By Douglas Rushkoff. Published in Transformations in the Nervepool: The Rituals and Zoacodes of Ebon Fisher on 1 January 2006

It’s not enough to come up with a great idea, or even the solution to one of the world’s great problems. The trick is to communicate it to the right people. That means traversing civilizations, geography, and even time itself. For what if the person you truly need to hear your message doesn’t speak your language, refuses to see through your cultural bias, or hasn’t even been born yet? How can one communicate across these chasms?

Writers, for the most part, are screwed. Text is rather disposable these days. Unless we create a work–usually one of fiction–that appeals to some mythological or fetishistic urge, we won’t be published in the kind of leather-bound edition that merits preservation. Our work is kept alive as long as it is deemed immediately relevant, the canon, for the most part, having been already established.

As the electronic media takes up an increasingly large portion of human consciousness, most people hoping to disseminate ideas have taken to the viral strategy: create some mutant form of media so unique (usually just funny, shocking, or disgusting) that its novelty provokes people to pass it around. Whether it’s the latest sexual gaffe by a pop star or the clever website by a burger chain, these viruses piggyback on our need for an excuse to send email to one another. The harder real conversation gets, the more we seem to need superficial controversy to fuel our exchanges.

However immediately provocative, the virus only replicates as long as its novelty disarms us. And with memetic code as topical as a chewing gum ad or local news promo, its breadth of dissemination is more than compensated for by its negligible impact.

So where is the inspired provocateur to turn? If you came upon the secret to the universe, but needed to store it for future generations until someone was ready to act upon it, how could you guarantee its survival? Make it into art. Make it so aesthetically compelling that people desire to bring it into their homes, put it on their walls, clothing, or even their skin, and contemplate its conception and execution. Create artifacts that others will voluntarily frame, archive, and protect well into the future.

The work in your hands is just such an artifact. Ebon Fisher’s expressions are at once an immediately hypnotic viral challenge, and an advanced set of social protocols for evolving into a more inclusive and collaborative cultural organism.