Saturday, February 16, 2013

Weekly Response - Gibson / Marcuse (week 1)

Your thoughts/questions, as always, should be posted as comments to this post.


Karen Knutson said...

Neuromancer is interesting so far. I like how there is a separation of the gang world and now Case is working for more of a private organization that isn't a large gang and I don't get the extreme gang vibe from it. Its organized crime, but we only see one part of a possible hierarchy that may or may not be there.

Marcuse struck a little nerve with me. I actually wish that I was writing about the Game of Thrones because of the character design in them, and it would be a lot easier to disagree with Marcuse on the evolution of characters in a novel, and how we do not see adulteresses, the great criminal, the devil, and the fool the same way in literature anymore and how their world was a tragedy, and how they must live their lives through this sadness. I could go on forever how that fits Jamie and Ceseri Lannester to a T.

Also when he is talking about integration of cultural centers, I feel like it doesn't make sense since I thought old towns were designed to have festivities, shops, and government in a central area. I thought that was a thing.

Also, what is so terrible about historical change in this artistic society? He is making it out to be a loss of history and a different art, but that is just societal evolution and when technology rolls around, things are supposed to change. Bach not having ‘meaning’ is ridiculous to say without context. To a classical music fanatic, Bach could mean a lot of things and have depth, to a regular listener, it can be relaxing, and it may just be possible that not everyone wants to listen to something that was made in the 18th century. Like science, our culture is constantly evolving, and I feel like Marcuse doesn’t believe that in the 18th century people played for profit, which I find to be pushing the limit for me to believe this guy.

Taylor Hochuli said...

Neuromancer does an amazing job at making the book seem so futuristic. Not only in the fact that there are great technological advances, but also in the language of the book. It takes for granted the fact that we know certain terminologies of this time period and introduces the areas very quickly as if the reader knows them all along. This confused me when “The Sprawl” was mentioned several times and yet I had no idea what it was. Going back, I now see that it is a highly populated area in America ranging from Boston into the state of Atlanta. This also happens with products, companies, and just thrown in during conversation. There are some contemporary references that survive like the Yakuza and the Mercedes in Istanbul. But who knows what the “Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority” is or what the verb “larkin’” means. It would seem like bad writing, but it serves a purpose. Imagine telling someone 100 years ago about what we have today. Imagine how many times “Google” or “iPhones” would be referenced and have to be explained to tell a story. Not to mention new organizations like the United Nations or saying that you were going to “burn” a DVD. Using little foreign, unexplained references make the book seem more futuristic and makes me realize how technology we find commonplace today would seem completely foreign to someone from the past.

In the assigned Marcuse text, I found a connection to the section discussing the “alleviation of misery in the advanced industrial society.” Marcuse talks about the alienation of art and how this widespread distribution of art really just downplays its effectiveness at examining the flaws in our society (or so I interpreted it). I listened to a talk recently by Barbara Ehrenreich from RSA on YouTube and have included the link here: . It discusses the obsessiveness of happiness in the work environment and the reluctance of misery. It’s the idea that if there are only thoughts of happiness and success, that it will influence only good things to happen. The truth is that criticism is needed to succeed, so removing it is only spelling out danger for a company or our society. This idea of “realism”, the acceptance of what is real rather than removing all criticism, relates directly to Marcuse’s idea of the “alleviation of misery.” When such high culture is mixed into daily lives, the tragedy that points out problems in society is dulled and eliminated when it should be analyzed. It also fits in with the Happiness Consciousness that Marcuse talks about. If all that is expressed is happiness when there is really misery in society, no one wants to change things. It is an unrealistic vision creates by technology as a tool of domination so that no one observes the unhappiness present in everyday life.

Brian DeWillie said...

Much like Taylor mentioned, I really noticed the use of language in describing the futuristic technology and locations. I have a different opinion on this use of language - I thought that it made it difficult to read and really left me quite disinterested in the story because I was constantly trying to flip back in the story to see if it was mentioned or explained before. In addition to this, the technology had obviously progressed so far that extremely fast travel was possible. The way that the story was written it skipped a lot of the travel time and so Case just ended up in lots of different places. I got really confused about where he was and what sorts of business he was up to in each place. In my opinion, Gibson was too vague in describing this futuristic world to the point that it made it difficult for me to follow the plot.

Janine Talis said...

When I picked up Neuromancer and rest the summary on the back and thought, "Huh, sounds interesting." Then I began to read, and about 20 pages in I thought, "Huh, seems familiar." Soon after that I realized that I had read this book before in my Science Fiction Literature class only two years ago. Now, I may not remember every detail of a story, and sometimes I need to be reminded of a title here and there, but I very rarely forget a book completely. This lead to a bit of a self search. Why had I forgotten this book? It's moderately interesting, and the characters are perhaps not relatable, but on the other hand I do not hate them. What is it about this book that caused it to drop from my head?

That is when I noticed my eyes sliding across the page. While I was still reading, I was not doing it thoroughly. The whole time I thought it must be something to dow with the plot, when in fact it was the language of the book that made it so forgettable. Gibson does a decent job at creating a futuristic world, full of new and unfamiliar vocabulary and slang. But he does a terrible job at explaining these new terms. The reader is left praying for a rare context clue to let them know what everything is. It's like Gibson is throwing so much onto the page that nothing is actually sticking, making what could be a great story, unnecessarily difficult to read, and ultimately forgettable.

Jackson Crowder said...

Neuromancer is a fascinating read. Initially, like seemingly everyone else, I found myself being thrown off by the use of language in the text but feel that I am coming to understand it. While difficult, it is necessary to establish the tone of the story - a dystopian, technology-centric future world. As with most of what we have read, I noticed a good deal of Ray Kurzweil's ideas present within the story. Specifically, Molly and Neuromancer are more or less what Kurzweil was talking about when he theorized the blending of human and computer consciousness. Of the two, I found Neuromancer more in line with the other materials we have read (Dick and Marcuse). He (it?) is, in my opinion, an example of the potential for catastrophe in the blending of human and technological consciousness. Though coldly logical, we see in Neuromancer the same potential for selfishness, immorality, and destruction that are more often attributed to mankind. This raises important questions about the morality of advancing technology: can we create AI that is morally superior to humans? Should we try? How smart can we make computers before they see past the necessary lack of logic behind a moral society? These could all be interesting talking points for class, should we be inclined to indulge them.

In addition, I found that the cultural influence of the book are plain to see. Shades of everything from Inception to I, Robot and even Judge Dredd are palpable throughout.