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Title

Amerika, Ink

Author

Joe Tabbi

Date

1999

Institution Walker Art Center
Amerikana

I have on my shelves, from the days when I still held onto such things, a minor artifact of contemporary print culture: Black Ice, issue number 7, featuring "Amerika at War: The Mini-Series," October 1991. In my copy of the magazine, there's a note from the author on light green paper: Ron Sukenick suggested that he send me a copy. He hopes I enjoy it. I should let him know what I think of it.

In those days, it was still possible to meet Mark Amerika through the older literary channels. Sukenick had read and approved an essay of mine on Norman Mailer. And now I was being introduced to a writer my age, a Mailer for the nineties, ready to make his own mind and body a battleground for the national psyche. Amerika, for a name, was too good. And so was the narrative "mini-series," which opens with a struggle between four-star General Psyche and one Major Uptight for possession of the American Dream, in the person of (what else?) a sexy blond, a "southern Belle masquerading as an Airman who once thought that military might equaled education/money/security/decent standard of living/a future."

Amerika once worked as a bicycle courier in New York City. In Florida, while still in high school, he worked 40-hour weeks at the local greyhound racetracks. What messages were inside the letters he carried and delivered through the city? What were the risks in the loans and deals that passed through his hands at the tracks?

Artist, Inc.

At what moment in history was authorship not a commodity? Artistic autonomy arose with the commodity and articulated itself against the commodity (especially after male writers observed the popularity of bestselling fiction for women--much of it by women who were often constrained to anonymity, or forced to publish under male names). Authorship as an early form of electronic chat-room drag? Something like this may be behind Amerika's early bid for possession of that masquerading blonde.

A list of "influences" and "affiliated projects" from Mark, who answered my email requests, can only appear incomplete. Sukenick, Raymond Federman, Kathy Acker, theory profs at Florida and UCLA.... Enough for me to get a sense of his supporting network, but to him it feels like "scratching the service":

(like what about Ginsberg, many other FC2 writers, the zine scene, and all of the unknowns [stock investors, gamblers, and prostitutes] who have helped me turn my work into an ongoing ungoing IPO [initial public offering], a trick of the trade...)

If Amerika is an artist, like Mailer, who takes his own self-creation as his primary theme, equivalent to the perpetual discovery and invention of America, that should not obscure the multitude of supporting roles and mediating angels contained in the person of the artist: friends, fellow writers, publishers, editors, souls met on the road. Whitman's multitudes; Kerouac's Dharma Bums. The material world and its powerful systems of communication and transportation.

The author's essentially corporate identity is also obscured by a North American tendency to reduce all noncommercial language to mere personal expression. The soul of the artist, if not the arts themselves, must remain unincorporated. In a 1996 Wilson Quarterly attack on Amerika and other Alt-X writers, John Barth reaffirmed a neoliberal faith in the free agency of aesthetic production. Writers should leave publishing to the publishers. And leave word processing to Apple and Microsoft. The writer's job ends with the delivery of a clean manuscript.

Thus speaks Barth, from within his professorship at Johns Hopkins--a writer who made his career before the pressures of a newly conglomerated book industry could be felt at the source of literary production. A brand-name experimentalist can still find channels of distribution and survive the decline of independent bookstores (now less than 1,000 throughout the United States, half the number of coffee stations that Starbucks aims to establish by the millennium). The situation for a beginning fiction writer is different today. Is it any wonder that such a writer should feel a need to imagine, not only a fictional world, but the networks through which a work of fiction reaches an audience?

Douglas Nufer, contributing editor to the American Book Review and owner of a wine shop in Seattle, has been circulating a new novel. Modeled on an emerging corporate genre, the CEO autobiography, and filtered through a prose style reminiscent of Jack Kerouac, the manuscript is titled On the Roast.

