online: 29 may 2003
modified: 30 june 2003
from introduction to the electric book part 2

also from the aftermath of the symposium of Utopia

29 may 2003 electric book part 2 - marooned

the digital diary of everyone

13:11 Having arrived at j-921 we are surprised to find that it resembles earth in all particulars... Nothing has changed says Numeroso as he sits back in his familiar chair and switches on the computer before him...

Utopia is not surprised for she remembers the 35 wishes* for specific improvements and how, once they were achieved, everyday life was just as difficult or inspiring or humdrum as before. Human mind was unchanged though the conditions were different. I don't feel any better or worse than I did she thinks...

Numeroso reads her thoughts on his screen and suggests that they make this a collective diary.

Okay says Utopia as she wonders what they're letting themselves in for. Such a move is beyond the predictions of any of us, add the fingers.

Unesco says nothing. I feel happier than I have been since 1981, he types. At last we are doing what I'd hoped.

to be continued...

12 June 2003: Two weeks have passed but nothing seems to have happened. Numeroso searched the second internet, i2, for signs of new life and is assembling the evidence. At first he sees no pattern so he writes each element or finding on a small card so that they can arrange and re-arrange the thinking in new ways and see what they are doing in this attempt to 'redesign industrial living' as Utopia put it long ago and which no one, so far, has been able to achieve in any authentic, realistic or attractive way... for what they are trying to do is reconstruct the culture - and there are many good tinkers, I mean thinkers, who'd say it is impossible...

Utopia has joined him in this sensitive task while Unesco walks about impatiently, wanting as always to get on with some practical work that relieves human suffering whether or not it satisfies anyone's ideas of what is good or what it true or what is beautiful (let alone just or inspiring or liberating...).

After several attempts at sorting the cards into what they hoped would be new categories they're both disheartened though they both try not to show it... their categories are too reflective of what is and so far seem more like a rigid mould than a releasive pattern or liberating direction.

This can be hard and dull work if you let it get you down says Utopia, I suggest we take a holiday and see what our minds and nervous systems produce after incubation as someone called it...

Yes I agree says Numeroso but before we go I'd like to list the most promising categories we've discussed so far and the relations between them:

Then he sketches this arrangement:

A is the cards not yet classified. They are in a central pile to which we keep adding.

B is our own process and our feelings about it

C is everyone, our changing thoughts and perceptions and the art of doing this work, or any other

D is a growing list of experiments that we can carry out in the experimental city

and E is the actual city, and the forest it encloses and the nature of the surrounding universe, all three being too complex to be known or to be modelled in totality

I like this says Utopia, especially of you cease to think of it as a model or as explanation and treat it as our actual process - a useful picture of our ignorance if you like, and of what we are doing despite it!

Yes I do like it says Numeroso, leaning back, suddenly relieved, for this seemingly tiny change from frame of reference to mnemonic, from fixed picture to living process, takes away his doubts and brings a smile to his face - the first in several days.

Yes, they still go on holiday but they are feeling that it may be quite short as their thoughts are no longer overwhelmed by the overload of information. Their minds are released.

to life in London2

*'35 wishes' (for improving the world) in designing designing, Architecture, Design and Technology Press/Phaidon Books, London 1991, (previously published as Essays in Design, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester and New York, 1984), pages 257-274.

This book also includes 'Utopia and Numeroso', 1981, (pages 327-335) in which Utopia, Numeroso, Unesco and the experimental city first appeared in literature. In those days no one knew that they could re-appear here. The second earth did not exist.

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© 2003 john chris jones

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