[-empyre-] proposal proposal ### Internet Text

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Thu Sep 26 02:27:40 AEST 2019

(A project I've been working on since beginning of 1994, never finished)

Informal account of the Internet Text at 25-plus years or so -

In early 1994, I gave myself the task or structure of writing a 
post a day, for the foreseeable future; that was over twenty-five 
years ago. (This was the continuation of an artistic practice I had 
engaged in, offline for years.) There was one time when I missed 
about three days, when Azure and I were out on Fire Island in New 
York with a friend. But all that was made up; in the earlier years, 
I often had 2-3 posts a day. These were related, for me, to Minima 
Moralia or other short-form philosophical/literary works, but 
almost immediately they extended into imagery, sound pieces and 
videos, based on computer-generated or -modified structures. There 
were texts dealing with sexuality and abjection. There were 
accounts of experimental motion capture with software altered by 
Gary Manes. There were accounts of dance performances that involved 
mixtures of real and virtual, each inserted into the other. There 
were performances of mixtures. I used programs in Q-basic or basic, 
began modifying things in lpmuds, moos, and talkers, rewrote the 
Eliza program in emacs, created small havoc with Visual Basic and 
early html, and so forth. I began using linux almost immediately, 
installing very early versions of RedHat on my machines. I can't 
remember all the shortcuts I used. I worked with newsgroups and IRC 
and at one point 'ran' a United Nations conference on IRC for Mike 
Gurstein's work on community informatics. I also worked with him in 
Sydney for two weeks on 'wiring Nova Scotia.' My interests have 
always been in the interstices and edges among digital and analog 
'closures,' real bodies and their mappings into and out of digital 
machinery, the 'obdurate' natural environment we were given as our 
birthwrite and -wrong, and what happens at the edge of collapse in 
various domains. I've always emphasized philosophies based in part 
on mathematics, in part on the phenomenology of the body, early on 
in part on post Lacanian thinking and my consideration of the 
distinction between inscription and fissure, and in part on a dense 
poetics that owes to Jabes, Levinas, Irigaray, Kristeva, Celan, and 
others. Because I've moved from institution to institution, and for 
the past eighteen years have been largely out of them, I'm 
constantly dependent on the kindness of friends and strangers to 
have access to advanced equipment; as a result, I've developed the 
ability to work quickly in these situations, producing around the 
clock as much as possible. My writing has gone in two directions - 
a more straight-forward philosophical- analytical one, describing 
as best I can what my productions actually represent and how that 
representation functions; and a more poeticized one, full of holes 
and windows, letting the blank space of the page or extended 
metaphoricity of the texting carry on beyond my means. In terms of 
the latter, I've worked extensively with small text-generating or 
-augmenting programs, as well as codework in various forms - so 
that the backbone of the text becomes part of the content, as if 
the microbiome itself and its partial governing participate in the 
generation of meaning for the reader or viewer. I've never tried, 
with the latter, to force meaning, but to engage the viewer in this 
generation. And increasingly, as neoliberalism becomes the order of 
the day, as governments become increasingly harsh, as strongmen 
seize power, I've moved into rethinking the somatic, the tissue and 
interiority of the body, of any body, of any organism, and its 
relationship to wounding, to dying, to catastrophe, to genocide, to 
species extinction. But always attempting to stay within the body, 
as if the texts, images, and sounds were embedded in the tissue 
itself, within and without the nervous system, with and without 
damage. I've also become more and more engaged with soundwork, both 
on a number of instruments, and within the limited use of digital 
programs; this has also been done with others, as I'm not basically 
a programmer. Here I've worked in three directions - as partner in 
a series of songs written, often from my texts, by Azure Carter, 
and sung in and against my improvisations; as working on the idea 
of time-reversal, in particular, having notes 'appear' before they 
are played, and appear in reverse (a physical impossibility that 
can only be approached through bufferings of various sorts), as if 
one could reverse death and destruction by means of this; and, 
finally, working on techniques to play acoustic instruments as fast 
as possible, so that the usual ongoing mental structures for 
organizing improvisational music in real time no longer hold, and 
the mind has to work with new and different forms of constructing 
sound. All of this, then, has been occurring for well over a 
quarter of a century; I find myself often failing myself, becoming 
inadequate to the task, and this has also led me to thinking about 
the related ideas of failure and inadequacy, and what might be done 
with them and through them. When these sorts of things occur, I 
write more or less formal essays - so there's one on inadequacy, 
one on avatar behavior in untoward spaces, one on emanants (a term 
I use for experimental avatars in experimental abstract or virtual 
spaces), several dealing with 'gamespace,' 'edgespace' and 'blank- 
space,' mapping unknown and unexpected anomalies in various digital 
and non-digital environments, etc. Early on, I also considered the 
phenomenology of the analog and digital, and how they intersect at 
various limits. And finally, I wonder, always, for how long can I 
keep going in this fashion? For me, every piece has to appear as if 
it's added something to the whole, some additional approach or 
thought or something to what I'm doing. It also has to - almost all 
the time - and almost all the time it does - make me uncomfortable, 
as if I've gone too far, pushed my comfort zone and boundaries past 
the point of no return; in fact, with all of this I'm somewhat 
fearful... But at least I have the space and time and hopefully the 
ability to keep on going - for no other reason, perhaps, than my 
work and thinking have no closure


(Following stats for an upcoming online show.)

Size and issues re: the Internet Text

Information gathered from panix.com and http://www.alansondheim.org

  1544632 9080039 60313486 total
of all *.txt files at my panix.com account.

   865224 5449499 36057531 total
of all ??.txt files at my panix.com account

==> The first is all .txt files. .doc, .rtf, etc. are excluded
The second is all the .txt files of the form [a-z][a-z].txt 
which are all the current normative form of the Internet Text.

What's excluded are the accompanying audio/video/image/etc. 
files; everything is at http://www.alansondheim.org There may
be several files not included on the webpage for personal reasons,
but the figures are largely correct.

The current size of the http://www.alansondheim.org/ is 
27.07 gigabytes out of a total of 30. I have to keep deleting
older or less useful media files, to keep below the limit. I
pay for the site which is already expensive; I have no 
university or other site. There are close to 10000 files up.


This project has been listed/described in a number of places;
it might be of interest here.

Thanks, Alan

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