More Human Than Human
I was visiting PostHuman Blues earlier in January and suddenly noticed that I was re-reading posts, although I hadn't been to Mac's blog for a long time. Then I noticed the dates were all October. Huh? I must be visiting older posts, I thought, and went to the top. What the heck--posts in October at the top... and so like many others, I considered various possibilities before eventually realizing the fact of Mac's death.
My condolences to all who knew him.
Damn. How can I be perhaps the last fan of Mac Tonnies to notice that he was dead? Well, I don't consider myself a Fortean, ufologist, or part of the blogosphere. I am unable to spare much time to read any blogs recently, although I guess I have read Talking Points Memo. Mostly I try to follow Google News and Yahoo news, plus some Linux news. I prioritize blogging for myself more than reading other people's blogs, or else I will never blog anything. I have 5 part-time jobs. I need to hunt for another job. There are multiple kids to look after. A language to learn. Other priorities I never get to, like sending Xmas or New Year's cards. Reading PostHumanBlues is so enjoyable and leads me to links that consume so much time and mind-space that I consider it a bit self-indulgent and not helpful in the task of caring for and putting food on my family. Excuses, excuses. I ask the forbearance and indulgence of those who find this state of isogashisa unimaginable/inexcusable.
Internet silence was the strongest evidence of his death. If I don't blog for a month, it means I'm busy. If Mac doesn't blog for a day, he must be dead.
We have access to his mind, not because his consciousness was uploaded by curious extra/crypto/terrestrial archivists, but because he documented his life "religiously" (his word) as a blogger and tweeter. Altho he labeled his posts "Tears in Rain," they were not. "Tears in rain" (a BladeRunner reference) denotes the meaninglessness of all of one's experiences and memories dissolving into the nothingness of death. Mac's posts were not tears in rain, but rather more like pearls, or perhaps grains of pollen, carrying their genetic information to the bottom of the lake or to the amber gem where the deposits can be studied by future archeologists or random web surfers. He was wise --and brave-- in that way to put his thoughts out there and not just sit in a room thinking to himself.
Mac called himself "an organic web filter" in response to a comment I made hinting that altho his link dump style posts were great, more of his original writing would be appreciated if he could spare the time from potentially profitable writing projects. We'll take what we can get, I concluded.
I think Posthuman Blues was the first site (and one of very few) to have a link to me. I'm not sure how he found me or why he linked to me. It could have been the shared "blues" element in the name, shared movie interests, (Blade Runner, other artificial intelligence themed movies), shared musical interests (The Smiths, Talking Heads, The Cure, Hooverphonic), the "metacognitive" label, the shared midwestern background, Discordianism, or some statistically improbable expression that Mac noticed. He noticed a LOT. Mac has, or had a discerning third eye and a high metacognitive index. I discovered his blog because it was linked to mine. I was surprised and pleased that he linked to me.
One time, in response to a question posted by Mac about a Blogger template (TicTac Blueberry), I set up a test blog and looked into the css to see if I could find the controls for the header (or banner) image placement. I don't know much about html/css, but it was the first or second place I looked. He was very grateful when I tipped him a solution to his problem, and he mentioned wanting to give me a copy of his book in return, altho he deleted the offer comment (after it had already come in my e-mail). It was a gracious thought that I didn't expect. I had just wanted to help him over that css bump as a tip (as in tip-jar) to thank him for all his great blogging.
I'm thinking one kind of dedication would be to create a mactonniesian feed. My concept is that everyone Mac linked to (at least in the sidebar) would be in a feed, so you could see the most recent post by each of these bloggers, in time order. I'm talking about the widget or gadget or gidget that Blogger has to put the feeds together and order them chronologically as a sidebar element. It would be the closest thing yet to automating the mactonniesian process, although still a weak imitation. The people Mac linked to circa 2009 will each change, grow, and develop in ways that parallel what Mac would have (probably) undergone. This feed of feeds could go into anyone's sidebar, but it might load so much information that maybe it deserves to be a blog in its own rite?
