08/04/98 11:41:48 AM
Amoco is paying me $13/hr (really theyre probably paying someone like
$25/hr) for me to write this letter to you. So I hope you appreciate the fact that
by the time Im finished writing it, it will probably be worth $20 minimum.
So I recommend you read it at least twice. Savor the compact yet elegant
typeface, the characteristic sentence fragments, the subtle turns of phrase. A
major oil company has subsidized this prose. Dont let it go unappreciated.
And the next time you go on a cross-country trip, I hope I dont need to tell
you which gas station I expect you to frequent.
Where the hell have you been? Were starting a literary movement here in
the Midwest, you know. Im getting worried about our Hypertext. Theres a lot
to it, but right now its like many threads not quite tied together, a frayed
quilt. A lot of work has been done while youve been away taking helicopter
trips in the Grand Canyon and eating jumbo shrimp in San Francisco and
drinking exotic beers in Portland and watching Post-Grunge bands sing
ballads in the rain in Seattle, and . . . where else have you been ? / / . . . eating
nice beefsteaks in Spokane. Did you, by any chance, stop at the Corn Palace in
Nebraska or Wall Drug in South Dakota? I have a feeling well end up going
both of those places during our tour, for THE UNKNOWN.
I know youll be back in Cincinnati this
weekend for the world tournament of Disc Golf
at Mount Hairy Forest. Unless youre dead on the highway or locked
up in a cold prison cell or have had your brain completely fried by too
many hits of Jesus. Or, for that matter, found the return to the Northwest
country a religious experience and returned to the true light of the Lord,
and thus forsaken THE UNKNOWN, as, fundamentally, the entire project is
a form of sacrilege to all that is good and true. We do worry, young man.
If youve fallen from the path of THE UNKNOWN, it may be very difficult
to replace you. I can tell you that from the applications weve received
so far, it would be very difficult indeed. Sure, there are plenty of Ronald
Johnson scholars out there, but how many of them have read In Cold
Jest? Only 22. How many of them are obsessed with but nonetheless
completely disdain Ezra Pound? Five. How many can tell jokes in pidgin
French and bring over bottles of Bookers on demand? Okay, two. How
many of them are schooled on the thought of Liebnitz, look good in a bikini,
and love to give backrubs to fiction writers while comparing us to Voltaire
(in a distinctly South-of-France French accent)?
Just one, and man is she a babe. We think
were going to go with her if you dont return from the wilds
I think Williams actually coming here next weekend, so youll be even more
behind. But W. and I have discussed this. Were sure youve been taking
notes. After all, you carry one of those little notebooks around with you all
the time. Material for THE UNKNOWN, I are sure. It is basically a travelogue,
and you have been a traveling man, and travel makes for details, and strong
imagery. Cant wait to hear the stories. So does this mean that youll be
coming to Chicago in the soon time? We could also potentially meet in
Champaign. William just got a luxury penthouse apartment, purely on the
theoretical strength of the sales of THE UNKNOWN (anthology)so hes
motivated to get this thing moving. Me too. Im fairly serious about spending
next summer traveling around promoting this thing, rather than working for
a living, which is for birds and people who take themselves too seriously. In
this day and age, in this roaring economy, in this most decadent of cultures, at
the fin de siecle, (fin du siecle?), there is absolutely no reason why artist types
like us should not get paid to write hypertext novels. Actually, Ive been
watching related news items, and let me tell you, Dirk, this thing is gonna be
huge. Its going to be what, gargantuan. That Godzilla movie which made all
the advertising people self-conscious about the size of their anatomy? That
was nothing, a little anchovy-sized snack, compared to THE UNKNOWN.
And I just mean, at this point, the Hypertext. Once the whole series is out,
man, forget about it. Youll be Derrida in Rio de Janeiro, sipping a Pina Colada
off the belly of a silent film star married to a soccer player who will want to
kill you but will not because he will fear the collective textual power of THE
UNKNOWN. Youll be more connected than Sinatra ever was, and whats
more, youll be a better person, a nicer guy, kinder to the little people. Though
youll still have an awful voice in comparison to the crooner, and there will be angry words and fights when you demand of Gilliam
that you get to play yourself in the film version of the Hypertext of THE
But if and when you have free time, Dirk, which I know that no matter how
busy you get, whether youre studying for your exams or working for the
Man, I know your thought will bend towards THE UNKNOWN. The
sublime. The unpredictable. The intangible. THE UNKNOWN.
Get cracking, Dirk. Like look here, at this letter. It kills two birds with one
stone, or three. A) It is a privileged and confidential communication between
me and one of my best friends (i.e. you), B) It is a part, as soon as I get home
and de-windowfy it, of the Hypertext of the Unknown, and of course, lest we
forget, C) it is making me appear (or at least sound) to be busy, click clacking
away in front of a computer, well near into my lunch hour, thus filling my
obligation of filling corporate space.
So I should expect your call in the next 20 minutes or so? After youve read
this twice. Remember, were not just fucking around here. Weve started a
Millennial Literary Movement. Perhaps, if Nostradamus is right, THE LAST
ONE MANKIND WILL EVER KNOW. If the shit really hits the fan, Dirk, you
wont regret a minute you spent on THE UNKNOWN. It will be the time you
were doing other things, like teaching, or grading, or reading still more books,
or having a meaningful relationship, or whatnot, that you will regret. Lets
put this puppy to bed. Get writing. Get on the horn. Arrangements need to be
made, texts need to be produced. Art. Man.
Total Cost of this Letter: $30.50
(Payable in hypertext, upon your 1st visit to Chicago)
New Office Temporary Agency, Subhired to Kelly Temporary Agency,
Contracted Out to the Compliance Group, Human Resources Department,
Shared Services Sector, Amoco Corporation.