vr

a novel

Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

August 1997

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

From: Columbine
Date: 1 August 1997
Subject: Re: Form IS content

>exposing me to the
>passers-by whom [sic] we know will not come, but whom [sic] it delights us
>to imagine will."
>
>The first "whom" is the subject of the verb "come" and not the object of the
>verb "know". You do not know the passers-by. You know that they (and not
>"them") will not come. The last clause dies in incoherence. Even if it were
>correct, it would be unreadable: "but who it delights us to imagine will."
>In English the subject and verb are conjoined, usually SV. With the subject
>("who[m]") way on the left and the verb ("will [come]") elliptical and way
>on the right, this sentence severely taxes the reader's memory and attention
>span, especially with the accumulation of verbs at the end, characteristic
>of German but unheard of in English.

You're absolutely right, but we couldn't come up with a better way to tersely say the things we wanted to communicate:
1. we know they won't come.
2. it's fun to think they will.
3. we know this is a fantasy.
4. we get off on it.

The story is about 80% me and the rest is from the other two regular editors.

I expect to get the hate mail any day now. It's not really pornographic, not in my book, but it's close enough to rattle a few windows.

The slide from past to present to future is deliberate and I am happy to see that you got the desired effect.

Only the first library carrel incident is true. It was me, and I did NOT try it again. On the other hand I've danced in a strip club in New Orleans just to see what it felt like, so I shall not pretend to sainthood.

Age eighteen: I'm old fashioned. I think kids are losing it too young these days. I may have been a late bloomer, but if you have your first sex before seventeen or eighteen you're making a judgemental mistake. Of course, I also think that one shouldn't get married before age twenty-five ... which means that my mores about these things come into direct conflict with the imperatives of biology, since it's really better to have kids young.

Good thing I'm never having kids, eh? -c

From: SAGReiss
Date: 2 August 1997
Subject: Does anyone want this job?

The news in this morning's paper, which we had ample time to read as five of us combined on a team effort to deliver one Continental and one order of coffee and juice, was captured in a picture on the editorial page of a lovely blonde lovingly cradling a new-born to her bosom. Only problem is that the lady, a married mother of three although the article didn't make clear whether the latest child counts, is the teacher of the sixth grader who fathered the baby. The evidence shows that the boy is "old beyond his years", but his mother will probably have to take care of the offspring while the mother does time. I'm meanwhile looking for work. Room service has been completely overlooked in the general scheme of things at the Sazerac. We work in an area which also serves as receiving for the kitchen and as the entrance and employee restroom for about fifty people. We wear these waistcoats which, given the style and condition, must have served as costume to the actors playing slavehands in Gone With The Wind. Another hotel has called me, a monster luxury hotel with 865 rooms. I shall go there after work on Monday. I'm so sick of this shit. I don't want to be picky, but it's tough to work in a place with impossible conditions and no chance of making any money. The room service crew is obviously the dregs. I just can't figure out how I got nominated. I guess I don't give a fuck. I'll just do as negatron said and keep switching until I find a place that will treat me like a human being and offer the possibility of earning a hundred bucks a day, or fifteen dollars an hour, whichever comes first.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 4 August 1997
Subject: Big Brother in the 'Hood

Sir,

An online acquaintance suggested I get in touch with you. I looked up your name in the phone book and found nothing, but a quick search on Netscape brought up more information than I'm comfortable with. I wonder if my unpublished phone number and address are readily available to everyone on the web. Anyway we could probably communicate by shouting out the window. We're neighbors. I'm not sure why this woman told me to contact you. She does not know you, but only knows of you. My web site and Dreamscape e-mail address might go down at any moment, as I've just crossed the country and have yet to set up a proper internet account in Seattle. Anyway, however weird-odd it may seem, I'm pleased to meet you.

From: SAGReiss
Date: 5 August 1997
Subject: Attitude Adjustment

"Gabriel, perhaps you need to think about your attitude." "Look, I've just clocked out. Would you like me to clock back in for a counselling session? [...] I didn't think so. I'll be back to pick up my check." Oh well, two down, one to go. I guess they did their housecleaning today. They fired the only person I liked in the kitchen too. I'd have rather quit, but they didn't give me quite enough time to find another job. I was going to have two days off anyway, and another hotel has (almost) offered me a spot on the floor. No more of this room service shit working in a closet space. And I did good today, too. One guy didn't show up, but there were only half a dozen orders. These hanged-over girls called up and wanted Tylenol with their breakfast. I asked the executive chef. He said that it was illegal for me to dispense pharmaceuticals. "Can I bring them up some marajuana instead?" Maybe that's why I got fired. Humour is not in a good mood today, especially since Old Bill Burroughs is dead. The girl, whom I told about my conversation with the chef, said: "Put on a good tip for yourself." I handed her the bill: "Would you like to suggest something?" She wrote in seven bucks. I got another four-dollar tip for conning the line cook into making me eggs, even though we were only s'posed to be serving cold breakfast. I'll never see the money, of course, but I made about ten dollars in cash anyway. I'm sorry, Jim, for the confusion, but life on the internet is weird, as can be life in the hospitality business, and we all know what Dr Thompson said about what to do when the going gets weird. I like to take care of all my e-mail at once, especially on days when I get fired and have nothing to drink but beer. First, a little background. SarahBeth, an internet acquaintance who has read Jim's books, told me he was a neighbor and that I should get in touch with him. I looked in the phone book, but he isn't listed. I accidentally found this thing on Netscape called InfoSpace  and typed in his name, city and state. Up popped his address, unlisted phone number and two e-mail addresses. I wrote him an awkward little letter, which he has kindly answered. I guess, Jim, SarahBeth (I don't know if that's her real name.) thought that we might have similar literary interests. (As I said, you can see mine on our web site, if it stays up any longer.) I moved from Syracuse, New York, but that's not where I'm from. I've lived in a lot of places, mainly the Northeast and Alsace. As we say there: "Die ganze Welt kann mich am Arsch lecke."

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Jim
Date: 5 August 1997
Subject: Re: Big Brother in the 'Hood

dear scott,
> An online acquaintance suggested I get in touch with you. I looked up your
> name in the phone book and found nothing, but a quick search on Netscape
> brought up more information than I'm comfortable with.

yeah, it's kinda scarey. But this woman. She doesn't know me and you don't know why she said to contact me? What's the connection do you think?

> address might go down at any moment, as I've just crossed the country and
> have yet to set up a proper internet account in Seattle. Anyway, however
> weird-odd it may seem, I'm pleased to meet you.

likewise. where'd you move from?

jim

From: SAGReiss
Date: 10 August 1997
Subject: Cybertext
Attached: vr.doc

Sir or Madam,

Please find enclosed as an attachment some fairly representative excerpts of a three-hundred-page epistolary novel entitled vr which I submit to your judgement for publication.

The text takes the form of e-mail and online dialogues between members of a listserv, an eclectic, multi-lingual group of intellectuals, proletarians and alcoholics. The book blurs the lines between cyberspace and the physical world, as the characters create first a web site then a MOO.

While themes include literature, sexual violence, race relations, cooking and alcoholism, the plot follows a four-month love story from vr (virtual reality) to rl (real life) as a woman on the listserv, a clarinetist with some bad sexual experiences, moves in with the man who created it, a foul-mouthed, drunken, polyglot intellectual.

If you would be interested in reading more, I should gladly send you the whole cyberscript.

Thank you for your consideration.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

present: Waiter, Sheraton University Hotel (Syracuse, NY)
1994-1995: Teaching Assistant (French), Syracuse University.
1992-1994: Manager, Restaurant Pizzeria La Farfalla (Saverne, France).
1990-1992: Teacher, École de langues Gutenberg (Strasbourg, France).
Dec. 1989: “Le Baseball”, article published in Les Temps modernes (Paris).
1986-1988: Teacher, translator, Bénédict S.A.R.L. (Strasbourg).

EDUCATION

1994-1995: M.A. candidate (French), Syracuse University.
1992: B.A. (French), Charter Oak College (Farmington, CT).
1988-1989: Albert-Ludwigs-Universität (Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany).
1985-1987: Université des Sciences Humaines, Strasbourg II.
1984-1985: McGill University (Montreal).
1983-1984: Boston University.
1982-1983: Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier III (France).
1982: Southern Connecticut State College (New Haven, CT).
1982: High School Diploma, Wilbur Cross High School (New Haven).
1979-1980: Yale University, two six-credit courses in ancient Greek.

Languages: French and German.
Special skills: Computer literate (Microsoft Word, Excel, the internet)

From: Editor
Date: 11 August 1997
Subject: Re: Cybertext

Thanks for your e-mail and submission. I have looked at the Web site and read your excerpts.

I genuinely admire your writing -- I find your tone, style and content in many ways superior to and more authentic than a lot of the new fiction and drama coming out here in Britain (for example, 'Trainspotting' and 'Shopping and F**king'). I am also, for obvious reasons, very keen on the Internet context.

However, at the moment, Online Originals is struggling desperately to establish for itself a credible place not just on the net but also in the stuffy old publishing world, which as you know is full of prigs and snobs and moralists. So until we are more established, and can begin to negotiate our own publishing rights and subsidiary rights such as cinema and broadcasting, we have decided to turn down (for now) any sexually explicit or so-called profane writing that comes our way. However, we do have plans, after a time, to start related Online Originals 'imprints' -- including one for bold and avant garde writing like yours, as well as other imprints for example for translations, for women's writing, and perhaps for out-of-print books.

So although I have to say 'no' for now, I would encourage you to keep writing, to stay faithful to your voice, and to keep track of us – and get back in touch when it appears we have gained the confidence to be a little offensive!

A reply would be welcome. Thanks again for writing.

With best wishes.

Davids
Online Originals

From: SAGReiss
Date: 11 August 1997
Subject: Shameless self-promotion

Thanks for your encouragement. I wish you luck. Oh, by the way, does your wife run Random House? Oops, just kidding. Guess I'll have to find a job. If you know anyone who might be interested in "vr", please feel free to pass it along. I'm going insanely broke, so the Dreamscape address will disappear as soon as they figure out that I can't afford to pay anymore. If you have anything in French you'd like to see translated, I'd be happy to do it. I can also do German, but that's real work. Thanks again.

From: Editor
Date: 12 August 1997
Subject: Nothing wrong with self-promotion

Thanks for the reply. I wish my wife did run Random House, but Online Originals is unfortunately fully independent, and like you, very broke. I do happen to have a job, a day job, which most people urge me not to give up!

I may ask one of our authors to get in touch with you, if you don't mind -- a Scottish playwright -- since I think he would be equally interested in your writing.

Incidentally, how much do you charge for French translation? As you may have noticed, we do the Online Originals site in both French and English. I really need someone I can count on -- someone who take it seriously, and not mess me around -- to check the French for accuracy and, if possible, add elegance.

Best wishes.

Editor
Online Originals

From: SAGReiss
Date: 12 August 1997
Subject: We are all whores

Or sluts as the case may be, since I'd be happy to look over your French for free. Just send whatever texts to this address AND MSN because I may get shut off Dreamscape very soon. I'm also working on a day job, since your wife obviously isn't taking seriously enough our need to be rich and famous writers, editors and publishers. Tell her to pull up her socks, or some other British-type call to duty. I'd be happy to exchange e-mail with the famous Scottish playwright. Someone will eventually figure out how to make money intelligently on the web. This is not like television, where one has to pander to the most beastly instincts of the crowd. Although I am known as the Antigeek, I've been involved in many online fora, all of which have so far failed wretchedly. I'm not sure if you've looked at our MOO, which is a place for real-time interaction. It's a public space, usually uninhabited, which anyone can access through telnet. Please feel free to use it for conferences, discussion groups, cybersex or whatever. If you're not sure how to use it, I could help sometime when we're both online. Thanks again.

