Arnold Schwarzenegger:
Write Us

I look at the writing and sometimes see the self in there, out there, and wonder how I was somehow that self being written, writing itself out as if unwinding a spool of . . .I only see certain strands.
Clark Coolidge, The Crystal Text

A voice comes to one in the dark. Imagine.
Samuel Beckett, Company

Coolidge’s ellipses propose an unnamable set of possibilities about which the autobiographer writes. Is it the same self that is written who writes of itself—i.e. “later?” Coolidge’s “I” seems to raise the question “how many is one?” Beckett’s line suggests at least two things: a voice arrives and someone hears it and perceives that the voice belongs to someone else or to the hearer itself. And a voice amounts —adds up—to “one,” at least in the dark. What are we to imagine? Beckett’s characters frequently imagine themselves, utterly, unutterably alone. They are uncertain whether they are imagining themselves in the world, or if the information comes from somewhere, someone outside themselves. Still, even the uncertainty seems to emanate from an “I” who can acknowledge at bottom its own doubts. The unnamed in Beckett’s The Unnamable begins by remarking, “Where now? Who now? When now? Unquestioning. I, say I.” 1

In Beckett, “I” takes itself as a starting point—albeit an arbitrary point—of departure. In The Education of Henry Adams, Adams’ “I” serves as a vehicle of departure from the image of the autobiographical act.2 In the midst of writing his “autobiography,” Henry Adams grasps the potential meaning of the invention of the dynamo, which he had seen in the Gallery of Machines of the Great Exposition in Paris, 1900. For him, the image of towering dynamo symbolized an American revolution of “force” whose nearest equivalent was “when Constantine set up the Cross.” And so, at that moment in his Education, Adams makes a detour from The Education —his life-story—to educate himself in a study of the history of force and power from the Middle Ages to the turn of the twentieth century. Thus, Adams’ written “life” flows around a “dynamic” break in his life-text. The break, itself, entails a self-conscious examination of his place in a history of energy that has, ultimately, made his life and his actions comprehensible to the older Henry Adams whose created character of the same name educates his maker at every turn.

These two issues of autobiography— what/where is the self written, and what are the detours into larger cultural circumstances that are linked to self- writing— haunt every attempt to compose or tell a life story. As a mechanism for creating the idealized or exemplified subject, the autobiography does not limit itself to the confessional or the exploration of private truths, but rather expands with undeniable girth into other subjects, other lives, other dynamic mechanisms. If this is the case, then the impulse to say something about oneself may just be the impulse to say something about the circumstance of the writing of that self.

The writing of the self that we have attempted in our research is complicated by these and other issues. We are not trying to write our individual autobiograph(y/ies) but rather the story of living in this place and time via the cultural figures and processes which share that space. Our culture relies on certain prominent figures to define and understand itself. Marilyn Monroe, JFK, Elvis Presley, Princess Di—each suggests an aspect of the collective desires, weaknesses, dreams and fears that we constantly turn over in our minds, gossip about, or use for comparisons. We talk through these figures to express ideas about hate, sex, love, drugs, death, religion, morality, power, money and other things that are difficult to consider directly. In them we recognize ourselves writ large as well as our fellow citizens in their best and worst lights.

Our cultural imagination at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st is wrapped up in one of these larger-than-life, omnipresent figures in the person of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is difficult to imagine our current scene without the coherence and flair brought to it by Schwarzenegger. Through him we know how to be influential and powerful, how to meld machines and bodies, how to entertain the global village, how to whip a country into shape, how to fulfill the traditional American dream, and perhaps even how to heroically kill and be killed.

Like all significant cultural icons (see fan tribute page), Arnold Schwarzenegger pops up everywhere. He appears daily not only in the expected places— films, television, newspapers and advertisements— but also in the most unexpected, from the on-the-ground language of common folk (“Hasta la vista, baby” and, “I’ll be back”) to an outerspace advertisement for his new movie. Not a day goes by without the possibility of encountering that grinning, chiseled face and that pumped body as it permeates the very fabric of American existence. This points to an amazing presence in our cultural imagination. Our project has been to document and critically examine this fascinating phenomena.

