Date: Mon, 7 Oct 1996 06:31:58 +0100

From: Calin Dan

Browsing through the files


In 1993, a well meaning Romanian journalist searched the Internet in order to see how often and in what context the name of our country was traveling "the cyberspace". To his disappointment, made public in a prestigious local newspaper, the only material found was entitled "Visit reality park Romania and enjoy Draculaland". The Western stupid addiction for clichés was again confirmed, and even worse, it was confirmed by what was supposed to be the ultimate smart tool of the millennium.

What the voluntary analyst seemed to ignore is that the incriminated text was written by Agentur Bilwet, as the post script of a book we published on the occasion of our unfortunate participation in the Venice Biennial. The book's title was DRACULALAND, and this subREAL-istic concept remained part of our "artistic" behavior ever since.

I find this story relevant because it speaks in a modest way about the conspiratorial potential of the net. The continuous de-contextualization, the cut-and-paste mentality of the participants in the discussions, the random quotational attitude of the anonymous majority, all this keeps in motion a subversive ingredient which make the most serious reactions to/within the net unpredictable and funny. And a bit out of track, also.

Nobody is spared the opportunity to be ridiculous and nobody can push the sense of humor and the relativism far enough to avoid the common places and the false positions. The system of the net is a distorted mirror in which we (the folks) love to look for our improved selves, although we constantly meet an ambiguous "other".

We hope to be excused for this "digital metaphor", and we also want to confess a complete ignorance of the internet as a tool, as far as it does not concern our own games of appropriation.

The texts which follow are samples in that sense; although the first one has an e-mail address in the beginning, it never reached its destination, for what we consider to be obvious reasons. We don't know how many secret services have an e-mail adress, but the Romanian one doesn't, so far. Which is a pity, because if there is a place where information is available for control and manipulation, this is the internet. And this is what the second text, a fragment from the Thesaurus book of the Romanian secret services, is about.

To: The Director of the Romanian Service of Information <>

From: subREAL c/o

Subject: cultural intelligence strategies

Date: February 9, 1996

Dear Sir,

It is already well-known that cultural promotion became an active element in modern intelligence. The Jacobe & Raevski doctrine (recently published under the title "Persuasion in the Information War") gives enough arguments in support of this. We here mention only a few advantages from the much longer list assembled by those analysts:

1. the potential to promote publicly hidden agendas under the slogan of normality;

2. the low costs of implementation, compared to direct political action;

3. the permeability of mass media to new cultural data;

4. the access to specific lobbies via local cultural personalities, usually less prepared to avoid infiltration;

5. the neutral appearance in comparison with emerging political and military campaigns; etc.

Unfortunately, due to its critical position in terms of regional and global strategies, Romania cannot afford to apply the 4 classic solutions of cultural intelligence:

a. It lacks the infrastructure for large-scale operations (see the 19th century promotion of Russian literature in France; or the post WW II invasion of the European art market by American art).

b. It is internally too weak for an export-only production of self-critical discourse (the case of the Soviet Union in the 70s and the 80s).

c. It has no corporate consciousness in order to launch a criticism of the nation-state (the US counter-ideology of the 90s).

d. It has no position to afford a direct criticism of international values (the way fundamentalist Islamic countries do).

With all this in mind, we would like to keep your attention to the following:

1. subREAL is a group basing its activities on information material extracted from Romanian realities.

2. subREAL might be used as an indicator of perception of the Romanian society in general, since he reached a certain international acknowledgment.

3. subREAL has no harmful influence on national public opinion, because its sole orientation is international. Therefore criticism and change are not necessarily connected.

4. subREAL practices a criticism of the Western system from an independent position, using the standards of precisely that same system.

5. subREAL's discourse includes new media as a central topic, which potentially establishes access to an audience consisting of the new political class.

6. subREAL operates with a small budget, which makes all financial and logistic support unostentatious.

Considering these factors, cooperative efforts between subREAL and your Service might provide the necessary infrastructure to improve Romania's image abroad, without losing its modest position in the international concert.

Should our proposal find the interest of your organization, please contact us for further practical discussions.

Sincerely yours,


P.S. An envelope with documentation will follow by snail mail (too big for Attachments).

From: "Thesaurus of terms and topics connected to the open market implementation", Internal use only, 1996

Internet - (i.) Intelligence strategic tool, implemented first in the civilian society by a purposeful leaking /Thesaur**/ operation. Immediate goals: a) the increase of social communication in a storable data format; b) the decompression of potential tensions via controllable alternative environments. The operation is a disputable success.

The development of capitalist technologies allowed the extreme diffusion of the i., in a network beyond any obvious control. Yet some of our analysts defend i. as an example of efficient inductive procedure/Thesaur**/.

According to them, the i. operation is based on the entropy of open systems /Thesaur**/, and therefore it develops in the designed direction without any necessary feed-back .

The i. generated its own codes: the key word is surfing and the main attitude: self-reference. The speed of communication maintains the data impact on the surface. The horizontal progression keeps it restrained to itself. The more a system opens horizontally, the more it diminishes in depth. The typical users' behavior is zapping the information.

The schizoid parallelism with the reality environment makes i. comparable to TV in its sedating effects. Unlike TV, i. keeps up a necessary urge for activism and social responsibility, and therefore has never been object of any significant rejection coming from the politically concerned groups.

Note: "Information wants to be free" - an old slogan proving the unawareness of the anarchist branch of i. users about the fluid behavior of information and about the controlled release of pressure in supervised environments. ("Like the released gases, the freed information is very quickly losing any aggressive potential and the climax effect of free information is neither longer or more disturbing than the effects of a freed fart." MacLuhan, op. cit. p.239)

Applicability in the former Eastern block. In a context where: 1. the effects of programmed rumors fade under the pressure of the recent media liberalization; 2. the national TV (our main media tool) has lost credibility - i. can be a useful alternative, if the implementation is organized in order to avoid the dissemination through uncontrolled initiatives. An advantage in our case is the possibility to keep high the rate of surveillance, via economic control of the computer market, of the telephone lines and of energy distribution. If things are managed correctly, the i. will be a good resource of spontaneous confession on a large variety of sensitive topics. Still, the political potential of i. will be kept lower than in the capitalist environments, due to the different relation to media of our potential users.

Suggestion: periodical lock-outs of the power networks, in order to randomly delete files and undermine the reliability of the system.