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ELO 2015: The End(s) of Electronic Literature

Lusca Mourns The Telegraph | In Search of Lost Messages

Deanne Achong (Independent, Canada)

End(s) of Electronic Literature Festival Exhibition
Wednesday, August 5 • 17:30 - 19:00 (University of Bergen Arts Library)

“What Hath God Wrought” are the infamous words of the first telegram sent to to Baltimore from Washington on May 24th in 1844. In Canada, the first telegram was sent on December 19, 1846. Despite googling for 30 minutes, I can’t find what the first Canadian telegram said. I am reliably informed (would the Guardian lie?) that the last telegram sent in India was sent only last year on July 15th. I can’t find how many messages were sent in the 169 years in between. No doubt it is slightly less than the amount of texts sent daily today.

I wonder how many messages went missing?

And how exactly did they go missing?

“Lusca”*, is a sea monster, who when she first noticed the massive structures being built on the ocean floor, completely ignored them. Then gradually she became intrigued as she heard various sounds, cooing, or so it seemed, just for her.

Perhaps on April 19th, 1876.

She latches one tentacle onto the metal cable and manages to extract some of the transmission. 


As sad as this is, she, having lost her own mother centuries before, finds some comfort in this message. It sounds like her mother.

Gradually she becomes obsessed with this every growing network of cables, gravitating towards the love letters and the demands for money are of interest too. Wars come and go. People die.

She grows fulfilled, these messages she steals fill a need. She grows curious as to who these creatures are above the water and what their lives are like. One might say she even develops empathy for them, while at the same time not hesitating to wipe one (or many of them) out should they interfere with her livelihood.

Sometime around the turn of the 21st century the volume of messaging drops. She sees the disrepair, the rust.

She grows hungry.

She is dying. She needs those messages.


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