10 November 2007
Subject: Selfish Sharing and Computer Culture


Group Hugs! Ouhoo, who wants a Molly sammich? K'mere, gimme summa yer tender tentacle touch.

I learned from a hokey survival video at Ry-Ry's about the rule of threes. You can survive three minutes without air, three hours without warmth, three days without hydration, and three weeks without food. Apparently, one can also survive three months without loving touch or hugs. Strange but true.

I may have found a solution to my bodywork fixation. I've joined a wonderful health network and support group of positive cheerful folk. It costs 85 kuai a week, and so far, I'm the only member. So what we do every week, ever since last week, is, if we've all made healthy progress, we go en masse to the Blind Man Massage Parlour and get a luxurious two-hour massage. The man who saw me last week wasn't blind, but his touch was intuitive-- he started in the center of my forehead and the energy was just /just/ just what I needed. And what he kneaded. (Ack, I can't stop making homophonic puns. Oh, English, come snog me now!)


How to Share Selfishly:

The water gleamed and the sky coloured vibrantly with the setting of the sun behind the pillars of the highway curving out over the ocean.

I wished I had my camera in that moment because the light was so perfect and the tide was coming in at just the right time to combine sunlight, air, and water with man-made arcs and curves, good contrasts, and gradations of pastel oranges and blues. So I did an experiment. I wanted to see if I could completely enjoy a prolonged beautiful moment in silence, by myself, without thinking of with whom I would like to share it.

I leaned back against the slope of the sea wall, watched the waves toss up spray as they crashed against the rocks, and waited calmly for the Kraken. The endangered sand eroded under my shod feet as the waves licked my ankles. The sunlight gleamed and jingled her shimmering belly-dancing belt just behind the break-line as the ocean undulated with a sensual studied slowness. I finally left when there were only a few fingers of daylight remaining and the water was up to my knees.

[Don't worry for my judgment-- I was raised up right. I know her dangers and I never turn my back to the Mother.]

My conclusion (as if it weren't grossly apparent with the fact that I've written to you of it) is that I am addicted to sharing and can't come down off that high. I want to record, with written word, photographic evidence, or just by putting that information in someone else's head, (an auxiliary information storage and retrieval system), what was just heard or witnessed. I enjoy others' ability to admire and approve of the recordings, sure, but most of all I do it for myself. The more places I can place these memories, the better. For you see, I am horribly afraid of forgetting anything. So now you know my terrible secret. But you are not being used for my questionable purposes though these mass-mailings are officially addressed to me. Without you, I wouldn't be writing myself. And when I am fading, will you please remember with me? Anyway, there will be other sunsets and next time I'm bringing my camera.


How to Always See Things in the Best Light: Walk with West in sight in the morning, stop for your daily meal and rest at noon, and walk with East in sight until Evening sirens you homeward with songs of security.


Angel wrote. He's going to culinary school and is going to be a famous chef and finish uni for sure this time and wants me back. I'd been thinking about the Dominican Republic a lot, and it was fitting that I should stir up that psychic dust while my mind was wandering those paths, poised to sweep away unwarranted emotion with a palm frond broom. He taught me so much: which wild subtropical fruits are edible, how to chauffeur a motorcycle, how to hunt tarantulas, and that even after two years of residing in someone's arms, you can't trust that you know the content of their character. Well, that residual residence residue is receding. I am on a new island with a different tide, and my dreams have morphed to encompass other places. But it's nice to have the memory of a marriage I narrowly avoided. It felt like I fully had that experience, but I'm free for further development, travel, love, adventure, fiercely beaked, broadly winged, and with no socio political jesses.


Nothing's ever done properly anymore. Last month I would have smiling accepted whatever offensive atrocity with the justification that "This Is China" but now... I snap at people like a bitter ex-pat who's forgotten how to be tolerant, learn something new every day, and forgive misunderstandings. After all, my Chinese is piss-dirt poor and I can't even express the most basic of my needs. At least I am aware of the pattern of this predictable culture shock-- a long process-- and I can cut it out right-now right-now.


I waste so much time waiting for web pages to load. It doesn't ever seem like it'll be enough time to have done something else until in retrospect. It makes me want to chew through the wires and bite China on the wrist. Hard enough to leave a bruise. That's how much I despise China's interwebs. The End. Good story? Ha! Now, thanks to Robert, I have a Chinese flashcard program I can run in a little window in the foreground.

I eavesdropped on an eChat I had a while ago, and thought I should put this somewhere where others could remember with me:

"me: I should not be dreaming and moping. I should be developing my skills as a writer, a paper-folder, an ocean-swimmer, a go-player, a Chinese-speaker, a photograph-taker, a world-traveler.
2:13 PM but... I am in China without supervision and this is discretionary dreaming.
2:14 PM this is on me every day, about my heart. And it is never resolved and I am tired of ruminating on imagined possibilities.
but I can't give it up, because... what else am I to do? Not forget.
does this mean I am a biological ball out of control?
2:15 PM what am I saying?
Are we listening?"


