Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Today having grabbed the young goddess Cyberia around her waist and holding a sprig of mistletoe over her head, I intend to plant a few hearty kisses on her rosy cheeks. It's more than holiday playfulness behind this move; it's gratitude.

Quick chronology:

1948--Norbert Wiener coined the word "cybernetics" to denote
the study of "teleological mechanisms" [systems that embody goals].

1982--William Gibson coined the termed "cyberspace" to refer to the world of the Internet.

1994--Yours Truly christened the spirit of cyberspace "Goddess Cyberia."

Now, frankly, Cyberia resembles Shakespeare's Puck more than she does such high and mighties as Hera, Athena, or Kali. We're all familiar with her mischief-making side, and who among us has not sworn a few snarling words at her dark side, from serious ills such as abuse of children by online pedophiles to overkill by online winking-blinking-maddening pop-up advertisers?

Still and all--

Because of Cyberia, my brother and I, who for decades communicated solely by means of Christmas cards and a very rare phone call, now exchange chatty updates several times a month. In other words, in our seventies we are becoming acquainted, becoming family.

Because of Cyberia, I am now--after decades of "I wonder what happened to Whosis?"--
in touch with several chums from high school days. It's a shot in this aching arm to discover that Carolyn is as drily witty as she was at 16, and that John is every bit as quirky and imaginative and brilliant as he was in Mr. LoMaglio's English class, when he was responsible for my having to report to the principal.

Because of Cyberia, I can shop without grinding my teeth or kicking the walls of Nordstrom's dressing room.

Because of Cyberia, I can rent wonderful, thought-provoking "little" movies I would never have known about, let alone seen in a local cineplex. [Short list: Happy, Texas; Dancer, Texas Population 81; Career Girls; On A Clear Day; Nine Lives; The Tic Code.]

Because of Cyberia, I can stay warm and close to beloved friends even as they and we have scattered to Left Boot, Montana, or Mal de Mer, California. In some ways, we are closer via email than we were when we lived across town from each other. Can't figure that out yet, but it is true.

Because of Cyberia, if I forget the name of a minor actor in a 1943 movie, I can pluck it from cyberspace and not have to spend the night thrashing in the bedclothes and mumbling, "Was his name Conrad? No. Conway? No. Courtnay. . . ?"

Because of Cyberia, this hypochondriac knows all the symptoms of a textbookful of diseases she never heard of before 1995. (Okay, I admitted Cyberia has a dubious side.)

Well, of course there's more. But Cyberia is wriggling out of my grasp and about to crash or freeze or pull any one of her many tricks, so I'll stop now. But thanks, Milady Cyberia. When the Great Ice Storm of 2007 knocked out power last week, and you were as silent and inaccessible as Garbo for while, I realized just how you have changed my life. So stay around, okay? And ignore the occasional ranting from this end of cyberspace.


AnnieM said...

Thank you Cyberia, for the introduction to this blogger.

Mom N said...

ah, m'dear, you too have the same throatily warm tone you always did from my very first undergrad days to the frantically embarrassed nursing-mother-in-the-grad-classroom lo those many years ago. Now my own daughter blogs away--keeping me up to date on her son's infant progress--and here you are. I shall pop in often. So good to find you in bloggoland!

Celeste said...

Ah, the truth of it ... and, having lost all in a mighty crash, I wander the space, utterly lost. I didn't know I would miss it so.

mostly said...

Your opening paragraph had me going there for a minute. Talk about your story telling…. I find it intriguing that you have connected with old friends in this medium, this form of writing. That you and your brothers are finally becoming—family. The form certainly still baffles me. I blurt out much too much here, say next to nothing there, when I needed to say much more. Personally I find the banter over shared Italian cuisine much more satisfying. You can tell from the response or lack thereof, just where the story needs to end. You talk back and forth, lead the merry eaters in a certain direction. As if by accident you lay the ground work, then bring them to the point of almost knowing. Then the zinger that pushes them over the edge. And then if you are lucky—the double zinger. And in rare instances with rare friends—a triple zinger. But only the moment can dictate this. To assume the moment online and to know how far to take the story is truly remarkable. I commend you. As I always have done.

In fact, I have probably lost more friends through email than I have ever found. This being the 40th year since high school graduation, the 40th year reunion has brought lots of familiar members into Classmates. And one day to my surprise, who should come knocking but a long lost friend. I have tried for 35 years to find out what had become of Miss X. I found her sister once, but email brought no response. But then I opened the email and there she was. Hi she said. Is that you? Yes I said back, is that you? And Oh how wonderful I said and started talking about my life, trying to bring her up to speed to show her that I had become so much more than that barely audible mouse that I was back then. To show her that when we had sat on her porch and dreamed our dreams of the future, that I had pursued at least one of those dreams with some success. Surely not enough success to overwhelm anyone. Talked and talked because I wanted such detail in return, so many details. And then the response, “Oh how wonderful,” she said. “My guitar teacher – Best Wishes.”

Certainly not the reunion I was expecting. But then perhaps my memory is not so good as hers. Or perhaps the supremacy of memory itself is at work here. A memory that traps in time, forever who we were back then. Always the mouse. Or worse still, this voice speaking is surely not the mouse and therefore unrecognizable. Which means I can only be part of a past if I remain the mouse. Or something like that. But then I am the mouse, so I couldn’t say exactly. So I commend you Bellabell for knowing just how far to take your story. For throwing it into a Shakespeare allusion just at the exact moment, for stabbing left with Italian and then right with Latin. And letting us all rejoice at the distance you create so that we can all find it just enough--and find ourselves.