Head Full of Numbers

January 23, 1995|By ANDREI CODRESCU

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans. -- I was flying through cyber-space, light as a feather, the other day, when this government zit with a mug full of glitches, asks to see my numbers, as if I am a real human being, not just a byte off his virtual log.

Now I don't normally carry human numbers, street name and digits, fax, phone, beeper, e-mail, zipcode, bar-code, credit digits, SS number, security codes and the like when I go info-cruising, so it was really annoying.

Reminded me of something from the age of street patrols when people used to go out.

Or something from the age of the couch-potatoes when the slogan was, ''It's not Big Brother Watching. We are Big Brother, Watching!''

That naturally, came after ''Big Brother is Watching,'' and all the encryption fights, which really had more to do with Big Brother Listening.

And before that, it was ''Big Brother Wants You!,'' which was the last time he was so polite about his needs and wants.

Before that, there was nothing. I mean, just people. That's all: people writing in long-hand to other people far away. It was faster to walk there directly. Letters took years.

But now, here is this imaginary cop slowing down my imaginary cruise and he wants my human numbers which, even if I knew where they were, would be absolutely of no use. Everyone has a secret code-bar now. I don't know my code-bar number just as he doesn't know his.

This is our shared secret in the disembodied world where we spend our non-existence.

We are not dead: It's just that we don't have bodies, numbers or memory. We have a directional imperative but it's not geographical or psychological. We can go toward or into any dimension as long as we move. And we can only move if we desire to move, which is what the imperative is, I guess.

So, here I am, I have no idea how to respond to this law officer I have created out of my own desire to be censured. Perhaps I want my imperative censured.

I don't know. I'm keying this in longhand.

Andrei Codrescu is editor of ''Exquisite Corpse.''

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