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G. E. B. Kivistik

I shouldn’t even be doing this — I OUGHT to be working on the Nyan Cat project I had a flash of inspiration for the other day, a project with the potential to be FAR more enriching to the lives of those around me, and, dare I say, to the world. But another flash just hit me about something entirely different. And I miss my personal blog. A lot. I miss venting to it, on an Internet so obscure to the average person that I could be assured my bosses wouldn’t read it just because they barely knew what a webpage was, much less a blog.

ANYWAY I am feeding it this:

My ex-boyfriend cited reading Cryptonomicon in high school as his inspiration for going into Peace Corps in Africa. Specifically, he mentioned the passage which in my copy (2000) is on pp 82-83: In Which The Hero Has Dinner With A Bunch Of Snooty Academics. One of the academics, G.E.B. Kivistik, says (as my ex recounted) “Who will build the on-ramps from the ghettos to the Information Superhighway?” His response, as a high schooler, was “Me!”

If you get closer to the passage, it’s clear that the snooty academic is not a sympathetic character. You’re supposed to identify with the hero, who gets more and more agitated about Kivistik’s abuse of the Information Superhighway metaphor, and eventually rips him apart for not understanding the Internet at all. If you actually look at the passage, it reads “How many on-ramps will connect the world’s ghettos to the Information Superhighway?” Taking this passage to heart is a little odd. (A friend just referred to it as “lacking Earth logic,” which is funny since my ex once commented that all he wanted was for his African students to use logic and reason for a change.)

What just struck me is the irony of one incredibly hurtful thing my ex said, in light of this passage. About a month after we broke up I went to feel out whether we’d cooled down enough to maybe talk things over. (“Too soon!” said Rachel. She was right.) I tried to explain why I’d broken up with him, and try to feel out why he thought I’d done it. He said he thought we’d broken up because we had a number of fundamental disagreements. Mainly, he didn’t believe that taking classes and studying was as valuable a way of knowing as actually having done things — and he explicitly applied that value judgment to the seven years of grad school I’d just come out of.

Now I’m not sure whether there’s actually an irony in the fact that he took his marching orders from a bloviating academic in a novel, or whether he was actually reacting to Kivistic as the hero did, arguing that as a programmer he knew much more about the Internet and what should be done with it.

As far as I know (I don’t read his blog anymore), my ex is still over in Africa. Teaching, not setting up technology.

* * *

It’s been almost a year since I broke up with him. The further I get from the breakup, the happier I am. I liked that he was idiosyncratic, but in hindsight, it served as his stubborn defense of continuing to do what he did as a(n only) child of well-meaning hippies; someone who barely emotionally survived leaving home to go to college, and returned thereafter to live in his childhood home before heading to Peace Corps.

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