[-empyre-] VI feud and passion

michael gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Thu Oct 11 02:53:37 EST 2012

One small thing to add, and again as someone who was "on" but not "of" the
Cybermind list... I didn't realize that a lot of the darker/painful (or
joyful/happy) things were happening as they were going on.  It was only
afterwards when I met a few people f2f (like Alan) that I was able to
explore further some of the rather vague hints or casual mentions on the
list.  What I saw on the surface were occasional anomalies, hints,
references, undeleted private conversations appended to other emails and
thus forwarded inadvertently to the public list...

All of course, happening dare I say, contemporaneously with the release of
Blue Velvet and the broadcasting of Twin Peaks...


-----Original Message-----
From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
[mailto:empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of Alan Sondheim
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 7:48 AM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] VI feud and passion

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 years.

- 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
> 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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