Dibbell – A Rape in Cyberspace

A Rape in Cyberspace: How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database Into a Society

by Julian Dibbell

[ Dibbell, Julian. 1993. “A Rape in Cyberspace: How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database Into a Society” in The Village Voice, December 23, 1993]

Points & Quotes:

The Incident

“They say he raped them that night. They say he did it with a cunning little doll, fashioned in their image and imbued with the power to make them do whatever he desired. They say that by manipulating the doll he forced them to have sex with him, and with each other, and to do horrible, brutal things to their own bodies. And though I wasn’t there that night, I think I can assure you that what they say is true, because it all happened right in the living room — right there amid the well-stocked bookcases and the sofas and the fireplace — of a house I came for a time to think of as my second home.”

“LambdaMOO, a very large and very busy rustic mansion built entirely of words”

“This is … the story of a man named Mr. Bungle, and of the ghostly sexual violence he committed in the halls of LambdaMOO, and most importantly of the ways his violence and his victims challenged the 1000 and more residents of that surreal, magic-infested mansion to become, finally, the community so many of them already believed they were”

“here on the brink of a future in which human life may find itself as tightly enveloped in digital environments as it is today in the architectural kind […]
It asks us to shut our ears momentarily to the techno-utopian ecstasies of West Coast cyberhippies and look without illusion upon the present possibilities for building, in the on-line spaces of this world, societies more decent and free than those mapped onto dirt and concrete and capital. It asks us to behold the new bodies awaiting us in virtual space undazzled by their phantom powers, and to get to the crucial work of sorting out the socially meaningful differences between those bodies and our physical ones. And most forthrightly it asks us to wrap our late-modern ontologies, epistemologies, sexual ethics, and common sense around the curious notion of rape by voodoo doll—and to try not to warp them beyond recognition in the process.

“every set of facts in virtual reality (or VR, as the locals abbreviate it) is shadowed by a second, complicating set: the “real-life” facts. … No hideous clowns or trickster spirits appear in the RL version of the incident, no voodoo dolls or wizard guns, indeed no rape at all as any RL court of law has yet defined it … no bodies touched

“to the extent that Mr. Bungle’s assault happened in real life at all, it happened as a sort of Punch-and-Judy show, in which the puppets and the scenery were made of nothing more substantial than digital code and snippets of creative writing.”

it wasn’t until the evening of the second day after the incident that legba, finally and rather solemnly, gave it voice:

“I am requesting that Mr. Bungle be toaded for raping Starsinger and I. I have never done this before, and have thought about it for days. He hurt us both.”

“Toad the fukr.”

[to “toad” is basically an MUD death sentence:
“not only are the description and attributes of the toaded player erased, but the account itself goes too. The annihilation of the character, thus, is total.”

To Toad?

“Four months before the Bungle incident, the archwizard Haakon … announced that the wizards from that day forth were pure technicians. From then on, they would make no decisions affecting the social life of the MOO, but only implement whatever decisions the community as a whole directed them to. […]
the question of what to do about Mr. Bungle began to shape itself into a sort of referendum on the political future of the MOO.”

  • “Parliamentarian legalist types argued that unfortunately Bungle could not legitimately be toaded at all, since there were no explicit MOO rules against rape, or against just about anything else …
  • Others, with a royalist streak in them, seemed to feel that Bungle’s as-yet-unpunished outrage only proved this New Direction silliness had gone on long enough, and that it was high time the wizardocracy returned to the position of swift and decisive leadership their player class was born to …
  • [for the ]technolibertarians … MUD rapists were of course assholes, but the presence of assholes on the system was a technical inevitability …
  • the anarchists didn’t care much for punishments or policies or power elites. … they hoped the MOO could be a place where people interacted fulfillingly without the need for such things [and] were now at great pains to sever the conceptual ties between toading and capital punishment”

“So that when the time came, at 7 p.m. PST on the evening of the third day after the occurrence in the living room, to gather in evangeline’s room for her proposed real-time open conclave, …
Peaking in number at around 30, this was one of the largest crowds that ever gathered in a single LambdaMOO chamber, …
You could almost feel the claustrophobic air of the place, dank and overheated by virtual bodies, pressing against your skin.”

