vr

a novel

Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

February 1997

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

From: Nichelle
Date: 1 February 1997
Subject: "e-mail" to the "World"

45 minutes until my bus to Shoppingtown. I broke a coffee pot coming down into the cafeteria this morning, so I'll probably get fired or something. It was kind of a shitty morning, but at least I got a shower today. I put up a white plastic bag which semi-protects the huge hole in the wall. Now I have to go to my other job, dressed like a toad again. Shirt too tight, so I'm all boobs and stomach. Ate half of a bagel and a glass of orange juice after my shift. Maybe if I'm lucky, there will be some little notes from Joyce at work. She likes to put occasional words in quotes. For example: "Nichelle, there are some new "things" in the store. There are some Pooh "invitations" and lots of Valentine "sets" out in the back. Don't forget, the "sale" is off now." Like that. Kind of like the shitty history essays I have to read. "The republican Jefferson and the Jeffersonian republic". One paragraph had eleven "quotes" in it. It's the little things that drive a person batty, no? At least these people are civilized enough to have some computer labs open while I'm waiting.

Murder, do you still exist? Why the hell don't you come to Syracuse and teach the flutists at SU how to play in tune? I'm starting to sound pretty good, so watch your butt. I eat players like you for breakfast. On wheat toast. One slice of cheddar and hold the egg. Why don't you send me a list of good flute duets so I can learn the second part on clarinet? Get your hands on that Villa Lobos duet (Choros No. 2?). You would have spanked my bare bottom if you had seen me trying to remember the name of the duet we played on both of our recitals. Alas, the Zabladowski. I expect a reply, spurt-boy. And not too much of that fruity Baroque shit.

BTW, do you remember which orchestra played on the recording of the Nielsen flute concerto we listened to when I visited for that long weekend? Was it London? I think I've found that horrible clarinet sound again. (That unmistakable English "tone".)

I was going to write a letter called "Hemiola Man meets Doctor Pentatonic". Ten points for the first person to name who these two are. And I'll even give you a hint. It's the required listening in the card shop. I tried to find a little something along the lines of the stuff they listen to, so I brought one of Richard Stoltzman's new age CDs, but the manager said it's too boring. Well, of course it's boring. So is the crap y'all listen to. Like minimalism.  The Chinese Water Torture of music. So don't mistake that water for tears or think I'm moved by the beautiful playing. At a jazz masterclass, somebody asked Ernie Watts what he thought of a certain soprano saxophonist, and he said, "Well, I can play my scales too."

Bored as hell. Nothing up. Guess I'll log off and catch my bus.

From: Nichelle
Date: 1 February 1997
Subject: forward?

Hello, Sugar Dumpling. Could you please forward that last message to the world? I'm off to Fridays for lunch, didn't have any bagels left, so I'll buy one at Kelly's or Nancy's or whatever it's called. I hope I don't get nailed for that coffee pot. One of those big pumpers that holds two pots. Started the letter with "Please don't kill me" so I hope she takes my advice. Enjoy your pasta. See you at 10:20.

From: Columbine
Date: 1 February 1997
Subject: Re: Poupus scoopus

>is merely searching for the best possible technique to express her relation
>to the internal and external world. That might be, but that is never the
>argument I hear from MOOers. They do not try to capture themselves in a
>text-based medium. They want to escape.

I've never disputed this. I'm just not sure what the problem is with wanting to escape occasionally. Note "occasionally." You've gone too far when you have problems telling the difference between the escapist illusion you're trying to create and the world you actually have to exist in.

It doesn't help that the real world is frequently dull and painful. I seldom drink and I won't smoke anything. Caffeine can only take me so far. Should I list "escapism" among my life-saving vices?

Glad you liked the site anyway. The nice thing about its organization is that it's a lot easier to add new material, but still relatively random to navigate.

Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: Columbine
Date: 1 February 1997
Subject: ICQ

Great. Another intrusive product designed to make life difficult. You probably managed to plow further through the copy than I did without gagging. Tell me: if I don't install their software and you do, can you tell if I've logged on? How? Feh. Never mind, I'll go collect the information myself. I like to be sure of my facts before I do something rash.

After spending two months locked in combat with the stupid email address listing services, this is another battle I don't need. I hope I don't have to fight it.

Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: SAGReiss
Date: 3 February 1997
Subject: A special day

That's what the banquet boss called my forth shift in two days, a wedding for two hundred people. Apparently these people have never been to a catered function. We had set up a head table for twelve and when everyone was seated only the bride and groom took their places on the podium. There were no intendants. We managed to convince a few of the family members to move up and the celibration began with a toast: "Let's bring on the food." "John, I think they want us to start serving." Salad, stuffed chicken breast with half & half masquerading as supreme sauce, wilted cauliflower and broccoli, baked potato, raspberry sorbet, wedding cake. We eat better than this on week nights. The entertainment consisted of some middle-aged fat man with a crew cut and his DJ Xpress. They did the chicken dance, the hokey pokey and, of course, two versions of the macarena. It never fails to amaze me what lengths people will go to to be persuaded they are having fun. The head waitress spoke of plans for her upcoming wedding: "We have to do it in the morning. I come from a big Italian family and he comes from a big Irish family. If we had it at night, they'd all get drunk and start fights. That's not the kind of atmosphere we're looking for." Lovely. Family gatherings must be held before noon so that someone's sober enough to drive everyone home. I like the excitement of banquets though. And it's easy money, although I can usually do better than nine dollars an hour. Of course I may get OT, which would make that shift thirteen fifty, a nice wage. As I served the dinners a guy taps me on the shoulder: "You missed me and my brother." "Excuse me, sir. May I serve the ladies first?" Have these people never been out? Every wedding I've ever worked has these same DJ types. Does no one else think this is tasteless and awful? This feast cost them at least three thousand dollars. It was so wretched that half of the people left before the sorbet. By the time they cut the wedding cake there were about fifty people, ten of whom were still being walked through the paces of good times by the shameless DJ. Is this his job? I've never been to a wedding for which I wasn't paid, but how can this be the norm? No wonder my sister eloped. I wonder if MOO weddings are this bad.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Nichelle
Date: 3 February 1997
Subject: (no subject)

I can't be the only clarinetist in Syracuse who can play a high G in tune. In today's sexual (oops, I mean sectional), the conductor resorted to that old cheap trick of checking everybody on a tuner (Korg spurt-counter). One of the greatest musical time-wasters ever invented. Tell me why college music majors and band directors can't tell if somebody is flat or sharp without one of those thingies. "twenty cents flat... fifteen cents flat... twenty cents sharp..." Tom Rideour, in the greatest clarinet fingering chart ever written (this sort of thing excites me, you see) lists nineteen different fingerings for this note. And yet we were about two bucks short between the seven of us. Of course I was right on. My high notes are surprisingly good for somebody who sounded so shitty three weeks ago.

I had a productive day in class. That is to say, I behaved myself and participated in class discussion. It's very easy to do- about the equivalent of reading a teleprompter, which even presidents are able to manage. My life was supposed to get better when I got busy with all these things, but LeMoyne College is just too stupid to allow me that pleasure. A few times today, I even forgot to act stupid so I could fit in with the rest of the kids. And we wouldn't want that. Best to keep them thinking that my mother sends me little plastic bags with pre-measured laundry detergent in them, just like everyone else...

Nichelle

From: Nichelle
Date: 3 February 1997
Subject: A Bit Of Fun!

>Date: Mon, 03 Feb 97 08:50:50
>From: Klarinet - Clarinettist's Network
>Subject: A Bit Of Fun!
>
>Date: Thu, 30 January 1997 08:08:29 +0000
>From: Gary
>
>Hi There,
>
>Here's something that was being passed around our local symphony
>orchestra. See how many ye can get.
>
> INTERNATIONAL
> SESSION
> ORCHESTRA
>
>Secretary
> R Kestral Slave (USA)
>
>Treasurer
> Budd Jetrong (S Korea)
>
>Librarian
> Miss N Parts (England)
>
>Guest Conductors
> Don Folomi (Italy)
> Harry App (Hungry)
> Phil de Puls (S Africa)
> Juan Smorfromditop (Spain)
> Claire Asmad (Egypt)
>
>1st Violin
>
>Leader
> Mark Ittin (England)
>Co-Leader
> Lee der Snaff (Netherlands)
>
> Wanda B Asoloist (S Africa)
> Lucy String (USA)
> Con Sordino (Italy)
> Won Kee Brij (S Korea)
> Scott Anulcer (England)
> Polly Formik (Germany)
> Addi Nuff (Nigeria)
> Chuck McGiggin (Canada)
>
>2nd Violins
> Gladys E Zee (Kenya)
> Bo Drong (Sweden)
> Miles Offky (Ireland)
> Constance Craching (Zimbabwe)
> Rechid Pageturn (Norway)
> Peggy Snakknd (Finland)
> Dorian Moade (Germany)
> Neil E Wright (England)
> Lotta Fakin (Australia)
> Gordan E Speed (USA)
>
>Viola
> Sheikh Jurin Solo (Oman)
> Rab Ishplayer (Scotland)
> Avana Cloo (Egypt)
> Frank Lee Crapp (USA)
> Al Ovadashop (Sicily)
> Noah D Rataal (S Africa)
>
>'Cello
> Pete Zicato (Italy)
> Y Dopen (Austria)
> Beryl Ovett (S Africa)
> Lou Spike (USA)
> Phil Allgaps (Australia)
> Ida Barmissing (Germany)
>
>Double Bass
> Arfur Tree (Wood End)
> Kay Stubig Forcar (Scotland)
> Ivor Biggun (Wales)
> Owen Transport (Wales)
>
>Flauto
> Sue Perb (England)
> Phoebe Foryplays (Scotland)
>
>Piccolo
> Carrie Zinderpocket (Hungry)
>
>Oboe
> Izzy Sharpe (Israel)
> Pia Sin Din (Hong Kong)
>
>Cor Anglais
> Diane Duck (Aylesbury)
>
>Clarinet
> Justin Chune (Eton)
> Tony Zorfal (Switzerland)
>
>Bass Clarinet
> Norman E Notes (Australia)
>
>Bassoon
> Aaron Spittle (Israel)
> Lee Kin Kee (N Korea)
>
>Contra Bassoon
> Adam Innin (Tunisia)
>
>Alto Saxophone
> Bjorn Seksee (Sweden)
> Kenny Read (Scotland)
>
>Tenor Saxophone
> Mustafa Pint (Morocco)
> Leighton Pist (Wales)
>
>Baritone Saxophone
> Mannheim Stoned ( Germany)
>
>French Horn
> Eamonn Miss (Ireland)
> Dennis Lippin (Wales)
> Miles O'Tubin (Ireland)
> Dicky Pitcher (Canada)
> Didi Splittit (France)
>
>Trumpet
> Buster Bloodvessel (S Africa)
> Willy Maykit (Scotland)
> Lips O'Gonegan (Ireland)
> Val Voyle (New Zealand)
> Russ T Bell (USA)
>
>Trombone
> Bengt Slide (Norway)
> Sly Doyle (USA)
> Peter Owt (Scotland)
>
>Bass Trombone
> Gunter Fahrt (Germany)
>
>Tuba
> Norma Spuff (Australia)
> Om Papa (Finland)
>
>Percussian
> Tim Parny (England)
> Cy Drum (Jamaica)
> Roland Crash (Germany)
> Mark Time (USA)
> Wendy N Terval (S Africa)
> Enda Newspaper (Scotland)
> Mr Solly Treecrash (Cornwall)
>
>Harp
> Angelin de Band (S Africa)
>
>Piano
> Ivor E Keys (Wales)
>
>Celeste
> Yolande Plumjob (Bolivia)
>
>Harpsichord
> Olive Inzepast (Germany)
>
>Organ
> Paul da Stops
>
>Mouth Organ
> R Monniker (Germany)
>
>---------------------------------the end---------------

Nichelle

From: Columbine
Date: 3 February 1997
Subject: Re: A special day

I have so far seen five types of weddings:

1. The very elegant wedding where everything is done with style ... and I don't mean Martha Stewart run-up-by-loving-hands-at-home style, either, I mean real elegance, which usually means serious cash, which is why I haven't seen many of these.

2. The wedding for people who want #1 and can't afford it, so they get the one you described so perfectly. But since they're secretly wishing they had #1, they compensate by spurious entertainment (as noted). This is, sadly, the most common variety (see below).

3. A Wiccan handfasting. Yuh, I been to a lot of these. They inspire cynicism in me, but they're cheap and they're usually honest, if you can make it through the claptrap without gagging (and that's not meant as disrespect for Wicca, I've seen some zero-bullshit Wicca and that's cool, but for some reason even the most plain-spoken of cults seem to lay it on thick when wedding time rolls around.)

4. A Louisiana coonass wedding. I like these, but I'm biased. These are weddings held by poor people who generally don't feel its a sin to be poor and see no reason why they should have a wedding beyond their means. So everybody brings potluck and wine or beer and there's REAL dancing.

5. A Jewish wedding. In my personal experience, the claptrap factor is fairly high (gotta type that while my Jewish significant other is out of the room :) but the sincerity is pretty high, and after the speechifying is done, everybody has a lot of fun and the food is usually good.

