richard_foreman's picture
Playwright & Director; Founder, The Ontological-Hysteric Theater

How is the Internet changing the way I think? But what is it — this doing "thinking" that I assume I do along with everybody else? Probably there is no agreement about what this "thinking" consists of. But I certainly do not believe "gathering information" is thinking — and that has obviously been an activity that has expanded and sped up as a result of the Internet. But for me —” to "think" is to withdraw from gathered information into a blankness within which something arises — pops out— is born.

Of course it will be maintained that what "pops" out may have its roots, may be conditioned, by many factors in my experiential past. But nevertheless —while the Internet swamps us in "connectedness" and "fact" — it is only in the withdrawal from those I claim a space for thinking.

So in one sense, the Internet expands the arena within which thinking may resonate, and so perhaps the thinking is thereby "attuned" somewhat differently. But I must admit to being one of those who believes that while it is clearly "life-changing" — it is no way, if you will — "soul-changing" Accessing the ever expanding, ever faster Internet means a life that is changing as it becomes the life of a surfer (just as life might change if one moved to a California beach community) — one becomes more and more agile balancing on top of the flow, leaping from hyper-link to hyper-link — giving one's mental "environment" a certain shape based on those chosen jumps.

But the Internet sweeps you away from where and "WHAT" you were — so instead of filling you with the fire to dig deeper into the magic bottomless source that is the self — it lets you drift into the dazed state of having everything at your finger-tips — which are used to caress the world of course, but only the world as it assumes the shape of the now-manifest rather than the world of the still un-imaginable.

So even though I myself do spend LOTS of time on the Internet — (fallen, "Pancake Person" that I am) I can't help being reminded of the Greek philosopher who attributed his long life to avoiding dinner parties. (If only I could avoid the equally distracting Internet which, in it's promise of connectedness and expanded knowledge is really a substitute social phenomenon).

The "entire world" that the Internet seems to offer harmonized strangely with the apple offered to Eve from the Tree of Knowledge — ah, we don't believe in those old myths? (I guess one company guru did).

Well, the only hope I see hovering in the never-never land (now real) where the Internet does it's work of feeding smart people amphetamines and "dumb" people tranquilizers —  the only hope is that the expanding puddle of boiling, bubbling hot milk will eventually COAGULATE and a new unforeseen pattern will emerge out of all that activity that thought it was aiming at a certain goal. but (as is usual with life) was really headed someplace else nobody knew about.

That makes it sound like the new mysticism for a new Dark Ages. Well, we've already bitten the Apple. Good luck to those much younger than me who may be around to see either the new Heaven or the new Hell.