There is a shared theme by both Neuromancer and Pickup on South Street of preservation. In the movie we see Moe wanting so desperately to be buried in a proper place. The goal behind her informant doings being to fatten the kitty; She isn’t trying to buy any more time, just a better funeral. Anything but Potter’s field she says.
In Neuromancer this too is true in that Case, once suicidal, works to essentially, preserve himself. An imminent death, the meat backing Armitage’s threats and subsequent control over Case, is some means to the end Case would have welcomed at first. Case could have easily resisted this coercion, accepting Armitage’s possibly false sentiment, killing himself. Or perhaps, Case never really wanted to die? And perhaps Moe immediately regretted the sequence which led Joey to point his gun at her. Though at that moment, preservation of her integrity took precedence over the preservation of her meat and the quality of her grave.
Manipulation is the name of the game in both narratives. Get what you want by any means necessary. Beat a woman, provoke people to your will, kill them if they act otherwise. Manipulation is some self-seeking combination of con artistry and psychosis that deflects and replants blame and intention rather masterfully — the imposing of one’s intellectual dominance over the weaker by means of coercion. Wintermute manipulates Case and Armitage by overtaking the bodies and likeness of encounters past, speaking through these people who were once their friends or enemies in a manner unlike them. Candy is easily manipulated as well. She transports information not knowing its content, working off the premise that this will be her last delivery. A notion that Joey maintains when the delivery falls through, telling her to finish what she started by sympathetic means. She falls in love with Skip and is seduced by his touch, though it is clear that he does not trust her. In her fit of one way romance, perhaps she is coerced by Skip, not manipulated as by Joey, to act as she does. Hey, they fall in love don’t they? Furthermore a sense of manipulation, too, is maintained by the police in the noir, and Riveria and Ashpool in Neuromancer as well.
Retracing of steps, being followed, keeping tabs when you think nobody’s looking. Someone always is though. Nothing we ever do seems to be private. Or if we start to believe such, it comes at our demise. Though Skip has the nagging, and frankly annoying sense that he is being tricked which he isn’t at Candy’s hand, this itself is what is going to keep him alive. He might not be people’s favorite person, but he’s alive isn’t he? Skip is so aware of his being followed, that he is able to lose the officer trailing him. Case has this paranoia as well, exhibited in the beginning of the book when he thinks Lonny is following him, which apparently, he isn’t. In one context you’re being paranoid, in others you actually are saving your own life.
In both stories, there is an overarching distinction between crimes done against one another, but that there are also crimes against humanity — the greatest crime of all, unforgivable. It’s one thing to steal from another, then another to desecrate a whole country of people. Same holds true when the turing tells case that perhaps he is annihilating his species. There is, indeed, a hierarchy of crime.
Well my timing is impeccable. Do they have time machines in Neuromancer?
(Post made after class discussion. Perhaps l’esprit de l’escalier will be at play here. Perhaps my ideas are already warped by the class discussion we had. I still have some lingering thoughts, so it’s worth posting late.)
Though I agree with Easterbrook’s notion that technological motifs dominate the universe of Neuromancer, I still ultimately think that Gibson maintains the theme that physis takes precedence to techne in his writing, whether or not it be by intention. After all, Gibson illustrates not a mere map of another dimension, but rather a total account of humans — bionic and unnatural — in a setting that is arguably as radical as it is familiar. Certainly the details are futuristic, but beyond this intricateness, there is an unmistakable likeness to our relatively simplistic world. Humans are the dominant beings, and through them, Gibson didactically allows a story to unfold. The characters we follow are laden with flaws, and as a result, they prove rather relatable. Case is motivated by his ego, a matter particularly human. But by the same measure, he is plagued by it as well as he proves self-seeking, hedonistic at first, once suicidal. Molly and Armitage, on the other hand, are marred by their human experience and pasts. Their modifications have masked their disfigurements, bringing them closer to perfection. But ingrained in their existence and participation in their advanced world, is the prevailing obstacle that is the human experience. An obstacle that they, and techne, can not escape nor overcome.
