Flip! Diction Enhanced Experience

Elizabeth Rodwell spook@brown.edu

Gibson's Neuromancer reads like V.R. Info. Is shot at us as though millions of eyes search the place, picking out lights, images, sounds, colors. Scenes are described in intense, holographic and trippy detail. While Case ingests pills, we feel the effects, too.

Such is the mark of a skilled writer. Gibson creates for a world in which information reaches the senses, too much all at once and a subject must sort, and choose, and interpret at speeds greater than what average late-20th century mere contemporaries are used to. His novel is a thoroughly diction enhanced experience; this is to say that he makes us feel the sensory-overload Case has adapted to. In many ways, the style of this book in itself could set the book apart. Stories of modernity are rarely told in this manner.

It's partially because of our hero, Case, whose mind is drug-cyber soup, that we see things (rather, read scenes) in the mixed-up jumbled-up mind-fuck manner we do. Natch, Case is being psycho-haunted by Neuromancer and Wintermute so he's in no position to be coherent (assuming, as we might, that some semblance of old-think remains). Gibson writes this all out; he creates a sort of simstim of Case's mind for the reader. Setting has a lot to do with it...

You must be tripping...

Case's Thoughts: "Program a map to display frequency of data exchange, every thousand megabytes a single pixel on a very large screen. Manhattan and Atlanta burn solid white. Then they start to pulse, the rate of traffic threatening to overload your simulation. Your map is about to go nova. Cool it down. Up your scale. Each pixel is a million megabytes. At a hundred million megabytes per second, you begin to make out certain blocks in Midtown Manhattan, outlines of hundred-year-old industrial parks ringing the core of Atlanta..."(N 43).

This is your brain:

"Concrete sloped away in tiers to a kind of central stage, a raised circle ringed with a glittering thicket of projection gear. No light but the holograms that shifted and flickered above the ring, reproducing the movements of the two men below. Strata of cigarette smoke rose from the tiers, drifting until it struck currents set up by the blowers that supported the dome...Reflected colors flowed across Molly's lenses as the men circled. The holograms were ten power magnifications; at ten the knives they had were just under a meter long... And now the crowd was screaming, rising, screaming, as one figured crumpled, the hologram fading, flickering" (N 38).

The writing style here simulates a data overload, an interactive experience for the reader. It's interesting to look at how Gibson creates these intense scenes, this sense of too much to look at. His work employs bright colors, loud noises, a lack of pastoral space. Everything sends information, everything is enhanced to make us learn faster, faster than the mind can take it all in. Effect: vertigo. Case has no peace during sex, even:

"As she began to lower herself the images came pulsing back, the faces, fragments of neon arriving and receding... his orgasm [flared] blue in a timeless space, a vastness like the matrix, where the faces were shredded and blown away down hurricane corridors" (N 33).

Interesting that Case compares orgasm to the matrix, suggesting data flood rather than feeling-flood(perhaps?). As a data-cowboy the matrix is, to him something akin to the ultimate orgasm; "jacking in" is for him the highest pleasure. Case needs his business, his toys, and his job, since for him these are food for an active mind. Again, here, Gibson launches into a scene something like strobe lights in a club. Flash! Image. Flash! New image. Like flipping, as Case does so often. So much info.... interesting experience.

I would ask the class to consider how Gibson's writing style takes the reader into the information macrocosm, how we get sucked into the matrix.

 Mona Lisa
Overdrive Cyborg Cyberspace OV