Originally published in Compact Bone # 1, 1994.
With apology and homage to Allen Ginsberg
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by MS-DOS in tee-shirt and sneakers eating microwave popcorn, dragging themselves through endless dungeon arcades at dawn looking for an angry joystick, longhaired hackers burning for the serial port connection to the silicon dynamo that powers the machinery of thought, who did core dumps on everyone, nostalgic for the future, praised compute power for the people, mass storage for the masses, psycho-acoustic dildonics, digital godhood, who bought a build-your-own-brain kit that didn't work and finally got it to work, but it was so stupid it couldn't do a thing, they were thrilled and pissed for years, who gave it away--chips, schematics, programs they wrote themselves or pirated themselves, secrets, rumors, lies, anything to wire the giant human circuit to build the next ultimate dream machine, who phoned for phree, broke into networks, became system manager of the universe for one lousy night, were caught and arrested or took flight, erased everything, got a job in a software sweat shop, who passed through universities with microscopic bleary eyes hallucinating infinitely nested do-loops and subroutines on the bare breasts of first loves, who interfaced at 1200 baud, dated over the network, couldn't face interfacing face to face, who sent e-mail graphic pornographic graphics to people thy didn't know and maybe were married to, entered atl.sex.bondage almost had a dry orgasm, who wrote madly fornicating viral disk memory muncher system crashers, gave them free to friends and everyone, planted them in bulletin boards, production line software, who knocked our socks off and had their socks knocked off by seraphic software, heavenly hardware, and responded with caressing keystrokes of ecstatic love, who pajamas and houseshoes and hollow-jawed and numb sat up with Mountain Dew and Snickers and under fluorescent panels in the fourth bedroom, floating across rows and columns, contemplating macros, who drove crosstown all day to find if I had a backup, you had a backup, he had a backup, who has a goddam backup, who invested a friend's last dollar in a startup, got rich, went broke, invested another friend's last dollar in a startup, got rich, went broke for the last time I swear, again and again, who dreamed and announced and designed and built and shipped, and redesigned and reshipped, and reannounced and redesigned and reshipped and decided to do a beta test, who microwaved in the coffee room their coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch, dinner, Pepto-Bismol, digital watches, defeated the interlock, this actually happened, microwaved a hand that still bears a hard mass in the middle of the palm, who lived in the office on Coke and pizza, never went home, wrote mangy code all night, dreamt high-level language in a sleeping bag on the floor, got up, didn't smell a thing, wrote mangy code all day, who were hermetically insulated wirewound resistors in realtime embedded systems hardwired to a microcontroller swinging rail to rail going into depletion mode, who put it all on silicon in a class 10 clean room diffused on a wafer of confidence doped with marketing dreams, epitaxial layers of despair and perfection, plasma etched with inspiration and fatigue, who digitized angels in random access sub-micron gallium arsenide wet dreams and ended up longing for virtual memory, who were sent to training seminars, were told I'm in the process of processing my process of processing your process and were seen in the process of puking, who wrote specs wrote specs wrote specs and multi-megabyte graphic interface integrated applications whose manuals are six-teen-tillion pages long, who threw themselves on their knees in hopeless cubicles, lit incense in the four corners, knelt before the illuminated holy one, prayed the mantric tantric frantic incantation: dram-a-sram-a-vram-a-eeproom-a-compile- and run-a-run-run-run! who were obsolete in a year, broke down, learned C+++++++, were obsolete in a year, broke down period, who burnt out, went into management, burned out the rest of them, they went into management, burned out the rest of us, we went into management burned out the rest of you, and you finally went into management and burned out the rest of management-- ah friends you are behind schedule and I am behind schedule and now we are really up total animal soup creek, and who therefore and anyway got into the same old Ford, drove home on the freely gyrating freeway obsessed with flash memory of the algorithm of redemption, the standard deviation of eternal truth, to imitate the syntax, form and rhythm of, and even steal from, the great human poem and stand before you sly and ashamed, putting down here what might be suitable for faxing, with the absolute illegible machine-language source code of life full of so many bugs that we are guaranteed employment for a thousand years. 