Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cyberpunk: Neuromancer -- Entry 2

     In Neuromancer we find out that the "Sprawl", the name given to a Gibson trilogy of books, is the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis, or BAMA.   Gibson portrays the new world in terms of a map color-coded based on how much data exchange is occurring.  So much data is being transmitted that you only begin seeing differences when you get above 100 million megabytes, which for today's metropolitan areas is nothing.  Gibson also has the idea that there could be a black market for as little as 3 megabytes of RAM.  There's no way he could have known in 1984 that RAM would be so cheap now. 

    Suspicion of cities as centers of moral turpitude goes back at least to Genesis.  What's the deal here?  The simple, rural life is contrasted with the complex, corrupt life in the population centers; city ways are not country ways.  But what happens when the city takes over? Or what happens when the values of the city are exported to the country via instant communication or the Internet?

     City ways separate us from organic origins and yield fake life, as in the electronic recording(a construct) of a dead hacker's mind.  Now, is the recording actually alive?  What kind of life is life in cyberspace?  It's a hallucination of life, like the old brain in a vat.  What I find wonderful is that Gibson says the matrix(cyberspace) has its origin in arcade games, games where as a kid I would get sucked into an alternate reality -- I had a similar obsession with non-electronic games like old Dungeons and Dragons, so I don't think escape has to be electronic but it is in this novel.  The mind gets sucked in and eventually can be copied, that is, turned into what Gibson call a "construct", into the game itself; one becomes, as it were, "one" with the matrix, even surviving death as an electronic copy. 

While Case can no longer experience the high from drugs because his pancreas has been replaced, he can still experience ecstasy in cyberspace.  This all has mystical overtones, when he is in cyberspace:

"...Symbols, figures, faces, a blurred, fragmented mandala of visual information.
Please, he prayed, now"(N, pg. 50)

And later:

Inner eye opening to the stepped scarlet pyramid of the Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority  burning beyond the green cubes of Mitsubishi Bank of America, and high and very far away he saw the spiral arms of military systems, forever beyond his reach."(N, pg.50)

Gibson might as well be describing a peyote-induced vision.

In "reality" Case is really in his loft, hooked up to the computer:

"And somewhere he was laughing, in a white-painted loft, distant fingers caressing the deck, tears of release streaking his face"(N, pg. 50)

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