From: SAGReiss
Date: 14 August 1997
Subject: $300 per couple

@next on *soc
Message 6 on *Social (#122):
Date: Thu Aug 14 21:52:33 1997 PDT
From: ava
To: *Social (#122)
Subject: online couples study

Hello all. :-) I am writing my sociology dissertation on couples who meet and develop their relationship in synchronous online environments. The purpose of the research is to gain a better understanding of communication between couples and to increase understanding of how relationships on the Net are developed and maintained. I am looking for couples who:

1) met originally online.

2) have been communicating online individually for at least eight months, or longer.

3) consider themselves to be an intimate couple, or romantic relationship.

This research is premised on the implementation of the highest standards of confidentiality and protection of privacy. If you and your partner are interested in learning more about participation in this study, both of you please send an email. I then will send you more information about the study. Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Ava
--------------------------

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 15 August 1997
Subject: Online coupling

Waiting for a phone call about a twelve-ninety-three-dollar-an-hour translating job, I write to reiterate my offer of help with your study, preferably but not necessarily as a paid subject/consultant. I understand your worry about copyright on RL MOO, but this problem would not arise if your subjects went to one of the twelve semi-private rooms and locked the door. They would be the only people able to log the text and thus would own all rights to it. I have seen many sides of the privacy issue, from someone who insisted that his real name be used to protect his MOO identity to someone who calls me an "internet friend" and jumps through (a)grammatical hoops to hide the gender of her domestic partner. I will be formal on this issue: all willful deceit about such matters as name, gender, appearance etc. are lies, and I do not stand for lies. I do not, of course, page people: "r u m or f?" I go by the information which they give me, but I expect that information to be true, or at least not willfully deceptive. I have no patience for sophomoric MOOphilosophy such as: "I always lie:)" This is a simple confusion of subject and predicate which has been known for centuries as the syllogism fallacy. As I said, we have very little in the way of logs, though I would gladly sell you one of our fearless Archwizard negatron and his cybergf. We do, however, have literally hundreds and hundreds of pages of e-mail detailing daily a meeting in cyberspace and subsequent real life relationship. I would be open to negociation about the use of real names. On the one hand I do not wish to be called something other than what it says on my birth certificate. On the other hand my goal is to find a publisher for our work, which would but ill be served if we were anonymous subjects in your dissertation. I should think we could come up with some kind of compromise, allusion to a URL, for example. Even if not, perhaps one of my friends might know a three-hundred-dollar volonteer. I wish you well.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 15 August 1997
Subject: Re: Online coupling

> I have seen many sides of the privacy issue, from someone
> who insisted that his real name be used to protect his MOO identity to
> someone who calls me an "internet friend" and jumps through (a)grammatical
> hoops to hide the gender of her domestic partner. I will be formal on this
> issue: all willful deceit about such matters as name, gender, appearance
> etc. are lies, and I do not stand for lies.

What an unwarranted attack! If I hadn't been reading your commentary for so long, I might be offended.

My domestic partner is female. I just got tired of being flamed. The next person who tells me the internet is a hotbed of sexual tolerance is cordially invited to read some of the hate mail I've accumulated over the years. But then, you LIKE getting hate mail. I don't mind it, but one gets tired of fighting the same issues over and over.

I do not agree that concealment of information is automatically a lie. It is merely concealment. You may interpret it as a personal affront, but no one else on the internet gets my real name either. I have a consistent policy. In fact, I have been turned down for access to two web sites because I will not give a full name. These sites can damn well do without my patronage. Requiring a full name on the internet guarantees nothing. It is a meaningless formality designed to maintain the illusion of fixed identity in a universe where little is verifiable. It's a crutch.

Of course you're my "internet friend." Have I ever met you face-to-face? Am I ever likely to? Will I ever speak to you on the telephone? The answer to all these questions is no. I appreciate that you do not compartmentalize your life, and that's valid; but you're really not allowed to criticize me for compartmentalizing mine. It's a matter of individual taste.

I had you in mind in a mouth organ essay a few days back, as an example of someone who has a I-think-unreasonable zero tolerance policy on fluidity of identity online. You don't see the charm in the idea that here a person IS who they pretend to be. I have a hard time understanding that. More so in this case, since, as near as I can tell, it would have made no difference in our interaction *at all*.

If I were representing myself as a boy, would it make any difference in our conversations to date? You've never made a pass at me nor engaged in any sexual innuendo with me. If I gave you my real name, you might be a little less likely to be aggravated with me over this matter, but our discussions would be almost unchanged in content and tone.

It baffles me. Explain it to me. -c

From: Ava
Date: 15 August 1997
Subject: Re: Online coupling

Thanks for the note Scott. In this study, I only gather communication between couples who have given their written consent. I only take people who report pages (from people other than their partner) at a low level. (They edit out others' pages prior to sending their logs to me.) And I do NOT use either their rl name or their moo name because of the personal nature of their communication and an ethic in sociology to protect their privacy rights and their confidentiality. (This is to _protect_ them, not to cheat them in any way.) It is on the consent form.

If this isn't comfortable to you, not to worry. :) Just don't refer anyone to me, and I won't take any logs from people logging in RL MOO. (I haven't gotten a reply from the post there anyway.)

Best of luck to you,

ava

From: SAGReiss
Date: 15 August 1997
Subject: Data

The only reason I've never made a pass at you, Columbine, is that negatron has hacked and stalked up so much information about your rl that we know for a fact that you are Todd, currently under indictment for felonious corruption of a minor with lewd and evil intent. Federal prosecutor John Paul Sartre is said to be asking that you be interned with Justin Volpe and Mary Kay LeTourneau for the remainder of your days. Of course we all knew, or strongly suspected, that your SO was a gf. I'm sorry if it seemed like I was pressuring you to divulge this fact. I don't really care. Concealment makes it an issue, though of course it's a no-win situation for you. Obviously I came on a little too strong. That happens after a week of unemployment spent drinking beer, MOOing on Lambda and listening to National Public Radio and wondering which is worst. What I stated, with a little too much vehemence, was the position I bring to the table, not what I believe I can walk away with. I expect people to tell the truth. I know better than to think that they do, vr and irl. If I had to change my expectations to fit what I seriously think I can hope to get, I wouldn't bother talking to other people. I have no problem with knowing you as Columbine, would gain no insight by knowing that you are Gertrude or Samantha, and would have given you a "Columbine" character on RL if anyone ever went there to talk to you. Consider that an open invitation made in good faith. The internet is a hotbed of snotty, little middle-class white boiz and grrlz who have never had their precious brains challenged either by reading in the library, the brothers in the 'hood or the AIDS-infected sisters at work. Unfortunately it's a game for the over-privileged. I was stunned one day to find that one of legba's friends accused Nichelle's texts on the web site of being "contrived". Nothing is more suspect online than the simple truth. I find your argument about requiring a full name to be somewhat disingenuous. You define quite clearly online conjugal infidelity as "intent to deceive". It makes no difference to me whether we call him John, negatron, victim (who is f last I noticed), Archwizard, Arschloch or whatever, so long as there is no intent to deceive. I did not mean to attack you, nor criticize the way you "compartmentalize" your life, nor am I aggravated. I suspected you were referring to me when you said that about some people thinking all gender-morphing is fraud. I was merely stating my initial bargaining position, as is true also of the following. I must apologize to you, ava, for exposing you to my idiosyncratic sense of humor without warning. Though the log of negatron's rapture I offered to sell you no doubt exists, I have never seen it and probably wouldn't know how to find it on Nichelle's 'puter. That's my idea of a joke. I am somewhat familiar with the Hippocratic oath of ethnology: "Do not change those whom you observe." Unfortunately this, not unlike my injunction: "Always tell the truth," is not possible. I knew a French ethnologist who lived with the Pygmies for six months in God-forsaken Africa, what Nichelle calls butt-fuck Egypt. How could the presence of a white boy, from whom they stole everything of value on his first day there, not change things in the 'hood? Another example would be Cleo's "Patpong Sisters" which violates every professional ethic in the field of anthropology. (Cleo is an "online friend" of ours.) Collecting data online is a very touchy subject. One has to choose either surrepticious or suspect data. Anything logged by the participants is worthless. It's like saying: "Don't be self-conscious, but we're going to film you in the sack." I did not mean to discourage you, ava. As I've said many times, I will follow anyone who tries to do something serious on the 'net. I was just trying to raise some questions about ethics and methodology. One resource which is very close to my heart is Dr Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (cf. commentary in "The Great Shark Hunt") which is a novel masquerading as autobiography masquerading as a novel. As far as I'm concerned, my e-mail is fiction.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 15 August 1997
Subject: New Seattle Rules

OK, boiz 'n' grrlz, let's calm down. Article I. SAGReiss may say whatever he likes because he knows that no one takes him seriously and therefore there can be no "intent to deceive". Paragraph 1. negatron probably doesn't know what the InterNIC registration is, nor do I. Paragraph 2. Federal prosecutor John Paul Sartre does not exist, nor does Jean-Sol Partre, a fictional character in Boris Vian's novel "L'Attrape-coeur" which I highly recommend. Paragraph 3. Justin Volpe and Mary Kay LeTourneau's sordid stories can be found in today's USA Today on page 3A. Paragraph 4. yduJ, the person to whom you probably refer, Columbine, and all of her ilk need not be taken seriously. My apologies to Stanford University, whence she graduated (I'd say mega cum laude, but negatron might think that's a new porn site.) in philosophy, but these post-modern assholes make me laugh. Marshall McLuhan is all very well, but there were three thousand years of Western literature and philosophy before him. Henry Miller may have been exagerating when he said, in 1950, that an intellectual should have read five thousand books. He lists the five thousand books that he has read, but unfortunately I counted and there are only three thousand. Every day on Lambda I hear these idiots spout bullshit about the author of the day, assuming that everyone, like themselves, has read but the textbook version. When I say: "But That's not what [Fill in the name of your favorite dead white male.] said," it seems that I've got a text fixation, which is probably true. I wish there were some way we could make a sustained effort and look at a given text. I've tried, some have shown interest, but if my energy has failed, so ends the whole project. Whatever. Nichelle is impatient for supper. Article II. SAGReiss is always right.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Subject: Re: Data
Date: 15 August 1997

>The only reason I've never made a pass at you, Columbine, is that negatron
>has hacked and stalked up so much information about your rl that we know for
>a fact that you are Todd Button, currently under indictment for felonious
>corruption of a minor with lewd and evil intent. Federal prosecutor John
>Paul Sartre is said to be asking that you be interned with Justin Volpe and
>Mary Kay LeTourneau for the remainder of your days. Of course we all knew,
>or strongly suspected, that your SO was a gf. I'm sorry if it seemed like I
>was pressuring you to divulge this fact. I don't really care. Concealment
>makes it an issue, though of course it's a no-win situation for you.

Except that what Negatron has done is probably just read the InterNIC registration. Todd is fairly faithful about keeping his name out of all the dadblasted internet name services, but has to give a real name and paper address for that one.

