Xian: I'm far from a utopian, so I hesitate to ascribe any magickal progressive
powers to the interweb, but I suppose it's possible that the Internet might help
foster world peace, perhaps indirectly and in a small way by enabling people to
understand strangers a little better without getting up off their asses to travel to
foreign countries.

Levi: Well, I'm surprised to see Xian putting this in such tentative terms.  I always
thought of it as a slam dunk that the internet would gradually improve the
prospects for world peace by making communication between individuals around
the world easier and faster.  I don't have any brilliant or poetic words to offer here
to back this up, because I don't want to sound trite.  But the world we live in now
is shaped by historic divisions -- geographical, linguistic, ethnic, historical,
religious, political.  This feeds the deeply ingrained culture of war.  By helping to
undercut the divisions between disparate peoples, the internet will certainly
make it harder for propagandists and politicians to sell their wars.
Why hasn't this happened yet?  Well, I think mankind is still shivering from the
unbelievable botch-up job known as the 20th Century, and the change will take
longer to settle in.

Xian: But doesn't the internet also allow people to form enclaves and echo
chambers and invent new imaginary lines between themselves and the other?
Look at online politics.

Levi: Yes ... many enclaves, many echo chambers, many intersecting lines.  In the
past a single enclave or echo chamber could sit undisturbed and unchallenged for
500 years, 1000 years.  That's the legacy our planet is still buried in.  Maybe a more
connected world will develop new kinds of problems and horrors and disasters ...
it is possible.  But the breaking down of linguistic and geographical barriers will
have to make a very positive difference, and hopefully future idealogues, greedy
politicians and militant fanatics will not be able to manipulate connected people
as easily as they can manipulate isolated ones.

Xian: I tend to agree with all of this, i am just suspicious of any project that
promises to deliver world peace. That's why I wrote that
blog entry a few years
ago about how the search for peace in the middle east was possibly making things
worse, as an unrealistic goal.

Bill: Well, let's not give up on either goal - a bestseller and world peace!
Page 2, Christian Crumlish and Levi Asher: Writings From the Web


Bill, to Xian: What color is your 98 Saturn?

xian: Dark green .

Bill: Wasn't Saturn the god of something in mythology?

Xian: Yeah, he was a Roman god, equated with the Greek god Cronos, the father
of Jupiter/Zeus who tried to eat all his children so they wouldn't supplant him .
In Rome, Saturnalia was the occasion where master and servants switched roles ,
and Saturday is, of course, his day .

Bill: As the saying goes, 'by jove, you've got it!'

xian: A 'saturnine' temperament is gloomy and moody, the opposite of 'jovial'.

Bill:  Do you have a gloomy temperament?

xian:  At times, I'm melancholic .

Bill:  Ahhh, that's appropriate for a writer.

Bill, to Levi: Did you know that Xian also has a 98 Saturn?

Levi: Wow ... that is very funny, but not even surprising because I think Xian
and I have always thought alike.

Bill, to Levi: Xian's Saturn is dark green. Tell me about yours.

Levi:  My 98 Saturn is dark blue, and I like the car very much.  I think I have an
affection for Saturn because way back when I was in the robotics business, the
company I worked for (Robotic Vision Systems, Inc.) designed the robots that
placed car doors on Saturn cars and sprayed sealant on the chassis's.  So I guess I
have some sense of connection to the brand.

Bill, to Levi: Between your lack of melancholia and your alleged jet pack, how
did you become such a good writer?

Levi: Why am I not melancholy?  Well, some people suffer from depression,
others suffer from rage.  I generally have lots of rage.

Bill: That'll work.
Bill, to Xian: Do you have any tattoos?

Xian: I have no tattoos and no piercings.

Bill, to Levi: Tell me about how you and Christian Crumlish decided to publish
Coffeehouse:
Writings From the Web
. Why is the book out of print? Because it is a very good
book and should still be in print!

Levi: Well, thanks, and I think so too. We decided to do it because a friend of
mine named Len Dorfman who worked for Manning Books, the publisher, came up
with the idea and approached us, so it was as easy as Xian and I saying "yes, we'll
do it".  I wish that would happen more often.  This would have been around
February or March of 1996.  There was much less writing on the web at the time
... it was still basically an unknown frontier, and there was very little overlap
between web-based literature and print literature.  There was already a "literary
scene" on the web then -- InterText, Word, Urban Desires, Alt-X and of course
LitKicks and Enterzone -- and it was great fun to pick the best pieces from each
of these sites for the book.  I think the book is a great time capsule, and has at
least ten or twelve truly excellent pieces (as well as a few that, looking back
now, were too long and not really "webby" enough for the book).  I think the
book was a learning experience for me and for Xian -- I guess you could say I tried
again with
Action Poetry in 2004.  Maybe my third attempt will finally reach
bestseller status.  I'm not giving up.
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