Tag Archives: binaries

Why I want to look at Neuromancer

Most of the time I read, I’m  reminded that I don’t read enough.

This in itself can be read (at least) two ways, I suppose.  What I mean first is that I haven’t read Neuromancer, but I keep reading about it and William Gibson.  This is similar to reading Ciritcal Theory and Science Fiction or Archaeologies of the Future without having read Man in the High Castle.  Guilty.  Perhaps, its the term “cyberpunk” that has dissuaded me from Gibson.  Perhaps.

I am interested by Chun’s effort on this text, though, for its focus on *text* – specifically her comment that “high-tech Orientalism also renders Gibson’s text something other than mere text” (195).  I am preoccupied with the artifice of the book (and by this I mean, briefly and inconclusively, the relation of non/fiction, narrative, text and experience), so this concept is a frequent destination for my rambling thought process.   I did appreciate the careful argument concerning Orientalism and think it seems to be an important one in regards to Neuromancer and Blade Runner.  And there is fertile ground in discussing hybridity of text and the binaries of Orientalism (and cyborgs, too, of course) as relates to Ghost in the Shell.  But, that won’t be happening here and now, as that’s far too much for me to wrap my meagre brain around, especially in combination with this whole *text* thingy…

I’m going to inevitably fumble this, because it is a thought in progress, so I openly invite counterpunches and questions, shrugs and blank stares.  Chun follows the above quote by tying this textual multiplicity (of function? effect?) to the representational – Gibson’s creation of the text to a soundtrack (punk) and the text as filling a need for a spatial/visual deficit in actual technological methods of representation (cyberspace).  The latter is interesting to me as it seems to be complicit with the genre-ization of SF, as characterized by definitions that incorporate the temporal shifts (SFnal past as real present, SFnal future as real present – a la Jameson, Delany and Gibson ipso).  In other words, the SFnal future of Neuromancer dictates the goals of the current network.  In this sense, text is product and producer – a rough analogy to the aforementioned temporal paradoxes/coincidences.  

More interesting to me is the idea of coded data and real experience.  (Another way of wording this might be disembodies v. bodied.)  It seems, in Neuromancer, there is a (understandable and practical) disconnect between the realities and possibilities of the coded world in comparison to the real world.  Roughly, virtual reality experiences are less *real* than real reality experiences.  In other words, the internal reality of the text’s VR/cyberspace/jacking fails to become an effective hyperreal experience and does not destroy the binary of real/virtual.  (I don’t know if its fair to characterize this as “failure” or expected, which would depend on your view of the potential of the internet.)  Yet, in another manner, the creation (above) and analysis of the text complicates this binary: Chun is able to point that the East-West binary breaks down in Case’s own mistakes and even positions the text (and not-so-subtly here reading of the text) as perhaps a “brilliant critique of Orientalism in general” (192).  

Is this one possibility of the text being more than “mere” text?  

I would argue, in general, that the treatment of text as critical subject blurs the distinction between fiction and real object, as representations are given treatment as realities.  The transmittal of emotion and experience through text is another case of this, to me.