Look, you've followed some of the history. Originally we didn't have the columbine mailbox. I used Todd's logon and he made it t.button everywhere so that no one would know a first name. Now he uses that one and I use this one and the world is a happy place - except I still use his paper address on the rare occasions when I need one. And once in a while we get each others' mail, but we sort that out.

I'm not especially concerned with being female on the net; I don't really have anything to hide. I just don't think it's anyone's information to know. As the guy on 411 said when he was arguing with Todd about removal of the name:
"If you really believed that, you wouldn't be able to list your telephone number, either."
Todd: "Actually, I *don't* list my telephone number."
We're consistent.

Unfortunately the fact that my domain is registered in his name leads people to think he's me, and the mouth organ site, which requires a certain amount of disclosure (since the editors plan on actually going to conventions and things), leads people to believe I'm Todd's SO, Debby. Which we don't bother denying anymore. In fact, some comments in some articles encourage that. Keep 'em guessing. But my name is not actually on the mouth organ masthead.

I am trying my best to not exist. I want people looking for me to be told columbine and look no further. As columbine, I have only an electronic existence. If you like, you can think of me as vanishing whenever this computer is turned off. That would suit me fine.

You have a very good point, though, one which has not been lost on me in the past: By suppressing this information I actually call attention to it, make people want to look for it. When Todd started mouth organ, he referred the URL to a good friend of his - that was before any real names were on the masthead - without telling him who was behind it. His friend was no dummy though; intrigued by the site and finding no hard information on who wrote it, he immediately went to InterNIC and that was that.

Why do people do this? If the information is good information, why do you need to know about the person behind it? Why not take it as is? I still don't get it. I read the Screech column, written by someone who goes by the name "monkeygurl." I love her columns. I do not love them any less because I don't know her real name. (Actually, I have since learned it - it was on her email - but you get the point.)

I end up in a dilemma over this. I don't want to give out the information, but if I suppress it, everyone wants to go look for it. Human nature annoys me sometimes.

It annoys Todd too.

From: Columbine
Date: 15 August 1997
Subject: Re: Data

>Collecting
>data online is a very touchy subject. One has to choose either surrepticious
>or suspect data. Anything logged by the participants is worthless. It's like
>saying: "Don't be self-conscious, but we're going to film you in the sack."

Hear, hear. That's why mouth organ, in writing about the MUCKs, has taken the ethically dubious position of using anything we manage to overhear, with the names filed off. Eavesdropping is the only way to get useful data on a MUCK. Our take is that if it occurred in a public room and we don't use names, we are on reasonably safe ground.

mouth organ isn't allowed to make any more nasty cracks about LambdaMOO. We've made three in the last two weeks. Todd and Debby are friends with one of the original LambdaMOO programmers, who is still a very active participant, and if she sees another bad word about LambdaMOO we will be flamed as we have never been flamed before.

From: root
Date: 15 August 1997
Subject: Re: Data

page sagreiss columbine must be wondering why i was so curious about her identity, since we've almost never spoken. you prick, she probably thinks i'm some sort of weird net-stalker creep-o.
Your message has been sent to SAGReiss. SAGReiss seems to be dozing, though.
You sense that SAGReiss is looking for you in Apartment 7.
He pages, "That's what I think."

From: Ava
Date: 15 August 1997
Subject: distribution lists

Scott,

Could you please take me off group lists such as the one you just sent out?

Thank you. :)

ava

From: SAGReiss
Date: 15 August 1997
Subject: Make my day

Funny how there are these long silences, particularly when I'm outrageously depressed about having no work, no money, no reason to live, and then sparks of life all in one day. I have nothing against Miss Judy Anderson. (I think that is her name.) I was really railing against the general scum I see on every online forum. I know why they're ignorant. I saw the professors at Syracuse University and those at Strasbourg. It's very simple. At SU some French professor would smile and give me a bibliography. I had already read every single book. In Strasbourg a professor of French, Greek and Latin, whose other specialty was German, would snarl and give me a spellbinding analysis of some obscure English poem I'd never heard of. Those were bad-ass men. Please tell me how to join a MUCK. I promise I won't tell anyone that I'm your "online friend". Before I open the floor to whatever non-fiction work you choose, I should make two things clear. I have no interest in who creates the text. The text is a phenomenon, phonetics (graphics), morphology, syntax, philology, rhetoric, syntax. Who created the text is no more relevant than God in physics. It's there. By the same token I would never try to say what a text means to me. The reader is as irrelevant as the author. Only the text itself matters. I also like coffee, though I don't drink very much of it, a cup or two in the morning, seldom more or afterwards. We've got an expresso machine. I like the coffee with a little cardamom. Nichelle doesn't. We haven't yet found the right brand/ground of coffee here for our machine and our taste. It's not that we're picky, or at least I don't think so, but we're trying to find the right brew for us. Taste is something that's learned and refined. I'm quite ready for a non-fiction work. In fact I was born ready. Just send us the text, or I can choose one. Perhaps we can wake up John, John, Laurent, Joy and Kate. (I've been trying to find new contributors, but they haven't got a listing for sex-u-bluestockings on Persian Kitty...)

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 15 August 1997
Subject: Re: New Seattle Rules

>Paragraph 4. yduJ, the person to whom
>you probably refer, Columbine, and all of her ilk need not be taken
>seriously.

I *thought* that might have been just enough information for you to place her. I don't take her seriously, because I've never met her, don't plan to, and her bluster has no meaning to me. Todd and Debby see her at parties and such every now and then and would prefer, I think, to avoid another tongue-lashing.

Also none of us has taken Lambda seriously enough to apply for a non-guest id, which to some there makes our testimony suspect. I think I would prefer to use the famous reply, "You don't have to eat a whole apple to know it's rotten."

>Every day on Lambda I hear these idiots
>spout bullshit about the author of the day, assuming that everyone, like
>themselves, has read but the textbook version. When I say: "But That's not
>what [Fill in the name of your favorite dead white male.] said," it seems
>that I've got a text fixation, which is probably true. I wish there were
>some way we could make a sustained effort and look at a given text.

My opinions about who creates a text, the value of textual analysis, etc have all changed radically because of one very intelligent person who finally phrased it in small enough and simple enough words that I realized it wasn't all bulls**t.

I would like to live in a world where everyone is required to read the book before commenting on it. I would also like to live in a world where people say "this is what I am interpreting the material as saying" rather than "this is what the author thinks." Only the author is entitled to say that something is what the author thinks.

The reason that I haven't shown more interest in your attempts, Gabriel, is that I have no interest in analysis of Emily Dickinson and Shakespeare, much as I love both. I love coffee too, and I don't care to nitpick at the various elements that make up the flavor of coffee and why I like them. I just drink it. If, one day, you regain your energy and decide to look into a non-fiction work, I shall be quite interested.

From: Nichelle
Date: 16 August 1997
Subject: root?

I guess this is what happens when Gabriel has too much time on his hands. I'm feeling bitchy and grumpy about my life. I'm a twenty-four year old knockout-turned-fatgrrl, work at a fast food deli where I would have been embarrassed to work as a high school student eight years ago (and you ask me why I change into my uniform after I get there?), and have a cyber-turned-rl bf who doesn't like my jokes, having sex with me, listening to me talk, or doing anything that involves leaving the apartment. At least we live in Seattle now.

Columbine, you seem a little sensitive about the identity issue. Of course nobody is spying on you. Gabriel comes closest by reading your page every time there's something new. I don't read it because we've only got one phone line and I can never get online except to quickly check my e-mail and then get back off again. As for your SO... Whatever. I think it's pretty clear when you call somebody a "significant other" and play the "I'm not telling you their gender" game. (Gabriel is singing "Yackity Crab" into the potty again. Poor sweetie.) I think it's a little silly, but whatever cranks your wank... I'm glad you're on the list and that you write interesting letters and nobody here sends hate mail to anyone except Gabriel.

Laurent, please tell me it's a joke/lie. Gaby says you told him you wanted to fling your baguette into my back seat and go for a little ride around Paris. I think he's getting ideas from the boys upstairs.

P.S. negatron? what the fuck is this root shit?

Nichelle

From: SAGReiss
Date: 16 August 1997
Subject: Sugar Daddy & Butt Boy

If I get this part-time, $12.93-an-hour translating/customer service job I'll spend as much time commuting to and from Redmond as I will working, but it's still a thousand dollars a month. I have to take a French test, a typing test and a computer test. One out of three ain't bad. I've also applied for the position of Administrative Coordinator at the Berlitz in Bellevue. I guess I'll try to be an office boi. Sugar Daddy and Butt Boy live upstairs in 201. We've, um, heard from them before in these pages. They've got a blue car antique. Butt Boy walks with this slow, pained, crippled, kind of sideways gait. They listen to very bad music. I'm sorry if things seemed hostile yesterday, Columbine. No one meant any harm, at worst a little gentle teasing. I sometimes say things like: "negatron tells me..." I am kidding. So far as I know no one has tried to find out anything about you or Todd Button. I don't know why anyone would. At work, in a bar, on a MOO or anywhere else we accept people as they are, appear to be, wish to be, whatever. If Joy says she's a plant, so be it. I don't really care. Some things are tip offs. If the average psychostalker sees T. Button in the phone book, he understands that it's Theresa. A spokesperson is a woman. An SO is a same-sex lover. The French have a great literary tradition of non-fiction writing, Montaigne, Descartes, Saint-Simon, Sainte-Beuve, Bergson. I would prefer looking at Saint-Simon, but I don't think most of us read French well enough. English is not so rich in non-fiction literary art. If I knew where a library was, and had the energy to go there, I'd suggest something from Cardinal Newman. I'll see if I can find something online.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 17 August 1997
Subject: Re: Sugar Daddy & Butt Boy

I may have sounded overly agitated yesterday as well. I will probably continue to sound agitated until I get a new job; it's emotional slopover.

>If the average psychostalker sees T. Button in the
>phone book, he understands that it's Theresa. A spokesperson is a woman. An
>SO is a same-sex lover.

Yup. My mother always did that (listing only her first initial). I looked through the phone book at random one day and realized that no one was fooling anybody. I prefer "spokeswoman" but I'm a not-to-be-trusted antifeminist throwback, apparently, because I also think that "aviatrix" and "editrix" are good words that should be kept. Introducing my lover as "my lover" seems shallow because that implies somehow that there is nothing to the relationship but sex. Significant Other is stilted. This isn't a gay/straight difference; we simply don't have a good word for "in a long-term relationship but not married."
I'm still pondering the choice of non-fiction. I haven't read enough French works to be able to agree or disagree with you about the relative sparseness of good English ones.