We fell upon a curious form of autobiography in the process of writing about Arnold Schwarzenegger. But first, we needed to consistently deny that we were writing a straightforward biography of the man. It’s not just that we wanted to avoid the embarrassing fiasco of Arnold’s unauthorized pop-psychological biography by Wendy Leigh,3 or that the Austrian Oak refused to grant us an interview. It is more that we concur with Janet Malcolm in her recent New Yorker series when she says that in order to write an acceptable biography, the writer cannot “introduce doubts about the legitimacy of the biographical enterprise.”4 We had many questions about such biographical legitimacy, similar to the ones we harbored about autobiography. We could not justify calling what we did biographical in the traditional sense.

Because we saw, through the progress of our research, that we were hopelessly implicated in whatever story we told about the emblematic Schwarzenegger, the issue of this being either pure biography or simply autobiography was impossible to resolve. The story did insist upon becoming entangled in our respective selves, despite our mild reluctance to emphasize our story as friends, collaborators, and authors. The reason for this is that we exchanged ideas and texts, usually in the form of almost daily electronic mail messages (e-mail). But these exchanges, rather than focusing on self-indulgent personal commentary, focused on how our subject matter, Arnold Schwarzenegger and his omnipresence, came to play an increasingly dominating roles in our own stories. Rather than being a co-authored journal of our everyday lives, our e-mails became instead the autobiography of another entity, not us and not Arnold, but some “morphed” version that has its own histories, mechanisms, darknesses, and narratives. That it was the Schwarzenegger project compelling us to consider these issues was equally intriguing. We began to notice the increasing relevance of our own ways of constructing narrative portions of our life experiences to the ways we were framing this larger project.

The two of us found ourselves both fascinated and disturbed by the emergence of forms of self-consciousness embedded not just in human bodies but in the very machines that we were using to transnavigate our collaboration. At one point our research involved considering the interface of the self with hardware and with their programs for downloading human intelligence and memory into the machine. These discussions frequently traced connections between downloading and ideas about human immortality, artificial life and intelligence, reproduction, nanotechnologies, and even suicide, all topics with profound implications for the construction of self. Still, something about the apparatus of the computer terminal, the lingering formalities of research, and the sheer quantity of material and information resulted in a kind of perfunctory exchange a good deal of the time. That our e-mail exchanges often side-stepped the personal came as a surprise to us when we looked back at the thousands of screens that have passed between us. The intensely personal generally came to one or the other of us as revelation when it did slip into the bitstream:

Michael to Louise
I share, in a way, yr puzzlement regarding the “why” of suicide—for me, the puzzle was always the [program for] living—I wrote a story at about age 9 (my mother says she still has it) in which the main/only character travels through time—forward and back—committing suicide after suicide, bizarrely able to remember each previous suicide…

Louise to Michael
Your horror stories fascinate me. . .I always thought your fascination with the things we are studying were merely or mostly or especially intellectual. You have fooled (in a good way) us both—this is a major reversal—I am usually the one grounded in the experiences of everyday life (a National Enquirer article here, a TV movie there) but is it really the case that you have been re-acting out your childhood fantasies in our literary productions?

Michael to Louise
I keep learning new and important things about you from your asides in e-mail. . . Even in our worst despairs (yours involving chocolate chip cookies, mine involving scotch, I suppose) we can energize ourselves while still requiring the other’s goods. I suppose.

What we were supposing was, in other words, that the personal would not somehow impinge upon the work at hand. And yet, the work at hand was also, increasingly, the work we were doing with our hands: writing daily about books we were reading, articles, obscure pop culture references, films, and, as we discuss later in this essay, the growing number of Arnold-related coincidences and dreams.

