Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More Cartoons and an Origin Story

The unfortunate combination of obligation and procrastination is impacting my ability to keep up with the blogging, so it looks like another week of delving into the sketchbook for comic art.  Meh.  That's not cheating, right?  That's just its own form of sharing.

And in the spirit of sharing, I thought I would respond publicly to a private question from a friend who follows my blog.  "Why Bungy Notes?" she asked me.  No big mystery, there.  "Bungy" (with or without accompanying digits) has been my profile name of choice on the internet for almost two decades now.  Way back in 1992, when most interactions were text based and we used to meet strangers in "tallkers" and "bbs," I chose Bungy as my moniker.  Up until sometime in 2000, it was my secret identity.  When I was doing stuff on line and didn't want my name attached to those activities, I was "Bungy."

But why Bungy?  Back in those early days of the net, before pic and video sharing were so easy, there were plenty of us inspired by the writings of William Gibson and other cyber-punk authors to imagine the Internet as a virtual site where you could reinvent yourself.  Moreover, that reinvention need not be tied to reality; the only limits were those of bandwidth and imagination.  I used to go to a purely text-based gay talker and engage in cyber-sex with strangers who may or may not have been men on the other end of the line.  At that time, there was a pretty even split between those men who wanted to hook up IRL and those who just wanted to play on-line.  There was a middle crowd eager to move to phone chats, but I pretty much fell into the latter group.

There were other differences as well.  One of them involved those who were tied to reality and those of us who were not.  Again, I fit into the latter group.  Long before Second Life came on the scene, there were plenty of us involved in collaborative fantasies typed out in textual format.  And some of us, recognizing that this was fantasy, chose a more dream-like and surreal approach to our fantasies.  "Bungy" was a misspelling of "bungee" and references both my desire for extreme experiences (like the extreme sport of bungee jumping) and my desire for flexibility in an on-line identity.  Even at that time, most gay men greeted each other in the fantasy world of on-line encounters with a request for "stats."  I often gave impossible stats for my height, weight, and genitalia proportions.  I could bend in impossible ways.  I was stretchy, expandable, and quite very odd.  And therein arose my subtitle: "Be flexible.  Be strange."

If video killed the radio star, I think pics and vids killed the surreal on-line chatrooms.  Oh sure, there's the visual buffet of Second Life.  I tried that for a while.  But I found the menu options somewhat limiting -- I had to choose my strangeness out of a box.  I either had to know how to code it myself or work from a bricolage of someone else's fantasy materials.  And I was kind of offended by how the whole Second Life experience was invested (literally) in creating a real economy with Linden Dollars.  Plus, all those graphics tended to jam people's systems.  It was too odd (and not in the good way) to see so many prepackaged avatars standing in a crowd and still using the old talker/chat-room conventions to spin out fantasies.

Anyway, "Bungy" remains an on-line name for me.  It is who I am on-line and who I have been for coming on two decades.  I still haven't actually bungee jumped, but that is something that remains on my bucket list.  One day.  And for the record, in my head I hear the "g" as soft.  I am aware that it can be pronounced with a hard "g" and be an adjective for something that smells bad.  That amuses me, since so far smell is one sense we haven't added to the virtual experience.  I also recently learned that "bungy" is a derogatory term for a man from Bangladesh.  Who knew? 


  1. Love this narrative of personae and origins! Very fitting with some work Nico and I are working on right now!

  2. I like your perceptions intertwining identity and technology - it's a rich era, esp. with a vantage point of time...


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