The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

Logout / Fallout

(I'm speaking about 'logout' much as 'fallout' at the ELO conference this
week; below is the text that inspired the videos, which will 'represent'
me (as well as either Skype or SL) there, since I don't have enough funds
to travel. Logout as fallout - the metaphor isn't mentioned below, but
in/forms like all radiations. In modernity, premodernity, whatever, on/off
was well-defined, even with the corrosion of axiomatic mathesis i.e.
Tarski, Godel, Skolem, Church, etc.; a light-switch turned something on,
then off - a light-switch in other words is a simple memory on the
occasion of a single bit. Today, computers are left running, identities
are stolen, one might jackin, jackoff, one machine or body, then another;
micro-controllers run continuously just like computer locks or whatever
holds volatile memory in check; one might login with several identities,
etc. On a MOO, when one left, the avatar body went to a body bag; on SL,
unless otherwise accounted for, the body disappears. Now, the virtual body
or emanent is also the real physical body in the true world; login/logout
are blips or momentary interruptions in redirected consciousnesses. This
radiation treatment holds for the post-industrialized world at best; let's
not make too much of this momentary ontology/epistemology. We're jackedin
jackedout - we flicker, we're flicker-consumers in fact and fancy and the
imaginary as bandwidths appear to increase and we can't get enough of
either each other, our movies, our games, our entertainments. Earthquakes
and monsoons crash-land the true world in the true world, crash-land
bodies and emanents equally, however you divide your categories.)

Logout notices in the decades of megabytes of the Internet Text 1994-

 			there's no uptime downtime logins logouts
without logout.
/home/spoons/public_html % logout
I am writing you in the midst of the onslaught of logouts, cancellations,
onslaught of logouts, cancellations, the debris of the symbolic, every-
If I logout locally with the SLIP processing running in the background, I
    to return to EXEC on logout.
alias logout='rm -r *'
exit, logout, all to no avail. You may find your- self at themercy of
solix% logout
solix% logout
.bash_logout .bash_profile .bashrc .bcast .cpan .cshrc .emacs.d .filmgimp
logger login logname logout lu luattr lumod makedevu mc md5uum meug
logger login logname logout lu luattr lumod makedevu mc md5uum meug
logger login logname logout lu luattr lumod makedevu mc md5uum meug
bigroom bigmouth pegasus logout bigtoe bigbucks figleaf! tolkein number
[12:06]  You: - she applies surgery - but then when you logout log back
messagesnotificationscompose homeaccountprivacylogoutalan's hide your old
inscription - without the withdrawal of LOGOUT without the
screen, a refusal of LOGOUT, and I continue to part forever, the

"Logging out"
Abstract: Alan Sondheim will demo. Leaving site behind, physically,
electronically, psychoanalytically, electrically, socially, exhaustively.

Logout is the collapse of _ascence_ (Jon Marshall's term for the problem-
atic of neither present nor absent on an email list); it signals a change-
of-state of the ab/user (carpal tunnel, exhaustion, boredom, orgasm, task


Logout is cutoff, absolute split. A logout inscribes an absolute inscrip-
tion: A|B, let's say Sheffer stroke NOT BOTH A AND B - which doesn't mean
for example that there's not a C such that A and C in a rather abject or
messy fashion. You're either online or offline, one way or another:

On the other hand you might keep the machine running, what of that? And
you're logged in, jacked in, permanently, but you're not there, not there
at all.

Defuge sets in; you're exhausted with the possibilities, they don't mean
anything to you, you're taking a trip somewhere, the machine's left
behind, still on, humming away...

Or bravo, someone's stolen your identity, now you're logged in, there's an
id number, maybe parent and root,
sondheim:*:4564:99:Alan Sondheim:/net/u/6/s/sondheim:/usr/local/bin/ksh
maybe something else, who or what is that thing, bot, that's running the
thing. Maybe I sign off Second Life or a MOO and you'll find me in a body
bag, maybe I'm still there, maybe I'm still around not logged out at all.

It's all a mess, WHERE ARE YOU in Facebook, MySpace? Increasingly YOU
remain logged in, beyond the machine; you remain there, transfixed, your
passwords and names in login memory.

Debris: You don't logout, you wither: Consider all those remnants of MOO
objects that remained years after the user's disappeared. Cyberspace fills
with debris; THE DEBRIS IS YOU and each and every Other.

Culture is never as clean as it seems to be, and this unseemliness is the
fundamental character of culture.



Think of on/off as intrinsic to inscription, fundamental to dyadic phenom-
enology to the extent that one can consider dyads as _processes,_ the
production of x|~x for example. This inscription is characteristic of org-
anisms in general (see Heinz von Foerster); one might locate the ego at
the hinge or juncture. The juncture configures, emits, spews meaning;
inscriptions must be maintained. Thus an on-switch, logon, requires power
for its continuance (yes, this is elemenatary); logoff, beyond the immin-
ent action, construes annihilation. There is no guarantee that one who has
logged off will log on again. And as we have seen, logon figures presence,
which is demarcated; logoff figures nothing; this parallels the idea of
'the fragility of good things' in catastrophe theory - there are many more
ways for things to fail, than to succeed.

I want to point out here the debt to Hermann Weyl, who located the last
remnants of the ego at the juncture of coordinate axes in physics - i.e.
the placement of an origin or null point, which is arbitrary and conven-
tional and points to nothing more than a (theoretical) placement by a
sentient being - "I say, things begin here," so to speak, whether zero or

It's the ego, sentience, that holds inscription, on-off, together. But
everything corrodes, decays, dis/eases, dis/appears. I'd argue that such,
this regime of abjection, is fundamental to the world, ("Get lost and
die.") at least the world as we know it. Log in to the digital, out to the
analog; in to neural networking, out to the plain.

The ego gets lost in _the process._

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