Moreover, the very nature of a narrative is anthropomorphic. They’re human constructs. The world of Neuromancer is saturated in themes we, as readers, pick up on. Imagine a computer writing Neuromancer and another computer reading it. You think they’d include all the bits about emotion or even scent? It’d probably just be 1’s and 0’s.
According to Urban Dictionary, an alternative online, user-driven dictionary source, hacking is “…using something and change it, and make it do what you want with it.” As poorly worded and warped as that and most definitions are on urbandictionary.com, I have to admit there is a lot of pungent truth in that simplified alter definition of the term, hacking. The applications go far beyond the world of the Internet, its origin, alone. Take Neuromancer, for example.
Gibson, so skillfully, paints for us a picture of this futuristic world intertwining urban modernizations to fringe culture to a form of cyberspace known as the ‘matrix’; this matrix functions much like an evolved form of our Internet, providing users with a platform of communication, and resultantly, a whole different realm of discourse, rules, possibilities in the process. The novel is a window into cross cultural truths of modern humanity and the societies that ensue, only its details are packaged differently. Readers are introduced to a world with notable verisimilitude framed by slang of another (fictitious) dimension and characters, bionic yet laden with personhood. Moreover, this world’s underbelly is where we find most of the plot stirring.
Where, then, does the hack present itself?
Beyond Case, our hero, jacking into the matrix and navigating through ice, hacking presents itself elsewhere: in the traditional sense of ‘plot’ itself. As the plot changes, thickens, readers are introduced to not only new characters with abilities beyond that which seemed plausible pages before, but to an unorthodox sense of hero, protagonist, vice, virtue, etc. as well.
Traditionally, associations of a novel’s protagonist fall in line with uprightness and morality. In Neuromancer, however the underlying “plot” skeleton remains traditional though the flesh it supports, the meat of the novel, proves rather unusual. In many instances, Case and Molly are realistic, yes, but rather abrasive as well. Gibson’s character development seems to be a hack in the traditional framework of a novel. His protagonist, and supporting characters, are not cultural heroes as hackers can arguably be.
For all we know, they could be contributing to the greater bad.
WORK IN PROGRESS.
Hell, I’m no stranger to blogging.
There was once a time I found myself to be rather tech-savvy. I was able to navigate the internet, in its relative infancy, with ease. I remember playing the occasional Flash game online, using AskJeeves as my search engine, making account after account on platforms such as AOL Instant Messenger, Xanga, and Myspace — most of which are now obsolete — as a means to connect, explore, and escape. If not for these websites, the likes of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter would have never been born.
I spent countless hours of my adolescence looking for new websites and new content. I shared my thoughts often then, no matter it with an audience of select friends, or anonymously with a faceless, possibly non-existent, cyber audience. Preoccupied and sleep-deprived, I became the night owl in my youth that I still am today; largely because I used the internet rather heavily. And you know what? Some of my best writing was written then.
Then everybody else found the internet.
See, there is something rather deterring about sharing my twenty-something discoveries and rants on Facebook, knowing very well that my following includes: my mother, my impressionable eight-year-old niece, several ex-boyfriends, their current girlfriends, childhood friends, random strangers, etc. All sense of freeing self-expression and novelty was lost.
The internet was supposed to be my secret, kept safe.
Now it’s commonplace. It’s pervasive. It’s a matter of constant, sometimes unwanted communication. It’s an industry. Now it gentrifies my neighbors out of our hometown.
With all that being said, I realize that my words could prove rather hypocritical considering technology’s prevalence in my everyday life; more and more, however, I find myself consciously defaulting to the analog counterparts of our societal automations, though loved as they are. Film cameras, paperback books, typewriters, leather-bound diaries, fountain pens – hello!
Perhaps, I am a “hipster” at best. There’s just something oh so comical about seeing somebody’s face when their phone dies.