[-empyre-] -empyre- a digital unconscious?

melinda rackham melrack at icloud.com
Mon Feb 5 17:45:51 AEDT 2018

Hello to the empyrean,

I am always a little reticent to talk about -empyre- as I often think I have nothing new to say on the topic, however this discussion has rekindled an old intent with a new perspective. I have just finished an essay titled “Intimacy of Strangers” which partially came out of the most recent time I was a guest here on the “Contamination” topic last year (thank you all for my new knowledge!). The Lyn Margulis reference will herald my thoughtways-
What strikes me and what continues to strike me about the list-serve is that its about collaborative thinking - its one of symbiosis, thought evolution with ones fellows and fellowesses (fellowinas?).  While we might not instigate a specific idea ourselves, but each contirbution to the converstaion grows it, takes it into lateral fileds. Then each iteration, each reader, each lurker consumes and remixes it into other realms and realities. 

It reminds me of my nostalgia for the early internet where I learnt everything I knew about coding HTML (when you wrote it by hand), collaborate VRML development, chat rooms, etc from strangers, most of whose names I will never know, who gave freely cause they were there to help grow a community. There are of course lots of places that  this still occurs online but I have noticed they often seem more structured into academic type dis/courses, and there is a distinct change in the willingness to do something for “nothing.”  Each transaction has to be monetised somewhere and if we aren't doing it upfront, FB et al are taking it out behind.

Of course this is a very privileged perspective - and its is not all altruism .  Im sure vast slabs of Phds have come out of -empyre- (as I set it up to do for myself) and as noted many exhibitions, papers, conference events, readers, books, especially the Documenta projects that were superbly managed by Christina McPhee, etc  have eventuated.

 Ive found my life enriched by association with -empyre-  in terms of working collaboratively with an amazing range of people who turned up to be part of; enjoying online banters, playing devils advocate, letting go of having to be smart or right in public; meeting other members i had known for years and being surprised that they had different physicality's than in my mind; being given the gift of thoughtful stimulating dialogues in my inbox.

Its the simplicity of the agora in fact that makes it work as a thinking space - a public space open to anyone, with inviting pathways to join in. And you cant get much more simple than a plain text list serve email.

It pleasantly hot and humid in the APY lands, the dogs are sleeping in afternoon sun, and the invasive grasses are tuning a seductively beautiful straw colour as the breeze spreads their seeds even further,


> On 5 Feb 2018, at 2:02 pm, Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Thanks Simon from New Zealand, 
> Your verbose nonsensical yet poetic and powerfully political rants threaded together, to the point, never dull but always provocative, sometimes incomprehensible, yet direct, welcomed today from Ithaca, cold, blustery, freezing, icy, gray upon gray mist.  
> Renate
> (it's cold and snowy but beautifully sunny in Ithaca, New York, today)
> cicadas & humid grey skies Waiheke Island, New Zealand, today. 2 boys killed in flashflooding in the Waitakere ranges, Auckland cityside: the persistent promise of disruptive events that is now our weather, now our environment. 
> <<empyre>> ... I think of Altavista, the cathode ray tube monitor and clicketty-clack keyboard, of the public computer at Brazil cafe before I opened the doors most mornings dialing in to engage with the textvoices coming down the wire early in the 2000s when I discovered the listserv, starting a blog as clearinghouse, again public, winging it, butterflies waiting for the next installment, about the same time: squarewhiteworld.com ... halcyon days / mornings of digital connectivity, when it seemed to involve and devolve on actual and sometimes anxious connections, rather than recognitions, reassurances and reaffirmations of the lugubriously sincere (like-able if not amiable) variety. When the wire ran hot with debate rains of actual and sometimes burning butterflies. More popping bubbles than cognitive ones. And I hazard that that's why I like the listserv format still ... the possibility of an unforeseen intervention upstarting, derailing more sanguine settled and yes conser
> vative (recuperative) discussion ... The risk of going too far, the highwire, not preempted by the provision of safetynetting. As for expertise and theoretical enterprise, was more like a fleamarket, with barrackers, professional and simulacral, in the softskinned space of egalitarian exchange, each equally un-niched and in a context the construct of all--permitting that is words of other unknown because unknowable provenance (owing to textonly format): who does ____ think she is? who will ____ be? before personological recidivism and identitarian backlash of social online presence. There it is: a virtual I have misspelt as "possibility"! 
> ...there would also be something to say about professional overinvestment more recently actively soliciting recognition, remediation, affirmations; rather than an increasing reign of expert opinion, the soft sentimental professionally bleeding heart's thin skin: so, rather than its lateral level and smooth openness to both professional and expert, invited or lurking, <<empyre>> might be lauded for the potential to engage in ... risk. It could be a more dangerous place, this smooth one. Reputations might, at least locally, be on line ... the long hidden but fragile threads of glass that link us serving in listserv the needling of consistency and consensus ... crawling back into the cave of the screen after the fall ... grace
> taking a certain time to reflect in private vacuole of that's not what I meant at all ...
> Best,
> Simon
> Renate Ferro
> Visiting Associate Professor
> Director of Undergraduate Studies
> Department of Art
> Tjaden Hall 306
> rferro at cornell.edu
> On 2/4/18, 11:19 PM, "empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on behalf of Simon" <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au on behalf of SWHTaylor at zoho.com> wrote:
>    ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

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