The Unknown: The Red Line.

The Unknown’s 16th minute of fame was working overtime on a Friday. 6:30 P.M. and the coffeepot already scrubbed and overturned, nothing, nothing.

The Unknown chewed a pencil as it worked out its rebuttal to Sven Birkerts’ incomprehensible claim that the word, when printed, was a “thing,” but, when on a screen, merely a “manifestation.” “A rose is a thing is a manifestation,” wrote the Unknown, knowing that a Stein reference was likely to irritate Birkerts by reminding him of the excesses of feminist modernism, that even his precious canon had elements of discomfort for him.

The Unknown would not be invited back to Plimpton’s anytime soon, not after the dent they had made in his booze. And the blonde had earned them no points with Sarah.

The Unknown had disgraced themselves in front of Talan Memmott by persuading his date to give an impromptu reading of their work.

And they never made it to Australia.

Still the Unknown hung on. The hypertext had been thumped by theorists, but the writers had barely dabbled in it before moving on to more esoteric genres such as vispo, codework, kinetic poetry, and video game and comic book theory.

In contrast to those Web artists whose emphasis was on great design, on interactive audio, or on the mutilation of syntax, the Unknown had pushed no boundaries and done exactly what the Web was designed for. And the elusive fact that the writing was good (nobody could ever quite focus their attention enough to understand the significance of this) had drawn some serious critical attention in Europe, a slow, but steady, sometimes irritating building of a scholarship, like a mote in the canon’s eye.

The Unknown finished the letter to Sven, and went downstairs and out to a bar. Unknown, thought the Unknown, staring up at a hockey match on TV.

What the fuck am I doing with my life?


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The Unknown at Spineless Books.