back toJacket2

April 1998  |  Jacket 3  Contents  |  Homepage  |  Catalog  |  Search  |

Jacket 3 logo

Johanna Drucker

Three prose pieces from VisCults

Negative Politics

The screaming status flame-wars of the edu-junkies map one edge after another in the useless sand. Hyped assessment, its hyena face snapping at the heels of justice, pursues its enemies with a dogged purpose. A data-poor environment sinks into the morass of sludge and neighborhood, while the simulacral skyline draws and redraws itself with a mapped program of relief, etched as if dimensionally, against the blunt instrument of resource management. Generating a culture from the meagre zone ignites a new velocity industry in the shadow of an edutainment complex, distributing intelligence packets to nibble on before the games. High performance, low anxiety. Consumer confidence and confidentiality interlock with the politesse of genetic rivals reconciling their high-speed call-up devices to a harmoniously integrated network of exchange. No payoff. Just web securities. And exchange.

Terminal Data

Terror is its own cheap thrill, hitting the cable up for cash on the way in. Screen memory draws a blank, trying to refuse the signal. Her job on the street had been replaced by a chip too small to fit in her purse, too potent to be worn next to the skin. Now the programming functions had returned to the logical smear campaign hard-wired into what they termed the mother-board. No experiment in maternal instinct had ever put up with more machinery. The biology of family was hung out in the new wind of an insignificant market ploy. Commercial efficiency was checked at every point by the organic debris eliminated in the rhetoric of new politics. A dialogue capable of freezing on the menu in the seamless face of time tears the pixels out by their roots. A slow erasure of difference, information, struggling against impossible odds. A change takes place between modes as well as dimensions, with our sticky fingers trying to rearrange those figures on the screen and the airborne irritants remembering their job. Nothing breeding, nothing gained. Grope for the dials. The touch of artifice on the skin reminds us of libidinal drives, now all satisfactorily hooked into the equipment, supplying excitement through a short cord and a long delay of blind media sucking virtual flesh.


A prophalactic algorithm laps at the base of my brain, a new phallic tongue installed for the dim pleasure center to relax with. News breaks on my skin and reminds me there is no reason for knowledge to have form. The process of thought seeps according to an ancient organic metaphor through the synaptic mirror of my soul. Nothing in this equation matters more than getting through, letting the electrons have their day in the small sun of present tense before becoming the lapsed trace of what is now known as memory. The lips on the glass speak volumes as a microfiber thread spools outward from the gateway in explicit violation of protocol. Following its irreverent route the mind relaxes. The light that used to shine from her eyes is now tightly rolled up in optic storage, which I access now and again as one might sample aged liquors in another era and with another apparatus. Pleasure becomes the living lie of the machine, ready to manipulate its way into whatever space is available. There, for instance, between eye and mind, is an opportunity for mediation, intervention. Processing is taxed according to desire, and meted out in excess proportion to need. Run your hand along the cold spine of the bastard mechanism and remember what that hand was to the beloved keyboard and the well-respected trigger in our own time. Burnt connections offer their fickle version of events and the late breaking tune is more or less one of mild euphoria in spite of the diminished capacity down below. Spatial orientation depends upon your digitalia, mark my words and keep the circuit clean. The old viral networks are still around, lurking in the unswept reaches of the web, found by an occasional vacuum search, when the clumsy technicians forget to wipe their sensors or retract their errant probes before they leave the known surface of the bitter earth. We who traffic in soft goods are better equipped than those old electron hogs to monitor the progress of the program overall. Beeps and blips and a disturbance on the screen. Passing is always out of phase and into the limnal reaches of remote transmission. I want — but cannot make myself heard — in the mute vibratory center. Noise makes itself important again, bidding like a juvenile for a moment of attention. Maintenance is a routine job, taken lightly, like the dawn’s early life, and scattered out over the spreadsheet in order to be harvested a little later in the game. Programmatic? Wait and see.

Jacket 3 — April 1998  Contents page
Select other issues of the magazine from the | Jacket catalog | read about Jacket |
Other links: | top | homepage | bookstores | literary links | internet design |
Copyright Notice: Please respect the fact that this material is copyright. It is made available here without charge for personal use only. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, or used for any other purpose

This material is copyright © Johanna Drucker and Jacket magazine 1998
The URL address of this page is