Reading the Wind

Reading the Wind

David (Jhave) Johnston

In his video-poem “Reading the Wind,” Dave (Jhave) Johnston identifies the current environment for electronic literature, and in doing so, claims the impossibility of knowing its future.

This series of short interventions were made at the “Futures of Electronic Literature” discussion at the bi-annual Electronic Literature Organization conference in 2012. Titled “Electrifying Literature: Affordances and Constraints,” the conference took place at West Virginia University in Morgantown on June 20th to June 23rd. The contributors were organized by Stephanie Strickland to offer suggestions on how to improve the organization as it attempts to re-define its mission in a shifting cultural, economic, and technological landscape. Ranging from the concrete to the poetic to the theoretical, the following nine short statements were made by a group of emerging artists, scholars, and practitioners from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds.

This video documents a presentation 
developed for the ‘Future of Electronic Literature’ panel 
at ELO 2012: Electrifying Literature: Affordances and Constraints
June 20-23, 2012
Morgantown, WV

The video was made in 2 weeks prior to conference using 123D. 
Voiceover was partially improvised at conference, then re-recorded afterwards.


[Text voiceover from video]


I have no idea 

What the future

Will really bring


I have no idea 

What time sings


People and cats

Laptops and tools

Writhe as they evolve


But temporarily 

I know how I am

Saying my non-saying


The future is not,

Cannot, and will not 

ever be




Or forgotten




To themselves

Make more sense


Telling the future 

is like

Reading wind 


Plush rushed delirious


Matter muttering to itself 


Obsolete before it 

Even begins

Wrinkled at birth


Intuition turbulence

temporary trajectories

perpetual calculus culture


All results

Are input



Climate change is accompanied by …

Device change

Infrastructure instability

Paradigm extinction


gliding down into the silence

of absolute information


Historians walk upwind

against time

Seeking patterns


In the smog of gestures

The tailing ponds of words


(gleaning from the air 

scents of resonance

organism motion)


(is the machine an animal yet?

Is the animal, a machine?)


Float with the wind:

lighter than air 

cling to nothing


No more mastery

No more apprentices

A universe of babies


As Hayles of cyborgs

Form committees

To discuss literature


In feathered networks

Of fragile labyrinths

Agile labile rage fragrant rags of flesh


Fading specks

Packet signs

Sporadic horizons


Crucial tangents sprout

Deft hydroponic

Drone ready 

Augment implacable



A white beach ball

Crushed under technology’s truck


Bodies forming wet works

Porous spaces sharing



Tilting moist 

warped words

Enter taste


Crones bend time 

Praise density


And it is enough

To be moles

Roiling thru the wet 


While at the limits

Of legibility

Something that is almost us

Is beckoning


The world is not flat

It is folded

Undulant reckonings


And as the shroud of nano-lit

Falls off the coffin of authorial intent

We recognize it never existed anyway


Autonomous cells


The infinitely small muses


Collapse all certainty 

About origins

Collapse into


meta-stable instability

Cruising raw devotion 

Toward the utter annihilation 

Of doubt


Shy slugs

Caressing their

Dreams as


Entropy entails

A taxonomy of (ir)reverent



The goal being

To give up wht is

Already for given


The sea changes

The light changes

Love changes

Life changes


Me changes

Sight changes

Cove changes

Ripe changes


Themes do not change

Death does not change


Techno ephemera


The book was 

Lazarus, computers

Are quarks


& I am always signing in or out

Down or up loading

Waiting or sitting



progress bars

Process products


Conflated speech

reaches inside



The only organization

Worth living for is love


The curved feature detecting

Rupture of ratpture


Folding Vulvic & lucid

Slowly around 




Opal foog confuters 



Syllables crumple under

Leashed loax lozenge rack

Flax server dos assacks



A bound

Breeding round


Stephanie Strickland and Marjorie Luesebrink:

Jhave Johnston’s lyric approach to temporary trajectories, perpetual calculus, and paradigm extinctions puts us on notice that we face headwinds of every kind drawn forward, as we are, by something beckoning at the limits of legibility.

See the full commentary


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