Advertisements for Themselves

In creating new channels and thus bringing an audience into being, today's writers are not wholly without precedent or support. The early Fiction Collective and the American Book Review, a small press and a tabloid founded and run by writers for writers, were acts of practical imagination on the part of Sukenick, Raymond Federman, Steve Katz, and others who were frozen out of the New York publishing scene in the early seventies. Around the same time, from within the publishing mainstream, Thomas Pynchon could still flummox a Pullitzer prize committee with grinning coprophageous passages in Gravity's Rainbow (1973). And none of this would have been possible without earlier challenges to U.S. obscenity law by Mailer, Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs, Terry Southern, and Vladimir Nabokov. Important as each of these novelists are in themselves and in the history of American fiction, the environment of unfettered speech and self-advertisement they helped create might well outlive any single literary work by any one of them.

Then again, without these literary challenges to bourgeois speech norms, the renovation of the advertising industry by a hip and self-conscious sensibility with control over its own pornographic power would not have been possible, either.

Candy, Cherry, Lolita, the cybernetic bombshell, V.: the blonde is capable of strange love and much variety, but throughout the sixties she remained the one subject for the American author on the make.

A dissertation project for the nineties: the history of American literature in blurbs. Mark asks, is it widely known:

... that Sukenick & Pynchon went to Cornell together when Nabokov was teaching there? That Southern gave the key blurb to both Pale Fire (1962) and The Kafka Chronicles (1993)? That Mailer blurbed Southern? There's a lineage of blurbs underlying the tradition, too.

A writer-publisher such as Sukenick, author of The Death of the Novel and Other Stories (1969), knew as well as anybody that a transformation was under way in the forms of literary fiction and its channels of distribution. But none of the early Fiction Collective writers, not even the guerilla contingent that wanted nothing more than to destroy literary culture altogether, could have imagined the speed with which the new networks would outgrow, and in some degree obviate, traditional print channels. The experimentation of a Sukenick or a Federman or a William Gass, writers whose training was literary through and through but who also had a bead on developments in philosophy and the visual arts, may have had unintended consequences for the fiction of the future, in that their work opened the way for younger writers with equally subversive projects but no love of the literary medium.

What began as a project of formal experimentation, importing a Situationist aesthetic from the streets of Paris to the canvas of the printed page, thus evolves toward a hypertextual consciousness in which visual, verbal, sonic, and textual elements exist on the same platform as interchangeable bits. Hence, after a brief apprenticeship under such writers as Sukenick, Federman, and Robert Coover, it was only too easy for Amerika to journey out of the literary network altogether. In retrospect, his entre into the literary world was already an exit. As he recalls it:

Federman showed Coover my Amerika-At-War piece at the Novel for the Americas conference here in Boulder in 1992 and Coover liked it enough that he told me then that he was putting on another big Brown festival as a sequel to his first show featuring Barthelme, Gaddis, Gass, Barth, etc. This became the 1993 Unspeakable Practices Vanguard Narrative Festival celebrating both Fiction Collective 2 and its new series Black Ice Books (The Kafka Chronicles was sent directly from the printer to the fest, that's how connected the timing was); this fest also celebrated Coover's new interest, hypertext, particularly Eastgate disk-distributed hypertext, which I practically ignored, although there's a funny story about Coover waking me up the last day of the fest to go to the last hypertext demo...
Push Porn and FC2

A writer's first creative act, his declaration of artistic independence, is to choose his precursors, As Amerika says, "and the thing that has always interested me most here is that they are older than me, no real "contemporaries," tho I see all of the above as just that." His choice was determined in part by his friendship with Nile Southern, son of the novelist and Dr. Strangelove screenwriter, Terry Southern:

Nile was my roommate in L.A. (1980-81) and we also worked and played together in NYC circa 1982-5 (he and his family are now living in Boulder); Nile, soon after I first moved to NYC (early 1983), was taking a course in Pomo Fiction and, knowing I felt isolated from my generation of fiction writers turned me on to two older writers he was just beginning to read and who he thought I had a lot in common with.

