morning Herald and Guardian UK in my case), or even from an aggregator such as Google News, which completely abstracts the article content from its newspaper ‘vehicle’.

The newspaper as we have known it has been shredded. This is not the fault of Google or any other mechanical process, but rather is a natural if unforeseen consequence of the nature of hypertext. We are the ones who feel the lure of the link; no machine can do that. Newspapers made the brave decision to situate themselves as islands within a sea of hypertext. Though they might believe themselves singular, they are not the only islands in the sea. And we all have boats. That was bad enough, but the islands themselves are dissolving, leaving nothing behind but metaphorical clots of dirt in murky water.

The lure of the link has a two-fold effect on our behavior. With its centrifugal force, it is constantly pulling us away from wherever we are. It also presents us with an opportunity cost. When we load that 10,000-word essay from the New York Times Magazine into our browser window, we’re making a conscious decision to dedicate time and effort to digesting that article. That’s a big commitment. If we’re lucky – if there are no emergencies or calls on the mobile or other interruptions – we’ll finish it. Otherwise, it might stay open in a browser tab for days, silently pleading for completion or closure. Every time we come across something substantial, something lengthy and dense, we run an internal calculation: Do I have time for this? Does my need and interest outweigh all of the other demands upon my attention? Can I focus?

In most circumstances, we will decline the challenge. Whatever it is, it is not salient enough, not alluring enough. It is not so much that we fear commitment as we feel the pressing weight of our other commitments. We have other places to spend our limited attention. This calculation and decision has recently been codified into an acronym: “tl;dr”, for “too long; didn’t read”. It may be weighty and important and meaningful, but hey, I’ve got to get caught up on my Twitter feed and my blogs.

The emergence of the ‘tl;dr’ phenomenon – which all of us practice without naming it – has led public intellectuals to decry the ever-shortening attention span. Attention spans are not shortening: ten year-olds will still drop everything to read a nine-hundred page fantasy novel for eight days. Instead, attention has entered an era of hypercompetitive development. Twenty years ago only a few media clamored for our attention. Now, everything from video games to chatroulette to real-time Twitter feeds to text messages demand our attention. Absence from any one of them comes with a cost, and that burden weighs upon us, subtly but continuously, all figuring into the calculation we make when we decide to go all in or hold back.

The most obvious effect of this hypercompetitive development of attention is the shortening of the text. Under the tyranny of ‘tl;dr’ three hundred words seems just about the right length: long enough to make a point, but not so long as to invoke any fear of commitment. More and more, our diet of text comes in these ‘bite-sized’ chunks. Again, public intellectuals have predicted that this will lead to a dumbing-down of culture, as we lose the depth in everything. The truth is more complex. Our diet will continue to consist of a mixture of short and long-form texts. In truth, we do more reading today than ten years ago, precisely because so much information is being presented to us in short form. It is digestible. But it need not be vacuous. Countless specialty blogs deliver highly-concentrated texts to audiences who need no introduction to the subject material. They always reference their sources, so that if you want to dive in and read the lengthy source work, you are free to commit. Here, the phenomenon of ‘tl;dr’ reveals its Achilles’ Heel: shorter the text, the less invested you are. You give way more easily to centrifugal force. You are more likely to navigate away.

There is a cost incurred both for substance and the lack thereof. Such are the dilemmas of hypertext.

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II: Schwarzschild Radius

It appears inarguable that 2010 is the Year of the Electronic Book. The stars have finally aligned: there is a critical mass of usable, well-designed technology, broad acceptance (even anticipation) within the public, and an agreement among publishers that revenue models do exist. Amazon and its Kindle (and various software simulators for PCs and smartphones) have proven the existence of a market. Apple’s recently-released iPad is quintessentially a vehicle for iBooks, its own bookstore-and-book-reader package. Within a few years, tens of millions of both devices, their clones and close copies will be in the hands of readers throughout the world. The electronic book is an inevitability.