I think the problem with weddings is that there's been this huge mythology buildup, that it's the most special day of the couple's life and therefore it's gotta be Disneyland and Mardi Gras all rolled into one. If you set out with an expectation like that, you're setting yourself up for a big letdown and an ungraceful mess.

In short, I think people are trying too hard.

But then, in defense of the young couples out there with good sense, sometimes they're not the ones in the driver's seat. Weddings in this country are as much wish fulfillment for the parents as for the couple. That's bullshit. It's also why I probably will not marry, even though I have every intention of being in this relationship for a long long time.

There. See? There ARE some types of escapism I don't approve of :)

Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: Columbine
Date: 3 February 1997
Subject: Re: A special day

P.S. My Jewish lover finds the chicken dance absolutely mystifying. Well, so do I.

The weird dancing custom in Louisiana is more entertaining. The (again, usually dirt poor) newlyweds go out on the floor and waltz by themselves. While they are waltzing, the guests pin money to their clothes.

Fun, challenging, and practical too.

Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: SAGReiss
Date: 5 February 1997
Subject: Not in my dictionary

What is a Wiccan wedding? My guess is a Nazi lesbian service, but I don't think that's legal. Oh well, so aren't a lot of things. You must remember I was abroad for most of the decade and a half from 1980 to 1995 with little contact with the English-speaking world. I came back to the states not knowing either meaning of the abbreviation PC, both of which came up in my very first interview with the new boss at SU. The Spivak bullshit surprised me because English is very gender neutral compared with its nearest neighbors French and German, the very countries I was returning from. The gender of nouns, pronouns and adjectives (whatever its underlying implications, which are hard to interpret because gender varies so much from one language to another) frees up the syntax to create more complex sentences using anteceedents and anaphores of different gender. Anyway once here I even stooped to doing my multi-cultural duty and looking up an article on "Feminist Epistemology", but all I got out of it was that induction and deduction (empiricism and rationalism) were hopelessly male ways of knowing and that women were somehow handicapped in this field. On what model women were s'posed to understand and explain the world wasn't made clear. In any case my everyday use of all kinds of racial and sexual slurs makes me kind of unpopular among this crowd. I have convinced myself to try to become, once again, graduate scum. I've asked for an application to the University of Washington in Seattle. There's no hope they'd ever accept me, unless there's some horrible mistake, but I might consider it if they pay me fifteen hundred a month to grace their halls. (It's out of the question that I ever attend class, of course.) That would mean I could work a few banquets here and there (maybe two a week) and still earn my keep while keeping in touch with the hospitality business, which I like. It will all depend on the circumstances. They'd have to let me write in French and teach whatever I want. No more of this bullshit made-in-the-USA textbooks because, as the Man at SU told me: "Our students couldn't handle a French text." Then why are they bothering to learn the fucking language? I wouldn't mind lecturing on English poetry, however, if someone would teach me how to use PowerPoint. It would certainly free up my time for the serious business of drinking and MOOing at peak hours. I brood about these things. I wonder.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 5 February 1997
Subject: LambdaMOO Message(s) 6 from *Dispute:Kath.vs.Abraham (#77450)

>Message 6 from *Dispute:Kath.vs.Abraham (#77450):
>Date: Tue Feb 4 06:17:50 1997 PST
>From: abraham
>To: *Dispute:Kath.vs.abraham (#77450)
>
>I first started MOOing on LambdaMOO after reading many so-called MOO-aid
>books...some of these books were better than others, yet all agreed on one
>thing, that on the MOO when you MOO you must MOO like the MOOers do. I readied
>myself ... what name did I want. So I looked around, oh, there's a bible over
>there under that leaning cabinet I told myself. So I filched it. In random
>fashion I discovered the name Abraham by fingering the bible. "This'll be
>great for the MOO," I told myself. "Those guys and girls there are gonna'
>instinctively respect my choice in names." I logged in for the first time
>whilst wearing a zoot suit.
>
>Here is a sample of the event that took place:
>
>"Hi Kath."
>"Why don't you leave me the FUCK alone! Just drop off the face of the
>Earth...ugly american, asshole, die,...."
>"Bu--...Kath...this is my first time, ever, on a MOO!!"
>"Die, ugly, I am Kath--large---woman...Uther's main 'squeeze'."
>"Who's Uther," I asked, curious....as to who this 'UTher' was.."
>"He's a sinner," Kath admitted. "He's got the --red-- hair....makes my rolls
>tremble..."
>"Do you like the MOO?" I asked, wanting to change the subject.
>"I am Greedy Hole of Kath," she/he answered. "I will bake your mother into a
>sheet of glass, scrape your fathers guts into a pie crust, sell your sister to
>a merchant of human misery...culture your grandmother...turn her into a sassy
>english lady....remove everyone's teeth...
>
>--------------------------

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 5 February 1997
Subject: Re: LambdaMOO Message(s) 6 from *Dispute:Kath.vs.Abraham (#7745

Wow. Bad drugs over there on LambdaMOO.

This sorta hinges into the Wicca thing and escapism and a few other items rolling around in the back of my head, so forgive me a bit whilst I ramble.

Wicca is a religion, sort of, and it's also tied into witchcraft, sort of. I know (due to sheer coincidence) a lot of people who practice it, and also a lot who claim to like Wicca without really knowing anything about it just because it's so cool. This is a little like straight redneck men who hate gay men but maintain a soft spot in their heart for lesbians because they get horny thinking about two women in bed together, which most lesbians find annoying, but accept grudgingly, because after all it's better than the wrong end of a shotgun any way you slice it.

I'm the sort of perverse person who is somewhat more likely to believe in witchcraft than religion, which most people would say is backward. Truth is, I don't place a hell of a lot of stock in either, but 1. I was taught to always respect other peoples' holy customs and 2. my Great Unfinished Novel happens to have a lot of witchcraft and I have a shelf of books as long as your arm. So you might want to consider me a trained observer.

Wicca is what young hippies get into these days because there are no more hippies. Also SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism - you know, Renaissance Faire sorta stuff). Where I grew up, the two cults overlapped a fair amount. The SCA is pure escapism, and like all escapism it's easy to overdo ... not only does it cultivate a group of ubergeeks who can't distinguish between real world and fun and games, it promotes smugness. SCA members tend to look down on anyone who doesn't "get it." This makes me snarl. Nothing gets my hackles up faster than a holier-than-thou attitude.

Wicca can be honest. At its best, it's a simple, clear-cut religion that basically says 1. Be nice to people 2. Don't tear up nature any more than you have to 3. Be aware of the consequences of your actions at all times. These seem like good rules to me. At its worst, it's got just as much mumbo-jumbo as Catholicism or Satanism or any of those liturgical religions. (Actually, I grew up among Catholics and I love 'em, but I can't sit through one of their services.)

As for witchcraft, well, I'm a legendary bet-hedger. Just because I don't place much stock in it myself doesn't mean I won't tread lightly. I like walking both sides of any give fence as much as possible.

OK, end of ramble.

Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: Nichelle
Date: 5 February 1997
Subject: build a bridge out of her?

I've had a few friends who were involved with Wicca, but they tend to keep pretty quiet about the whole thing. Even in this "enlightened" age, it's not really a great idea to go running around declaring that you're a witch, I guess. Especially when you live so close to Oregon. Wait. Switch that. Wrong Salem. I don't have anything to say about Wicca, except that I think it's silly. Some nonsense about magic and crystals, and no doubt meditating to some bizarre new age muzak, which I just can't stand. I was even in the wedding of a Wiccan friend, though I have no way of knowing if it was a Wiccan wedding. It seemed more or less like any other wedding in format, though they wrote their own vows and lit a lot of candles. Of course they were divorced within a year, after he ran off with all the credit cards and left her severely in debt.

As for the SCA, these are a slightly less weird bunch, though many would argue that point. Maybe I'm a little easier on them because I dated a guy for a long time who was into that stuff and took a few fencing lessons from them. It's an exclusive club for social misfits, but so is RL MOO, so how could I possibly complain?

Still, I don't really care to have anything to do with either group, if I can help it, though one of my friends is (questionably) still associated with Wicca, and my ex-SCA-bf occasionally pops up to call my current bf a clumsy little knave and challenge him to a duel. Mad Mike was always so noble.

Nichelle

From: Nichelle
Date: 5 February 1997
Subject: another thought

On another note, RL MOO has been down an awful lot. Too much for my satisfaction, though I'm tough to satisfy anyway. I really am in favor of moving the thing to Eskimo. I'm tired of tiptoeing around Mr. Asshole, and the fucking thing is more off than on. (I'd rather it be moron.) I'm serious enough about it this time to ask you both if our money might not be better spent in a professional relationship with a professional internet provider who can be held accountable for shutting down our motherfucking MOO. How many times has the sucker been down? I'm tired of it. I vote for a move.

Nichelle

From: Nichelle
Date: 7 February 1997
Subject: pre-lunch tirade

It's Friday and still no MOO. How many days ago did you e-mail whatshisfuck? Bad enough no one comes to RL MOO. Bad enough nobody writes to the list. Bad enough the last Tagesbrief dates from four months ago about a family of squirrels who have been hauled off by a guy with a big brown Ford and a jar of peanut butter. But to pay for a service we can't rely on when we can have the same service from a professional provider for the same price is ridiculous. Let's not wallow in stupidity. Let's move the fucking MOO to Eskimo.

Nichelle

From: Nichelle
Date: 7 February 1997
Subject: also...

It's also time to change the help texts. Do we really need the text to say: (unless you have a split personality irl, which, in that case, you should seek medical help.).

which, in that case?

Nichelle

From: Nichelle
Date: 7 February 1997
Subject: on the way out

Message on the machine, rehearsal called off. So tired, and tomorrow's the longest day. No word from the University of Washington until June, and what if they don't say yes? Tired of public bathrooms and buses, one tiny drawer for socks and bras, just claimed another a few days ago for underwear, and all the rest in stacks on top of the dresser. No feeling of permanence, and tired of explaining this crazy situation. Bought almond butter yesterday, along with strawberries and mango. So tired and so nothing, no quarrel with hard work, just a constant fight with self. All the time pleading for love. Tired of reading Dickens and talking about self. Off to the store now, for listerine and chicago photos, blistex, and milk.

Nichelle

From: SAGReiss
Date: 7 February 1997
Subject: LambdaMOO Message(s) 50 from *Dispute:Kath.vs.Abraham (#77450)

>Message 50 from *Dispute:Kath.vs.Abraham (#77450):
>Date: Fri Feb 7 06:44:19 1997 PST
>From: SamIAm
>To: *Dispute:Kath.vs.Abraham (#77450)
>Subject: Truth
>
>BB | The idea of `freedom of speech' protects unpopular ideas.
>
>The +idea+ of freedom of speech protects nothing and nobody, what protects
>free speech are the acts of people who refuse to see it abridged for
>convenience.
>
>Abe is (as Li2's pointed out) an absurdist of some reknown. Utterances which
>have no truth-value abound in art. Nothing Abe says in performance is
>purported to be true. Everything abe utters in that context is couched in
>such extreme hyperbole that nobody could, in good faith, confuse it with
>assertion.
>
>BB | But [the idea of free speech] doesn't protect false claims, for example.
>
>If we're to use the `false claims' idea, I refer you to Oral Roberts (was it?)
>vs Screw magazine - the magazine was held not to have libelled the preacher
>(in portraying him as having lost his virginity to his mother, in an outhouse)
>because it was held that nobody could reasonably have placed credence in the
>portrayal as one of fact.
>
>--------------------------
>

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 7 February 1997
Subject: LambdaMOO Message(s) 51 from *Dispute:Kath.vs.Abraham (#77450)

>Message 51 from *Dispute:Kath.vs.Abraham (#77450):
>Date: Fri Feb 7 06:49:14 1997 PST
>From: SamIAm
>To: *Dispute:Kath.vs.Abraham (#77450)
>Subject: Disavowal of intent
>
>I did not mean to imply that Blackbriar lost his virginity to his mother in an
>outhouse. He's far too ugly, and the sewer rats in his neighborhood were far
>too possessive.
>
>--------------------------
>

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 8 February 1997
Subject: Re: pre-lunch tirade

I write to the list whenever I can. I just don't have a lot to say.

Particularly not today. I've been in bed for two days with an incapacitating sinus infection - at least, I *think* that's what it is - it's like flu, funny colors don't come out when you blow your nose. (eeew)

So I'm not doing much thinking at present.


Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: SAGReiss
Date: 9 February 1997
Subject: First Learning Log

"It's morning in America, so let's begin with the positive aspects of coming to class. I like to scope the babes. Oops! I didn't mean that. Chatman calls it sexist to look at women, as Jimmy Carter once said in Playboy: 'with lust in the heart'. How are we supposed to look at them, as we do men, with fear and loathing, hatred and scorn? Lust in the heart, and in the brain but old Himmy wouldn't know about that, is one of the few things that make this dog's life bearable." That is the first paragraph of a classroom journal I had to hand in to a tenured professor in graduate school at Syracuse University. Readers of BABEL know this gentleman as Mister Gay Fucking Rights because of the pink triangle he wore on his lapel. After I handed that in I was excused from further attendance or class participation. And I'm s'posed to ask these people for recommendations for the University of Washington? They might write one for the entrance exam to Leavenworth: "Keep Mr Reiss away from the other inmates. He might trouble the social order," as negatron once said. Anyway I agreed with negatron that I should avoid such comments in my application essay. The problem is that I can't think of any reason to go back to school except for the easy fellow/assistant money. Add to that that the past two years of my intellectual development have been dedicated to a listserv, web site and MOO that I probably shouldn't show them and I've got nothing to write about. Here's what I've got so far: "Ayant etudie la litterature et la linguistique en anglais, en francais et en allemand, je souhaiterais continuer mes etudes de troisieme cycle a l'universite de Washington dans la section de litterature comparee. Je m'interesse a l'analyse structurale du discours litteraire, qu'il s'agisse de la poesie ou de la prose, a la linguistique generale et comparee, langues romanes et germaniques, et aux applications litteraires et linguistiques des nouvelles technologies informatiques, litterature epistolaire (e-mail) et collaboration litteraire sur l'internet (chat)." I have no idea what I'd want to write a thesis about, nor whether I've got the stamina to write one in the first place. It seems like such a useless thing to do, and I'm damned sure not going to cover up a hundred pages with footnotes and a bibliography. I wish I could find that con letter I wrote to SU. I got in here...

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Nichelle
Date: 10 February 1997
Subject: pissed off before breakfast

MOO down again. negatron, have you got an opinion about moving this motherfucker? I'm fucking tired of this.

Nichelle

From: Murder
Date: 10 February 1997
Subject: The scoop

I don't know why I feel like I need to make excuses for not writing to  the list during the past month that I have had access to e-mail. The  truth is, I hate this new fucking aurora system. It has had more system  failures this past month than I have had orgasms, which is saying quite a  lot. Even checking for e-mail is very time consuming considering I have  to log on more than once to get rid of screen overlap, or whatever the  fuck you want to call it. I can't even get on the MOO because Telnet is  all fucked up. Going to audition for the principal flute position in the  Nashville Symphony. The tape and one-page resume are due next Thursday,  which gives me plenty of time to learn one of the most difficult excerpts  in the orchestral literature for flute: Firebird Suite #2 by  Stravinsky. I also have to play Daphnis, Scherzo from A Midsummer Night's  Dream, Beethoven 3, Peter and the Wolf, Concerto for Orchestra, and the  exposition of the Mozart D, first movement. I now have six students (six  too fucking many) and more are calling all the time. Erin had to go in  for morning-after treatment a couple of weeks ago because of  contraception failure during her period. The poor girl slept for two  days straight so I finally had enough time and energy to practice.  We're going to see Rampal in Portland this weekend, and to the Tokyo  String Quartet concert next week. Working on my first symphony--finally  got the 30-stave score paper I need to orchestrate it. Still not sure  what I'm going to do next year--I may move back east yet. So that's  what's happening with me. I know it's not the best letter I've ever  written, but it's something. Firebird beckons...

Murder

From: Nichelle
Date: 10 February 1997
Subject: (no subject)

Murder, you're the ass kicker, and I wish you a whole lot of luck on the Nashville audition. Firebird (we *know* who it's by, butt-munch) is a pain in the ass, and Daphnis is no picnic either, but you can play anything and you always could. Go kick some ass. I'll see if I can scrounge up my old cheerleading outfit. Mendellsohn scherzo is a lot easier on the flute than on the clarinet, as is everything known to man. Ah, Rampal and Tokyo. If only I lived with a man who understood the importance of attending live performances... Still, Gaby is just about the only person on earth I'm happy with right now. A few days, I came home to find a beautiful long-stem red rose lying across my you-know-what (the way to a woman's heart is through her keyboard), and tonight we went out for a nice dinner at Faegan's. Well, we tried, but they didn't have the Merlot and only had one swordfish, so Gaby asked for the check and we walked to Phoebe's. I flirted with the idea of getting pissed off and/or teary eyed about the whole thing. I gave him shit instead, and had a delicious meal. Now for the mandatory bath (Murtilda got one tonight too, but I'll not comment on that right now.) and my little english journals. Remind me why I was so eager to get into LeMoyne College.

Nichelle

From: SAGReiss
Date: 11 February 1997
Subject: Death to the cheap

We've got a few dumbass discount cards at work. These are uniquely suited to the old and the cheap, guys who buy one meal and get one free and order one sandwich for two. One of these asshole types asked me: "Why did you charge me twice for the wine?" "I didn't, sir. The top of the bill is itemized. At the bottom are the subtotals for food and beverage," which any intelligent five year old could see. He insisted on adding it up for himself while I waited (very fucking busy with twenty-seven covers and two room service orders by myself for lunch). Unfortunately for Mister Penny Counter he wrote in a five dollar tip and totaled it up before I had taken out his ten per cent discount. Slammy closed the check to his total (after deducting ten per cent) and I pocketed the five bucks plus his discount. (Don't fuck with your waiter, part I.) Last night at Faegan's everything went wrong. You see any serious alcoholic, except for white winos which are a breed apart, hates white wine. It gives me a headache. We decided on the swordfish, but I still wanted a Merlot. (I have no idea how to read Amerikan wine lists.They use French words in ways the French have never dreamt of. They give all kinds of useless information about the grapes, the fruit/nut/flower/herb bouquet, but don't say where the fucking shit comes from, the AOC. I can't even tell the difference between table wine and real wine on an Amerikan wine list, including ours at the hotel.) I chose the only French wine of the four on their red wine list. They were out. Against my better instincts I agreed to a bordeaux blanc, a table wine, but I didn't know that. Then they've got only one order of swordfish, their dinner special at half past five on a Monday afternoon. I resigned myself to steak, which sometimes troubles my sleep and I had to be in at five thirty this morning because of bug night. Of course I then had to choose another red wine. While I'll drink red with fish, I'm not so perverse as to drink white with beef. None of the reds in stock appealed to me. No matter, we'll pay for the drinks and go somewhere else. The fucker brings over the bottle already opened. That's not my fucking problem. I do not serve open bottles, nor should anyone else. I paid for the drinks (eight dollars and change) with a twenty and the bastard brings me back six ones and a five: "That was fucking rude." These university kids do not understand tips and giving change. One doesn't beg money from someone who is justifiably unhappy with the service, not that it was his fault, except possibly for the opened bottle. I left him twenty percent anyway. I see it every day in the restaurant. The idiotgrrls never know when to add the tip on to big parties and when to leave it off. I never screw myself, at least not that way...

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 11 February 1997
Subject: Re: First Learning Log

>"It's morning in America, so let's begin with the positive aspects of coming
>to class. I like to scope the babes. Oops! I didn't mean that. Chatman calls
>it sexist to look at women, as Jimmy Carter once said in Playboy: 'with lust
>in the heart'. How are we supposed to look at them, as we do men, with fear
>and loathing, hatred and scorn? Lust in the heart, and in the brain but old
>Himmy wouldn't know about that, is one of the few things that make this
>dog's life bearable."

I'm astonished that professor reacted the way he did. This isn't even a case of someone being humorless. Sometimes I find your statements annoying, Gabriel, or self-indulgent, or both, but the paragraph above strikes me more as provocative than anything else. Makes me want to discuss it, not throw you out of the class.

Maybe he tossed you because he felt the paragraph showed you weren't really very interested in the subject material of the class itself. Which was, given your comments, probably true.

I can't rah-rah anyone into trying and trying and trying again until their nose bleeds to get a higher education. Not with four aborted majors and two universities under my belt. I eventually realized that I was paying money for something that was of little or no use to me. I regret sometimes not getting a degree. But it doesn't seem to be affecting my ability to pay the bills nor is it lowering my happiness by more than that occasional regret. So to hell with it.

Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: Columbine
Date: 11 February 1997
Subject: Re: Death to the cheap

>(I have no idea how to read Amerikan wine lists.They use
>French words in ways the French have never dreamt of. They give all kinds of
>useless information about the grapes, the fruit/nut/flower/herb bouquet, but
>don't say where the fucking shit comes from, the AOC. I can't even tell the
>difference between table wine and real wine on an Amerikan wine list,
>including ours at the hotel.)

It's not just you. I knew little or nothing about wine until hanging out with my present love thang, who is quite the pro. Between the two of us we read and understand both French and German wine labels quite well, and we have concluded that most restaurants do not. With American (and, to a lesser extent, Australian) wines the wine list will usually name the vineyard and possibly a great deal of ancillary information as well. If you're looking for that Lindemann's Bin 50 Shiraz (a fine wine, any vintage available since 1980, if you like shirazes), you'll probably find it listed exactly as such on a menu. Not so the French stuff. I think many restaurants are scared of it, or possibly don't understand the system. Pity. You have to go to a budget-breaking restaurant in order to get a properly organized wine list. Which we do, about twice a year. The rest of the time ... we buy the good stuff ourselves for at home and we've become very knowledgeable about good American and aussie wines for the restaurants [wry smile].

The only problem is that I like Rieslings - and not with food, either, I like to guzzle 'em. [Secret vice.] Try finding a good Riesling in any restaurant/bar in Boston. We actually have some top-notch wine bars now ... but they're all week on the Germans, especially the sweet stuff. Pfui.

Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: SAGReiss
Date: 12 February 1997
Subject: Precisions techniques

"Bringe mir noch e Riesling, wenn's belebt." I may have misrepresented what happened in Mr Gay Rights' class. I was not toaded. I was merely granted my wish not to have to participate in or even witness the ignorant carnage of the classroom. The Man just gave me three films, Les Nuits fauves, The Living End and (the official movie of this list) The 120 Days of Sodom, and told me to choose one and write about it. I would gladly have done so had events not interceeded in the most unpredictable of ways. To my knowledge no one on this list has a real diploma (although I've got a money-order B.A. in French) but this seems to be a problem only for Nichelle, negatron and myself, overcome as we are with feelings of guilt and shame at our failures. negatron seems to try to blame this on his catholic upbringing, but we know better. negatron's father was the technology consultant for Black Sabath, which is how he learned so much about 'puters at such a precocious age. His mother is a Wiccan high priestess. Nichelle's father works for the Boy Scouts and my father hasn't held a steady job in fifteen years, so you can see where our inferiority complexes come from. Myself I've been to a dozen universities and am no longer interested in education. As negatron says: "It's the paper." As to wine the problem is not the label. There are two things one needs to know about a bottle of French wine, the AOC (appellation d'origine controlee) and the little sticker on the top of the cork which they don't put on bottles for export (or which the Amerikans remove). The French government has at least one useful function. It guarantees the quality and integrity of nearly four hundred types of cheese and God knows how many wines. In Bordeaux (which is the most representative region) for example the AOC can be simply Bordeaux, which means it's a shitty little table wine, or it can be a smaller region, such as Medoc, Haut Medoc, Graves, St Emilion, St Estephe etc. Within these smaller regions it might be the commune or the viticulteur who makes and bottles the wine. This you can usually tell by sentences beginning with "mis en bouteille..." but the best way is the little sticker on the top (unavailable in the States) which tells you whether he takes full responsibility for his wine or it goes through a negociant. Huge amounts of money are at stake in arguments dating back centuries about a few metres of dirt, particularly in the Beaujolais. On a political note Riesling is an Alsatian wine, end of story. None of this shit about Johannesburg or Oz. Let anyone try to sell a Kalifornia Riesling in France and he'll see how fast he winds up on the losing end of a law suit. Since Alsace has not always been a part of France there is no smaller AOC than Vin d'Alsace. What you want to look for is a Haut Rhin (68---) address and "mis en bouteille au chateau/a la propriete". That Riesling is also a kind of grape used to make many kinds of wine in many places is besides the point. We're talking about wine, not grapes. The French sometimes use the name of a grape for a wine, but this distinction is always cristal clear. Pinot Noir is a very common grape, but the wine Pinot Noir is an AOC vin d'Alsace, a pale red (almost rose) served chilled, and nothing else. In the States they sell fucking red Burgandies as Pinot Noir which makes no fucking sense at all. It's the same as buying a Camembert or a Roquefort imported from Wisconsin. Scotch whisky comes from Scotland. Jack Daniel's comes from Lynchburg, Tennessee, not Bourbon county, Kentucky. It's not bourbon.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Nichelle
Date: 12 February 1997
Subject: Re: Precisions techniques

>French) but this seems to be a problem only for Nichelle, negatron and
>myself, overcome as we are with feelings of guilt and shame at our failures.

Let us not forget, my sweet, that I would have my precious degree by now if I hadn't come to live with U and be yer luv. I don't particularly consider it a failure, just annoying and inconvenient.

Nichelle

From: Nichelle
Date: 13 February 1997
Subject: my bad cigar poem

My bad cigar poem, since Gaby's Valentine this year is a bag of cancer sticks.

To smoke a cigar is very bizarre,
at least that's what I thought as I did it.
But I took a long puff, and it wasn't so tough
though the taste was not sweet, I admit it.
I sat on the hill and took in my fill
of all of its gases and smoke,
and I puffed like a gent 'til my stogie was spent
and not once did I vomit or choke.
Though I see the appeal of this vaporous meal,
and I don't want to be a smart-alec,
it's hard not to laugh when you see so many men
suck on something so blatantly phallic.

