Language is a form of human reason that has its own internal logic
of which man knows nothing.

Claude Lévi-Strauss

Belief is like a guillotine, just as heavy, just as light.
Franz Kafka

Entropy Gradient

Flashforward #2:
The Charlie Rose Interview

Ten issues ago, EGR ran Flashforward #1: Tonight on Cary Ling Jive!, which was set far enough in the future that RageBoy® had already commandeered much of Planet Earth. The current interview takes place a little nearer to the present day, just after RB's first book -- "Cross-Eyed in Paradise: 1001 Ways To Get Yourself Off While the World Goes to Hell in a Bucket" -- had been released to worldwide critical acclaim. Needless to say, Charlie Rose is just a name we made up.

Charlie Rose: "RageBoy"? "Entropy Gradient Reversals"? I hardly to know where to begin. Whatever prompted all this?

RageBoy®: Truthfully? We've always wanted to be interviewed by a drooling hydrocephalic sycophant like yourself, and well... it just seemed the best way to accomplish that lifelong dream.

CR: Ha! I see. But tell us how you came to be known as RageBoy and why you always speak in the first person plural. That Royal We must be offputting to some, is it not?

RB: It is, Charlie. And that's a sad thing, really, as deep down we've always wanted to be everybody's pal. We guess it just wasn't meant to be.

As to the RageBoy appellation, we were given the name at a conference we attended in 1996. In our formal presentation we suggested in fairly strong terms that our then-employer should rot in hell eternally, and advocated that all Fortune 500 companies be immediately torched to the waterline. We still think of it as our Burn Down the Mission Statement.

The first-person-plural thing stems from the fact that RageBoy and his virtuous twin, Christopher Locke, are forced to share the same mind-body dichotomy. It's a complicated arrangement that's tough for most people to fully grasp, though many of the EGR Irregulars suffer -- or benefit, depending on your perspective -- from similar, shall we say... side effects.

CR: Side effects of what, precisely?

RB: Unfortunately, as a result of certain non-disclosure agreements we've signed, we're really unable to say more.

CR: Certainly, I understand. But tell me, is Christopher Locke here with us this evening? Would it be possible for him to say a few words?

RB: Yes, he's here, but under heavy sedation at the moment. He doesn't approve of the whole EGR agenda, you know. He is such an innocent, it's truly amazing.

CR: But you still speak as if you're together in whatever it is that Entropy Gradient Reversals is all about -- and I want to get into that soon. But if Locke is asleep or in suspended animation or whatever, then isn't this really all your show? I mean, why not just dump the guy?

RB: We've tried, but he seems to control certain autonomic nervous system functions, breathing and the like, so he can make life pretty uncomfortable if he's aroused. Most of the time we manage to keep him occupied with fantasies about getting rich -- or laid. Both seem to hold approximately equal fascination for him. Like most people, he doesn't seem to care overmuch about the larger issues.

CR: OK, so tell us about some of those, in your view. It seems I recall reading some of the stuff Locke wrote before you, uh... came into the picture, and I have to say part of that corpus seemed fairly cogent, possibly even important. However, I assume you think that material didn't deal with these "larger issues" of which you're speaking here this evening. Explain that.

RB: You read that crap? Charlie, I'm surprised. Look, why do you think RageBoy showed up in the first place? After all, he could have found better things to do than babysit this organic vegetable. But Locke had become like some kind of powerful karmic magnet. People were beginning to take him seriously. He was even being quoted in the press for god's sake. Something had to be done. So RB stepped in to balance things out -- was "called in" you could say, though perhaps we'd better not get into the specifics here. But really, all that inflated hogwash about "communities of practice," "communities of discourse," the global freaking economy? Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

CR: So you're saying that whole karmic constellation somehow magnetized you, RageBoy. Interesting, though I have to say I'm not entirely sure what to make of it.

But look, without getting into Locke's whole thesis, whatever it was -- and I'm none too certain about that either -- wasn't there some validity, for instance, to his interest in online communities? That's become a hot topic since he wrote that stuff, has it not?

RB: Hot topic, sure. So are White House blow jobs. Listen, this whole thing about Community with a Capital C is pure sucker bait. People lap it up conceptually, but they don't really want it. They think they want it, but that's really just because they want to wear loud ties and funny hats like Howard Rheingold.

CR: Rheingold does make some compelling arguments...

RB: He also makes great granola pancakes. What's your point?

CR: Only that it seems to me that many people in the late 20th Century are looking for some form of meaningful community.

RB: Oh fuck that shit! No they're not. What they're looking for is irresponsible anonymity -- Total Virtual Solipsism. Realizing that was EGR's breakthrough discovery, and TVS is what we now deliver to millions of Valued Readers every day.

You get all these yo-yos "messaging" to each other, communing online, and what've you got? Give up? Here's a clue: the mother of all Mongolian clusterfucks! If you're looking for, like, you know, The Meaning of Life, and you read six million bulletin board postings, then what? Count the legs and divide by four? No, what people genuinely want is much less than all that. Keep it simple, Charlie, that's our motto at EGR. Simplicity itself. That's why we were early into "push" -- before it was hip.

