ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

My Most Precious Collection —

I have a number of in-transit projects I’m always working on. Some of them are in very good shape, others are in states of disrepair and decay. It’s always a constant game to decide what needs my time and what can go another few months without my meddling. But in terms of in-progress sites, the winner is “The Last Straw”, which I have been working on for seven years.

I have kept it to myself, but I figure maybe people want to help me find additions to this precious, precious, collection. So let me explain what it is.

There comes a time in the lifespan of any creative project when it reaches a critical point; will it continue or will it be disbanded? This juncture is sometimes the case of being long in the tooth, or in danger of being obsoleted, or maybe, just maybe, because the maintainer/creator of the project has gone completely utterly batshit loco insane.

It is from this final set of circumstances that we will sometimes see The Last Straw Letter, a piece of correspondence or final note from this person that is intended, once and for all, to burn any and all bridges related to the project. In fact, not only must every bridge be burnt, but the roads leading to the bridge must be laced with landmines and the landscape around the roads limed in such a way so that nothing will grow there again.

It is, to me, the mind at full bore: the complete and total insanity, the love of the project mirror-universed into loathing hate; the kicks to the groin and pokes to the eye of everyone who ever (in the author’s eyes) abused or ruined the project with their actions or inactions.

I present to you, my tiny, tiny collection: the last straw.

If you must only read one, read the one that I consider the classic, the true and final standard by which to base the Last Straws of the future: The Nathan Mates Letter.

In this letter, Nathan Mates announces his withdrawl from the Apple II development community. In doing so, he attacks the members, the other developers, the pirates, and everything else in his path. That, itself, is fascinating in a car-wreck sort of way… but when he reveals that he has low-level formatted his hard drives to ensure no remaining piece of his work exists? That is, truly, sublime. It is a level of hate that one rarely sees in life, and it is laid bare here.

The other parts of the collection are nearly as classic; all of them should be read as if the writer is literally shaking their fist at the sky; at least, that’s how I do it. The bitterness, the gritted teeth, the flaring lips and eyes… it’s like candy.

Call it a guilty pleasure. Call it strange, weird that I would take such interest in this. But there you go, there it is. The Last Straw.

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