Nichelle

From: SAGReiss
Date: 13 February 1997
Subject: Poem written at age ten

Mystical moondust morosely moving
Past a pale, pinkish plane.
Whispering, wondering whether or not
The world has gone insane.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Nichelle
Date: 13 February 1997
Subject: Be Mine or Beware!

What's love to an African Mandrill Baboon? Takes those boys about twenty seconds. Not very romantic. Hell, the average twelve-year-old has basic ideas about love. Love and longing, love and loss. Takes a little longer to work up to love and alliteration. I wrote love poetry in Grammar School. Really trashy stuff too:

I had a little love once
I held it in my heart
It comforted me always
We never were apart

Remember, these were the days of "Will you go with me?" notes that had little YES and no boxes to check. The days of Casey Stevens writing "I love Nicky" all over his cast (Jen still giggling, non-stop since last February), and roller skating dates on Friday nights. Bring two pairs of socks, or you'll get blisters.

If you're wondering why you received this letter, it has somehow become a tradition for me to do some kind of mass-mailing thing on Valentine's Day, and it's usually about love and optimism. I went into a card shop today (Hell, I *work* in a card shop every weekend.) and looked around at all of the Valentine stuff. Dice which say "love me, kiss me, hug me, **** me, etc." on the different sides, a card which will record a personal message and replay it when it is opened, a teddy bear wearing a teddy (oh, so clever), pink handcuffs with hearts on them, heart keychains with bendable arms and legs... No possibility of True Love with such horribly bad taste.

So what is my message this year? Haven't got one. Any wisdom to impart? Well, it's OK to make life decisions without asking your guidance counselor. It's not easy to go running across the country to the tune of "Come live with me and be my love", but well worth the trip. And for those who can't understand it... i dunno... i just dont know. Maybe you run that distance and find beds of roses, and maybe not. It's a rough choice with rougher consequences, but in the noble name of Love! Ah! Sigh! (yeah, right) "The thirst that from the soul doth rise"? Perhaps not, nor Lovers' Infiniteness. Ain't bad, but they've ben donne.

Nichelle

From: SAGReiss
Date: 16 February 1997
Subject: Backlog
Attached: vr.doc

Kate, I've just sent you a bundle of recent e-mail. The only reason I undertook this Herculean task is that I too am an e-mail addict and am hoping for an answer. I have attached to this letter a file with the first few weeks of this list. Please do not share this unfinished work with anyone else. Thank you.

From: Laurent
Date: 16 February 1997
Subject: short news

I am in the army..12 dfays boot camp already and it should end for me after one more week..it is really hell..they have me running and yelling all day long..little sadistic fuckers trying to build themselves a mythology..after that i'll be in the fanfare (marching band) playing the saxophon..which is much of a surprise since i almost forgot i could play sax..but well i guess it is better than playing with machine guns..that is what i have been doing lately and i hate it..REALLY

From: Nichelle
Date: 16 February 1997
Subject: Saturday, Feb. 15th

The college actually paid me about thirty bucks to sit on my ass drinking their nasty coffee for five hours. I managed to sell seven dollars and twenty-three cents worth of shit. This is after two weeks of complaining that there wasn't enough to sell. (The night maintenance was apparently sneaking off with armloads of Otis Spunkmeyer cookies each Friday.) I can imagine the entire lot of them breaking the devastating news to their cookieless families last night at supper. I'm sorry children, but there will be no dessert tonight. Tears of sorrow and pain.

It's only fitting that we just sort of hover around in Purgatory all the time, don't you think. The only one whose life is mildly interesting is negatron's, but he occasionally forgets to tell us all about it. I'd probably say something to y'all if some random FWB handed me a Valentine with "I have a Master's degree in Good Old Fashioned Love Makin', so call me at 543-6969." Her name's probably something like Candy, or Annie Divine. Yes, I wrote this while at my *other* high paying and richly rewarding job. No decent person should have to work in a place called Shoppingtown. The day after Valentine's Day, and no, *nothing* is half off, you cheap assholes. Go to Fanny Farmer's and get yourself some half priced chocolates just like everyone else. Sure, I even had a $.49 capri heart. Pretty good, too. Yes, my internet persona is the only part of me that is tall and svelte, whatever the fuck svelte is. Ah, tbelton escapism at its finest. Ooh yeah baby, what are you wearing (pant, pant)? Oh, I've got on a black teddy that I just bought today at Victoria's Secret just for you. (Coincidentally rather close to the Fanny Farmer chocolate sale, says she.) Oh GOdd, I'm so hot jsut thinking about itt.... Oh honey, I'm a 5'9" redhead, 87 lbs. with massive breasts. (And massive thighs, but shh... who cares, it's the internet.)

Yeah, well, I'm pissed at you all anyway. Sent out my valentine and nobody answered except some weird asshole from Microsoft Net Meeting who is fascinated by my Spiritual Self. Going off to be a productive member of society. Later.

Nichelle

From: Nichelle
Date: 16 February 1997
Subject: sicky Gaby

Weary feet. I trudged through howling winds and enormous snowbanks. With infinite wisdom and infiniter care, reading the ingredients and instructions on the boxes. Must buy the right medicine for my sweetheart, my love. The long walk home, thoughts of sipping tea by the hearth with my loving companion, nursing him back to health. "Here's your medicine, darling."
"No. Don't want. Yucky, tastes bad."
"Come on sweetheart. It tastes delicious. Tastes like..." (Shit, what does he like?)"...whiskey. And it's made from.." (Quick, something French. He loves the French.) "... Brie and horsemeat."
"Well... OK, I guess I can try it..."

Nichelle

From: Katie
Date: 17 February 1997
Subject: mail bliss

thank you for sending me that mail through. i appreciate the trouble you took to do that for me, especially gathering up all the VR material. i'm listening to the hedge-trimmer groaning and schreeching of my printer right now, waiting for the thing to churn through in a readable form, so i can retire to the sofa for a while.

my fingers are too damn sore to reply to anything right now...i have shredded them with pieces of metal in a fit of misplaced creativity. once they stop bleeding, and i find some plasters i'll sit down and write some mail again.

--kate
(with the ludicrous email address)

From: Katie
Date: 17 February 1997
Subject: core dump

my fingers are pulp at the moment. i shredded them on silver wire, shards of aluminium, and an ancient typewriter. i'll try to catch my typos, but i make no promises.

I haven't had access to email since january 21st. For the last two years I have been working in net related stuff, and although i knew that i had got used to email i was not aware just how much i depended on it. i hate the telephone, i rarely answer it when it rings, so it rings rarely. for over three weeks i have been cut off from people i was sending mail to almost every day. i don't have phone numbers for most of them, so even if i was a social phoner i would have been stuck.

i have a ludicrous email address, but i have email. that's all that counts. when i find a thousand pounds, i'll clear my debts with my old ISP. perhaps one day the client on that last work i did will send me a cheque. and then, finally, i will be able to put the whole mess behind me.

my life has been turning in on itself since i closed the company. i'm bored of nursing my wounded pride. i retreated into my unbelievably expensive, unbelievably small flat and did nothing but sleep and pretend to read, and lurk about online at strange hours of the night. apart from maybe with two people, i don't think i have had a meaningful conversation online in a month. perhaps i should wake up.

the two people i have seen most of recently irl are busy obssessing about the women who are not busy falling in love with them. i have heard every detail of every conversation, every lingering meeting outside night-time-closing cafes and every failure to fall into bed until i am shaking from the numerous espressos i have drunk to stay awake through these monologues. i have been perfecting my sincere and concerned smile. i like these guys--they are ferociously intelligent and happy to fight for hours about random obscure subjects--but i wish to hell they would get laid and become interesting again.

i spent two days last week sure that my hip was coming apart. i do this when i'm preoccupied with self-indulgent misery. last time i was in hospital a nurse spouted some weird arse flaky theory to me about how one always feels pain in the place where one is most accustomed to feeling pain. the hospital had a policy of letting their staff go on 'alternative medicine' courses. This was a nurse who had no idea about the time scales of the HIV virus, so i have little faith in her understanding and knowledge. it hurt because my greatest fear is that it will start hurting again. everything else seems to be falling apart, why the hell not? two years without pain in my hip means i don't want to go through all that shit again. when i was used to it it seemed far less significant. but once it stops hurting, once the part of your brain that is taken up with dulling the physical pain is emptied it's almost impossible to remember just what it was like, or imagine that you can deal with it again.

this makes no sense, so i should explain. 2 years ago i had my hip replaced. it should have been done five years before but no doctor would cut out my hip so young. no doctor would believe that i was ready to decide that i would never want to have a child. i've probably lost count, but i think that this was the 22nd operation i have had on my hip. i was the youngest in my hospital ward by a good fifty years. there were some deeply cool old ladies there, but oh, the mindnumbing boredom of over-loud television and hospital rountine. it's three o'clock, please give me some more drugs. i spent a large chunk of my childhood in body casts, being patted on the head and told how brave i was. i wasn't brave, i was bored, and i was used to it. i even rather enjoyed the flights back and forth between home in germany and hospital in london. when i was seven i thought it was pretty impressive to be flown about in an RAF hercules, all strapped in with a parachute harness. i had a few years out of the operating theatre in my late teens, but it fell apart again when i was at college. i ended up as a guinea pig for every new surgical technique known to orthopaedic medicine. i left college because i was was taking so many painkillers i could barely concentrate for long enough to get dressed. why have i had to learn to walk twenty two times? because i was born with a dislocated hip that was missed by the doctors. my mother spent two years being told that she was neurotic and that i was fine. looks like they were wrong after all.

i'm whining. please shoot me.

nichelle, i am not sure whether to laugh or wipe america off the map after reading 'how stupid my classes are'.

>How is it different from the world I live in?

all this brings to mind is 'bill and ted's excellent adventure'--how would <pick your favourite dead person> view san dimas today?

>I admit that I don't always understand cybertalk about "reinventing one's
>identity"...merely searching for the best possible technique to express her
>relation to the internal and external world. That might be, but that is never
>the argument I hear from MOOers. They do not try to capture themselves in a
>text-based medium. They want to escape.

i'll write about this sensibly when i have had some sleep. this is something i rant about at length.

the wedding emails...

the most recent wedding i went to was dripping with money and style, and it was both glorious and gruesome at the same time. an old college friend of mine and matt's, gareth, finally got round to marrying frances. this was a smart country wedding with all the trimmings. if you thought four weddings and a funeral was tripe, you were right, but it was fairly accurate on the wedding practices of the upper echelons of english society. shivering so much that my earrings rattled in the terribly picturesque norman church in the wilds of sussex, surrounded by the darlings of english comedy and grand ladies in 300 quid hats, i watched two old friends get married. frances waltzed up the aisle in hypocrtical white and the family diamonds, and they made all their vows in the best church of england stle. the address was given by some uncle who must have been a geography teacher, because for fifteen minutes he talked about rivers with merging streams, extending a metaphor to a point where even silly putty would have cracked. i expected him to show slides at any moment. the reception was made at one of those hotels that can only be described as charming. in the shaking hands by numbers reception line, frances made a variation on the same joke to 400 people. i'll spare you the joke, but explain that as part of her outfit she was carrying a muff. i lurked in a corner consuming as much of the mulled wine as i could with some friends, taking the piss out of one of them who is a prospective parliamentary candidate for 'new' labour, and avoiding the roving photographers from some landed gentry magazine. the meal was the one that gabe's lot would have killed for. the speeches were too long, and far more amusing than they would have been if anyone was sober. frances' brother held forth in a way that only a professor of philosophy can, and was unbelievably cruel in a way that only siblings can. I think the nicest thing that he said was that frances was not classically beautiful. gareth was charming and suave, and frances was gloriously honest, admitting that she wanted to tie gareth up in a sack and throw him into the sea some days, while recounting the long tale of their courtship and strange but love-filled relationship. but then, oh god, the dancing. fucking line dancing, with some strange creature in red fringed leather calling out the explanations in a fake american accent and bullying those who, like myself, refused to join in. i cringed on the sidelines, trying hard not to watch matt make a complete prat of himself. bored of watching, i spent an hour or so flirting with charles' gorgeous boyfriend. why is it that the last vestiges of taste crumble when the dancing starts at wedding parties?

wine. american wine lists make me laugh. my taste is more expensive than i can afford. my father-in-law, however, has a fucking glorious wine cellar, and is interesting enough that that is not the only reason to visit.