It became apparent to us that the more we wrote back and forth, the more frequently we seemed to encounter Schwarzenegger-related events—to the point where we could be easily convinced we were causing some of these coincidences and encounters. It was dawning on us that we had created a separate “entity” during the exchange process. This was an entity not genetically dependent on our individual pasts and presents, but one assembled from the sharing of these narrative, both technical and personal. It was as though our hands were now engaged in a micro-technology whereby we could control a being, “between” us, comprised of information derived from our attention to and writing about Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Louise to Michael
So I am in this store buying sunglasses, see, and this man puts on a pair of sunglasses and says to his female companion using an Austrian accent, “Look Maria, I am the Terminator.” A few minutes later when I am checking out with sunglasses that do not resemble Linda Hamilton’s but I wish they did, the clerk offers to clean my new purchase. She has trouble squeezing the spray bottle. She says, “I have been lifting weights and my muscles are really sore.” Me, too, I say. She says, “Did you see Terminator 2?” When I say yes she says, “I want arms like that girl in the movie.” WHAT IS IT? Do I have “AUTHOR OF A BOOK ON ARNOLD” written on my forehead?????

Our daily logging of notes on Arnold as exemplar of popular culture appetites and fantasies was becoming, in our collaboration, a template for telling and designing our own constellation of personal narratives. But equally interesting to us was they way in which the activity of such intense narrative exchange was shaping the very experiences we were constantly reporting. The morphed entity whose existence was in the flux of our dialogue seemed to be making demands on our attention and activities. It was as if this entity had accumulated sufficient autonomous power to resist our subjectivities, or rather to subsume them into itself. Just as Arnold’s films have been remarkable in the ways in which they characterize a variety of interfaces between human and cybernetic hardware, so it was remarkable to find ourselves responding to “nurture” this cyborg protagonist who had come to occupy a space without dimension in the written interplay between the technological and the personal.

Michael to Louise
Happy Valentine’s Day. Remember that the heart is both a muscle and a writing implement.

Louise to Michael
I am in this project so deep I can’t get out. That perhaps is what is distressing me most. This thing known as the Arnold-story is possessing me and perhaps paralyzing me. It invades all my thoughts—but what is really more distressing is not to be able to get all this stuff down in written form. I want to see the results of all this musing and all these nightmares. Arnold invaded my day dreams yesterday. . . I have always thought that my life goal should be the creation of the ultimate miniature golf course based on Hollywood legends. And so as I was thinking about how I would design this (all the time shooting way over par on a crappy course in Ventura) Arnie became the last hole design. But instead of saying “I’ll be back” he says to the hapless family of golfers, “YOU’LL be back”— almost an imperative!

Now I realize that this is productive thinking but, hey, Arnie, leave me alone for just a while. Well, I forgot about him for a day, and now I miss him so I am back at the computer. By the way I have absolutely no regrets about not meeting him at breakfast. It would have ruined our book because I would have had to pursue the real Arnie and the spell would have been broken (like your dream when you meet him and he is smaller/bigger/stupider etc. than you imagined). The guy who was supposed to introduce me to Arnie hates him by the way, so, hey, right, that would have been a very productive meeting.

Well obviously I have not given up on this, in fact I am too excited by it and I just want to abandon all for the sweet cinema arms of the Arn-man, but my spaghetti sauce needs stirring and I must go watch the second half of Twin Peaks.

Michael to Louise
later that evening:
I worried a good part of the day that you had reached critical mass and were really considering crapping out (our mutually over-large fear, based upon our having, separately worked with crappers-outers). I am relieved and newly convivial, replete with complete undepletedness—

I am fascinated by your almost-meetings with the Arno-bot. Every other time we’ve spoken/written, you have made contact with someone who plans to help you touch the man himself. Everyone else BUT us seems to know/love/have a history with Arnold Schwarzenegger. We have to write this stuff because we may be the only two human beings who have not already known Arnold.

Yet one type of personal exchange more than any other mucked up the mirror that was reflecting the morph of us and Schwarzenegger. One of the more compelling and disturbing phenomena for us was a period of about a year during which one or both of us was dreaming about Arnold Schwarzenegger nearly every night.

