Friend,

Shortly after the new year, I began receiving a series of “spam” emails in my inbox. Usually filtration software removes them long before I encounter them, repositioning messages in a folder that becomes a kind of dead letter office, and transforming a nomadic figure into a predetermined and banal form - “spam.”

Throughout the month of January, however, I continued to receive these emails; all of them were characterized by a particular form of text in the body of the email which allowed it to “pass” as human. This text was notable for its aspirations; it was obviously algorithmically generated, but it recalled Modernist poetics, pop culture fragments, and personal epistles in its palimpsest of language and allusive beginning-to-speak. These texts passed a Turing test-- slipped past the machinic filter, proved themselves to be “human,” and claimed what Saussure called parole, or spoken language. They marked themselves as speech, and I accepted my role as listener, inhabiting a shifting and political form --— that of “friend.”

After January, the emails ceased. I have assembled and edited the text chronologically for this book, preserving the original syntax.