Thank you, Professor Frink, for that very warm introduction. I'd also like to welcome our distinguished guests from the planet Nebulon. [applause] Yes, thank you, ladies and xerthoplex, for transmitting your energy all this way. Honored to have you.
I was asked to make a few remarks today on the 803rd anniversary of the Founding of Intrepid Media. It's difficult, of course, to imagine what life might have been like before the Founding. Today, I would first like to give some idea of the context in which the Founding took place. Then I will extrapolate that for you to arrive at today's current situation. It's quite a leap. I, for one, find it hard to imagine the universe wasn't always a single, peaceful community where everyone lives in capsules, eats xenon, and speaks Procopiese.
As all of you are aware, having learned this in your 0th grade handbooks... [muffled laughter]... ah, I'm sorry. It's just that the arcane terms amuse me. I should explain. "Books" were made of "paper"... um, well, it was pulp made from the wood of trees... um, "trees" were green living things that came up out of the gr... oh, nevermind. I realize the existence of physical objects must seem clumsy now, but before we harnessed the quantum particle and learned to convert radioactive waste into a source of food, energy, and leisure entertainment...
Forgive me. I digress.
I'd like to set the scene for you. At the turning of the twentieth century into the twenty-first, we know that the physical citizens of the earth worshipped physical properties known as "beauty" and "cool." Objects were deemed worthy of worship by a force that, um, force-fed these properties to them -- sometimes literally, by giant brightly-colored and ever-multiplying creatures known as McDonald and Starbuck -- in the form of "pop culture," generally acknowledged as the worst thing that ever happened to the world, if you don't count the woefully mismanaged cloning experiments of Dr. Britney Spears.
The earth -- because the planet called "Earth" was believed by its citizens to be the sole source of life, instead of a petting zoo for the Invisible Children of Io -- was characterized only by its fractured nature. People spoke different languages, identified themselves by -- and this is not a misprint -- the color of their skin. [uncomfortable laughter] Rather than being united, the world was divided, made up of discrete political entities referred to as "countries." Unbelievably, less than half of these "countries" were ruled by dolphins.
In any case, "pop culture" was intended to unify these "countries," but only ended up dividing them further. Some citizens praised a divine entity known as Madonna, while others preferred to identify themselves as followers of Judas Priest or seekers of Nirvana. As technology moved forward, people were able to manipulate their bodies to take the form of Bangles, Midnight Oil, or White Stripes.
Into this chaos, Intrepid Media was born.
"Improving the world one column at a time" was their battle cry. A "battle" was a fight... um, when there was occasion to disagree and the people believed physical violence was an adequate means to solving disputes. This practice was, of course, made obsolete by the worldwide adoption of the Wroc-Paypar-Sihzers Accord of 2047.
A lone voice of reason and healthy skepticism in a planetary maelstrom of "pop culture," Intrepid Media pointed out the flaws in the Church of Hello Kitty and brought institutions to their knees. (In these days, powerful people were referred to as "institutions." They were generally very tall.) And I don't use the words "lone voice" lightly; while Intrepid Media represented itself as a community of over 350 regular contributors and 400 unique visitors every day, it was later revealed by the researcher K. Ramer to be the work of a single individual known as J/o/e/a/e/l.
It was the founding of Intrepid Media that opened up the world to a broader understanding of the importance of the mental over the physical. In earlier times, people stated that the pen (used for writing) was mightier than the sword (which was used to slice recalcitrant coconuts.) Through Intrepid Media, people learned that the brain was mightier than the billboard.
The transition was slow. The institutions were quite tall and their feet firmly planted. A few hundred years were required to bring the project to fruition. Certainly a number of advances took place during that time that were unrelated to Intrepid Media, such as cold fusion, the cure for cancer, and calorie-free chocolate. However, these advances were all rendered irrelevant when it was proven that a person's consciousness could, in fact, leave the body and live inside a computer's circuits. The Intrepid Media "Jael" persona was the first to do this, and he/she recorded the event at the time as being inspired by something called an "Episode of The X-Files." (This reference has been exhaustively researched over many years, but no such files were ever located.)
Once a single being lived in the internet, countless others began to join. After some time, it became clear that physicality was transitory and awkward, and that living as a consciousness separate from a physical body was far superior in every respect. "Pop culture" was rendered irrelevant... although many IM inhabitants argued from the very beginning that it had always been so.
The "Jael" online persona is, of course, still in existence today, although she refuses to be interviewed. The only comment on record was logged over 100 years ago, when she surfaced briefly on a laptop in the Xanax galaxy to state, "I don't know what all the fuss is about... and get off my lawn."