Something, somewhere in the pages and pages of emails you sent reminded me of this--when asked what he meant by the line 'Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper tree.' Eliot replied, "I meant 'Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper tree.'" My tutorial partner at the time was outraged when he read this, but then he spent too many hours trying to work out what happened to the characters after the final page of a novel. Nothing happens, arsehole. The novel's over.

i've just realised that although i have sent you yards of mail about prague and my glorious career, i've don't think i have ever done the official introduction bit that i was asked for a while ago. for those of you who like to know these things: i'm 28, live in london and left oxford before getting a degree in english language and literature (yet another college drop out). i worked in web development for the last two years as production manager and creative director, used to run a comic shop, publish an anthology of smaller press comics online, used to work as a freelance typesetter, graphic designer and sub editor and the almost obligatory time waiting tables (i was useless at it). i've lived all over the fucking place as an army brat and since, and have a garbled accent to prove it, despite the my generally over priviliged BBC tones.

more than enough garbage for now,
--kate

From: SAGReiss
Date: 17 February 1997
Subject: La duchesse de Sussex

One of the joys of teaching English as a foreign language in Alsace is the chapter in one of the BBC manuals entitled "The Duchess of Sussex". One wonders if every single whisky-addled editor at the BBC is so inbred (Remember that merry England has not been successfully invaded since 1066.) as not to know that "suce sexe" in French means "suck sex" and "suess Sex" in German means "sweet sex"? In the same vein Beethoven apocrypha tells the tale of a piano sonata performed by the Meister. After the performance a critic asked: "What does it mean?" The Man sat down and played it again. A thousand pounds? Shiiit, that would pay for the MOO for three years. On our new menu, which I'm s'posed to learn for tomorrow (fat fucking chance), is the curious item: "roast beef and Boursin" sandwich. I asked the chef if he was really going to pay ten dollars a pound for the cheese: "We're going to make it, goat cheese, garlic and herbs." Setting aside such details as gross copyright infringement and the fact that Boursin is made from cow's milk, who would be so perverse as to mix it with roast beef? What a horrible, disgusting mess. The room service boy's (may he burn in Hell) porn newsgroup has been busted. When he tries to log on he gets an error message about confiscated goods and grim words about heinous crimes against the state. I guess they're having a jerk fest down at the internet police HQ. If this isn't quite coherent (Mind those transitional sentences, boys.) it's not because I'm battling my annual bout of bronchitis, which Nichelle refuses to believe, but whatever. My partner on the floor and the room service gay boy called in, leaving me all alone to face the enemy. At half past ten (I clock in at six and we open at six thirty.) I printed a report and went to have a well-deserved cigarette before the lunch madness. Thirteen room service orders and fifty-six covers in the dining room. It takes at least ten minutes to prepare, run up, serve and cash out an order. That's two hours right there. Every fucking time I came down I saw three new tables. I was slaughtered. My net sales for the day were only seven hundred dollars, but that was over a hundred people. I died out there, made over a hundred dollars, after I gave the busboy and the hostess ten each, plus a whopping $4.10 an hour, but it wasn't worth it by a long shot. I was so concentrated and stressed, I couldn't even cough or sneeze. One of our regulars walked into the middle of this nightmare and said: "If Angie [the Mad Greek woman] were here she'd be having a stroke." In the midst of the lunch rush the cooks scorched something and the power went out in the whole neighborhood. (In case of fire or other emergency the elevators shut down and the stairs unlock.) I carried a room service order up to the nineth floor. The big boss walked into the kitchen and saw me talking to myself in a very unhealthy fashion: "Do you need something, Gabe?" "I need a new fucking job."

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 17 February 1997
Subject: Re: Saturday, Feb. 15th

My life is exceedingly interesting, Nichelle. I just would never in a million years have the hubris to think that it might be interesting to someone else. If my life were uninteresting *to me*, I'd either change it or shoot myself.

I'm sorry I didn't reply to your valentine, but I'm sort of a conscientous objector to valentine's day, a very hypocritical day where we're all supposed to pretend that we really like buying expensive candy for our loved ones when it's really all a big marketing scam. We go out and have a nice dinner and then go home and have good sex, which is considerably more sincere than doggerel or a big box of tooth-rotters, all told.

By the by, I loved your cigar poem. I can't quite bring myself to delete that particular message.

Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: Nichelle
Date: 18 February 1997
Subject: (no subject)

Gaby, I'm not getting anything done. I know the place looks like shit, but I've got to finish my stupid classwork, and I can't concentrate here. I've gone to the library and/or Zopie's for a little while to try and get something accomplished. I'll be home at 3:00 to help with the stew and finish the laundry. Don't worry, I know you've had a hard few days, and I'll take care of the important stuff.

Nichelle

From: SAGReiss
Date: 18 February 1997
Subject: Last refuge of the scoundrel

Well, our new uniforms are in. I'm going to wait tables with one small blue cotton denim shirt with "The Pavillion, an American Grill" embroidered above the breast pocket. We're supposed to get two, but the other is a medium, so Slammy is going to shrink it for me. Great, I get one new shirt and one which has been run through a hot wash half a dozen times. Some of the new menu items look good. A lot of it's crazy. I ordered up a sandwich on rye and got a sandwich on pumpernickel. When I complained, four people began shouting at me that it was dark rye: "I know what the fuck it is. I wanted rye, light rye." The next few months are not going to be pretty. There's no sense looking for a new job, though. I'm very tired. Yesterday is a blur of faces, room service orders, Ricard and whisky. I enjoyed the talk on RL last night. Key [Guest] seemed interesting. I think that negatron shares Columbine's closet fetish for ISPs. He told me that s/he logged on from Minnisota. I can't exactly remember who was saying what, but Key, Kate and negatron all said something about contributing to the web site, which is of course encouraged. There are no special rules governing this list or that site. I have already offered to anyone interested the possibility of redecorating one of the following rooms on RL: Mozart, Picasso, Goethe, Rembrandt, Hume and Bach. Nichelle will soon (I hope.) post the discography. We can add things to the web whenever someone wants. I don't know how much editorial control I'd like to exercise. If I think it's trash, I won't put it up. On the MOO the rooms should be in keeping with the format. The Archfuhrer has paged me that he has bought his own bandwidth and we'll be moving around March fifteenth. As soon as we've got more information we should post something in news or whatever, maybe even send out an e-mail to all of the registered members.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: SAGReiss
Date: 18 February 1997
Subject: What's wrong with this picture?

Hume [to Platypus]: I meant to ask if you would give me a thumbnail sense of your leanings in philosophy by naming a couple of authors you like.
Platypus [to Hume]: Actually, I'm very fond of the entire English lineup, from Ockham and Aquinas through Hume and Locke, although in the latter cases I find myself more appreciative of their metaphysical/epistemological views than their ethical ones.
You say, "Aquinas was English? This is new to me."
Hume [to Platypus]: Ah, then we share interests. I think those guys are great. Though I tend to be interested in their ethics and politics, as a sympathetic critic.
Nichelle teleports in.
Nichelle [to hate]: Hi honey. Saw you were here and thought I'd pop in. Wanna screw?
Nichelle asks, "How bout some twinkies?"
Platypus [to SAGReiss]: I was referring more to a tradition or line of thought than to ethnicity.
Hume is especially fond of Locke and Hobbes, and of More. Though Hume is critical of the former two.
SAGReiss [to Nichelle]: We were just talking about the great English philosopher Thomas Aquinas. He comes from the same place as Dante, something ending in -shire.
Nichelle says, "Ah yes, somethingshire. I know it well."
Platypus [to Hume]: Well, it would help to understand that my interest was primarily in ways of thinking/perceiving. Not metaphysics, but even further from ethics.
Platypus [to SAGReiss]: You see, that's the problem with education today. It encourages people to spend more time nailing the superficial details like dates and nationalities than they do understanding the connections between ideas.
Hume [to Platypus]: I'm very much into ethics and political philosophy, though I find traditional metaphysics pretty tedious.
SAGReiss [to Platypus]: Those troublesome facts. Wouldn't it be so much nicer if we could just forget about them? That's precisely what's wrong with American education. No one knows shit, so they sit around and talk about their feelings.
Platypus [to Hume]: My interest in philosophy came out of a realization that my earlier fascination with science had more to do with empiricism and the scientific method than with the substance of science itself. Later, that same interest in logical structures led me to software engineering.
@go home
Apartment 7
one-bedroom flat

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Kate
Date: 19 February 1997
Subject: hardware, old friends and bad noodles

still on my nocturnal hours, i crawled out of bed around four, when the phone rang. i was perfectly horrible to matt and claimed not to know the times of the film i was meant to be seeing tonight. that was because i had thrown the guide across the room in a fit of uncaffeinated pique. turned out that the person we were meant to be seeing the film with had food poisoning and had take to his bed, so it didn't really matter.

then i had to trek across london to help a friend buy a second hand computer. i was dragged along as official geek, to check that the machine worked--that it had all the bits the guy claimed and so on. she's a theatre designer, bored of knowing nothing at all about computers. she decided to buy a computer, at long last, so wheeled me out of the cold store to help her out. not a bad machine. not really flash, but within her budget, and crammed full of dodgy software. anyway, she bought me lots of drinks, so what the fuck do i care? it was good to see her. we have always had an odd relationship. when we first met, oh so many years ago, i was no big fan of hers. she was an old friend of matt's and amazingly edgy-not-quite jealous wary of me. we get on well these days, and we had a lot of catching up to do. we used to live round the corner from each other, and i didn't see her in a year. now we live on the other sides of the city, i hear from her all the time.

got home about 3 hours later then i had planned, so didn't make it to the cinema as i was intending to do. i'll go tomorrow afternoon, if i am awake. it will be cheaper. dragged matt out of tv slugdom and ate not very good chinese food instead. i hate being the very last person served in a restaurant. the waiters there are always so fucking snotty and start rearranging their coats in an obvious manner, even though they are supposed to be open for another 40 or 50 minutes. i overtipped and left.

>but Key, Kate and
>negatron all said something about contributing to the web site, which is of
>course encouraged.

yes, the offer stands. any html or design work you want a hand with, just give me a shout. a small gripe--white on black is fucking hard to read, and doesn't print on ns 3.

something i mentioned to gabe on RL last night, in reference to something in VR was 'the mask of orpheus', the birthwhistle opera (although i think he refers to it as a pastoral or something strange). two orchestras, often playing very differently. even when meeting on sounds, they are playing in different time signatures. strange and wonderful, and difficult to listen to, but exhilarating. i'm not sure if there is a full recording of it anywhere, although at least two performances have been recorded by the BBC. perhaps they will broadcast it as part of their new season. the beeb have just commenced a three year series of 20th Century music, kicking off with a stunning performance of the rite of spring, conducted by boulez. i am ignorant as all hell about music, but curious as to whether any of you have heard orpheus, and what you made of it.

--kate

From: Nichelle
Date: 18 February 1997
Subject: shiiit

>-white on black is fucking hard to read, and
>doesn't print on ns 3.

Always wondered why it didn't print. I like the white on black. As for html help, maybe you can help un-jumble the mess I made of the rlmoo page. My only formal training with web design was watching Jude. I think what Gaby was after, though, was other kinds of contribution. Literary-type stuff. But html pointers and changes are also welcome.

Just finished an entire day of writing bullshit essays for two english classes. Have to give a presentation tomorrow on some stupid story about the iron mills.

"Here, inside, is a little broken figure of an angel pointing upward from the mantel-shelf; but even its wings are covered with smoke, clotted and black. Smoke everywhere! A dirty canary chirps desolately in a cage beside me. Its dream of green fields and sunshine is a very old dream- almost worn out I think."

Don't you think this is a bit much?

Got my BMG CDs today. Khachaturian Violin (oops, flute) Concerto, Bach Cello Suites, Mozart Requiem, Berg Kammerkonzert & Stravinsky Dumbarton Oaks (great piece), 8 Miniatures, and Ebony Concerto. A CD of French violin sonatas (Faure, Debussy, Saint-Saens). Chee-Yun is the violinist. Anyone know her? Murder? I suspect she's another of the Petite and Half-Naked School. All of the record reviews say things like "Nice tits, er... tone". I caught Gaby looking through the pamphlet trying to find a beaver shot.

No, don't know the mask of orpheus, but maybe Murder does. If I ever get a spare moment, I'll go up to SU and see if they've got a recording of it.

My next English paper due Monday. Topics include:

"Choose one character from Hard Times, one from "Paradise..." and one from "Life in the Iron Mills." Now imagine that each has spent a month in More's Utopia. What would each say about the social system More presents? Would any be critical of it? You may cast your paper as a dialogue or conference among different characters.

I'm tired. Such stupid classes, yet so much fucking boring paperwork. I should probably edit my journals for Dante, but I'm too bored with the whole subject.

Ah yes, the famous Gabriel Crusade of declaring that the whole world is stupid. How easily I get sucked in. How often I feel moronic myself. It's pointless to sit back and say "Gee, aren't y'all dumb." and pick your teeth. It's also impossible to ignore. It's just as bad in my classes as it is on LambdaMOO, and I get graded on this bullshit. And chances are, Mr_Asskiss will get a much better grade than I will. Just say what they want you to say.

Nichelle

From: Nichelle
Date: 19 February 1997
Subject: Utopia.log

@go Utopia
Utopia
There's no place like Utopia.
Sir_Thomas_More and Mr_Bounderby are here.

Mr_Bounderby [to Sir_Thomas_More]: nice social system you've got here.
Sir_Thomas_More bows as Mr_Bounderby throws him a rose: @}--'--
Hugo_Wolf teleports in, smelling of smoke and dirty canaries.
Hugo_Wolf says, "So what R U talking about tonite?"
Mr_Bounderby [to Hugo_Wolf]: We're talking about the social system in Sir_Thomas_More's Utopia. That's because we've been here for a month and now we're going to comment on what we feel about it.
Hugo_Wolf . o O (comment?)
Mr_Bounderby [hugo]: you know, *emote*
Hugo_Wolf says, "OH! I get it!"
Hugo_Wolf beats himself on the head with a bowling pin.
You sense that Sir_Thomas_More is looking for you in Utopia. He pages, "m or f?"

