Moving to Freedom, .Org

Some Neal Stephensons

Wired: Mother Earth, Mother Board

Somehow I’ve only now discovered this collection, published in 2012: Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing. I’ve previously read some of the essays — for example the spellbinding tale of cables and wiring, “Mother Earth, Mother Board” — but I’m happy to have a nice “bound” collection on my reader. (I almost wrote ereader, briefly debated if a hyphen was called for, and then decided to skip ahead to a post-e future.)

I’m serious about the spellbindingness of the Wired wiring article. It’s fascinating. You should read it, right now.

In addition to reading new-to-me stuff, I’m looking forward to re-reading old-to-me articles, thanks to these words in the introduction:

Two general approaches could be taken to editing such a volume. One would be to make of it a pitilessly accurate historical record and trust the reader to make allowances for the widely varying levels of maturity, self-regard, and financial desperation that might have figured into the author’s motives while the component pieces were being produced. That might have been an interesting strategy twenty years ago, but now we have the Internet for that.

The second approach, of course, is to conduct a shameless whitewashing of the historical record, picking only the good stuff, and editing even that to make it look better. This, within reason, is what I have done here. Which is not to say that these pieces don’t contain material that might strike the sophisticated reader as dated or jejune; a bit that has been left in because it makes me feel young.

I love the way he writes. When I read that, it thrilled me with the joy of well-placed words and I instantly wanted to share them with you.

(I notice that Neal — or his editors — are still capitalizing the word, “internet.”)

I started reading the first essay, “Arsebestos,” an original for the collection, and it has already motivated me this morning to get off my ass and actually stand at my standing desk. I was familiar with some of the ideas in it, which had shown up in his most recent fiction novel — the disappointing Reamde — but it has re-inspired me to pursue greater health while working.