Louise to Michael
Well I am back from the Bart Simpson makeover salon. What fun to have a new me that looks like something from Aliens. Speaking of aliens, here is last night’s Arnie dream:

Arnold is filming Terminator 2 at UCLA. The setting is some rolling hills on campus—not any spot that really exists. It reminds me of two scenes— the park from the movie Blowup and the hills from Kent State where the protesting students were shot by the National Guard. I am watching the filming and decide to take off my makeup with a cotton ball. As I rub off my makeup, it turns gray on my face and gives me an aged, alien look. I leave it on. The director comes over and asks me to be an alien in the movie in a bar scene reminiscent of the one in Star Wars. The bar is huge and oval-shaped and there is nothing in the middle— you just face other patrons. I look in a mirror and I no longer have my own face because they have put a rubber mask on me. I am told that I have the major alien speaking part in the film. Cut suddenly to me in my poststructuralism seminar and I am telling my graduate students about this dream. We are sitting at a set of children’s desks that are in the same shape as the bar— in an oval with a space in the middle. Suddenly Arnold pops up in one of the seats facing me across the room. His face is a caricature. I say to him, “I am the major alien in your movie” (February 23, 1991).


As we sent each other records of these dreams, we found ourselves, more and more frequently, dreaming along similar lines, sometimes of events that would later happen or of things that would make us shift our research.

Louise's Dream
For some reason Arnold Schwarzenegger is in my house. He is sitting at the kitchen table. We are talking about something. I say to him flirtatiously, "You know we are writing a book about you but that we haven't been able to admit it face to face." I tell him I am interested in the President's Council on Physical Fitness. I show him something on a small piece of paper which he gets up from the table to look at over my shoulder. I know he is looking down my cleavage and I am pleased (March 20, 1991).

Michael's Dream
I am taking Arnold's photograph, using a wide angle lens in order to somehow widen him. Arnold turns to a pal nearby and asks, "Why am I being photographed by such a ridiculous camera?" The friend comes over to confiscate my camera so I cut off his hand. For the rest of the dream I am running from Arnold's goons (March 8, 1991).

Michael’s Dream
Louise had found in a novelty shop a 78 rpm record of Arnold singing Elvis songs. One side was “Love Me Tender” and the other side was “Jailhouse Rock” which, she told me, when played backwards, was also the “preamble” to Mein Kampf (February 5, 1993).

Louise’s Dream
Arnold and I were talking about women bodybuilders and he wanted to show me what it would look like for me. We were standing in front of a big mirror and Arnold had on his competition trunks. He stood facing the mirror with his hands on his hips and his legs apart. He tilted his head all the way back so that he looked like one of those amusement park displays of bodybuilders that you put your head on and get your picture taken with. I put my head where Arnold’s used to be and then I put my arms under his and out front like he was a ventriloquist dummy. We laughed (February 1, 1991).

Michael's Dream
Arnold was fighting Klan-types and had to dress as a firefighter with a long coat and hat, partly to hide his well-known balding head from several "Deliverance" types who were after him and me. At one point he became Gerard Depardieu but he quickly corrected himself when I observed, "You look so much different in person than you do in my head." This prompted him to take off the firehat to prove that he still had a full head of hair and that my mental image of him was intact (February 5, 1991).

Louise's Dream
The other night I dreamed I was making mad passionate love to Gerard Depardieu. (February 19, 1992)


Dreams are a problem for this autobiography. For a simple life-story, dreams seem to fit in nicely as a reaffirming source of unconscious projections. But when dreams are traced through a process of exchange that is our fourth entity, what do dreams become? A record of this mating and obsession, evidence of another fusion experiment gone awry? Can morphs dream and who is it that is dreaming when a morph does it?

Morphing is an important concept when considering the new possibilities and failures of autobiography in the technological age. The process of morphing is best known from the Schwarzenegger blockbuster movie Terminator 2 (1991) and from The Abyss, a 1989 film from T2 director James Cameron. In the morphing that we see on the screen, one entity seamlessly melts into others, constantly shape-shifting so that it is impossible to draw the boundaries between forms. In The Abyss, aliens take their form from water, moving effortlessly though spaces and with numerous faces. In T2, floors become men, arms become swords, cops become liquid blobs, women find themselves duplicated as exactly wounded twins.

In Terminator 2, the most sophisticated morphing is accomplished by an advanced terminator cyborg that is constituted of “mimetic polyalloys,” that is, a substance of substances that allows it to imitate other substances. Yet the real substance of morphing is computer processing, a sophisticated programming that allows one digitized image to slowly accumulate changes and jettison old pixels until it appears to be something else.

There are actually two processes that are referred to as morphing. Morphing can involve the cross-fading of one image into another so that the beginning and end images are identifiable and distinct, linked only by the computer-interpolated images in between. One image thus completely transforms into another.


