Vanishing Point A Bookand Websiteby Ander Monson


Let's look at that (more than a little embarrassing) document from "The Essay Vanishes" again:

Document Image

"persecution by some unnamed (gov't) agency"

"maybe hired assassins"

"lock-in trace"

--these lines suggest some delusions of persecution or grandeur or something, don't they? And sure, this is my teenage brain doing its solipsism thing, but still the obsession with data and tracking and information reads as troubling.

The more I look--even starting to look at the text bleeding through from the next page and wondering what is written there--I begin to see myself in Andrea's delusions. Even in her name.

Sure, the way I interpret this page is as notes for a novel. That's how Andrea sometimes talks about her perceptions and her comments about how the world works: as notes for a novel, so bizarre are they, and even she realizes it and understands the need to play it down at times. She thinks of all of this, when she talks to me about it, which isn't all that often anymore, since it's harder and harder to have any semblance of a relationship--she calls it material. And it's material here, certainly. She offers it up to me to do with what I will.

At least she's only on the outskirts of my life. If she was someone closer, a wife, a brother, a stepfather, or even someone geographically closer, it would be more difficult to extricate myself.

I think about our conversations as user interfaces (not quite GUIs--graphic user interfaces--but audio user interfaces, maybe). There's what's really going on in her head (and in my head), what we're aware that we're socially allowed to do and say and talk about, and our perceptions of each other, and the whole history of our interactions, and then there's what we say to each other. It's frustrating. It is as if there's no real way to communicate, to connect action to reaction. Maybe when we can control machines with our brains, as the scientists periodically promise, we'll be able to get beyond ourselves more easily. Or maybe Andrea and I should joint an online world like any of them, World of Warcraft, Second Life, whatever, and talk via our avatars, and that level of removal might help to maintain the buffer.

But let's go back to the novel there for a minute. These are "notes for a novel," but then there are lots of connections to my own experience, too, my computer criminality, my encounters with computer crime task forces, with shadowy organizations in the hacking world and outside of it, with people I only knew via what we typed back and forth to each other over modems, via our primitive avatars, our handles, whatever cool and nerdy selves we were able to construct.

    The difference between novel notes and lived experience is not really all that far apart.  
    Which is to say the difference between experience and story is being conflated here, and the more I think about it, the closer they get to each other.  
Which is the sort of conflation we get with memoirists. Which is the sort of conflation we get with readers. Which is the sort of conflation we get with altered psychologies. Which is the sort of conflation we get with Andrea.
      And it gets complicated then writing about Andrea--
    Even the word complicated is complicated and starts to stick in your mouth and your mind. Should this surprise us? The world is complicated. About is complicated. Thinking thoughts is complicated.
      And who knows what portion of herself she shows us, or that we show off here?
      The more we start to look at a subject the more that it dissolves.
Which is writing about writing, which bores us, yeah, but the pathways of the brain do have their lure. Which is writing about myself. Which is writing about psychology itself. Which is writing about Andrea.
      She is a ghost.
      She is a construct.
Which is why readers treat nonfiction differently, like it more intensely, in spite of construct. Which is why we are all naked here in this space. Unfortunately, nonfiction doesn't offer us this respite, this shield between us and world. To write about someone or something involves construction, a thousand thousand assumptions. Which is why I prefer to write, not to write about. It's less complicated (though it's still pretty complicated).
It is, after all, slightly closer to the real that we all appear to crave.   But essay does. Essay is the fuzzy corners of the brain, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.  

Gödel's incompleteness theorems.

(Note my sweet Wikipedia linkage skills...)
    It is more truthful than anything else.  
It says "Here are the many tributaries of thought." It says "Here, dear, is the outline of my argument." It says "I might be wrong here but..." It says "here's what I'm thinking right now at least."
"And if it keeps diverging, I'll find a way to make it keep diverging" "And through further revision and iteration the argument gets sharper the more it gets thought through."   "Though this might change."
      "It might embarrass me later, like most things I think and write do."
      "It might deserve a dagger."
      "But I can't not write something because of fear: of being wrong, being a fool, or pissing someone off, of feeding into a delusion, of feeding into my delusion, of feeding the flames underneath the tenuous catwalks of what remains of our relationship."
  These ice floes separating, Splitting and unsplitting, "Reader, writer."
      "Ander, Andrea."

"Andrea, Ander."