[NetBehaviour] TALK: (Texts used for several talks 1999-2000.)

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Mon Mar 21 00:50:40 CET 2022

TALK: (Texts used for several talks 1999-2000.)


Issues (sites, sore spots, problematics)

There is no Net (instead, fantasms, membranes, "historic" sites
and strategies, accumulations of communicative domains)

(Online History)


Monochrome Bulletin Board
Email lists - Future Culture
Newsgroups - exchange, spamless, sexed, sexual narratives
IRC similar
Ethos of freeware, shareware, exchange
ASCII art, animation
Writing about gender switching on MOOs, MUDs
Writing to email lists about cybersex, community (do such exist)

[Space of filtrations, media, proliferations, coalescences]

Identities and persons (first, second, third)

Early characters (Honey, Tiffany, Travis) - presences across
applications, body and mind part-objects, struggled


Net sexuality, exploration of the virtual body.
Address, protocol, recognition, "hysteric embodiment," ascii
Use of Iphone, CuSeeMe, pressure of the body up against the
screen. Jennifer-Julu explorations of applications and


Exploration of Javascript, other programmings.
Jennifer-Julu webpages and Jennifer book; the .julu program

Tendency towards performativity.
Defuge, psychosis, splitting.
Interpenetrations, Nikuko "bratting" on the surface.


Some stuff I'm going to talk about on Wednesday

My Internet Text began around the end of 1993, and is now about
6 megs long. Texts are sent, most often once a day, to various
lists - always to Fop-l and Cybermind, earlier to Future
Culture, and later, on occasion, to Poetics. Rarely, texts are
sent to other lists as well, including nettime and eyebeam.

Early on, I began with issues of recognition, address, protocol,
desire, and the self as a continuous rewrite; there were avatars
such as Tiffany, Honey, and Travis, laying the ground - speaking
as if they were on MOOs, MUDs, or IRC.

Later on, long-wave formats developed - considerations of early
mid-east languages in relation to the Net, self-reflexive
avatars such as Jennifer and Julu, transgressive avatars such as
Nikuko, Net archeologies, issues of epistemology and ontology -
almost everything with virtual subjectivity as an underlying

The normative mode has been writing, using intersections or
interpenetrations as well - for example, altering sendmail.cfg
files, simple hackings of IRC or newsgroups, multiple entries
into talkers or MOOs, use of the doctor (Eliza) program on
emacs, and creative use of perl, sed, and awk for active or
passive text alterations/substitutions.

Other modes have included graphics and the results of
javascripting, as well as experimental webpages available only
when my desktop is online.

The first site for the text was at
jefferson.village.virginia.edu as part of the Spoons philosophy
lists; this used absolute URLs and the gopher protocol and was
set up by one of the Spoons members. There are currently space
limitations here.

The mirror site, through Jerry Everard, is at the Australian
National University in Canberra, and employs relative URLs and
the http:// protocol.

Both sites share texts; the latter also has graphics and

In working through the texts, I have also used CuSeeMe, Iphone,
a private MOO, and other forms which create "experience" and
alternative viewpoints for the writing. To whatever extent is
possible, I put myself on the line.

Both sites share resumes and indexing. The index file is passive
(not hypertext) and lists the broad subjects of the text. Files
are named in various orders, the most prominent being a,b,c,
etc. - then aa, ab, etc. - but these orders are broken and
skipped for various reasons. In other words, the ordering is
somewhat irregular, although the order is clear on the opening

The Internet Text, like the Fop-l or Cybermind lists, possesses
its own aura, which includes the lists, the Jennifer book
printed by Chris Alex- ander, the various e-zine and off-line
reprints, Being on Line, various talks, and so forth.

The text is obsessive; I write/read every day. If I can't for
one or another reason, I develop insomnia, shuddering, excessive
self-doubt. In other words, an addiction.

The text pushes boundaries, towards an intermingling of forms,
self and avatar, performative and declarative modes, and so
forth. When the text "works" for me, I feel uncomfortable.

When defuge, decathected exhaustion, sets in, I may rely on
quotations of other authors to provide impetus, or my own older
texts. But there are themes that run their course, long-waves
and shorter (such as the current parable series), that carry me

I ransack sources and cultures, searching for communicative and
epistem- ological resonances - such as Australian CB behavior,
or the distribution of cuneiform systems in the early mid-east.

While I tend to use metaphors, and the avatars themselves may be
consid- ered as such, I refuse to reify metaphor, to treat it as
a determinative articulation. In this fashion, I have little to
say, except that self and other and text, etc., are
dissolutions, splays, sprays, emissions; there are no end to
them, nor to theoretical articulations.

I think of the Text as the massification of theory and a
deconstruction degree-zero which devours itself; theoretical
part-objects are thrown off as so much centrifugal debris. There
is a pointillism to all of this, just as there would be in the
investigation of any world.

Finally, I consider that I write / wryte myself into existence,
and that I just as easily write / wryte myself out of existence.
I am a fabrication of language. The fabrication tends towards
transgression as write - writing in the usual sense - tends
towards normative activity, and wryte - the almost hysteric
pushing of the body and desire through language - tends towards
a discomfort which brings the material of the self to the fore-

I will look at ruptures or disturbances created by characters
resonating or interfering with configuration files, MOOs, MUDs,
talkers, and IRC.

[These disturbances develop the limits or margins of the
program, reveal the substructures/protocols at work, and violate
dialogs in relation to "meta"- components.

But Nikuko, Alan, Jennifer, and Julu are disturbances in another
way as well; they tend towards _psychosis,_ an interweaving of
realities, responsibilities, and claims; so not only, as above,
is it not always clear who is speaking, or who is speaking for
whom - but it is not always clear that the speaker herself can
separate from her creations. Voices, voices! Which will be the
future of the Net, if and when it attains a state of _seamless
virtual reality,_ a state of melding with the real, so that the
only dis- tinction between the pratico-inert and the virtual
might be, the presence of a safeword/keyword, allowing immediate
movement from one to the other.]

I will show how such disturbances define both the openings and
foreclosures of subjectivity on the Net, and how such
subjectivity is dependent on the specific performativities of
various applications.

[In other words, through margins, slippages, constitutions,
constructs, emergences from the "depths" of software or
hardware, blockages and flows and programming languages (and
their phenomenologies) - only through tak- ing these into
account, as well as surface manifestations, is it possible to
comprehend virtual subjectivity, etc. And further, as I've
pointed out elsewhere, it is necessary to consider the
_projection of the self_ - its written or constituted appearance
- in various applications. As examples: in IRC (above), the self
appears as third-person, #<#Nikuko#># leap. In a MOO, if the
user types "says hello, the reply on-screen to you would be You
say "hello." and the receiver will see Jennifer says, "hello."
Call this more intimate, second-person. On ytalk or Powwow or
ICQ, as you type your words appear to the other, and erasures
are also visible, the letters disappearing in reverse. Each
participant occupies a _space_ on the screen which represents -
or is - the space of the (virtual) body, constituted as written.
Call this first-person, reading through one's eye into the I of
the other.



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