Sunday, May 22, 2011


All is codes: from jungle drums communicating from tribe to tribe, to words, to DNA. It’s all a load of codes that get decoded and turned into ideas or life or everything else that makes us happy or sad or everything in between. Notes for the milkman, love letters, declarations of war, the next step of evolution, it’s all just a load of codes getting decoded and changing things for a while or sometimes forever.

We’re surrounded by codes, receiving and decoding, all the time: decoding, decoding, decoding. We decode the things people say to us, the stuff we read in the paper, the images we see on billboards or on the telly. The religion, the patriotism, the cultural myths and social norms we build our lives around are all just codes. Even the codes that tell us to ignore other codes are bleedin’ codes. Ideology, bias, personal taste, all are the end result of codes. We are manipulated by codes. Codes are the strings and we are the puppets. We think we’re unique individuals but we’re just a load of codes held together by flesh and bone. We’re just following whatever coded instructions we happen to come across. We’re just following orders. We’re just a load of ones and zeros.

Where have these codes gotten us? What would we be without them? I wonder what came before codes. An empty Limbo? A peaceful Nirvana?

Cryptographer and electronics pioneer Claude Elwood Shannon (pictured above) noticed that all communication came in code. He theorised the notion of the Bit (the binary digits essential to computing, telecommunications, and the modern world working at large). Shannon is considered the father of the information age.

It’s ironic that Alzheimer’s ended Shannon’s life, an illness that took his ability to decipher codes. An illness that left him scared and alone before delivering him into a codeless void. During his retirement, before his Alzheimer’s, Shannon built a little machine called the Leave Me Alone Box. It was futility in a nutshell. A device with a solitary purpose, to turn itself off once it had been turned on.

I wonder if Shannon, a man who gave more thought to information and communication than almost any other, was trying to tell us something with the Leave Me Alone Box. I wonder if he was he making a statement of some sort or maybe a joke. Why else would a man of his intellect bother to make such a contraption? Was he trying to tell us something? Was he taking the piss, . . .in code?

IN OTHER NEWS: I see that smartarse Adam Curtis will be imposing more difficult observations upon our comforting narratives tomorrow (Monday, May 23rd) on BBC2 at 9pm. It’s a Fugger recommendation and here’s a link to a tantalising promo: ALL WATCHED OVER BY MACHINES OF LOVING GRACE.
It should be better than Celebrity Risotto Challenge or whatever shite is on the other channels. Remember: Use Telly Responsibly!
. . . right, that is all. You are free to go, if indeed you are here in the first place (whatever that means).


barrymore said...

Well there you are! You’re back on your perch again! You’ve put that blasted machine away and gone back to basics. Thing is... you’ve reminded me of a time I had to do some code-breaking with Terry Stamp. It was in the Savoy Hotel. I was having a good spell on the tele at the time and decided to pop in for a few nice martinis. Thats how it started. Well..he just come out of nowhere and he was pissed as arseholes. He shoved his foot in the door of the lift and bellowed 'You Alwight!' Then burst into tears! I didn’t know who it was at first, his hair was all on end..I thought..Blimey, for once its somebody else! Anyway the concierge give me the whisper it was Terry Stamp and signaled he’d been at it quite a while. First thing I did was help him to a seat and try to get a drink down him. Then I asked him about his predicament. Well... talk about speaking in code! It was like communicating with a highly-distressed chicken. Took me a while to piece together he wanted to go to Stepney! That’s where he grew up, by the canal. So off we went in a cab to Stepney. All the way he sang shanties. After a few minutes we’re nearly there and he suddenly turns to me and says ’Where am I! What’s your game!!?' 'Where’s my mum? What have you done!!?’ Course his internal coding system was gone. I said 'Terry, its Michael, you wanted to go to Stepney. The old manor…' I said 'look', pointing out the window. 'Michael Who! You’re just some frog waiter you’re not my hoppo!!' 'I’m calling you out Herbert!' He started to get very hot under the collar. Then he starts shouting about watermen. 'Do you know any Watermen?' he demanded. Turns out his dad had been captain of a tugboat. 'You don’t mean Dennis Waterman by any chance?' 'You f****ing c*nt' he screamed 'don’t ever say that name to me!!' this stage the cabbie was getting restless and I thought enough’s enough, so I says, 'You take this one Terry and I’ll walk from here'

Years later we met at a Pro-Am Charity Event at Wentworth Golf Course, Terry’s a bit of a golfer apparently. He had no memory whatsoever. He just looked in disbelief. He said 'Are you alright?' I said 'Thats how it all started!!'

Fugger said...

I ran into Stamp myself once. He was very drunk. Very very drunk. He kept roaring "kneel to Zod" at passers by. He was with your man Donald Pleasence. They were looking very shabby.Pleasence said he was off to Sidcup to get his papers. I suppose Stamp was just tagging along.

Ollie Reed borrowed a tenner off me the same night.