The Unknown: The Green Line.

Cincinnati 2000

The Unknown Appearance @ the Ropes Lectures

The University of Cincinnati, March 1, 2000


Cincinnati is like the birthplace of the Unknown. It was great returning to the scene of the crime, and under such auspiscious circumstances. Tom LeClair, a critical genius if there ever was one, arranged the Ropes Lectures at the University of Cincinnati.


Rob Wittig flew in to join us. We like to travel with Rob. He's like a chaperone, a smart one, who analyzes everything we do without being intrusive, makes us write, and encourages us to drink in moderation. He also knows tai-chi and is a close personal friend of Derrida. And Philip Wohlstetter. And Rick Valicenti. And us. Later in the year, in Seattle, Rob would introduce us to the Invisibles. He said that he'd reached one of his goals for the year when it happened -- the Unknown meet the Invisibles. He's got that type of sense of humor, that he'll arrange for a meeting between people from the Midwest and people from Seattle for the sake of literary history and a pun. Rob calls books "portable cellulose reading devices." This was his first time writing Unknown with us.



Tom Leclair lined up some of the premier thinkers in electronic literature and textuality and threw in Sven Birkerts too. A couple of weeks before the Unknown appearance, Sven and novelist Richard Powers duked it out. Powers won. Handily.

You almost had to feel sorry for Sven. It really felt like his career as a "technology critic" ended right there at that table in Cinci.


Powers gave a great lecture that ended up online at Dalkey Archive's Context, titled "Being and Seeming: the Technology of Representation." You should read it. Powers has his reservations about electronic literature, but they're smart ones that take into account more than one's love for Thoreau.



Coover showed up, and so did Kate Hayles from the University of California at Los Angeles. They did a little critical sparring of their own. I'd summarize it here, but only at risk of simplying it.


I guess you could say that Coover's a big fan of hypertexts that prominently feature text, as opposed to images, while Hayles sees a tradition derived from groups like the Fluxists and art-books being developed further in the electronic media. Differences aside, they both advocate more artistic experimentation in the electronic media.



We wrote quite a bit of the time we were there. We wrote the Unknown Club scenes, because we thought it would be funny to integrate some of Dirk's cult stuff with the flick of the moment, and we wanted to set a new scene in Cincinnati. And William noted that though there are ample drugs and some sex in The Unknown, we were way behind in the violence department. And we care about our readers.

Scott touching up William's list of Unknown Awards.



The Unknown at work on fbifiles.htm

William writes "Dirk is Working Out Now" while Scott reads Rob's description of the martial arts employed "In the Depths"



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