There Is No There There

Gertrude Stein? Herb Caen? Ben J. Wattenberg? William Gibson? Apocryphal?

Question for Quote Investigator: A prominent literary figure attempted to return home after a long absence and found that the location was unfamiliar because the home had been demolished. Fond memories of youth were no longer attached to a physical location. The feeling of disconnection inspired a popular saying:

There is no there there.

Nowadays, the meaning of this phrase has shifted. The statement typically refers to something which is diffuse, unsubstantial, or unimportant. It has also been used to explicate virtual reality. Would you please help me to find a citation.

Reply from Quote Investigator: Author and art connoisseur Gertrude Stein employed an idiosyncratic writing style. Her infrequently punctuated stream of consciousness was sometimes difficult to parse. Her 1937 book “Everybody’s Autobiography” included a passage about traveling to the locale of her childhood:[1] 1971 (1937 Copyright), Everybody’s Autobiography by Gertrude Stein, Chapter 4: America, Quote Page 289, Cooper Square Publishers Inc., New York. (Verified with scans)

. . . we went across the bay on a ferry, that had not changed but Goat Island might just as well not have been there, anyway what was the use of my having come from Oakland it was not natural to have come from there yes write about it if I like or anything if I like but not there, there is no there there.

Stein described the feelings of estrangement produced by the visit to her former neighborhood:[2] 1971 (1937 Copyright), Everybody’s Autobiography by Gertrude Stein, Chapter 4: America, Quote Page 291, Cooper Square Publishers Inc., New York. (Verified with scans)

Ah Thirteenth Avenue was the same it was shabby and over-grown the houses were certainly some of them those that had been and there were not bigger buildings and they were neglected and, lots of grass and bushes growing yes it might have been the Thirteenth Avenue when I had been.

Not of course the house, the house the big house and the big garden and the eucalyptus trees and the rose hedge naturally were not any longer existing, what was the use, if I had been I then my little dog would know me but if I had not been I then that place would not be the place that I could see, I did not like the feeling . . .

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading There Is No There There

References

References
1 1971 (1937 Copyright), Everybody’s Autobiography by Gertrude Stein, Chapter 4: America, Quote Page 289, Cooper Square Publishers Inc., New York. (Verified with scans)
2 1971 (1937 Copyright), Everybody’s Autobiography by Gertrude Stein, Chapter 4: America, Quote Page 291, Cooper Square Publishers Inc., New York. (Verified with scans)

In the Lingo, This Imaginary Place Is Known as the Metaverse

Mark Zuckerberg? Neal Stephenson? William Gibson? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that his company was changing its name to Meta (full name Meta Platforms). Zuckerberg spoke about an immersive internet called the metaverse. I think some science fiction (SF) author coined the term metaverse. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: In 1992 prominent SF author Neal Stephenson published the novel “Snow Crash” with main character Hiro Protagonist. Stephenson used the term “metaverse” to refer to a technology he envisioned which combined virtual reality, augmented reality, and a social network. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1993 (1992 Copyright), Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, Chapter 3, Quote Page 24, Bantam Books, New York. (Verified with scans)

So Hiro’s not actually here at all. He’s in a computer-generated universe that his computer is drawing onto his goggles and pumping into his earphones. In the lingo, this imaginary place is known as the Metaverse. Hiro spends a lot of time in the Metaverse.

Below are additional selected citations.

Continue reading In the Lingo, This Imaginary Place Is Known as the Metaverse

References

References
1 1993 (1992 Copyright), Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, Chapter 3, Quote Page 24, Bantam Books, New York. (Verified with scans)

Before You Diagnose Yourself with Depression or Low Self-Esteem…

Sigmund Freud? William Gibson? @debihope? Anonymous?

Dear Quotes Investigator: There is a saying about maintaining emotional health that is both heartfelt and sardonic. The words have been attributed to the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and the award-winning science fiction author William Gibson. Here are two versions:

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounding yourself with assholes.