“There were the central questions, of course: thumbs up or down on Bungle’s virtual existence? And if down, how then to insure that his toading was not just some isolated lynching but a first step toward shaping LambdaMOO into a legitimate community?

“On these and other matters the anarchists, the libertarians, the legalists, the wizardists—and the wizards—all had their thoughtful say …
midway through the evening Mr. Bungle himself, the living, breathing cause of all this talk, teleported into the room. … And then he said this:

“I engaged in a bit of a psychological device that is called thought-polarization, the fact that this is not RL simply added to heighten the affect of the device. It was purely a sequence of events with no consequence on my RL existence.”

“he’d been around long enough to leave his newbie status behind, and his delusional statement therefore placed him among the second type: the sociopath. … at this point what seemed clear was that evangeline’s meeting had died, at last, and without any practical results to mark its passing.

Action

“JoeFeedback was a wizard, … he took the crime committed against legba and Starsinger very seriously, and that he felt no particular compassion toward the character who had committed it. But on the other hand he had made it equally plain that he took the elimination of a fellow player just as seriously, and moreover that he had no desire to return to the days of wizardly fiat. … as much as he would have liked to make himself an instrument of LambdaMOO’s collective will, he surely realized that under the present order of things he must in the final analysis either act alone or not act at all.”

“So JoeFeedback acted alone. …

He told the lingering few players in the room that he had to go, and then he went. He did it quietly and he did it privately. …
Mr. Bungle was truly dead and truly gone.”

Coda

“Certainly whatever civil society now informs LambdaMOO owes its existence to the Bungle Affair. The archwizard Haakon .. . would build into the database a system of petitions and ballots whereby anyone could put to popular vote any social scheme requiring wizardly powers for its implementation,”

“as I pored over the *social debate and got to know legba and some of the other victims and witnesses, I could feel my newbie consciousness falling away from me. Where before I’d found it hard to take virtual rape seriously, I now was finding it difficult to remember how I could ever not have taken it seriously.”

the more seriously I took the notion of virtual rape, the less seriously I was able to take the notion of freedom of speech, with its tidy division of the world into the symbolic and the real.”

“whatever else these thoughts tell me, I have come to believe that they announce the final stages of our decades-long passage into the Information Age, a paradigm shift that the classic liberal firewall between word and deed (itself a product of an earlier paradigm shift commonly known as the Enlightenment) is not likely to survive intact. After all, anyone the least bit familiar with the workings of the new era’s definitive technology, the computer, knows that it operates on a principle impracticably difficult to distinguish from the pre-Enlightenment principle of the magic word: the commands you type into a computer are a kind of speech that doesn’t so much communicate as make things happen, directly and ineluctably, the same way pulling a trigger does. They are incantations.”

Page 1, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “A Rape in Cyberspace How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database Into a Society”

Page 1, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “They say he raped them that night. They say he did it with a cunning little doll, fashioned in their image and imbued with the power to make them do whatever he desired. They say that by manipulating the doll he forced them to have sex with him, and with each other, and to do horrible, brutal things to their own bodies. And though I wasn’t there that night, I think I can assure you that what they say is true, because it all happened right in the living room — right there amid the well-stocked bookcases and the sofas and the fireplace — of a house I came for a time to think of as my second home. Call me Dr. Bombay.”

Page 1, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Some months ago — let’s say about halfway between the first time you heard the words information superhighway and the first time you wished you never had — I found myself tripping now and then down the well-traveled information lane that leads to LambdaMOO, a very large and very busy rustic mansion built entirely of words.”

Page 1, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “This isn’t my story, It’s the story of a man named Mr. Bungle, and of the ghostly sexual violence he committed in the halls of LambdaMOO, and most importantly of the ways his violence and his victims challenged the 1000 and more residents of that surreal, magic-infested mansion to become, finally, the community so many of them already believed they were.”