From: Joy
Date: 17 August 1997
Subject: Re: Sugar Daddy & Butt Boy

quibbling over nothing

1) i don't know what gender columbine or t button or whatever is. and i don't care. 2) i don't know what name it goes be irl. i don't care. 3) i don't know the gender (or name) of the being that apparently lives with the columbine person. and i care even less about that.

i don't understand the big deal made about concealment. it's really not that difficult to do. over a longer period of time it is more difficult but so fucking what. if columbine wants to conceal, then why does it continue to talk about these things? it's not concealing anything just revealing from what i can tell. this is not a personal attack, so don't get excited.

i won't bother telling you how many times i'm accused vr of being a male, a female, and anything else engendering. i've even had quite a few hostile remarks made to me about it. i don't care. it's their problem they can fucking deal with it.

truth vs fiction vs nonfiction vs nothing. i'm sure i've bored you all with this before, the whole truth is a lie. there is only opinion. and everything that i am saying right now is truth to me, my opinion but that doesn't mean that it is also the truth or opinion to or of anyone else. subjective realism.

i guess the concealment thing seems ridiculous to me b/c i have tried to conceal my gender for the majority of my lifespan. conceal is not the best word. how about 'not reveal'. there is a difference. well, in my reality.

the whole truth vs fiction becomes more ridiculous when applied to vr. it's idealistic to expect everyone to tell the 'truth' whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. i take everything on there with a grain of salt, just like i do irl. i mean, who cares if so-and-so is really -----? it doesn't really matter. it's rather ridiculous to focus oh the physical aspects of someone, esp in this media. we don't know, there's no way of knowing just by vr you must check it against irl to see if things fit. and even then it's no guarantee.

so what if 'bob' uses to computer to act/think? out a fantasy of some sort? what if he goes online and tells everyone that he is a ceo of a corporation when he is really a janitor? is it really such a crime? people are going to use the internet in a way that meets their needs.

i'm somewhat confused by this columbine person.

i'm grumpy (obviously) and going to bed.

From: Joy
Date: 17 August 1997
Subject: ..and one more thing..

i'd rather not know about the answers to the whole gender/name thing unless one freely feels like telling me. i'm not trying to subtly (or not so subtly) manipulate or otherwise twist someone's arm for information.

it just seems so ridiculous to be concerned about the physical aspect of someone. if one is concerned, get off the computer and see for yourself. you'll never really know otherwise, and seeing them irl is not a guarantee either.

this is probably all coming out a lot harsher than i mean for it to. i could list the things that have annoyed me tonight but i'll spare you that. (and everything stated herein is just my opinion, and nothing more.)

From: Columbine
Date: 17 August 1997
Subject: Re: ..and one more thing..

>i'd rather not know about the answers to the whole gender/name thing
>unless one freely feels like telling me. i'm not trying to subtly (or not
>so subtly) manipulate or otherwise twist someone's arm for information.
>
>it just seems so ridiculous to be concerned about the physical aspect of
>someone.

That about sums up my position. Actually.

I get aggressive - too much so - because I have to defend it a lot, Joy. I'm not talking Gabriel here. Gabriel baits me because he likes a good argument and vice versa. I'm talking about the other people, irl and otherwise, who are forever giving me shit about the columbine thing.

I get it from people I do business with online, who refuse to deal with me unless I give them a "real name" (as if I can't just make one up); I get it from strangers who seem inclined to poke beneath the hood just because there's an enigma there, no other good reason; I get it from my best friend (of ten years' acquaintance), who walks into the office and gives me a nasty look every time he sees me as columbine, and who has even gone so far as to return columbine email with the notation "I think you've sent this to the wrong person by mistake." He was just pulling my chain, but you see my point. It gets old after a while.

I don't know how you've managed to get away with the anonymity you have, Joy, for as long as you have, without having to break a few necks. If you get the impression I doth protest too much (and you're right, I do), it's not because I secretly want people to speculate. It's because I'm getting gun-shy. -c

From: SAGReiss
Date: 17 August 1997
Subject: Cybersolipsism

Obviously I should have used the example of Goldie on RL, whose real name is so California-strange that it would have shattered what Nichelle calls "the appearance of reality" on the MOO. I was not "baiting" anyone, nor do I like arguing on specious terms. I was just illustrating various ways I had tried to accomodate different people's idea of privacy within the context of what I understand as truth. Once we get beyond high school (allowing a few more years for those privileged enough to live in the greatest country on Earth and therefore to spend a hundred thousand dollars of their parents' money on an education that isn't worth a year of free school in Europe) we learn that Berkeley's solipsism: "Esse IS percipi," isn't of much worth in trying to find the good, the true and the beautiful. If we assume that the world exists beyond our ability to experience it, we allow that statements about that world may be true or false, whether or not we can in the particular verify them. Under the best of circumstances we could verify them, and physics or chemistry offer no greater assurances. (In a vacuum the force of gravity is, or is not, thirty-two feet per second squared, whether or not we happen to have a vacuum on hand to measure it.) An opinion about a matter of fact is either right or wrong. A statement about the world is either right or wrong or it is NOT a statement about the world. Statements about the good or the beautiful are not statements about matters of fact. They are value judgements, which is not to say that we are all equally well-equipped to make those kinds of judgements in all fields. Education helps to refine both kinds of opinion, those regarding matters of fact and those regarding value judgements. Obviously the fruitcake who lectured us about discerning taste in wine has learned something in the past thirty years sipping and spitting Beaujolais that I have not learned pouring Valpolicella from a three-litre jug into the highball glass containing the backwash of my whisky aperitif. I don't want to talk about this forever. I don't care about anyone's gender, sexual orientation or appearance. Whatever facade you care to show is fine with me. This is not to say, however, that those choices are innocent or irrelevant. In "Light in August" the protagonist gets in all kinds of trouble (including a final involontary gender-morphing) because he believes that he has black blood in him. For some reason that I can't fathom readers of this book often take sides on the issue of whether or not he does indeed have black blood in him. This is like arguing about God. It is quite simply NOT a matter of fact. There is no evidence in the book one way or another. The story turns on his belief that he has black blood in him, the ways in which he conceals and/or reveals this belief, and what the other characters believe about his concealed-and/or-revealed belief. (Nichelle's co-worker uses this line on FWBs: "Got any black in you? Do you want some?") My own feeling about gender is that it's similar to race, though there is quite a difference of degree in the amount of biology involved. That is to say that race and gender have some basis in genetic make-up. Far more important, however, are the socio-linguistic conventions that culture imposes upon nature. By insisting one is a Spivak or some other of the eleven genders offered on Lambda, one does not side-step this problem. Everyone has an opinion about the fact of his gender, usually male or female. That that opinion might turn out to be false is one of the risks of life. Misrepresenting or concealing that opinion does nothing to make it go away. A case in point which doesn't involve someone reading this e-mail. My sister turned sixteen on 20 May 1977. On that day my parents showed her a birth certificate which said that she had been born on 4 March 1961. We work, in good or bad faith, on the assumptions we hold to be true. That's hard enough. I can't be bothered trying to make up or sort out lies. Do I believe that Joy lives on photosynthesis? No. Do I lose any sleep over it? Non plus. As to fiction and non-fiction, I don't really see any important difference. It's mainly a marketing and liability issue. Whether I make up, in whole or in part, the dishes of a meal I wish to describe, the problem remains the same: how do I represent in words a non-linguistic experience? Marcel Proust seems to have erected the past into some kind of unhealthy fetish, pestering people about the exact shade of the buttons of a pair of gloves worn twenty years before. Henry Miller has no such scruples. He is interested in memory, the present, subjective record of objective, past events. The following passage bridges the gap between a childhood murder and his first glimpse of little Weesie's cunt:

We walked in looking almost as immaculate as when we had left the house. Aunt Caroline gave us our usual two big slices of sour rye with fresh butter and a little sugar over it and we sat there at the kitchen table listening to her with an angelic smile. It was an extremely hot day and she thought we had better stay in the house, in the big front room where the blinds had been pulled down, and play marbles with our little friend Joey Kasselbaum.

(Sorry, but my library is lost and the internet doesn't yet contain the text of every book ever written. I wish it did.)

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Joy
Date: 17 August 1997
Subject: Re: Data

speaking of snobby, check out the shit when one logs into rlmoo. and then checks out the theme. etcetc. some of the worst snobs i've ever encountered are intellectuals, overeducated and have no patience for those who are different from them.

the age thing is particularly ludicrous. i probably didn't spell that correctly. is it a legal thing?

From: Columbine
Date: 17 August 1997
Subject: Re: The age thing

When I signed up with a bunch of MUCKs recently, all of them had some sort of "adult verification" hoops - usually meaningless - that you had to jump through in order to be able to enter the adult areas of the MUCK. On one, you had to state your birth date for the record, with your email address; this proves nothing, but I suppose that it covers their ass, since the people who complain about adult content are always offended souls who shouldn't have been there in the first place. If they had to take an oath to get in, they're less likely to bitch.

On FurryMUCK, which is a very large and crowded muck, you have to send email requesting verification, and give your "real name" and date of birth. You can imagine from my previous screeds that I have not gained admittance to their adult areas. I sent a protest email, had it shot down, and that was that. The lag on FurryMUCK is generally horrible anyway.

SPR, which is a MUCK based in Sweden, is blessedly free from that sort of nonsense, nor does it suffer overmuch from political correctness, so I spend most of my MUCK time there.

Oh, that reminds me. Gabriel asked for MUCK addresses. I don't know if you're serious, Gabriel, but here you go anyway. Don't blame me for the content on these places if it's not your cup of tea.

Sociopolitical Ramifications (SPR)
svansmoj.ctrl-c.liu.se:23

FurToonia
ft.tyger.org:9999

FurryMUCK
furry.org:8888

From: Joy
Date: 17 August 1997
Subject: .....

i'm irritated.

sagreiss, what is so great about being refined? what is so great about being 'educated'? whatever the hell you mean by that

look where these things have gotten you: a depressed unemployed alcoholic.

next topic, please

From: SAGReiss
Date: 17 August 1997
Subject: Yackity Crab

Education has not made me happy, rich or sober (what I assume to be the opposite of depressed, unemployed alcoholic), but I don't wish to be any of those things. Happiness as a socio-political goal was conceived in the Declaration of Independence of the greatest country on Earth. That alone should suffice to make it more than a little suspect. Nichelle, Matilda and I could live as well as we'd like to on thirty thousand dollars a year. I ask for nothing more. I stop drinking when I want to. Smoking would be harder, but I've even done that on occasion. Education is an end in itself. Refinement enhances pleasure. I may have already applied for the job which will pay me thirty thousand a year. I might quit or get fired the next day. The knowledge I acquired in the library is not so fickle a lover as fate and fame and fortune. It has finally occurred to me what Nichelle meant. I was not vomitting the crab we had eaten the night before, which had long since been digested. When exposed to stress and/or violence my stomach produces a yellow bile. In a few of the stressful moments of our life together Nichelle has seen or heard me hunched over the toilet in the morning. I remember once she did not believe I was sick. Of course I wasn't sick. It was nothing I had eaten, nor had I drunk any more than usual. I have a cast-iron stomach and no combination of radical food and drink upsets it. In this case, the crazy mix of joblessness and volatile e-mail had simply gotten to me. My stomach lost the battle with my nerves. I threw up the familiar, foul-tasting yellow bile a few times. I tried to reach you, Columbine, on SPR. Either my pages didn't work, or you were too busy having earsex with that shrubbery.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Nichelle
Date: 17 August 1997
Subject: Truth vs. fiction vs. buttfucking vs. sandwichmaking.

It's all the same shit to me. I'm in a bad mood. It started like this: What's for dinner? I thought I'd make squash with pasta. I don't like squash. Well, what if we eat it anyway? OK make it however you like. OK. Hey, why didn't you eat more squash? So whatever. You can say what you like about truth and reality and identity. Gabe will read it all and tell you how it really is. He's in a bad mood because he hasn't got a job. I'm in a bad mood because he's in a bad mood. Of course, I've got a really shitty job. ("I wish I had a shitty job.") Truth is, a fast food place probably wouldn't hire him because they would know he'd quit as soon as he found something better. I look just enough like a toad to keep my shittyass job.

