Saturday, 23 January 2016

Head Crash verses Snow Crash

HeadCrash v SnowCrash

A post-post-modern critique 
(AKA Trolling Techniques)

"It had to be done, man. Somebody had to do it." -Anon


"Comin' at ya', low-tech style!" 
-J-Bone, Johhny Mnemonic

So far as movie interface goes, I grew up on Johnny Mnemonic, featuring Ice T playing J-Bone. Of the many cyberpunk movies of my 80s childhood, it's the one which permeates. Loosely based on one of the origins of the genre, William Gibson's 1984 novel Neuromancer, accredited as being the novel which spawned the cyberpunk generation. 

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." Neuromancer, Gibson
To me, new-romancers aka the cult-of-no-name were the wealthy young generation of post-punk / new-wavers such as feature in opening scene of Wim Wenders classic movie Until The End Of The World, which should be compared with the gothic equivalent The Hunger featuring both BauHaus and David Bowie - who had a lot more to do with the spawning of new romantics (post-70's Bolanesque Adam and the Ants, Culture Club etc) and the Gothic subgenre; due to the sort of music played at Bowies nightclub in London before the BatCave in Soho gave Goth its own independent cultural identity as it emerged from Punk; which was capitalized and promoted by fashion designer duo Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's legendary Sex shop. 

The nightclubs spawned the fashion movements because they are the interactive forum; generations later their origins are worshipped by 'those who later came and are as yet to come'. All of this was two decades before the internet, before mobile phones became omnipresent and integral to lifestyle. Back then, cellphones and the net, should we call it the web, the matrix; were the domain of tech futurism.

HeadCrash is the 1995 novel written by Bruce Bethke who is accredited with coining the phrase 'cyberpunk' as a literary genre in his 1983 short story of the same title.

So today I ordered two novels, both of which are acclaimed for kickstarting the genre. One is Bethke's HeadCrash and the other Neal Stevenson's third novel SnowCrash, 1992. My interest in the latter is because all of the cyberpunks I have met in VR who accredit their inspiration for their interest in VR to be this very novel. Therefore it has become essential to my reading list as an afficionado of the genre, despite my own generation predating it by ten years - I was born in 77 the same year StarWars IV: A New Hope was released. To me cyberpunk has always been there, I was in my mid-thirties before it all fell into perspective that it, like myself, is a generation piece. 

Although my transition from child to teen was heavily indulgent on Shadowrun which greatly affected me, from its machine-interface methodology to it's Future-Urban-Tolkien metapsychosis of Goblinization Day where 80% of life forms on Earth morph into their true nature as mythical beasties as we evolve into the Mayan 6th Age as prophecized for millennia: I should state loudly for the record that as far as I am concerned, the ultimate cyberpunk novel is without any shadow of a doubt, Jeff Noon's Vurt. I read it at 20 by which time I had lived it. Shadowrun coined the phrase 'matrix' as cyberspace and promised us mobile phones, which later emerged as a factuality at the turn of the Gregorian calender's millennium. Vurt promised us the cyberdelic which made a lot more sense to me then, living as a street shaman. The missing link to that is Darren O'Shaughnessy's Ayuamarca: The City Book 1. Hell ye am I literary.

By the age of 16 I had read pretty much everything available which Philip K Dick had written, other than his astonishing A Scanner Darkly which amazingly tells my own life story, and his mature works VALIS and Man In A High Castle (now an Amazon Prime tv serial dramatization). I had to live them before reading them. PKD begat Blade Runner, Minority Report; he is integral to the genre and one of the cornerstone fundamentals of 'cyberpunk'.

So this blog is about HeadCrash and Snowcrash which entitled thus are evidently interelatable.
Oh yes goddamn spellchecker there IS such a word as interelatable. 

"A head crash is a hard-disk failure that occurs when a read–write head of a hard disk drive comes in contact with its rotating platter, resulting in permanent and usually irreparable damage to the magnetic media on the platter surface. It is most commonly caused by a sudden severe motion of the disk, for example the jolt caused by dropping a laptop to the ground while it is operating."

