A watercolor by Renee Collins, from my collection. I don’t know the name that Renee originally gave it, but I’ve always referred to it as “Leaky Margins.”

If you spend a fair amount of time online, you have probably come up against The Membrane. It functions a bit like a cell wall, as the boundary between the cyber inside and cyber out there, the me and the you, a sense of being connected and yet protected, visible and yet not. At certain places that membrane is only a few air packets thick, with lots of porosity and flow back and forth. At other places it is a glove fit and impermeable, invisible armor that makes for easy escapes and to travel incognito. There’s nothing quite like it IRL. Sometimes it frustrates me. Sometimes I think it is the coolest thing in all the world.

It was in that context that I found this quote so provocative.

I do not know if it has ever been noted before that one of the main characteristics of life is discreteness. Unless a film of flesh envelopes us, we die. Man exists only insofar as he is separated from his surroundings. The cranium is a space-traveler’s helmet. Stay inside or you perish. Death is divestment, death is communion. It may be wonderful to mix with the landscape, but to do so is the end of the tender ego.

–Vladimir Nabokov

Beautiful thing, discreteness, even when contemplated within the entropic morbidity we all face. Thank you Whiskey River for bringing me another great quote moment.

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