Page 1, Underline (Blue):
Content: “the story of a man named Mr. Bungle, and of the ghostly sexual violence he committed in the halls of LambdaMOO, and most importantly of the ways his violence and his victims challenged the 1000 and more residents of that surreal, magic-infested mansion to become, finally, the community so many of them already believed they were.”

Page 1, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “It asks us to shut our ears momentarily to the techno-utopian ecstasies of West Coast”

Page 1, Underline (Blue):
Content: “It asks us to shut our ears momentarily to the techno-utopian ecstasies of West Coast”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “cyberhippies and look without illusion upon the present possibilities for building, in the on-line spaces of this world, societies more decent and free than those mapped onto dirt and concrete and capital. It asks us to behold the new bodies awaiting us in virtual space undazzled by their phantom powers, and to get to the crucial work of sorting out the socially meaningful differences between those bodies and our physicalones. And most forthrightly it asks us to wrap our late-modern ontologies, epistemologies, sexual ethics, and common sense around the curious notion of rape by voodoo doll — and to try not to warp them beyond recognition in the process.”

Page 2, Underline (Blue):
Content: “cyberhippies and look without illusion upon the present possibilities for building, in the on-line spaces of this world, societies more decent and free than those mapped onto dirt and concrete and capital. It asks us to behold the new bodies awaiting us in virtual space undazzled by their phantom powers, and to get to the crucial work of sorting out the socially meaningful differences between those bodies and our physical ones. And most forthrightly it asks us to wrap our late-modern ontologies, epistemologies, sexual ethics, and common sense around the curious notion of rape by voodoo doll — and to try not to warp them beyond recognition in the process.”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “there was cruelty enough lurking in the appearance Mr. Bungle presented to the virtual world — he was at the time a fat, oleaginous, Bisquick-faced clown dressed in cum-stained harlequin garb and girdled with a mistletoe-and-hemlock belt whose buckle bore the quaint inscription “KISS ME UNDER THIS, BITCH!””

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “facts tell us”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “he commenced his assault entirely unprovoked, at or about 10 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “That he began by using his voodoo doll to force one of the room’s occupants to sexually service him in a variety of more or less conventional ways. That this victim was legba, a Haitian trickster spirit of indeterminate gender, brown-skinned and wearing an expensive pearl gray suit, top hat, and dark glasses. That he hid himself away then in his private chambers somewhere on the mansion grounds and continued the attacks without interruption, since the voodoo doll worked just as well at a distance as in proximity. That he turned his attentions now toStarsinger, a”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” forcing her into unwanted liaisons with other individuals present in the room,”

Page 2, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “That his actions grew progressively violent. That he could not be stopped until at last someone summoned Zippy, a wise and trusted old-timer who brought with him a gun of near wizardly powers, a gun that didn’t kill but enveloped its targets in a cage impermeable even to a voodoo doll’s powers.”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “These particulars, are unambiguous. But they are far from simple, for the simple reason that every set of facts in virtual reality is shadowed by a second, complicating set: the “real-life” facts.”

Page 3, Underline (Blue):
Content: “every set of facts in virtual reality is shadowed by a second, complicating set: the “real-life” facts.”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “No hideous clowns or trickster spirits appear in the RL version of the incident, no voodoo dolls or wizard guns, indeed no rape at all as any RL court of law has yet defined it. The actors in the drama were university students for the most part, and they sat rather undramatically before computer screens the entire time, their only actions a spidery flitting of fingers across standard QWERTY keyboards. No bodies touched.”

Page 3, Underline (Blue):
Content: “No hideous clowns or trickster spirits appear in the RL version of the incident, no voodoo dolls or wizard guns, indeed no rape at all as any RL court of law has yet defined it. No bodies touched.”