"Stephenson explained the title of the novel in his 1999 essay In the Beginning... was the Command Line as his term for a particular software failure mode on the early Apple Macintosh computer. Stephenson wrote about the Macintosh that "When the computer crashed and wrote gibberish into the bitmap, the result was something that looked vaguely like static on a broken television set—a 'snow crash' ". Stephenson also mentioned a book by Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, as one of the main influences for Snow Crash."

My imo: It's a blowjob for the opening line of Gibson's Neuromancer.

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." 
-William Gibson, Neuromancer

Those most unforgettable words which rank right up there alongside Roy Batty's famous speech, also 19984, also a development from Philip K Dick. And I ain't gonna quote that one here.


Obviously it makes sense to read and deconstruct these novels in order they were written. Snowcrash had no comprehension that HeadCrash would follow. Self-referentials within a genre can occur only in linear-time until the point we establish a technology able to send digitized information back in time (which occurred in early 2016). 

We can see that the reliance on technology within a dystopic, commerce driven world where usury and capitalism is worth more than human soul, is a major theme throughout the genre. The focus on the inevitable glitch in the machine is another fundament. As a musical genre, Glitch occured during the mid 2000s (what we call 'the noughties') emerging from post drum&base techno and hip-hop cultures but really only became a commonly known about genre after 2010 by which time Steampunk was the major fashion status of the dawning 21st century. 

It seems to me that despite Cyberpunk existing as a genre since at least the late 70s and that the 80s take on it truly underpins the movement as a style; that during the 90s a next generation decided to attempt a re-write at history and pretend the whole thing is borderline millennial, to tie in with the advent of the internet as an available reality. Personally I am 80s cybergoth, a fusion of the promise of tomorrows technology with the expectation of dystopic reality,. Having lived through the 80s, 90s, 00s and beyond: the dystopian view is more accurate to the reality for 99% of everyone because only the very few could actually afford the cutting edge shit. As a VR artist myself I am one of the elite because even now, 12 years after SecondLife VR was established, most people in the real world have never heard of it and cannot afford fast enough computers to access it. In this I am deemed a nerd by the non-tech mainstream. Fuck'em.

An observation which leads us nicely onto the protagonist of Headcrash whose life story is foretold by the preface of HeadCrash; Jack Burroughs is a cyber-nerd. A dead, notorious, promiscuous cyber-nerd to be specific. I am fairly sure that is the right order to place the adjectives in. 

Head Crash

"The laptop novel with seedy romp drive." Cover Blurb

Ok so that banner is embarrassing and puts me off the book much as I identify with it as that is to an extent a description of my own lifestyle from time to time.After the intro and first paragraph of chapter one entitled INIT which is a pun on initialize and the colloquial "innit" as in, is it not? a phrase used by many especially coming up from the drug scene used originally as an emphasis to whatever speed-addled monologue spoken in pursuit of reassurance a person had been going on about and which nobody could remember although hearing their monologue instead of our own individual inner ones was something of a blessing at that time, a distraction for which we being grateful nodded in response to, "ye mate."

This book makes me feel old. It feels cheap like cheap greasy chips cooked in cheap oil that you would never usually buy except you are starving hungry after a night clubbing and your body needs anything for energy even cheap grease and carbohydrates simply to stop you from falling asleep where you are, to keep you going long enough to get home or more likely a mates place and crash out on the first available sofa so your mind can whir itself on a speed comedown into something resembling not-enough-sleep.

Later the word "innit" came to be used to mean all of that, discluding any pretense at a pretext. It simply means "you know what I am on about, don't you?" more as an assertion than as a question and in doing so became a shorthand method of connecting emotionally with the group or to whomever you had latched onto for that moment, gaining sufficient energy from saying it and not being immediately repelled by hostility to feel comfort and gather energy from that.

All of this is, within context of HeadCrash, an analogy for how we feel about staying up for long hours surfing the web as a part of computer technology addiction; forcing our minds against our bodies to stay awake and focused, especially for coders, is something equated to the buzz of clubbing on amphetamines. Or am I reading too much into it? 

This is how I immediately related to the story after only one paragraph and relate to it I did, although I felt cheap to be doing so. Reading any further into this book is going to be just that one little more dab of white powder that will take me over the edge, knowing I will regret it later, will probably regret writing these words too but so fucking what, innit.
data uploading....