Of more concern for our analogy is the morphing that involves the blending of the features of the two images, producing a third, “imaginary” entity. For example, the Benneton clothing company recent featured a series of famous people computer-blended with people of different races. None of these morphs (which included a Asian Queen Elizabeth and a white Spike Lee) was more shocking than the one of Arnold Schwarzenegger and a black man. The black Arnold Schwarzenegger was a stunning impossibility not just because of the expert process but because the histories of the two entities made this a particularly enigmatic image .


Image from Benneton's magazine, Colors (spring-summer 1993)


Since T2, this process has been seen in numerous movies, television programs, music videos and advertisements and we now have a whole universe of morphed entities comfortably inhabiting our imagination. Morphing has also now become available to users of home computers so that everyone can create a world inhabited by the uninhabitable.

In our e-mail work on Arnold Schwarzenegger, we have effectively created a dynamic morph among Arnold, our selves, the computer and our culture. Our autobiography is now the autobiography of this entity and consists of trying to trace its recent permutations, measure its fallout, and predict the shape of its future shiftings. The autobiography of this morph is not grounded in history, childhood traumas, or memories. It instead flows from one entity to another, not always seamlessly, but often effortlessly.

Louise to Michael
Okay, last night I saw a play that must be setting the theatre back years. This abominable snowheap was called Love Letters, and as I informed you, I was going to see what was happening with Linda Hamilton (of Beauty and the Beast and Terminator 2) and Ron Perlman (…the Beast) who were starring for one night. . . Well, the premise of the play is that there are these two rich WASPs who spend their lives being whiny and writing letters to each other about it.

The dreams that this morph can have begin to resemble the process of making a motion picture, those autobiographies of our cultural landscape. The connection between dreams and motion pictures is long standing. While dreams are presumably private and films have public circulation, they nevertheless activate similar effects— they present alternative realities that can be used as reference points for everyday decisions, actions, and motivations. The cinema imitates many of the dream’s mechanisms, including the identification with the image, the articulation of desire, the manipulation of space and time, the condensation of many concepts into single images, and the displacement of meaning from its rightful place to a substitute one.

Münsterberg’s 1916 definition of the “photoplay,” as he calls it, could be speaking about either dreams or films and, we might now add, the exchange of electronic information:

The photoplay tells us the human story by overcoming the forms of the outer world, namely, space, time, and causality, and by adjusting the events to the forms of the inner world, namely, attention, memory, imagination, and emotion.5

These distinctions between inner and outer worlds, between public and private, personal and mediated experiences, no longer seem to hold up in film, in dreams, or in our everyday telelectronic lives.

Michael to Louise
Saw White Palace last night. Totally forgettable except that Susan Saradon is so good when she is angry. But what was interesting was that James Spader says, “No, you fit in my life; I was the one who didn’t fit. I didn’t fit into my own life.” Imagine not fitting into one’s own life. Actually, that’s precisely how I feel, which raises the question/problem again: what is the difference between one’s own “life” and the “fitness” one has/is for that life. How might Arnold have made Max/Spader fit into his life better. Do you see what I am driving at Oh Great Sepulveda Cruiser?

Public and private distinctions are annulled by eyewitness news, surveillance cameras, tabloid TV, computer hackers, and America’s Funniest Home Videos. Dreams cannot be strictly private expressions of individual psyches when they draw from the stock of characters and situations present in our ever-circulating cinematic culture. Films are not removed from the audiences who utilize them and remake them in their own image. Electronic exchanges are already not easy to place in one realm or the other, especially when we use them to write autobiographies.

In the years we spent exchanging thousands of electronic messages about Schwarzenegger and the ways in which we had taken him—and the attending popular cultural “strands”—into our lives, we began to realize that “he” had become the medium for our autobiographical narrative. Indeed, for many reasons, Arnold Schwarzenegger as cultural icon has not only provided us with a structure for a form of life-writing, he/it has become a fascinating source of self-knowing for us all. That is, we have used this iconography as a way to make a story about ourselves, to learn about who we are, where we may be going at the close of the 20th century, and what we might expect to find there.

