free spirit

Still I am deep down into the consumption of cyberpunk—literature and movies. Yesterday I rewatched Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” and this afternoon “Immortal” by Enki Bilal. At 8 P.M. I watched the news and afterwards zapped through the channels a bit. Suddenly “Immortal” was on the screen again. Confusion at my side, then I realized that it indeed was on TV. D’oh—just yesteday I have bought the DVD. Anyway. And I have gone back to the habit of reading several books in parallel fashion. After having watched “Minority Report” some days ago I am now reading Philip K. Dick’s short story of the same name. Additionally I am half way into “The Difference Engine” by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, and well into the first third of Neal Stephenson’s “Diamond Age”. Reading this two books at the same time is a purely accidental coinicidence, but both are somehow mutually complementing each other, as both deal with the Victorian model of society, norms, and values. In between I more or less randomly pick a short story out of the anthology “The Ultimate Cyberpunk” edited by Pat Cadigan. So far I liked Bruce Sterling’s “Green Days in Brunei” best. Sometimes I augment my literary diet via the Internet. Here’s what I stumbled over today:

As he ate, he thought about the 12th-century heresy of the Free Spirit. Either God was everything, believed the brethren of the Free Spirit, or God was nothing. […] Particularly if you were contemplating these Free Spirit guys, who seemed to have been a combination of Charlie Manson and Hannibal Lecter.

But the other aspect of the Free Spirit that fascinated him, and this applied to the whole text, was how these heresies would get started, often spontaneously generating around some single medieval equivalent of your more outspoken homeless mumbler. Organized religion, he saw, back in the day, had been purely a signal-to-noise proposition, at once the medium and the message, a one-channel universe. For Europe, that channel was Christian, and broadcasting from Rome, but nothing could be broadcast faster than a man could travel on horseback. There was a hierarchy in place, and a highly organized methodology of top-down signal-dissemination, but the time lag enforced by tech-lack imposed a near-disastrous ratio, the noise of heresy constantly threatening to overwhelm the signal. [William Gibson]

quote from entry at william gibson