[ note- The following piece of writing is serves as the introduction, or editorial statement, to the cd-rom literary magazine recently created by graduate students at the University at Albany, The Little Magazine Vol. 21 ]

Editor's statement by definition

			In the afternoon sun
			that smelled of contradiction
			quick birds announcing spring's intention
			and autumn about to begin
			I started to tell you
			what Eudora never told me
			how quickly it goes
						--Audre Lourde
						  "Beams", _Our Dead Behind Us_

Literature can be thought of as a study in comparative humanity.

				--Michael S. Harper & Anthony Walton
				  Introduction, _Every Shut Eye Ain't Asleep_

	...a little magazine is a volunteer publication of 
	unpredictable appearance that springs up almost 
	spontaneously as the need arises, i.e., wherever people are 
	writing without an outlet for their work. It takes considerable 
	effort to put out such a magazine, but the impulse comes from
	necessity rather than from the expectation of rewards.

					--Anne Waldman 
					  Introduction, _Out Of This World_

   About a year ago, the faculty advisor for _The Little Magazine_, Don 
Byrd, composed the call for work for this year's issue:


	THE LITTLE MAGAZINE is looking for writing and visual art 
	work which exists in the imagination of media still uncreated... 
	Although we are interested in adventuresome uses of 
	technology, it is not technology but vision which is lacking. We 
	do not need virtual reality machines cranking out the same 
	kind of misinformation that we get from television in even 
	more addictive forms, but we are sick also of the polite, 
	conventional thing literature has become. It is so 
	comfortably contained in print. It is mediated and remediated 
	(already); it is the subject of schools. We are not interested in 
	work which exemplifies the theories of the past or even the 
	hottest, most engaging theory of the present. We are interested 
	in work which will call forth the media of the future. 

	The deadline for the issue is December 15, 1994, but get in 
	touch with us as soon as possible. We will try to find a way to 
	publish important work even if it does not fit neatly into the 
	usual literary magazine format. Tell us about your writing, 
	visual art, sound pieces, videos, multidimensional 
	performances, network art, and investigation of genres still 

