This really is difficult, reading The Stack. And suddenly it does descend on me like that Mother of All Bombs, the proverbial ton of bricks, that this is an entirely masculine book, and I don't entirely know why. Not long ago, I read Virginia Heffernan's The Internet as Art, which was as clearly feminine. I feel the need to get beneath this surface.
It is very frustrating for me, this decision to take notes, to write as I read, because I must take time out from making sense of the incoming. I still hope the exercise will have value somehow. My problem is that - very unlike Benjamin H. Bratton - I have no mind for cataloging, remembering, placing in their academic context so very very many items read, viewed, talked about, assimilated, digested and remembered.
I was clever once. I could make connections among disparate matters, and articulate these in ways to convince teachers and test scorers that I have a fine brain. But I never had good memory, and so come exam time I had to reconstruct from first principles, which ultimately wears a person out as how I find myself just now. No worries. It would have happened anyhow and anyways.
There is a kind of panic behind such cleverness, surely related to survival. Now as I tinker on my little travel trailer, getting ready to live in a packet as our grid-space goes through its sudden inversion, I hold puzzles in my head. How to mount the flatscreen so that it won't either stress the skin or rattle itself to death on the road. How to moderate and monitor the flow of electrons among batteries and solar panels and electronics. Keep heat on through the night, while still able to type. How to master the arcane art of cellular roaming against constant Windows updates and still dispersed free Wifi, which is often only free if you have a home-based Internet account. The world is hardly ready for this inversion. I live in a state of suspended terror, but at least I have a chance not to find myself stuck in the wrong place among the wrong people at the wrong time. I do not do this for myself. For myself I would be gone tomorrow. I must bide.
Mostly what has been happening is that I have to shut my mind off, and just let the connections appear to me and they do. Thinking too hard I remain blind to them, these juxtapositions across different foci for my attention. So I nearly miss the fact that hanging items on walls without piercing skin by screws is a solved problem in my day job with duct-tape putty. And I almost drilled the holes! I am almost always either holding two related things in my mind and failing to make the connection between them, or so focused on the particular that I fail to raise my head and see the answer all around me.
This is surely feminine knowledge, the kind that come when you turn your mind off and let the cosmos propose solutions. Acts of fate. Appearance of interesting and perhaps beautiful forms, and you might even have the chutzpah to turn them into something you might call your own. A very different approach to art from that of men who would impose their clever architectonic reconstructions on the raw stuff of our experience. Yes fuck you big time Ayn, though you do now seem so suddenly in charge again. You were only ever a half-wit.
As a fanboy, I might like to see Heffernan and Bratton couple. What sparks might fly? But this only works if there is something real about distinctions masculine to feminine, and maybe there really aren't. And I must still confess that women working digital feels like an abomination which will get me into nothing but a clusterfuck of trouble if I say such things out loud. Fuck STEM, and it won't help to call it STEAM, it's just another way to make the feminine feel inferior.
Here's what I think the difference is, where it inheres, miles below the skin-level where even MOAB cannot penetrate nevermind hard dicks: What digital defines is difference which cannot contaminate its other. It can only be in relation. This is what is meant by zeros and ones. No matter how far you push it, it can never break out from that machine-space. Flesh and blood are, on the other hand, always intertwining, making meaning in the blending in and bleeding over.
My mind is not distinct from body, and it is the entire Gaia of Earth which connects me to that life-force which is ever so immediate that its touch is as reliable as hand on wrench for instant connection to what is happening when force applies. Knife to flesh perhaps. Digital cuts are intention without feedback. A gap. Reversion to thought/transmission/reception. It can ever only imitate the Real.
Not Gaia the antenna, channeling a life-force which propagates, but eternal matrix never separate in the first place, which is why we clever men must work so hard to destroy her. Because She will not release our Fate to force of our puny intention. Our machines but make us seem God and but for a day. Gaia is always immediate, which has already broken every physical law knowable to Man-kind, where simultaneity must remain creative fiction.
It is easier to read Chinese now, since at least the words have a kind of archaeological stability back to the beginnings of our abstraction as humans by virtue of the written word. Current authors are cut off by cultural revulsions and therefore almost as trivial to read as Lao Zi. A computer could compose these words. But to read a mensch like Bratton is to do mortal battle against every bit of received wisdom in your cosmos. All of it shifting under the magic wand of his written prowess. Let me tell you, it ain't the vocabulary honey. It's the fucking cleverness on display and it is meant to cow you into submission. I wonder if he's gay? Whatever.
OK, back to reading. I may remain too sick to go to work again today, though my fever has subsided and my guts feel settled. There is pain in my daily grind, though the coffee tastes good again and thank the gods for that.