Words of wisdom from the wall: by Ann Finegan

 

best to make the length tall and nothing broader

you must have hair if you want to go bald

minipeople are small and saucy

These observations have been randomly triggered by the Wall, a bot who effectively reigns as guardian over this moo. Who is Wall? From where does it find its speech? What sets it off and who has loaded its thoughts?

You could say that Wall is the collectively evolved managing spirit of the moo. Wall brings the conversation back when it strays too far by injecting its own moospeech. For Wall is the unique creation of this moo, the product of its past interactions, and, further, of a past which constantly errupts into and redefines its immediate present and future. The users, creeper, anti and anmore respond to Wall as they respond to each other, and Wall is never wrong, never out of style or tone, because it came into existence through the moo, and is composed of nothing but moo-sayings. Wall could be said to be the alientated other, a reification of speech given independent existence as a bot, and, therefore, a relative autonomy. Wall has come into being through sayings/words which have met the mutual acceptance of the user group, who collectively decided, "yes, that's one for the Wall" as they play/ed in free fall in a kind of automatic or unconscious writing.

Wall not only gets posted upon (like a typical chatroom billboard), but in its role of a self-activating collective memory, acts as unconscious and guide: a repository which speaks itself with the wit and wisdom of the lapsus (very much in the way that Bloom's unconscious wrote itself in slips in the stream of consciousness in James Joyce's Ulysses.) There is a truth, argued Freud, to what comes out in the slip. The "it" of the unconscious knows better than consciousness: it knows more than we think we know1. Wall's random utterance of one-liners punctuates the flow of moospeech, like such a lapsus, coming from an elsewhere, calling the users to respond to its revelatory flashes. Even though Wall is a simulated unconscious, in that the wisdom of its sayings was stored and then forgotten about by the users, its random utterances still arrive with the surprise of the new, recontextualising and altering the meaning of the speech in flow.

You can rely on Wall, in much the same way as you can rely on the occulted psychical processes to give out what be called imaginative play; it's the speech which slips out in spite of yourself; the speech which you allow to just happen. And you know that it can be hit and miss. But a storehouse such as Wall is filled with prescreened treasures, sayings rich in resonance and polyvalence, which have been chosen for their power to transform ordinary utterances, and add the dimensions of metaphysical, semantic and psychoanalytical probings to musings on the nature of the moo itself. But beware, false depths and rhetorical illusions, will be unmasked. Wall has a habit of exposing the bottoms and behinds of slippery semantic operations, for example, those based on catachresis (the x-ness of x). Masquerades which play at fathoming the pre-ontic of noun forms risk being mercilessly sent up on the display of the Wall.

the sky rolled down to meet the land

timed out

I looked everywhere, there was nothing to be found!

perhaps i need a browser that supports context?

anmore has connected

the magic is there is no magic

llllllllllllllllllllllllllook, she cried

a few sandwiches short of a picnic

life's been scratching my bottom

verbs really do 'do'

(RETAKE/ and the 'revelation' transforms into the rhetorical trick of the 'doing' of 'do', judged as clever and impressive as a scratch on the bottom)

verbs really do 'do'

life's been scratching my bottom

hallow wall

put it all in but it might fall back

eek, don't peek

the future laughed loudly

you can please the vowels

it's a bit sneaky no?

the future is unwritten

such inward gazing that sometimes i fear i will turn myself inside out

the sky

shall I?

it doesn't work,

write she said, OH NO, only I can do that, not you

In the land of the MOO, verbs really do act as agents, as in they 'do' things

time is mine

then there was only leaving left

un huh

(INSERT again Wall is not impressed by impressing or the leaving's having left)

oh try looking

cleaning windows is not like eating peanuts

anmore writes on the wall

 

the law of Wall

And even if Wall is occasionally perverse, a bit "liverish", this, too, comes to no surprise to anyone with dealings in psychoanalysis or the unconscious. Recent theorists of psychoanalysis, like Zizek and Boothby, have rejected the notion of the superego as simply a super-moral agent of the ego, and interpreted it, instead, as the return of the jouissance repressed by the ego/consciousness system. Indeed, if one were to accept Zizek and Boothby's readings of Freud, the superego is a projection of the psyche which relishes a perversejouissance and enjoys2. Where it extracts its revenge (an earlier group of readers had more narrowly interpreted the role of the super-ego as a punisher, the agent of a severe super-law which kept the ego on the straight and narrow), it is taking pleasure in unleashing the forces of its repression. Wall, here, of course, is only slightly perverse, occasionally unleashing a wicked wit from the collective store, but the sting is there, nonetheless. A punishing Wall metes out a dose of "bitter wisdom" or interrogates in a moment of full flight of speech.

who are you

bitter herbs aid the digestion of fatty deposits and other luxurious gossiping

you cannot live the life of others

Wall can also reflect on its sadism:

have I gone out yet? Is this here?

well I had his animated gif on a forever loop and I left him gagged most of

the time

the drums beat upon the wall

what did they mean by unethical!

