Flatlining as a Metaphor for the Virtual Text

Simon A. Rakov, Vassar College '92

The image of flatlining in Neuromancer refers metaphorically to the computer's inaccessibility as a virtual text. When Case is flatlined, he experiences days of virtual time while his body experiences only five minutes. His time within the computer world of the artificial intelligence Neuromancer amounts to a tremendous quantity of data that is cut off from the exterior world; Maelcolm and Dixie see only Case's immobile body while he resides in the artificial intelligence's virtual reality. Case while flatlined is fully comprehending all of the available data within the artificial intelligence's information base; he has become unified with the machine. Maelcolm and Dixie, as outsiders to this phenomenon, can have no understanding of the depth of his experience. There is no window into Case's experience; he has become one with the enormous virtual information base. As he is fully immersed in data, so are they fully excluded from that data. The flatlined person experiences the entirety of the data, thus becoming inconceivable himself.

Neuromancer Cyborg Cyberspace OV