Those were the BBS years for me. Just getting plugged into Usenet. the Web still only a faint a glimmer on my horizon.
<<a very special moment in our recent history – a moment when anything seemed possible. When an entire subculture – like a kid at a rave trying virtual reality for the first time – saw the wild potentials of marrying the latest computer technologies with the most intimately held dreams and the most ancient spiritual truths. It is a moment that predates America Online, twenty million Internet subscribers, Wired magazine, Bill Clinton, and the information superhighway.>>
<<Rushkoff's first book was originally penned in 1992 but was not published until 1994 due to publisher concerns that electronic mail and the Internet were still obscure topics unlikely to gain traction.>>
I find it interesting that this early 'cyberdelic' moment was circa 1992... at the latest.
I have my own extremely weird theory on why that might be.
But basically the years from, say, 1989-1993 were like this massive planet-wide psychedelic event. The fall of the Berlin Wall opened up something in our collective soul for a brief moment.
Which rapidly closed again. But that's the time period when the Web was born and cyber-gurus shared weird trippy dreams.
I mean whatever energy it was that saved us from WWIII went 'dark' almost as soon as it began. The fall of the USSR collapsed into gangster capitalism and the Yugoslavia civil war. The new 'occult revival' spiralled into really nasty black helicopter UFO conspiracy theories, and those are still with us. Capital accumulation and climate change and species extinction went into overdrive.
But... there was a still a moment. A year or so when we all held our breath.
Anyway, I dunno. I just feel like in 1989 'something' intervened, briefly, to override our self-destruction instinct. Like there was a brief 'pulse' of something bright that lifted us up for a moment.
And, um, a year or so before, 1987, the Harmonic Convergence, a whole bunch of people on the planet got together to seriously focus their minds on asking whatever might be out there (or inside ourselves), to do just that.
Maybe that wasn't a coincidence.
My own theory though is this and the urge toward VR is simply a modern expression of an ancient human drive.
We have always framed our imagined spaces as though they were physical. Heavens and hells, fantastic landscapes of platonic ideals. The lands of adventures and myths that exist in no material place..
Dimly I think we know what is coming. That writing, the networked world, VR, and what it will eventually become all lead to the same place. We all know in the primitive back of our minds that for the first time in 200,000 years, the human race may be able to finally fulfil that desire to walk in anothers dreams.
I think there is a very strong connection between people who have the mystical impulse to explore their own inner psychogeography, and people who are interested in machines of logic and writing, and how to make explicit the implicit.
Like Leibniz, for instance. Or Wittgenstein. Or centuries of monks and scribes, who combine those same two disciplines: one about intuition/imagination, one about logic/communication.
@natecull @SuzanEraslan @TheGibson Terence McKenna has been a good source too, bridging shamanism and technical imaginings. That cusp between the fields. It's been interesting reading what he imagined VR would be used for, in particular visual representation of the spoken word, which these days just means a spectrum analyser, but infers a contextual or emotive side-channel in the form of a sort of regulated synaesthesia. A hypersensorium.
@natecull @SuzanEraslan @TheGibson oh damn, haven't thought about Douglas Coupland in a long long time. I remember really loving 'Microserfs', his 90s novel about socially inept but lovable Silicon Valley programmers, in the early 00s when the internet just started taking off.
I wonder how/if that books holds up from a 2018 perspective... well, I know what I'll be reading this weekend!
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