If you sent me your passwords or bank account information, I’d refuse to post them (and, of course, I don’t think you should test me on it, but you are free to try, even with fake information [I will reason about why you sent that kind of information outloud]). I think we can construct examples in which I would be truly silent as well, but those are quite farfetched (or so I hope!); you will have to rely upon your own judgment of who I am in such cases.
“Do not let my honesty become your enemy.” vs. “What if the secret discovered was a good one?”
Let’s also bring this in:
At last I understood that the way over, or through this dilemma, the unease at writing about ‘petty personal problems’ was to recognize that nothing is personal, in the sense that it is uniquely one’s own. Writing about oneself, one is writing about others, since your problems, pains, pleasures, emotions—and your extraordinary and remarkable ideas—can’t be yours alone.
— Doris Lessing, from her Introduction to The Golden Notebook, 1971
(Okay, time to get everyone else up to speed: I sent h0p3 a private e-mail—to determine
if there was any way of privately communicating with him. I did this partly to satisfy
my curiousity: he seems to post every chat log, e-mail and letter he sends—except
to immediate family members that have grandfathered-in immunity—or perhaps he just defaults to
public mode unless a kind of formal agreement is established.)
(I also did this to simply converse privately. Since h0p3 has settled on a dogged insistence on Wikileaking his life, I am unsure how to have a personal relationship in public hypertext with this avatar. He says the avatar is competely, realistically human—it aspires to be—and I am finding out if it is. Am I starting from a place of distrust? Well, surely. But that’s minor. I am suspicious of BOTH of us. We want to believe these pixels are us—don’t we already know they aren’t?)
(Because, most importantly, there is you. Isn’t it awful to address you during a letter to my friend? I steal time spent on answers he wants. I talk about him as a third, which sounds condescending, simply because he is not us. And you could be anyone: an other, likely a reader, an agent.)
(Maybe it’s not about us at all. Maybe it’s about you. Ours is just a performance. And so there is no us, but just you.)
Let me start by responding to your brother:
He read the kickscondor letters in full (I didn’t realize he’d read it all, which is cool). He pointed to a shift in the tone of the writing. He said we were jerking each other off at first and then got to the meat’n’potatoes. He thinks I’ve been tested in the last section of the last letter. I think he’s right.
Heheh—it’s very true! I think there is a kind of jerking-ones-anothers-off process that has to happen before you’ll honestly read each other’s words, though. But there’s no doubt: I’m the one being tested here.
You have filled a wiki so deep that I can’t see the bottom—and it lands like a monolith; it looks like your beliefs, it is a flashing rainbow conduit. But I am still ripped pieces of paper that blow around in the wind and are lost in wild valleys. I think these things will stay this way.
Yes and HELLO to your brother! How can I send him a private e-mail? It’s very important that it be private. It is like when two of my friends meet and later I find them muttering unintelligibly by the bookcase. God—what are they saying?? What if even the Real U.S. Government and Amazon Alexa can’t seem to make it out??
I am going to publicly think about you, who you are, how you think, what you say, and what you do. Do you wish to be so open and honest? Do you really want to interact and be in contact with me? In this context, informed consent is your responsibility. Do not let my honesty become your enemy. You do not have to wrestle with me, but I hope you see I’m actually trying to radically cooperate with Humanity. How will you treat this naked madman in the desert?
(This bit is not from the letter I am replying to, but from Contact h0p3. I’m not sure I read the whole thing previously, but his rules of engagement are clearly spelled out. Please read this if you intend to strike up a conversation. I wonder if we could all use a page like this—somehow I can’t see myself doing this, as it feels in close proximity to a sign my neighbor has on her door: “DO NOT BRING DRUGS, ALCOHOL OR ANY ILLEGAL MATERIALS OR SUBSTANCES INTO THIS HOME!!” Such a note has the fragrance of a previous encounter all over it; there is a distinct banishment of the “you do you” from 2018—which may not actually exist.)
He concludes the letter:
In part, I aim to be so public simply because I don’t trust people in private. I think very poorly of most human specimens (including many versions of myself), but I desperately hope we find a way to become good human beings. I hope to protect and enable the percentage of legitimate altruists who exist in humanity; they deserve every ounce of my effort. They are truly constituted by Reason.
I play with my cards face-up on the table. In a way, I hope it has a kind of ripple effect in spreading awareness of what it means to be ourselves […]
Ok, so this I get. It seems feasible that a public performance of the private could shake out some disasters. It’s possible that we need everyone to weigh in on this. And we already have the benefit of your pupil Sphygmus (a reader like you out there—us—who stepped out of the ‘real’ to join us here).
On the other hand, this now adds infinite perspectives to demonize these conversations, to shame them, to hate them. I’ve honestly never had a chance in my life for someone to hate one of my private conversations—except for the other person (and even that has happened far too frequently.)
I think if I were to develop a seed of my own personal code (to stand in contrast to yours,) it is that I believe in well-mannered pseudonymity. Bonhomminity.
