[-empyre-] VI feud and passion

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Thu Oct 11 01:48:01 EST 2012

Mike, I agree with you; most of what went on with Cybermind was and still 
is fairly heart-warming; there was pain when there was death, but there 
were also marriages that came out of the list, relationships of all sorts, 
and the Cybermind conference in Perth, which set the tone of the list for 
a long time, was exhilerating. I'm surprised at the account below; I'm 
only writing into Empyre here because I want to support another view of 
Cybermind here - people on empyre for the most part haven't heard of it, 
and the list is one of the few that have lasted now for close to twenty 

- Alan

On Tue, 9 Oct 2012, michael gurstein wrote:

> Interesting...
> As one of the (non-central) denizens/occupants/participants (but certainly
> not victims) of Cybermind in those days I don't remember it as a place of
> pain, although I do remember painful episodes -- basically accounts of the
> pain of others--sometimes onlist but mostly off... Mostly I remember it as a
> place of motion--ebbs and flows of conversations, personalities, sometimes
> emotions but with a very strong sense of flow--a sort of time's arrow in
> flickering pixils... And very interesting people--sometimes even more
> interesting in the flesh and sometimes less but always with that heightened
> expectation/possibility that comes from the magic of turning the virtual
> into the real...
> M
> -----Original Message-----
> From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> [mailto:empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of Jonathan
> Marshall
> Sent: Tuesday, October 09, 2012 11:02 PM
> To: soft_skinned_space
> Subject: [-empyre-] VI feud and passion
> VI
> Amongst my first attempted papers were long accounts of feuds and passions.
> The first version of the thesis was almost nothing but an account of
> conflict and pain, of misunderstandings, miscategorisations of others, of
> impositions, of temper, of exile and resentment. I attempted to relate these
> to the 'structures of communication', as mailing lists are structured
> differently to newsgroups, IRC and MOOs - the age shows although the same is
> true of facebook etc - and hence the easier possibilities of ways of life
> and actions, are different on each format. Communication structure might be
> thought of as analogous to Marx and Engel's infrastructure.
> This supposition implied there was no uniform life online, even if cultural
> differences offline, brought to the online were of no importance in making
> that online life, which seemed improbable. Sometimes I would relate these
> conflicts to the way categorisation of others was used in the offline world
> (such as gender, political allegiances). The politics of offline life always
> permeated online space, again whether it was wanted or not, because it
> allowed meaning to be resolved with some ease and made response possible.
> And that involved repression, and attempts to avoid repression, to move
> others, to persuade others, the making of power, and patterns of power and
> convention, and what could be spoken and what could not. This again was
> 'concrete' and affective in nature, it was grounded in bodies and bodily or
> bodily/linguistic responses.
> [Currently I'm using the term 'information group' to try and work out how
> wider group allegiances filter information, so that groups have differing
> views of the world. These differing allegiances then maintain difference and
> distortion, while rendering others inhuman or inferior or hostile.
> Communication, in information society, breaks down as a matter of course.]
> However, to portray Cybermind as simply a long series of hurts, delusions
> and conflict was missing the mark by a long way. There were the other sides.
> The ease with which people gave support, even to those they had been feuding
> with a day or so earlier, the massive intertwining of relationships, and all
> the correspondence which never appeared onlist, the love affairs, the group
> meetings, the collaborative work, the way it was used to enable people to
> live offline. It was dense and not just dense with pain.  If had been only
> pain, how would any of us have stayed so long? Living online, at least on
> CM, involved a large spectrum of affects and connections.
> But this is much harder to write about (why does it seem harder to write of
> joy than pain - for me to write comedy than to write tragedy? Why do we seem
> to value melancholy as a source of truth?). Hurt seems to channel
> attentions. Just as small amounts of flame seemed to overwhelm the rest of
> the mails which went on with either good humour or without connection to the
> hurt. That was an early 'discovery': that times that people remembered as
> completely times of pain, were in terms of volume, not. The singleness of
> mood of some mails overwhelmed the disparate moods of the rest. So what made
> that the case?
> jon
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