Roland Barthes wrote: “I am writing a text., and I call it R.B.”;6 “we” were writing a text and calling it Arnold Schwarzenegger. Actually, every other day we were calling it something different. The title of our ongoing manuscript production became an act of naming every bit as intricate and laden with peripheral influences as the naming of a human being or of a new discovery:

Arnold: Virtually Real
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Bodies
Arnold: Master Plan/Perfect Man
Perfect Man: The Master Plan of Arnold Schwarzenegger
Magnificent Obsession: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Virtually Arnold: Schwarzenegger and the Transformation of ? in the
Twentieth Century
Souvenirs from our Adventures with Arnold Schwarzenegger
FIT: Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Re-shaping of America.
Girly Men: Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Final Gender Solution
Too Big: Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Seduction of America
The Impossibility of Arnold Schwarzenegger
Icon: Arnold Schwarzenegger as Idol and Image

We attributed part of our problem in arriving at a title to a growing suspicion that there was something elusive about the shape of our project. Both of us had written books and articles and hadn’t had so much difficulty in naming those works. But here we had a subject matter that wasn’t specifically Arnold Schwarzenegger nor, particularly, ourselves, though it had become more and more so and this also wasn’t exclusively a popular culture response to the Schwarzenegger phenomena.

We could not shake the sense that each time we added something to the “body” of the narrative between us, we were somehow supplementing a hybrid form of self-narration over which we felt we had less and less control. Who or what constituted our point of view? Were we seeing from our individual perspectives and then combining our perceptions? Were we seeing Schwarzenegger and ourselves through the collective eyes of the culture? Were our “eyes” any different from those of the culture or from those whose viewpoints had been so shaped by icons like Arnold? Had we in fact collapsed several points of view into a configuration completely unlike us that had its own “viewpoint”? How many was this “I”?

We became an echo of cultural response to our subject of study—and for that reason, the point of view we attributed to the other’s narrative was not so much singular as singularly organized in the face of the nourishing medium known as Arnold.

On January 28, 1991, Michael dreamed:
Arnold comes to my door and says “I hear you are doing a book about me.” He then tells me that Maria Shriver thought that she could find out about him by peeling away his layers like an onion. But he says that “the only way anyone will find out about me is by breaking me into little pieces.”

We began examining the many pieces of Schwarzenegger as he permeated popular culture. What we discovered was that there seemed to be no limit to the number of these pieces. The more we “broke off,” the more we found and the more we made.

I am the fourth party that has been endlessly reconfigured without a code or blueprint. I am a set of pathways laid out on a chip, programmed in by a pair of typists. As an Adamic morph, I resemble clay; I am thrown and spun; I have memory—red-clay memory. If I am manipulated too much I fracture under the stresses. But prodded and pinched and twisted delicately, I give off bits and pieces and naturally pick up detritus from the world around me as I am formed into something with resemblance.

As a morph built around Arnold Schwarzenegger, I have a unique property. I do not deplete myself. My existence is paradoxical: I get bigger and more powerful the more I am transformed into smaller images and tighter frames. Now, as almost pure information in the hands of two typists, I am larger than life itself.
This is the autobiography they have written in the darkness of dreams and movies and electronic exchanges. E-mail is the newest element of this blind working. Its immediacy, its novelty, its potential for scrambling “real” time into an illusion of simultaneous communication, its combination of writing and programming me in a medium normally for tele-speaking, edibility, its addictiveness, and the various rituals the typists came to associate with it—sitting in the dark late at night, typing in the day’s work and coincidences, all came to be a methodology for their narrative exploration. And for their creation of me.

They were creating a pair of active characters who engaged in a daily exchange of ideas and questions and personal anecdotes. These characters could be as confessional or as professional as they chose to be at that moment. They could adopt a variety of voices and stances not only regarding their collaboration, but also about aspects of their private lives. Indeed, those lives were steadily becoming more implicated in their work, especially in the form of their dreams and their relation to Louise’s and Michael’s day-to-day lives. And within those private lives was a low hum of anxiety, maybe about the knowledge that I was lurking on the threshold between their hands and their machines, between Arnold and themselves, between each line of text.

