Vanishing Point A Bookand Websiteby Ander Monson




More than likely you're like me and you eschew any kind of formalized "How-To." You skip the manuals and just plug the thing in and fiddle with the controls and hope it doesn't blow up. Like any other good hacker, you want to play with the thing for a while first before you subject yourself to the official rules and restraints and guidelines of the author of the manual.

So do it.

And then come back here if you want more, get lost, or whatever.

But maybe you used the how-to to test my reflexes. Do all instances of the dagger merit an extension, or is that first one just for show, to demonstrate what it is we're dealing with, in a large enough font to make it obvious? Points to you. And points to me. Points to the two of us, and to the book, that meeting place, that tiny city of pages.

I feel that very same obligation, to test the perimeters of any system, so see what the system allows and what it does not. I have a longer essay on essay as a kind of hack in the swarm, but to reiterate, whenever I have any kind of unexplored virtual space, my first job, I feel, instinctively, almost, from long training at the hands of computer games when I was young, is to push along the perimeter of the space, to circumnavigate it and see what shape I'm dealing with.

In the traditional visual rhetoric of exploration, I illuminate the outside of the map before lighting up the center. I surround the darkness on the screen with light and then start to take it apart.

I am obsessive. I admit this.

And I thought about how much to integrate this electronic shell of the book with the book itself. And finally decided on something like this, which turns into a series of extended footnotes that can grow and interlink and flex and network and so on. I'm not completely sold on it. It feels artificial, still, clunky. Or maybe you're reading this on the Kindle or some other eBook reader and can just click on it so it works more like a regular link.

But it gives me time beyond my deadlines for my editors to think about it and to do something else.

So you can either use the index (though note to the crafty: there is lots beyond the index, easter eggs in the parlance of the game designers, that are off the track I have laid out for you) or type the word in the box and see what happens.

Don't confuse these with footnotes, though. The footnotes are part of the text, and are fixed. This is, and is not, in that order.

In the future all of this will seem so quaint. Maybe you are already in the future. Maybe we are there together.