Sometimes I don't care about who you are and what gender and what gender your SO is and what gender your dog is and what color your neighbor's underwear is, but sometimes I do care. Sometimes I wonder what Joy's voice would sound like on the phone and whether or not we'd laugh and hit it off or whether we'd have an awkward silence.

Joy, as much as I like you, I thought that
>look where these things have gotten you: a depressed unemployed alcoholic.
was a bit of a low blow. I suspect that what annoys people about Gabriel is that he isn't afraid to tell you how great he is. Partly, I think it has to do with the fact that he's never been able to kiss enough ass to wind up as a tenured professor somewhere. I've lived with him long enough to know that although SAGReiss is not always right, he has either a very convincing defense or a flawless bullshit technique. I can understand the frustration he must feel at his restaurant jobs dealing with cheap, rude asshole customers and co-workers who probably can't even fill out a job application properly when he is constantly thinking and working. He uses his fucking dictionary more often in one day than most college students do in a year. He works harder than I do, harder than almost anyone else I've ever known, and it must be fucking frustrating. This is his work, his intellectual outlet, and although many people think he sounds like a pretentious asshole, it is worth looking a little deeper. This is not to say he is without fault, but he is attacked again and again on this list (many times by me, I admit) and I don't think it's fair. I doubt you'd be so quick to call me a whiny, insecure fat girl.

OK, enough of this. I'm off to make peace with the beast. Wish me luck.

Nichelle

From: Columbine
Date: 17 August 1997
Subject: Re: Yackity Crab

> I tried to reach you, Columbine, on
>SPR. Either my pages didn't work, or you were too busy having earsex with
>that shrubbery.

Oooops. I have pages denied on SPR at the moment. There is someone I'm attempting to avoid. I'm sorry. I've left them off for three days and had forgotten about it really, since no one else but him ever pages me.

Although you should have gotten a message like "Columbine does not want to be disturbed" or some such.

I'll remember to turn them back on.

From: SAGReiss
Date: 18 August 1997
Subject: 56 wpm

SAGReiss [to Nichelle]: I'm a frustrated housewife. Don't criticize the fucking food.

Damned good sauce, too. Faire sauter diced slab bacon. Add minced garlic, julienne of tomatoes, yellow summer squash, herbs and spices. Simmer in vegetable bouillon. Nichelle has this texture thing. I know she doesn't like pumpkin-like squash, acorn, spaghetti, butternut... She hates avacado and eggplant, but she likes zucchini. Eggs are a source psychosomatic trauma. The mere sight of eggs sunny-side up can make her vomit. She likes eggs only two ways, the way her mother makes them, floating in a warm sea of butter, basted and flipped, and an omelette I make in a big skillet, so that the eggs are paper thin and evenly cooked throughout. Of course she likes omelettes with cheese, while I like them with vegetables. Oh well. Fighting about food has always been one of the subtle joys of conjugal life. Perhaps the Firefly dating service should just use menus and shopping lists to match people up. Fifty-six words per minute without a mistake, motherfuckers. Read 'em and weep. I could do this office boi work, a desk in a clean, modern workplace with Gateway 'puters. I told the lady that I wasn't used to skipping two spaces after a period, proportional spacing and whatnot. She thought that was interesting, or incredibly stupid, never thought of it really. How could one not think of it? I was surprised at how hard the translations were, not that I had a problem, except that I don't know how to say "game show" in French, since I've never seen French TV.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 18 August 1997
Subject: Re: 56 wpm

> I told the lady that I wasn't used to
>skipping two spaces after a period, proportional spacing and whatnot. She
>thought that was interesting, or incredibly stupid, never thought of it
>really. How could one not think of it?

I had to unlearn it. My early documents done on a computer all probably still have it. If I open anything older than three years old, I have to remember to do a search and replace to get rid of the two spaces after each period.

Anyone who ever worked on a newspaper probably has the habit, as do a lot of typewriter people, especially those who grew up working on a Selectric (for some statistical reason I don't comprehend.) Anyway, I did both.

From: SAGReiss
Date: 22 August 1997
Subject: Rad Dyke Plumber

"Where did you learn to type that fast?" Shiiit, I was just warming up. I got only forty-six wpm on the practice test. If they had let me keep going, I'd have broken seventy. I think I'll get this job, which will put me once again in an awful quandry, having learned nothing about accepting my wretched lot from the last disasterous move, quitting that silly-ass job only to be fired and out of work for three weeks. This is a chance for me to move up in the world, or at least in the eyes of others. Problem is it's a half-assed, part-time job in Mister Bill's neighborhood. Not that I mind the two-hour bus ride, well two hours door to door. But I'd have to find something else in the evening. Unfortunately everyone wants the night shift in restaurants, the money shift. I may get a breakfast/lunch offer tomorrow, which I'd have to accept. Then in a week I must make the dreadful decision whether to give up money for status, or whatever it's called when you have a job parents are proud of. The whole process is making me sick. This dude called up from a restaurant where I'd actually like to work. He leaves a message for me to page him and he'll call me back. Having never dealt drugs myself, I don't know shit about pagers. I dial the number and there's all kinds of weird sirens and bells. I hang up and call the restaurant. The guy tells me he hasn't got the applications on him and he'll call me within a couple of days: "So why the fuck did you call me in the first place?" There was an ad for and article about the Rad Dyke Plumber in the local paper. She looks tough. Her best line is: "Listen, you old fuck, that's good news to me, 'cause it looks like the last of the real men is about to die out. It's my world now." One of Nichelle's friends, the Rad Slut Vegan, is coming over for supper. I think she's also one of those anti-tobacco Nazis. Nichelle's worried there'll be a scene. I don't really know. I don't know how weird this bitch really is. I wish her luck if she thinks she's going to turn our home into a no-smoking zone: "Why don't you girls run along to the juice bar? I'm going to surf the 'net for child bestiality pics." Oops, I forgot that's wrong, vile, despicable and rude. I'm not so sure. I tend to divide pathology into legal and illegal behavior. I try to stay on the legal side, though it isn't always easy. I'm not even sure why it should be illegal to look at the sick shit online. So long as one doesn't pay for the privilege, one does not contribute to the economic well-being of the evil perpetrators. The insistance on what the French call the "passage a l'acte" troubles me as well. The tale of the Marquis de Sade, which has fascinated me since I was a boy, gives pause to think. On the one hand he wrote the most outrageous, murderous pornography that's ever been penned, in very elegant French at that. What he may have done irl, on the other hand, is abundantly subject to question. It's pretty clear that he did about as much as he could get away with, given his considerable means and long prison terms. He has been both defended and condemned from every point of view, from feminists to drunken old intellectuals looking for some high-brow titillation. His own justifications are so ironic, so self-serving, so contradictory as to be nearly impenetrable. Of course I seem to be the only one who thinks the legba incident was funny. Maybe I was just born with an atrophied sense of moral outrage...

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 23 August 1997
Subject: MIME format

This cunt with a software firm e-mailed me on Thursday and again on Friday when I left a message that I hadn't received her letter. I got them both at 7:01 Friday evening. Does UPS carry the mail for Microsoft? The whole mess turned into sixteen pages of gibberish due to the encoding program. So this is what it comes down to, listening to Car Talk on NPR and trying to beat Nichelle's best solitaire score. I guess the theory is who could possibly be listening on a Saturday morning, so it doesn't really matter that they put these two drunken idiots on live. Knowing and caring nothing about cars, I actually like the show. I think negatron should call them and ask about vehicular goose homicide. (I did not make up the part about negatron's car.) I'm drinking the rest of a bottle of corked Valpolicella. I didn't say anything last night because I didn't want Nichelle's friend to think she had fucked up the bottle while opening it. Italian corks are bullshit anyway, but that has nothing to do with it. Even if you break the cork and have to shove half of it down the mouth of the bottle, that's not what corked wine means. (This does not, however, look good when you're wearing a tux and opening a seventy-five-dollar bottle of Brouilly. Of course French corks are controlled by a byzantine web of national, departmental, communal and cooperative laws which guarantee fool-proof quality.) It simply means that the cork is not air tight and that cork-flavored air has been seeping into and oxidizing the wine for months or years. I'm on the Mormon austerity budget, but this doesn't count, since, so far as I know, I did not pay for this wine, which I drink therefore in good conscience. It must be admitted that I do not do well with friends' housecalling. (Nichelle made some comment about my lack of friends, but this is clearly not true. Corinne and Jeff wrote us a couple of e-mails in the beginning and even visited us twice in the six months Nichelle and they simultaneously lived in Syracuse. I have no idea where they are now. negatron would be my friend if he weren't so geographically challenged.) I was sober and silent and sullen and surly. Nichelle's friend didn't say anything about the cigarettes and I didn't say anything at all. Supper was a bit of a disappointment. The fear got me when I noticed the $2.59 an artichoke price, so I basically winged the whole dinner. We had an appetizer of cheap-ass, store-bought dill hummous, but the bread turned out light and fluffy (Trying to create light and fluffy bread is the bane of my existence.) and I liked the look of the plate with a tasteful touch of romain hearts. I got PC points for noticing that our whole-grain mustard, which for some reason blends better with vinaigre, contains lactic acid, so I used the prepared style. We had big-ass couscous balls for the first time. I made a sauce of zucchini, carrots and mushrooms with garlic, onions and tomatoes, but an ounce each of fresh basil and mint leaves didn't quite survive the cooking time. I was expecting a feistier flavor. For dessert we had a simple fruit salad, canteloup, blueberries and not-quite-ripe-enough peach. If not for our financial woes I'd have pulled the always-popular flambee trick which, when done properly, sets off the fire alarm at the climactic moment.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 24 August 1997
Subject: Teamwork ethics

Nichelle found this amusing etymology in our bathroom dictionary: "The bizarre history of the word *porcelain* leads us back to a pig's vagina." I don't recall starting out in a pig's vagina, but whatever. negatron and Laurent are the Man. Thank you, brothers. I think I've already promised my firstborn to John, so I'll give you its younger sibling, Laurent. I was going to write an e-mail from Nichelle's account entitled: "Laurent, voulez vous Frenchy Frenchy?" because I wasn't sure he would read a letter from me. You see, negatron managed to uncode that bullshit MIME format, and Laurent translated it for me, since I could not even understand the Cyber-English let alone guess the French equivalent. Some of you are no doubt outraged, morally or otherwise, at this crude cheating, but I'd like to get this job. Where I went to school we studied Racine and Stendhal, not "Mister Bill Goes to Paris". Besides I am happily free of scruples. Remember that I met with my whole class of freshmen, including Calamity Kate and Jeff, who was a senior, in a dorm room and we, um, revised their final exams before I graded them. With a couple of technical dictionaries or even a copy of "Using MS Office" in French I could do this job. The hardest part would be commuting to fucking Bellingham. As Mister Bill says: "So what if I'm a liar and a thief? I'm fucking rich, and you're not."

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Laurent
Date: 24 August 1997
Subject: Re: Teamwork ethics

go for it gabe..sounds liek a good job.. once you know how to translate 'how to change teh border of your document' you do not need any mor eknowledge to translate any other technical document..but i guess you do need to find something like a teach yourself access in french..poor gabe..i will think of you..i think i prefere scrubbing mortars..

