Skip the site navigation
Return to the fun page

Negotiating With the Data

      by Paula Edmiston. In Being Online: Net Subjectivity.
      Edited by Alan Sondheim. NY:Lusitania Press. 1997.

Tarr squats at the mouth of the gopher tunnel waiting patiently for the net.storm to pass. Line noise spams the horizon, wires buckle and sag. Connections are sacrificed and frozen ports are abandoned when the storms threaten to dump the core, jeopardizing quota. In the eye of the storm the daemon Lag stalks the mesoelectronic hunter/gatherer, chilling em and threatening to turn the already barren landscape into a vast moraine of fragmented data. Fingers scratch lightly at the keys. Eddas are recited in a ritual established to appease and distract the daemon Lag. Tarr balances precariously on the bleeding edge of technology. Then, with a fractal shimmer that dazzles the eye, the electromagnetic spectrum shifts; the storm has passed, the daemon Lag feeds elsewhere. Tarr checks the Usually Reliable Liar before setting out again. The topography of the net flickers in synchrony with the ebb and flow of fleshly fortunes.

Slipping a hand in eir pocket Tarr absently fingers a cite and grows weary of the hunt. Trudging on, foot-sore, fingers scarred from encounters with souls that feed on desire, Tarr haunts the tunnels like a dead child, hunting to satisfy urgent needs, gathering for the future. The tunnels wind in and out of each other in an incestuous dance, forward momentum is broken only when domain access is denied or mutated. Dodging flaming listservs and fraying usenets Tarr trades with media pirates for time. Time on the wires, jacked in to plundered data.

Tarr visits Veronica and tickles her chin, a risky endeavor, producing as many severed limbs as fertile wombs. Veronica smiles tenderly and opens her mouth, teeth gleaming wetly, tongue curled invitingly. Tarr enters her mouth warily and begins to pick through hits that range from useless to dead-on perfect. Emerging from the tunnels with their echoes and seeping cracks, the hunter Wanders Aimlessly In Space chasing boolean tunes truncated with stars. wAIS sends Tarr to the lair of Archie for the final key. In the great hall Tarr casts filenames before Archie like rune stones before a fire and collects eir due. E takes the cites and wrinkles anonymously through Faintly Translucent Passages, returning home loaded and laughing.

One day Tarr connects to a glassy plain, hard and sharp like obsidian. E can see a vast and intricately woven web stretching out over the horizon. A Lynx appears, nodding its great shaggy head and silently leads em beyond the heart of time.

               #666:look-self   this none this
                1:  player:look-self();
                2:  pass(&args);

From Tue Nov 22 11:16:40 1994
Received: from (root& [])
Received: by (5.65c/Spike-2.0)
        id AA25309; Tue, 22 Nov 1994 05:06:28 GMT
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 1994 00:05:56 -0500 (EST)
From: Paula Edmiston <>
Subject: Negotiating with the data
To: Cybermind
Cc: David Edmiston <>
In-Reply-To: <199411211148.AA181804&>
Message-Id: <Pine.3.89.9411220050.A14472-0100000&>
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII
Sender: cybermind-approval&
Precedence: bulk
Status: O
Last Edited: 05 Mar 2012