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “LambdaMOO was a MUD. Or to be yet more precise, it was a subspecies of MUD known as a MOO, which is short for “MUD, Object- Oriented.””

Page 3, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “to the extent that Mr. Bungle’s assault happened in real life at all, it happened as a sort of Punch-and-Judy show, in which the puppets and”

Page 3, Underline (Blue):
Content: “to the extent that Mr. Bungle’s assault happened in real life at all, it happened as a sort of Punch-and-Judy show, in which the puppets and”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “the scenery were made of nothing more substantial than digital code and snippets of creative writing.”

Page 4, Underline (Blue):
Content: “the scenery were made of nothing more substantial than digital code and snippets ofcreative writing. “

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “he entered sadistic fantasies into the “voodoo doll,” a subprogram that served the not-exactly kosher purpose of attributing actions to other characters thattheir users did not actually write. A”

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “”Mostly voodoo dolls are amusing,” wrote legba on the evening after Bungle’s rampage, posting a public statement to the widely read in-MOO mailing list called *social-issues, a forum for debate on matters of import to the entire populace. “And mostly I tend to think that restrictive measures around here cause more trouble than they prevent. But I also think that Mr. Bungle was being a vicious, vile fuckhead, and I…want his sorry ass scattered from #17 to the Cinder Pile suffice to prove that the words’ emotional content was no mere playacting. The precise tenor of that content, however, its mingling of murderous rage and eyeball- rolling annoyance, was a curious amalgam that neither the RL nor the VR facts alone can quite account for. Where virtual reality and its conventions would have us believe that legba and Starsinger were brutally raped in their own living room, here was the victim legba scolding Mr. Bungle for a breach of “civility.””

Page 4, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Ludicrously excessive by RL’s lights, woefully understated by VR’s, the tone of legba’s response made sense only in the buzzing, dissonant gap between them.”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “phenomena. For while the facts attached to any event born of a MUD’s strange, ethereal universe may march in straight, tandem lines separated neatly into the virtual and the real, its meaning lies always in that gap.”

Page 5, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Even players who had never experienced MUD rape (the vast majority of male-presenting characters, but not as large a majority of the female-presenting as might be hoped) immediately appreciated its gravity and were moved to condemnation of the perp.”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “As for the specific problem, the answer no doubt seemed obvious to many. But it wasn’t until the evening of the second day after the incident that legba, finally and rather solemnly, gave it voice: “I am requesting that Mr. Bungle be toaded for raping Starsinger and I. I have never done this before, and have thought about it for days. He hurt us both.””

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “: not only are the description and attributes of the toaded player erased, but the account itself goes too. The annihilation of the character, thus,is total. “

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “And nothing less than total annihilation, it seemed, would do to settle LambdaMOO’s accounts with Mr. Bungle. “Toad the fukr.” And with dissent so far confined to a dozen or so antitoading hardliners, the numbers suggested that the citizenry was indeed moving towards a resolve to have Bungle’s virtual head.”

Page 6, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “fourmonths before the Bungle incident, the archwizard Haakon “

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “announced that the wizards from that day forth were pure technicians. From then on, they would make no decisions affecting the social life of the MOO, but only implement whatever decisions the community as a whole directed them to. “

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Since getting the wizards to toad Mr. Bungle (or to toad the likes of him in the future) required a convincing case that the cry for his head came from the community at large, then the community itself would have to be defined; and if the community was to be convincingly defined, then some form of social organization, no matter how rudimentary, would have to be settled on”

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “And thus, as if against its will, the question of what to do about Mr. Bungle began to shape itself into a sort of referendum on the political future of the MOO.”

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Parliamentarian legalist types argued that unfortunately Bungle could not legitimately be toaded at all, since there were no explicit MOO rules against rape, or against just about anything else — and the soonersuch rules were established, t the better.”

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Others, with a royalist streak in them, seemed to feel that Bungle’s as-yet- unpunished outrage only proved this New Direction silliness had gone on long enough, and that it was high time the wizardocracy returned to the position of swift and decisive leadership their player class was born to.”