Okay so this is pretty fucked up. Gunnar is the guy I stayed with in Germany who took me all over the place to techno clubs when I was a teenager. In HeadCrash, Gunnar is Jack's mate who always leaves him weird paranoid messages. Why is the word weird an exception to the rule of 'I before E except after C" governing the English language? As a coder these seemingly insignificant things are crucial. I stay awake at night worrying about them. Software will not work if typo's are involved and dirt-trail messages from the slipstream glitch it.

Perhaps I am being hypercritical. A lot of the glossolalia is easier to gloss over, it's attempts at a generational style-piece are block-crunchy to todays sleeker aesthetic. We moved on from that because it sucked. I mean, only the most nerd of them all would be interested in 80s code, the era during which this story is set. I forget, Jack Burroughs is that nerd and this is his story. I already do not want to read any further. I have already seen it all coming. Hypercritique doesn't do it justice, I'm on page 2 and the adrenaline has kicked in. This is how the guy feels to be who he is. Vibe. Here is the style-tribe. Crummy is the day, lingo of the zone. Yeah an era-piece and we have to forgive it that because, dreadful though it seems, it really was like that back then in the 80s when they aspired toward being what we now are in the 21C.

Okay so the book is set more recently than that but hey, the guy is a nerd and so this mindset is what we expect after all. It's easy reading once past the blocky intro motif's and skidding on the cheap chip-fat gloss I smoothly ease myself through it rapidly, absorbing it like newspaper. The story progresses out of the eighties directly into cyberpunk by gimmick of post-blade-runner plot-devices failing to live up to the promise of that description. How did this book come to be so recognized as a pioneer of the CyberPunk movement? Oh ye I forget, most cyberpunks are deadheads who can barely read, or they have better imagination than me and see wonderful exotic inscriptions flowering their way around these basic words which string together a basic outline. I see only the words and not the detail between and that is my failing. I am the machine encrypting codex. I know how the machine feels and abruptly, I see the genius of this novel and how it is working as a cyberpunk masterwork, whether this is how the writer intended it to function or not. Man that was a surprise. This shit kicks in and then it's totally kicked in, a few pages of bland poking of buttons and now it has over-rode my mental operating system. Fuck!

At this stage I cannot put it down to write the blog.

It continues by unveiling a gentle mirthful approach to the story it is decompressing into me. Cheap eighties gloss, discardable plastic, disposable people, trash city towers illuminated by digital promise, making the best of the little we have. I like this already. It is accessible. Enough to work at it just a little harder... and that is how the corporate slavers entice us into their fold. Twenty years later and things are just the same, simply sleeker from experience and another generation of exploited kids folded into the deck. The Corps are richer and the slave caste exploited even harder by the same old tricks; sparkly toy electro-gimmicks we studied so damn hard to be a part of. At this stage the story folds again with a Brain Dump uploading us with background, the relevant data regarding the situation at hand. Suddenly I realize; this cheap monkey fucker knows what he is doing.

HeadCrash then steadily progresses laterally at an oblique angle to the pre-concepted protoype. There's a cunning subtextual layer in here by where having explained that we prefer digital domains because "the Earth Goddess Sucks" is followed by the protagonist explaining his Office except here we have been led to intentionally mis-read the word as Orifice and know that he is talking about vagina and that this is a male attempt at a feminist book, discreetly getting into the mindset, a sci-fi novel for women too; an Opening followed by a long history indicating having absorbed a lot of has-been-there-before and risen, to the esteemed position; we see her at the desk in her white blouse and smart dark grey corporate miniskirt and jacket in her position of power, that although she has not yet appeared in the story other than as an aside, an entity existing within our own mind and not referred to at all by the words on the page.

We see that the male protagonist associates himself with this; we are dealing with emasculation, our hero is less hero than zero and that as a male reader figuring female persona through unrelated words that the layers of meaning as the lift climbs its corporate tower are more complicated than the cheap greasy french-fries had previously indicated. This is the corporate gloss of money and metaphoric bisexual strategy making you want to read this book to figure out how he did it. 'Skyway tubes 200 yards along the building to another security door', apparently. We meet the boss and the humor in that he is by contrast far from where our mind is at. Doublethink.

