And Inside, Silence

A while ago I was invited to contribute to In the Flesh, a collection of essays about the body edited by Kathy Page and Lynne Van Luven. Each writer could choose their preferred limb, organ etc. I selected the pancreas, and I'm blogging about it here because it compared the virtual bodies we use in cyberspace with the invisible inner workings of our physical selves. The result was an essay called "And Inside, Silence" and it begins like this:

InthefleshI spend a great deal of my time online, which means I sit down a lot while my body does nothing much at all but type, think, and shuffle around on an office chair. There was a time, when the World Wide Web was young, when I and quite a few others lived the life of the mind through the Internet and were so entranced by it that we dared to hope the brain would transcend the body. Through the power of virtuality and imagination we connected in the deepness of cyberspace. Then, years before the noise and colour of places such as Second Life, text-based virtual worlds such as LambdaMOO drew us into deep silence. On those screens there were no pictures. Words typed on a plain black-and-white screen represented your entire self. It was there that I forgot my body and learned to be virtual, where the most physical thing I ever did was put my hand against the glass at a moment when someone else was doing the same on the other side of the world, and our imaginations filled in the rest.

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