At this point a question needs to be asked: what’s so electronic about an electronic book? If I open the Stanza application on my iPhone, and begin reading George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, I am presented with something that looks utterly familiar. Too familiar. This is not an electronic book. This is ‘publishing in light’. I believe it essential that we discriminate between the two, because the same commercial forces which have driven links from online newspapers and magazines will strip the term ‘electronic book’ of all of its meaning. An electronic book is not simply a one-for-one translation of a typeset text into UTF-8 characters. It doesn’t even necessarily begin with that translation. Instead, first consider the text qua text. What is it? Who is it speaking to? What is it speaking about?

These questions are important – essential – if we want to avoid turning living typeset texts into dead texts published in light. That act of murder would give us less than we had before, because the published in light texts essentially disavow the medium within which they are situated. They are less useful than typeset texts, purposely stripped of their utility to be shoehorned into a new medium. This serves the economic purposes of publishers – interested in maximizing revenue while minimizing costs – but does nothing for the reader. Nor does it make the electronic book an intrinsically alluring object. That’s an interesting point to consider, because hypertext is intrinsically alluring. The reason for the phenomenal, all-encompassing growth of the Web from 1994 through 2000 was because it seduced everyone who has any relationship to the text. If an electronic book does not offer a new relationship to the text, then what precisely is the point? Portability? Ubiquity? These are nice features, to be sure, but they are not, in themselves, overwhelmingly alluring. This is the visible difference between a book that has been printed in light and an electronic book: the electronic book offers a qualitatively different experience of the text, one which is impossibly alluring. At its most obvious level, it is the difference between Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia.

Publishers will resist the allure of the electronic book, seeing no reason to change what they do simply to satisfy the demands of a new medium. But then, we know that monks did not alter the practices within the scriptorium until printed texts had become ubiquitous throughout Europe. Today’s publishers face a similar obsolescence; unless they adapt their publishing techniques appropriately, they will rapidly be replaced by publishers who choose to embrace the electronic book as a medium,. For the next five years we will exist in an interregnum, as books published in light make way for true electronic books.

What does the electronic book look like? Does it differ at all from the hyperdocuments we are familiar with today? In fifteen years of design experimentation, we’ve learned a lot of ways to present, abstract and play with text. All of these are immediately applicable to the electronic book. The electronic book should represent the best of 2010 has to offer and move forward from that point into regions unexplored. The printed volume took nearly fifty years to evolve into its familiar hand-sized editions. Before that, the form of the manuscript volume – chained to a desk or placed upon an altar – dictated the size of the book. We shouldn’t try to constrain our idea of what an electronic book can be based upon what the book has been. Over the next few years, our innovations will surprise us. We won’t really know what the electronic book looks like until we’ve had plenty of time to play with them.

The electronic book will not be immune from the centrifugal force which is inherent to the medium. Every link, every opportunity to depart from the linear inertia of the text, presents the same tension as within any other hyperdocument. Yet we come to books with a sense of commitment. We want to finish them. But what, exactly do we want to finish? The electronic book must necessarily reveal the interconnectedness of all ideas, of all writings – just as the Web does. So does an electronic book have a beginning and an end? Or is it simply a densely clustered set of texts with a well-defined path traversing them? From the vantage point of 2010 this may seem like a faintly ridiculous question. I doubt that will be the case in 2020, when perhaps half of our new books are electronic books. The more that the electronic book yields itself to the medium which constitutes it, the more useful it becomes – and the less like a book. There is no way that the electronic book can remain apart, indifferent and pure. It will become a hybrid, fluid thing, without clear beginnings or endings, but rather with a concentration of significance and meaning that rises and falls depending on the needs and intent of the reader. More of a gradient than a boundary.

It remains unclear how any such construction can constitute an economically successful entity. Ted Nelson’s “Project Xanadu” anticipated this chaos thirty-five years ago, and provided a solution: ‘transclusion’, which allows hyperdocuments to be referenced and enclosed within other hyperdocuments, ensuring the proper preservation of copyright throughout the hypertext universe. The Web provides no such mechanism, and although it is possible that one could be hacked into our current models, it seems very unlikely that this will happen. This is the intuitive fear of the commercial publishers: they see their market dissolving as the sharp edges disappear. Hence, they tightly grasp their publications and copyrights, publishing in light because it at least presents no slippery slope into financial catastrophe.