CR: By push, I assume you mean one-way delivery of your, uh... content to willing subscribers.

RB: That's it. No complications, no second opinions. If some readers don't like it there's even a special page they can use to unsubscribe. Maybe you could put that up on the screen now, Charlie, so your viewers can all experience it. We say "experience" because it's a multimedia kind of thing, you know? A good set of speakers really helps. Ah, there's a good lad.

CR: But their specific objections are never heard. Isn't that correct?

RB: Precisely. That way there's no confusion. It's RageBoy all the way. You don't have to like it. You can fuck off for all we care. Where else are you likely to find that kind of refreshing honesty?

CR: Oh, I don't know. Business? Government? Academia?

RB [chuckling]: You have a point there Charlie. Yes, that's a good one.

CR: OK, but leaving all that aside, what about "Entropy Gradient Reversals"? As I understand the concept of entropy as it relates to the second law of thermodynamics, it has to do with things tending toward a state of disorder -- in information processing terms, of noise as opposed to signal. Is the suggestion here that you've found a way to reverse this tendency? And if so, why is your tagline "All Noise - All the Time"?

RB: You know, Charlie, for a total zero, you're not half as dumb as you look. Yes, that's basically correct.

CR: What's correct? It was a question. Actually several questions.

RB: Do you know anything about Taoist alchemy?

CR: I can't say I've looked very deeply into it, why?

RB: Let's just say it's a bad idea to go up against the universe -- directly.

CR: this is a kind of indirection, is that it? You create more noise so that there will ultimately be universal harmony? Sounds a little flaky, to be honest.

RB: And we want you to be honest, Charlie. That's very important.

CR: So? Why do I feel as if I'm having a conversation with myself here?

RB: Now you're catching on!

CR: Catching on to what? I have to say I just don't get it. If this is supposed to be some sort of profound thing, well, I'm at a loss. It just seems silly.

RB: It is silly. Don't you see? That's the whole point.

CR: Are you making fun of me?

RB: Yes! Yes! Charlie, you are a quick study.

CR: Well, I don't much like the implications, but trying to follow you on this, am I supposed to get the idea that, because I am fundamentally silly, because my entire persona is an empty shell, a carefully architected construct, and all my hopes and dreams are groundless, not to mention my worst fears, that I could therefore afford to stop taking myself so seriously and have a little fun? That's irresponsible!

RB: What did we tell you?

CR: I cannot accept that.

RB: We understand. Really. And listen, while you're writhing in existential agony -- hypothetically speaking, of course -- if it makes you feel better to, say, pledge allegiance to the flag or something, hey, knock yourself out. Count your bowling trophies maybe. Get a teevee talk show. Whatever, we're not judgmental.

CR: Right. And what about your "Valued Subscribers," as you call them? Do they believe this too?

RB: Believe what? Belief is not required. That's the beauty part.

CR: Well, do they believe in anything?

RB: We don't know. And frankly, we don't much care. Let's just say that most of the options put forward as candidates for "believing in" leave a little something to be desired. We're not saying they're bad, you understand. It's just that leftover desire messes people's heads up in a big way.

CR: I need this to be more concrete. Give me an example.

RB: OK, take signal. People who are into this whole computer thing seem to value signal over noise. So pure signal would be optimal, right? The very best?

CR: Sounds reasonable.

RB: But would you recognize pure signal, Charlie, if it bit you? What would that be like, do you suppose?

CR: The complete absence of noise I should think.

RB: But don't you see, Charlie? That's where you're completely fucked. That's why your life is nearly insupportable and certainly worthless. Signal is just differently abled channel conflict. This whole signal-beats-noise myth is just that: total bullshit -- just like all that heart-rending hand-wringing tripe about "lost community." It's all in the differentials, pal. But not wanting to be thought a fool, you continue to pretend you believe these things. It's really just massive denial, though, and then, in the very act of avoidance, you come face to face with the bitter truth. It's all so unnecessary.

CR: That's the most outrageous load of crap I've ever heard! You aren't even close to making sense!

RB: We're sorry you feel that way, Charlie, but "All Noise - All the Time," remember? We take it as our sacred bond and trust. And besides, you asked for it.

CR: OK, OK. Folks, that's all we have time for, fortunately. If you could make anything at all out of that incredible plenitude of patronizing and pretentious poppycock, then you're sure to enjoy RageBoy's new book, uh... what was it called again?

RB: Cross-Eyed in Paradise.

CR: Yeah, Cross-Eyed in Paradise. Be sure to pick up a copy on your way to the bughouse.

RB: Thank you, Charlie, and we'd like to say...

CR: Forget it. Just get the fuck out of here and never come back.

out into the universe
...we don't care...
who gets there first

The Byrds

Entropy Gradient Reversals
All Noise - All the Time


Nothing to disclaim at this time.


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          Entropy Gradient Reversals
          CopyLeft Christopher Locke

"reality leaves a lot to the imagination..." John Lennon

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