Things I Think

Just another onMason site

Archive for September, 2011

Neuromancer, not to be confused with Necromancer

Posted in Neuromancer on September 26, 2011 by catho89

Talk about plunging feet first into a new world.

From the very beginning, William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer forces us to take cognitive leaps and bounds with our understanding. By giving us no option but to blindly trust his words (especially the ones we don’t understand), we are submerged deep into Gibson’s cyber world.

As I began to read Neuromancer, it was obvious that the pages were saturated with words beyond my understanding. Not only with Japanese words like “gaijin” or “Yakuza”, which are literally beyond my understanding because they are in another language, but with words like “sprawl”,”dermatrodes”,and “simstim”. Gibson uses a technological language far beyond his own time, but even as a modern reader, I consistently find I don’t understand most words he uses. However, through repetition, my understanding of these words becomes more concrete.

But then, as soon as I start to think I am understanding Gibson’s world, he throws you entire sentences, or even paragraphs as curve balls.

“And flowed, flowered for him, fluid neon origami trick, the unfolding of his distanceless home, his country, transparent 3D chessboard extending to infinity. Inner eye opening to the stepped scarlet pyramid of the Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority burning beyond the green cubes of Mitsubishi Bank of America, and high and very far away he saw the spiral arm of military systems, forever beyond his reach” (53).


“The gate blurred past. He laughed. The Sense/Net had accepted his entry as a routine transfer from the consortium’s Los Angeles complex. He was inside. Behind him, viral subprograms peeled off, meshing with the gate’s code fabric, ready to deflect the real Los Angeles data when it arrived” (60).

These are just a few of many excerpts that leave me more than a little puzzled, because the world I am trying to understand is so abstract. This is Gibson’s concept of cyberspace and the internet before they had even been established. Gibson deals with the theoretical world of cyberspace, and we are seeing it from his point of view, which may be one of the most difficult concepts for a modern reader. Is it more complicated to adapt my own predefined view of cyberspace, or to conceptualize Gibson’s vision without familiarity?


It’s the end of the world as we know it

Posted in WEB DuBois on September 21, 2011 by catho89

Whoisbenconner‘s idea about the breaking of social barriers brought me to the scene when Jim and Julia meet for the first time, and made me consider their contrasting point’s of view of one another.

“He heard a sharp cry, and saw a living form leaning wildly out an upper window. He gasped. The human voice sounded in his ears like the voice of God” (259). Jim’s initial reaction to hearing Julia’s voice has nothing to do with her sex or her race. Her “human voice” rang like ” the voice of God.” Unencumbered by the social norms of the society he operates within, Jim’s humanity shines through when he hears another human being in need.

However, Julia’s reaction to Jim is more along the lines of what I expected.

“They stared a moment in silence. She has not noticed before that he was a Negro. He had not thought of her as white…Yesterday he thought with bitterness, she would scarcely look at him twice. He would have been dirt beneath her silken feet. She stared at him. Of all the sorts of men she pictured as coming to her rescue she had not dreamed of one like him. Not that he was not human, but he dwelt in a world so far from hers, so infinitely far, that he seldom even entered her thought” (259). Unlike Jim, Julia’s “stare”  immediately notices Jim’s race. And even though she recognizes that he is human, like herself, she can barely acknowledge his existence because “he seldom even entered her thought.”

This brings me to my question: Which is worse, to be regarded as less human because of the color of your skin, or to be so undervalued as another human being that others won’t even acknowledge your existence?


Feminism, Frankenstein, Foccacia

Posted in Frankenstein on September 13, 2011 by catho89

With bread in the oven, I have started thinking about Frankenstein and his own, unnatural bun in the oven. I have been considering the role of the female and how it pertains to nature in the novel, and how Frankenstein himself takes away a woman’s natural power to give life.

As Frankenstein “pursues nature to her hiding place” (36), Shelley personifies nature as a female entity. Frankenstein aggressively chases her down and usurps her natural, biological powers in pursuit of the gift of life. Frankenstein believes “a new species would bless [him] as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to [him]” (36).  Frankenstein is deeming himself the creator and the source of life, dismissing the primary biological role of women and creating an unnatural life from death. Arrogantly,  he does not even stop to consider the responsibilities of bringing life into the world. Frankenstein boldly goes where no man physically can go, or ethically should go.

Immediately after creating his creature, Frankenstein is filled with regret and remorse, and abandons his child. The very thought of the monster causes him to “gnash [his] teeth…and [he] ardently wished to extinguish the life which [he] had so thoughtlessly bestowed” (71). Even the monster knows that he is “the miserable and the abandoned…an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on” (189). Unwilling to take responsibility for his creation, Frankenstein rejects the power he wrongfully took.

I’m having a hard time wrapping this up in some succinct point that Shelley is trying to make. I guess it is as simple as man should not tamper with or take the place of nature if we are unable to bare the responsibilities or the consequences. I guess that is the point she is trying to make…

What do you think?


Just like Mary Shelley, Just like Frankenstein…

Posted in Frankenstein on September 6, 2011 by catho89

Clank your chains and count your change

Try to walk the line

Hunter and Garcia

Now that that is out of my system…

When I first read Frankenstein in high school, I considered Shelley’s view of science as very black and white, good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. However with a few years under my belt, and the vast wisdom of a 21 year old,  I see the gray area. Rather than the unquestionable horrors of technology, and the depravity of science, I feel the unease, and perhaps the wariness that Shelley feels. Especially in the cases of Frankenstein and Walton, who put so much trust in discovery and knowledge without considering the consequences, it is understandable that we should be skeptical.

“What may not be expected in a country of eternal light? I may there discover the wondrous power which attracts the needle…” (Shelley, 6).

This light, or rather, this knowledge, can either be enlightening or blinding (see what I did there?), and Walton and Frankenstein walk this fine line. They push the boundaries of what is possible, risking the safety of themselves and those around them. For Frankenstein, “life and death appear…ideal bounds, which [he] should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world” (36). His desire to shed light upon seemingly dark places goes unchecked, leading to tragic ends. So its not the science itself that is wrong, it is man’s lack of caution and judgment to do what is right.

Frankenstein and Walton must find the balance between their thirsts for discovery and glory, and the limits of life and death. And as an audience, we must “learn from [Frankenstein]…how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow” (35).

But, “how many things are we upon the brink of being acquainted, if cowardice or carelessness did not restrain our inquires?” (33). Where do we draw the line?

And now it’s time to make some cookies!