16 May 1999
The Unknown

enduring masterwork


good beginning but i think somebody used it already

the slow rise and meteoric fall of the unknown

what started as a fun writing game
an intense new way of playing
and leaving in the scattered footsteps of our mad frolic
experimental literature
in a form whose convolutions were fully
capable of mirroring our own personal convolutions and the convolutions
of our interplay
and a form from which
one could wring
entirely new convolutions
convolutions no had yet dreamed or written about

what started as a dance on a beach
has ended here 
come aground on these mountains
in a splintering ark

no that's too depressing let's begin again

ah, lessee, well, we're kinda up here
in, like, the mountains here
and we got on the cellular and we said
ah like i'm in the woods now and ah
i'm not seeing anything yet
can you guys get yknow, like
some vision guys up here
yeah, three or four,
yeah hey while i got you here
my people need an 800-page novel, and
we got some people here need like a
book-length-poem without page
and i said like i'd give you guys
a call and see if you guys got some people
in chicago can handle that

the news would make it appear that
the human race is drawing to a close
in former yugoslavia

oh no that's too depressing
scott take over

10 people died on a train in a bridge
16 were seriously injured
They gotta start installing some
Train with innocent people on
Board detectors in those fancy
Cruise missles, them smart bombs
Meanwhile there's photographic
Evidence of mass graves
God help us if there were one
Torture widespread burning villages
What was the plan again
Yugoslavia asking Russia for
Alliance Pentagon plans to
Add 300 planes, Clinton
Found in Contempt.

I don't feel guilty to 
Be taking in the lake
But I do feel bad
About the part about
Reality, and all the
People are cold

What do we do if 
Shit unravels
And NATO starts attacking
All the NATO countries

While we're in the woods

Scent of Death
Sound of Fury

the newspoetry site
should begin to incorporate more and more actual pieces
of news
in a slow process of becoming
a hypertext index to the news of 1999



that's the bomb bondage fetish spunk voyeurism babe erotica gay rights nazi pot white power girlz 

the sun sets slowly and the sky turns from blue to black

At Green Mountain, there was no one on the sidelines and they were making us do crew with a bunch of hippy kids. The artist dude was good, he was inspired by students. Students there were into the environment, and where to dig up land, and how to do it cool, and they grew dope. They were into organic food items, and the drive to class was good, and the kids skied there often. They grew dope, and they ran outside come morning. They sang in choirs, and some of the kids were into Habitat for Humanity, building houses for the poor, they were with and without the classroom. Life is so short, as they say, sitting around talking, having a small part of that, trying new things, working independently, growing dope. In the fall the leaves are beautiful. You're teaching, your involved, that's what you want to be when you grow up. The energy in the class just switches. Green Mountain brings in people from abroad, people who don't look like you, who don't act like you, these kids grow dope. Not enough of them have decent computers, but their philosophy is environmental. It's not something they take to heart, necessarily, but their into Gaugin and soccer. Critical but not totally critical. Got classic music. Nice old buildings, enter the workforce, job market, future CEOs and a place here for students who are still in the process of finding themselves. And growing dope.

It's night and tomorrow we're going to Albany.

Man, the unknown was fucked up and causing trouble at Brown.

but we got a new concept: the water thing.

So we figure water was the thing that Joyce used in Finnegan's Wake so as a tribute to Chuck Aukema, we're gonna use water as a trope and organizational metaphor in our next unknown hypertext novel, Unknown II: Time Machine or We Drink With Dead Writers. I don't know. But we'll talk about flow, and ripples, and tides, and you know the way large bodies of water can both heat and cool things. We'll talk about showers and faucets and wells. There's a whole lot of water stuff we can work with.

Water. Think about it. And imagine owning the rights to it. Water.

Now water doesn't figure into this concept in any kind of formal way. Water is more of a trope kind of thing.

This isn't an earth wind fire & water kinda thing in other words.

This is more a water thing.


Think: flow. Cycles.

don't mention that. Cycles is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a trope, and a metaphorical structure. Time moves in waves, etc. Water is one of the classics.

We're sitting on our bags at a crossroad in Fairhaven, Vermont. William is playing songs from the Phil Ochs songbook. It's cool and windy. We were just speculating about how much we've embarrassed ourselves already, and how much more we'll do the same in Albany. We're already flat broke. We had lots of coffee but no food for breakfast.

I wonder if anything will come of this, if we'll get our shit published.

"I wonder if I said anything that will get us in trouble."

"Oh you're in trouble. You don't burst screaming into the halls of academia, throwing acid in people's faces and not get into trouble."

