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Where is Marshall McLuhan when we need him? The "oracle of the electronic age" might have predicted the social effects of publishing on-line diaries on the Internet. Quite an enthusiastic following awaited Robert Fripp's diaries as they emerged as neatly packaged serials back in the late 1990s. Apparently uncut and deeply personal, the diarist chose to engage with his public; many of them biting back on the now defunct (and much missed) DGM guestbook. Somehow the high-tech php-driven glossy successor on Krimson-news does not have the same pioneering spirit about it.


Why a deeply private man such as Robert chose to subject himself to the ordeal of "trial-by-guestbook-correspondent" is still something of a mystery. Perhaps it was to promote interest and sales in the fledgling newly-founded Crimson. It may have succeeded in this, although at one point it broke the band up for a short time. Perhaps it was from a sense of duty or a inner desire to explain spiritual things.


Either way, a sizeable crowd gathered to wait for the accident that would inevitably happen. And it did. During the remastering of the back catalogue our beloved diarist (or 'Raging Heartless Venal Leader' as he preferred to be called) was drawn to comment on his feelings towards the early Crimson albums, and especially the value of the lyrics. Inevitably, the value of the lyricist was put under the microscope.


This is a dilemma worthy of a McLuhan aphorism. A private diary - more suited to the discrete eyes of a future biographer, was published for all to see. Had it appeared in the paper-printed music press it would have been seen and forgotten. Yesterday's bile is tomorrow's lining for the cat-litter tray. But pressing 'Send' confined it to immortality on computer servers across the world. And Google's unerring ability to find the lost sheep means that it will remain - unbiodegradable, like a plastic bottle washed up on a tropical beach.


What of the 'bite-back'? A rant of classical proportions, preserved like a Jurassic fly in amber. It too, has no "degrade by" date. This is an object lesson for those who choose to use public media for essentially private business.


"Heigh-ho and the wind and the rain". Best thing to do is not to take things too seriously, and file under 'For Amusement Only'. There are those who think it was "Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot fighting in the captain's tower" because they had spent too long staring out on Desolation Row. Me, well I think that they were "so much older then, they're younger than that now".


Neil Ingram

November 2002

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