imomus (imomus) wrote,

A day in meatspace

I just had an idea. Why don't I do one of these Live Journal entries in the form of... a journal? Why don't I talk about what my body does in meatspace rather than what my brain does here in the realspace of the web?

Meatspace for me -- my point of 'meatpresence' -- is Berlin, Germany. When I transition from realspace into meatspace I'm always pleasantly surprised by the adventures I have. Meatspace is a really interesting place! (A bit strange, though.)

Time goes by at a different pace in meatspace. You have to slow down and get used to the fact that everything takes longer. First of all, in meatspace you've got a meatbody. It wakes up, smelling slightly of animal, from the realspace of dreams. So you give your meatbody a hot water bath. Then there's just time for a quick peek into the realspace of the net before you have to head off out into meatspace to meet someone you met in realspace, your Russian Live Journal buddy </a></b></a>veroniq. She's very kindly offered to help you get a visa for your trip to Moscow next month.

You catch a meat train down the U5 line, change at Alexanderplatz, change at Friedrichstrasse, and marvel again at the huge posters hanging in the big glass S-bahn station advertising the Miwa Yanagi show at the Deutsche Guggenheim (you talked about Yanagi recently in the realspace essay Pantiemania).

The Russian Embassy has a little knot of supplicants standing in the cold outside. Veroniq arrives and tells you they're Russians here to pay 450 euros each to renounce their Russian nationality. An impressive ginger-bearded Prince Myshkin character is collecting passports like a kind of unofficial union representative. (In meatspace you're always getting reminded of 19th century literature. I guess that was when meatspace last felt really real, before realspace came along to replace it.)

The embassy seems to be making these traitors to Russia wait outside to punish them, for, after some negotiation, Veroniq waves you straight past them, into the embassy. She tells you that a diplomat who recently committed suicide by jumping out of the window here was described by one newspaper as having died as a consequence of 'jumping from Russian space into German space'. This is the sort of incredibly weird thing that can happen in meatspace. Domain routing is much more complicated here, and sometimes fatal to the meatbody. Close to where we are now, just twenty years ago, your meatbody could get shot for trying to cross from one domain to another. Strange.

Upstairs at the embassy it's easy to push past the knots of Russians huddled in their Kafkaesque limbo. (20th century literature! We're progressing!) You get your papers processed quickly, even though none of the officials is using anything more advanced than pen and paper. Pen and paper! It reminds you of the time, well into the 21st century, you went into a New York police station and saw the meatheads tapping at typewriters!

Veroniq takes you to Stadtmitte for a bowl of soup near the institute where she's doing a PhD in maths. It's described on the menu as Scottish soup, but has weird salty meat and plums in it, which is pretty odd and nothing you'd ever get in Scotland. Your meatbody is nourished by the meatmeat. Afterwards Veroniq takes you to see some bears in a nearby park. They're wandering around looking a bit bored, unaware, perhaps, that they're the symbol of Berlin. Veroniq says that in Russia to this day people are still regarded as meat by bears like these. That's the kind of incredible thing still going on in meatspace.

You head home, admiring the coolness of the old people on the U-bahn. Berlin has a weird hourglass demographic structure: lots of old people and lots of young people and not much in between. The young people look pretty much like young people in Paris or London, but with a certain German twist in their faces. (Generally thinner and more serious and countercultural.) But the old people look really German in this otherworldly way, like people in Otto Dix paintings. You decide to photograph them for a Daily Photo on your website. Their incredible hats! Their cute little dogs! That 1930 biergarten look they all have! The schlager records and Viennese waltzes you imagine them all listening to at home! The fact that they've almost certainly never visited realspace and probably wouldn't want to! Like a spy in deepest meatspace you snap away with your digital camera, a double agent, a traitor, readying your report to realspace.

Back home, after a quick dip into realspace again, you propose to your Japanese flatmate Ayako a trip to Kreuzberg. There are some art and fashion shows on at the Bethanien Centre, and the Turkish supermarket is always fun. Together you head down through Friedrichshain, stopping to photograph a weird hippy camper van.

The first thing you have to do when you reach Kreuzberg is repay in meatmoney the realmoney you spent on your plane ticket to Moscow, bought in realspace using Aya's credit card. So you go to a machine that converts realmoney into meatmoney and spits it out of a wall in the form of pieces of paper. One of these is immediately exchanged for some real meat inside a bread packet: a falafel. Aya munches it on the wooded path that leads to the Bethanien Centre. The art and fashion shows there are good. They're visual media, a kind of halfway house between meatworld and realworld. Their 'meat' is clothes, bedclothes, videos, paintings, fabric. Their 'reality', though, is ideas. There's a poignant balance here between the meat and the real; it maps closely to the balance in western philosophy between body and mind. There may be some dispute about which of them is more 'real', but there's no arguing with the idea that, although different, they're interwoven and interdependent. We couldn't understand one without the other, which is the reason computers still can't really translate language very well. They don't know what's plausible and what isn't. They haven't lived in meatworld.

It's a bit like the relationship between headsex and meatsex. A pretty display of panties (made of flowers, wool, paper) reminds you of the fact that headsex and meatsex enhance and rely upon each other. To feel a really meaty sense of the erotic while chatting with a girl on ICQ, for instance, you have to maintain the illusion that one day the things you're describing may happen in meatworld. Verbs can get as tangled as fumbled panties: I'm there, my darling! I will be there, my darling! Imagine I'm there! What if I were there? What if the word 'panties' really were the panties you're wearing right now? And so on. Wittgenstein would be fascinated, were he still with us in meatworld.

Oh, the meatday continues, and I could continue telling you about it till doomsday or Bloomsday, till this entry grows as long as Ulysses or Pinocchio's nose. But I'm going to end this mad whirl around meatworld with its mad talk of meatpanties, meatbears and meatmoney. I'm going to snuff out the gaslamps. Please forget all I've said, forgive this clutter of meatdetail. Bear me no ill. Go back to whatever you were doing in reality. The medium is the message, the medium is real, the medium is sane. It's the world that's truly, delightfully, strange.

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