Hartmut Zänder: the navel gaze . . . theoretical thoughts . . . home . . .
is the middle of the web

One thing the web user has structurally in common with a bellybutton and this is the paradox condition of being »ubi quique«, which means, being at the same time everywhere at each point and nevertheless nowhere in special, a determination, which applied once only to gods.
The Web, the world-wide network, doesn't have a measurable space, is no Res extensa, which could be drawn into a system of coordinates, therefore everyone, who participates, is at the same time in the center and at its outermost edge, an annoying paradox, to whose removal different strategies are chosen.
One goes on the increase of the users value, his »reputation« or »value« in the web, promoted with Vote me's, banners and link exchanges and representable in a possible internet formula »Value = n * eyeballs«. One could say: the value of a user - his reputation - increases with the number of eyeballs, which pay attention to his own page. Further possibilities are: to start own clubs, to operate with chatrooms and forums in order to create with this family-similar membership such a thing like a virtual home.
Homeland grounds and leads back into the generation chain, in which one is connected by his navel cord not only with direct ancestors, but is related to all humans, if one stretches the time window only far enough. A structure, which is quite comparable to the Web.
Cutting the cord is necessary, and nevertheless it is canceled in life again and again in favor of new navel cords, new connections and dependencies, transformed structures, which forces a repeated cutting of cords.
Even if the first attempts start to make internet connections cordless already, the communion of computers appears to be like a collective navling (Vernabelung). (as that man says in a german spot for Pay TV: »What, you still have no cable?«)
Cabling is horror to most of us like deciphering manuals, but once the connection is set up, all previous confusion and despair is immediately forgotten and giving way to that incomparable luck feeling of this »user your-name is logged in« (the astonished tennis star: I am in it?!)
To be logged in = to be in!
To be wired to the network, to this new El Dorado of everywhere and nowhere, in the scope of general availability of all files produces a split of consciousness, a schizoid existence. Interconnected through eyes, hands and cables with the world behind the monitor, the body before the display is getting at a disadvantage and now waiting for its rediscovering. Whether the fact, that live Webcams are now beginning to look back is sufficient, is however questionable.
The Dolmus bus from Alanya to Manavgat in the southwest of Turkey is hanging full of amulettes against the evil eye, altogether seven eyes in their typical form of blue drips or tears, as they are offered all over the markets in order to center another view and steer him away, just to leave his carrier undisturbed. What is the evil in these eyes? Why muslim women have to protect theirselves against them by veiling?
Response: because they are covetous.
Eyes are basically covetous and desiring, therefore a dealer needs only to focus ones attention to the goods, which he would like to sell, in order to stir up the hidden, natural desire. All is advertisement; vegetable displays on the weekly market over TV-spots up to the "banners" on the internet pages.
But in the Web the type of eyes have changed. The making eye at eachother, the exchange of views, flaring affectionately good up to desiring evil eyes does not count any more, is becoming uninteresting more and more. Not the quality, but only the quantity »of eyeballs« is of importance, counted as hits and analysed by the logbooks on all servers.
Splitting our existence by a digital interface into a world before and behind the display causes a gap through our personal identity too. It threatens on one hand to get lost, since we morph into a simple advertising target group, to just numeric
eyeballs, but on the other hand it contains the chance of a brandnew, a virtual identity. What is getting out of it, is not yet
researched and answered, but one question is already certain: what will be with our real body before the monitor?
Two body things remind us of our biological identity: our navel and our eyeballs, which are in addition also the carriers of our social personality, that's why they must be covered with black banners under suspicion.
The picture of a navel gazing man to western people, who are crazy about work, was considered long time as a thing out of correctness, despicably, almost disgusting. He regards this picture of the Oriental, Indian, Chinese as an example of someone, who misses to give actively a meaning to his life. Instead he seems to fall in love to his own mirror image like narcissus. The asiatic understanding of just to let things happen opposes diametrically the western view of meditation as an intellectual work, bible research for example.
The eyesight, to old philosophers the guarantee of being comparable to God, shall not bend down today for the origin of the own life, shall not gaze at its own navel, before extinguishing, but shall merge with that blue display light, shall flow with him in the same rythm, producing hit by hit.
Therefore you can regard here an open collection with portraits of real bellybuttons, enjoy their pure beauty and individuality without having to shut your eyes to the display. Pages with pics of bellybuttons are growing like the web itself. This is an index for me for the general attempt of rediscovering our real body. Even the advertising banners on top are
important here, because they are also a reason, why this page seems to become necessary at all.

Cologne, Alanya, in February 2000