   In a literary journal presupposing and privileging "CYBORG 
PERFORMANCE AND POETICS," we inject technology with something 
human, however you approach that word, as open writing into 
digitized space, as something other than information. We ride in the 
traditions of writing which merge poetry and image, since William 
Blake's plates, and before that in various religious texts which use 
ink and expressive symbols in creative ways - from hieroglyph to 
illuminations. Then being in the present, thinking of the future. With 
letters and colored images we begin with Blake's "Tyger," itself a 
symbol for the human/creative imagination, in a simple song, "...In 
what furnace was thy brain?" Our furnace is partially intruded upon 
and enabled by the computer.
   Over the past decade, I've been surprised at the lack of realized 
interest and effort on the part of writers and publishers of poetry in 
using alternative mediums for the broadcast of open writing. Even 
the majority of "experimental" writers have, largely, held tightly to 
the landscape of a printed page as the tried and true platform upon 
which to build and extend expression. My querulousness over this 
peculiarity - the seemingly automatic default to a tradition - bound 
textual space especially presents a puzzle in terms of studying "avant 
garde"/"post-atomic"/contemporary/innovative writing. Is this a 
function of the "nature" of "poets," to define themselves by virtue of 
their books, or is it something else? While the importance of 
connecting any of our "writing" today with what has come before our 
era is vital, equally convincing is an argument in favor of bringing 
the eternal pulse of poetic concern to forms available to us in the 
present. Writing and the printed page were the popular mode for the 
transmission of poetry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries 
out of necessity. What could be created by a printing press was all 
writers had to rely on besides their voice - perhaps accompanied by 
acoustic music - and the soapbox. 
    These remarks are not being made to suggest that it is time for 
writers to forsake whatever typewriters, ink & quill, chisels, ball-
points, graphite, or xerox machines exclusively in favor of computers. 
They are no incitement to go order multimedia work-stations for 
your compositional pleasure. Though it is quite possible that the 
work of writers a century hence will be handled using tools 
developed after the word processor. The printing of books and other 
printed forms are not going to meet extinction, nor should they. 
However, as far as the transmission of language and art go, it is a 
reality that, with the advent of the television and computer era, has 
come an overall distancing of our species from its former incarnation 
as a print-oriented culture. 
   This magazine poses no threat of destruction to writing in any 
media. If anything at all it is a pro/motion of writing into 
computerized hold.  There are tremendous arguments to be made 
against a poetry which relies on technology, and a few to be made in 
its favor. Some writers have said they resist computer-mediated 
writing because of its limited accessibility to readers. Our culture is 
not yet at a stage in its development where we find a computer in 
every home. In fact, we may be far from that historical moment. Yet 
it is quite possible that within a decade fiber-optic cables will be 
running in and out of millions of homes in North America, 
transporting digitized information. Other writers have argued that 
this technology reduces what is breath and bone to dehumanized bits 
of data. However, it is just as easy to say that writing is, amongst 
other things, "bits of data."
   How does being translate into language? How does being translate 
into digital media? It is the same forces at work, but now the writer 
has, in conjunction with language, buttons and the double-edged 
sword of potential elitism with which to deal. Poets do tend to 
develop a complex relationship with language in a society where 
language tends towards simplification, and are also forced to address 
some of the class-issues surrounding computer technology. For some, 
these issues become complications. For others, less so. Does it become 
more poetic to not work with computers beyond word-processing? It 
depends on what is being done (to beings) with it, as always. New 
media for a related art. And perhaps basically similar criteria with 
which to judge/criticize/applaud this arrival.
   As a younger poet, I was advised to edit and produce literary 
magazines, and subsequently urged by another teacher to make use 
of contemporary media. In short, I was encouraged to explore all 
potentials in writing, and do whatever was possible to bring it to the 
present - to get writing into the world, by whatever means available. 
Over the past 32 months I have stepped into another sphere, 
electronic space, with writing and writers, an alteration of something 
I have studied for twenty years. There is no way for the work to be 
read as an end. We are just getting beyond the outset of the domain 
of computerized audio visual technology.
   Perplexities only grow in the age of the computer. 
   Despite abundant complications, our interest in multi-media as a 
form in which to produce writing continues because it presents 
visual and/or oral and/or alphabetic dimensions of text. Projective 
technology, video and multimedia may used for schemes other than 
economic profit or the manipulation of people and information. 
   It seems the age of the book as a popular media in minds of 