We come now to a line which we need to cross very carefully and very consciously, the ‘Schwarzschild Radius’ of electronic books. (For those not familiar with astrophysics, the Schwarzschild Radius is the boundary to a black hole. Once you’re on the wrong side you’re doomed to fall all the way in.) On one side – our side – things look much as they do today. Books are published in light, the economic model is preserved, and readers enjoy a digital experience which is a facsimile of the physical. On the other side, electronic books rapidly become almost completely unrecognizable. It’s not just the financial model which disintegrates. As everything becomes more densely electrified, more subject to the centrifugal force of the medium, and as we become more familiar with the medium itself, everything begins to deform. The text, linear for tens or hundreds of thousands of words, fragments into convenient chunks, the shortest of which looks more like a tweet than a paragraph, the longest of which only occasionally runs for more than a thousand words. Each of these fragments points directly at its antecedent and descendant, or rather at its antecedents and descendants, because it is quite likely that there is more than one of each, simply because there can be more than one of each. The primacy of the single narrative can not withstand the centrifugal force of the medium, any more than the newspaper or the magazine could. Texts will present themselves as intense multiplicity, something that is neither a branching narrative nor a straight line, but which possesses elements of both. This will completely confound our expectations of linearity in the text.

We are today quite used to discontinuous leaps in our texts, though we have not mastered how to maintain our place as we branch ever outward, a fault more of our nervous systems than our browsers. We have a finite ability to track and backtrack; even with the support of the infinitely patient and infinitely impressionable computer, we lose our way, become distracted, or simply move on. This is the greatest threat to the book, that it simply expands beyond our ability to focus upon it. Our consciousness can entertain a universe of thought, but it can not entertain the entire universe at once. Yet our electronic books, as they thread together and merge within the greater sea of hyperdocuments, will become one with the universe of human thought, eventually becoming inseparable from it. With no beginning and no ending, just a series of ‘and-and-and’, as the various nodes, strung together by need or desire, assemble upon demand, the entire notion of a book as something discrete, and for that reason, significant, is abandoned, replaced by a unity, a nirvana of the text, where nothing is really separate from anything else.

What ever happened to the book? It exploded in a paroxysm of joy, dissolved into union with every other human thought, and disappeared forever. This is not an ending, any more than birth is an ending. But it is a transition, at least as profound and comprehensive as the invention of moveable type. It’s our great good luck to live in the midst of this transition, astride the dilemmas of hypertext and the contradictions of the electronic book. Transitions are chaotic, but they are also fecund. The seeds of the new grow in the humus of the old. (And if it all seems sudden and sinister, I’ll simply note that Nietzsche said that new era nearly always looks demonic to the age it obsolesces.)

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III: Finnegans Wiki

So what of Aristotle? What does this mean for the narrative? It is easy to conceive of a world where non-fiction texts simply dissolve into the universal sea of texts. But what about stories? From time out of mind we have listened to stories told by the campfire. The Iliad, The Mahabharata, and Beowolf held listeners spellbound as the storyteller wove the tale. For hours at a time we maintained our attention and focus as the stories that told us who we are and our place in the world traveled down the generations.

Will we lose all of this? Can narratives stand up against the centrifugal forces of hypertext? Authors and publishers both seem assured that whatever happens to non-fiction texts, the literary text will remain pure and untouched, even as it becomes a wholly electronic form. The lure of the literary text is that it takes you on a singular journey, from beginning to end, within the universe of the author’s mind. There are no distractions, no interruptions, unless the author has expressly put them there in order to add tension to the plot. A well-written literary text – and even a poorly-written but well-plotted ‘page-turner’ – has the capacity to hold the reader tight within the momentum of linearity. Something is a ‘page-turner’ precisely because its forward momentum effectively blocks the centrifugal force. We occasionally stay up all night reading a book that we ‘couldn’t put down’, precisely because of this momentum. It is easy to imagine that every literary text which doesn’t meet this higher standard of seduction will simply fail as an electronic book, unable to counter the overwhelming lure of the medium.

