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4th Site Introduction & Statement of Purpose - November 2001

Welcome to In the following, I'll try to explain what this is all about, at least as far as I have a clue.

I. Web Site

A web site? Why would anyone want to have a web site? And what constitutes a web site, anyway?

A web site is a site on the world wide web, as simple as that. It is a site, not merely a single page; it is a place, a locus. It is a local place without clear locality, it is a temporal place without clear temporality, it is material without feeling material. Is it therefore virtual?

Virtual, as in imagined, yet also, as in virtue and virtuosity. Cybernetic, i.e. related to governing processes, like navigating a boat out at sea. Alas, "surfing" the web. When you surf, or rather, sail the web, you will arrive at islands, sites, located somewhere on the web. And though these sites are all, each and every single one, connected physically to a server computer in the material world, the visible portion that is visible above sea, or rather, web level, is usually deprived of clear traces of physical origin. Even the domain name suffixes cannot quite tell about the location of the server computer, or even the content administrator for that site. That can create some odd mixtures: At the moment, this very site is physically located in the United States, while its content is created and maintained in Europe. The channels by which you access this site can be located anywhere; thus, physical attributes do not really count for much once the site is set up and working properly on the net. Alas, virtual.

The internet is full of free services. You can have a web site up and running without paying anything but online costs, you can even create web pages without knowing jack about hypertext markup language or design. It's redundant to mention that this opens up completely new perspectives: Anyone with access to the internet can go public, no matter what prerequisites they bring with them, no matter what their interests are, no matter what education they have, no matter what they consider style. The internet is the greatest victory of freedom and anarchy. It is truly democratic, the few hierarchic structures that exist can be neglected by most users and content providers, and even within the hierarchy of domain name servers and paid-for services, restrictions are rather negligible. So maybe one could also say ochlocratic, but I don't really believe in such class arguments.

So instead of, or rather in necessary addition to, only criticizing the approaches undertaken by others, I prefer to make a point by contributing something myself. Thus you may very well see this web site as an example for what I consider a web site. This is my island in the sea, where things are run my way. Sort of.

A web site needs an identity, it needs a concept, it needs a structure (see my essay "Web Site Design & Style"). It needs to re-create and re-invent what is lost in its virtual surroundings: A sense of space, and a sense of time, though the latter may be secondary to the first. Space can be created by establishing a corporate identity, something which simply states "you are still on my site". Time I re-create by providing a date for most portions of text, for two reasons: To help the audience point out the most current parts of this site, and secondly, to imply "sorry, it's old material" in order to distance myself from past mistakes.

II. Personal Web Site

This is not a corporate web site, nor an institutional, nor a purely informational or technical or academical or whatever-labable site. It's personal. It's there to reflect me, or rather, how I want to represent myself publically. In this, it is also an attempt at self-explanation, self-analysis, self-definition, whatever. Maybe also something of a narcicistic nature.

Thus this site can only have a very loose thematic surrounding: The title, "", refers to my artistic name, which is a short version of my real name, John being my mother's maiden name. Thus this is the portion screaming "personal web site". The topical sub-title, "Approaching the Unexplained", is as undefined as possible, and as multi-facetted. The first topical title has been "faces of the unexplained", alluding to the more strict definition of this site in its beginnings: A site about horror and science fiction movies and television series. As the site grew, that title became too narrow.

"Approaching the Unexplained" can now be seen as just another way of saying "I have no clue, but I'm trying to look for something", and, "I know I can never explain anything, I can only approach it". So make the most of it.

III. Sections

The site is more or less neatly split into different sections with more or less clear-cut purposes. "Pictures" and "Poems" are supposed to chart my artistic interests, "Essays and Papers" my academical and non-poetic writing interests (both flowing into each other, academic and scientific seriousness mostly being a secondary ingredient for me, at least, in the focus of this web site), "Reviews" are supposed to support the "Essays and Papers" section with a review of some material I use in my essays. The "Diary" is not a true diarium, it is rather a collection of thoughts and deliberations which are usually shorter and less consequently dealt with than my essays. The rest deals with the site as such ("About") or the internet ("Net").

All of those sections can both be seen as belonging together and apart; it's mostly a matter of degree, especially concerning the written stuff. Just see it as variations of the topic indicated by the subtitle, or as all of my material I consider fit for internet publication.

IV. Outlook

This site is an archive of my work and interests, as much as it is a statement about the world in general. There's not always big thoughts behind it, so don't indulge in over-interpreting any of it.

I consider this a life-long project, though I don't quite know what the future of the internet will be. But as long as somebody's visiting this site, I'll be working on it. Maybe that's also a way to make yourself visible, to make an impact, to be not virtual, but appear real, to fill an empty form, a tabula rasa, with content, fighting invisibility, fighting mortality even.

This is a project always under construction, always under deconstruction, always under the scrutiny of myself and others, something equally permanent and provisional.