creative young adults is passing. From an early age, the majority of 
children in our culture, from all walks of life, are becoming orbitals 
of the moving picture monitor. In opposition to the notion of a book 
to TV continuum, a technophobe might argue that video/screen space 
is not the space which poetry should presently consider. There are 
much more pressing issues with regard to technology, as we foresee 
radical changes in our planetary environment if current corporate 
practices are not reversed.
   We are unsure of the dangers held by the cyberized world, of its 
fragmentational, exclusory anti-nature. And the question still stands:  
how accessible a medium is this? It is not possible to read it in 
legions of neighborhoods. It is not in the world as a book can be, it is 
site-specific. If we reflect on a line which addresses the making of 
poetry by Gerrit Lansing, "...but handle the stone," we can only 
remind ourselves how impossible it is to touch binary codes. But then 
neither can we touch language. Yet we learned a new language in 
order to make the machine work to creative ends.
   We confronted a lot of limitations in the software and other 
technology, while producing this cd-rom. It is also a troubling fact 
that we have to deal with platform differences - an industry divided 
into incompatible computer systems, feels preventative. Also among 
our containments is a condition of formal linearity - even the pieces 
which utilize "randomized" "animation" "loops" are relatively self-
confined within a much larger garden of potential images. The 
teleologies and terminal points at which a reader may go no farther 
are no less invisible than they are in most books. This magazine is 
quanti-qualitatively only as universal as Microsoft "Windows," IBM 
computers and their "clones."
   In the film _Poetry In Motion_, made by Ron Mann (subsequently 
transferred to cd-rom, available through Voyager), Ed Sanders 
heralds a new muse for the electronic era, "Retentia." In the literary 
field of Retentia, we have the possibility of preserving the voice, 
image - literal or figurative - as well as the alphabetic, an expansion 
made possible by electricity, and electronic "space." Our intention is 
that digital multimedia is somehow generative, reaching future 
fractions of writers with whom a historical perspective and electronic 
connection is shared.
   As platforms and equipment become stable, perhaps writers will 
be more willing to explore the possibilities of "writing" in these areas. 
Which brings us to the present:  Word is image, word is voice. "Digital 
multimedia design," where we use that prefix on the final word of 
that phrase with intent, de: from - the sign.
   We might question the dependability of letters:  has there ever 
been a time when we could somehow depend on them as a reliable 
form for the transmission of vision? And now? Not that we can 
rationally propose images and multimedia, in themselves, are any 
solution to our various educational, ideological and poststructural 
dilemmas. As we borrow and are brought to today's technological 
possibilities (perhaps even popularities/trends), it might allow a type 
of communication through a network of electronic libraries and other 
networks, to a reader who has grown up accustomed to a screen 
rather than a page.
   This is a little magazine which is not so little. There are roughly 
600 megabytes of information contained by this cd-rom, which is, in 
one manner of looking at it, somewhere near a quarter million 8 1/2 
x 11 inch pages of printed text. However, an image in this instance 
"paints" well over a thousand words. It is difficult to say exactly 
what this means, but we have felt the sensation of being amongst the 
invention of a new medium, or platform, for writing. Our work 
represents a concerted effort to "take" "advantage" as best we could 
of the medium. We had to discover as we went along. It became 
evident right away that we faced more than synthesizing sound, 
image and other forms of text in our experimentation here. We 
stumble along, especially if you are using a computer which runs 
slowly. Certain pieces presented here are self-reflexively linked to 
the difficulties and particularities of the project of taking writing into 
audio/visual-based digital space. 
	I have taken to looking at multimedia both as performance and 
translation. A longer and developed essay would trace these notions 
out more thoroughly. For now, just a couple of thoughts along these 
lines. As performance it is not a match for a living theatre, a stage 
upon which voice(s) sing to an audience. While our digital 
performance might be classified as "interactive," this is not the same 
as a room where breathing and bodies share a space. Perhaps it is 
then something along the lines of creative interdisciplinary 
exhibition, where a language and computer serve as mediators, as 
translators of writing. For certain, there is a completely different 
language--the language of computer "programming"--an 
in/corporated language which intervenes and re-creates each of the 
pieces assembled in our journal. It is a language which handles 
writing, the work of writers. It can be amazingly simple on one end 
and fearfully complicated on another.
	As an example of how certain of the pieces in our assemblage 
operate, it might be of some use to show a basic script used in _The 
Little Magazine Volume 21_. A piece such as the Meg Arthurs / Stephan 
Said collaboration operates using a language which reads as follows, 
when the first button is clicked on:

			to handle buttonUp
		set sysCursor to 4
		if mmIsOpen of clip "said" is false then
			mmOpen clip "said" wait
			mmPlay clip "said" autoclose
			mmStop clip "said" wait
		end if
		transition "dissolve" to next page
		set sysCursor to default

Sound clips and bitmaps (images) are engaged in this manner 
throughout the magazine. Complicated programs make use of 
complicated techniques. The language is precision-based, and 
unforgiving. If any letter of the code is out of place, the 
program/presentation will not operate correctly. We have found, 
however, as in any language, the alphabetic and numeric symbols 
such as you see above can be used imaginatively. The writings in _The 
Little Magazine Volume 21_ are interpretations / translations of 
poems, conceptualization and realization of ideas. 
   The editors here have made every effort to use computers 
creatively and not destructively. If there's anything that some of the 
aspects of this disk seek to destroy, it is the closing off of 
possibilities, and the acceptance of a brutal mentality -- which is at 
times assisted in its crimes by some of the exact same machinery 
which has enabled our project to come into the world. This is a 
conscious effort to prove computers can be used for other things 
besides data processing, storage, and informational "control," 
domination and the oppression of people. Poetry, broadly defined as 
open writing, is not merely information, the transference of which is 
the predominant function of the computer. Far from it. Living poetry 
almost automatically severs the customary space occupied by 
computers. Our versifying sees computers ripe to be taken up for the 
poet's purposes. It is a universe where machines are used as a 
platform for poetry. Offered up on this platform, are the concerns of 
the writer. A belief that thought and computerized expression can be 
human underlies this project. 
   _The Little Magazine Volume 21_ is a collaboration which has its 
roots in Albany, with limbs, muscle and mind from a far as well. The 
local dimensions of this project have been immense. There have been 
innumerable hours of interactivity between Ben Henry, Belle Gironda 
(who edited the final drafts of this introduction), myself and other 
people associated with the production of the magazine. Without 
intense cooperations developing digital projections, it would not have 
been possible to assemble and ignite such a quantity and variety of 
approaches to treating poetry in the primitive arena of digital 
   We feel our journal is historically in-line with the traditions 
outlined at the beginning of this introduction, brought up through the 
"New American Poetry." _The Little Magazine Volume 21_ is, formally, 
the new american poetry in terms of its media.  However, we would 
specifically like to relate it to Jack Spicer's work. Jack Spicer, who 
might not be read as being thrilled by the technologized world, 
worked in a poetry that, Robin Blaser notes in the essay "The Practice 
of Outside," is a "compound of the invisible and visible." Spicer not 
only allowed for, but insisted upon one's openness to outside forces, 
something beyond one's self, as a key element in the process of 
writing contemporaneously. Our project is, by definition, a visible 
poetry, whereby the act of viewing the magazine is overstated by its 
medium. What is visible in the poem - or the translation of the poem 
- be it language or imagery, is now before us on the screen. At the 
same time, the igniting, intervening language, and authorial / 
editorial mode of presentation is as well hyper-present. Human 
activity, enabled by an inhuman factor? Computers are now a part of 
our compound.
   Out of context, perhaps, we highlight a sentence from the 
introduction of _Poems For The Millennium:  A University of California 
Book of Modern Poetries_, edited with commentaries by Jerome 
Rothenberg and Pierre Joris:  "With regard to twentieth century 
poetry, a new look has been long overdue." This is a statement we 
wholeheartedly agree with. It is 1995 and this magazine suggests 
that writers are not far away from being in the present moment of 
   In certain respects, we find our project to be an extension of 
concrete poetry. Indeed, we have struggled to find ways to bring a 
tactile sense of language and expression alive through computerized 
multimedia. Much of the work, moved from page to screen, has been 
able to make use of the possibilities held by the alphabet (and other 
symbols/images) in electronic space. There are eternal and intrinsic 
ties between the sonic, visual and alphabetic connections in writing. 
We, as fore-minded producers of the art, believe that this media 
offers something quite valuable for writers and the preservation and 
promotion of writing in a species of literature which combines 
certainly essential senses of "the word." I do, however, have regret at 
the end of the project, wishing we'd designed unique fonts for this 
volume. Next time!
    Our journal is a beginning. Rudimentary, as far as technology goes. 
It is about communication, with past, present, and future, lyrically 
unraveling mysteries of life and language at this time through a 
digital media and digital multimedia. In a few years digital 
multimedia may settle into a certain form and be more pervasive as 
a source and resource for writing, writers and kindred. Hopefully 
some of the quirks and frustrating procedural elements will have 
been revamped.
   Is this the evidence of cyberpunk growing "up"? Who knows? We 
have been working in a bare-bones multimedia lab, with limited 
knowledge of the medium, and are much more in tune with the 
downright un-glamorous work of computer programming and design:  
hours and hours of tinkering with keyboard and mouse. In all, our 
cd-rom seems to us rather distant from the images purveyed by the 
slick pages of WIRED magazine. 
   Is it obvious that this has not been created by sophisticated 
computer experts? It has occurred at some distance from the 
"industry," out of a drive and curiosity, if not necessity. It is most of 
all an experiment and an exploration of what could be made by 
extending writing and its now multiplied textual considerations to 
the primitively ensconced digital media of today.
   This project was conceived slightly more than a year ago, and fully 
"approved" in September, 1994. We have produced this publication 
in half a year, less than half the time which we could have used in 
developing our senses and abilities for using the media. However, 
due to the institutional character of the journal, and other time 
constraints we have as a result of our status as graduate students, we 
were faced with these inevitable limits. Unfortunately, there are 
several pieces we had been developing for this year's cd-rom:  
multimedia work by Judith Johnson and a hypertext collaboration 
between George Landow and Pierre Joris, as well as other work, 
including a hypertext biography of Harry Smith, which had to be put 
off until next year's magazine.
   On another level, this assemblage began nearly three years ago in a 
graduate course, "Pedagogy and Alternative Pedagogy," led by Pierre 
Joris, where the class began by reading John Clarke's epic tome _From 
Feathers To Iron_, then made extensive use of an on-line computer 
notebook as a space in which to continue our in-class discussion, 
using computers to communicate intellectually and interpersonally. 
For all of the students, it was our first experience of anything of 
these sorts. Six of eight students from that semester have work included in 
this journal. Additionally, for several years at the University at 
Albany, there has been a writer's collective which used linked 
computers to compose interactively. Some of the activities of the 
original Awopbop Groupuscle are chronicled in _The Little Magazine 
Volume 20_. That work was continued by the performance ensemble 
Purkinge, and has ultimately led to the creation of the magazine you 
are now reading, a studio experiment in audio/visual publishing.
   I have been extremely fortunate to have had numerous 
conversations in consideration of both the circumstances and 
possibilities from which we are given to work as nonviolent, 
historically-minded, creative artists. Some of these conversations 
took place at a symposium held in Albany in January, 1995, and will 
be published first in the electronic journal _RIF/T_ (subscription 
available by sending a request to e-poetry@ubvm.cc.buffalo.edu). We 
familiarize ourselves, as writers, as persons of conscience, with 
various contemporary sites of text - production, and use them to 
benevolent ends. We aspire to do more than talk about the various 
ways a poet now finds to push a transformation in the order of 
priorities in our society. Persons to whom I am particularly thankful 
for openness and incisiveness in discussing such matters are Hakim 
Bey, Belle Gironda, Don Byrd, Ted Jennings, Pierre Joris, Elisabeth 
Belile, Benjamin Friedlander, Marty McCutcheon, Bob Holman, Nick 
Lawrence, Edgar Allen Poe and Sandy Baldwin, plus contributors to 
and editors of _RIF/T_ and _Proliferation_ magazines.
   Presenting fictions to become realities by way of language and 
computers is happening now, has to happen now so this is:

	The opening of a textual space which will take forever to be filled. 
	As much as we could do today.
	Not a diversion from real concerns.

Every word, every person, has a voice attached to it.

	You are invited but not required to respond.
		Thank you for your interest in The Little Magazine.

				-Christopher Funkhouser
				 editor, _The Little Magazine Volume 21_