J. Doug Ohmans
Stanford 1967

                          My Theotopia


     Only a decade into the computer era, with no more sketched than
the outlines of the new order--and having failed in several
preliminary probes--already we find our old body of theory becoming
inadequate to a functional understanding.  The emerging framework
seems intent on instructing us with a strange, new set of rules.
Works such as this one are written on word processors, with the
benefits and dangers of unlimited flexibility.  Each of the several
professions is subject to the new perspectives of information
handling.  The various academic disciplines must be reviewed according
to its impact upon them.  Hobbyists, from stamp collectors to
basketball viewers, all are affected by this novel hyper-organization
of the common substance.
     A theory ought to begin with the establishment of a vantage point
for ourselves as theorists.  For this purpose we suggest an extension
of the economist Robertson's concept of consumer surplus.  Consumer
surplus depends upon the fact that demand curves are downward sloping. 
This means, if we posit a vertical mapping of price and a horizontal
mapping of quantity, that price paid decreases as quantity bought
increases.  In consequence, substituting utility for price, the
consumer receives surplus or free utility on each unit preceding the
final one purchased.  We may imagine a rough triangle representing the
consumer surplus.  We postulate that this area is the amount left over
in our pockets after necessary expenditures have been made:  if price
were independent of demand, our resources might be liquidated to the
limit.  However, as computerization allows an ever better fitting of
inventories to items demanded, once more the elasticity and the
downward slope would decrease.  Our consumer surplus triangle could
tend to be a more and more cramping shelter.
     Not only the zeroing tendency persists to annoy us.  The hundred
and its possibilities is old, and was analyzed long ago.  Anyone
caring to be consistent in their use of numbers might discover that no
inconsistency is overlooked by our neighbors.  It is annoying to try
to shake off a persistent numerological configuration, for we must
suspect an inaccessible level of manipulation of our transactions,
even of our desires.
     The degree to which our use of numbers seems to have been
predicted is a daily index of the strength of reaction.  In the
struggle against counter-revolution, a consideration of error may
allow us to uncover the vulnerable structure.  The social framework
might be thought tolerant and non-binding, until a so-called error
occurs.  Our actions are in a sense a string of imperative commands. 
We take it for granted if the world cooperates with our personalities: 
it is only if we jostle the barriers that we notice them.  Yet society
is organized down to the minutest detail, so that transmission
patterns may well be observed with regards to error.  Otherwise we are
considering invisibilities.
     Systems existed of course long before computers.  For example,
the chess world was and continues to be a closed universe with its own
energy.  Some of its theoreticians, like Niemzowitsch and Bronstein,
may not be studied with impunity.  Exposure to their thought reaches
forward in time to make social relations in a culture hostile to such
thought in turn unpleasant.  No margin for truly private activity
exists.  The movement of a hand, over above its effect as typing or
conducting a symphony, may become interpretable as either cooperating
or resisting the whole.  Conformity and discipline are induced in
complex and hence surprising ways - centrifugal tendencies--from drink
to drugs--are included, and by these means the illusion of normalcy,
society, persists.  An equilibrium position is disrupted even by
private innovation, suggesting that one equilibrium is common to many
diverse manifestations of it.  A common currency is among the
transmission vehicles.  It may be that computerization settles upon an
error-free, perfected condition as as equilibrium preferable to the
product of ages.
     The combining of electrical velocities with the stabilities of
language in computers may prove harmful to language.  A program in
Pascal, for example, appears so instantaneous to us as to evoke the
realm of being rather than of doing.  Even in word processing
applications, a felt need for symmetry emerges.  Words are truncated,
transposed and sped around.  All of this leaves language feeling, so
to speak, irritable.  A danger of dominant information pools is that
desired though touchy data manipulations would be aborted.
     It is easy to criticize the anthropomorphic view towards
computers.  Yet debate on that question is real and ongoing.  At any
rate, it may be a useful device to refer to personalized features of
systematic information, such as fatigue or sadism.  The word fascist
is about the only effective insult.  It need not refer to any
genocide.  It speaks of a violent propensity to filter all inputs
through a distorted interpretive screen.  The term is appropriate
whenever existing domination is revealed.  Its invocation unites the
generations.  It is the clear intention of this work to defeat the
sadistic element imputed to machines, while salvaging some of their
refreshing possibilities for better arranging the verbal environment. 