This is something we never encountered with printed books: until the mid-20th century, the only competition for printed books was other printed books. Now the entire Web – already quite alluring and only growing more so – offers itself up in competition for attention, along with television and films and podcasts and Facebook and Twitter and everything else that has so suddenly become a regular feature of our media diet. How can any text hope to stand against that?
And yet, some do. Children unplugged to read each of the increasingly-lengthy Harry Potter novels, as teenagers did for the Twilight series. Adults regularly buy the latest novel by Dan Brown in numbers that boggle the imagination. None of this is high literature, but it is literature capable of resisting all our alluring distractions. This is one path that the book will follow, one way it will stay true to Aristotle and the requirements of the narrative arc. We will not lose our stories, but it may be that, like blockbuster films, they will become more self-consciously hollow, manipulative, and broad. That is one direction, a direction literary publishers will pursue, because that’s where the money lies.

There are two other paths open for literature, nearly diametrically opposed. The first was taken by JRR Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings. Although hugely popular, the three-book series has never been described as a ‘page-turner’, being too digressive and leisurely, yet, for all that, entirely captivating. Tolkien imagined a new universe – or rather, retrieved one from the fragments of Northern European mythology – and placed his readers squarely within it. And although readers do finish the book, in a very real sense they do not leave that universe. The fantasy genre, which Tolkien single-handedly invented with The Lord of the Rings, sells tens of millions of books every year, and the universe of Middle-earth, the archetypal fantasy world, has become the playground for millions who want to explore their own imaginations. Tolkien’s magnum opus lends itself to hypertext; it is one of the few literary works to come complete with a set of appendices to deepen the experience of the universe of the books. Online, the fans of Middle-earth have created seemingly endless resources to explore, explain, and maintain the fantasy. Middle-earth launches off the page, driven by its own centrifugal force, its own drive to unpack itself into a much broader space, both within the reader’s mind and online, in the collective space of all of the work’s readers. This is another direction for the book. While every author will not be a Tolkien, a few authors will work hard to create a universe so potent and broad that readers will be tempted to inhabit it. (Some argue that this is the secret of JK Rowling’s success.)

Finally, there is another path open for the literary text, one which refuses to ignore the medium that constitutes it, which embraces all of the ambiguity and multiplicity and liminality of hypertext. There have been numerous attempts at ‘hypertext fiction’; nearly all of them have been unreadable failures. But there is one text which stands apart, both because it anticipated our current predicament, and because it chose to embrace its contradictions and dilemmas. The book was written and published before the digital computer had been invented, yet even features an innovation which is reminiscent of hypertext. That work is James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, and it was Joyce’s deliberate effort to make each word choice a layered exploration of meaning that gives the text such power. It should be gibberish, but anyone who has read Finnegans Wake knows it is precisely the opposite. The text is overloaded with meaning, so much so that the mind can’t take it all in. Hypertext has been a help; there are a few wikis which attempt to make linkages between the text and its various derived meanings (the maunderings of four generations of graduate students and Joycephiles), and it may even be that – in another twenty years or so – the wikis will begin to encompass much of what Joyce meant. But there is another possibility. In so fundamentally overloading the text, implicitly creating a link from every single word to something else, Joyce wanted to point to where we were headed. In this, Finnegans Wake could be seen as a type of science fiction, not a dystopian critique like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, nor the transhumanist apotheosis of Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker (both near-contemporary works) but rather a text that pointed the way to what all texts would become, performance by example. As texts become electronic, as they melt and dissolve and link together densely, meaning multiplies exponentially. Every sentence, and every word in every sentence, can send you flying in almost any direction. The tension within this text (there will be only one text) will make reading an exciting, exhilarating, dizzying experience – as it is for those who dedicate themselves to Finnegans Wake.

It has been said that all of human culture could be reconstituted from Finnegans Wake. As our texts become one, as they become one hyperconnected mass of human expression, that new thing will become synonymous with culture. Everything will be there, all strung together. And that’s what happened to the book.

Schudio Photo by CHU
Schudio Photo by CHU