Amerika might never have gotten a start as a writer without Fiction Collective 2/Black Ice Books, successors to the original Fiction Collective founded by these "two older writers," Federman and Sukenick. Without them and their past battles against censorship in particular, Amerika's most individual quality--his language--would not have been possible. And perhaps not even legal. Mailer met the obscenity of napalm bombing and corporate newspeak with an obscene language all his own, in the nonfiction novel, The Armies of the Night (1968), and the underrated critifictional rant, Why Are We in Vietnam? (1967) By the early nineties, a new form of corporate pornography was being pushed at the country in the form of smart-bomb footage in the Persian Gulf War. It would be a few years yet before commercialization reached the Internet and 'push' marketing would place advertisements every day in every email in box. Amerika, however, is already pushing back with advertisements for himself.

"As if to say

"AMERIKA: THIS SCUD'S FOR YOU!" (The Kafka Chronicles)

An Amerikan apostrophe, this is an early example of the technique that would come to be known as avant-pop, which "uses the tools of the mass media to subvert it," according to Amerika. Named by critic Larry McCaffery from the liner notes of a Lester Bowie LP, the avant-pop is an American update of what Guy Debord and the rest of the Situationists once called d├ętournement, the re-engineering of a situation that turns media codes against themselves. Noting how corporate media manufactured consent for the Persian Gulf War, Amerika views it as "the ultimate moment of spectacle dystopia that the Situationists were into. There it was: the first live, online war that supported itself by simulating support." (Interview with Alexander Lawrence, The L.A. Reader, April 28, 1995.)

Translations from the French

The perversely constructed war, which Jean Baudrillard sent up in his provocation, The Gulf War Never Took Place (1995 Indiana University Press), surely helped determine Amerika's trajectory out and away from the literary environment into the larger media ecology where the time's events were being scripted and surreally played out.

As the Fiction Collective (FC) founders helped to establish postmodernism in the United States by importing the Situationist aesthetic and some early productions of what would come to be called "theory," so Amerika imported into The Kafka Chronicles and Sexual Blood (1995) elements of the French new novel. But with a difference. Through all the disruptions of the sixties and seventies, the FC Dads remained faithful enough to literature that they retained the page and the codex as their medium. America's favorite son had learned a different ideal of authorship from Alain Robbe-Grillet, who was in-residence at the University of Florida for two of the years, 1979 and 1982, that Amerika attended. Mark spent the year in between studying film at UCLA, trying to hit on some homegrown approximation to the role of the French auteur, for whom art could be made in collaboration with other writers, graphic artists, actresses, vocalists, and musicians.

At Florida, he also took courses with Gregory Ulmer, author of the critical book, Applied Grammatology (1985). The professor who in the eighties conceived a project to televise Derridean theory and who is now working to computerize it, taught Mark the first lesson of deconstruction: that criticism is critifiction; that it doesn't need to supplement or supplant creative action, but that it can itself be a means towards further invention. Besides that, most artists not ideologically opposed to theory are still more than a little turned on by it, even as its hold on academia releases. When GRAMMATRON was launched on June 26, 1997, to acclaim from The New York Times and The Village Voice, it came packaged with a companion theory guide, entitled Hypertextual Consciousness--HTC for short.

In Memoriam to Identity

Amerika's copy of Federman's book, Surfiction, is inscribed, in typical Federmanian hyperbole:

to the first Post-Surfictionist

When it is no longer viable to compete with a consensual realism manufactured every day through numerous broadcast media, a writer hoping to have a cultural influence has nothing to fall back on except his insider knowledge of the machinery of fiction-making. The Surfictionist's hope beyond hope is that writers will find a way of turning the book against its conventional role--as a support for unidirectional author-to-reader broadcasts--and shape it instead into a resistant medium of reception, reader-to-reader, surfer-to-Web surfer. The Surfictionist bares the devices, pulls out the stops, tosses in a monkey wrench, and strips the gears. He makes up new names and categories to compete with advertising and, on another front, to keep the "cacademics" busy for the next fifty years. He devises counter-categories and participates in counterfeit "movements" like avant-pop, then finally places the artist's own creativity beyond categories.