Do our real-world machines read code with such complexity yet? The sexiness of this book is scatalogical. I am beginning to like our uber-nerd. I already know he wears black square shaped glasses without such a thing needing to be mentioned in the text. Even the sound effects are porno yet face-value innocent. So much can happen without much at all happening.

Welcome to Coding. It's a life skill.

Here, my internet went out and I felt it necessary to make hand-written notes during my immersion into Bethke's HeadCrashed mind. Copytyped Hyper-Critique as follows;

The guys life is like mine. It isn't at all in practical day-to-day terms but on another level - encountering misfortunes with 'ongoing' and ending up in a situation that is relatively stable although only in temporary terms. And frought with pain-in-the-ass-events.

Changing the Self changes the external; how we react to adversity.
Zen positivity and self-belief; not self-slavery. 

The guy is a wuss. "Don't let them call you Pyle" says the dead guy. I can see now why I have to copytype this from hand-made notes; for the beauty of retrospect. The dead guy doesn't feature in it again and we can only assume that his death is irrelevant to the story or adds another glossy layer of potential and unproven that the Bitch is behind the murder. Problem-Reaction-Solution poses the question; Who gains? And on this note, she gets me thinking, long after I finish the download. Lingering chip-grease, tastes bitter as a warning. Even the street-gangs feel sorry enough for Pyle to have 'sold' him lolly-pops, there is that.

A normal day in the workplace, brilliantly executed, goes sour when the Bitch is promoted to Team Leader. It is funny enough to remind me why I opted out of that lifestyle. In classic storyteller arc, the normal comfort-zone of regularity is established as background before the unusual kicks in to disrupt it. Even through the gloss, the infrastructure.

The 80s - 90s limbo in the dreadful 'not much has changed here' zone; a stable reference point fast outmoded by its own premis of progress. Tech now is slower than it was 20 years ago despite going from kb to tb (once loaded). Although the wifi gives us cancer in exchange for portability.

It's a red hole waste of time but it tunes us into it's spectrum grid. My wifi went down today for no reason. It has to start someplace. Sharing pics of cute cats and anti-government memes on social media sites.

By Chapter 4 I am making notes on it. Copy-Block-Quote ™ That's 3-2-17 for the Gemetrix out there. Fans of gemetria. Look it up. This is the life I could have had, if I had done things the opposite to how I did them. Key-shapes and shadow; algorhythms of life.

Jake Wakes from a much needed over-sleep, his first this novel. He's at home at his tv zombi mothers place and surrounded by childish crap. Jake is a kid, trailer-park trash and we realise how his shitty job and one hedonistic friend are his strengths. Otherwise: pathetic. How much I and the unkown other number of readers, focus on this novel, identify with his life-stage as a Rights-Of-Passage stroke lived-immediacy proves the point.

The book is set sometime between 80s and Now (2016) TBH IRL we still don't have sussed Voicetech the way it is presented; and thus this story diverges here into Fiction for the first time and on this point alone. The pormise of technology falling short of the reality. It deals with it; Jake can't get his app to work properly either. IRL nobody uses that shit anyway not even the geeks, because we know its a waste of time even trying. Were it to work? Life would be too simple. Ch10 p171: the story is set in 2005. Before I got the internet.

Once again, after the Ogre of Ch4 we are back into Shadowrun vibe and the Matrix defined. This chapter is very cool and explains what SR was getting at but got confused in exectuing; explains it so much faster because Jake is that pro, inside the VR he is far from a nerd. It takes being a nerd to get that far but this is the pay-off. It splashes onto us and we get a taste for his passion and for his skill. There is beauty in it. Me; I can't even suss how to configure an Oculus Rift on a Mac but nevertheless can see what the buzz is and respect the level of expertise. It's a secret elite, the Technocracy and it ain't commercially available. This chapter is a treat and a real insight. Cybergloss.

SecondLife VR was released on 23rd June 2003, and is ongoing. It is the worlds premier VR platform. It is free once you have the hardware, but it can be very expensive when you get into it enough to make the most of it. SL is still finding itself now, 13 years later, after all the big-capitol arseholes have left it for the dedicated artists to create and live in.

