[NetBehaviour] my early text on 'net addiction' for better or worse

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Wed Jan 15 22:17:32 CET 2020

1994-95, early discussion on internet addiction


The user is an addict "in the midst"; the user projects; thwarted,
projects again. The membrane appears in the guise of discarded
pornography; one is thrust into pure consumption, no longer beneath
the guise of another pornography, capital itself. Assertions are
lost in the echo of the machine. Thought is defined by flux, by an
absolute symbolic for the user who must be assured of the purity of
his or her drug. The purity is in the form of a well-definition (in
the logical sense) to which no one any longer pays attention; the
absence of well-definition does not result in a program
cancellation, but only a retry which is part of the program itself;
it does not matter where one is; location is irrelevant.

Voices are heard behind the screen words (toggle on, echo on; the
screen chants itself, hides itself, reveals the nipple); face to
face replaces the face; double blinds allow the truth of double
binds. This is the only truth there is: that which occurs beneath
or behind the blind, that is, the lie (which is truth's double,
truth's mirror, not converse or inverse) (which is truth's
perverse, that is, truth's abject truth); this is the framework of
classical Greek philosophy bound to classical Greek torture (both
bound with identical cords, hieroglyphs): Xenophon's Socrates was
the first user. Voices are heard, and voices are nothing but
machine chatter, the ideal forms so many subroutines...

The user. The user is an addict; the user inscribes throughout the
network (temporary, electronic, absolute: an entirely new
category), micro-tendrils extending in every direction. This
contains the appearance of power; the network is a fantasm
reflecting emissions back through local paths. The wonder of the
internet is its locality, the construct of neighborhood (packet
channels slowing down just right for the home terminal) redefining
the body; the body becomes extension; extension becomes noise;
noise seethes at the edge. The process is one of fast-forward
rooting, and the roots are blind.

Now we can speak of the mouth or eye of the user; now we can speak
of the hand or its mobility. No matter how (much) sensation is
transcribed, it occurs at a distance characterized by zapping and
invasions. Nothing but the materiality of the body is a stake;
everything cuts everything off. The user is confined to a scientism
in the form of THAT which articulates the THERE IS, just as
addiction develops out of the action of a particular drug or
behavioral sequence. One is tied to the THAT.

The user has nothing to do with the internet; the user is of no
consequence. Conference exists or dissolves beneath the sign, not
of gender or capital, but of chaotic inscription.  The sign itself
dissolves; sign is, after all, only recognition. This is the final
corruption of humanism; even the self is no longer centric - not
through the Lacanian inscriptive/linguistic unconscious (through
which IT may still find a path or coagulation), but through
addiction, self as THAT, or self as nodal intensification, always
castrated, furiously addictive, always reading/writing, always
rewriting: the self becomes its own recursivity. It no longer
matters; its reports are from marauders, vandals, on the edge of
the Roman Empire; it exists only within the interstices of power;
it is displaced by power; it is no longer one or many; it no longer
responds to the pronoun; it responds only to the login which may
well (it does not matter) be a construct of the machine itself -
just as gender- bending relies no longer on gender, but arbitrary
and chaotic signifiers, signifiers undercut, in a continuous
process of dissolution, murmuring, forgetting, forgotten, forged
and forgotten, emissive. The machine recognizes no gender; the
machine recognizes nothing. The machine recognizes every gender;
the machine is never a machine, but an episteme.

Just as the episteme is lost in time, so is the subject; just as
music video and popular culture announced (by absenting,
forgetting, by a- signifying) the end of historicity, the subject
no longer announces itself (and certainly no longer announces
herself and himself): an emission is no grounds for announcement.
In this manner the subject avoids death (always the plan, thwarted
and perverting, procuring and devouring, but always the plan) which
is already always forgotten; intensification is subject to
dissolution, but subjectivity dissipates or sublimates elsewhere,
as if it ever existed.

But just as if it ever existed, there are no longer ontological
con- siderations; as plasma, the internet bypasses existence
(always already... the litany repeats as murmur). It is within this
that the projected eternality of the digital has full reign or
resonance; noiseless, the digital proclaims the clean and proper
body (which is rendered problematic by the maternal which becomes
uncanny, fantasm, the circulation already on the move, already
elsewhere), genderless and absent. Clearly in this fashion,
everything is absent within the internet. (Everything announces,
dresses, address. A character, screen or otherwise, is an
announcement.) The human dream of eternal life occurs by a draining
of temporality; therefore nothing occurs or can occur. It is
irrelevant whether or not the human is "ready" for this when
readiness implies an a priori teleology; such an impulse becomes a
trail or trace left by a gopher through the compu- tational/server
holarchy, not an end in sight or sightlessness.

Naturally, then, it is also irrelevant to ask where one goes from

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