The introduction: the fundamentals of the novel
While analyzing the novel written by William Gibson, I would like to point out one of the most important or key elements the novel is based on. In other words, I would like to define its basic idea. In my opinion, the author represents new aspects of identity. Generally, it is a cyberspace, which determines the postmodern identity.
It seems the novel is related to modern Western society and discloses the so-called social issues. The author appeals to the readers’ present life; no future aspects are considered in the novel. Benjamin Fair is of the opinion that Gibson’s production “illustrates how technology and global capitalism influence our ontology by generating a world of images that have no original referent: meaning is cut loose from our surroundings, so that the self and the world we knew are in question” (92).
On the other hand, the novel discovers political unpleasant consequences. As far as the novel reflects a cyberpunk genre, one can make a conclusion that the perspectives the author highlights are recognized to be malicious. This can be called the glorification of postmodernism.
However, according to Gibson’s novel, a cyberspace gives an opportunity to feel what freedom and joy are. Robert M. Geraci says that “Gibson explores the possibilities inherent in a futuristic dystopia. He shows that there is a technological good life even amid the tragedy of a world that has lived through economic and environmental decline” (972).
The thesis statement
William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer highlights reality issues of a virtual world. The description of a cyberspace and its constituents is one of the key points the author wants to draw the readers’ attention to. Religion-science discussion is one of the key ideas Gibson wanted to disclose; although the idea seems to be hidden.
The body: the reality of an objective postmodern culture
While reading the novel, my first impression was really clear and obvious; however, later I’ve understood that it was not clear, but fallacious. Thus, I thought that the author wanted to show a dystopian pessimism. In other words, I supposed it was his principal aim. Anyway, it was a shortage of positive alternatives that made me to become alerted and doubt the first impression.
So, my opinion has been changed. It was probably a utopian pessimism the author wanted to highlight in his novel. In this case, one can make a conclusion that the future is not as dark as the author states. “Neuromancer’s Rastas illustrate a positive political alternative to Gibson’s dark future, but only in the light of the sociohistorical context
of Rastafari as a religious and political movement” (Fair 93). To my mind, the description of Rastafarian culture determines the fundamentals of postmodern identity. In his novel, the author protests against European colonial society.
It seems that, on the one hand, postmodern reality is determined by the contact between the genre and modern techno-culture. For instance, Victoria de Zwaan is of the opinion that “following the arguments about late capitalism by Mandel and Jameson, a number of critics situate cyberpunk in a postmodern reality” (1). So, my assumption can be correct.
Fictional reality embraces numerous structures, which are hidden from our mind. However, the author tries to disclose them step by step. For instance, when reading the novel, it becomes evident that postmodern reality or culture, etc. is created by the conditions Gibson describes. In other words, there are the global realities, which create a postmodern world. That means that Gibson’s area of investigation is considered to be an objective postmodern culture.
Numerous critical discussions of Gibson’s genre include not only technologies and science, but also important psychological issues, namely lack of self-confidence or indecision, contemporary culture, etc.
In his novel, Gibson compares two worlds. In my opinion, the description Case vs. Maelcum is one of the most difficult to understand. Strength and faithfulness vs. lack of confidence is one of the most controversial questions the novel highlights. So, some philosophical issues are also explored by the author. Confluence and its opposite side are recognized to be the key aspects of the novel. The rejection of identity is the point Gibson is interested in.
In my opinion, the symbolical meaning of physical identity rejection is a sure death. Case’s “total rejection of his own physical identity is juxtaposed with a reference to embodiment that affirms it as the source of his power” (Fair 98). Angel Mateos-Aparicio states that virtual world and a reality “could not be reduced to narrative time displacement or to the use of some conventional technological or scientific motifs” (4). For this reason, the readers are to analyze critical and philosophical conceptions.
I suppose that such investigation can help the readers to understand the peculiarities of the genre Gibson creates. However, in my opinion, the issue, which is really problematic, is the difference or contradiction between the objective reality and imagination. Moreover, the problem is crucial in relation to postmodern criticism. “One of the main projects of postmodernism was the revision of the traditional role of narrative as a transparent means of linguistic representation” (Mateos-Aparicio 4).
Taking into account postmodern theories, one can make a conclusion that it is human experience, which most of the cyberpunk stories are based on. In this case, the readers are to draw their attention to a powerful cognitive aspect. Thus, it becomes obvious that there is no need to identify reality issues and virtual or imaginative ones. Moreover, the readers can consider numerous virtual things as the constituent parts of the real world or the so-called philosophical reality.
The aspects of symbolism and metaphor the author relies on are recognized to be of cognitive origin. Metaphysical genre the author represents gives us the idea about narrative settings. I suppose that a utopian pessimism is still considered to be the main idea of the novel; although some critics may disagree with my opinion. Thus, “Moylan rejects the Zion cluster as a utopian alternative to the dystopia of postindustrial capitalism in
the novel. He finds that the Zionite Rastas consistently adhere to patriarchal, capitalist, and colonial models” (Fair 93). However, to confirm my own ideas, I would like to rely on the opinion of a French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, who states that “the real world has become utopian and that fictional models provide an experience of what reality has actually turned into” (Mateos-Aparicio 5). So, in this case, I suppose that utopian world is exactly the hidden point the author wanted to disclose in his novel.
In my opinion, Gibson didn’t want to highlight the contradictions between the reality and a virtual world as most of the people may think. On the contrary, the key aspect is not a conflict between the two worlds, but their structure. In other words, the aspects, which the readers are to draw their attention to, are totally different structures the reality and imaginative world represent.
The conclusion: the meaning of Gibson’s novel
“The problem of cybernetic system feedback is not limited to the themes and techniques in texts; it leads to questioning the very purpose of constructing futuristic narratives” (Csicsery-Ronay, Jr. 1). In my opinion, the author represents the human conditions in respect of two different realities. Thus, he compares the issues, which structure is not similar. In his novel, Gibson relies on the concept of neofuturism, in order to resolve the contradictions which appear.
Gibson tries to disclose numerous hidden issues a virtual world includes. The description of countercultures is one of the key aspects the author highlights in his work. Thus, in Tony Myers’s work one can read “although the dominant culture always looms in the background—in the multinational corporations as well as in the form of a few powerful individuals the surface attention is all on the counterculture” (889).
I suppose that metaphoric origin of the novel prevents the readers’ understanding of the novel. In other words, there are some hidden issues are related to cognitive connotation, which is not so easy to recognize.
Anyway, in my opinion, Gibson gives his readers some prompts concerning the most important points of the novel. He discloses some philosophical conceptions, which arouse the readers’ interest and help to understand that first impression is not really what the readers need.
Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., Istvan. The Sentimental Futurist: Cybernetics and Art in William Gibson’s Neuromancer, 1992. Web. 14 Feb. 2012.
Fair, Benjamin. Stepping Razor in Orbit: Postmodern Identity and Political Alternatives in William Gibson’s Neuromancer, 2005. Web. 14 Feb. 2012.
Geraci, Robert. Robots and the Sacred in Science and Science Fiction: Theological Implications of Artificial Intelligence, 2007. Web. 14 Feb. 2012.
Mateos-Aparicio, Angel. The Symbolism of Synthetic Space in Cube (1997): Postmodern SF Film as Consensual Hallucination, 1997. Web. 14 Feb. 2012.
Myers, Tony. The Postmodern Imaginary in William Gibson’s Neuromancer, 2001. Web. 14 Feb. 2012.
Zwaan, Victoria. Rethinking the Slipstream: Kathy Acker Reads Neuromancer, 1997. Web. 14 Feb. 2012.