But what about that "Post" in Federman's inscription? After all the fictions have been dismantled and all the categories hollowed out, then what? That's when the personal becomes the political, as Kathy Acker never tired of saying, and the political, pursued by power, pedagogy, and publicity to the very source of desire, becomes recognizable at last as the sexual. Acker's the less-than-dutiful daughter who, virtually alone among women of her generation in the United States, brought a vocabulary of raw feminine energy into the aesthetic carved out (on the cannibalized body of world literature) by Burroughs, the Beats, and the FC Dads.

In her most famous act of pla(y)giarism, Acker once wrote an endorsement for a book she'd written and had it printed on the cover, over the name Alain Robbe-Grillet. I never attended one of Acker's performance/readings. I never had the chance. But I've been to presentations by both Federman and Amerika and have watched some of the women in the audience walk out on both occasions, heads shaking in disbelief. Not out of disgust or distaste for dirty language--one of the occasions was the International Conference of Postmodern Piracy and Transgendered Subjects, no less! Somehow, I sensed that the silent protesters would not have had any problem with an Acker story. Since both male writers have invested so much in sexual politics--for Amerika, as for Sonic Youth, all creativity comes from female imagination--a closer look at the disturbance may be in order.

Erotic Robotics TM

"Sexual Blood is the creative life-force that drives imaginative consciousness into being," Mark says. "Now, what does that really mean? Sounds a little too metaphysical for my tastes." And a little too close to New Age scientism for mine. But "Sexual Blood" also "refers to the feminine energy that informs some of contemporary art's more interesting, open forms." (Interview with Glen Brand, Plazm, September 1995.) The formal is the political also. Social arrangements between women and men find their formal analogue in the author-reader relation, as the move away from compulsory heterosexuality reaches expression in forms that are less author-centered, less forced.

In a writer such as Federman, compulsory heterosexuality mixes easily with urbanity. A typical Federman narrator might mix worldliness and conversational ease with raunchy memories of a youthful period spent on a farm, including the inevitable affair with the farmer's wife. Here (and in most of Federman's recent work) narrative experimentation amounts to little more than holding back the punch line, employing various hesitancies, qualifications, and excursions of doubtful relevance so as to increase suspense in the reader. Holding back. Compulsory heterosexuality in Federman's work--if not a compulsive promiscuity in the life depicted there--is essentially a form of absence, made poignant in the case of a writer who lost his parents and two younger sisters to the Nazis during the French occupation, when he was still an adolescent. Compulsive sexuality is a way of preserving absence through physical intimacy, and a way of keeping control. The lost identity (and the loss of one's family and culture, as poet Charles Bernstein insisted at the Postmodern Piracy conference, is nothing less than a personal extinction) is an absence that persists, and that remains in control of the self-creating lover.

Is it possible that the women walked out because the author was no longer there?

The sex in Amerika, in Acker, and in most of the Fiction Collective authors a generation or two after Federman, Sukenick, and Katz, is of another order altogether: postfeminist, queer, transgendered, and (in the age of AIDS) often merely clinical. As each and every deviation is "outed" and any norm becomes only one among many identifiable "preferences," bourgeois privacy (a source of pathologies rich in literary potential) really and at last nears its end. Henceforth, all mystery will be exposed as mystification, each preference will be duly represented (in all senses of the term "representation," political and aesthetic), and bureaucratic domination itself will take the place of the erotic.

