17776 and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

I had read through 17776 once before when it was first published and was instantly fascinated by it. Upon a second reading (and as the title suggests), a scene from Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore came into my mind. Namely, when Kat describes how, when thinking about the future, it is basically impossible to think further than 1000 years down the road. You have your flying cars, your clean energy, your world piece, what have you – but that is still, in the grand scheme of things, so close to where we live now.

Jon Bois’s 17776, however, seems to counteract this. The piece seems to actually think down the line, beyond 1000 years. Earth is wiped of humanity, the only communication is between satellites, and football is now played by tornadoes and the endzones are old state lines – now that’s thinking in the future.

Alongside this, I was also reminded of (as I am about basically everything other text in this class) Flusser’s new consciousness. Quite literally, of course, with the piece’s advent of technology becoming sentient – this is a literal new form of consciousness. But I also felt it in the way time is depicted in the piece. There is something quite ironic about two sentient A.I.’s only being able to communicate every few years due to humanity’s way of creating them. The same way our processes for thinking and communication have been limited by our own minds, the piece’s A.I.’s are limited by our ability to create them. This might not be fully fleshed out, but I think the point is there. I would love to know if this piece (or any of the other texts) made you think of past readings.

One thought on “17776 and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

  1. I also thought of “Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore”, but especially with “What is Code?” Ford talks about the kinds of people who work in tech, but especially at Apple and Google, which reminded me of Kat and the other “Googlers” in the novel who essentially eat and breathe Google. I wonder how we can think sociologically about these entire communities (or dare I say, communes?) of individuals whose entire life is based around on particular brand of technology. We need them, surely, but they also hold some form of cultural capital that has the potential to be used for manipulatory purposes. Should we implicitly trust the coders and developers of the world, knowing that they also work as gatekeepers?

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