I was about to send this to press when Covid-19 abruptly pulled us into a new age. Art made before the rupture suddenly looks different, flickering with new meanings and demeanings. My book seemed to shift colors in my hands.

Back in 2002, in the aftershocks of 9/11, I wrote Dispersion. That essay considered then-nascent networks as spaces for corporate exploitation and warfare, and imagined an art that might flourish in the cracks of the new system. The final sentence was, “It may be that we are standing at the beginning of something.” We certainly were at the beginning of something, but whatever it was, that thing is now over. We find ourselves at a new threshold.

In 2013, I set out to write an experimental Young Adult novel. I wanted to rewire some of the feelings I felt coursing through an era marked by the wars of 9/11, recession and debt, climate change, the rise of Big Tech and social media, outrageous luxury and decadence. I gave up after eight months, the book was a mess. It didn’t help that I had interlarded it with my own, older essays. I had recently received invitations to publish my collected writings, but I declined, preferring to steal the idea and do it my way…

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