The Flat Earth Society, pledged to the dismantling of the ‘Round Earth hoax’:

“Throughout the years it has become a duty of each Flat Earth Society member, to meet the common Round Earther in the open, avowed, and unyielding rebellion; to declare that his reign of error and confusion is over; and that henceforth, like a falling dynasty, he must shrink and disappear, leaving the throne and the kingdom of science and philosophy to those awakening intellects whose numbers are constantly increasing, and whose march is rapid and irresistible.” (1)

People have inimitable capacity for diffuse aggrievances, it would seem. A penchant for the stockpiling of ideological detritus against every conceivable (un)likelihood. The smorgasboard of Internet theatre might generously afford voyeuristic escapism. At worst, it’s a decidedly grim sinkhole for productivity, efficiency, and maintaining healthy attitudes to other sapiens. My high school career in nervous dissension seems much paler beside the vehemence of the comment-enabled. In it, I recall only heretical ballpoint vandalisms between sheets of filmy paper. The Good News! was my axis of dispute against programmatic curricula. I had not been rallying against the conspiratorial roundness of the firmament itself. However, now is the opportune time to make alms to the manifesto- at least in part. I have commenced my doctoral project, one that will perhaps span around six years (measured in spherical earth rotations in a circle-esque orbit around the sun, I’m afraid). It is an undertaking that may well slingshot me into the incredulous border space inhabited by Flat Earth and fringe propositions.

When coasting a raw field of the untempered theoretical, then, let us not tarry on particular details in the Flat Earth thesis. I don’t much care for the conquest of flat over round, because the deliciousness of the folly isn’t there. The Flat Earthers are overshadowed by their literal trajectory, to a rapture of phantasmic Edgeness. I imagine a place where torrential oceans might cascade into the infinite dark, crowning mythological and cartographic doom in a ring around our world.

It is the garrulous seeking of such Edgeness that stirs me to the borders known. Out along the crags and nodes of the unfurling web and its discourse, sticky with footprints and then sylph-like, turning quick to the vapours of obsolescence. It had started when I was smaller again, before those churlish illustrations in the Bible. Smooth beige and grey plastics render in the touch of formative years, the thin hum of a CRT monitor announcing a periscope up, and away! To Edgeness, and it was veritably everywhere.

Restrained in dull pockets of sparse and pixelated bitmaps, I had little recourse to 90’s PC gaming aesthetics. Just the humdrum fripperies of swollen dungeons, responsible race car driving, and shooting demons from Mars in the face. Lo, another perplexing set of logic puzzles in the blocky labyrinth of Tomb Raider. As character avatars were summarily transfigured into my instruments of trespass, the promise of what lay outside the game mesh was figured in my mind as a solitary peak, ever obsfucated but for a radiant, unstable glimpse. It was almost always a violent encounter, as it seemed mostly clipping errors, physics exploits or ballistic impacts offered carriage there…to the precipice. Eeerily vacillating in opaque emptiness, the Edge of that era was not enfolded in neat “turn back!” signals, or cute teleportations to more sensible areas of the map. The Edge of those days was ragged, savage, firmly evacuated. A thin veneer cast over the substrate of the construct, laid bare as the road ran out, the 2D horizon of mountains disappeared, and sensorial comforts ceased entirely. The white void was a vacuum, yet it keened relentlessly to me. I would propel my gaze into stratospheric heights, observing the field as a floating microcosm. Where spectral ceilings boxed me in, I hung like a frozen star, else I was catapulted into the abyss, watching the skyline vanish to a pinpoint and then to nothing. I slipped between borders, down the alleys of bounding boxes to the murk below, the exposed underside of the terrain visible in all its unpalatability. Untextured, unmanicured. The ruins of abandoned game architecture. And sometimes I just fell without end, my avatar a whirling mannequin in the terrible vortices of freefall.

For to behold the Edge was to meet real carthasis, one more powerful than the game’s own resolution. It would be a triumph of true agency in the face of the unseen, the bureau of scripting didacts whose true intentions, I believed, lay at the end of the rainbow. If I met the boundary of the gameworld in open, avowed and unyielding rebellion. If I could peer into the face of the unmapped, uncovering the true logos of the story, left there for only the worthy trespasser. It was more than just transgressional hunger, more than the desire to overthrow the rationality of a virtual paradigm. It was adding volume to the hollow tectonics of the game, underlining depth to prescriptive mechanisms, finding a kind of user placehood in a superficial narrative culture. I swore allegiance to the Situationists long before I knew their ethos. I had played at psychogeography even with my revulsion towards the grotesqueries of Doom, switching to God Mode and navigating with the most spartan of maps (2):

Am_stretch.png

Games grew more sophisticated and I, through increasing comprehension of their innards, began to grow in curiosity and lexicality.

Driving the visible, I started tinkering with the engine of code. With the console active, I could orchestrate with the utterance of the makers, speaking in the native tongue of software processes. Through this bolstered megalomania, I set about spawning far too many characters or artifacts for the sluggish hardware to cope. Freezing, crashing and overheating were the physical comorbidities of this fresh enthusiasm. Discovery of the master vernacular told me something else: edgeness was no longer a planar horizon, a cliff at the end of the visual world. Edgeness extended out like a spark, in glyphs of symbols and letters. These marks string together as communication and intention, a context for sensicality and presence. Edgeness swallows itself in the instance of collapsing recursion, broaching expanding possibility, a round earth in a connected Web.

(1) From http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/tiki/tiki-index.php, accessed 20/7/16

(2)From  http://doom.wikia.com/wiki/Automap, accessed 20/7/16

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