Nichelle

From: Columbine
Date: 19 February 1997
Subject: Re: What's wrong with this picture?

>Platypus [to SAGReiss]: You see, that's the problem with education today. It
>encourages people to spend more time nailing the superficial details like
>dates and nationalities than they do understanding the connections between
>ideas.
>SAGReiss [to Platypus]: Those troublesome facts. Wouldn't it be so much
>nicer if we could just forget about them? That's precisely what's wrong with
>American education. No one knows shit, so they sit around and talk about
>their feelings.

Actually, if either of these cases were true, American education would be seriously flawed, but at least students would be coming away with something. I'm not sure *either* end of this particular spectrum is being taught successfully - either the rote data or the underlying ideas.

Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: Columbine
Date: 19 February 1997
Subject: Re: shiiit

>Ah yes, the famous Gabriel Crusade of declaring that the whole world is
>stupid. How easily I get sucked in. How often I feel moronic myself. It's
>pointless to sit back and say "Gee, aren't y'all dumb." and pick your teeth.
>It's also impossible to ignore. It's just as bad in my classes as it is on
>LambdaMOO, and I get graded on this bullshit. And chances are, Mr_Asskiss
>will get a much better grade than I will. Just say what they want you to say.

I almost didn't send that previous message about rote facts vs ideas because I didn't want to come off as condescending of the entire lot. After all, I don't feel like I'm in a position to cast the first stone, with my checkered school career. I WILL note, however, that when I realized that I *was* "saying what they want you to say," in just about every paper I wrote, that was when I knew it was time to leave. And my last major was education. It's a pity when they not only can't teach, but can't teach how to teach.

More important than criticism - after all, it's a fairly easy target these days and everyone on this list can come up with something bad to say about education, particularly in America - is the question "what can be done about this?" Unfortunately I haven't a clue. I suppose if I had kids I'd be home schooling them, the way some good friends of mine are. But since hell will likely freeze over before I have kids, it's a moot point - and home schooling is a small-scale solution at best anyway.

Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: Columbine
Date: 19 February 1997
Subject: Re: Utopia.log

>You sense that Sir_Thomas_More is looking for you in Utopia. He pages, "m or f?"

I think I may have to start using this as a signature. I don't know whether to laugh or scream.


Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: Nichelle
Date: 19 February 1997
Subject: Cooperative learning

Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to discuss the benefits of cooperative learning. For any of you who are unfamiliar with the term, I will give a brief explanation. The basic principle of cooperative learning is that if you put a 4.0 student with a 3.0, a 2.0, and a complely brain-dead student, the average grade improves. Two heads are better than one, and four heads are even better than two, and after all, if you can pawn off 45 minutes to group discussions then you have cut down your lecture time by 3/4. Once you put them into groups and assign a task, the students will naturally just learn from the others.

How does this happen? Ask Gabriel, who admits that when he was forced into this situation, he just wrote out something for everybody to read. I don't have the patience, and I certainly haven't got the time.

Let's see how cooperative learning works in actual practice. We'll choose three students to work together and give a presentation to their Utopia^H^H^H Generic University Class.

Student X is too bright for this learning environment, but an inspiration to the other students.
Student Y is an ass-kisser, not overly bright, but eager and willing to do her share.
Student Z is a real loser and will probably not pass Generic University Class.

It's time for these students to decide how to do the presentation. After much groping, Student X simply assigns the work for the other two to complete. When Presentation Day arrives, Student X has typed her discussion notes and highlighted passages in the text to support her brilliant observations, Student Y has three paragraphs of handwritten notes which show that she more or less grasped the basic concepts, and Student Z frantically reads the excerpt and writes down character names just before the beginning of class. Students X and Y think that Z is a dirty dog, but feel that beating or kicking him might result in a lower grade for the Team. During the discussion, Student X carries the entire presentation and talks for two-thirds of the allotted presentation time.

For more Time-wasting Teacher Tricks, please send a SASE.

Nichelle

From: Nichelle
Date: 19 February 1997
Subject: something cute from the music listserv

A Composer Makes Himself
Perfectly Gliere

You can Telemann by where he likes to live. I just Toch a trip Orff into one of the Wilder areas Faure Wieck, and to be Verdi Franck, it nearly drove Menotti.

I know opinion Varese, but even Vivaldi urban noises, the Bizet traffic, De Falla engines, as well as knowing there are Mennin the streets Callas enough to knock your Bloch off, I couldn't resist the urge to Galuppi home early Satie, and I Haieff to say I Still prefer the Mitropoulos. The Boyce were Sor that I had Gibbons up and succumbed to the Riegger of the Field so easily, but I don't give a Schu"tz.

I was practically Krein from my Severacs and Pains brought on by that brief time in the countryside! Even the sounds got my Dandrieu up; let me Liszt some of them: the Rorem of the wind, a constant Birtwhistle, the Menuhin of the Katz, the Lipatti-Patti-Glinka-Poulenc of the Reiner on the roof, the Gluck-Gluck of the hens, and every morning a woodpecker or some Byrd Chopin holes in a Tree. My only company was a Thorne Busch, a Partch of poison Ives, a Braun Babbit, and sometimes a Wolf, nothing Moore. For a Forrest Grainger it may be Fine - it may be the Katz Milhaud - but I could have died of Borodin. A friend suggested my making this Tureck; "Abegg" his pardon, but I will never go Bach to those Go"tterd"ammerung Hillis. They Suk!

No, I don't care for the Ruggles life. I like a good Mehul - a little Suppe, some Szigeti, maybe some Salome at my local Taverner with a little lime Schubert after (even if they don't always clear the Crumbs off the table). And I like to Locatelli while I'm Eaton Maderna at night. Is that asking for Egk in Meyerbeer? Nono! So many people Berio themselves under a Holst of problems they know they can't Handle. Their answer is too Offenbach to nature - into Haydn, it seems to me. I Karajan a d'Indy life in the Berg for the most Pa"rt. Maybe it isn't Perle Bliss for everybody, but it's Godunov for me.

Nichelle

From: SAGReiss
Date: 21 February 1997
Subject: One year old

On Thursday 22 February 1996 at 9:11 PM eastern time this list began. I've just printed out that first letter, entitled 12000 Virgins, which is found by clicking on the RECTVM VINVM button of our web page. The title is an allusion to the slender pornographic novel The 11000 Virgins by Guillaume Apolinaire. I don't recognize most of the addresses I sent that first letter to. I had collected them during the fall of 1995, while briefly online. Three months later few of the addressees recognized me. Only two of them stayed for any length of time, aside from my friends, Corinne and Jeff. I am pleased with this first year. The web site and MOO are at least as good as I had imagined them, although the latter remains a disappointment. Sixteen hundred hits to the page is quite good. I've just come back from first hearing Nichelle play a concert. I'm having a glass or two of whisky to celibrate our first year. I liked the first and last pieces (She'll tell you the names.) because of their rock and roll mentality: "Let's make some noise, lads." The Belgian and English pieces were, well, Belgian and English. North Amerikans, in so far as they know anything at all about Belgium, do not necessarily know that it's the laughingstock of Europe. Not only did they invent french fries, and eat lots of them, but they put mayonnaise on them. They've never even fought a war, let alone won or lost one. Occasionally some evil empire will simply roll over them like roadkill. At least the French, as Fitz so brilliantly pointed out, gave everything they had once, at Verdun. I drove by there four or five years ago. It's still a vast graveyard. More people died there in one battle than live there today. Nothing but anonymous crosses and telephone wires. I liked the drums in the Copeland piece, drums and cymbals while the rest of the band rested, or whatever it is they do. Maybe someday Nichelle and Murder can play in some sleazy bar while negatron and I sit at a table smoking cigars and drinking whisky. I might understand the music better. I tried to look at the conductors. This would not be a good job for a short man like myself. I thought about Beavis and Butt-Head doing this. It's kind of like dancing. Anyway the first piece was my favorite. It's a shame there weren't a few more people in the audience. I guess it's hard to find friends on campus on a Friday night without a keg.

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Joy
Date: 22 February 1997
Subject: Re: Read 'em and weep

>Joy writes baad fucking e-mail and so she deserves her place on the web site

that's my input for stuff on the webpage. ah, to be this self-serving all of the time.. bloody awful.

From: SAGReiss
Date: 22 February 1997
Subject: Re: Read 'em and weep

At 02:26 AM 2/22/97 -0500, Joy wrote:
>>Joy writes baad fucking e-mail and so she deserves her place on the web site
>
>that's my input for stuff on the webpage. ah, to be this self-serving all
>of the time.. bloody awful.

Thinking I had weaseled my way out of this one, I can see I am not the only one with a long memory. So be it. We can use a little controversy, not to say bad feeling, on our anniversary. This goes back to the Friday 9 September controversy, the last best chance for the MOO to flourish and the end of six months of extraordinary e-mail. I haven't quite been on a roll since. There were at the time four of five people every night on RL MOO. There was also a lot of complaining, backstabbing and whining among members of the list (not just Allset). After a wild and crazy week-end people decided to drop the list and I decided to drop others. I did however listen to part of the complaints and did not post an offending text on the web. I'm not sure this was the right decision. I also did not know that anyone cared. I am sorry, Joy, if I slighted you, that I promised you something and then did not deliver. I don't know what to say about accusations that I am or have been "self-serving" or, in a recent variant, "self-indulgent". I created this list for my own reasons. People enter and leave for their own reasons. It's free precisely in the sense that nothing is given, nothing asked for. As much as anything else, it's an experiment in what can be done with e-mail technology, since such a list would be possible, but not practical, without that technology. I have tried in recent weeks and months to expand the list and of course the MOO. I'm not looking for something big and unwieldly, but a few more members might be nice. I have made some mistakes. I hope, in Seattle a year from today, to be able to say: "Move out the way, motherfuckers."

From: Nichelle
Date: 22 February 1997
Subject: what the fuck?

I feel like I've been away from the list for a month and missed a hundred e-mails, in kpalumbo style. But I don't think I missed any e-mail. I have no fucking idea where this whole subject came from, and could somebody please fucking explain it? Where did that quote come from? What are you talking about?

I've had three cups of coffee this morning. Two iced, one hot. I'm still exhausted, still no closer to having a five-page english paper written, and all I can say is, Gabriel had better be in a good mood when he meets the Fayette bus tonight, because if he's not, it'll be an awful lot like poking the fuck out of two rabid, hungry wolves, and then sticking them in a cage together wearing collars made out of Jimmie Dean sausages. Not a pretty sight.

Now I'm going to go to Shoppingtown and begin my other Saturday job, after lunch and I hope to God I can find something decent to eat. I'm not going into  the store one goddamned minute early because last time I dropped my coat off at three o'clock and the owner's husband volunteered me to take over for the other lady. "Actually, I haven't eaten yet." which was a lie, but it sounded a whole lot nicer than "Fuck you, asshole, try asking me what I think. Eat shit and die." which is what I wanted to say. Boy am I a sweetie. Think I'll eat at Fridays, because the mall is a fucking nightmare, and 75% off chocolates may just be too big a temptation if I've got 90 minutes on my hands. Gotta catch my bus. Kiss kiss...

From: Columbine
Date: 22 February 1997
Subject: web pages

Yet another remodeling of the Web pages. There are some comments on deconstructionism in there which you might find entertaining/aggravating/rabid.

You can surf the pages in "newest first" order until you get there, or skip the load times (except, of course, for the image at the top of that particular page) by linking direct to the page FiveRings.HTML.