Ch5 is from my own personal journal. It is from all our own personal journals. We just don't talk about it with non-VR people. Ch5 deals with multi-culturalism and PC (Politically Correct) equality enforced in the workplace. I live in Wales where life is much simpler; the original, inbred Welsh bloodline ostracize everybody else, Polish get extra benefits, and everybody else hates everybody else. Simple. You can see why I am nocturnal and plug into SL VR as often as possible; company of like-minded creatives with passion for cyber. It genuinely is a better type of people in there, more caring and sharing so long as you stick to the rules. Outside of which; see HeadCrash references to streetgangs and dirty corporate bullying. 

Ch11 Only the secret elite have new skin-tight elbow-length pieso-electric data-gloves (why do I visualize there in yellow? We know they should be black and probably with tiny honeycomb shapes because they are the cheap version, making it possible for them to exist because the deluxe version is simply too expensive). That they appear in my minds eye as yellow for the purpose of this story says more about the story than it does about my minds eye. Truly. And new feather-weight high-definition video-goggles. Hey this is 2005 it was another decade before the first batch of Oculus Rift became commercially available. Virtuality had flopped into oblivion long ago. The DK2 miraculaously arrived n my birthday six months after I had pre-ordered it in advance, as if by magick. Two years later and i still can't configure the fucker. Need a damn PC.

Ch11 Procto-prod? Pink cactus? I'm jacking out.
Nowadays they call it logging out.
Fuck. This. Anal. Shite.


Except for I was not actually that offended and found it secretly humorous.

So here you go, a CBQ (3-2-17 code) from p.210:

"DON_MAC slowly shook his metallic head. "It's a safety valve, Max. Any open society must offer its members a safety valve - a way to vent any idea, no matter how looney - without fear of retribution. Take away that safety valve, and the only viable alternative is a police state, where all ideas are rigidly controlled." -p210, HeadCrash, Bruce Bethke

This paragraph for which the cheap greasy chip-fat gloss is immediately forgiven. Everything falls into perspective. On this basis things could have been a lot nastier than they actually are. I sure as hell know I've seen some creepoid freaky shit in my time.

There is one more fundamentally important thing for which this book is deservedly famous:

"and in light of the First Law of Humanics-"
"Even complete jerks deserve a second chance," the Doll quoted.
 -HeadCrash, Bruce Bethke, p335

I actually prefer this to the post-Asimov junta.

Snow Crash

This is another one which I have trouble getting into and then really get into for the duration. It makes sense in true Deco-Noir Detective style that to do this justice I should follow up every lead and read also Julian Jaynes. 

"The book presents the Sumerian language as the firmware programming language for the brainstem, which is supposedly functioning as the BIOS for the human brain." 

My own research into ancient languages has covered similar ground, especially the Egyptian hieroglyphs which I translate as being shamanic and indicative of hands-on life experiences rather than an abstract, third party deity. In 1998 I actually went to the Sumerian Ishtar Gate and danced with a Sumer-Setite witch through the Processional Walkway toward the 8th (final) of the Gates into the Tower of Babylon. My other January 2016 blogs connect with illustrations of how all this is still going on as a lived experience, more openly now thankfully.

The first thing I noticed about SnowCrash it is jargon layered upon jargon like an automechanized builders trowel, hardwired to a dictionary. This is not dripping with glossy atmosphere, this is an insult to my intelligence as a human being of above average mental capacity. I am hoping the style will calm down and I am appalled at how such a gimmick has become such an accredited aspect of the genre. The writer is trying hard to attain something and in doing so has overshot the mark. Simpler would have been better. The integration of Japanese aesthetic of minimalist zen into realworld cyberpunk has not been noted by Donaldson with this heady opening. It is possibly an occurrence which has affected the genre during the nineties and noughties which Donaldson had not foreseen. Writing this in 2016; the mega-influx of Japanese style-cool into western culture (so-called "manga influence") cannot be avoided as an important inspiration to the developing cyberpunk genre.

Having said that, I should perhaps actually read the book before wiping my arse on it.
Chip-greasy newspaper references intended.

by Neal Stephenson

page 1

“virus… slimy liquid, poison, offensive odour or taste.” 
-Oxford English Dictionary

Snowcrash was first published in 1990 that’s 10 years AFTER Shadowrun introduced the concept of the Matrix and ten years BEFORE the Wakowski’s movie The Matrix introduced that concept to the wider world. Agent Smith obviously had read SnowCrash which he was paraphrasing as if I was his own original personality warp. So what else do you expect from an autonomous computer virus? Someplace in all of this, David Icke on the This Morning BBC tv show and told the world that in his opinion, Reality is a holographic matrix. Ten years later and that theory is now accepted as hard science with a fuckload of evidential proof to back it up.