My computer had a sneezing fit the other day, a hacking and wheezing that segued into an asthma-induced panic attack. Or maybe it was me who stopped breathing. This modest little hinged black plastic contraption is responsible for my emotional and intellectual well-being through connectivity, here in a sea of unintelligible noise. I have come to depend on my fabricated friend to transfer light I have seen, through my camera, through a simple sizing application, through an FTP, through my website server-side, all the way across the globe to your eyes on the machines I know you must also use. Likewise, the contents of my heart and mind are crumbled into intuitive bits small enough to pass through my fingers and find their rapturous religious conversion into binary, where again, I am counting on your-side machines for deciphering. But without my aperture, my electric uploading ramp, my computational crutch, I am just a disconnected ball of fleshy disconsolance.

Thus it was with much with much trepidation that I brought my resistant, capacitating and hiccoughing trusty sidekick up to the face-breathing wookie in the smoky disordered computery sort of room with scuzzy cords [no, not SCSI, you nerd-- stop being so adorable] dangling off of dilapidated desks and a veneer of cigarette dust insidiously finding its way over and into everything, here in a country without canned air, and had the lumbering fellow puzzle over my drive partitions for a while, not understanding how he couldn't understand that D: = D:, E: = E:, and G: = G: no matter what language you speak, and how could he have worked with computers for so long without knowing the word "virus" though I understand his difficulty sussing diagnostics in a stranger-tongue, but my computer is a SEZ (Sacred English Zone) and I will NOT have him reinstall Windows, but this time in /Chinese/ to boot (so to speak), so please keep the pictographic gibberish off my Roman-charactered kernel and CHING GEI WO NIGGA YINGWENDE BINGDUDE FANGZHI for cricket's sake I know "virus" in /your/ venerable language and don't get me wrong, I think your mother-tongue is delightful and I'd love to adopt your entire linguistic family as my own, but my operating system is /not/ the place for it, so put the disk down and stop hastily clicking things you can't decipher, we can replace the disk image from the handy ghost I happened to have made, yes, over here in G:, G: as in G:, wonderful, well done sir but just make sure I have a serviceable anti-virus software this time because latex finger condoms are not practicable and it's a myth that you can't get jacked up the first time you connect, and may I gently remind you, nay, less gently remind you, wait, you're not listening, BINGDU yes BINGDUDE protection, sweet mother of all that is ripped and holey, what an exasperating use of my lunch period(.) But the upshot is that my machine is coiled back up and poised to spring into action.

*gasp*

As long as it's in a language I grok, it doesn't matter to me what operating system I use, what technologies, what formats, what media. All I want to be able to do is to transmit ideas, thoughts, and things you can sense along with me. Sight and sound transference have developed well. Soon: touch. Most mysterious: taste and smell. The ways in which these communications are formatted will change with the times, but the sentiment remains the same. The

***I interrupt that paragraph to bring you this meta-paragraph. I then proceed to tell you with words what you are already able to understand visually, and therefore prepare you with some nattering preamble for the pause in thought and still-frame tour through a divergent scene. I am writing these and the previous words on my repaired laptop, at home, lying prostrate on my bed, shoulders hunched, elbows supporting the weight of my torso. The windows and curtains are open to allow the streaming breeze and gusting sunlight in off the ocean front. The scent of star-gazer lilies, blue lotus, and white ginger blossoms I placed in the other room periodically claw their way from my nostrils to my consciousness. I am slightly hungry, it is towards noon and I haven't mealed yet. Mitch and the turtles are the only somnolent passive heartbeats in the house, lost to the adventures in their respective morpheutopias. I am thinking of you, and so not alone-alone, and with this cognizance-coating, I decide to make us some tea. The water gathers to a boil as I set out six little porcelain demi-(hemi-semi-)tasses and retrieve a packet of local green tiguanyin tea from the refrigerator. I empty the ash tray so that I can smell the fragrance in the steam, and consider the dirty streaks that the sunlight illuminates on the floor of the now-empty visitor's room. I imagine that a rotating group of you sit with me, faces animated and hands gesturing in engaging conversation. I rinse out the tea set with the scalding water and have the corporeal realization that I am not wearing any clothes. I am wrapped in the thin blue airplane blanket that I collected on my flight over the Pacific, the blanket that daily serves so many purposes. I could easily afford a robe, a towel, and a blanket, but apparently I would much rather just have a simple airplane blanket to serve my needs. It is the same with my digital-based paraphernalia-- the most simple of interfaces will do. And with this real to virtual blend of present-moment memory creation, memory processing, and memory storage, I return you to the subject of the previously interrupted paragraph.***

