Do You Like to Watch?

          While chasing an Internet rabbit late Sunday night, not wanting the weekend to end, I decided to go through some old links in my bookmarks file. Spring grows vital and things I seldom use need new purpose, part of an on-going lifestyle edit obsession. I’ve already been to the Salvation Army drop trailer in the Presidio with a crock-pot, a rice cooker, and clothes. Earlier in the week, I posted an ad on Craig’s List to give away some old G-scale hobby buildings from an all-weather model railroad that I had as a kid. If anyone is interested, I still have some rolling stock; I’m just not into collecting things anymore, except life-data, music, and art.

          I survey old links, cut those that are dead, revisit and organize live ones, some informational, some satiric, and some still totally cool: those like the Klingon Language Institute, Landover Baptist, All Your Base Are Belong To Us, Dial a Human, and Saddam: Thanks for the Memories. The rabbit leads me deep under ground and with frenetic hops/clicks to fresh, LOL, and abstract (whoa) sites: those like Women of Star Trek, High as F*ck, sortakinda, and Examples of Redneck Improvisation.

          Through a passage, I chain clink to an HBO marketing site that is fascinating and addictive, HBO Voyeur. In New York City, an apartment building is revealed as the tenants go about their lives. I am curious and cannot turn away. What are they doing? Orgy? Murder? Shooting photos in the Morgue? Do you like to watch?

          It reminds me of a book I read some time ago, The House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski. The book is about a documentary filmmaker who buys a house in the country, and to his surprise, the house is substantially larger on the inside then the outside. Five levels of character abstraction and two primary plot threads tell the story: they are the owner and his family, the person who films the house, a tattoo artist who finds the film in a deceased tenant’s apartment, and the reader. The two threads are the tattoo artist’s discovery and reaction and the actual events. The pedagogy and design lead the reader forward and backwards, up and down, right to left and reverse, and through multiple levels of annotation. Intimidating, the books falls into a natural rhythm after the reader finds a workable path through the book and house.

          I think it is amazing how each presents data to imply something about us. It’s easy to get lost in the book or house with out crumbs or string, and we struggle for a foothold. Anonymously watching strangers move through their lives and secrets is fascinating and repulsive. I cringe at cold greasy ethics, but can’t look away. How fervent is your curiosity, and how far will you go to satisfy it?

UPDATE 082208: Much to my disappointment, the HBO Voyeur site is no longer available. I don’t know why programmers at HBO decided to take it down; I was just beginning to understand when it when dark. Perhaps it was just a marketing test that fizzled or revealed too much and too close. It was an interesting experiment, and a media form factor for more exploration of the sublime, local dark corners of everyday experience.

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