Secrets get such a bad name. We always discover horrible secrets. Thousands of them, stretching all the way up to the Pope himself? Or a document circulating the CIA describing a series of golden showers…
What if the secret discovered was a good one? And what if it stayed secret? Like a good joke kept to one’s self. Or between my love and I. Never to be sold off in a book or blog—kept inside.
I don’t imagine much is lost on a public inside joke? This is probably what Dan Harmon has with all of his fans. They all get to be in on it. It is the token of the group now. It is a special key. Millions may have the special key.
(Following is not a h0p3 quote.)
Do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Not considered: your private joke is heard by angels in Heaven!! (Sigh, further surveillance systems…)
Actually I quote this because there is something to it—the reward of public recognition does seem to pollute the pure giving of a private communication.
And what’s more: you have no idea whether I talk of you. Whether you get zero conversation hits or thousands. What I have read of yours. How I react to it—what I really think of you. (Do I know what I really think of you? Do I know when I’ve conversed about you?) How would it be helpful for either of us to know these things? And, worse, to know them forever.
Picture two computers scanning each other ports. These two daemons find each other and swap drive contents, RAM, video card states. Then they blink: blue, blinking red or bright white. They understand each other!
But what does it matter? Perhaps they can part ways now—there is no more data to exchange.
I must ask: do you simply FO desire to encourage me, or do you SO desire to FO desire to encourage me? The difference matters. There is a tension in this letter I’ve not been able to peel apart.
Boy, I don’t know yet. I like to think it’s way down—like zed order enouragement.
I think this only happens out of motivations like idle curiosity, amusement and meandering conversation. Which is to say: the greatest, most noble pursuits I can imagine. Convincing you IS NOTHING compared to these treasures!!
I hope to find: not truth, not love, not happiness, not even meaning—but ‘fire’.
And I guess I do hope to have gratitude, which is greater than happiness. And I think a desire to have immense gratitude for the idle curiosity, amusement and meandering conversation—that would be FO for me. I don’t know where that puts us. I am very serious about this. (And I am not just saying ‘I am very serious about this’ as a joke—it’s all very serious!)
Building trust and real relationships is exactly why I reveal myself to you and everyone else. I want people to see how I conduct myself and my relationships across the board.
My dad talks this way—to him, a conversation is a sacrament. Sometimes I am with him on that.
But other times I want to be in the dark of night with friends, carefully putting a pie in the road, as an example, since it is very spiritual to do so. Or eating different leaves and needles and recording reviews of the taste.
To simply swing alongside someone on a swingset is miraculous. To use one of those air seesaw things—where you sit across from each other and swing back and forth—I did that with my nephew a few weeks ago and he was wearing a hat that had a LEGO texture on it. He could have attached to a hell of different bricks! The feeling of amusement and ‘fire’ was there.
Of course, my worry about “how it feels” is that emotions can betray us. It’s very easy to confabulate. It’s a realm where I aim for reason to reign as much as possible.
Ok so three primary facets where we graph as opposites: You vaunt transparency; I side with opaquery. You look for your chosen; I would like to eventually find everyone. But most of all: you center on the rational and I fall in with the heart.
The unreasonable. The supernatural. The stuff of imagery. Perhaps symbolism is
there, between us.
Just as you fear an emotion betraying you and guiding you into
delusion, I fear needing to act on perfectly rational orders that betray my
heart—that go against my experience of the world. (Sloppy sloppy work, Kicks!
Why am I rushing to codify someone? I think what’s happening is that I’m seeing
this dogmatism for transparency on his part and so I’m rushing to ascribe these other dogmatic
views—rasfarasfaaaaplagdaaaaahnono, no, so I don’t really care about this part
of the letter—in a way this serves to show that I was wrapped up much more deeply
in the visual part of this thing and rushing the text. As he has already said in
reply: “I worry you’ve not carefully represented my claims.” Yes! Can I rewind
slightly? I don’t think the head-to-headedness of this part of the correspondence
needs to be here—I have undermined connecting in favor of spiraling. Emotion (or
gamesmanship or something) has scattered the ripped pieces of paper. Oh to be
pure and kind as Sphygmus, help me, Sphygmus!)
Because of the events of my life, I am close to people who have been in unimaginably horrifying situations. It’s not that they’ve lost a child. It’s not that they’ve lost a spouse or that they’ve tried to kill themselves—it’s that they’ve lost their whole family. Everyone they held closest died. (Usually it’s a parent who lost their spouse and children—there are more people in this situation than you would think.)
Let rationality guide you through that catastrophe! (This is assinine.
I think I got worked up for some reason, not because of a disagreement with you
but because I got passionate and spiraled. I mean this is proof of the danger of
emotion—tempering it is a challenge for everyone.)
I will need to stop there. It starts to feel exploitative to talk in this way—to use their tragedy to make my point. But there are also stories that I want to talk about down the road, because they have happened in such quiet, without the notice of society—and maybe I see a reason to write them, because they have ‘fire’.
Swinging on a swingset is god damn vital! (Shut up. I don’t like that
this comes across as a heavy-handed point to be made. Be light-handed. Always let the
hand rise into the atmosphere.)