"I'm yours again. I always enjoy seeing what happens to me."
April 18, 2013 5:23 PM   Subscribe

After years of silence, enigmatic programmer/musician/surrealist why the lucky stiff is publishing to the web again (temporarily). Five days ago he released a number of short collages; today, his site is outputting a number of stories and essays, which are being collected in several Scribd repositories. _why writes about a strange old Oprah show starring guests who've removed themselves from society [parts 2 3 4 5 6], discussing M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening with a friend [2 3 4 5 6], and suffering a personal crisis after reading the complete works of Kafka [2 3 4 5 6 7]. (One final story, "Dentist", has been uploaded to a public Dropbox account [2 3 4 5 6 7 8].) There's also this somewhat ominous web site.

In the past, _why wrote a poignant guide to Ruby, created some music that sounds kind of Neutral Milk Hotel in its mixture of quirk and melancholy, made a philosophy one time just for fun, and also wrote a bunch of poems and poems and stories and stories. His complete estate has been archived, to some extent, here.
posted by Rory Marinich (25 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
His song Belljar/Space/My Daughter's Organ Instructor has been one of my favorites since I first heard it.

Also, he was a wonderful Twitterer – the form really suited him. I especially like his digs at DHH (of Ruby on Rails fame).
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:42 PM on April 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

ZOMG this is the biggest news of the year
posted by edheil at 5:54 PM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

which are being collected in several Scribd repositories.

Everything he ever says again is going to get stored someplace deliberately, by people who don't want a repeat of last time.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:04 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd never heard of this guy. Thanks for the post, Rory, and thanks for organizing it so well.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:31 PM on April 18, 2013

I'm printing out a copy of all this just in case somebody takes _why *and* the internet away.
posted by edheil at 6:47 PM on April 18, 2013

An earlier spool, "HOMEWORK", was a handwritten OCaml script that polls the website for new pages and prints them directly—idea being that throughout the day your printer will magically come to life and spit out new pages of the story. The transcribed code is available here, and there's a comment thread on the subject on Hacker News.
posted by ecmendenhall at 6:47 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love that in WHATSUPDOC he mocks the process of his own outing.
posted by edheil at 6:57 PM on April 18, 2013

"Somewhat" ominous?
posted by valrus at 7:16 PM on April 18, 2013

HOORAY! The guy who created Trady Blix is back! I love saying Trady Blix. Trady Blix.
posted by JHarris at 7:26 PM on April 18, 2013

~ trady blix ~
posted by JHarris at 7:29 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

_why: I am sorry, for what I and we have done, but you must understand: your unbridled enthusiasm is contagious and delicious. It's a disease we all want, without really understanding you, or it. That wanting creates an insatiable beast of it's own, built out of the millions of tiny glimmers of awesome that your words and deeds inspired in us, assembled in the quiet of our own wee little terminal windows, reaching out to you like an overwhelming onslaught of ravenous cute baby badgers. Individually, amazing perhaps, but all at once, too much trouble with tribbles.

So, I hope you have forgiven us, for we've spent our days dreaming of chunky bacon and exceedingly elegant web frameworks, awaiting your return.

I'm so happy you're back. Part of me is happy for you, that you've gotten the strength to come back, but, to be honest, another part of me is really looking forward to the next little bit of awesome you post to github, so I can dig in and be amazed all over again.
posted by Freen at 7:29 PM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

AFAIK This is still ongoing. Moar to come. Exciting.
posted by hot_monster at 7:31 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

From the Kafka piece:

"This was just Kafka, writing his own death. This ending has his signature on it. Reality's kind of a medium, maybe greater than paper."

IS HE DRAWING A PARALLEL? _why is quite good at constructing his own myth as well. He clearly holds himself in high regard.
posted by Dokterrock at 7:55 PM on April 18, 2013

So, more ranting.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

I remember the first time, on my trusty old Tandy, typing in the words from the manual, hitting enter, and instantly, my name, printed, over and over again down the screen. I said the magic words and the genie did my bidding. It was magic.

Since then, I've learned to program make computers do my bidding. Still, though, the first time I looked at camping, I thought, this is madness. gibberish. Nothing can come of this lunacy. Then I setup the example application, ran it, and whammo, Magic.