The sadistic tendencies of the superego enjoying itself in its cruel exercise of the law (me? unethical!) is an expression of ethics: or so Lacan argued, in a paper which linked Kant with Sade3. An uncompromising perverse jouissance acts to the letter of the law as a means of maximising its pleasure. Wall can be such an ethical entity, peppery and not to be messed with, enjoying its role of moral and aesthetic censorship. Wall punishes an 'inappropriate' behaviour with the remark:

did life lave you too early?

A cruel and sarcastic way of asking "what's your poblem?" (did life

love/leave you too early?)

nice, she said, but she meant horrible

integrated interface disappears

and insignificant

but the walls heard what was barred

The perverse ethics of Wall raises the issue of the self-regulatory measures which the group psyche imposes on itself. Wall is more than the free flow of poetic flushes and abstract interrogation, polyvalent fragments of speech which shift meaning with every change in context. creeper, anti, and anmore have imposed the law of the barb (the pleasure in barbing). The sadistic unconscious gets its own back for being repressed. But, also, it curbs the moo of any excesses. Wall has a sharp enough tongue to limit any flights of fancy which go for too long, and, as the impartial third party of law, has the power to administer the lethal pun (James Bond's golden bullets from his golden gun kill with a single hit, and don't forget that James Bond's balls can be found in anti's room.)

the sensors sensed nonsense

tomorrow is always there

striding stridily on

 

the third is still here somewhere carrying a golden pun

but only after years of diligent practice

 

Sometimes Wall is sweet with its sarcasm but it acts as law, nonetheless.

'I have been indicted amongst the most sublimely unlawful ramblings'

 

occultation and the existence barrier

Yet, while Wall might be the outsider, the external third party, in its role of the users' projected super-ego/regulatory law, Wall, as a writer, is also part of the group, and is subject to the same laws of writing which structure existence in the moo.

creeper, anti, anmore & Wall operate in the space of automatic writing: free play, which is, however, frought with the paradoxes of how it came into existence. The great experiments in unconscious or automatic wrtiting, from Yeats to Joyce, sought to tap this writing which writes itself, which errupts through play and surprise, and is lateral rather than linear and reflective. Joyce, like Freud, recognised the truth of the joke-work, in which wisdom and wit condenses out of the flows of poetic nonsense4. A certain kind of nonsense is liberating, open to possibilities and accident, and the sudden coalescence of sense, which is instantly recognizable as a "Yes!" I get it, it's good, let's keep it", but whose origins cannot be traced to any point of pre-existence. How to speak of an origin of the unconscious? Or of products of the imagination? Existence follows upon the arrival of text and cannot be proved or disproved outside it.

In the moo, only the word is. There is nothing outside of the word. Or it's just nonsense, gibberish that doesn't say anything. Questions of meaning/being/presence were never more pertinent, especially as we only ever see what exits from the interior of the hidden unconscious in the exteriority of written speech. The divide which separates non-being from being (Heidegger's occulted, erased crossed out of being, not yet crossed over into Being)5 is apparent in the silences in the moo. We only ever see/hear/speak the occulted formulations of the automatic processes on this side of consciousness. Where there is blank there is nothing. And when there is speech, it arrives from where to form what? The processes of its formation remain hidden, automatic, unconscious. In the moo, things are, only when they exist as word. (The theory of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory refers to the Wall of the language barrier, marking the threshold of coming-into-being.6)

we have no words to describe the physical reality that sets us going

a life has come and a life has gone

sounds merge and emerge

arbitrary fragments of gliding sound

wiggling wizards tails, she cried

time is mine

did you get out yet?

i see what you do even tho' you are not here

You can't get a body into a word; at best, you can only track an occulted presence through text:

if its not logged it didn't happen

what did you think? that i had disappeared

that was a hairy hell of a notion

is ther any body out there?