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “And then there were what I’ll call the technolibertarians. For them, MUD rapists were of course assholes, but the presence of assholes on the system was a technicalinevitability, software tools. Some asshole blasting violent, graphic language at you? Don’t whine to the authorities about it — hit the @gag command and the asshole’s statements willbe blocked from your screen”

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “many of the biologically female participants in the Bungle debate had been around long enough to grow lethally weary of the gag-and-get-over-it school of virtual-rape counseling, with its fine line between empowering victims and holding them responsible for theirown suffering,”

Page 7, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “From the”

Page 8, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “outset it was clear that the technolibertarians were going to have to tiptoe through this issue with care, and for the most part they did.”

Page 8, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” the anarchists didn’t care much for punishments or policies or power elites.”

Page 8, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “they hoped the MOO could be a place where people interacted fulfillingly without the need for such things.”

Page 8, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “a pro-death penalty platform is not an especially comfortable one for an anarchist to sit on, so these particular anarchists were now at great pains to sever the conceptual ties between toading and capital punishment.”

Page 8, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Toading, they insisted (almost convincingly), was much more closely analogous to banishment; it was a kind of turning of the communal back on the offending party, a collective action which, if carried out properly, was entirely consistent with anarchist models of community.”

Page 8, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “So that when the time came, at 7 p.m. PST on the evening of the third day after the occurrence in the living room, Peaking in number at around 30, this was one of the largest crowds that ever gathered in a single LambdaMOO chamber, You could almost feel the claustrophobic air of the place, dank and overheated by virtual bodies, pressing against your skin.”

Page 8, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “I was still the rankest of newbies then, my MOO legs still too unsteady to make the leaps of faith, logic, and empathy required to meet the spectacle on its own terms. I was fascinated by the concept of virtual rape, but I couldn’t quite take it seriously.”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “In this, though, I was in a small and mostly silent minority,”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “There were the central questions, of course: thumbs up or down on Bungle’s virtual existence? And ifdown, how then to insure that his toading was not just some isolated lynching but a first step toward shaping LambdaMOO into a legitimate community? What, some wondered, was the real-life legal status of the offense? Could Bungle’s university administrators punish him for sexual harassment? Could he be prosecuted under California state laws against obscene phone calls? Little enthusiasm was shown for pursuing either ofthese lines of action, which testifies both to the uniqueness of the crime and to the nimbleness with which the discussants were negotiating its idiosyncracies.”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Many were the casual references to Bungle’s deed as simply “rape,” but these in no way implied that the players had lost sight of all distinctions between the virtual and physical versions, or that they believed Bungle should be dealt with in the same way areal-life criminal would. He had committed a MOO crime, and his punishment, if any, would be meted out via the MOO. “

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “When the affable HerkieCosmo proposed,more in the way of an hypothesis than an assertion, that “perhaps it’s better to release…violent tendencies in a virtual environment rather than in real life,” he was tut-tutted so swiftly and relentlessly that he withdrew the hypothesis altogether, apologizing humbly as he did so. “

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” “Where does the body end and the mind begin?” “Is not the mind a part of the body?” “In MOO, thebody IS the mind,” offered HerkieCosmo”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “On these and other matters the anarchists, the libertarians, the legalists, the wizardists — and the wizards — all had their thoughtful say.”

Page 9, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” midway through the evening Mr. Bungle himself, the living, breathing cause of all this talk, teleported into the room. “

Page 10, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “they wanted to know why he’d done it. So they asked him. And then he said this: And Mr. Bungle thought about it. “I engaged in a bit of a psychological device that is called thought-polarization, the fact that this is not RL simply added to heighten the affect of the device. It was purely a sequence of events with no consequence on my RL existence.” They might have known. Stilted though its diction was, the gist of the answer was simple, and something many in the room had probably already surmised: Mr. Bungle was a psycho.”