That makes me think of another possible tribute that I think Mac would love: a chat-bot. Try googling chat-bots, AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language), personality forge, or http://www.chatbots.org/ to find out more. Due to Mac's (continuing!) online presence, we have access to Mac's face, various facial expressions, and enough information to create a high-definition avatar. Samples of Mac's voice can also be found in many radio programs and video snippets. These can create a voice-print pattern much like a font for sound. Finally, Mac's text, vocabulary frequencies, grammatical patterns are all available to use to create a complete text database with keywords and tags. His books, essays, reviews, and interviews would be digitized as well. This is rather large. At the very least, he could reply to questions like: "What do you think of...'s book...?" using say, book reviews that he's written. Even just randomly providing some quotes might be interesting. Ideally, the output of a posthuman-Mac-chat-bot would have the same mean sentence length, vocabulary frequency, grammatical patterns, and other statistical properties of Mac's speech while conveying his ideas as well. There are chat-bots for Eliza, Abraham Lincoln, God, and chat-bots are used for corporate web-sites to deliver information given out in FAQs in earlier decades. I think there are experiments to use them for phone-sex type use and customer service. The best can pass the Turing Test, indistinguishable from a human for at least a large proportion of judges. The posthuman-Mac-chat-bot concept requires an exceptionally talented person to put together, but he would be an excellent subject for eternal digital life on the internet.
I don't know what it means, but I had a strong urge to tell Mac "South Korea." Maybe something wonderful was waiting for him there. Perhaps he would have found a job teaching English or Science Fiction as Literature or something like that at university with the freedom to do what he wanted, and have a research budget to travel around the world, or perhaps he would have fallen in love, had a physical exam that diagnosed and treated his health problem, saving his life, or something else. Maybe he had already been there or something about him was reminding me of South Korea for some reason. Maybe it was just because as the most wired country in the world, with the fastest internet, he would have liked it. I didn't know how to frame the "South Korea" message, so I couldn't find a way to send it.
Emptying my mind of all thoughts I meditate on Mac until some words burst forth:
Deltas from his death: Seize the day. The night. The orb. If you love it, set it free after seizing it. Put it all out there, online, back out into the One Mind. Suck the marrow from... your vegetarian diet. And from your espresso. Write. Post. I should probably exercise more and not stay up until 4 AM. Life's short. It's later than you think.
I'd expect Mac to return soon, and not waste time. Various people carry components which we could identify as "Mac", or should we say "macian," "tonniesian," or "mactonniesian," but the entire "nexus" (;-) we called Mac Tonnies will be back soon. He may have already been reborn, perhaps in South Korea, as a woman this time, for a change, or perhaps as a man again. He wouldn't wait a full year or more to be reborn, and would choose a Buddhist family over a Christian one, I imagine. This isn't death, but merely a minor setback, a restructuring of the corporeal realm in preparation for future growth. Come to think of it, I think he'll want to speak English again, but if, on the other hand, North America is fated to fall into decrepitude while China explores the solar system, maybe he'll come back in ZhongGuo. Anyway, I reckon we'll be able to read a new, remarkably Mac-like blogger by at least 2026.
Digital death, digital decay, internet immortality, LANgevity
His Blogger page, and Twitter account may live on for years, until/unless Google or Twitter decide to delete inactive accounts some day. His Flickr, if unpaid, may eventually lose all but the last 200 of the 7-800 pictures he uploaded. His older "Cydonia" web site may eventually disappear(?) if no one is paying for the domain and server. I'd like to (re)browse and perhaps save his web site before that happens. Mac had read through many hundreds of books on ufology and other inexplicata, and by reading what he has written could help avoid many dead-ends, disappointing reads, money spent on bad books, and could steer one to the better-written material. There is no one on Earth whose opinion I'd trust more right now than Mac's. He was not a fanatic but a very skeptical, sincere seeker who calmly and analytically accepted the physical reality and the reality of the experiences of many and tried to find explanations. One great thing about Mac was that pretty much any idea you'd ever had about these phenomena, he had also considered, often more deeply. In addition, he had considered hypotheses which had never occurred to most people. That quality will be missed.
The high-pitched noises I hear all too often will also remind me of Mac. He suffered from this, too. The silence is screaming.
Links I went through related to this: (sorry for omissions--it's very incomplete--and sorry for un-hyper links) You could google many of these.
His older website top
things related to his earlier book and pre-blogger website
an excellent sample of Mac's writing and thinking
UFOs as Vanguards of a Post-Biological Intelligence
The Pitch (Kansas City)
Coast to Coast
A tribute with pictures
Paratopia (some artwork)
mentioned iN an iNteresting context, iThink
The Alien Hypothesis / UFOs as trickster-like enigmas
Excerpts from the Sept 28, 2009, interview between Mac Tonnies and George Noory
from Cap'n Marrrrk
The other side of truth
a note from his publisher
Mac on Amazon
After the Martian Apocylypse = $69.99 (used)
Kindle version for $11.99
Kindle for PC a free download
Kindle for PC de-DRM'er