Panic at the Pied Piper Portal

Panic starts with a Sound

A Strange Attractor

There was a rustling,
that seemed like a bustling
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling,
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering,
And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering,
Out came the children running.
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls.
and skipping,
ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.


“Panic” comes from Greek panikon, “pertaining to Pan.” Pan is the god of woods and fields who was the source of mysterious sounds that caused contagious, groundless fear in herds and crowds, or in people in lonely spots. [wikipedia]


BARTRAM the lime-burner, a rough, heavy-looking man, begrimed with charcoal, sat watching his kiln, at nightfall, while his little son played at building houses with the scattered fragments of marble, when, on the hill-side below them, they heard a roar of laughter, not mirthful, but slow, and even solemn, like a wind shaking the boughs of the forest.

“Father, what is that?” asked the little boy, leaving his play, and pressing betwixt his father’s knees.

“O, some drunken man, I suppose,” answered the lime-burner; “some merry fellow from the bar-room in the village, who dared not laugh loud enough within doors, lest he should blow the roof of the house off. So here he is, shaking his jolly sides at the foot of Gray-lock.”

“But, father,” said the child, more sensitive than the obtuse, middle-aged clown, “he does not laugh like a man that is glad. So the noise frightens me!”

“Don’t be a fool, child!” cried his father, gruffly. “You will never make a man, I do believe; there is too much of your mother in you. I have known the rustling of a leaf startle you. Hark! Here comes the merry fellow, now. You shall see that there is no harm in him.”


When, lo, as they reached the mountain-side,
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain side shut fast.
Did I say, all? No; One was lame,
And could not dance the whole of the way;
And in after years, if you would blame
His sadness, he was used to say,–
“It’s dull in our town since my playmates left!
I can’t forget that I’m bereft
Of all the pleasant sights they see,
Which the Piper also promised me.


The endeavor of making the internet, of doing the work to connect diverse forms of abstract information, is riddled with ambiguity.  For now, a highly curtailed historic sketch via human embryogenic metaphor: We humans have built and organized an informational body on a global scale, and the internet is the brain and the consciousness.  It involved [involution] in the 1950’s under pressure of the United States’ involvement in the Cold War, and since then an increasingly diversified array of humans [Us, fellow Netizens] have devoted a large percentage of our energy to developing it.  Formal systems and computer languages built by specialists have given many of us platforms for participating in the activities of network formation and collectively distributed thought-processing, and with increasingly massified involvement, the developmental process continues to accelerate, apparently exponentially.  At this point it is all already moving so fast that it’s whistling through the hills.

On one hand, the process self-organizes – it is self-referential.  It screams feedback loops.  It’s a solipsistic bachelor machine.  And yet, on the other hand it seems that there is something outside the process that conditions it.  This ‘Other’ thing has hooked the process and is trying to pull the whole shebang onward and upward, out of its habitat, away from its home.

The Alien Appendage

The Alien Appendage

This ‘Other’ dimensional thing PULLS/COAXES/LURES/CONDUCTS the collective creation of cyberspace.

The folkloric figure for this strange attractor is the Pied Piper.  Before him, the ancient Greeks called the strange attractor Pan.

We feel panic when we sense the sound of the strange winds whipping through our ecosystem.  We have heard stories that suggest that the sounds we sense may presage our arrival at a portal to an ‘Other’ dimension from which we may never return.  Many before us felt the intuition of what it might mean to cross this threshold.  More of us now than ever are convinced that we are the ones who are actually finding out.  What we don’t get to feel, then the next few generations will.  And so it goes.  The children hear and follow the music.


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One Response to “Panic at the Pied Piper Portal”

  1. peterr Says:

    this post just blew me away. can you keep pulling the string?

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