-columbine

Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: SAGReiss
Date: 23 February 1997
Subject: The Death of Humanism

Snow falls on the prairie. In the Wheat Province negatron has again forgotten to plug in his car. Forsaken and lovelost he turns on his Pentium 200 mega herz amplifier, picks up his guitar and cranks out a few deafening chords while crooning his "Ballad of the Sisters Palm". Few garage rockers would be so bold as to claim they could score this haunting melody for a hundred-piece orchestra. But every love-struck idiot with a rhyming dictionary thinks that he's doing the same thing Shakespeare did when he writes a sonnet on Saint Valentine's Day. This, Nichelle, is what I meant when I said that musicians have it a little easier. Most people see the qualitative difference between what you do and what John (the chef) does. You could learn in a day to strum "Stairway to Heaven" on some cheapass guitar, maybe two days in order to learn how to shake your head with emotion. He would be lucky to learn in ten years to make music with a clarinet. The distinction is simple, yet elusive. Where do we draw the line, at John Cage? at Richard Strauss? When does entertainment end and art begin? For more on this topic see "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies" by the brilliant and very mean master, James McNeill Whistler. He was, so far as I know, the first to suffer publically the my-kid-could-do-that argument and he didn't take it kindly. He brought a suit on the world famous art critic who had ridiculed his work in writing and pursued his wrath despite the fact that Ruskin was half dead from a stroke and in no condition to defend himself. Needless to say he won his case, a symbolic victory as I recall. I don't know, Columbine, to whom you refer when you attack deconstructionism. The little experience I have with this fad is a passing acquaintance with Jacques Derrida, a philosopher of broad and deep learning not to be taken lightly and a very insightful reader of Saussure. I cannot imagine him defending any of the claims in your text. Let us assume that in the case of a message we have three elements, a sender, a text and a receiver. If we're going to study a text, then we can eliminate from our consideration anything and everything pertaining to the former and the latter and concentrate on the matter at hand. Thus the title of this letter. As Freud said, in one of his more headstrong moods: "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." Humanism is dead. Texts are the proper object of linguistic study, not authors and not readers. Columbine, you seem to be playing both sides of this argument. Let me quote from your work:
"I do not like the proposition that authors always embed hidden symbolism in their work, whether consciously or unconsciously. I do not like the proposition that the reader is as much the creator of the story as the author. I do not like the proposition that you can always learn something about the author from his/her work."
All three of these negative statements seem to distance both the sender and the receiver from the message. We agree on that. I would go much further. There is no such thing as symbolism. Something is in the message or it is not. Nothing stands for anything else. The reader and the author have nothing at all to do with the message, which is independant of both. You can never learn anything about anything from a text, except about the nature of the text itself.
Two later sentences seem to contradict this healthy attitude: "You will eventually end up guessing, and adding content which was not intended by the author to be there," The question is not what the author intended. The question is what is there. Everything else is irrelevant. Again: "It was written to thrill and is (or should be) read in the same spirit." What do we know or care about why it was written? The text is a phenomenon of a linguistic order. It can be studied by the same methods used to study other phenomena of the same order. No reference need be made (indeed none must be made) to either reader or writer. Once more: "Either the fiction succeeded as an escapist experience for the student - the student liked it, in other words - or the student did not." If the study of literature is reduced to the likes and dislikes of students, then why study it at all? This is no study, requires no learning. This is choosing a flavor of ice cream from Baskin Robbins. Why the reference to the student (reader)? What has the reader got to do with a phenomenon (a text) that existed before him? Surely art entails something more than, and different from, the unaccounted-for preferences of readers and writers. One last time: "What's important is, does the scene have an effect on you mentally, emotionally?" Why is this important? Studying literature I learned a number of techniques for analyzing works of literary art, phonetics, morphology, syntax, philology, rhetoric and semantics. I need neither authors nor readers to do my work, just a text, and it is completely irrelevent whether I like the text or not. As I have said before, surely not every proctologist likes the smell of every asshole he's ever had the pleasure to peruse. The French system of education is based on an exercise called the explication de texte. The student is asked to write about a very short work or extract, shorter than a page for a four-hour exam or a ten-page paper. Everything about the author's life, the student's opinions on art, whatever, is expressly excluded from the discussion. Indeed he is forbidden the use of the word "I". French students learn to analyse a text word by word. A good example of this technique available in English is Erich Auerbach's "Mimesis". Which brings us to your chosen text:

IULIET
O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Denie thy father and refuse thy name:
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworne my loue,
And ile no longer be a Capulet.
ROMEO (aside)
Shall I heare more, or shall I speake at this?
IULIET
Tis but thy name that is my enemie:
Thou art thy selfe, though not a Moutague,
Whats Mountague? it is nor hand nor foote,
Nor arme nor face, nor any other parte
Belonging to a man: o be some other name.
Whats in a name? that which we call a rose,
By any other word would smell as sweete,
So Romeo would were he not Romeo cald,
Retaine that deare perfection which he owes,
Without that tytle: Romeo doffe thy name,
And for thy name which is no part of thee,
Take all my selfe.

Juliet begins with a rhetorical question. She's talking to herself and expects no answer. She merely vents her frustration at the inconvenience of her lover's first name, which in her mind implies his belonging to a rival clan. She uses the name, Romeo, twice in the vocative, as if she were talking to him (which she unknowingly is), and once in the nominative. The question: "wherefore art thou Romeo?" means: "Why is your name 'Romeo'?". She then proposes a stern either/or solution to the problem. Either he must give up his name, or, if he refuses, she will give up hers. Romeo chooses neither of these alternatives and listens on. Juliet keeps thinking, moving from the concrete problem to a higher level of abstraction. She draws a clear distinction between the name/enemy, socio-linguistic conventions, and the self, a discrete and indestructible force. The surname Montague is more apt to this level of generalization. She will only switch back to the given name when her argument allows it. Juliet comes down hard on the side of the conventional or arbitrary theory of language. The name is neither the self nor the body, but only an accident of fate, against which she rebels. She repeats her first offer: "o [choose to] be some other name." This time, however, she does not reciprocate. In (almost) open revolt against the social conventions of her time, she already has a more radical, and more equitable solution in mind. Beginning again with the interrogative pronoun, she returns to the world of the particular, this time choosing a comparison to follow the implications of giving up one's name. She reassures herself that nothing would change in the real world if we were to call things by other names. The concrete thoughts and image of the rose bring back the given name. The syntax grows more complexe, less easy to follow, which gives the somewhat awkward construction: "So Romeo would were he not Romeo cald," phonetic ballance with the name anchoring the line at both ends. This slow rhythm gives way to the swift (polysyllabic) run-on conclusion in beautifully regular verse. Having meditated on the nature of socio-linguistic conventions in general, and proven (to herself) that in the particular she and her lover could defy them, Juliet changes her tune and makes an offer quite different from before. Instead of an either/or, you-or-I ultimatum, she now proposes a quid pro quo in which Romeo gives up something, his name as distinct from his self, and in return receives something, her (presumably nameless) self. Whereas before one must give up, and one retain, the element that pits them against one another socially, now Juliet's thoughts have given her the strength to imagine the possibility that they might both escape social convention and live nameless, two selves united in rebellion against the constraints which oppress them.

From: Joy
Date: 23 February 1997
Subject: Re: Read 'em and weep

uh, actually 'self-indulgent' was referring to ME

From: Columbine
Date: 23 February 1997
Subject: Re: The Death of Humanism

I knew I could count on a response from you which would make me think.

>is dead. Texts are the proper object of linguistic study, not authors and
>not readers. Columbine, you seem to be playing both sides of this argument.

Not really. I agree with that statement. I suppose the problem is that I question the worth of "linguistic study" when applied to fiction at all.

>The text is a phenomenon of a
>linguistic order. It can be studied by the same methods used to study other
>phenomena of the same order. No reference need be made (indeed none must be
>made) to either reader or writer. Once more: "Either the fiction succeeded
>as an escapist experience for the student - the student liked it, in other
>words - or the student did not." If the study of literature is reduced to
>the likes and dislikes of students, then why study it at all?

Precisely my point. I view fiction from the point of view of an author; as an author, my only concern is that someone felt it was worthwhile to read the piece, either the author, or, optimally, someone else as well. I'd really like to say "enjoyed" there, but on rethinking this, some pieces of fiction are good to read without being "enjoyable" per se - I suppose it's better to say they provoke a strong emotional reaction.

All of this is visceral and, as you point out, can no more be analyzed than why I chose chocolate mint over vanilla this afternoon. This is one of my primary objections to the study of literature as it is practiced today. I suppose even the phrase "study of literature" is an oxymoron to me. The only use I ever got out of a lit class was more like a book recommendation service: here are some pieces that a lot of other people throughout time seem to have liked, why not read one or two and see what you think?

>The reader and the author have
>nothing at all to do with the message, which is independant of both.

The message can't be independent of the author; the author created it. I believe in the primacy of the author. The author's intended message is the True Message; other interpretations are valid variants, but they must be *recognized* as variants, and therefore secondary. I do not believe that art is what you make it. I believe that art is what the artist made; I don't care if no two people see it the same way. Any other path on this argument, and I can make it only a short stretch to there-is-no-absolute-truth-and-nothing-is-certain, a point of view which is fun to play with but of no practical use to anyone.

I will be the first to admit that's a chauvinistic point of view in many respects.

>important? Studying literature I learned a number of techniques for
>analyzing works of literary art, phonetics, morphology, syntax, philology,
>rhetoric and semantics. I need neither authors nor readers to do my work,
>just a text, and it is completely irrelevent whether I like the text or not.

To do the kind of thing you're talking about, it *is* irrelevant whether you like the text or not. It's also mostly irrelevant what the text is about! I don't argue the way this technique is or should be performed ... I just question its value. To my mind, it smacks of not being able to see the forest for the trees (a rather tired metaphor, but never mind that) - of focusing on the details to the point where the message is lost.

I've omitted your lengthy dissection of the Shakespeare. Suffice to say that it is very thorough, told me a lot of things that I didn't know, and has nothing in it that I consider important. No offense meant; I think the essential schism here is that we are functioning on different levels. I could have read your entire analysis and not come away with any idea of what the verse was *about*. My questions - the questions I would ask someone who had just read the piece for the first time - are
1. What is happening in this piece, in terms of plot, events?
2. Did you like the piece?
3. Do you find the prose style distracting? Does the prose act as a barrier to your interest in the events being described, or does it assist?

I am aware that you probably consider these grade-school level questions, and they are. However, they are questions that many people in college never think to answer, because they are too mired in the sort of word-by-word analysis you're doing. I have no problems with the detail work, but I think you should read it at least once for the visceral reaction, for the *story*, before trying to break it into tiny little pieces.

Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: Columbine
Date: 23 February 1997
Subject: Re: The Death of Humanism

After discussing this with you, and discussing it verbally with my friend Marc, I have replaced the text on the Five Rings page with this (excuse my HTML, I only have the energy for cut/paste right now).

----------

This page used to contain a screed against deconstructing fiction. I have deleted it because my internal contradictions have been successfully pointed out to me, always a tricky task when dealing with someone as opinionated as I am.<p>

I cannot say "deconstructing fiction is wrong." I can say that it is not a practice I care to indulge in, nor one I see much point in. But that is strictly my opinion.<p>

I'm not sure why it is that I can analyze a newspaper or magazine's layout without feeling that it detracts from the articles, or ponder the nutritional content of food without feeling that it detracts from the taste (thanks, Marc, for that one), yet I feel that focusing on the syntax of written fiction detracts from the enjoyment of reading it at the content level.<p>

Perhaps this is because I myself cannot do both. When I edit my work, I literally have to proof it twice - once for content (this chapter's not advancing the plot, this dialogue is needless) and once for syntax (I'm using this word too much in this paragraph, this sentence is too long). It's like a camera going from near focus to distant focus. For me, at least, the two are mutually exclusive.<p>

My friend Marc and I came up with the following plan. Imagine these are layers of an onion (or layers of the Earth's crust, if you prefer) - each depends on the ones underneath it:<p>

Content (plot, story, what's going on)<br>
Context (how the story reflects the conditions of the time/place it was
written)<br>
Subtext (deliberate or accidental symbolism/allegory/metaphor/pick your
term)<br>
Syntax (use of specific words, phrases, syllables, line breaks, etc)<p>

You can't read on the top level without <strong>some</strong> form of perception of the lower levels, nor would I want it to be otherwise. The part I don't like is when people try to peel off the layers of the onion to focus on the layers underneath. To me this does not enhance perception; it only distracts.<p>

But, as I've come to recognize, this is only my opinion, and my opinion is seldom representative of any greater truth. If there is such a thing.<p>

Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: Nichelle
Date: 23 February 1997
Subject: generation Y(anni)

I jut had this discussion. For about two weeks. Klarinet listserv. I've been living with Gaby too long. I've been playing the clarinet too long. I've been taking literature classes at LeMoyne College too long.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I read like hell, write like hell, and go to class *not* to discuss literature, but to discuss Ourselves. We talk about the characters as if they were real people or the characters of a sleazy soap opera. If you're going to study literature seriously, you're eventually going to have to take a serious look at the fucking words.

Never, *EVER*, in my time as undergraduate scum at Eastern Washington University, butthole of Washington state, ever did we discuss when studying a piece of music how much we liked it or how much it moved us. We talked about notes. We talked about form. Choice of instrument combinations. Harmony. Of course I personally liked or disliked certain pieces. So what?

Am I saying I've never had an emotional reaction to a work of art? No.

What the fuck is the artist's "intended message"?
As I told the Klarinet list in a raging debate over precisely the same subject, the composer did not leave us intentions. The composer left us a finished product. Whether or not it lived up to the composer's original conception or intentions is impossible to know and completely irrelevent.

What do you want me to do? Look at the first note of the Mozart Concerto, K. 622, and say "Golly, I wonder what he meant by that."? It's a G on the A clarinet, sounding concert E. It's a half note. Lasts exactly two beats. Fingering: left hand thumb plus first, second and third fingers. No pinky.

>... forest for the trees
God is in the details.

Stefan once showed me in a Brahms score that the top note of every chord in the last movement outlined a theme from the first movement. This was no accident or coincidence. Pure 100% intention. Thank you, please drive through. Is it not relevant that on Saturday I drank two hot coffees and one iced, then wrote 2 iced and 1 hot? 4 and four are not the same. Yes, we can transpose the clarinet part for A clarinet from Bb, but is it not in the least bit interesting that the composer chose Bb rather than A? Is it not interesting that with an infinite number of possibilities, one particular combination is chosen over another? I wrote an entire e-mail without using the word "I". Did you notice? Am I a great writer? No. But I think about details.

Fine, be satisfied with 1. what is happening, 2. did you like it 3. did you find the prose style distracting... Take my fucking classes for me. You'll get a better grade than I'm going to.

Nobody in my college has even bothered to discuss the stucture that makes up this shit we're reading, so I think you're wrong, Columbinein college generally don't think to ask any questions, and so who the fuck cares if they don't know what's going on in the story.

