Word hacking - Writing in Cyberspace
There are people who say that through computers and multimedia the
Gutenberg Galaxy is replaced by a world, where visual and auditive
media are taking over and being used for storage of knowledge, for
communication, for exchange of thought. Maybe they are right in the long
term. But what I can see right now is not at all the vanishing of the
written word but an explosion of writing in the networked universe of ascii.
The Gutenberg Galaxy is reinvented in computerbased networks. But this
reinvention also means that there is a shift in the use of "words".
Written language is becoming "oral", but it is still "typed" and it is
"printed" to the screen. One place where this happens is the
Internet. Communication via Email is much closer to chat style then to
the classical format of the letter. On IRC this is even pushed further,
where the extended alphabet of ascii is used to express emotions and
actions,some of which are re-entering the realm of email
and even of print. People who are not so familiar with these emotions
are at least able to produce a smiley. And despite the fact that the
WWW is considered a Graphical User Interface, it still consists mostly of
words. Many style-conscious websites are turning
away from "Iconmania" towards a text-based interface, offering
menues through lists of words, creating word.gifs instead of clickable
I consider myself a writer. So maybe I should defend the printed
book. I like books, they are really interactive, you can read them while
riding the underground and you can read them in bed which can be a truly
sexy experience. But I really welcome this new culture of writing.
I think its a true challenge and a true chance too. Language becomes much
more "primitive" (with a positive connotation) when freed from overcorrect
grammar and spelling. It much more a simple tool then an overcomplex structure.
Words can be used like toasters or can openers. You can throw them on
somebody's head and collect the smithereens. Words are like individuals
now. They are not so heavily defined. They can have many meanings. You
can combine them and reconfigure them like pieces of DNA. And this might
change the whole cultural DNA. I for one like to read postmodern
philosophy. But very often, for example when reading Deleuze/Guattari, I
get a certain sort of headache. I think I understand what they said and
I like the message, but I don't like the style of the message. It is
very complex, very hard to read. So automatically it is very elitist.
Without a few years of studying philosophy or communication theory you
are unable to understand all those latin words and french rationalist
constructions. And older authors like Adorno are even worse. Even with
my background in philosophy studies I simply can't read Adorno. The
headache becomes so strong, I have to put on the record player. This guy
really lived in another galaxy. So I prefer listening to KRS-One of
Boogie Down Productions who is the better philosopher for the decade I
live in. The philosphy has the chance of getting down on street level.
PHILOSOPHY IS GROOVY! More people will understand it. It could become
less complex in terms of intellectualism but more complex in other terms
like associative character, spontaneity, social relevance. The "message"
is a web of meaning functioning on different levels and not a
hierarchical dogmatic thing.
So writing is now something totally different. It can be like singing,
rapping, screaming, crying, drawing, dancing. We can free ourselves from
writing rationalist articles and leading boring discussions on "media
art". We can BE THE MESSAGE, with all the senses of our nervous system,
with all the openings of our body translated into ascii. Writing becomes
like code breaking / word hacking. We can create our own language, our
own visual metasigns, our hyroglyphs. We can stop being poets and can
become poems instead. The cyberspace - this consensual hallucination of
the nineties - is perfectly supporting this. The words are printed to
the screen. From my screen to your screen and back. Time and space don't
seem to exist. We can directly stimulate each others central nervous
systems from cost to cost, from continent to continent. D/G said the
book is a body without organs. Maybe I misunderstood everything, but I
think the net is an organ without a body. The flesh has to be added by
the users. And they will do it one or the other way: by giving their
social identity, their data bodies to the comercial and governmental net
reality and getting exploited by the virtual class, or by creating a
multiversum of individual realities. In this multiverse each one has his
own planet, but these planets are not organised in a Newton mechanist
style. They are overlapping in time and space and they all can have very
similar names like "earth", "moon", "venus", "mars". Just do it!