Marcuse describes the “Great Refusal” as “the protest against that which is.” or the “rationality of negation.” In Gibson’s book we find a naturally subversive culture in which people change their looks as they see fit, and deal drugs out in the open. I think that Gibson’s fictional world would be an absolute nightmare for Marcuse and is exactly the kind of world he fears; a society in which art and subversion could no longer survive. In fact Marcuse is already arguing that “Man today can do more than the culture heros and half-gods he has solved many insoluble problems. But he has also betrayed the hope and destroyed the truth preserved in the sublimation of higher culture.”
Gibson’s fabricated reality does just that. It has evolved so far that most people have chosen to alter their appearances in ways that previously would have been subversive but now become almost commonplace. For example “His hair was pink. A rainbow forest of microsofts bristled behind his left ear; the ear was pointed, tufted with more pink hair.” p 67 This appearance would shock most of us today but here we see him dealing directly with Armitage, who, from what I can understand, is of means. This blurs the line completely between the subversive culture and mainstream culture.
Marcuse also fears that the space in which we once used to be free to express ourselves in has been pared down to almost nothing. When he is talking about the human libido he describes our restrictions like this; “For example, compare love making in a meadow and in an automobile, on a lovers’ walk outside the town walls and on a Manhattan street. “ In Gibson’s novel Case and Molly have sex in what they call a coffin. A small space rented from the Cheap Hotel. In fact case says, “After a year of coffins, the room on the twenty-fifth floor of the Chiba Hilton seemed enormous. It was ten meters by eight.” This large space unnerved the character. It is impossible to feel this romantic feeling when we are confined by so many people around us. We see the likelihood of getting caught expressing our sexual desires increase from the meadow, to Manhattan, and finally the society of Neuromancer. According to Marcuse this stifles romance and the ability to express romance in literature.
Finally, it leaves no place for isolation, not even inside your own head. Marcuse says that we need isolation to have real art. In Neuromancer Case is able to “jack into the matrix” and see through the eyes of Molly. She is aware of his presence but doesn’t seem to have a way to get him out of her head. If there are people who can do this, who’s to say that any one person, or any group of people connected by this matrix could ever really be alone? I think that in this reality everyone is tapped into the matrix, which means that everyone is subject to this kind of intrusion.