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THE CYBERPUNK FUTURE IS NOW

A sketch composite of two frames from classic cartoons: In the foreground, a scene from The Jetsons of a young boy, Elroy, sticking his tongue out while a doctor in a mask looks inside his mouth from a hovering video screen, and his mother, Jane, clasps her hands and listens attentively to the doctor. However, the background is not the Jetsons' space-age home but the dingy, filthy, trash-filled apartment of Barney Gumble from The Simpsons.

2020 will probably not be remembered as the Year of Cyberpunk, thanks to the instantly-infamous botched release of Cyberpunk 2077, the most-anticipated game in years whose promise of a deeply-immersive roleplaying experience in a technologically-supercharged hypercapitalist dystopian future was marred by, well, hypercapitalist strategies such as media manipulation, development crunch, and perhaps even a culture of artificial console scarcity. However, the genre’s resurgent relevance is no accident: in a country whose 21st century has so far been defined by 9/11, the 2008 recession, Donald Trump, coronavirus, and climate change, a cynical perspective of the future seems all but guaranteed. “The world you expected to be the future didn’t happen," said Mike Pondsmith, the creator of the original Cyberpunk tabletop roleyplaying game, in an interview with Wired. “We were supposed to get The Jetsons and instead we’re not sure if we’re gonna get fed."



THESE PIXELS ARE HANDMADE

A sketch of the first paragraph of this blog post, rendered with fancy medieval script and an elaborate floral illuminated 'A' at the head of the paragraph.

After being born over a year ago, my website has slowly but surely evolved from a simple sandbox to a small but sturdy skeleton upon which I am finally beginning to drape some sinewy scraps of meat. Building upon my extremely basic and sporadic attempts to learn web development and programming, which blossomed in the halcyon days of early-2000s forums like Gaia Online and expanded after taking a few computer science classes in high school and college, I’m extremely proud of what I’ve already been able to create (and feel grateful that Neocities’ backend stonewall has relieved me of doing any actual coding except for the occasional snippet of JavaScript)!



WHY NOT WRITE?

Altered sketch of an alphabet chart uploaded to Wikimedia by ArwinJ demonstrating the connections between letters in the Roman, Greek, Phoenician, Hebrew, and Arabic alphabets. In my version, the chart begins to disintegrate partway through as the letters fall down upon each other in a jumble.

In my previous blog post, I described the artistic impulse which I believe has permeated writing of all kinds since the earliest days of tablet-scratching. Short and simple, my argument was made as much, if not more, to myself as to any reader, because I have for years struggled with writing. It is deeply ingrained into my identity, but also, as I’ll describe later, I find the written word to be anything from mundane to profane, from useless to downright dangerous.



WHY WRITE?

Sketch of photograph by Paul Hudson from the United Kingdom of two pre-cuneiform tabs, depicting a goat or sheep and a number (most likely '10'), found in Al-Hasakah, Syria, from the Uruk culture dated 3300-3100 B.C.E., licensed under CC BY 2.0

I feel the impulse to write. Why? Long-form writing is not at a premium these days; the proliferation not only of the Internet, but also sensationalized media, cataclysmic news cycles, and liberal arts degrees has sent the 21st century reader into a tailspin of posts, articles, think pieces, and other takes of varying temperatures, swirling in an unstoppable chain reaction of parries and ripostes as they follow Google and Facebook in their race to the bottom of the click dollar. For most of human history, literacy of any kind has been reserved for a select few individuals, usually for the purposes of business, administration, and faith; even in the Enlightenment and modern periods, during which literature of all kinds issued forth from printing presses at a rapid pace, the actual creation and legitimization of literature and periodicals remained largely the domain of the intelligentsia.



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