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Category Archive for 'Neuromancer'

I find that William Gibson portrays a time-disorienting opening to his cyberpunk novel, Neuromancer.  Part I, Chiba City Blues consists of a jumpy, speed-like nature in which many details are skipped across quickly.  At first, this rapidness appears to directly correlate to the pink octagon shaped pills in which Case is addicted to.  When he pops a pill the details of surroundings  and events dart around, much like the attention span of a person under the influence of speed.  We first learn of his amphetamine addiction in Chapter 1,

In a teashop called the Jarre de The, Case washed down the night’s first pill with a double espresso….The Jarre was walled with mirrors, each panel framed in red neon.  At first, finding himself alone in Chiba, with little money and less hope of finding a cure, he’d gone into a kind of terminal overdrive, hustling fresh capital with a cold intensity that had seemed to belong to someone else…”  (7)

Within three brief paragraphs, the passage starts with Case taking the pill, then skips directly into a somewhat randomly located description of the teashop, and finally launches into an explanation of his beginning history in Chiba City.  While the jumping of time is dizzying for the reader, coincidentally, this is where Case first mentions feeling like someone else, which is a reoccurring confusion for me.   Not only does Case seem to lose track of time but he often appears to lose tabs on his consciousness.  After Case’s brain surgery is performed and he can no longer process the speed pills, I still find that the novel’s sense of time retains the choppy and disorienting quality.

The opening of Part II,  The Shopping Expedition starts with Case still recovering from surgery.  In Chapter 3 we learn that he was not fully and mentally present during his travel from Chiba City to his BAMA home.  His trip is described in retrospect as,

Case woke from a dream of airports, of Molly’s dark leathers moving ahead of him through the concourses of Narita, Schipol, Orly…He watched himself buy a flat plastic flask of Danish vodka at some kiosk, an hour before dawn. (43) … His head ached.  He remembered Amsterdam, another room, in the Old City section of the Centrum, buildings centuries old…Paris was a blurred dream.  ”  (44)

Again, the notion of time is sweeping.  As the reader, I am jumping through time, forced into the state of unawareness that Case is found in.  At times his ability to recover memories makes me feel left in the dust as a follower.  I am dizzy with details and finding myself always a step behind Case, while simultaneously, he is  a step behind his own actions as well as the actions of others (Molly in this instance).   I originally considered his inability to recall the trip as a side-effect of his surgery.  Yet this feeling of rapid and speedy travel is retained and reflected through Case’s time spent in cyberspace,

And in the bloodlit dark behind his eyes, silver phosphenes boiling in from the edge of space, hyponagogic images jerking past like film compiled from random frames.  Symbols, figures, faces, a blurred, fragmented mandala of visual information.” (52)

While in cyberspace, the feeling of unconscious awareness still exists with the description of Case being “behind his eyes” on the “edges of space” as he’s distantly observing the random “images jerking past like film”.   With this I could assume the excuse that he is not able to control the processing rate of information in which he enters into.  But given the other accounts of continual time disorientation, a suspicion crept into my mind in Chapter 6 once we learn that Armitage  had a cured case of Alzheimer’s.  We also learn that he was involved with the Russian creators of Case and called upon Case for an unknown reason.  So does Case have Alzheimer’s, too?   His potential qualities of the disease can be spotted through the consistent time disorientation, cognitive lapses, and his recently discovered past connection to Armitage.  We also know that there is a mental issue in which Case endured.  Could this be the source?  Will the sense of time disorientation end (if this is the cause)?