***Trailing lost random string of noise placed here, 5733116804AOBGlIEETS4086113375STEEIlGBOA, demonstrating the static we create for ourselves.***

technology will develop, and with it, our style of formulating thoughts as well as /what/ we think about. It's self-referential like that, and the mere act of participating in the phenomenon will change and affect it-- as in trying to stare down an electron. Ultimately, though, we are bound by the limits of our senses in terms of communication ports to our brain. Unless we develop /that/ too-- not a far-fetched probability. I sometimes imagine how I might understand the world around me differently if I were keyed in to the electrochemical-magnetic-vibrational sense that fishes have along their lateral surface. Electric smell! And then there are the other things that I can't even imagine.

I am so relieved that most of my digital (and when I say digital, I mean virtual (but they are /actual/!)) expressions (whose communication target remains, of course, with you in meat-space), are "floating around" in the collective aether of the internet. My precious picture and text files are distributed redundantly among several servers for whose care and feeding I am not responsible. The bulk of the applications I depend on are cloudware on websites updated with continuous refreshing, and not actually on my computer. The only fixed, possessed applications I currently use are text editors (WordPad and Notepad), media players (Windows and Sony), chat clients (MSN and Trillian), an image program (Paint), web browsers (iE and Firefox), entertainment to fill page-loading time (Chinese Flashcards and Minesweeper), and of course all the little embedded things in my operating system that allow functionality. But, literally, no other application I use is on my computer. Granted, I'm in communist China, buffered (by a giant wall of fire) from myriad widgets and doohickeys with which I would gladly waste my time if I were able to access and download them.

But more and more, it feels like it's irrelevant what machine I use to access my collection of twinkling satellite desktops. Why bother with proprietary file formats when internationally recognized protocols ensure measures of global accessibility and compatibility? It's nice when programs living on my hardware update themselves automatically, because it's inconvenient to babysit them and peek in their darkened rooms to make sure they are all buzzing soundly. Though, sometimes, when I get used to an interface, it feels like home, you know? It's disconcerting when I go to click a button that's no longer there and my favourite features have been "improved". But as long as I can obtain and use the products I want to see and hear, I can console myself with any consul. I've tasted the sweetness of Linux, I've picked at a variety of tasty Macintosh OSes, and I've gorged on bloated Windows menus ad nauseam-- but they all lead to the same place. An idyllic land of idolizing and idling, of rollicking pulsing frolicking. Only beware the ogres and excessive glut of insistent advertising and misinformation-- bah, you'll be fine!

So our computing machines will have their resources directed at importing and exporting information, necessitating both faster processors and a constant connection to the internet. Companies won't be able to market software as craftily, because our collective coding conscience should be open source, and everyone knows that. But they can sell other things, like virtual real estate for remote storage and remote processing. The most important things remain: innovation and the ability to get enough people to agree with you.

Our tools and instruments are arbitrary, according to our collective tastes and agreements. Why are violins classical instruments starred in symphonies? Why not harmonicas or humanophones (nose-whistles)? Why isn't there an opus written for a kazoo, bagpipes, accordion, and banjo? Unless my father finally composed that... actually, there might be just such an opus in existence. Ah, the power of suggestion.

I am enamoured of the phrase "hacktivism" which I came across off a link to a *cough*pr0xiepr0gram*cough* one of you darlings was just about to host for me. Also, I started the book _Hackers_ from where Zooko left off reading out loud to me. I just got to the part where the d00dz are hacking the menus at Chinese restaurants, figuring out how to order things, and I was like-- Hey! /I'm/ doing that! OMG, I'm a h4xx0r! (I can't, no matter how I might wish it, ever give the anti-anti-sarcastic 1337z0rzz vocabulary back. Sweet Mjolnir, Hammer of Thor, help me now.)

I'm going to turn this thing off now and go write some paper love-letters for my National Love Letter Writing Month. I want to see how I express myself when I stroke plant papers with ink I can smell and smudge, instead of say, stabbing at clays with a stylus or tickling these clicking petroleum products with bare fingertips.

Less than three*,
<3 Molly
???

P.S. Thank you for all the darling notes about how bonobos also copulate face-to-face and how they do it for FUN, as well. That is precisely the sort of information correction on which our culture d'ordinateur is so dependent. And thus Wikimail was born babbling!

P.P.S. As as per per my usual usual, there are new additions: http://mollybee.org/china.html

*Hi Mom! So if you look at <3 rotated 90' counter-clockwise, it forms the shape of a heart. Liebe Kinder noch mal! :) <--smiley face if you rotate 90' clockwise. They are called "emoticons". And if the rest of you are snickering in the back, just remember this when your kids explain things to /you/ about their aberrant cultural generation.