2.0 What sphincter of silicon and injection-molded polycarbonate opened up all our cranial data files and downloaded all our supposed brains and imagination? Moloch! Solitude! Suburbia! Growing up no-one no-where! Turning into a god at a keyboard inside a cubicle! Moloch! Microsoft! Intel! Apple! IBM! Frenetic startups become multi-billion dollar stultifiers! Multi-billion stultifiers get better at it! Moloch! Moloch! Mergers and Acquisitions! Stock offerings! Off-shorings! Downsizings! Promotions! Demotions! Commotions! Daily Reorganizations! Whispers in the halls! Moloch! Team players galore! Bean counters in every cabinet! Lawyers and lawsuits up the wazoo! Level upon level of Vice-presidents! Moloch! Daily project reviews! Micro-managers! Hall monitors! Eavesdropped, intercepted, expurgated e-mail! Moloch! CEOs who are forced to raise their own salaries and bonuses by large and arbitrary amounts just to keep them competitive with those of other CEOs who are forced to raise their salaries and bonuses by large and arbitrary amounts just to keep them competitive! Moloch! Mortgages! Rents! Split-level fantasies! RVs and unobtainable second homes! Kids screaming for another Nintendo! Moloch of middle-aged men with bad backs from sitting too much commuting in four-wheel-drive sports-utility vehicles! Moloch of idyllic dreams of foreign, boxy sedans painted a dark depressive grey! Moloch of sports cars that can do zero to sixty in six seconds doing stop-and-go on the freeway! Moloch of waiting in line for child care! Moloch who gives you carpal-tunnel syndrome! Moloch who makes you dream of early retirement! Moloch who has you put off vacation until this project is finished! Moloch whose love is endless work! Moloch who is a problem to be solved! Moloch whose name is my own! Moloch! who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom I am connected to a machine, and have no consciousness or body! I really like it this way! Moloch whom I log off of! Wake up in Moloch! My pager beeping! We broke our backs lifiting Moloch to heaven! We hope to cash in our stock options before it comes down! Visions! Miracles! Ecstasies! All Obsolete before the hardware is released! Breakthroughs! Spec sheets! Hysterias! Ad copy! Religions! The whole boatload of marketing bullshit! Whole generations of technology gone by on the roller coaster! we saw it all! We built computers for everyone! We beat the system! We became it! 3.0 Bill Gates! I'm with you in Redmond where you're the richest main in the country, married and building a new home that includes a nursery and may just be waking up a bit. Steve Jobs! I'm with you in Silicon Valley where you still dream the next dream and have a wife, a home, kids, a dog and like it. Steve Wozniak! I'm with you in Los Gatos where you've retired and built a cave playhouse for your children and you must feel very strange! Fellow programmers, engineers, chip designers, scientists, technicians, PC-users, techies, would-be-nerds: I'm with you in Silicon Valley where we are empowered and trying to figure out what that means I'm with you in Silicon Valley where we throw Koosh-balls at 10 pm then say screw it, go to a movie or to pizza and beer I'm with you in Silicon Valley where we go Bungee-jumping from hot air balloons to feel we are alive and end up feeling a little sick afterward I'm with you in Silicon Valley where we go to Raves, drink smart drinks and dance to droning Techno all night and also don't feel so good afterward I'm with you in Silicon Valley where we jog or walk or bicycle or hit the courts for tennis, volleyball, basketball and find out we have bodies that ache sometimes I'm with you in Silicon Valley where we keep computer records of how much we work out, but not how much we work on our computers I'm with you in Silicon Valley where we kiss our computers goodnight, but they keep asking for more, won't let us sleep I'm with you in Silicon Valley in my dreams we wake up rebooted out of our locked-up CPUs by our own souls' operating systems telling us it is time. We walk outside, take a deep breath under the trees dripping with sunlight, cross the lawn that brushes our bare feet, answer the mockingbird with its own call, and arrive home with time to sit and relax and chat before dinner.
Text for Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" here.