Mondo 2000

On a used book table in the French Market, I picked up a copy of Mondo 2000’s User’s Guide, published back in 1992 when most of us still needed to learn what a link was, and I discovered a kind of rebellious innocence. This was like finding a promotional brochure to the house of the future. These were the road warriers ready for what was next. They are Frisco’s 49-ers ready for the Internet apocalypse. As one spamazon reviewer writes, the book is “a very 1990 look at the future.” mondo 2000

My favorite part of this book is the tone, the mix of beat slang and tech attitude that snaps its fingers through the intro. Here’s a line describing Benoit Mandlebrot’s use of fractals:

The really HEAVY thing is that the whole endlessly various pattern is based on nothing but rpeatedly evaluating a single quadratic equation….And THAT could very well be how the world is made, you dig, a simple rule plus lots and lots off computation.

It’s funny, because the idea being articulated here resembles N. Katherine Hayles’ very recent description of the Computational Universe. But in the language, there’s also this sense like we can take on the world if we trade our acid for internet hookups. I think I have owned this energy once. It re-emerges in New Media studies. It drives us. But it also brings with it a kind of shame and denial when the Mr. Microphone ends up on the garage sale table. It is a kind of short shelf-life prose of cult of the newfangeled machines that will always appear to us ten years later as 8-tracks and Beta VCRs.

Rucker, Rudy, R.U. Sirius, Queen Mu. Mondo 2000: A User’s Guide to the New Edge : Cyberpunk, Virtual Reality, Wetware, Designer Aphrodisiacs, Artificial Life, Techno-Erotic Paganism, and More. New York: Perennial, 1992.

2 Responses to “Mondo 2000”

  1. 1 Christy Dena

    On the flipside of your find is the long lost (or never known) manuscript by Jules Verne. The story, Paris in the Twentieth Century, was written in 1863 but was rejected by publishers for being too far-fetched. The story is set in a futuristic Paris where technology is idolised above all Arts. Verne describes extraordinary machines such as elevators and faxes, and sketches the journey of an luddite artist in such an environment. The protagnoist, Michel Dufrenoy, is a poet who shuffles betweens menial jobs, unable to express his creative side. His employers are acutely aware, however, of his uniqueness:

    “The boy is monumentally inept,” the banker observed.
    “The claims of truth oblige me to agree,” replied the Cashier.
    “He is what used to be called an artist,” Athanase broke in, “and what we would call a ninny.”
    “In his hands, the machine is becoming a dangerous instrument,” returned the banker. (p.55)

    In the end Dufrenoy chooses his creativity, his urge to write and think above work, above conformity. The tale has a bleak ending — typical of Steampunk soothesayers. verne

    The manuscript was found in a safe in 1988, unpublished because of the technophilic visions, while Mondo 2000 is published but then found in a street market…it seems humanity balances itself out in the end.

    Verne, J. and R. Howard (1996) Paris in the Twentieth Century, Random House, New York.

  2. 2 CorvusE

    I loved Mondo in it’s early years. I think I still have that book on my shelf somewhere too. Thanks for the nostalgia boost!

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