a l a m u t

However, leaving aside all mere speculation about the future, we must face a very serious question about the Web and the tech it involves. The TAZ desires above all to avoid mediation, to experience its existence as immediate. The very essence of the affair is "breast-to-breast" as the sufis say, or face-to-face. But, BUT: the very essence of the Web is mediation. Machines here are our ambassadors--the flesh is irrelevant except as a terminal, with all the sinister connotations of the term. The TAZ may perhaps best find its own space by wrapping its head around two seemingly contradictory attitudes toward Hi- Tech and its apotheosis the Net: (1) what we might call the Fifth Estate/Neo-Paleolithic Post-Situ Ultra-Green position, which construes itself as a luddite argument against mediation and against the Net; and (2) the Cyberpunk utopianists, futuro-libertarians, Reality Hackers and their allies who see the Net as a step forward in evolution, and who assume that any possible ill effects of mediation can be overcome--at least, once we've liberated the means of production. The TAZ agrees with the hackers because it wants to come into being--in part--through the Net, even through the mediation of the Net. But it also agrees with the greens because it retains intense awareness of itself as body and feels only revulsion for CyberGnosis, the attempt to transcend the body through instantaneity and simulation. The TAZ tends to view the Tech/anti-Tech dichotomy as misleading, like most dichotomies, in which apparent opposites turn out to be falsifications or even hallucinations caused by semantics. This is a way of saying that the TAZ wants to live in this world, not in the idea of another world, some visionary world born of false unification (all green OR all metal) which can only be more pie in the sky by-&-by (or as Alice put it, "Jam yesterday or jam tomorrow, but never jam today").

through the looking glass

Herein lies an interesting tale. Bey says that the TAZ seeks to avoid mediation; that is, the TAZ seeks to encourage presence & the living logos in favor of recording & the unliving eidos. However, Bey, not a Luddite (except possibly in the of a conspiracy against anti-worker technology) sees the possibilities inherent in the Net. The Net, for Bey, means not only the Internet and computer-oriented communications but also mail art, print zines, the underground press, etc. He proposes the birth of an entire underground economy of data--a cyberpunk trope that he gladly appropriates.

through the locking glace

What meaning does this have for the hypertextual author? Hypertext, Stuart Molthrop argues, has the potential to be rhizomatic but fails; while it is a non-linear format, it does not escape logocentrism. With all due respect to Molthrop's argument, the purpose of the TAZ is to maintain freedom within a larger, Statist/archist society. Hypertext--or any other form of textual (or even speech-based) intercourse--cannot liberate people from the supposed logocentric tyrrany of alphanumeric thought. It should not be expected to.

Instead, hypertext should be taken for what it is: anarchist writing. The word "anarchist" is used advisedly, and here does not have the political meaning it generally represents. "Rhizomatic" almost suffices; where the traditional narrative is a line or tree, hypertext is a web. Hypertextual systems like the World-wide Web resemble Deleuze and Guattari's perfect book: The ideal book would be to lay everything out on a plane of exteriority of this kind, on a single page, the same sheet: lived events, historical determinations, concepts, individuals, groups, social formations...

Hypertext is headless literature. It has no natural hierarchy, not even that imposed by linear reading; as in Maggie Skodon's "Rhizome," it can even lack something as simple as an orderly progression from lexia to lexia. J. Yellowlees Douglas and Michael Joyce note the lack of formal closure. Hypertext is text with some or all of the rules taken away. It might not change the world, it can certainly change literature. Collage allowed the SI (among many, many others) to create subversive art out of the State's detrius; hypertext seems uniquely positioned to do the same. Appropriate, mutate, regurgitate, reiterate. Even nomads speak, shouting poetry in the shadow of Babylon...