In Cyberspace, nobody knows how sexy you really are.
GRAMMATRON

All anybody knows are your preferences. "Please wait while the machine reads you," says Amerika's GRAMMATRON before uploading the initial sequences. To know your preferences, the history of consumer choices and pattern of desire that's readable through every credit card purchase you've ever made, is to know how you're wired for pleasure. I really don't think anyone with enough literacy to seek out GRAMMATRON is likely to be disturbed by its graphic sex. What disturbs, rather, are the implications about an ongoing disengagement from our embodied, intimate selves. What we have instead, in GRAMMATRON, are economic selves that are capable of being abstracted from the body and teletransported into electronic environments.

Isn't that why the collaborators in jodi.org like to cite the hacker slogan, "We love your computer." Because, according to jodi, "You are very close to a person when you are on his desktop. I think the computer is a device to get into someone's mind." Or someone's wallet; or somebody's pants: "I know you dig me, Abe," says one of many multibreasted gendermorphs appearing on his screen in GRAMMATRON. "I've got your list of preferences right here in my swollen love pocket."

Market Amerika

In store for the gendermorphs and other "unrepentant theory-sluts" (the dearest of readers to whom Hypertextual Consciousness is addressed) is a different, but oddly related, disembodiment. Another teletransportation. When economics reduces every item to a bar code and when all text, visuals, and sounds come down to a series of interchangeable bits on a single platform, that's when information realizes its desire to be free. Not free of cost, but free of barriers to transformation, gender crossings and cross-border exchanges, corporate mergers, and other erasures of difference in the ongoing global emergency (emerging agency).

Such as the corporate merger between French grammatology and Amerika's GRAMMATRON? "The truth is that the so-called 'science of writing,' which is what grammatology is, has been teleported to cyberspace for good, now." Technology, Amerika says, can deconstruct the "language of thinking" by itself. Here's where his thought comes close to a kind of techno-determinism, perhaps learned from hypertext critic George Landow at Brown University, whereby deconstruction and post-structuralist ideas in general have become embarrassingly literal in the new media environments. But if this is so, if our minds and bodies are already structured like virtual corporations that can be teleported into cyberspace as "hypertextual consciousness personified," what chance is there left for resistance? (Conversation with Paul McEnery, 21C, April 1998.)

Amerika's heavy investment in technology (and it's a significant cultural and ecological investment, even if the technology is "free") also implies a new literalism in the contemporary idea of the "avant-garde," since innovation in the arts has become increasingly dependent on the computer industry's ability to develop state-of-the-art interfaces. It may be true that Amerika, like Al Gore, invented the Internet. The politics and arts of our time demanded nothing less. But when thought is made literal in the design of the hardware and the tool is believed to be capable of supporting the unconscious, how soon before the Net begins inventing us?

This is not the first time that the exploration of a rhetorical and conceptual terrain (in cyberpunk fiction and in late-modernist limit-texts) would anticipate the outcome of a revolution in communications technology. Or a political revolution, if that's in the cards. Like computer technology before the Internet, the technology of print existed decades before the idea of an "author" emerged. This would require struggles through the long 18th century for proprietorship over the chaotic production of books--in Samuel Johnson's Grub Street and in the print shops and coffee houses of prerevolutionary America (as imagined, most recently, in Pynchon's major novel, Mason and Dixon (1997), and as documented in Adrian Jones' magisterial history of print from the University of Chicago Press.) The form of decentered authorship sought by Amerika, freely available on the Web and grounded in a subjectivity that is "digital, intuitive, nomadic, and desperately trying to break free from the materiality of fettered culture," will require more than a continued development of technical means for its realization. Virtual culture is still of the future, but the rhetorical and aesthetic means by which it will be imagined have circulated for some time now in the work of Pynchon, Coover, et al., if not in occasional precursors from earlier centuries such as Lautreamont, Samuel Johnson, and Lawrence Sterne. The recirculation of this tradition in writers of Amerika's generation will determine what we make of the electronic technologies that are making us.