I think we need to write something about Vernon and his aesthetic and how it compares with what we're doing sometime. I hear the train now. The train's coming.

We're on the train now; that's an accomplishment. 

The train is a nice place for a Heineken and some meditative reflection. The more you drink the less the train sways. Our tickets were only 19 bucks. We got across New England on two 19 dollar tickets and the generosity of good old friends. Not counting miscellaneous expenses, such as research for the beer article.

Our tour has gone remarkably well, aside from a few minor disasters. It's good to see old friends in pastoral New England settings. It gives you a kind of centeredness, keeps you steady, knowing that you've got that kind of database of shared memory with people, that your friends stay your friends no matter how far you travel.

It was great to see William with Vernon, and Cy and Al, and Dave and Stacey. It's the type of thing where you have conversations in your head for years, only it's other people having conversations, people who you know who don't know each other. Your new friends are talking with your old friends, always. 

It's a rare rare thing to see it happen in reality.

It's great. 

We're gonna do another tour in New England.

Next time we're invited back to Brown, or if we go to New York, we'll do the New England hospitality tour again. We've got to visit Dave and Stacey and go out in the pontoon boat, maybe motor down to the floating restaurant at the toe of the lake, drinking apertifs along the way, and nightcaps the way back. 

We'll revisit Vernon, take a couple of slow days in Vermont throwing pots and walking down to the river and sitting in the sun with Chinook, and renting inner tubes from him (that's one of the ways he pays rent so he can work on making his pottery) on a hot summer day, for a riotous ride on the White River.

And we need to argue more with Cy, and bounce around some ideas on making money doing things we enjoy on the Web with Rebecca, and we definitely need to do a couple shows with Moon Boot Lover. We want to tour with rock bands, it would be fun to hang with those boys. And we need to talk more to Coover.

It was good to hang out with Vernon. He's an artist who makes real things that people use. We don't do that. He got our hands in the clay, he got us muddy with reality. He makes beautiful objects, but that alone is never the point. He makes things, with his hands, that people will use. They'll use his work to eat and drink, to celebrate and to commiserate, to hold their flour in, to catch their bottlecaps in, to put the freshly cut flowers from their garden in. He keeps his stuff cheap because he's making it for ordinary people. For everyone. 

We got something similar in mind. We want more people to read. We want literature to evolve in the electronic era, to survive, change and thrive. We want people to understand how special and complex a great book is, how stories can give them new lives, even if they aren't real ones, even if they won't "get rich" off of them. But nobody's ever going to sit down with our hypertext for a dinner party with their friends. That's one of the reasons why I so much admire Vernon.

Yeah, also he's turned his art fully into a lifestyle, whearas for us art is still something we do until we run out of money. The economic and to some measure social aspects of our life are not fully integrated into our work process. 

The train is rolling past a teepee on the hillside. We are crossing rivers and swamps. The hills are disappearing as passing boxcars accumulate graffiti, as we move closer to New York New York. But we will parachute out before the train descends into the Big Apple, and tumble out over the streets of Albany, to try our luck at an academic conference. We're in the hospitality car with a few Amtrak people, shooting shit and passing the miles, rumbling on on schedule.

I think we can figure out a way to turn our art into a lifestyle too. I think people would pay money to see that.

Or we could try smack and fall apart.

That worked for the Marx brothers and they were cool. Smack and fall. Clap clap.

"What we are," we said to them in the presentation room, the room where presentations are made, in the room with the guy who is actually the guy, while we're giving them the powerpoint presentation in such a way as it will make sense to the guy who is actually the guy, "is like a strand of DNA and shit like that. We're like an email virus in a way. What I'm trying to say is, as Rob Wittig says, we're like a rock and roll type model of collaboration. See, our agenda, that is, I meant, is to get people to read our shit, and better shit as well, you know what I mean, right? Alright, you see why reading is important? Can I get that martini now?" is what we said, more or less.

That's why it worked. See these things now are working on a kind of Platonic logic that doesn't make any sense. That's how it goes. Now. But mostly it's about research and development, and they need somebody to research text.

We said: we gotta lotta good people, who are sitting by the phone waiting to write, waiting for an assignment.

Waiting to write.

We got a few ideas in the can, like the water thing.

The water thing: whoosh, whoosh. See?

Like what Joyce was trying to do with the Wake, only we got multimedia.

We're writing this while we trash the Quality Inn in Albany.

We like a good smoking room.

There's an expensive documentary about kids who spend all their money on heroin on HBO.

Scott's pacing by the window and hypertense.

