Dense, Dense, I'd Love To

My friend Mike Daisey wonders what the hell I meant by yesterday's post, especially my reference to a Damon Knight story (the name of which I can't recall).

I feel dense. What the hell does this mean?, he writes.

Okay, so in the story, a guy is researching making an electronic magnifier, and he drops a metal rod on two battery contacts and discovers that he can view the past through his contraption. Not the distant past (that works, too), but a millisecond ago. And anywhere in the world. At any magnification.


It freaks him out, though the story is told quietly and from the third person . Very dispassionate.

He decides to release the technology everywhere. He makes up a bunch of units, packages them, sends them untraceably through the mail, and then kills himself (if I remember right).

Historians using his device track him down eventually (it's hard because you can look anywhere - and eveywhere - and he made himself somewhat untraceable). When they view him at various time, he's looking into a mirror at them (more or less) and making this gesture with his finger. He knows he's talking to the future.

Blogging is sort of like that: you think or hope you're talking to both the present and the future. With all of the archiving tools and projects, it's possible and likely that we're Janus: talking out of both sides of our mouth to the fore and aft.