Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Loki of Cyberspace

Over the weekend, the internet was a buzz with news of ANON?MOUS and their declaration of war on Scientology. There's been discussions about what this means for the internet and its power, whether or not anything will come of it, and whether or not it's even morally correct for one group to challenge another over personal beliefs.

Those are all valid topics, but ultimately not what the event has lead me to understand. I was discussing the general mystique of "the hacker" with my friend, and it was mentioned that Anonymous doesn't have a great deal of respect from some parties. You know who else wasn't thought highly of when they were around?

Loki.

Raven.

Coyote.

Anansai.

Our cultures are filled with myths of the trickster figure, and we see them now as viable and necessary representations of change in various mythologies. All of these stories, however, are old stories.

Now, the suggestion of the hacker as our contemporary trickster archetype isn't a new one, but it isn't one that I've seen this event generate much discussion about. As my friend brought up, we don't have a Robin Hood, and even if we did, would we recognize him as anything other than a thief?

I am neither endorsing nor condemning the actions of Anonymous, because I don't have the information or authority to make a decision about their activities. All I'm saying is that I feel they have a valid role in the narratives of our contemporary society—online and off.

Remember, great ill did initially come from the actions of many historical tricksters, but who would argue that they weren't responsible for great good, too?

1 comment:

Rachel said...

All true! Additionally, since cyberspace is the "Town Square" of the world, it is the one place where these issues can be discussed openly and freely. If there is an elephant in the room that everyone is avoiding in the real world - just to be polite, then the internet should be the one place where it's not only recognized, but discussed. If Scientologists want to defend themselves, then they're free to do so.