Notes from Debra Di Blasi’s Skin of the Sun Talk at MIT

Below you will find some notes scribbled down while I listened to a superbly intriguing and strange talk/reading the wondrous Debra Di Blasi gave at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for their Purple Blurb Reading Series, which highlights innovative and digital writing. You can find more about the series and this particular event here: http://nickm.com/if/purple_blurb/.

My notes were scraps of insight, internal thoughts, beautiful phrases, and lovely ideas (and the sort) which were either uttered by or triggered by Di Blasi’s amazing performance. They might not make too much sense, but maybe that’s a good thing, as I have no idea where she ends and I begin, as this journal entry is over a month old and I have a poor memory. Obviously, the ownership goes to Debra:

Monday, March 11, 2013–5:49 PM. [At Debra Di Blasi’s reading and talk, entitled Skin of the Sun, given at MIT]: The book is the body, the body is the book. That lovely phrase surfaced early on in Debra’s talk about the intersection between machine and literature. Evolving mechanisms for storytelling. . . .merging the human and the machine, bringing our species towards an event horizon, a singularity. What will happen when we evolve beyond all knowable evolutions? What will happen to text, what is happening to text, if literature becomes thought, as thought becomes interactive and possibly brain implanted, a narrative that resembles a living organism. . .Let’s call it quantum fiction. . .None of this has happened. . .a man and a woman with interchangeable dreams, sort of message-worlds, combined systems. . .the particle of who we are. . .interesting term: auto poetic reiteration: “the world then appears as a complicated tissue of events (Heisenberg). . .I am erasing myself (and echoing) this slow erasing onset of the surf (and the tide) is majestic, with its slow, dissipating background roar. . .And now, 6:07 PM is erasing. . .this, that, then, now, here, there, this is fantastic, by the way, and terrifying, this sound of the ocean. . .as if it could absorb all the static of who we are now, in this particular incarnation of this particular moment, as if it could absorb the static with a repeated loop of a laugh. . .a single repeated laugh, absorbing outward in concentric circles. . .and you reached out across the years with a finger touching the lens, right into my eye, into the field of my vision, into what’s possible, in a freeze frame, then moving, ever so slowly. . .I believe it was the index finger, pressed to the surface of the window, to my eye, reaching into my brain. . .and you were gone, on the other side of which, meanwhile, I was crying an ocean. . .you. . .and slowly, in slow-mo time lapse, your eyes closed, cosmically closed, finally closed. . .your green eye. . .devouring green. . .without a shadow. . .beyond. . .to speak of. . .a digital footprint, or thumbprint. . .after all, it is our species, and we are so awfully proud of our thumbs. . .of our fingers. . .of our brains. . .so proud we want to change them. . .the tap tap tap of the keyboard. . .the bleeping of the headset. . .the vibrations from the brain implant. . .almost as light as glistening cellophane. . .high up in the medium treble range. . .you are touching myself. . .photo still. . .there. . .a heartbeat. . .then another. . .the surf. . .the sun. . .growing larger, larger. . .it moved, suddenly, slowly, started throbbing in the sky, within me, like a soft drum. . .or a machine beat. . .entirely fabricated. . .(heartbeat). . .and the screen went black. . .Debra Di Blasi will quit writing in 2014. . .Sam Witt will already be dead. . .it’s the only way to end this project. . .because the project is about erasure, as all writing is. . .erasure of oneself. . .one’s tribe. . .the hairless painting. . .how do you quite writing and still keep writing?. . .How do you quit living and still keep living?. . .How do I go for two years and live the narrative, to be the novel itself, the sound, the words, the thinking. . .the intersection of language and image, pure image, pure image and sound. . .the tons of commodity. . .and what’s left afterward. . .I do see the post-text world we are moving into. . .it’s coming. . .as we move closer to computer brain, to brain-ocean connectivity, to brain-computer interface. . .to the world-message. . .this new technology, writing, is going to have the power to destroy the mind. . .the sound of the words will overtake and absorb the words themselves. . .and become us. . .it’s going to destroy the mind. . .which is a good thing. . .he look of the words. . .like ocean shells still echoing the ocean. . .and the idea of entanglement. . .so it was obviously a part of me in my past, just like each kitten that Heisenberg had killed, one by one, on the other side of the world, so that he could measure the spasms of the mother cat each time. . .so it is with particles. . .and brains. . .and machines. . .and the destroyed mind. . .and the entangled mind and brain so like a kenning, or a pair of entangled particles. . .it’s not just an erasure of words, writing. . .it’s not just the mind either. . .it’s like picking up a rock with a sinkhole underneath it. . .other meanings just come flooding in. . .did you know that wormholes are unstable, that physicists theorize that they might become congested and collapse, just like our own noses when you get a cold?. . .one year we had one object and we had to draw and paint and sculpt it for a whole year. . .all art is just about learning, about atmosphere, it’s not about product. . .an interactive experiential. . .an experiment with ultimate stakes. . .so Sam Witt will die. . .for me, everything is an exploration. . .and Debra Di Blasi will die. . .which she still screamed for 14 hours straight. . .and they put her into a coma. . .and using the medical ways they have now, fortunately, they put her to sleep. . .and in that last week, she became obsessed with a tiny beach on South Africa. . .and she lived a very small life. . .and those were the choices she made. . .and is it really that beautiful? she asked. . .and is it really that empty?. . .Smell the neuroses, smell the ego. . .it seems to be out of date. . .the best way to go egoless is to erase the identity one has of oneself. . .the way I have lived my life is in fact one long series of experiments. . .of course there is the compulsion to create. . .and destroy. . .we’ve been doing it for 100,000 years. . .the fluidity is so much about consciousness and identity. . .so it’s a new feature. . .so it’s a new future. . .because it changes who you are at the same time that it produces the brainwaves. . .I’m only interested in process; the product should be discarded, because it holds very little interest for me. . .when we meet, we’re going to meet some place off the grid. . .what kind of questions are you going to be asking yourself?. . .my question is what will your question be? I think in terms of viscosity. . .probably there will be erasure and creation at the same time here at the end. . .I had to remember everything. . .that’s a protracted memory of seven years. . .how do you quite not writing? How do you quit not living?. . .The problem of language. . .that’s a commerce decision. . .my question is this:

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