Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why metascrawl?  In the land of blogger it is already taken. In a cursory read of, I like what I find there.  A mix of criticism of science journalism, politics and Lou Reed.  Metascrawl, again and again, I've returned to this pseudonym repeatedly over the years.  My first use of it was way back in the day of Angelfire.  This was long before I had ever imagined that I would make my career as an archivist, as a digital records archivist for whom metadata is integral. Metadata is a set of data that describes and gives information about other data.  When archivist describe a journal, a photograph or a map, we use metadata, such as, creator, author, physical description, subject or geographical location.  Literary theory ascribes metanarrative to stories about stories, stories within stories, such as John Barth's Chimera. Within critical theory, especially postmodernism, metanarrative is a comprehensive explanation of historical experience or knowledge. Oxford Dictionary traces the use of meta on its own to the 1980s, referring to something that is self-referential. 

The origin of metascrawl is William Gibson's short story, Johnny Mnemonic, "The concrete walls were overlaid with graffiti, years of them twisting into a single metascrawl of rage and frustration." This line has always stuck with me, the visual is so powerful.  My favourite gallery for many years in Victoria was not within the confines of any traditional gallery space but was a three-four storey concrete parking lot. From the first level to the top it was a mass expression of fury and thought.  It began with scribblings, tags, racist epitaphs at the bottom to these beautiful murals on the top level of atypical faeries and creatures open to the sun and the night sky.  Eventually it was all painted over but for a time it was an urban masterpiece.

As I write this entry, I am bemused by the fact that my job involves both knowing and understanding the mnemonics of the database we use to control and describe the histories and stories within our vaults in the form of records - textual, film, photographs, audio or otherwise.

Inexplicably my future has grown to be reflexive of the inspiration and romance I found in a single word, a small sentence, from a story twenty-two pages in length. Rage and frustration guides me to in some small way make the world a better place. 

I among thousands have the ego to believe that what is knocking about in my head has relevance, others will wish to read, in spite of or because of its often self referential nature.

So begins John's metascrawl... on archives, photography, writing, politics and whatever grabs his fancy.