Perforated Lines (you can't resist 'em!)

 life  is just ...
© © © © © © ©
-- Friday, September 10, 1999 --



1:03 p.m. Strange thing about human consciousness: are we all one being, linked above and below in ways yet to be discovered and explained? Are all our thoughts swimming and humming together in one big universal stew? Or are we just isolated one-time-only individuals, each brain snugly encased in its hard skull, each mind unique ... with its lonely thoughts ricocheting against the closed, dark walls ... with nothing but that one infernal answering echo?

And, when you talk to yourself, exactly who is talking to who?

Yesterday in the odd but vast journals-online world, there was a voluntary collaboration in which writers agreed to talk about the unique date of 9.9.99. Mine is right next door on this site, but then there's Jan across the endless, interconnected web. How strange that we would each look at the world in exactly the same way that day, remembering the same monster from the past, even noting that we didn't note the past. How odd. And how oddly comforting.

Could Jung have been right when he speculated that there is a collective unconscious that we all share? And if Jung's correct, guess what the web would be? That's right -- the growing, awakening neural network for that very same collective. Pretty interesting. We are creating something very powerful here, folks. Something not seen before on this planet, as far as we know -- and as far as we can imagine.

So who owns our thoughts if we're all one big sentient organism? Who said it first? Where did you hear these words before? Whose idea was that, anyway? Who's going to collect the tolls and get very, very rich? Is it a memory or is it © Memorex?©

Life is just a box of chocolates, right? Grrrr. Don't remind me. I'm quoting Forrest Gump, right? Wrong. He's quoting me and I can prove it. My © comes four years before his © and I said those fabulous, immortal words first, and I said them distinctly and in nine -- count 'em -- nine differently languages.

Does it matter? Only if and when I manage to get my poor, neglected book back in print. Only when someone reads what I had to say and throws the book down in the mistaken belief that I'm stealing the words of another, more famous writer. Oooooh. Life's a bitter nut chewie sometimes.

It doesn't really matter if you said something first, or if you've invented something first, or if you've sent yourself a registered letter to prove you came up with a million-dollar idea before your neighbor could steal you blind. It doesn't matter unless you're a scrappy street fighter and you like to take 'em on.

Did you know that Monopoly was invented on a kitchen tablecloth by two, I think they were Quaker or Shaker or Amish women? And that the idea was literally ripped from them and then and only then was the jewel of the © set in stone?

... a box of chocolates
© © © © © © ©
Ms. Grump
© © © © © ©

It all depends, I suppose, on whether or not you have the stomach for a fight. Ideas qua ideas cannot be copyrighted, much to the shock and chagrin of the naive writer. All the little ©s in the world won't make it so. The expression of the idea, or the execution of it -- well, that's another matter entirely.

Richard Dawkins invented the idea of "memes" in his fine book The Selfish Gene. Many people still give him the credit he deserves, but in fine meme fashion, the © is beginning to atrophy and fall off like a useless umbilical knob as the idea takes on a viral life of its own, using individual brains to propagate itself.

The most obvious example of a meme is, of course, vicious juicy gossip. You know you've got a meme riding shotgun on your brain when you there's something you just have to tell someone else about. The water cooler, the phone, IRC chat, and of course, the wwweb are the meme's prime breeding grounds, spreading the word like nobody's business. In fact, the web has even spawned the first life form, composed entirely of innuendo and hearsay: that big old Memy Matt Drudge.

And you can quote me.

Tomorrow? We shoot for the stars!


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