From: SAGReiss
Date: 25 August 1997
Subject: Microsmurfs

This letter was s'posed to be called "The Man in the blue coat" and I was s'posed to be sipping a mid-morning glass of whisky on my day off, but things haven't exactly worked out as I had planned. I'm sorry, Nichelle. I know that I'm living on your coat-tails, but what am I s'posed to do? I fill out two dozen applications every week. I've got an interview with Hate Kunter this afternoon and a list of half a dozen places to go. Your mother is not helping by fighting with you on the phone, but what can I say? I'm a dog. I have no money, no work, no prospects, no hope. At least I'm not drinking up the rent money. Axel is a thug, "truand" is what we say in French, which covers everything from "hustler" to the guys with guns and tatoos. Everyone in the restaurant business is a thief. Axel is a pro. He's got some crazy-rigged financing to buy Maximilien. They'll close for a week and re-open on 7 September. It sounds like a very good deal to me, French-speaking staff, young, mean motherfuckers. I'm s'posed to give him a call (He used the slang term "bigo".) later this week. I told him about the translation part-time because I don't want to give that up. It's a problem, but not, I think, insurmountable. Until I hear from Rena Ware, which, for those of you counting status points, is a pyramid con, I'll take what I can get and quit if they offer me the job. Instruct is an outside shot. The French travel place has a beautiful web site @inyourglass. I've e-mailed them. Don't worry. I'll get something good. I'll pay back your loans. Play your horn. I'll think of something.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 25 August 1997
Subject: John's Penguin

I was looking in the closet for a jacket when I found McMurder's forgotten tuxedo. I'll have to dry-clean it, of course, to get the sperm stains out, but this is a beautifully suit: "tailored especially for Cheasly's of Seattle". It looks like something John may have worn to his high school prom. I don't understand why it's a size or two too big for me. I've seen John, met him in Spokane. He might be an inch taller than I, but this is small man. Shit, he plays the flute. The ink hasn't dried yet on his diploma. Where is he, anyway? We haven't heard about his European tour. Things are clearing up, at least in my mind. I talked with Hate Kunter this afternoon. The breakfast buffet costs $15.95. She didn't have to say much more. There are 865 rooms in the hotel. It's a union job. Four uniforms are provided with dry cleaning. The GM is s'posed to call. I think she'll offer me the job. Oh well, I guess I can kiss translating good-bye, unless someone gives me full-time and serious bucks. My lower back is killing me. It must be sitting in this stupid chair with cow-and-chicken upholstery MOOing and playing solitaire all day. I'm not even good at that. I need to go on a four-day drinking binge. I don't want to lose my touch.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 26 August 1997
Subject: Pass the flame-thrower, please

I was up all night screaming in pain. I've got lower back spasms, which are probably psychosomatic, but that doesn't make it feel a whole hell of a lot better. I went to the poor man's hospital. I've got an appointment on Thursday morning. With any luck I'll be taking my back spasms to work by then. Anyway I'm in a foul fucking mood, and I'm looking to lash out at someone. I choose Columbine. She can always hide behind the editorial first person plural: "I didn't write that shit. It was fucking Button and his gf."

We hold that anything consenting parties do in private is acceptable, and healthy, behavior.

The extent to which a culture has a tangled mess of sexual hangups and taboos is representational of how messed-up the culture is as a whole.

What's "normal"? We're perverse; in the course of our surfing, we find ourselves becoming aroused by an amazingly wide variety of fetishes. But we think perverse is normal. We feel that a great deal of this country is in perversity denial.

Culture is, among other things, a "tangled mess of sexual hangups". This is a universal phenomenon of human civilization. There are no "primitive" or "natural" cultures. The two, nature and culture, are diametrically opposed. Rousseau is dead. There are no more or less "simple", "natural" or "onomatopoeic" languages. All languages are equally "abstract" except in the particular sense we use that term in linguistics to mean "analytical" as opposed to "synthetic". "Totem und Tabu" is a pretty good book on the subject as is "Les Structures elementales de la parente" by the famous blue jean manufacturer. (I'd have also used the verb "to be proportional to" rather than the awkward "to be representational of".) Culture is a set of convensions, linguistic, sexual etc. Guilt, shame and incest taboos are not the privilege of Western societies. They are a cornerstone of human relations. Animals do not know these things, unless taught by debauched humans. Nor do we somehow forget them or become liberated by living in a nudist colony or connecting to a modem. The Spivacks are no more liberated than your mother or father. Nor will the "Joy of Sex" (or whatever updated version listed on MouthOrgan) help us. Nor will all the tatoos and body jewelry in the world. You haven't noticed many animals wearing tatoos and body jewelry, have you? Our linguistic and sexual conventions are at the core of what makes us human. They are the framework or prison in which we grow. These conventions prescribe certain kinds of behavior, defined as normal, and proscribe other kinds, defined as perverse. The lure of the perverse is precisely its perversity. Perhaps the boiz I worked with in Syracuse are just a lot weirder than the Boston sex 'n' drag crowd, but I find it hard to call "healthy" sexual acts which result in hospitalization for rectal reconstructive surgery. I'm so fucking tired of the all-pervasive social-work vocabulary. Everyone is "in denial", "recovering" or a "survivor". Fuck this, I'm grumpy. I'm going to take some more Extra Strength Doan's and make a blackberry pie and some blackberry jam.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 27 August 1997
Subject: Re: Pass the flame-thrower, please

I'm not sure I should unlimber the flame-thrower, since I don't really see much of a reason for it.

I would have liked it better if the three paragraphs you quoted from mouth organ's indicia/faq were indicated as such, since you and nichelle are the only people here, I think, who would have recognized it for what it was. But that's a technical quibble.

I personally feel that many of the cultural taboos we have are stupid. That's me speaking for myself, not speaking for mouth organ. But that's a minor quibble as well. I don't really have anything germane to add to your comments, either confirmation or refutation, until near the end:

>Perhaps the boiz I worked with in
>Syracuse are just a lot weirder than the Boston sex 'n' drag crowd, but I
>find it hard to call "healthy" sexual acts which result in hospitalization
>for rectal reconstructive surgery. I'm so fucking tired of the all-pervasive
>social-work vocabulary. Everyone is "in denial", "recovering" or a
>"survivor". Fuck this, I'm grumpy. I'm going to take some more Extra
>Strength Doan's and make a blackberry pie and some blackberry jam.

I hate the social worker vocabulary with a passion. So do the other editors. I don't see that shit anywhere in mouth organ, and neither do you, because it ain't there.

Now, speaking ex cathedra for all the eds.: We just all happen to think that kinkiness is healthy and anyone who disagrees can go fuck themselves. Is that clear enough for you? We'd have said it like that in the FAQ, but we didn't want to piss everyone off.

And when does it stop being healthy? When you start to break the core BDSM principle: No Permanent Damage. That's certainly where WE draw the line. That includes going to the emergency room because the beer bottle broke in your rectum. -c

From: Columbine
Date: 27 August 1997
Subject: Re: Pass the flame-thrower, please

P.S. Hope your back is feeling better. Wasn't trying to be rude on SPR the other night, I was just very harrassed at the time. -c

From: SAGReiss
Date: 28 August 1997
Subject: The Freudian Defense

Those of you who have read "Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious" know the famous line of shameless and utter denial of guilt, the adulterer's: "It wasn't me." Gustav has lent a bike to Anton and accuses the latter of returning it broken. Anton: "I never borrowed your bike. It wasn't broken when I returned it. It was already broken when I borrowed it." I'll snail-mail the following letter to you, negatron, so they'll think I've fled the country. I'm not sure why Freud has such a bad reputation in the university. I know he's accused of misogyny, but I've never seen anyone try to make this argument with respect to actual texts. I think he's perhaps unfairly laid to blame for three thousand years of patriarchy. If he did no more than share the prejudices of his time and place, well so what? He is an author of such charm, such beauty, such erudition, such self-inflicted irony, I can't imagine why everyone wouldn't want to read the great works of the turn of the century, "Die Traumdeutung", "Die Psychopathologie", "Der Witz", and those of the twenties, "Jenseits des Lustprinzips", "Das Ich und das Es", "Das Unbehagen". I must have too much time on my hands to brood about these things. The blackberry pie was wonderful (pate sucree), the jam was fine too (apples added for natural pectin). I think I'll bake bread today, make pasta perhaps tomorrow. Someday maybe I'll get a job...

28 August 1997

Sir or Madam,

Further to your letter of 12 August 1997, I write to dispute the claim
identified above. I have no outstanding debts with the creditor. Moreover I
reject the jurisdiction of the PHS Collection Agency (operating out of
Bethesda, MD on a North Carolina Department of Insurance permit) with
respect to this matter. I Thank you for your cooperation.

Faithfully,

Scott Reiss

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 28 August 1997
Subject: Re: The Freudian Defense

> I'm not sure why Freud has such a bad reputation in the
> university. I know he's accused of misogyny, but I've never seen anyone try
> to make this argument with respect to actual texts. I think he's perhaps
> unfairly laid to blame for three thousand years of patriarchy. If he did no
> more than share the prejudices of his time and place, well so what?

I don't dislike Freud the way some of the militant feminist types I occasionally hang out with do. I think he was a brilliant man who had some good ideas about how to go about sorting the interiors of peoples' heads. Nor do I think he was especially sexist, for his time period. I'd have liked to have met him. He sounds like a nice, cranky gent to me.

But his theories on female hysteria and penis envy, frankly, make me break out into laughter when I read them, and I disagree with *all* dream interpretation blindly, mulishly, and on principle. Dreams are the brain sweeping up the dust and chaff of the day. They are random firings. Interpreting dreams should be accorded approximately the same validity as reading tea leaves.

[I have not read Die Traumdeutung in its original language. Es ist schwere Deutsch. But unless there's a grave translation problem, I feel justified in rejecting it based on the English version.]

-c

From: SAGReiss
Date: 28 August 1997
Subject: Female hysteria

I'd be more inclined to laugh at such expressions as "male hysteria", but that's besides the point. While I've read two dozen books of Freud's, in German, French and English, I've never seen much about "penis envy". I think it's just a case of people taking one aphoristic catchphrase and making far more of it than the text justifies, though it's a nice, funny term for the recognition of the difference between men and women's genitals: "If I had a wiener [note the coy, Viennese wit] I'd never get anything done. I'd be playing with it all the time," as Nichelle says. Why the brain's nocturnal output should be "random", I'm not sure. If one were to sweep up the kitchen floor, I'm sure one could tell a lot from the "dust and chaff of the day". That's what archaeologists do, to extend or twist the metaphor further. Freud, however, does something different. The "talking cure" or the analysis of his own dreams in the Traumdeutung is based on a text, the memory of a dream represented and structured by language, thus the huge interest shown by writers and linguists. Even assuming that the original dreams were "random firings", surely no one would claim that their formulation in spoken or written speech is innocent. Still I would claim that this is irrelevant to Freud's greatness, which is two-fold. As he himself put it: "Copernicus showed that the Earth is not the center of the universe. Darwin showed that man is not the center of the Earth. I have shown that consciousness is not the center of man." The discovery of the unconscious would have been enough to secure his immortality. I have yet to see anyone build so broad and deep a philosophical construct to map this new territory, whatever the particular faults of his system may be. Jung and Lacan have their adherents, but the former was a punk and the latter a thief. Freud was the Man. More important he was a brilliant writer, capable, as perhaps only Plato in the pseudo-science category, of plunging the depths of wit and tragedy. In 1930 he won the Goethe prize for literature, and his mastery of the German tongue does present significant problems in translation. He was addicted to puns and neologisms. I always recommend to those with a smattering of a language to read in translation but refer to the source language for any passages which thrill, trouble or confuse. Here is an example, from "Jenseits des Lustprinzips", of Freud's idea of a joke. (I only have the passage in German and will translate as best I can. This comes near the end of one of his most outrageous books, where he speculates madly for twenty pages on end and invents the word Todestrieb.)