William's wasted and trying to shave, going through five disposable razors, cutting his face six times.

He's seeing a window and he's hearing a woman talk about feeling the coagulation and the pain, you want it to stop hurting, you want it to stop hurting, man.


NO--Kids, don't try heroin

Heroin is bad. Don't do it. Seriously. Think about that crap going into your veins. Think about your arms. Think about that. Think about rust on those needles. Think about how stupid it makes you while you could be doing things that would be more constructive for humanity. Think about AIDS, toxins, and air bubbles in your veins. Think about that. Think about what a piece of shit you are there, with your shitty holes on your shitty arm. Think about that. Don't believe everything that you read. Think about that. Burroughs is good to read, not to emulate.

I have gotten obsessed with this idea of finding a way for writers to make a way of living off of writing hypertext novels in such a way as it forces them to continue to write. While enjoying life. While not waiting for external entities and writing in such a way as to develop new forms. Now is a good time for that.

And the innocence of bombs. 
What a silly word for what it does.

The world presents problems.
Unlike an ordinary rock.

I that means we need to
take responsibility for our fuckups
and those of our people.

While we were talking to that old man back on the road up a pace, I gotta admit I thought of Hemingway.

"I'll be right back"

The life is killing me. I'm not sure how I'm taking it. I'm dead.

Albany sucks.

You can see how a beautiful land is dying. Wow that's bad. Sprawl. Industry that killed itself. Phil Ochs.


The water as structural device/trope. That's hooked into the time idea, and the idea of promoting good writing, and of representing old writing, which is about the sea because that's the way the colonization of this land worked. Yeah. I mean, it's not like Wm.s going to get on a time machine and forget about politics. that's there.





The problem of graffiti is the problem of the mind.

It is a matter of complex fragments.

Not making any sense.

And yet it is

All that is being to make sense of.

The anxiety is not caused by the writers themselves but by the multitude.

Better a slideshow at Brown than a shabby piece of meat at the AWP in Albany, a sprawled dehumanized postindustrial citytown. Quite paved for my tastes.

Back to water and the whole relativity thing and how this could influence structure of said piece that is the piece that we are writing I mean not right now but that we are writing next, the next thing, this whole time machine thing with the water trope and the randomly generated characters who will make us better writers for writing in their constraints, I mean, anything that we write, at this point, don't you think, has to in a way be a kind of tribute to Einstein, huh?

I think of skipping stones off Great Bay near Portsmouth.

In a short time we grew accustomed to the sound of waves.

And nuclear submarines being reloaded.

I'm trying to visualize a narrative structure that would replicate the slight variation that you see in two waves, one after another, only slightly, and how that would affect a story. I don't know, say a part of a short story that would ripple slightly every time it was loaded, say a set of circumstances, or a character, or something, would change, if only slightly.

Hypertext is like an ordinary rock.
--Michael Joyce

Hypertext is like a rock band.
--The Unknown

Cycling around about death so much is perhaps too much understood.

Writing hypertext is a loser's game. You lose half your audience just because the screen bothers their eyes.

Clinton was giving an address on Kosovo when I realized that I'd stopped to listening to what he was saying, and listening instead to the way that he was saying it. These are the last days of the twentieth century, Bill said, and something about civilization but you tune it out because it's all become so much background noise. How many died last night, I wonder, briefly, and then I feel a certain sad tension, and then I turn back to doing nothing about everything that's going on, working on other wastes.

Algren was nuts on that whole loser's game thing.

We should be dancing.

It is Dirk & Cynthia's 1-year anniversary, and, strangely, they have not yet emerged from their hotel room to take us dancing.

What's up with that?

Good for them.

The Providence Journal says "Allies to airlift refugees."

The New York Times says "Hostility to U.S. is now popular with Russians: Bombing of Yugoslavia Shifts Public Feeling." "NEW ATROCITIES CHARGED." "Scent of Death, Sound of Fury."

The Times Union says "Reports of raid fuel anger."

The Boston Globe says "Russia's military sees a Balkan opportunity."

The Chicago Tribune says "U.S. orders helicopters, 2,000 troops to Albania."

The Rutland Herald says "Possible Gravesite is Spotted."

USA TODAY says "U.S. may call 30,000 reserves."

The Mountain Times says nothing.

The Vermont County Sampler says less.

The Providence Journal also says "NATO won't back down."

The Daily Gazette says "NATO says refugees hit by mistake.

We are not free from what our people are doing.

That hangs over this.

Juncture in history.

We're not all fine.

Newspoetry at Spineless Books