I like you personally, but I'm glad you're not my english teacher. But in all fairness, I'm glad Gabriel isn't either. I'd probably have to sleep with him to get a decent grade.

My paper's still not done. I'm going to read the first half of the Knight's tale and finish all of my writing in the morning. I'm (with any luck) getting up with Gabriel in the morning.

Nichelle

From: Nichelle
Date: 23 February 1997
Subject: Loose "seems"

>Date: Sun, 19 January 1997 00:32:27 -0500
>To: Klarinet - Clarinettist's Network
>From: Nichelle
>Subject: Loose "seems"
>
>It's tough to sort out all of the greys. "It's an impossible clarinet
>change." vs. "It's a difficult clarinet change." vs. "It's easier on the
>other instrument." or whatever the case may be in a particular piece.
>Invariably, there are musicians out there who can and do play what the
>composer wrote in the score. Things start to get shady when players decide
>to step in and override what the composer wrote.
>
>It's a little scary when we get into the "it seems to me that Brahms this"
>or "players of the period might possibly have done that". In David Hattner's
>example, a clarinetist *asked* Brahms. If a composer is still living, we
>have that option. However, there is a huge difference between making a
>suggestion to a composer and saying after a composer's death that he didn't
>seem inflexible, so maybe we could... This sounds like too much guesswork to
>me. And don't get me started on the composer's "intentions". Our great
>composers did not leave us intentions. They left us music (scores), a
>finished product.

Nichelle

From: Nichelle
Date: 23 February 1997
Subject: infallibility and intentions

>Date: Wed, 22 January 1997 20:08:48 -0500
>To: Klarinet - Clarinettist's Network
>From: Nichelle
>Subject: infallibility and intentions
>
>Everybody keeps talking about what a composer wanted and intended. Why not
>spend a little time thinking about what the composer wrote?
>
>Some people seem to be suggesting that the measure of a clarinet part's
>greatness is how easy it is to play. Are there no other considerations?
>
>Brahms sat down and "thought up", through whatever process, his Third
>Symphony. Whether or not the finished product resembled or even did justice
>to his original ideas and conceptions, we do not know. Some pieces are
>better than others, as well as some parts of those pieces and so on. I fail
>to see how this affects the performance of the piece. For better or for
>worse, what he actually did write is what we've got.

Nichelle

From: SAGReiss
Date: 24 February 1997
Subject: The advantages of being a musician

I did not mean, Columbine, to weaken your text, nor of course to see it removed. I am attacking neither you nor your work in fiction and poetry, but talking in general. If I go on too long, please someone just say: "That's enough for today, Mr Antichrist." What I meant by playing both sides was that you sometimes seem to claim that what is important is the author (and his unknown intent), sometimes the reader (and his unaccountable taste). I claim that the author is dead, the reader unborn, the text a permanent fact. To take a common example, there are three ways of defining pornography, the work is intended to titilate, the famous "I know it when I see it," and a verifiable definition of what is actually in the text, such as: "the explicit representation of sexual (and/or excremental) functions." Obviously I choose the latter. The Marquis de Sade's arguments about his intent (in both works and letters) are so outrageous that one would have to be pretty devoid of a sense of humour to take them seriously. If what's important is what the reader thinks or feels, then why place the constraint of the author's intent, to the extent to which it is known, upon him? If the reader's taste matters so much, why not let him read whatever he pleases into the text? Analogies such as nutrition versus taste or onion peels, while the appeal to my culinary interests, make me very nervous. I do not understand how people can talk of plot, character and theme, fifty years after Joyce and Faulkner, Proust and Doeblin. Even if I conceed this point, one is still at a loss to explain how we come to know anything at all about events or psychology in a text, except by looking as closely as possible at the words used to describe them. There can be no epistemological argument about this indisputable fact: a work of literature is a (usually linear) series of words (sometimes with pictures) AND NOTHING ELSE. Continued reference to the existence of fiction and non-fiction seems particularly galling to me. Again none of these problems impose themselves on the musician. No one in his right mind thinks that a piece of music means anything in the referential sense. A piece of music is self-referential. So is a work of literature. The reasons musicians and authors study (as opposed to listen/read for pleasure only) is to learn how past masters have created works of beauty. I expect a professional in any field, whether wine tasting or architecture, to be able to tell me more than: "It's good because I like it." That is the uninformed opinion of the layman, the amateur. I expect more from a scholar. I expect him to be able to tell me how it is made, what makes it good. It doesn't really matter to me whether the Man is a professor or a dead poet. It could be Nichelle's friend Stephane elucidating Brahms or Mathew Arnold on Shakespeare. Erudite and insightful readers have taught me much about specific authors and literature in general. That's OK, I'll save my wisdom for the unsuspecting undergraduate scum of the university of Washington, if they should make the fatal mistake of hiring me...

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

From: Columbine
Date: 25 February 1997
Subject: Re: The advantages of being a musician

>I did not mean, Columbine, to weaken your text, nor of course to see it
>removed.

I didn't remove it because of you; I removed it primarily because of a two-hour discussion between myself and a provocative friend. Said discussion underscored the fact that my text was plenty weak enough already, and I should not keep trying to present my personal tastes as the One True Way, a bad habit I have. I wrote the piece in a fit of temper (a temper I should control) after reading an interview with Umberto Eco. The piece that has replaced it is shorter, calmer, and something of a strategic withdrawal.

>I claim that the author is dead, the reader unborn, the text a permanent fact.

Well, as Nichelle points out, the text (or in her case the score) IS the only record that we have. I tend to think in terms of things I've written. Certainly when I read the works of dead people I am inventing my own interpretation as I go. I have to be. But I will always be careful to *say* it is my interpretation. And, more importantly, I will not fill anyone else's head with it. It is more to my taste to hand them the book and say "here. form your own interpretation." This to me is what teachers should be doing, and what they are not doing. Again again again: this is just my eccentricity.

Then, AFTER everyone has arrived at their own conclusion, perhaps comparing impressions will be worth doing. And perhaps not. Depending on your point of view.

>I do not
>understand how people can talk of plot, character and theme, fifty years
>after Joyce and Faulkner, Proust and Doeblin. There can be no epistemological
>argument
>about this indisputable fact: a work of literature is a (usually linear)
>series of words (sometimes with pictures) AND NOTHING ELSE. Continued
>reference to the existence of fiction and non-fiction seems particularly
>galling to me.

Continued denial of the existence of plot is particularly galling to me.

We must agree to disagree here. In fiction, the words exist to support the plot, and the plot is paramount. Fiction tells a story. There is a passage of events. There is also what I will vaguely call "style" ... short grunting words vs long mellifluous words, meticulous metrical feet versus start-and-stop fragments ... and all these things contribute immeasurably. But in fiction, without the story they are nothing. When the style becomes more important than the story, you end up with Joyce ... a long tone poem which is read for no other reason except to see the words echo in space, lined up in rows to be beheld.

Let's extend this to music, so I can really show my ignorance. Bach is going somewhere; in a fugue he is performing the musical equivalent of telling a story, of that Old Shakespearean Rising and Falling Action. There is development. In some music there is none, or it is happening on a more subtle level than I can perceive. Which may not be very subtle, my musical tastes are rather conservative. I listen to Bach, Liszt, and Mozart. I cannot stand the atonalities of the likes of Schoenberg, Charles Ives, or even Bartok. Good God, I hate Bartok. And now that my Joyce-paper-writing days are over, I'm not in a hurry to read those random syllables again either.

>The reasons musicians and authors study (as opposed
>to listen/read for pleasure only) is to learn how past masters have created
>works of beauty. I expect a professional in any field, whether wine tasting
>or architecture, to be able to tell me more than: "It's good because I like
>it."

No argument there. But I *was* originally talking about classes and studies taken by people who will ultimately (one hopes) turn out to be readers of literature, not writers of it. The level of knowledge needed is considerably different.

I need to be very very aware of what I'm writing. I need to study it to a very fine degree of detail. But the reader need not be aware of that detail, and in my case at least, seeing the detail will actually detract from my reading. I suppose you can call that willful ignorance, and I won't argue too hard.

Poetry is the area where I have the thinnest skin on this matter. I like a variety of poets, from the bizarre to the mundane. I have never stopped to analyze why I like some poets and not others - I just do. To take it any further would spoil the fun. (Actually, that's not entirely true. To reverse the old cliche, when it comes to poetry, I know what I DON'T like.)

Ah, heck, enough of this. I've admitted that I'm opinionated and cranky; that I overly romanticize the story aspect and that I have rather simplistic views on analysis. I throw in the towel.


Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: Columbine
Date: 25 February 1997
Subject: Re: generation Y(anni)

>Nobody in my college has even bothered to discuss the stucture that makes up
>this shit we're reading, so I think you're wrong, tbelton. People in college
>generally don't think to ask any questions, and so who the fuck cares if
>they don't know what's going on in the story.

Well, I care (she says meekly). It hurt to have to tuck my tail between my legs and finally give up on being a teacher because I just couldn't take it anymore. Now I'm just bitter.

You're right. Sooner or later in literature, you have to get down to the words.

But given that the students don't seem to be learning ANY of the layers of my onion diagram - that they emerge from the far end of a semester unaware of what any of the books they read were about, let alone fine points of syntax, genius of construction, nuances of style - if we're going to perform triage, I'd prefer to teach them to love the stories first. Then we can work on the words.

Neither you nor Gabriel is stupid. Nor, for all my stupid remarks, am I. I know that one of the things that makes T.S. Eliot great is the choices of words, the use of repetition, the peculiar rolling rhythms that often underscore their points by dead-stopping when you least expect them. I know this. I appreciate this. And I can discuss this and write papers on it with the best of them.

But when people are coming out of high school and even college not having read any Eliot at all (to continue with this poor example), it strikes me as a peculiarly useless thing to do. In a perfect world, maybe. For now, I'd settle for a good way to get people to read the damn things in the first place.

I don't have one. It is this impotence which makes me angry. I just express it rather oddly.


Oh these deceits are strong almost as life.
Last night I dreamt I was in the labyrinth,
And woke far on. I did not know the place.
-- Edwin Muir (1887 -1959)

From: Nichelle
Date: 27 February 1997
Subject: www.chaco.com/pueblo/

Are you familiar with Pueblo? Check out the web site- it's possible to expand the MOO to include links, pictures and sound. It's all done by somehow making links to wavs and gif/jpegs that are already on the web. For example, Gaby's MOO description could have a link to his pic on the web, and those using Pueblo would automatically see it when they type @look SAGReiss. Those of you who know how to do MOO code, can you look at the web page and determine how difficult it would be to do? The MOO would be able to function normally for those people who either don't have Pueblo or don't want it. I think it's worth doing, and I'll do anything I can to help. I realize that this probably puts much of the work on John's shoulders, but if I can learn to do it, I'll do anything needed. Please, go have a look, y'all, and tell me what you think.

Nichelle

From: Kate
Date: 27 February 1997
Subject: Re: www.chaco.com/pueblo/

just a quick note on pueblo...download the pueblo client and take a look at snow which has done a lot of work to make parts of the moo pueblo enhanced.

there are other devlopments in this area that i know about - but none of them are yet open to the public. it can be useful, it can be infuriating. but onew of the nicest things is that it still supports plain text moo for those who have neither interest in nor bandwidth for the all-the-frills version.

-kate

From: SAGReiss
Date: 28 February 1997
Subject: No smoking, BYOB

A day of latent social inadequacy. The Man gave me Nichelle's birthday off without my even asking for it. Working instills such a feeling of guilt and fear that I shudder to ask for a day off. I called a restaurant (I can't tell you which because it's a secret and one of you might tell Nichelle.) and reserved a table for Tuesday evening. The lady read some of the menu items to me on the phone, kind of New-Age queer with outrageous detail about herbs and spices she couldn't pronounce. In France they don't do this shit. They say: "a la mode de Caen" and fuck you if you're too dumb to know what that is. There's no wine, no smoking. I think it's the hospital cafeteria. In France they serve wine in the hospital cafeteria. (In psych wards on both sides of the Atlantic there are smoking lounges.) Anyway I went shopping in the foolish student boutiques looking for a gift and feeling poor. I found three CDs in the classical section, two of which weren't classical and the other was the Three Tenors. Bearing social pressure and humiliation I went to two other shops. I wasted an hour and bought nothing. I need the stark clarity of the bar, two shelves of bottles on either side of the cash register. The bartender knows what his customers drink or he shouldn't be there. It helps that I'm the only white boy who goes there, the only drinker of imported yellow poison ordered especially for me, and one of the few who leaves the bartender a dollar or two. You are right about our sensibilities, Columbine. We're thinking about remodelling the MOO a bit when we change servers and John gets his hand on the controls. We spoke of replacing Bach and Mozart with the Killer Bees (Berg and Bartok) and/or the Three Ss (Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Shostakovich). I'm excited about Puebloizing the MOO. Of course I wouldn't have to do any of the work. SAGReiss [to Nichelle]: Maybe the girls will be interested. We could give Columbine a character and give them both prog bits. Then we could advertize on Peublo's page: "Hot geek babes."

RECTVM VINVM
Scott Alexander Gabriel Reiss

January 1997

March 1997

vr: 1997

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