Man koennte mich fragen, ob und insoweit ich selbst von den hier entwickelten Annahmen ueberzeugt bin. Meine Antwort wuerde lauten, dass ich weder selbst ueberzeugt bin, noch bei anderen um Glauben fuer sie werbe. Richtiger: ich weiss nicht, wie weit ich an sie glaube. Es scheint mir, dass das affective Moment der Ueberzeugung hier gar nicht in Betracht zu kommen braucht. Man kann sich doch einem Gedankengang hingeben, ihn verfolgen, soweit er fuehrt, nur aus wissenschaftlicher Neugierde oder, wenn man will, als *advocatus diaboli*, der sich darum doch nicht dem Teufel selbst verschreibt.

(One could ask me whether and how much I am persuaded of the hypotheses developped here. My answer would be that neither am I persuaded myself, nor do I seek for them the belief of others. More correctly: I don't know how much I believe in them. It seems to me that the emotional factor of persuasion need absolutely not come into the question here. One can indeed abandon oneself to a train of thought, follow it as far as it goes, simply out of scientific curiosity or, if you will, as devil's advocate, without ever thereby giving oneself to the devil.)

Now here's a seventy-year-old man with cancer of the jaw and throat. He's about to leave his lifelong home because his unorthodox practice hasn't really endeared him to the new powers that be. At the age of forty-five he had broken with three centuries of Cartesian thought and thrown the "I" of consciousness, the self, out of the equasion of modern philosophy, creating along the way a new field which, in 1927, was unfurling across Europe with Dada and the Surrealists. After a period of theoretical calm during the teens, while he worked on the orgasmization of the International, he broke out again in a fury of creativity, publishing about once a year an ever wild-n-crazier, more beautiful book. So here in this astonishing passage where he jumps up to meet death, the Todestrieb, he steps back to catch his breath. He thinks: "Damn, the shit keeps getting weirder," and wonders what the faithful reader must be thinking. He answers that maybe he's just kidding, maybe he's just following a whim, perhaps seeing just how far he can go, if he really lets his mind wander. Yet he still can't help himself from punning, most of which gets lost in the translation. His first pun takes the hackneyed Latin phrase "advocatus diaboli" and brings it to life with the Faustian myth of selling his soul to the devil. Remember that death is the theme of "Beyond the Pleasure Principal" and that Faust was also a Wissenschaftler in search of knowledge. However he also puns on the polysemy of the verb verschreiben "to prescribe" and "to misspell or write incorrectly". OK, so you don't think that's funny. (Ingrates, undergraduates, bunch of worthless, unemployed... oops.) How about when he's talking about deja vu and the image of the mother's womb and deadpans: "in der Tat kann man von keiner anderen mit solcher Sicherheit behaupten, dass man 'dort shon einmal war'." ("in fact of no other [place] can one claim with such certitude that one 'was already there once'.") You people have no sense of humor.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 29 August 1997
Subject: FUCK, MUCK, SUCK

negatron is on a death wish fantasy, but it's true. Nichelle has won solitaire in as few as 106 seconds. She kicks ass. I guess my drunken old man's sense of humor needs some more explanation. What I meant is that "hustera" means womb in Greek, so "female hysteria" is a pleonasm while "male hysteria" is an oxymoron. Freud is very explicit about rejecting any kind of "clef des songes", hmm, obviously I best remember "Die Traumdeutung" in French. The dick for a day idea is as silly as the Spivack notion, that one can change by consciously deciding one day to eliminate the years of social conditioning, the conventions as old as the millennia, simply because we say we are liberated. We are not. We are emprisoned by conventions. Whether or not one includes the "no permanent harm" clause in the New Seattle Rules, someone will always claim that the rules are arbitrary and must be broken. He is right. But we cannot live without them. Grammar changes slowly, but it changes. Excentricity is tolerated, but at a certain point, if we can't understand one another, communication becomes impossible. I'm not suggesting MouthOrgan should change its policies, merely that at some point you will decide that this is "healthy" and that is "pathological" and that your definition will be no more nor less absurd than anyone else's. I tend to laugh at the weird sex stories I hear. I don't really care what anyone else shoves up his butt. Here then two texts:

You page, "What's up, sis?" to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "How do?" to you.
You page, "Not too bad. The bread looks beautiful, but we splured on pizza and beer this evening." to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "Did you save me any of the pie?" to you.
You page, "I thought we compartmentalized out vr and rl experiences." to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "Hey, YOU blurred the line when you mentioned the bread :)" to you.
Columbine pages, "Besides, you're still VR to me :) email, MUCK ... I have no proof you really exist. Maybe you're just a bot ...." to you.
You page, "It's an absurd and unverifiable line to draw, but I'd draw a line between most of the pseudo-rl emotes or whatever, and someone who really does take a drink or have a smoke. As I've said, I was once really accused of impersonating SAGReiss." to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "You do the best SAGReiss imitation I've ever seen. No, seriously, I believe you're real ... but that's just me taking you on faith." to you.
You page, "I'm perfectly willing to entertain such thoughts, providing that we do the same for snail-mail and the telephone." to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "Oh, definitely. There are people I've interacted with for years who have no proof of me existing whatsoever." to you.
You page, "Of course, I've worked in the restaurant business for years. It's nothing odd to meet people in a bar who will lie about their name, age, profession, why not gender, quite convincingly. My point is that the 'net makes it easier, but doesn't change the problem." to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "Well, fraud is fraud." to you.
You page, "That's where an unfortunate escape clause for the liars intervenes. In order for there to be "intent to deceive" there has to be a context of trust and belief. That context simply very seldom exists online. If there's no chance of being believed, there can be no "intent to deceive"." to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "Dunno if I agree with that. There's a difference between maintaining a consistent face online - always playing by the same set of rules, if you will - and breaking your own rules at whim to be malicious." to you.
You page, "If a junkie asks to borrow money and gives you a wild repayment schedule, he's not lying. He's saving face. He knows that you don't believe him. There is no intent to deceive." to Columbine.
<< Columbine is searching for your location. >>
Columbine pages, "Where are you, anyway?" to you.
You page, "I have no idea." to Columbine.
In a page-pose to you, Columbine laughs. "Can you tell me what the room is called?"
You page, "I don't know. I just logged on and here I am. I haven't moved." to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "Oh, I know where you are then." to you.
Columbine pages, "Try saying "out"." to you.
out
You leave in a bright new day - have fun!
Knuth Park
(Players) Guest2, Guest1, Columbine, Stripe, Kartusch, Nicole, Shiaou,
Akala, Kester and Jaran
Akala nods to Guest2
Columbine curtsies to Guest2.
You say, "Hello, my name is Gabriel."
Akala caws, "Good eve, Gabriel."
Stripe purrs softly, "Hello"
Columbine whispers, "This is where I expected you to be; most guests don't stay in the closet very long :)" to you.
Columbine smiles.
Columbine whispers, "I don't generally stay here long. Too insipid for me." to you.
You page, "In a new place I don't move around too much until I know where I'm going. Unfortunately even the entrance here is spammy." to Columbine.
Columbine whispers, "The park here is the spammiest place on the MUCK." to you.
Columbine whispers, "But speaking and emoting is restricted in the i/o closet (like Limbo), so it's hard to talk there." to you.
In the east you see the sun slowly rising as dawn breaks.
Akala looks up.
Bh'ylle yssa zapped yn from somewhere ynna MUCK!
Bh'ylle has arrived.
Columbine whispers, "Getting the layout of this place is impossible. It's an unrestricted-quota MUCK. I myself have about 20 rooms and I'm a very modest builder." to you.
Akala looks around.
Akala nods to Bh'ylle.
Bh'ylle bouncies into the park and wavies to just about everyone he can think of
You page, "About today's column. Some things seem to be disturbing. I don't know if that girl just wandered into the bdsm room by mistake, but there are things which shock. Your editorial board should go see Pasolini's "Salo", assuming that most onliners are not ready to handle six hundred pages of sex 'n' gore." to Columbine.
Columbine whispers, "Do you mean that some things disturb you about the column? Which things? We were pretty unanimous on the position ... which was a great relief to me (I was the 'I' in the first-person part.) She didn't wander into those rooms, she routinely hangs out there. I've never heard of 'Salo'." to you.
You page, "There's very little that disturbs me, nothing on MouthOrgan. "Salo" is a beautiful adaptation of "The 120 Days of Sodom". As I said, there's no such thing as truth online. It makes perfect sense to MOOers that the legba incident is a rallying cry, but Nichelle's experience, going online with the man who raped her irl, is unreal." to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "That's compartmentalization again maybe. Crossover seems more unreal than incidents in the same universe (vr or irl)." to you.
Columbine curtsies to Bh'ylle.
Bh'ylle smiles curiously to Columbine.
You page, "I guess so. Anyway Pasolini" to Columbine.
Columbine says, "I swear, one of these days I really AM going to make good on my threat and start the SPR Plant Liberation Front."
Bh'ylle chuckles a little. "How many potential members so for Columbine?"
Columbine's presence is being requested back at her greenhouse.
Columbine says, "Zero to date :)"
Columbine whispers, "Please do continue to page, I just have to attend to something else as well." to you.
Columbine zaps off with the 64-bit bus.
Columbine has left.
You page, "Sorry, Pasolini's film is worth watching. We have some funny e-mail dating back from when Nichelle and I went to see it. Anyway Sade tends to be the absolute zero point of bdsm/gender-bending. He also asks uncomfortable questions about "acting out", which is I think English for "passage a l'acte". I don't think it's so simple as you imply. Your statement of purpose said nothing about the "no permanent harm" rules. Besides, the white-trash gay boys don't play that way. Everyone knows bad things can happen if one puts a bottle up the bum." to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "Well, we didn't say everyone ABIDES by the no permanent damage rule. We said we approve of kinkiness as long as it DOES abide by that rule. And as long as it's consensual." to you.
You page, "So if one pulls the teeth and claws out of a hamster before one shoves it up the butt, it's healthy? Come on, that's just avoiding the problem, trying to make it nice. Sex is not always nice, it's not always painless, it's not always consensual, and some people like it that way. You say that society's convensions are stupid, meaning arbitrary, which is the definition of convension. So are any and all you or anyone else could come up with." to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "OK, so is it all right if we say "we approve of anything consensual as long as you're not being stupid" ? That leaves an even bigger loophole." to you.
You page, "I'm just suggesting that culture, social life, civilization if you prefer, depends upon the respect (or somewhat limited disrespect) of certain linguistic, sexual conventions. The Spivack pronoun conventions are no more or less limiting than he/she/it. Not all languages divide things into he/she/it. There are many ways to do this. Some countries recognize as many as fifteen colors, some as few as two. We live in a society with these convensions. We choose to obay or disobay." to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "This goes back to your statement that often the thrill of sex IS that it's perverse and disgusting ... but we - I - feel like I need to fight that. It's bad P.R. for sex." to you.
Vidrio notices the Guest standing around - "Heya, Guest, anything y'need help with?"
Bibi pounces Guest2!
You page, "I don't think sex, pathological or not, especially needs your help. People have always pretty much done what they wanted. The Marquis de Sade was not among the top ten sex criminals of his age and class. He just tended to make a nuissance of himself, which got him in trouble. I enjoyed working with the sisters. I laughed at their stories. I think their weird sex tales were pathological, socially as well as physiologically. Alcoholism is also pathological. There are enough diseases for all of us." to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "I suppose I have a not-well-concealed crusade to give sex a better reputation. But you're right, it probably doesn't need it." to you.
You page, "I'm not sure sex hasn't already a good name, within those more or less hypocritical conventions. We've got some kind of serial sexual harasser for president. More than one of those religious freaks has been busted for one kind of kinky sex or another. The 'net is full of porn." to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "You haven't seen the hate mail I have from the pious and narrow-minded." to you.
You page, "No, I have not. Social conventions also change. I think it's naive to expect that we can come up with some kind of natural definition of what's appropriate. We are not animals. We make up rules of grammar and rules of sex. Neither is logical or natural. Someone will always draw the line, and someone else will want to cross it. We are a violent and evil lot. Not even Doktor Freud thought he could cure us." to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "Speaking of Freud, did you read my comment?" to you.
You page, "I read "Re: The Freudian Defense". I then sent "Female hysteria"." to Columbine.
Columbine pages, "I haven't read that one yet. I'll have to look at it before I collapse tonight. Which had better be shortly." to you.
You page, "Have a good night and sweet dreams." to Columbine.