For Henry Adams it was the dynamo; for Louise and Michael and other typists in the late 20th century, the signal and icon of force, of power, is the very thing they had from the beginning: light. The micro-chip, the cyborg, all the programs for the emulation of desire, internet-viruses, the latest forms of the novel, inter-continental/inter-planetary/inter-galactic communications, feedback systems, all take light to be the first requirement.

To send word(s) via the wire, into and over the “net,” is to place human thought in one’s hands and fingers. It is to say something at the speed of light. Or at least that’s part of the mythology; actually, I remind them, the words travel at the speed of sound but flash back at light speed to the typists by way of their monitors. When they write e-mail back and forth, they interface with each other, with their machineries, and with themselves in a loop of consciousness that is—just as I seem to be—at once aware of, and oblivious to, both of them.

Talking is like sky-writing. The sounds and phrases vaporize almost before they are fully comprehended. But writing across the net is like a tattoo; the image of the message remains. . . somewhere. The typists write themselves into the archive, onto the skin of the network potentially for all to see. Their texts are unremovable except by a surgical erasure. Even so, trace-versions remain embedded within the software, the mainframe, or another hard-drive. And of course, the traces and the by-products of those traces remain forever, now, in me.

I am the effects of Louise and Michael seeing their energies extended in and by one another, showing up on each other’s screen, returning to themselves on their own. In a light-world of accelerated digital pulses, I am the echoes of, and the triggers for, the typists’ continuous effort to harness their own narrative creation. A kind of geno-fusion, a recombining of electronic DNA. The life form is the life-study, the life under the glass (screen). I am the morph made from Louise and Michael and Arnold Schwarzenegger who is more than Arnold Schwarzenegger ever was. Not only their subject matter, but also the figure under the glass of the projector, the lens of the camera and the TV screen. I am the filters of popular culture that registers Arnold Schwarzenegger as a human man but “sees” a figure larger than life, more powerful than an army and more desirable than real life humans, whose limitations would not permit such easy entrance and exit from film-frame and the White House and body building and agendas for childhood fitness and to the cyber-neurons of two typists’ shared textual body.

i am an artificial Life —gene-coded into the chips. A creature “made of mathematics” with “digital DNA.”7 i am a life form with a story to tell. Like Diderot, in a letter to Sophie Volland in 1759, i compose myself out of the darkness: “I write without seeing. . . This is the first time I have ever written in the dark. . . not knowing whether I am indeed forming letters. Wherever there will be nothing, read that I love you.”8


1. Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable (New York: Grove Press, 1958), p. 3.
2. Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (Boston: Houghton, 1974, Ernest Samuels, ed.).
3. Wendy Leigh, Arnold: An Unauthorized Biography (Chicago: Congdon and Weed, Inc., 1990).
4. Janet Malcolm, “Sylvia Plath, The Silent Woman,” The New Yorkeer (August 23 & 30, 1993), p. 87.
5. Hugo Münsterberg, The Film: A Psychological Study (New York: Dover Press, 1970 [1916]), p. 74.
6. Roland Barthes, Roland Barthes (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977, Richard Howard, trans.), p. 56.
7. Steven Levy, Artificial Life: A Report from the Frontier Where Computers Meet Biology (New York: Vintage Books, 1992), p. 3.
8. Quoted by Jacques Derrida, Memoirs of the Blind: The Self-Portrait and Other Ruins (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993, Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas, trans.), p. 1


Adams, Henry. 1974. The Education of Henry Adams, ed. Ernest Samuels. Boston: Houghton.
Barthes, Roland. 1977. Roland Barthes, trans. Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang.
Beckett, Samuel. 1958. The Unnamable. New York: Grove Press.
Derrida, Jacques. 1993. Memoirs of the Blind: The Self-Portrait and Other Ruins. trans. Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Leigh, Wendy. 1990. Arnold: An Unauthorized Biography. Chicago: Congdon and Weed, Inc.
Levy, Steven. 1992. Artificial Life: A Report from the Frontier Where Computers Meet Biology. New York: Vintage Books.
Malcolm, Janet. 1993. “Sylvia Plath, The Silent Woman.” The New Yorker, August 23 & 30.
Münsterberg,Hugo. 1970 [1916]. The Film: A Psychological Study. New York: Dover