agrippa, book of the dead.

In 1988, William Gibson wrote a poem called Agrippa, A Book of the Dead. While the link I have provided can be read as many times as you’d like, the original piece was published in the form of a executable file on a 3 1/2″ floppy disc that could be read and viewed only once per copy. After being opened the executable would, while the poem was being read by a user, re-write its own assembly code into an encrypted format leaving it, for all effective purposes, unobtainable.

There is a description of the original publication here, which, to my mind, conjures a similarity to the book, House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski. Esotericism is something that I enjoy enough to pardon it even when it is as wilfully inscrutiable as it appears in these two pieces, and I certainly like the appearance of Agrippa as shown in Gibson’s piece.

I think there is, perhaps, something to be said here about hyper-texts. There’s enough of a link to the spy-thrillers of James Bond and Mission Impossible in the self-destructive text, especially so when it comes about through a stenographic device. The merging of steampunk aesthetics of burnt book covers and computer data storage along with the morbidity of the shroud and the record of the transcription of the DNA of some hapless fruitfly speaks to a variety of posthumanism that I’m fond of. Too bad the 3 1/2″ floppy drive has essentially disappeared.

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