6 July 1996
subject: letter six F
attachments: paradise lost, first lines
: softecnica zero from the imposed to
dear Tom and Jonathan
To respect the rumblings and antecedents of all
this I¹m devoting this letter and the next two or
three to the series of articles called softecnica
(that led Jonathan to make his typogram of the
phone¹ and perhaps led to you asking me to write
this?) and to writings by John Milton and Walt
Whitman (which I see as poetic antecedents of the
internet, along with William Wordsworth, whose
words appear in combination with the synopsis
attached to the preliminary letter).
Instead of writing to you directly I am going to
let a few words from these sources compose
themselves into chance combinations of the old
with the recent before attaching the texts from
which I am quoting.
For this letter I am going to type the first
sentences of Softecnica zero¹ between the first
lines of Paradise lost:
Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
book, clock, phone, tv, computer, credit card,
game, pill, and process.
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast
The soft technologies, or some of them.
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
Not that the names of the products, the objects,
gives the feel of them.
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
That is more evident in the verbs, the processes:
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,
printing, publishing, reading, what time is it?¹,
phoning, watching tv, computing, programming,
credit-rating, cash dispensing, playing space
invaders, taking the pill, designing the process.
Sing Heav¹nly Muse
What is it that these have in common?
I find, after much experience of such textual
mixtures that, though they may repel or seem
meaningless at first, they seem less and less
accidental if you read them several times, slowly,
and aloud. And then, by the quite normal magic of
names and words (which may be concealed if one
picks out only a single meaning and emphasises it
by voice), lo, something quite astonishing can
ps May I say that not only the above textual
mixture but also the following two attachments
from which it derives require much slower reading
than do the letters and texts so far. It is not
customary, I know, to require changes of reading
speed within a single book or composition, but for
this one it is essential. Can this be part of a
modern return to the more ancient custom of mixing
poetry and verse in one piece of writing? Yes, of