The Corporate Raid on Literature

GRAMMATRON is neither an "online novel" nor a straight hypertext with clickable links that readers can select when navigating between sections--although the GRAMMATRON assemblage certainly makes use of novelistic and hypertextual elements. What distinguishes Amerika's project, its claim to priority as a work of imagination, is that it stands among the first literary works created to exist on the Web.

We are assuredly entering new territory when a novelist's importance is grounded, not in content or "intellectual property," but in the novel use of a medium. Net art not as a tool for distribution, but as an entity in itself: is this a prospect we can take seriously? Evidently, the Pompidou Center in Paris took the idea seriously enough to send out feelers in the summer of 1994, before Mark had even heard from Brown, who would later support the project for two years (in the form of a graduate fellowship and access to the school's world class computer labs):

odd story. the pomp called me and wanted to exhibit GTRON just as I was developing it. it was very strange because at this point no one, except close friends, even knew I was building GTRON behind the scenes. I asked them how they found out about it and they changed the subject. I reworded my question and they reworded their evasion. Le Francaise. This is summer 1994; so the narrative scripting was coming to a head and the Net was still in limbo (no Netscape, no RealAudio, no Java, etc.). But I was adamant about it being a network installation and had, unbelievably, Paul Allen's Interval Research (Allen cofounded Microsoft with Gates) ready to provide the server space and support from Palo Alto (my friend works there and liked the project). So I sent the pomp a fax from Palo Alto and later in my trip, from L.A., a follow-up fax. But THEY were adamant about getting GTRON on CD-ROM. Now, we could have dumped whatever data we developed onto a CD and sent it to them, but since the story's central theme was so much about internetworking, I insisted on the net-installation (i.e., we serve the site from Palo Alto to their machine in the pomp, complete w/CU-See Me, etc.). But they stood firm ground and the contacts eventually disappeared.

The lost contact proved a blessing in disguise, because, according to Amerika, "GTRON was a much better work coming out 2 1/2 years later after all of the Web developments, and enjoyed more attention than the pomp could ever bring to it." At the Pompidou, GRAMMATRON would have been recognized, no doubt, as a breakthrough work of electronic writing--but a "work" that would have been still self-contained and marketable in the form of a produced object, the CD-ROM, for which reproductions can be monitored and thus commodified. Released in 1997 on the World Wide Web, GRAMMATRON became something different, a success of sorts but one that is hard to put a price on. It became, in short, a media event.

Let us return for a moment to one of the frames of Hypertextual Consciousness:

If a recent vestige of this being called Man was a circuit of property values whose personal or corporate (corporeal) identity was always already marked by the commodification of an existence teleporting itself through a late-capitalist society, then how does the entry of the cyborg-narrator into the value-added networks of cyberspace signal the radical-becoming of a new, more fluid subjectivity, one that is digital, intuitive, nomadic and desperately trying to break free from the materiality of fettered culture?
Inter(ior)view

How indeed? In approaching such an objectless work, the critic, no less than the cyberpunk protagonist, requires no small adjustment in outlook to grasp the "intuitive, nomadic" subjectivity of art on the Web.

Adopting a term from Deleuze and Guattari, McKenzie Wark speaks of the "vectors" connecting the experience of everyday life and the weirdness of media events. In his critical writing, Wark rejects the form of the scholarly article in favor of the essay, a method for registering the progress of one's thought that seems best suited to the moment by moment interchanges that typify realtime posts and dialogues online. (Netletter #6, January 7, 1997) Amerika's critifictions, essayistic to the core, find their proper improvisational home on the Web, a reception medium for infinitely reproduceable--because objectless and never "original"--communications.

I see that an email today from Vladislava Gordic, under NATO fire in Yugoslavia, was also copied to Amerika in the United States and to Wark in Australia, among others. "Sad emails from bloodyslave in Novi Sad," Mark writes. Fewer and fewer peoples in different parts of the world can be thought of as Other.