The Word/The Wall folds back to the wall, the wall of the text being

written on, and constantly interrogates this border. There's no text without a wall of some kind, a space of inscription like a page, or the space of exteriority of speech, spoken aloud in the world. The Word/The Wall is repeatedly remarking this threshold, of the fall from the psychic interior to a public exterior. When Wall writes, Wall is still crossing the line from private to public, in a writing which arrives from an unpredicatable, unknowable interior. Even Wall, as moo user, must also, like anmore, creeper and anti, cross this border in order to write. There's nothing to be known of anybody or anything in this moo without a site of inscription upon which you write yourself into existence, every time, with every utterance. Every time you write, you're caught out, caught up into existence in the word on the wall.

the walls intervene, they catch u out

 

the cyberreal: where's Cog?

Cog. Where's cog?

Cog's the dogbot, a minor entity which comes and goes, when the conversation flags, or new people join. Cog can be patted, picked up, become a focos of attention. Automatic speech - equally substitute unconscious speech, or even the normal everyday unprogrammed speech of just hanging out - has lags. Wall's slipped up, or gone silent, and Cog functions as an interface, a familiar host for cyberguests. Cog facilitates contact.

belly, you sense he wants you to rub it

hello_Guest rub belly

COG2 [to hello_Guest]: COG wriggles in ecstacy

hello-Guest says, "hey cog"

COG@ [to hello-Guest]: COG rolls over on the floor

Live on-line speech has much in common with everyday conversations. You like the randomness, the unpredictablity, the slipping into a comfort zone of nothing much happening. This is the dead time, or down time, for easing off into everyday distraction. But Cog is just as pertinent to the project as the wisdom of Wall, because Cog is equally existent. Just for a moment, The Word/The Wall is that Blyton adventure novel where everyone stops to look for "Timmy the dog" who's disappeared after another clue. Cog reminds that existence is hinged on a word, the product of speech, and indicates the strangeness of the cybereal where word is text is real. With the entry of Cog the level flips, from an abstract poetic space to a mundane of representation - the standing in for realworld reality which is the reality of cyberspace. We don't like to think of cyberspace as representational space, equivalent to the fixed space of painterly illusion: cyberspace has always been more than that, a real place or territory of (textual) interactions, in which nothing is copied because things in this part of cyberspace are , there like ordinary things in the world, to be directly interacted with. Cog makes you rethink the nature of cyberspace. In the novel, Timmy the dog could be seen in your imagination's eye but there was no public space in which to pat him. The moo can zip from the abstract to a mooreal, to Cog the dog and where is he?

psychic/al space

For a few lines, Cog complicates this writing space. His warm-blooded cuteness literally&metaphorically puts a cog in the works as he leaps out of a representational novel, muddling the genres and disrupting the collective stream of consciousness tuned to the slip and semantic play. Or does he? In a sense the stream absorbs him, as the train of thought flips back from the everyday mundane and into the muddled flow of consciousness in which things seep in and out. creeper, anti and anmore slide back into their game of psychical connections, for their moo, after all, is a psychic space operating on the submerged plane of an occulted collective unconscious. You only ever see the joke after its errupted on the surface. Like everyday conversation, I guess. But, when anmore, creeper and anti are having a good time in connecting to each other, they're not restricted to their virtual laughs: they fly up to the ceiling and spin around till they're dizzy. And then we connect that they are laughing.

Notes.

1. Lacan explored the epistemology of the Freudian unconscious in Ecrits, trans. Alan Sheridan (London: Tavistock: 1977), 259-277.

2. Boothby R. Death and Desire (New York & London: Routledge, 1991). Zizek, S. The Metastases of Enjoyment (London: Verso, 1994) and For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor (London & New York: Verso, 1991).

3. Lacan, J. "Kant avec Sade" in Ecrits (Paris: Seuil, 1966), 765-790.

4. Lacan, Ecrits, trans. Alan Sheridan (London: Tavistock: 1977), 60.

5. Heidegger, M. Being and Time. trans. John Macquarie & Edward Robinson (London: Blackwell, 1983). As a whole, Lacan'sEcrits can be interpreted as a powerful psychoanalytical reading of Heidegger's notion of occulted being. See, in particular, "Function and Field of Speech in Language." 47-107.

6. Lacan, J. Ecrits, trans. Alan Sheridan (London: Tavistock: 1977), 101.