Oh well, I was going to include the text of the letter written directly after we came home from watching "Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom". I can't find it in my weird-ass paper-and-electronic files. I think it begins: "Nichelle is in the kitchen weeping." If anyone, John, John, Laurent, Nichelle, can find it, please forward it to the World. That's about enough for tonight, Mr Antichrist.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 29 August 1997
Subject: Re: Female hysteria

>I'd be more inclined to laugh at such expressions as "male hysteria"
Oh, given. Didn't mean to be gender-biased there. The one is just as silly as the other.

>"If I had a
>wiener [note the coy, Viennese wit] I'd never get anything done. I'd be
>playing with it all the time," as Nichelle says.
See, now, I think that's bullshit. Actually, I can't say that. It may be if Nichelle had a penis she WOULD be playing with it all the time. (No offense whatsoever meant, Nichelle.) All I'm really entitled to say is that I wouldn't. I love to masturbate and I yet don't play with my clitoris all the time. I'm not sure I can visualize a reason that having it sticking out in front of me would change anything.

Nor do I think that changing your genitalia would make you a son-of-a-bitch, or just a bitch, or any other automatic changes in your personality, the way half the people who wrote stories for the collection DICK FOR A DAY seem to think. Man! They talk about sexism in MEN, and here's this crowd of very visible, I-would-previously-have-said-intelligent women, saying that they sincerely believe if they woke up with a penis one morning they'd instantly become jerks!

And they ask me why I'm not a feminist. If that's what being in the club means, I don't belong.

>If one were to sweep up the kitchen
>floor, I'm sure one could tell a lot from the "dust and chaff of the day".
Touche. I don't dispute that the MEANINGS our brains insist on slapping onto those random firings afterward aren't significant - it tells us something about the way our brain is wired. (Makes a hell of a lot better self-revelatory tool than those damned inkblots. So perhaps I'm splitting hairs. What I object to is dream interpretation on the simplest, stupidest, rote level - a falling dream is a dream of death, and all that claptrap.

>The discovery of the unconscious would have been enough
>to secure his immortality. [...] Jung and Lacan have their adherents, but the
>former was a punk and the latter a thief.
I agree. Completely.

>How about when he's
>talking about deja vu and the image of the mother's womb and deadpans: "in
>der Tat kann man von keiner anderen mit solcher Sicherheit behaupten, dass
>man 'dort shon einmal war'." ("in fact of no other [place] can one claim
>with such certitude that one 'was already there once'.")
The other joke was too deep for me, but that one's really funny. I have to admit, love him or hate him, I never realized he had a sense of humor. Except for the "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" remark, and I always figured that was apocryphal.

-c

P.S. If I seemed somewhat terse during the end of our conversation online tonight, it's because I was dominating someone in another room. Sorry. It was a previously scheduled engagement.

From: Columbine
Date: 29 August 1997
Subject: Re: FUCK, MUCK, SUCK

> What I meant is that
> "hustera" means womb in Greek, so "female hysteria" is a pleonasm while
> "male hysteria" is an oxymoron.

Don't tell ME that "hysteria" descends from Greek for "womb." I spend my life telling other people that. In this case, however, you were being a little too literal for me; I was using "hysteria" in the broader, non-literal sense it's come to have, in which case "male hysteria" is not necessarily an oxymoron.

"Hysteria" as a notion of causality for someone's actions is silly, nomatter what. Fie on hysteria. If you do something irrational, surely you can come up with a better justification than that.

> I'm not suggesting MouthOrgan should change its policies, merely that at
> some point you will decide that this is "healthy" and that is "pathological"
> and that your definition will be no more nor less absurd than anyone else's.

Ow. OK, I concede. There is still a boundary line, and you're right, we already DO have conclusions about "this is healthy, this is sick" - in fact the policy states them. But we couldn't function without the borders. The thing that worries me is, our (mouth organ's) borders are way too wide for a lot of people across this great land of ours, and all we're really doing is saying "Hey, let people do kinky things if they want," which we consider a very modest ambition.

We haven't yet heard anyone complain that our borders aren't wide ENOUGH. Unless your comments count as such.

-c

From: SAGReiss
Date: 29 August 1997
Subject: Down the food chain

I've taken a job for the Labor Day week-end in a pizza place. There is an unhappily named Bumbershoot arts festival where Nichelle works and her boss got me this temporary, minimum-wage job. I like it. The dough is fresh, too fresh, often not having time to rise. The vegetables are fresh and good. The meat is nasty, but nothing smells funny. I don't have to mix things with gallons of mayonnaise. I'm really not going to worry about people who eat sausage, pepperoni and Kanadian bacon, the Combo, on their pizza. I just make the shit, and I'm sure they are obese because of fat genes and because they live life too fully to find time to exercise. I don't care for the pay, of course, but with a human wage there would be nothing wrong with this job. So I work with beer-drunk high school students and white trash gooks, these sixteen-year-old Cambodian bitches with all of the trappings of thin-blooded, anglo-saxon, mutant mall rats. I also work with a Moroccan about my age with a bachelor's degree in French language and literature. He said that the French are racist, but not the Amerikans. I suggested that blacks who've been to France think exactly the opposite. He seems like a good guy. Let's be clear. I like MouthOrgan. I have three general objections. I sometimes find it naive assuming that we can simply do away with social conventions. I find it frustrating that there is so little real data and so much speculation. (I admit that I haven't many good ideas about how to collect online data.) And yes, I find the walls of the prison still too close. Not that I've ever got in any trouble satisfying my dwindling sexual appetite. I find the idea of any prison offensive. Why argue about how often our jailers change the linen or let us walk in the yard? Why not just burn the fucking prison down? The problem is we can't. So in my small way I try to sabotage our intellectual incarceration by refusing to write a novel. I'm tired. It was a long day. I should get an interview or two for a real job next week. If not, I'll call Axel, the French thief with the German name.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Laurent
Date: 31 August 1997
Subject: racists

french are not more or les racists than americans are, but since the target of racism is are arabs rather than black, you would understand why a maroccan would feel less racism in the US than in France..

From: SAGReiss
Date: 31 August 1997
Subject: Coffee & Cigarettes

"If you need help during the transition week, I could help." "But we couldn't pay you, and that would be illegal." I smiled, knowing how little any of the three of us care about what's legal. Shiiit, I worked hundred-hour weeks for two years without getting paid. What do I care for six bucks an hour? Eric, the chef de cuisine, plays the heavy, which is fine. He'll be in the kitchen where the guests can't see or hear him, and we can ignore him. He's a younger guy, but not a schoolboy cook. He was an appretice in France. In Europe fourteen-year-old boys are still entrusted to grizzled alcoholics to learn their trade. I'd much rather work with a pro than a Culinary Institute diplomee. I think I may have to buy some hair gel. I've resisted quite long. All French waiters use hair gel. I admit it does come in handy when one spends the whole night drinking whisky and returns to work without going home for a shower. I felt a little out of place with my towel-dried, naturally combed locks. I think they'll offer me a job on Thursday. My French is too beautiful to resist. I also think I can make a lot of money with these two crooks. I am not optimistic by nature. I don't believe in progress. Change is cosmetic. Le mal se deplace. I feel exactly the same as I did when I was five years old. I've learned, some useless shit, knowledge, a trade or two, a language or three. Nichelle is pissed at me. I can't help it. I too have worked thirty hours this week-end. At least they give you a lunch break, which I don't get. I work ten hours straight without a glass of water, without going to the bathroom. I stepped outside twice today for a cigarette. At least this way we've got something to eat and drink, the breakfast dishes are done, the e-mail is written. My legs are also tired, and my feet hurt too.

>french are not more or les racists than americans are, but since the
>target of racism is are arabs rather than black, you would understand
>why a maroccan would feel less racism in the US than in France..

That was precisely my point, Laurent. One tends to feel the emotions directed at oneself, and falsely to generalize from that experience. I've tried unsuccessfully to find Mary Daly's homepage. Perhaps MouthOrgan should have a link to it. I don't remember her politics. I read her books so many years ago. I do remember that she loves bad puns, very bad puns. She can't be all bad. I made one this morning. I'm sure lots of people have thought of it: "We don't call her Lady Di anymore. We call her Lady Dead."

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

July 1997

September 1997

vr: 1997

SAGReiss Home
im. He's a younger guy, but not a schoolboy cook. He was an appretice in France. In Europe fourteen-year-old boys are still entrusted to grizzled alcoholics to learn their trade. I'd much rather work with a pro than a Culinary Institute diplomee. I think I may have to buy some hair gel. I've resisted quite long. All French waiters use hair gel. I admit it does come in handy when one spends the whole night drinking whisky and returns to work without going home for a shower. I felt a little out of place with my towel-dried, naturally combed locks. I think they'll offer me a job on Thursday. My French is too beautiful to resist. I also think I can make a lot of money with these two crooks. I am not optimistic by nature. I don't believe in progress. Change is cosmetic. Le mal se deplace. I feel exactly the same as I did when I was five years old. I've learned, some useless shit, knowledge, a trade or two, a language or three. Nichelle is pissed at me. I can't help it. I too have worked thirty hours this week-end. At least they give you a lunch break, which I don't get. I work ten hours straight without a glass of water, without going to the bathroom. I stepped outside twice today for a cigarette. At least this way we've got something to eat and drink, the breakfast dishes are done, the e-mail is written. My legs are also tired, and my feet hurt too.

>french are not more or les racists than americans are, but since the
>target of racism is are arabs rather than black, you would understand
>why a maroccan would feel less racism in the US than in France..

That was precisely my point, Laurent. One tends to feel the emotions directed at oneself, and falsely to generalize from that experience. I've tried unsuccessfully to find Mary Daly's homepage. Perhaps MouthOrgan should have a link to it. I don't remember her politics. I read her books so many years ago. I do remember that she loves bad puns, very bad puns. She can't be all bad. I made one this morning. I'm sure lots of people have thought of it: "We don't call her Lady Di anymore. We call her Lady Dead."

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

July 1997

September 1997

vr: 1997

SAGReiss Home