We present a theory of utopia, of a non-existent or invisible realm,
with some implications for behavior of belief therein.
     As an instance of the theory, consider the unspoken realm of
pathways.  In cities, next to the pedestrian detours at their base we
find skyscrapers growing, offspring of an open secret.  The necessity
for us to switch among their elevators keeps the skyscrapers vital
once constructed.  On the horizontal plane, civic and commercial
institutions require their patrons to circumnavigate pillars to
transact business - and the arbitrary generation of suburban-modern
architecture continues.  Most jobs require the jumping through of
hoops, the forcing of tunnels, despite the Constitution's safeguards
as to choice of creed.  The resultant generativity of forms derives
from the exhaustion of individual libidinal energy, from invisibility
in a sacrificial encounter with impossibility.
     If nothing else, the feminist movement has drawn attention to the
problem of the reality of the difference between the genders.  Were we
to lend credence to the invisible, we might say that the differences
based upon appearance are to that extent misunderstandings.  As
Schopenhauer emphasizes, however, the survival and procreation of the
species is uppermost in natural importance.  So then, since one
assumption leads to and grounds another, perhaps misunderstanding
about gender is essential to the misunderstanding generative of
offspring.  A theory of illusion would be correct.  Liberated sexual
interaction might entail acceptance of the genders having their being
on different levels of reality.
     Another important mystification relates to the everyday food
chain.  It is possible to read the system of Hegel in a most ludicrous
such light.  Or, say, a customer finds most of his or her favorite
products out of stock on the store shelves, an incredible coincidence. 
Here we might invoke Freud's theory of a sexualized environment to
explain the situation:  the partner environment seems to be trying to
accomplish something.  We are driven to select from virgin economical
territory and then, as it happens, one's usual favorites re-appear on
the shelves.  The ensuing confusion is productive of manufacturing
expansion, because of course every product consumed presumes a
productive facility - for which the individual now has personal
     Yet the result for my behavior is to cause inconsistency.  The
trouble with inconsistency is that, occuring within a symbolizing
collectivity, its logical implication in injustice.  A problem of the
law is to subsume inconsistency itself under rules, perhaps by analogy
with business cycle theory.  W. C. Mitchell, for example, shows that
a decreasing overall rate may cause turnaround in a corresponding
marginal rate.  To a determinist, reliance upon natural justice of
spontaneous activity is a hoax, entailing less random a distribution
than does strict adherence to codes.
     Some forecasters like to predict that the computer age shall
bring the upgrading of related jobs, yet our own experience belies
this.  Even the most trivial job is interesting or boring depending
upon the extent of decision-making that it offers.  Computers,
however, are clear as to the logical decisions that they require.
Every command is universalized throughout the network, if only as a
potentiality.  Once a program works, further changes are almost
superfluous.  Common sense, on the other hand, used to ask that
similar logical questions be decided over and over.  The program tends
to prevail over imagination, so that the worker experiences only an
occasional scrap of protein.  The result is a job less captivating
than that of the sawdust for the janitor and his broom.
     A feature of programming found in both data- and control-
structures is nesting.  In essense, computers require that commands be
exited in the opposite order from which they were entered.  Now, if we
imagine ourselves at the centers of our own control flows, and as
making transactions along the way, we then could experiment with
reversing our own pathways and avoiding new exits.  As we mastered
this type of integrity, we might start to learn to design our behavior
and hence the society in accordance with rational views as to our
first priorities.  Of course, this notion may be beyond the abilities
or interest of the average person, yet it would not be impossible to
include within a utopian school curriculum.
     The motive for an emphasis on invisibility is plain to discover.
It is to cease being used.  It is to substitute self-determination for
exploitation, and planning for deception.  For many, the environment
is a tube in motion.  It is needful to stop the whirling ground, and
so, through a correct popular theory, to gain a repulse from