In conclusion, the universe we live in today would not be possible had the world never heard IM's lone voice, crying in the wilderness (which was like a paper factory, only with dirt) to keenly observe one's surroundings, lash out with great and insightful wit, and above all, periodically gather to prove that we are not all figments of each other's imaginations. Unless those imaginations are extremely vivid. Which would explain a lot.
Jael is tired of being stereotyped as just another novelist/poet/former English teacher/tour guide/"Jeopardy!" semifinalist/bellydancing editor-in-chief with an MFA who was once an overachieving oboe-playing alto newspaper editor valedictorian from Iowa. She was also captain of the football cheerleading squad. Follow me on Twitter: @jaelmchenry
ABOUT JAEL MCHENRY
more about jael mchenry
IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
9.4.02 @ 9:33a
michelle von euw
9.4.02 @ 9:38a
Do you think Anna Nicole is a high priestess of the Church of Hello Kitty?
9.4.02 @ 9:44a
2. Personally I think she's the devil, but that's not important right now. The Church of Hello Kitty has many priestesses, although I'm not aware of any priests.
9.4.02 @ 9:47a
..."which was used to slice recalcitrant coconuts."...
This is funny even filtered through my cold/flu medicine head.
9.4.02 @ 9:52a
Maybe it's funny because of that.
Feel better, dear!
9.4.02 @ 9:59a
Intrepid Media: We are controlling transmission. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical.
9.4.02 @ 10:03a
9.4.02 @ 11:24a
"Fragments of what used to be,
Skeletons of society." sung by "Slayer" the metal gods.
Anna Nicole Smith the high priestess in the "Hello Kitty Church"?!? priceless...
What about Marylin Manson? Could he be the high priest of "The First Cocksuckers Church"?
9.4.02 @ 11:39a
Very Douglas Adams-esque, while still retaining that unique j/o/e/a/e/l quality.
9.4.02 @ 1:01p
How do I know this is fiction? In the future I'm the one ruling the Universe.
9.4.02 @ 2:09p
That in itself should be enough to tell you that it's fiction, Matt.
9.4.02 @ 2:11p
There is nothing so quaint as "ruling" in the future, buddy. Plus you're me anyway, so the distinction's moot.
9.4.02 @ 2:27p
I'm starting to get the suspicion that we are all "one." And it's freakin me out.
9.4.02 @ 4:19p
Freaking us out, you mean.
9.4.02 @ 4:30p
Naw, some of us/me has/have gotten used to it by now.
9.4.02 @ 6:52p
We're doing okay.
9.5.02 @ 9:16a
The column is intended to be funny (hopefully you're not shocked) but the ideas behind it I think are worth exploring seriously. Where's your identity, really? In your body? Or in your mind? Are you "you" because of the physical, or the mental? If the physical structure of your brain is damaged, are you still "you"?
9.5.02 @ 10:07a
9.5.02 @ 11:36a
Was that for the column, or the question?
9.5.02 @ 12:00p
For the question.
9.5.02 @ 12:18p
Which, I might add is a crock. No need to add meaning to a well-written humor piece. You'll just kill it slowly, and then we'll all be sad, and an angel will lose its wings.
9.5.02 @ 12:24p
I'm not "adding meaning." What's there is there. Whether pop culture is a unifying or dividing force would also be a relevant topic.
Or, we could offer opinions on whether this entire discussion is actually an artificial construct, assembled in numerous personas (personae?) by a single person, so as to keep us on the main page and get more people to read the column.
9.5.02 @ 3:16p
And for you history buffs,
a picture of Dr. Spears
9.5.02 @ 3:35p
If that's not the funniest thing I've ever seen, it's close. Well done, Roger!
9.5.02 @ 3:39p
As usual, praise must be shared - thanks to fellow historian Brian Vosburgh.
9.10.02 @ 10:39a
Photoshop is, indeed, a beautiful thing.
9.10.02 @ 1:12p
9.18.02 @ 1:52p
Okay, now that there are tons of pix from IMCH, are we going to have to worry about our heads getting Photoshopped onto other's bodies?
Or was that not an option til I brought it up? Crap.
9.18.02 @ 2:01p
Heh heh heh....
[rubs hands together maniacally]
9.20.02 @ 9:49a
Maniacal hand-rubbing. Almost never good.
And I've already seen the first photoshopping. It can only get worse. Or stay just as bad, I suppose.
9.20.02 @ 1:14p
For a little while I was working at putting Julianelle's head on Jennifer Connelly's body, but I was afraid to be stricken blind for my sins, so I stopped.