The Oxford World Classics edition of Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’, carries an introduction that states that ‘It is impossible to start reading Ulysses’… and one might add to that that it is impossible to finish reading it too – and this not due to its length or complexity. It really is a book that has no beginning (and thus has no end), owing much to the Odyssey, which itself has no beginning…
In a sense, cyberspace, the internet, etc. is fast approaching a ‘physical’ realization of the non-ending/non-beginning of all things: We are all party to a huge corpus of being that feeds into itself, feeds on itself… and on, and on!
This never ending end.
This being part of a huge spiralling, swirling soup of ideas…like so many 0’s and 1’s painlessly fired through space is perhaps the apotheosis of a technocratic democracy, as to whether it’s a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing… this really amounts to a question of who’s pulling the strings up there? Are we all fast heading for an existence plugged into a virtual Utopia at the hands of tyrants who run the streets ragged in orgies of human excess to which we are denied (this being a well worn paranoid fantasy taken to its nth degree)?
But even then, in this worst case scenario, I sense that many may counter that: ‘a peasant need be grateful for the scraps he receives… and ask nothing of the masters table’.
I suppose, then, a better way of aligning the debate, would be to make explicit the shared responsibility that we all have in averting what could amount to a possible destruction of the human project as we know it – as we all willingly become ‘Nobody’. In so doing we present each and everyone one of us as the excessive tyrant… after all, it is for want of power and recognition that we approach myspace/personal blogging etc… Now, having assumed this role and having consigned humanity to hell, we are left enormously free, more free even than the digitised minions who live blissfully unaware in their false Utopia. And here we must urge a caution… because whilst the ‘devil’ enjoys a complete vantage point over all of hell… it is, nonetheless, still hell.
And herein there is a choice.
-Cast your eyes aside of the screen one moment now.
Were there not mountains, and sea, and things?
-I don’t know, but a Google search should leave us in no doubt…