Trust

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by Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon008: ETHER

with “PORTRAIT OF THE POET AS A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMANITY”

an artwork from CURSIVE BINARY


by SASHA STILES

ETHER: numbing agent, intoxicant.

ETHER: immaterial and diaphanous tether between all things.

ETHER: digitized currency, without trust.

We aren’t swaggering into the territory of ETHER. Perhaps you, like we, watch from a distance the digitized mutation of reality with something like indignation & unwitting surrender. Or perhaps you, like we, tiptoe into that territory with enchanted anticipation.

The screened life is a bifurcated life: a lush life, an amputated life. The digital life is a life gathered around a bottomless wellspring of possibility and cut through by a radical violence. The screen brings me my friend, my lover. But it taunts me too, keeping in sight what’s perpetually out of reach.

Soon, these words will weave into a nonfungible token: an expression of nonequivalent surplus value and exchange, erupting from within Marxian equivalence, the bedrock of modernity.

There is no bedrock, there is no more modernity.

Perhaps, like you, we grieve, we rejoice.

Nothing is changed, nothing is the same.

So maybe the task is simple: keep three precious things; take care where you place your trust.


“PORTRAIT OF THE POET AS A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMANITY”

“PORTRAIT OF THE POET AS A BRIEF HISTORY OF HUMANITY” (2021) is a translation of an original, as-yet-unpublished poem by Sasha Stiles into Cursive Binary, her proposed language for transhuman communication. Though only pixel-deep, this digital scroll is a richly textured, meticulously crafted multimedia palimpsest inscribed with encrypted musings on storytelling and data preservation, future writers and readers, and connections through deep time and boundless ether.

An ongoing series of transhuman translations unrolling across mediums, platforms, and blockchains, Cursive Binary is defiantly transbinary, echoing the zero-one rhythms of elegiac couplets as obsolescent handwriting fuses together with the dominant language of today and tomorrow: machine speak. Algorithmically poetic, this particular self-portrait holds up technology as a mirror to humanity—code as ode to our emergent selves.

Sasha Stiles


ANNE MARIE WIRTH CAUCHON editor

Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon is Editor-in-Chief of Stillpoint Magazine, and Creative Director of the PrairieCare Institute’s Center for Applied Psychoanalysis, the mother of two, a PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, and the author of the novel Nothing.

SASHA STILES artist

Sasha Stiles is a poet, artist, and transhuman translator working at the intersection of text and technology. Her practice seeks to decipher the hidden language of the dawning Novacene, probing what it means to be human in a nearly post-human era. Stiles’ work—from traditional verse and experimental poetry to binary-based art and collaborative AI poetics—has appeared in analog and virtual realms and been nominated for awards including the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, in addition to being published as clean NFTs. Her hybrid art and poetry collection Technelegy will be published Fall 2021.

Learn more about Cursive Binary and Stiles’ work at sashastiles.com.