Agrippa»The Poem

Agrippa, pp. 62-63Agrippa the book contains a diskette buried in a hollowed-out cavity. When played in a 1992-era Mac computer, the diskette scrolls a 305-line poem by William Gibson unstoppably up the screen once, then performs an encryption-like effect on it that makes it  “disappear” for all but the most determined hacker.
Gibson’s text is a trans-generational memory poem about his father’s and his own youth—the father captured by a camera and a 1920 Kodak “Agrippa” brand photo album; the son reflecting upon the interface for a vanished world thus provided by the “mechanism.” Disappearance is a central theme (“Inside the cover he inscribed something in soft graphite / Now lost”). But the poem reimagines blurry human disappearance as an effect of sharp, decisive, binary transitions in an existential “the mechanism” (“The shutter falls / Forever / Dividing that from this”). Beyond elegy, the mechanism—which abides only in the moment, and so “forever”—also knows how to laugh (“tonight red lanterns are battered, / laughing, / in the mechanism”).
Currently, the Agrippa Files does not have permission to reproduce the full text of the poem. Many wild copies of the text exist on the Internet. The official copy is on William Gibson’s Web site.