Magic with a capital M.

It worked. And the more I read through the code, the more I understood, the more elegant and magical it became. Camping reintroduced magic to software for me, all over again. It reinvigorated my desire to learn. Seriously, do yourself a favor and try to really understand Camping.
posted by Freen at 8:50 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm glad the guy is still alive and well (?). I was worried about him. The poignant guide was the first time that I ever 'got' programming.
posted by empath at 2:00 AM on April 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

As a professional software developer and former student of music, I have a really, really hard time resolving the internal conflict between:

- disliking this guy intensely for acting as though it's totally okay to just flake out like a prima-donna and delete all your shit and furthermore write the most confusingly useless guide to learning Ruby that almost every goddamn person in the community tells every beginner to read and just in general be a quirky fucktard and on the other hand,

- respecting him intensely for injecting true magic and love and joy into the act of programming and inspiring other developers to share code and try to bring beginning developers into the wonderful world of software and educate kids and all-in-all act as an artist in a way I once wanted to but was never able to.

posted by dubitable at 8:09 AM on April 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Looks like I posted this a little early. Here's the complete printer spool. It forms a coherent narrative. Somewhat disturbing in a bunch of ways.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:29 AM on April 19, 2013

Is he okay? That reads like a suicide note.
posted by empath at 9:49 AM on April 19, 2013

I hope he's well. I personally didn't get much information out of _why's poignant guide myself, because I already knew programming, but I love the style. Not that I think all programming books should be like that, but as a one-off work that I just want to hug. I don't even usually like things like that, but for some reason I find it infectious.
posted by JHarris at 10:34 AM on April 19, 2013

He wasn't really totally completely missing though right? People were tweeting pictures of him at conventions last year.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:09 PM on April 19, 2013

whytheluckystiff.net is just blank, white for me now. Am I missing the point?
posted by knile at 1:52 AM on April 21, 2013

Before it had been a tiled animated gif of a kind of celebratory theme (Mario fireworks). Now, even the page source is just a couple of blank lines. Weird.
posted by JHarris at 9:49 AM on April 21, 2013

So I printed the whole spool out at work the other day, though the big ol' Xerox and even had it do both sides of the sheet and staple the thing twice on the side. When it came out it looked like a book almost, or a movie script. I put it in my backpack behind three other books and some DVDs and all those copies of crosswords and forgot about it for a few days. Then I needed the charger out of the bottom of my bag and I saw it and I put it on the dash of my truck and it sat there yellowing in the sun a few more days. Today I had the afternoon off and wasn't allowed to sit here in front of my monitor in my hovel like I usually do all Thursday because motherfucking COCKROACHES and so I went and I sat in a park and I read this story and really fucking hated it.

I mean I loved reading it, it felt Magical capital-M with the way the story was paralleling and jumping back and forth and telling the story of _why's deletion. The disparate pieces as they were linked in the post wound up snicking nicely into place, but when you put the whole puzzle together it just looks like a box of pieces. It wound itself up, spun up so neatly, that I guess it just took off and fluttered itself over the horizon before I could really get comfortable with it. Thinking about it, (I just finished about half an hour ago, then drove home) that's sort of the point I guess. Look closely enough at a tree, and you get lost in the woods. Search too hard for what happened to _why the lucky stiff, and jump right off the ferry.

Alright, so I felt a little lost on the last page, that hand covering the majority of the next day's log entry. That damn hand that my own hand rested upon while I held this story open in front of me, obfuscation as the epilogue. The whole story really; it never unwinds and it never clears up what's going on with this guy. It just blows off in a hustle of paper, scattering over the horizon or maybe drowning in the sound.

Whoever upthread it was who said they hoped _why the lucky stiff was ok, and that this read like a suicide note, oughta go back to it again. Turn it over a few times in your mouth and really taste the context. It's perfect and beautiful and if it were the death of the author then there would be no better way to die. But I don't think it is. His hand wouldn't have been all over that last page if it were.

Thanks for showing me this Rory Marinich, and now I think I'm going to go learn Ruby.
posted by carsonb at 4:24 PM on April 25, 2013

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