Bruce Sterling on Sun, 22 Jun 1997 22:48:10 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Mark Stahlman's Challenge to Rationality

I know it's utterly foolish to get drawn into any discussion by Mark
Stahlman, but his last piece of Sun, 22 Jun 1997 is just so prototypical
that I can't resist.

"For some time, nettime apparently thrived on setting up cardboard versions
of its opponents (WIRED, WIRED's landlord the GBN, GBN's sub-tenant John
Perry Barlow, Soros, Soros' 'class' -- the NGO's, etc.) and merrily
shredding these cardboard creations.  Great sport."

Actually, nobody really thrives on this practice but Mark himself.  This is
pure projection on his part.

"Peter Lamborn Wilson seems to imply that understanding the manipulation of
images through 'hermetic analysis' is salutory.  But, then, he had an odd
gastronomic encounter at the Slovenian border, so his version of all this
might be open to some question."

I can't be the only guy on nettime who's weary of watching Mark slam, libel,
and belittle people who have done him no harm at all.

"Then there's me.  I've been told that I have a 'unique perspective.'  As
far as I can tell, I was invited into this fold as a kind of
anti-Barlow(...).  Hopefully it has a positive component, which may be the
cause of the screaming it has begun to elicit from the image-addicted."

Mark always finds it very positive when people start screaming at him.  If
Mark's the anti-Barlow, it's because Mark has anti-charisma.

"As far as I can tell, I am just about the only one on nettime openly making
this proposal."

Mark was also the only one on Electric Minds, the only one on the WELL, the
only one on C-SPAN -- Mark is just plain the 'only one.'   Mark is *always*
the only one, ever. 

"So, now, we have reached the 'moderation' crossroads.  This was inevitable,
also.  It is a tactic being proposed to calm the restless natives.  It is
also a  tactic designed to quell nettime criticism.  And, as such it will
destroy nettime if it is adopted."

Here good old Mark is finally declaring his intention to destroy the list.
And yes, this really was inevitable.   There isn't any menace to nettime --
except of course, for the minor menace of Mark himself.   Mark is always a
menace to any discussion that doesn't center on himself and his delusions.

"Let's kick out the jams.  Let's push nettime to the level of the
intelligible.  Let's make this all worth the effort.  Or, else, let's shut
the sucker down."

Mark wants to shut down everything except the glorious sound of his own
typing.  'Various cyborg enthusiasms and various defenses of
post-structuralist doggerel, gnostic musings and, of course, that remarkable
visitation of (post)feminist allegiances...'  The poor bastard can't abide
*any* of the things that make nettime entertaining!   And Mark has done this
again, and again, and again, in every venue he ever touches, all around the

I hate to mention this aloud, because it seems so cruel and tactless, but
let's face it:   this poor man is a paranoid lunatic.   Everything that
comes within his ken is assimilated into his Vast Conspiracy.   H. G. Wells,
the Grateful Dead, ontological anarchists, WIRED magazine, the French
Enlightenment, George Soros, Tim Leary, Adorno, Aristotle...  It doesn't
matter that these people have utterly nothing in common, the poor wretch
fears, hates, and reviles every last one of them.   He's not just an
eccentric intellectual -- he's actually lost his mind.   And now that George
Soros is suddenly his favorite Beast of Babylon, he's absolutely *bound* to
turn on nettime.   

Let me make a public prediction here.   Mark has reached his bipolar crash
phase at the moment, so he claims he's logged off for a while, so maybe he
really isn't reading this.   So I feel safe in predicting Mark's future
behavior right here in public.  (I'm a science fiction writer, I'm pretty
good at this sort of thing).  

Let me tell you what Mark will do in the future.  First, he'll find himself
some other list (or site).  Then, he'll begin denouncing nettime there.
He'll forbid anyone to crosspost his denunciations back to nettime.  But
soon, another little world in cyberspace will be regaled with dismal terror
stories about the sinister nettime conspiracy.

We'll all be outed, by name and with quotes and particulars.   Mark will
launch a dramatic series of searing personal denunciations.   All three
hundred of us will become LSD-pushers and CIA agents, menaces to humanity,
soulless cyborgs threatening the safety of Mark's precious bodily fluids.

I'm pretty much convinced that Mark will do this.  I think he'll do it even
if he reads this post.   Sadly, I don't think Mark has any choice in the
matter -- basically, this is obsessive-compulsive behavior.   I wonder if
anyone reading this post will disagree with my prediction -- even Mark
himself.   (Please send email so we won't clutter the list any further.)   

      In my opinion, there's no real question that Mark will crack up and
rat us all out -- the only  question here is how long it takes him to do it.

     So, rather than destroying nettime just to please him, I think we
should use nettime to set up a global betting pool.   Personally, I'm
betting two months -- late August, end of summer.  Have a look around then,
and see if I'm not right.

Bruce Sterling, who is strictly forbidding anyone to crosspost this flame to
the WELL or anywhere else *8-/

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