As I was reading, I noticed several self-referential comments woven into the narrative, remarks that seemed to comment back on Neuromancer and the academic work surrounding it. Though apparently Gibson is less aware than I thought him to be -- how did he not notice that he had created another character with the name Case?
A quick internet search revealed to me that Pattern Recognition, the eighth novel by William Gibson, was the first to be on the New York Times Bestsellers list, and the first to be set in a contemporary world instead of a fantastical one. The increased overall popularity of the more recent William Gibson novels ( as opposed to Neuromancer, whose popularity was more of a word-of-mouth cult hit ) may be due to this; however, speaking personally, I found the contemporary world of Pattern Recognition less compelling.
Plot-wise, Neuromancer is probably one of the most convoluted books that I have ever read. Since it was difficult to stay with the story, I found myself observing how the characters related to the rich futuristic environment. What stood out to me the most was their relationship to the natural, represented both by human flesh and descriptions of the earth.
Reading response to Neuromancer
Neuromancer. How did it make me feel? I felt alternatively disgusted and thrilled. I felt interested, and bored. Some things seemed exotic and some things seemed far too normal. The book seemed a paradox of extremes at times.
William Gibson's "Neuromancer" manages to create worlds that are both an exercise n sensory overload and a frustrating lack of detail, leaving the reader confused as to the environment. What is perhaps most interesting in this detailed description is the attention Gibson pays to material. Scarcely a page goes by without some mention of a plastic window, a silk futon, a leather jacket, denim pants, or a fiberglass chassis. A large part of what creates the futuristic sense of Gibson's world is the development of new materials and the unfamiliar hierarchy of materials, consisting of both the new and the jarringly familiar substances. This hierarchy of material breaks down to two separate categories: body modification and environment.
I'm interested in what people make of Gibson's invocation of the mythologized Fall from Eden (common to the Western monotheistic traditions) to thematize Case's feelings about his initial neurological damage--and his ontological status more generally: "For Case, who'd lived for the bodiless exultation of cyberspace, it [the damage] was the Fall. In the bars he'd frequented as a cowboy hotshot, the elite stance involved a certain relaxed contempt for the flesh. The body was meat.
Though I see that the body/mind issue has already been raised in responses, I'm really interested in how Gibson addresses this, and I think I can take a sufficiently original tack that my response will further the discussion.
Observation, I think it's rather interesting that the hotels/beds get referred to as coffins. I'm not entirely certain if this is societal, which would be interesting, given the focus on body modification, or if it's just Case, in which case that goes along with his death wish and frustrations and self-loathing of his body.
So, did anyone else notice the little bits of synesthesia that popped up throughout neuromancer? There's an "aching taste of blue" on page 257, Molly's pain as "neon worms in her thigh, the touch of burlap, smell of frying krill" on 217. I'm pretty sure there was something else as well, but now I can't find it. If its significant in any way, I'm sure it has to do with the whole mind-body problem, but mostly its just a random observation.
Did anyone pick up on any others?
We talked a fair bit in class about the troubled mind-body relationship present in Neuromancer. Many of the characters make us question our assumptions of what it means to be alive, from the unembodied mind of Wintermute to the mindless body of Armitage, with multiple characters straddling the line between life and death at any given point. Case is the one character who we are really allowed to connect with on any psychological level (though even that hold is tenuous, given the somewhat schizophrenic style of postmodern/cyberpunk writing).