The Unknown: The Orange Line.

Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2000, 4:08 PM
From: The Unknown List
To: The Unknown List
Subject: I hope you’re not changing too much in ‘The Unknown’?


We think we’ve figured a program for you with benefits. Right now you are part-owner of the Unknown with a total of fifty shares. Without membership on the board, however, you are powerless to make any decisions. Now what we’re proposing is a slow phase out with a gradual recompensation in character placement options. Meaning that, for each share you sell, your name will replace either Scott’s, Dirk’s, or my own. This isn’t the only option although I suggest you discuss it with your broker. See, we’re streamlining and downsizing. We want the whole Unknown to be a slim volume, we’re gonna whittle it down to like, 20 pages. An easy read. And we’re taking out the links because we’re tired of being typecast as “hypertext.” See what I’m saying? Now we appreciate the fact that you’re on the list and it’s great that every couple of months you check your email and toss off a response or an aphorism or epigram or a whit of wisdom—even though you’re from Frisco so all your babbling about “energy” and “crystals” doesn’t really cut the mustard the way a nice Wrigley Field hot dog would—your hot tub just doesn’t hold water, pal, but go ahead and be a golden boy: we don’t have as much sex as you and the sun doesn’t come out every day in the midwest. No sir, this summer every day the temperature has been between 50 and 110 without missing a beat, so we don’t know what it’s all about kissing on Golden Gate Bridge when your mouth still tastes like garlic from the like 20, 30 amazing restaurants you went to that day alone. Free love? Sorry, man, we’re up to our elbows in our own mystique and we’re actually very conservative here in the heartland. You know we’re jealous, but we can’t ride each other’s coattails forever. Sorry you couldn’t make it to Chicago for our reading and sorry you couldn’t manage to toss off a newspoem while you were writing 10-page fluff pieces for the big paper out there, I forget the name. Yeah, you’re all laid and successful and we keep struggling, keep touring, keep giving interviews. How many times have I woken up with a hangover next to Rettberg in a hotel room that smelled like an ashtray all so we could break ourselves promoting your famous novel? I’ll tell you: 1,234 times on the nose, man. Well, we’ve all got our hangups I suppose. So next time you’re all messed up on X and Thai sticks groping some teenager in a midnight warehouse while the decibels crank out enough synthetic beat to bring down a 747, just thinking to yourself “the world is my orange,” just be glad, man, be glad, because paradise is full of palm trees and one of them just might drop a coconut on you someday. Mark my words. In the meantime, well, just keep writing weird messages and scaring off the European scholars who have climbed to the mountaintop to take counsel with us: the Unknown. We never wanted to be the subject of someone’s dissertation, and we sure don’t want to go to Europe.

Yeah, right.

Good luck to you.

The Unknown

w w w .
w o r d
w o r k
. o r g

On Sat, 26 Aug 2000, Frank Marquardt wrote:

Thank you Dirk. You have indeed found my keys and I
thank you. I think you. I thank you.

If I may offer: You are not sad, you are instable,
disoriented, and open. Fucked up!


P.S. I’m stuffing all the post-structural dogma I can
find up my anus now. Fucked up!

Dirk Stratton wrote:


you know, it’s writing like this that makes me sad that you did not contribute more to the unknown. or am i sad that writing like this ever made it into the unknown in the first place. or am i sad at all? perhaps i need a new prescription. but i don’t have a doctor. just a health center (why aren’t there health margins, that’s what i want to know). and every time i go to the center they give me a new doctor, so i don’t really have one. of my own. in fact, until i have a doctor who has had to give me at least two prostate exams in a row i doubt i will ever consider him or her my doctor. speaking of prostates, i almost always start to say prostrate or actually do say it and then have to correct myself. should i be worried about this?

i have your keys: F# and middle C.




As an early contributor to the Unknown I know a thing or two about prescriptions. The first thing I know about them is that you’ve got to go to your doctor to get them. Are you going to your doctor? Think about that a minute. Are you?

The second thing I know about prescriptions is that they can really treat you royally. I mean that. I’ve had prescriptions that have fucked me up. Yeah, I was open, disoriented, and not very stable. Fucked up!

I will tell you something. Not all of those elements are necessary for a great prescription or for great hypertext. Great prescriptions can put you to sleep and if you’re in pain that’s all you want. Instable? No. Disorienting? Maybe. Open? Is your subconscious open at night? I put to you this: Fucked up!

Are you asking us a question about theory? Fess up if you are. It’s Thursday night and Scott Rettberg is a drunk man. What I think you’re asking is a question about degrees. I say about 25 degrees. But that’s if you’re facing West. Are you facing West? If you’re facing West, the answer to your question is 25 degrees. The thing that I want you to consider though: How many degrees is the answer if you’re facing East?

Is being fucked up a natural state or an unnatural state? Or both? How does the natural state change when you shape it using theoretical prescriptions? And how do you know you’re using those prescriptions when say perhaps you’ve done some reading of dense and tedious texts but you’re creating something employing your creative processes—not just you but a bunch of yous, each in his own place (ours is a mostly male work, after all)—naturally, but those theoretical prescriptions (as you put it so tenderly) are a part of your creative apparatus (or appendages or muses)?

Finally, I would like to enlist your help. I have lost my keys. Will you please come over and help me find them?

I have not the prescience to answer your other considered question.

I thank you and submit,

Frank of
The Unknown

Nikolaj Fournaise wrote:

Hi guys. I am writing a dissertation (finishing essay for the MA) on your story, so I hope you’re not changing too much in it in the next 8 months or so. If you are, could you please let me know?

I wrote to you before, but I kind of lost sight of the essay for a while, but now I’m back.

If you’ve got a few minutes I would love a few comments on how influenced you were by ‘ruling’ hypertext theory’s focusing on the post-structural dogma. It seems that HT theory from the outset has prescribed openness, disorientation, instability etc. as necessary for good hypertext writing.

So, I know its hard to say, but to which degree do you think you just wrote and structured the text as it came into your mind, as the medium made it feel natural to you, as opposed to using theoretical prescriptions?

If I can help you in any way, don’t hesitate to ask,

Nikolaj Jensen William

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