The Blue Raccoon

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"..a slightly less way of being dead."

Photo booth images, Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake, introduced by Eric Weaver, at Brand Dialogue. The set first appeared in the Wit of the Staircase posting of Wednesday, September 14, 2005, titled "Gang of Four." Duncan wrote, "Los Angeles Lunar Society three,
plus the invisible elementwe are sworn to protect and emanates as a blank space...or ectoplasmic smear."

These days, I'm barreling through William Gibson's Idoru. I am a latecomer to the writer's works; and I admire his fanaticism for the well-tempered sentence, and find his lean, athletic prose sometimes breathtaking and often poetic. But the themes in the books I've read; Pattern Recognition and Spook Country, are to a certain extent elaborate plots of technological espionage in which the next killer app is a matter of severe concern to a few hyper-intelligent shadow figures who must out wit each other. A couple of critics have said that his prose exceeds the importance of his characters. I wonder if his characters would agree? All I know is, I find these books wild page turners and, at best, revelatory glimpses of our present and potential future.

Members of the billion-eyed audience who've been following along since this past summer know that the Blue Raccoon sacrificed many pixels to the mushrooming blog event following the deaths of writer and bloggeur Theresa Duncan and her partner, the artist Jeremy Blake. I said plenty then, and culled as best I could all the weeping and gnashing.

So as I was following along in Idoru, some lines just jumped out at me. These pertain to one of the protagonists, Colin Laney, who is a "quantitative analyst" who through a kind of "Beautiful Mind" cognitive ability, makes connections in data streams about personalities, in particular the famous, or people who know them, like Alison Shires. She's dating a minor celebrity and Laney observes indications in her data flow of her intention to commit suicide. He is moved to intervene but isn't able to.

He later reflects upon Alison Shire's demi-existence in the data that remains. I thought about all those blogs, and the messages Duncan rigged to pop up on her Wit of the Staircase on Halloween and New Year's. And, too, the potential for the persistence of art and memory once the maker is gone.

Gibson describes Laney's perspective on Alison's death and what remains of her in the world of information. He has left Slitscan, for whom he mined data, and is considering going with Out of Control, a hyper television tabloid sensation outfit.

"...and the whole thing would settle to the sea floor, silting over almost instantly with the world's steady accretion of data.

And Alison Shires' life, as he'd known it in all that terrible, banal intimacy, would lie there forever, forgotten and finally unknowable.

But if he went with Out of Control, her life might retrospectively become something else, and he wasn't sure, exactly, sitting there on the hard little chair in Visitors, what that might be.

He thought of coral, of the reefs that grew around sunken aircraft carriers; perhaps she'd become something like that, the buried mystery beneath some exfoliating superstructure of supposition, or even of myth.

It seemed to him... that that might be a slightly less dead way of being dead. And he wished her that."

Given the eruption of the political season, and how this past summer seemed such a dire time indeed, what she might have to say now, and what art Blake would've been further inspired to create.

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