November 4th, 2001

3rd Site Introduction - January 2001

Welcome to I'm really glad you made it here, for the web is so large, and looking for something is sometimes like trying to find a needle in a haystack, thus I'm the more happy to have you here. And as this is supposed to be the introduction to this site, I'll now formally introduce you to it.

Web sites are an amazing thing, in theory. You can more or less freely express yourself, technical and juridical restrictions are the only things standing in your way. You don't even need a lot of money, as there are lots of free services around - that's the spirit of the net: To provide something for others without necessarily expecting monetary compensation, to give rather than to take. Even e-commerce can't do without freebies, whatever their intention.

Web sites can also be a pretty horrifying thing, in not being pretty and all. Web design is about design - not even all the allegedly big players seem to know that. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should do anything you want. Thus over the years I've been trying to create something with a bit of both a visual appeal and also simplicity in the concept, the result is supposed to be this site. Yet layout ain't everything, it has to be filled with contents.

The contents are firstly a collection of texts of mine, including amongst other things poems, essays, reviews and my internet diary. There's also an academic interest at work here, therefore I've included papers and notes produced for my studies, and most other stuff can be said to be at least loosely connected to my interests in American Studies. Secondly, I've come to develop a serious interest in photography, that's what my growing pictures section is all about.

The name of the site,, is derived from a short version of my real name. Phil is obviously short for Philipp, and John is my mother's birthname. And it is much easier to spell than my real surname.

This site is not a dead end, it is supposed to be alive as long as I am. I may not be equally productive each month, and I may have other things to do or just need a break, but I'm there, so this site should be properly maintained for quite some time.

This is also meant to be something like an archive of my work and interests, so you'll find old and new stuff living together, more or less happily, aiming for a complete picture. Not everything here is supposed to be perfect, some things are, but all in all, it's just a more or less wild mix, and it's supposed to be so. And should you have any comments or suggestions, or just want to say hello, feel free to contact me.

January 8th, 2001

2nd Site Introduction - 1999

Welcome to This site is meant as a collection of texts of mine, including amongst other things poems and essays and my internet diary. This site is not a dead end, you can expect me working constantly on it. And if you have any comments or suggestions, or just want to say hello, feel free to e-mail me.

What is a homepage on the internet good for? Why doing such a thing? And how to do it? Both questions are equally difficult, and my answer to them is this very site. The internet provides us with a totally new dimension in the history of publication: Until the invention of printing with movable letters, it was utmost difficult to make one's own thoughts and deliberations available to the general public. After this invention, it became easier - but also the writings had to have a certain relevance to the audience, that means the texts had and have to be reviewed and to be approved by the respective publisher - to being able to finance the process. Books have to pay out somehow, thus making it still difficult for the ordinary person to address the public.

With the invention of the world wide web, this changed. The printing press will not disappear, but the things you can find in books are not necessarily comparable to those being found on the internet. What you can find on the web is much more spontaneous, it is sort of a manifestation of the common - thereby I do not mean the ordinary. On the contrary, what you can find here is less restricted, less filtered, thus hopefully much more honest. This very site now intends to present you my personal thoughts on various topics, in various forms. I cannot promise you that you'll find here what you need to know, I'm not even sure I myself possess any answers. But still I try to find them, and I invite you to do so also. May you all live long and prosper.

June 7th, 1999

1st Site Introduction - 1998

The first question I asked considering my home page was: Why? But soon I realized that the question should rather have been: Why not? And so this is supposed to be the result of this process of recognition. The second question was, where to settle, and obviously I chose GeoCities and my university server. I also thought about moving to another webspace provider, but then I've come to feel comfortable with GeoCities, yeah, this seems to be quite the traditional place for pages like mine. I just need the university account for uploading the files to a European server is faster from my location.

That brings us to the third question: Where to settle at GeoCities, and I've chosen Area 51. Why this? Area 51 to me does not present something like a crazy idea or a nirvana for people who are just living in a dream world. But those who very quickly dismiss such an idea like that of Area51 seem to be thinking this way probably because they feel very grown up or serious. But with so called "scientific seriousness" one does easily create a path for oneself which has already a pre-written result.

So has it to do with faith? I don't think so, but I think it is a question of believing though. And it is also a question of asking questions, maybe even of questioning everything. But, after so many questions, the answers are awaited. Questioning just for itself is empty and has to look for answers. Answers can be found, or as Deep Throat said to Scully in The Erlenmeyer Flask: "Evidence still exists". I'm not looking for evidence; I'm in no position to do so. But I want to collect some ideas which are looking for or presenting answers - and of course for those who are just fun to enjoy.

So there won't probably be a very large picture gallery or movies or things like that be found here. Mainly I want to present some thoughts of my own. So I welcome you to these pages and hope you'll find something here that would be interesting for you. May you all live long and prosper.

January 8th / August 12th, 1998

© Phil John Kneis. all rights reserved   · - internet diary · poetry · serial photography
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