Before long, V's emails are bound to recirculate in wider, more public domains. Some of them were intended from the start for Rewired, a listserv. Others have appeared in the electronic book review at the altx site, as an unforeseen follow-up to the Eastern European special that V and I co-edited last year. America at war. After the bombing, when the leaders are (very likely) still in place, the refugees still in exile, and the location of power is unclear, the political outcome will be decided symbolically, in no small part by the emails that have been sent across national lines throughout the hostilities.

read only memory

History in the electronic era is more than ever contemporary history, an interpretation of written documents distributed and read in the time of the events and archived by individuals, not governments, in private caches and public web sites.

read only me-me
read only meme-me(s)
read only e-memes
read only my memes
read only phonemes
e only me-memes

Like electronic memory, and like the "working memory" that emerges from the mind's inner speech during thought, cultural memory can be assembled from elementary units and reconstructed actively in the interpreting consciousness. Written resources such as emails, though material and objective, are meaningful (as documents of witness) only insofar as they were at one point communicated to someone specific, at a definite moment in the course of events, and filed for further reference and recirculation at another level and a later date.

e:me
e:me
phone:me
phoneme

be only memory
be only me-memes
be only phonemes
be only e-memes

Insofar as the emails belong to both the sender and receiver, however, involvement is required even as identities are asserted, making such communication always prone to violence.

re: me
re: e
re: meme

ream me

In all, I have perhaps 500 saved messages to and from Mark. There's a part of me that must have imagined, all along, that some future historian of electronic writing would come along seeking insight into the early Indie Web scene in the Amerika/Tabbi correspondence dating from the winter of 1995-1996. I don't think I ever considered that the historian would be me, however.

Amerika's the same way about email:

Sometime early on in my email life, I realized that I would never really have enough material for a "collected letters" and that, although email is sometimes frivolous or so off-the-cuff as to be inconsequential, there are indeed hi-stories being produced in the telecommunicactive environment enabled by the network technology and one of those hi-stories, now marked with some degree of network-value, is ours.

While travelling, all of Amerika's banking is done online. Easy money. He was in Boulder, Colorado, as much if not more than Providence, Rhode Island, during the two years "at" Brown when he was working on GRAMMATRON. What saved him from having to be in one place all of the time was email, and the record of his whereabouts over the past five to six years is in turn "saved" on Zip disks.

My recent trip to Australia is a good case in point. I was online 2 or 3 times a day, just like here in Boulder. 95% of my network-conduction continued smoothly--could have been on Mars as long as I had a local ISP provider. Invitations to festivals/conferences, Alt-X updates, regular reports to the company I was consulting with in Berkeley, etc., all of it went on as usual and my hi-story, being left in the email dust, was accumulating in the in/out boxes.

When I first got back, the first thing I did was archive all of the email "work" I had produced in the previous 3 months. At one point, in jet-lag speak, I started a new mantra, "Save - Save - Save - Save - Save" as I saved each email. What are we afraid of losing and how is that connected to "literary" history?

Everyday life as an ongoing online fiction that can be kept and gone back to, held in mind and thus shareable with others. This is where our culture is migrating, is where the economy is migrating, is where the most interesting "conceptual" experiments, mostly corporate, are beginning to take place ("nothing will have taken place but the place itself"--Mallarme).

So, where are all of the adventurous fiction writers of Amerika's generation? What are their URLs? What are they afraid of losing?



Vladislava Gordic
http://www.altx.com/ebr/riposte/rip8/rip8gor.htm

Hypertextual Consciousness
http://www.altx.com/htc1.0

Netletter
http://www.ljudmila.org/nettime/zkp4



Thanks to Linda Brigham and Steve Dietz for constructive criticism during the drafting of the essay.

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Type: Article, essay
Source: Joe Tabbi, Amerika, Ink, 1999.
Rights: Joe Tabbi, 1999. First published by Gallery 9/Walker Art Center for PHON:E:ME.
Added to Site: March 1, 2009