The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

(apologies for so much mail; see for 
what might pass for a psychopathological explanation)


Goethe: "Whichever way you look at nature, it is the source of what is
infinite." (Maxims and Reflections 1409, trans. Stopp.)

Julu: Yes, but of course in Second Life, there is no nature; things can
only go so high.

Nikuko: Perhaps the idea is one of extrapolation, the asymptotic - one
imagines going higher, and this is always the case. (Of course there is
always dimensional collapse - the asymptotic grinding to a halt.)

Julu: Only to an extent - if nothing else the computer itself, client or
server, carries its own limitations, and these are intrinsic, inherent,

Nikuko: This is responsible for what I consider the _compression_ of Sec-
ond Life - the uncanny sensation that everything, no matter how distant,
remains contained, closed in, closing in on itself, closing in on us,
users and avatars and observers, for that matter.

Julu: And contained along the axis of equivalence or equivalent substance
(shades of the analogic!), since it is all code, protocol, programming,
program dynamics; it is all of a one or a two, of a type - one might say,
following Kripke, of a _natural kind._

Nikuko: Yes, it is a digital substance or floating signifier - and a sub-
stance with malleable boundaries and internals, but one nonetheless having
a limit or limits, compression. This is easier to see - witness - than in
the physical world; inhabiting any virtual world, Second Life or other,
always has a sense of poverty to it. Where one invests is ultimately in
the language or culture - inscribing oneself in and out of it, so to
speak/write/rewrite/presence onself.

Julu: The compression extends metaphorically to a lack of atmosphere - for
that matter a lack of anything at all (shades of Nagarjuna!); what occurs,
rides on any number of machines and conduits. As if the world were vacuum
and emptied even of that.

Julu again: But it's this - I _sense_ it, this compression. In a way it
seems unnatural, but it's all we have within what is, one way or another,
a corroded, porous, and dynamic manifold. And it's suffocating.

Nikuko: It's suffocating and wounds; we live within a semantic manifold as
well, one of permanent wounding.

Julu: And this is what I meant by _flattening,_ the flat world -

Nikuko: - which extends, seeps out, from the virtual, back into what one
normally considers the real or Real (literally whatever, here); it is all
compressed -

Julu: - abjection and defuge at the heart of it.

Nikuko: However one might want to define heart - whatever it is or seems
to be, it's not infinite.

Julu: The idea of the 'true world' again, coming into play everywhere,
inscribed or uninscribed.

Nikuko: I can't breath...

Julu: Nor I...

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