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Trojan Heretic

On Lanier’s Beauty

jaron lanier’s website is terrible

so exquisitely


it violates almost every design principle in existence

in brutal fashion

lanier seems screaming savage at war

with ui elegance

and ux empathy

and yet

he routinely speaks fondly of both

lanier also speaks often

of beauty

and does so with intelligence


and heart

jaron lanier aches

for the lost ideals of a digital culture

that he helped create

and then witness all founding beliefs

disappear from view

it hurt

the internet is both imagined construct

and embryonic being

and those who imagine

along with the being itself

have lost their way

it is dark

out there

and in here

and those who imagine

and the being itself

are not simply lost

in that dark

they have become it1

this is a problem

fast becoming

one of the defining fights of our times

in lanier’s mind,

“we have to create [and potentially remake]

a culture around technology

that is so beautiful,

so meaningful,

so deep, 

so endlessly creative,

so filled with infinite potential

that it draws us away

from committing mass suicide”2

and that is how we transcend

for lanier adherence to design principles and

aesthetics alone

will never do that kind of beauty justice

and we know this too

for lanier beauty lies

in the “quirkiness of individual point of view”3

and for us it hinges on values

that we have the courage to stand behind and

see through

how lanier lives so deep inside the computer and

remains human is baffling

no rabbit has ever scurried as far down the hole

this website is what lanier’s mind looks like

from the inside

and right there

is where he adheres

to the most fervently talked about design principle of all

can you tell me [without discussing aesthetics]

what this piece of work stands for?4

and lanier can answer that

“this is an utterly non-commercial and personal site

it is messy like a living space

with broken links and unfinished business

and numerous dead ends

try to appreciate these loose ends as you would

the drippings in a painter’s studio”5

lanier is also highly empathetic

and altruistic in his approach

tell me user where do you feel pain

“… there are a lot of people in the world

with poor connections 


older machines and

pretty is good but

it is less important than connection

the point of the web is to get rid of barriers to access”5

not once does his work and aesthetic

depart from his underlying values and goals

lanier will one day become his website

he will morph and evolve and upload himself

become pure energy



inside a gigantic global computer mainframe

i will watch the live stream

and when he’s complete i will immediately

turn and follow indigenous writer

and muse Kirilly Dawn through the mist

lie down and

“close my eyes”

“settle with my bones”

and take one final

“long exhale into the earth”6

and for the next “400 years”6 i will follow



“search for those that came before me” and

“feel those who 

came after”6

including jaron

move onward overhead

i know that he doesn’t want to

exist forever

and do so forever

inside a machine

but he knows

he must

the only way lanier can save

billions of human peripherals

now accumulating

and therefore tightening their own noose

in the clouds

is to become the cloud himself

“style used to be an interaction

between the human soul

and tools that were limiting”

but in the digital era

“it will have to come from the soul alone”7

as much as it hurts him

he knows

we just don’t have it in us

and so

for the second time in his life jaron lanier

must become trojan heretic and

attack the entire system from the inside

and the only way I can stand behind

my own rhetoric

is to cut my own tether


arms out wide


let go



1. Scolaro, N. 2015. Parker Palmer Is Living The Questions. Dumbo Feather. Issue 44, p. 20-31.

2. Lanier, J. 2018. How we need to remake the internet. TED 2018.

3. Lanier. J. 2010. Editorial Review – AQ&A with Author JaronLanier. (2010,January1).Retrieved April13,2020, from

4. Reyes, M. 2020. Shillington College. Australia.

5. Johnson, E. 2018. If you can quite social media, but don’t, then you’re part of the problem. Vox.

6. Dawn, K. 2020. In My Bones I Find My Living Ancestors. Paradiso. Issue 15, p. 30-31.

7. Lanier, J. You are not a gadget. Penguin Books.

8. Tibble. T. 2018. Long White Clouds. Poukahangatus. Victoria University Press. p 38.


Scolaro, N. 2015. “Parker Palmer”; Lanier, J. 2018; Lanier. J. 2010; Reyes, M. 2020; Johnson, E. 2018; Dawn, K. 2020. Lanier, J. 2013; Tibble. T. 2018.


420mm x 594mm (Landscape)

Image Detail

Mixed Media: Charcoal • Ink • Fine-liners • Photography • Digital Collage

Publication Date

12⎮ 08 ⎮ 2020