You can see how things are progressing here. Shadowrun also introduced the concept of ancient Mayan prophecies projected into the digital future. Basically that was what it was intended to explore, Shadowrun is the 6th Age where people see each other for what we truly are, having left the confusion. They must have anticipated that we would zoom through the 5th Age very fast or amalgamated the ideas into one for the purposes of the adventure, because essentially Shadowrun is Tolkien’s Middle Earth in Cyber (compared with Warhammer 40K from Games Workshop which is Middle Earth in Space). I digress; this blog is not about Shadowrun although its vapors permeate every pore of our being.

Snow n  
2.a. Anything resembling Snow. 
b The white specks on a television screen resulting from weak reception.

Crash v  
5. To fail suddenly, as a business or an economy.
-The American Heritage Dictionary

It starts funny with insight into reactionary gangland mindset and it continues the famously popular cyberpunk theme of cyber-katana’s. Everybody wants them and nobody knows how to use them. That don’t matter though because they are scarier than guns to the gangland mindset. In comic books. In reality anyone carrying a katana is regarded as fucking insane and arrested on sight by the Police and treated like shit for a few years. Don’t ask how I know that. Don’t try this at home.

By page 2 I could not put this book down. It’s tone is crisp clean and not easily detachable. There is fresh air between the words enough to breathe; it does not stink of cheap greasy chips stifling up the airwaves. Neither is it as glossy. Sleek like steel, high-grade polymer which is compressed rather than stretched thin to make more sales. Hard plastic and quality metal. I am already enjoying being pampered. These words are not fast-banged out of a typewriter, these are cultivate.

Too early to say if I enjoy it more. HeadCrash was a low-fi videogame parlour trick with a slut tugging you away from the console to wet you with her bitch slap. SnowCrash is ninja, budo aesthetic, the studied discipline. SnowCrash is dry. See the difference? But I will say this; you need them both. You need the contrast to give you the zone. A wide ranging experience able to function in multi-situations. No other way to bridge the extremes unless you have already walked booth paths.

You wanna know the fucked up thing about prophecy? I had already read both these books before they were written. The dreaming of a visionary child who was into cyberpunk from inception. I was programming BBC micro’s and making my own games in Basic before the age of 7. The original Digital Child Prodigy. I quit it when PC’s took over the market and Amiga kept its secrets to itself, unless my dad was too tight-fisted to buy me the book on AmigaDOS saying I wouldn’t need it. I didn’t but it would have helped at the time as I entered geeksville. He wanted me to be an artist, not mathematician. I compromised and turned to words which is why I love literary styles so much to make my critique a thing of relative value. Riding the waves of Prophecy we connect with the Flow, we sample its shapes and flavours long before some other tone manifests it as an actuality. So now you know a lot my more about my own particular powers than you did before. These books are invoking this awareness and I happen to be sat at a console making notes, and so there you go; this is what the Crash does when it comes; it squeezes the juice out. Call it an education and these novels inspirations.

Pause for tea and the milk’s ran out. Mother. Fucker. Back into the cold rain before the shop shuts. It’s a corner box chain store straight out of pre-teen dreams of what the future would be like. It fucking is and all. See if I can get a smile from the cute girl in the shop for my pains. BRB Be Right Back 2-18-2 there’s number code in everything. Depends where we pitch our focus. Sharp as a blade or soggy as a tea-bag. My mind is on overdrive and I need a brisk walk out. SnowCrash is doing this somehow. It comes over as luxury, so far. Let’s see how far we can take it.

As I write this I resale this is the longest blog, the biggest download ever, and needs to be split into different blogs. I already have a back-log, a back-blog so to speak, and am fast entering nerdsville which is what I get for being a recluse who don’t go out and don’t talk with anyone, no meaningful conversation. I write for entertainment and it’s lo-fi and grotty, the cyberpunk tone of not-so-educated so I lower my own pitch trying to establish streetspeak where T’s are not crossed, I’s are not dotted and slang is the entry method. I don’t want to write this way, half the time it’s how half of us talk in all the places I have lived. So to tell it as it is, means to write in the cyberstyle relevant to reality. I'm not even pretending to that anymore; SnowCrash lifts it back up and describes, it’s writing method is to describe the things, it is visual, not only of objects but somehow conveys the feeling too, it has style-cool.