Page 10, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Not, perhaps, in real life — but then in real life it’s possible for reasonable people to assume, as Bungle clearly did, that what transpires between word-costumed characters within the boundaries of a make-believe world is, if not mere play, then at most some kind of emotional laboratory experiment.”

Page 10, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “such thinking marked a person as one of two basically subcompetenttypes. The first was the newbie, in which case the confusion was understandable, But he’d been around long enough to leave his newbie status behind, and his delusional statement therefore placed him among the second type: the sociopath.”

Page 10, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “if the debate had been edging toward ineffectuality before, Bungle’s anticlimactic appearance had evidently robbed it of any forward motion whatsoever. People started drifting away. Mr. Bungle left first, then others followed”

Page 11, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “at this point what seemed clear was that evangeline’s meeting had died, at last, and without any practical results to mark its passing.”

Page 11, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “So JoeFeedback acted alone.”

Page 11, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Certainly whatever civil society now informs LambdaMOO owes its existence to the Bungle Affair. The archwizard Haakon made sure of that.”

Page 11, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Away on business for the duration of the episode, Haakon returned to find its wreckage strewn across the tiny universe he’d set in motion. he descended once again into the social arena of the MOO with another history-altering proclamation.”

Page 12, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “he would build into the database a system of petitions and ballots whereby anyone could put to popular vote any social scheme requiring wizardly powers for its implementation,”

Page 12, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “Eight months and a dozen ballot measures later, widespread participation in the new regime has produced a small arsenal of mechanisms for dealing with the types of violence that called the system into being. MOO residents now have access toa @boot command, for instance, with which to summarily eject berserker “guest” characters.”

Page 12, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “not too many days after Bungle departed, by the arrival of a strange new character named Dr. Jest. when he developed the annoying habit of stuffing fellow players intoa jar containing a tiny simulacrum of a certain deceased rapist, the source of this familiarity became obvious: Mr. Bungle had risen from the grave.”

Page 12, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “it only underlined the truism that his punishment, ultimately, had been no more or less symbolic than his crime.”

Page 13, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “runaway fascination with the discussion I had heard there, as I pored over the *social debate and got to know legba and some of the other victims and witnesses, I could feel my newbie consciousness falling away from me. Where before I’d found it hard to take virtual rape seriously, I now was finding it difficult to remember how I could ever not have taken it seriously.”

Page 13, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “the more seriously I took the notion of virtual rape, the less seriously I was able to take the notion of freedom of speech, with its tidy division of the world into the symbolic and the real.”

Page 13, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “whatever else these thoughts tell me, I have come to believe that they announcethe final stages of our decades-long passage into the Information Age, a paradigm shift that the classic liberal firewall between word and deed (itself a product of an earlier paradigm shift commonly known as the Enlightenment) is not likely to survive intact.”

Page 13, Stamp (openStarred)

Page 13, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: ” After all, anyone the least bit familiar with the workings of the new era’s definitive technology, the computer, knows that it operates on a principle impracticably difficult to distinguish from the pre-Enlightenment principle of the magic word: the commands you type into a computer are a kind of speech that doesn’t so much communicate as make things happen, directly and ineluctably, the same way pulling a trigger does. They are incantations, in other words, and anyone atall attuned to the technosocial megatrends of the moment — from the growing dependence of economies on the global flow of intensely fetishized words and numbers to the burgeoning ability of bioengineers to speak the spells written in the four-letter text of DNA — knows that the logic of the incantation is rapidly permeating the fabric of our lives. “

Page 13, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “And it’s precisely this logic that provides the real magic in a place like LambdaMOO – – not the fictive trappings of voodoo and shapeshifting and wizardry, but the”

Page 14, Highlight (Cyan):
Content: “conflation of speech and act that’s inevitable in any computer-mediated world, be it Lambda or the increasingly wired world at large. on the other hand, I can no longer convince myself that our wishful insulation of language from the realm of action has ever been anything but a valuable kludge, a philosophically damaged stopgap against oppression that would just have to do till something truer and more elegant came along.”

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