Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Take Two

On my thoughts on the Agrippa web-site I just blogged about.

Agrippa, as a poem, is powerful to me for the same reason that much of Gibson's work is powerful to me, because it complicates the Past and the Future in interesting ways. When I was a boy, I had a notion of the past as Agrarian and static - and the future as dazzling and Aerospace themed. I don't know if I can wholly blame the pop-culture industry for this, but it does seem to me that the notion of what the Past and the Future were to look like got sort of stuck in the collective imagination of the Mass-Media for awhile there as well. Feeding us images of year 2000 flying cars well into the early 1990s. Or at least, so it seemed to my very young self at the time.

The past Gibson talks about in Agrippa is rural, but explicitly technological. Old cars and concrete feature prominently - as does an encounter, apparently drawn from Gibson's own childhood, between a young boy and a long forgotten Colt M1911 found among dusty old packages. The automatic pistol as ancient artifact, as the ancestral sword.

Reading Agrippa gives me the same feeling I had when, on one of my first long bicycle rides here in Northwest Ohio, I rode across a crumbling concrete bridge. On its side I saw stamped the diamond insignia with the letters WPA and the year: 1940. A low bridge, crossing nothing more than a drainage ditch, and at the same time a quiet testament to the Great Depression and the attempts to alleviate it. Suddenly, I was overcome with the awareness of the depth and complexity of the past and the many ways it is, as Faulkner said, not even past.

And now the self-destructing floppy disk version of Agrippa, has itself become a similar artifact. A strange reflection.

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