"A totem of the goddess, Asherah," The librarian says crisply. "She was the consort of El, who is also known as Yaweh. She was also known by other names; Elat, her most common epitaph. The Greeks knew her as Dione or Rhea. The Canaanites knew her as Tannit or Hawwa, which is the same thing as Eve. The etymology of 'Tannit' proposed by Cross is: feminine of 'tannin' which would mean 'the one of the serpent'. Furthermore, Asherah carried a second epitaph in the Bronze Age, 'dat batni' also 'the one of the serpent'. The Sumerians knew her as Nintu or Ninhursag. Her symbol is a serpent coiling about a tree or staff; the caduceus." p212-213 SnowCrash

Returned from the shop and that was fuckedup and wierd. The cute girl was in and gagging for it and the guys working there were all on steam so she was enjoying herself and I got caught in the crossfire. Not exactly her fault but I am feeling pretty twisted up from having to run briskly away from such a hot scene as the male staff dancing to her game so that she could learn her game. Social education. She's too young despite the attraction but then it's her nature, she's attracted in all directions which is why they are playing bat-n-ball with her and testing her counter- and composure, seeking her comeback. Be fucked was I getting entangled in that. A lesson in streetwise and a lesson in steel.

That friend is the clear-cut distinction between these two novels. I write this blog and manifest the riddle, involving other peoples experiences to be shaped up thus the way they are. And from this stance I can see that is what is happening here, using some cute girls desperate sexual energy and that of all the guys because the base chakra is invoked. Those steely blades from SnowCrash? They come down cold and sever the chain. End of game.

After a cup of tea my head is refreshed to be able to continue writing with clarity and focus. SnowCrash is that powerful.

"We've got two kinds of language in our heads. The kind we're using now is acquired. It patterns our brains as we're learning it. But there's also a tongue that's based in the deep structures of the brain, that everyone shares. These structures consist of basic neural circuits that have to exist in order to allow our brains to acquire higher languages."

"Linguistic infrastructure." Uncle Enzo says.

p.369, SnowCrash

And then I read the book without being able to put it down to make notes for this blog. The best I could do was page-mark it with ripped up bits of envelope, to use it as a resource book. It is simply amazing. On another level. The amount of data and the way it is presented. What a ride. The best I can do is put some relevant quotes in here. I love this book. I am grateful the education into the early Assyrian/Babylonian/Mesopotamian civilization which precedes the Egyptian culture which I specialize in. There is a lot more research to do from this. It is more than a fiction, it is an academic launchpad. Its concepts go beyond.

"Neurolinguistic pathways in your brain. Remember the first time you learned binary code? You were forming pathways in your brain. Deep structures. Your nerves grow new connections as you use them - the axons split and push their way between the dividing glial cells - your bio-ware self-modifies - the software becomes part of the hard-ware. So now you're vulnerable ... to a Nam-Shub."

"You know, to the Mesopotamians, there was no independent concept of evil. Just disease and ill health. Evil was a synonym for disease. So what does that tell you?"

"It tells you that evil is a virus! Don't let the nam-shub into your operating system!" 

p.117-118 SnowCrash

Oh there is so much more I want to copytype. I should, and I shouldn't. I should leave the best juicy bits in there for you to find for yourself. You can already see how different this book is from Bethke's HeadCrash.

There is also gratuitous sex and violence in SnowCrash. It is, more eloquent, more elite. It's not young-adult; it's mature. A guy with a nuke wired up to his brain so nobody can kill him can get away with anything, especially in the novels fictional future America where the legal system no longer exists. Aside from killing a load of people in a particularly painful, gruesome way the worst thing Raven really does to our millennial sensibilities is underage sex with a consenting, super-streetwise fifteen year old and she's hardly virginal. That's crass but the way the text is handled, the style-writing, is superb, funny and insightful. FTR that's not a page I bookmarked.

