Over-saturation of Meaning in Neuromancer: Technical Details & Repetition

In William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Gibson’s stylistic writing over-saturates the text with meaning due to technical details. He intermingles scientific/computer jargon with a colloquial tone that leads a reader to assume obvious connections to a highly technological world. However, Gibson relies on this integration to create the majority of meanings within his work. For example, he skirts writing about complex technological ideas by using tech words that distracts a reader from the fact that he merely gestures towards ideas rather than solidifying them completely. Gibson’s writing usually leaves a reader with the quality of a sense of the technology he talks about rather than fully understanding the whole concept. For example, Case and the matrix are introduced when Gibson reflects on Case’s past and writes, “he’d operated on an almost permanent adrenaline high, a byproduct of youth and proficiency, jacked into a custom cyberspace deck that projected his disembodied consciousness into the consensual hallucination that was the matrix” (5). The words “byproduct,” “proficiency,” “jacked,” “cyberspace deck” and “matrix” are focused on Case and the virtual reality of the novel. Yet though they are focused on these specific things and are directly describing them, it is all done in a roundabout way. Only a sense of how Case acted and how the matrix works is ascertained from the passage, and though technically insubstantial in understanding to a reader, it makes the meaning of the passage all encompassing as one cannot firmly negate the sense of something—especially when using words that are intentionally meant to be read as highly technical and complex. Gibson does this in various times throughout the novel, giving the work an impression of import and paranoia—yet the lack of anything concrete emphasizes the missing substance that readers seek, leaving a reader nothing to hold on to and nothing to be certain about as well—foundational characteristics of cyberpunk writing.

            The text falls inward into itself, pointing towards technology and nothing at the same time, merely latching onto flimsy connections. The reader is frequently left freewheeling in the text and consequently allows the technological element of the work to take precedence over everything else. This importance of technology over more concrete elements is reinforced by Gibson’s repetition of phrases.  The action of Case entering the matrix is a striking example of this. Gibson merely writes that “Case flipped” or “Case jacked out” multiple times throughout the novel. Even when initially introduced to Linda Lee one’s initial impression of her is initially done via her eyes as Gibson writes about her “gray eyes rimmed with smudged black paintstick” on page 8 and her “gray eyes ringed with paintstick” on page 9. The repetition of phrases within the novel reduces the work as a whole. The repetitions do not really add up to a greater implication or meaning—rather they simply add length to the text and pile up upon themselves. They become expected and routine, allowing a reader to be less active in the work. Altogether, Gibson’s affinity for incorporating technological details and repetition of phrases adds up to a flashy whole with less depth than one originally realizes. 

 

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Over-saturation of Meaning in Neuromancer: Technical Details & Repetition

  1. writinginmy says:

    You say that “Gibson does this in various times throughout the novel, giving the work an impression of import and paranoia—yet the lack of anything concrete emphasizes the missing substance that readers seek, leaving a reader nothing to hold on to and nothing to be certain about as well—foundational characteristics of cyberpunk writing.” You also add that “The repetitions do not really add up to a greater implication or meaning—rather they simply add length to the text and pile up upon themselves.”

    Maybe I’m being daft but I’m having troubles understanding if you personally like Gibson’s writing/are defending it, or are pointing out a major flaw about it. If we are to understand that the repetitions do not really add up to a greater meaning (and if we are to take this as a bad thing), it does function well to shape up the environment and feel of the text right? Cyberspace is data, and as such, somewhat technologically repetitious. It’s not a space we can easily put our fingers on. On the other hand, if we are to understand that this repetitiouness coupled with vague references is simply characteristic of cyberpunk writing, you do address the tediousness of it all.

  2. Linda Lee is introduced in a flashback sequence. Case, lost in a daydream, remembers first meeting Linda. He remembers, among other things, her “gray eyes rimmed with smudged black paintstick.” And then, it vanishes. Case’s daydream is shattered, the flashback ends, and we’re sucked into the present when Linda walks into the café where Case is sitting. “‘Hey. Case, good buddy,’” she says. Case “look[s] up, [meets] gray eyes ringed with paintstick.” She takes a seat, and an entire scene is played out during which the narrator never uses Linda’s name. The narrator never says that Linda walks into the café. He never says that Linda takes a seat. It’s only her, the woman with “gray eyes ringed with paintstick.” We, the audience, know exactly who the narrator’s talking about, but the narrator refuses to tell us outright. We’re not given the full picture on the puzzle box, even if we’re given all the pieces, and we only get to see the full picture if we’re willing to do the work. The novel’s repetition doesn’t allow “a reader to be less active in the work.” On the contrary. The novel comes in pieces: some assembly required.
    But the technobabble? Yeah, I think you’re right about that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s