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From the Belly of the Whale 

(St. Louis, Missouri, USA)

[E-mail excerpt:] Dear Friend (but nobody says "dear" anymore — correspondence etiquette is dead),

Let me fill your consciousness with some shorthand bravado, a few acronyms and some gibberish. This really isn't the place for poetry or deep thinking (America, I mean); it's perfectly suited to e-mail. An e-mail nation, where the national language will eventually evolve (or dissolve) into pidginspeak. Dictionaries will be rewritten; daily newspapers will publish handy codes for the unindoctrinated. But how are the great writers, artists, thinkers of the future going to be able to document their freewheeling thoughts? What is the book-publishing industry going to do without those great letters they'll never write?

I've grown accustomed to the secret world of my computer. Real life: Dangerous, tricky. Too strict with social protocol, too little anonymity. Example: I recently met a real-life human, a Sagittarius. Conversation went something like:

<-- _

Plop! |__

|__ -- (notice descent!)

Flop! |__

|__

Blop! |__ -->

No acronyms, thankfully. It was a very human exercise in the art of say-not-a-word. Naturally, I fled. Now I'm glad to have my nightly vino in quieto solitudino. A little chamber music, maybe (if Percy Sledge is chamber music). Suffer the routine Internet loneliness. I wonder who people are, anyway. We're an evolving species, amid which I am a microscopic super-subcategory. :) :(

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