"This language - the mother tongue - is a vestige of an earlier phase of human social development. Primitive societies were controlled by verbal rules called me. The me were like little programs for humans.  They were a necessary part of the transition from caveman society to an organized, agricultural society. For example there was a program for plowing a furrow in the ground and planting grain. There was a program for baking bread and another one for making a house. There were also me for higher-level functions such as war, diplomacy, and religious ritual. All the skills required to operate a self-sustaining culture were contained in these me, which were written down on tablets or passed around in an oral tradition. In any case, the repository for the me was the local temple, which was a database of me, controlled by a priest/king called an en. When someone needed bread, they would go to the en or one of his underlings and download the bread-making me from the temple. Then they would carry out the instructions - run the program - and when they were finished, they'd have a loaf of bread." p370, SnowCrash

It goes oh so much deeper as an exploration than this quote, which is the very basics. After SnowCrash, Neal Stephenson wrote The Diamond Age which is on my to-buy list and hopefully explores these exciting themes in a different way to the one which this book necessarily has to. Astonishingly when I contemplate the world I live in through these terms, I recognize immediately how most people, most of the time, are still running on that ancient program code. The research that has gone into SnowCrash was a team effort. The Acknowledgements explain regarding Steve Wiggins academia about the Mesopotamian Asherah. Dr Steve Horst on brains and computers.

"The idea of a 'virtual reality' such as the Metaverse is by now widespread in the computer-graphics community and is being implimented in a number of different ways. The particular vision of the Metaverse as expressed in this novel originated from idle discussion between me and Jaime (Captain Bandwidth) Taaffe. The words 'avatar' (in the sense used here) and 'Metaverse' are my inventions, which I came up with when I decided that existing words (such as 'virtual reality') were simply too awkward to use." Neal Stephenson, SnowCrash

As an award winning designer within SecondLife Virtual Reality I can state for a fact that the term 'avatar' or simply 'avi' is now regarded as the most commonly used, 'official' (if there is one) word applied to our 3D rendered vr characters/persona's.


"The bear slapped himself on the forehead. 
"Oh, that's right, I forgot! 
You cybergeeks don't read books written before 1980!"" 
-p335 HeadCrash, Bruce Bethke

"It has been observed, that if the last 50,000 years of man's existance were divided into lifetimes of approximately sixty-two years each, there would have been about 800 such lifetimes. Of these 800, fully 650 were spent living in caves. Only during the last seventy lifetimes has it been possible to communicate effectively from one lifetime to another. Only during the last six lifetimes did masses of men ever see a rpinted word. Only during the last four has it been possible to measure time with any precision. Only in the last two has anyone anywhere used an electric motor. And the overwhelming majority of all the material goods we use in daily life today have been developed within the present, the 800th lifetime."  

"This 800th lifetime marks a sharp break with all past human experience because during this lifetime man's relationship to resources has revealed itself. This is most evident within the field of economic development. Within a single lifetime, agriculture, the original basis of civilization, has lost its dominance in nation after nation. Today in a dozen major countries agriculture employs fewer than fifteen percent of the economically active population. In the US, whose farms feed 200,000,000 Americans plus the equivalent of another 160,000,000 people around the world, this figure is already below 6 per cent and is still shrinking rapidly." 

"Moreover, if agriculture is the first stage of economic development and industrialization the second, we can now see that still another stage - the third - has suddenly been reached ... Since then, one after another of the technologically advanced countries have moved in the same direction. Ten thousand years for agriculture. A century or two for industrialism. And now, opening before us - super-industrialism." 

p22-23 Future Shock by Alvin Toffler, 1970

During the quickies on the side of HeadCrash and SnowCrash I have also been reading Future Shock by Alvin Toffler. I am not sure if that is so I can relate better with the elder generation or the kids coming of age. It's brilliant. I's literary style forces me to concentrate more because it is less slick than the closer-to-contemporary works more resonant with the fluid mind of modern, social communication platform, culture of immediacy slanguage. We also have to understand the information within the proper context; because Toffler was writing from a time before archaeological evidence proving that contrary to his working model; our pre-historic ancestors were advanced, more so than we have yet established; and that extra-terrestrial visitors have been mixing up our dna and teaching us, for even longer than that.

Next Up: Coding

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