Miss Sushuri Madonna wrote:

I was privileged to have a fascinating discussion last evening with Miss Francesca, who is not an Aristasian but is well versed in The Feminine Universe and knows far more about Aristasia than most Outlanders.

This lady raised the issue of ordinators and of Miss Alice Lucy Trent’s contention (in Universe) that they are a form of technics that would have come about in a continuing-rajasic world. In other words that technical advance and cultural decay are not related – their coincidence in Telluria is an historical accident.

Against this (and very much in the Aristasian tradition of “testing the hypothesis” or “putting the dark view on the table” – rather than the patriarchal spirit of attacking or scoring points) she suggested that while ordinator hardware may be neutral, software, including such fundamental conceptual software as the Graphic User Interface now common to all main ordinator systems, is designed by extreme type-3s and that the GUI itself was designed by people using large amounts of hallucinogens (specifically LSD) in the process.

I find this fascinating. Modern ordinators – although Virtual Reality is in its Infancy – are based on various metaphors which translate the extreme-abstract into the visible, tangible and easily-nameable, in order to make them usable by non-mathematicians.

The GUI itself, although it now seems familiar and obvious (you are using it right now), represented an amazing leap in consciousness. Just watch an older person, unfamiliar with ordinators, struggle to come to grips with it and you will be reminded what a radical conceptual leap was entailed.

So, considering that it was designed by post-Eclipse Western Tellurians, it does not surprise one unduly that hallucinogens were used to free the mind from its normal constraints and cart-tracks and think in terms completely new.

The question is, since the use of LSD was so closely bound up with the development of the Eclipse (much of the deformism, love of chaos, attraction to the outrageous and absurd that makes up much of bongo advertising, and “media-culture” can be called post-LSD culture). Are ordinators fundamentally deracinated?

I really don’t know the answer, so I have popped it up for your consideration.

One point that immediately occurred to me is that I have heard that Japanese innovators use Zen techniques to clear their minds of preconceptions and “think anew” in ways demanded by the new technics. Of course Zen (largely misunderstood in what might be called “LSD terms”) was very popular among precisely the sort of people who were designing graphic user interfaces in the 1970s. Could this be an area where legitimate and illegitimate “newness” meet?

I put forward the question for wiser heads to chew on, if you will forgive the mixed metaphor.

Miss Jannie added:

Not that I think I am the wise head with regard to this subject, which I also find highly interesting.

I only want to direct your attention to an on-line excerpt from John Markoff’s What the Dormouse Said, where the idea is presented in detail that the break through in the development not only of GUI, but also of the whole idea of ‘personal computers’ as such, is a result of the antiauthoritarian counter culture of the 60s in general and Doug Engelbart’s presentation on December 9 1968 at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco in particular.

Lady Aquila replied:

One is reminded of an essay by the Traditionalist Whitall N. Perry entitled “Drug induced Mysticism: The Mescalin Hypothesis”. Unfortunately that is long out of print and selling for outlandish sums.

What is of interest is that Aristasians became involved with ordinators from a very early stage – at the very beginning, if not before the true beginning, of the “personal computer revolution”, and not only as users but as developers of “games” and limited “virtual worlds”.

Some of the very first Aristasians or proto-Aristasians seem to have had mildly Luddite tendencies and a distrust of technics, perhaps because of a strong Arcadian group. Some even considered Kadoria and Quirinelle to be somewhat dubiously “modernist”!

However, not only technics in general, but in particular the idea of spatial metaphors and building spaceless “places”, seemed to come very naturally to the generation after the Founding Mothers. Is there something deracinated in this, or something “back to fundamentals”? Perhaps it can be either, depending on how one approaches it. It was sometimes said that early Aristasians were in one sense the most deracinated people – the ones who were so utterly alienated from the post-Eclipse world that they had to begin anew.

I rather feel that Virtual Space is an interesting area that has opened up at the very end of this Tellurian Historical Cycle, that it would have opened whether Western culture had collapsed or not, and that in Telluria it can be approached from two opposite positions, represented by the drug-taking culture-wreckers of the furthest-possible West (California) and the traditional, spiritually-influenced Zen consciousness of the furthest-possible East (Japan).

Early Aristasians walked into this territory without drugs (unless you count some very inventive cocktails) and found it to be their own.