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I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by MS-DOS in T-shirt & 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 & 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 they didn’t know and maybe were married to, entered 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 carressing keystrokes of ecstatic love,

who pajamas & houseshoes & hollow-jawed & numb sat up with Mountain Dew and Snickers 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 re-announced 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 & 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 real-time embedded systems hardwired to a microcontroller swinging rail to rail going into depletion mode,

who put it all on silicon in a class 100 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 and told, I’m in the process of processing my process of processing your process and were seen in the process of puking,

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-EPROM-a-please compile and run-a-run-run-run!

who wrote specs wrote specs wrote specs and multi-megabyte graphic interface integrated applications whose manuals are six-teen-tillion pages long,

who were obsolete in a year, broke down, learned C+++++++, were obsolete in a year, broke down period,

who burned 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 the 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.


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 nowhere! Turning into a god at a keyboard inside a cubicle!

Moloch! Microsoft! Intel! Apple! IBM! Frenetic startups become multi-billion dollar stultifiers! Multi-billion dollar stultifiers get better at it!

Moloch! Moloch! Mergers and Acquisitions! Stock offerings! Off-shorings! Downsizings! Promotions! Demotions! Commotions! Daily Reorg! 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! 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! Daily project reviews! Micromanagers! Hall monitors! Eavesdropped, intercepted, expurgated e-mail!

Moloch! Mortgages! Rents! Split-level fantasies! RV’s 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 60 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 lifting 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.


Bill Gates! I’m with you in Redmond

where you’re the richest man in the country, engaged to be married, building a new home that includes a nursery and you are madder than I am

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 and still are madder than I am

Steve Wozniak! I’m with you in Los Gatos

where now you’ve retired and built a cave playhouse for your children and you must feel very strange! and I think we’re both about equally mad

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 are still 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 CPU’s

by our own souls’

operating system 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.

San José, 1992-1993


BEEP: the command in the programming language BASIC which caused early DOS computers to emit the sound commonly used for error warnings.

Moloch: the God of the Canaanites, who demanded the sacrifice of the firstborn child.

I’m with you in Redmond: In the third section of “Howl,” Ginsberg speaks to his friend and former lover Carl Solomon in Rockland Mental Hospital and envisions him being freed.