A brief history of Memory: Gossip and Core Rope A Brief History of Gossip: the history of gossip starts with an extended hand and a lowered ear. the other leans forward in a chair, their hands loosely clasped around a bobbin of yarn. they stare at each other, with the relaxed urgency of new information. The Core Rope Memory: “The permanent memory, which stored the flight programs, consisted of a complex series of wires running in and out of magnetic cores that determined if a particular bit of memory location was a one or a zero. At a given memory location, a wire going through
the core represented a “1,” a wire going around a core a “0”. Thousands of these cores, meticulously threaded with thin, hair-like wires, were packed together into “ropes” that help Apollo’s programs. The program was indestructible, literally hard-wired into ropes.” (Mindell, David A. Digital Apollo: human and machine in spaceflight. MIT Press, 2011.) The programs were hardware “A rigid rack held an assembly of cores, and the machine used the numerical data from the punch cards to position the core assembly so the worker could quickly run her needle, with a wire attached, through each core. (Mindell, David A. Digital Apollo: human and machine in spaceflight. MIT Press, 2011.) the sound of looms
in operation, *chush* *chush* *chush* back strap banter sends ripples while yellow cast skies warm brown water. the weavers on the bank dip weft into warp, back-n-forth, like cupping water from the river. memory is space. memory is mechanics. mechanisms to remember. but it takes time to remember, but it takes space to remember, but it takes energy to remember. memory is energy. memory is the time you took. memory is physical, woven together through time. memorizing is a craft, something to be honed. memories are made with the available tools, at the opportune time. memories are remade, with my current tools.
between history and gossip: to feel the stacked histories of communication sunk deeper from the tales and secret knowledge beat down into tapestries to furtive and easy words combed into cloth In a scene from the MIT Science Reporter program entitled “Computer for Apollo” the Apollo Engineering Manager at Raytheon introduces us to the majority female workforce: “this girl is placing the micro-logic units into a fixture that will be used in this centrifuge”, “the girl puts the parts, as she’s doing here, into a test socket”, “in the final operation, this girl uses a cutting tool.”, “she takes her little tweezers and properly aligns the leads.” “Raytheon did the manufacturing in its plant in Waltham, Massachusetts. [They] assigned the work to older, female workers. Engineers nicknamed them “little old ladies,” and referred to them as “LOLs.” Core rope weaving was a specialized skill, and Raytheon paid the women to sit around and do nothing if the software ran late.”
(Mindell, David A. Digital Apollo: human and machine in spaceflight. MIT Press, 2011.) ‘words’ whispered or not are passed from one long tongued woman to another as gestures of wellbeing of safety of gratitude of protection each word locked to the next forming thread which slinks past our lips, beat down into pigment to paint tapestry weft. our words sink into the wools and cottons. of speaking while completing ‘women’s work’. of things which are forbidden (which are stickiest). if you touch a woven garment prepare to unlearn or relearn. our spider shaped women were sifted into storybook corners with carboniferous gods destined to weave ‘til the end of time (pause) the images were slowly erased leaving the warp and weft unburdened on white pages (pause) - machining yardage was given to floors of men, who doled out nametags with which read: ‘technicians’, ‘supervisors’, or ‘master weavers.’ did they put down tapestry bobbins and shuttles for cool hard metals and wires
did they speak as their hands did the work did their mouths speak as complex a code as their hands wove Important things to note: traditions were kept alive passed through families & legacies going through stages and trends of being labelled a masculine or non masculine venture until even so stripped of the traditional fibres it was given back to the original weavers under the title ‘core rope memory’ belittled with the given name LOL’s for Little Old Ladies they were responsible for constructing NASA’s coding in the 1960’s + 70’s without them we would not have gotten to the moon without them even after Hidden Figures. even after being branded LOL’s . even after their blackness and brownness erased. even after their names were not documented.
let us remember their history and feel their words and stories seeped into core rope memory and carried to the moon. let us remember the Valkries who used severed heads as warp weights, and arrows as shuttles . Let us remember Philomela weaving her trauma and truth. Let us remember: Kokyangwuti Hine-te-iwaiwa Laima-Dalia Ixchel Ama-Terasu replace each 0 with a face and each 1 with a voice