I think that the ascription to Freud is unlikely. Would you please examine this topic?

Quotes Investigator: QI believes that this saying was crafted relatively recently, and it first appeared online. Because electronic text is malleable, and attached dates are sometimes inaccurate the task of tracing recent expressions is difficult. In this case, the database of tweets seems to provide solid information.

The earliest evidence located by QI was the following tweet from 2010:[1]Tweet, From: Notorious d.e.b. @debihope, Time: 12:23 PM, Date: January 24, 2010, Text: Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just … Continue reading

Twitter Handle: Notorious d.e.b. @debihope
Timestamp: 12:23 PM – 24 Jan 2010

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.

When QI communicated with @debihope she indicated that she was the originator of the expression, and she provided the following insight to its formulation:[2]Tweet, From: Notorious d.e.b. @debihope, Time: 2:39 PM, Date: October 17, 2014, Text: @QuoteResearch Popped right out of my own head and based on a past boyfriend. (Accessed on twitter.com on October … Continue reading

Popped right out of my own head and based on a past boyfriend.

Here are additional selected citations in semi-chronological order. Continue reading Before You Diagnose Yourself with Depression or Low Self-Esteem…

References

References
1 Tweet, From: Notorious d.e.b. @debihope, Time: 12:23 PM, Date: January 24, 2010, Text: Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes. (Accessed on twitter.com on October 25, 2014) link
2 Tweet, From: Notorious d.e.b. @debihope, Time: 2:39 PM, Date: October 17, 2014, Text: @QuoteResearch Popped right out of my own head and based on a past boyfriend. (Accessed on twitter.com on October 25, 2014) link

The Future Has Arrived — It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed Yet

William Gibson? Anonymous? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: I work at Google, and a colleague of mine who leads our Search Education efforts pointed out your site as a great resource for people learning to search smarter. I love the site!

There is a quotation credited to the influential and award-winning science fiction author William Gibson that we’ve used on multiple occasions. But we are not certain whether Gibson said it:

The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.

If you’d care to investigate, you’d have at least a couple thankful fans here.

Quote Investigator: Gibson is a brilliant author, and this is a perceptive and piquant quotation. In 1990 he appeared in a documentary called “Cyberpunk”, and he discussed the differential access to technological developments based on wealth and location. He also stated a version of a key part of the maxim [CPWG]:

The future has already happened.

The earliest evidence for the full version of the saying was found by top quotation expert Fred Shapiro, editor of the Yale Book of Quotations, who kindly shared the citation with QI. In 1992 the San Francisco Examiner published an article about the nascent technology of virtual reality, and the journalist Scott Rosenberg credited a version of the adage to Gibson [WGSF]:

Once whole worlds can be simulated for the senses, the only way to assure the integrity of the public imagination will be to get the power to create those worlds out of the hands of an elite and into general circulation. As William Gibson put it: “The future has arrived — it’s just not evenly distributed yet.”

With the help of Kevin Kelly, the co-founder of Wired magazine and a pivotal neoteric thinker, QI was able to obtain a comment from William Gibson about the genesis of this saying and where it might have appeared initially. Kelly relayed that “Gibson does not remember when he first said it, but it was not something he wrote.” Gibson stated [KKGO]:

The problem is that the idea would have preceded its first recorded public utterance by quite some time, in the way of these things. I would assume I thought it, then eventually said it to friends, and that by the time I said it in an interview (the most likely scenario) it had become an idea I took for granted. It wasn’t something generated to give a talk, nor was it in some essay or article.

Gibson can be heard employing a version of the maxim during a 1999 interview on National Public Radio. He was complimented for the accuracy of his predictions by the interviewer and was asked if he read the technical literature. Gibson said that he “read very little technical literature at all” and then he downplayed his predictive skills [NRTN]:

…actually I spend a lot of my time, a lot of my media time trying to disown my prescience…

… as I’ve said many times the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Future Has Arrived — It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed Yet