"Where do we go from here?" Case asks near the conclusion of William Gibson's novel Neuromancer (259). One answer suggested throughout most of the narrative is nowhere. True, geographically we are whisked around the urban centers of Earth in the near future, Chiba City, the Sprawl, Istanbul, and then to the orbital pleasure domes and corporate stronghold of Freeside and Straylight. The kind of movement to which I am referring is not overtly physical, though. Neuromancer articulates a motion inward, its attention focused upon subtle interiors; it is implosive rather than expansive, choosing to examine how technology affects the universe of self, individual consciousness, rather than the universe at large (Csicsery 188).
Every human character in the novel remains psychologically static, wired into a predetermined behavior pattern, a seemingly inescapable identity. Human characters seem unaware or incapable of forming or reforming an individual, provisional, less than absolute notion of self. Wintermute, an Artificial Intelligence, a computer, however, acknowledges and attempts to transcend itself. The boundaries between humanity and the machines it produces are blurred. Old paradigms of self, of identity seem obsolete. The character who possesses the greatest capacity for change in the novel is a machine. This is neither an indictment of humanity nor an endorsement of technology. Instead, the novel remains steadfastly ambivalent toward what Gibson himself calls "the very mixed blessings of technology" (Interview 274).
The novel asks us to consider the issue of individual identity apart from physical human existence, within a techn...
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Hollinger, Veronica. "Cybernetic Deconstruction." Storming the Reality Studio. Larry McCaffrey, ed. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1992.
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