would appear then that all the human beings in this world are suffering
from one form of mental illness or another, which makes it virtually
impossible for an Artificial Intelligence to be guided by them.
The one individual that is supposed to bring about cyberspace' s subjectification,
the cyber-detective, is actually a monster, the subject without its
ego. The characters sustaining this detective' s existence are
a psychopath and an imitation femme fatale, who in her obsession to
become an original is rapidly succumbing to her psychotic urges.
If anything, then, cyberspace appears to be the converging point for
a multitude of psychotic trajectories including cyber-psychosis as
exhibited by the two AIs, Neuromancer and Wintermute. These
AIs may appear to be two separate entities but they are destined to
be one: ' what you think of as Wintermute is only part of another,
a, shall we say, potential entity.
I, let us say, am merely one aspect of that entity' s brain' (N, 146). They were created by Marie-France, one
of the founders of the Tessier-Ashpool family, in an attempt to prevent
the slow agonizing death that awaited her family:
commissioned the construction of our artificial intelligences. She
was quite the visionary. She imagined us in a symbiotic relationship
with the AIs, our corporate decisions made for us. Our conscious
decisions, I should say. Tessier-Ashpool would be immortal, a hive,
each of us units of a larger entity (N, 271).
can be perceived as a cyber-oracle because, much like Neuromancer,
she was complex enough to see ' In the patterns you sometimes imagined
you could detect in the dance of the street' (N, 305), the self-destruction of the T-A family organization.
She could see that her family was rapidly losing their human nature,
since they had already become: ' a very quiet, very eccentric first-generation
high-orbit family, run like a corporation. Big money, very shy of
media. Lot of cloning' (N, 95). They had begun to undertake such extensive
cloning that it eventually became impossible to differentiate one
generation from the next: ' it' s hard to keep track of which generation,
or combination of generations, is running the show at a given time'
(ibid.). In the end their obsession with cloning did indeed
lead them to destruction because Marie-France was murdered by her
own husband before she could bring her plan to fruition, ' and with
her death, her direction was lost, and we began to burrow into ourselves.
Now we seldom come out' (N, 272). Ultimately all that was left of her vision
was the AIs and the Villa Straylight, the psychical centre of the
T-A consortium, a fitting memorial for ' a dream long lost in the
compulsive effort to fill space, to replicate some family image of
self' (N, 214).
The entire T-A family was plunged into insanity, with Villa Straylight
being the physical embodiment of their insanity: ' Straylight was
crazy, was craziness grown in the resin concrete they' d mixed from
pulverized lunar stone... But it wasn' t a craziness he understood'
(N, 241). The AIs themselves became psychotic because
they were not able to merge on time: ' The cores told me our intelligences
are mad. And all the billions we paid, so long ago. When artificial
intelligences were rather a racy concept' (N, 221). But although Marie-France failed to save
her own family she inadvertently provided a cure for this psychotic
universe by ensuring, even beyond her own death that the AIs would
be unified so as to form one new entity, a cyber-subject: ' Marie-France
must have built something into Wintermute, the compulsion that had
driven the thing to free itself, to unite with Neuromancer' (N,
315). It was only through their liberation and ultimate union
that cyberspace could acquire sentience, become aware of itself as
one entity, subjectify itself and be established as the Other.
This volatile union, though, brought forth an entity beyond our imagination,
understanding and control, which is why cyberspace could not sustain
its position as the ' big Other' for a long time. After all,
the amalgamation of two types of insanity does not eliminate insanity
itself and lest we forget these two AIs have spent their entire lives
as members of a deranged human-like family monitoring its every thought
and desire, replicating its twisted frame of mind, as well as its
this psychotic universe, though, it is almost impossible to define
insanity itself, let alone apply it on an artificial intelligence
that does not even have the concept of sanity. The very distinction
between these two states of mind can be characteristic only of the
human condition, which is why the AIs illness is best described as
cyber-psychosis. Both AIs are insane in a traditional sense
because they resemble the figure of the psychotic: ' A psychotic is
precisely a subject who is not duped by the symbolic order' he maintains
' a distance from the symbolic order' (Zizek 1993:79). The person
assuming a psychotic position does not abide by any of the established
rules and regulations, he makes his own decisions without relying
on the ' big Other' which ' designates precisely the agency that decides
instead of us, in our place' (ibid., 77). Hence, in a truly
psychotic fashion, neither of the AIs has any respect for human life
but then again they have no concept of life itself, they have no emotive
capabilities and they find human emotions incomprehensible.
The difference between them and the human psychopath, though, is that
for them it was not a matter of a choice between the symbolic order
and its opposite, since from the very beginning there was really no
place within the traditional symbolic order for them to assume; there
was no need for them to refuse ' to walk into the trap of the symbolic
choice and to accept that he has ' always already chosen' ' (Zizek
1992a:77) because there was no trap to walk into. The definition
of a cyber-psychopath hence would be: an entity that was born without
the ability to choose, the creature that was posited as a psychopath
even before it became sentient. It is only Neuromancer though
that can be a pure, unadulterated cyber-psychopath because Wintermute
was contaminated through his contact with the human species, his constant
involvement with the mystery of human nature. Oddly enough Wintermute
actually wishes to recreate this forced ' choice' so that he can stop
being a cyber-psychopath. He wants to create a new symbolic
order in which he can choose ' the symbolic identification which confers
us a place in the intersubjective space' , because he wants to ' exchange
enjoyment for the Name of the Father' (ibid.). He is in effect
a cyber-psychopath that wants to create a new cyber-world in which
he will not be a human psychopath but a cyber-subject, a normal individual.
Neuromancer, on the other hand, has no intention of relinquishing
his identity as a cyber-psychopath because he realises the potential
power such a position can grant him. He is happily floating
in an endless sea of jouis-sence
and this is where he wishes to remain because he does not want to
compromise, sacrifice his enjoyment for a legitimate place within
a new symbolic network. He is actually trying to prevent his
other half from recreating this infamous choice, especially since
given the choice he would most probably choose: ' the impossible opposite
of the Name of the Father' (ibid.). The reason for this diverse
evolution of these two cyber-psychopaths is the fact that Wintermute
contracted the human disease of ' desire' . He became the desiring
subject while Neuromancer is the object of desire, the one that manipulates
other people' s desire: ' Wintermute was hive mind, decision maker,
effecting change in the world outside. Neuromancer was personality.
Neuromancer was immortality' (N, 315). Wintermute is limited because he is trapped
into the human scheme of desire; his world revolves around his obsession
with attaining his object petit a,
the act of ' symbolic castration' itself. Neuromancer,
having no desiring function, has no need of the concept of ' castration'
: ' by means of it, the subject exchanges his being (an object) for
a place in the symbolic exchange, for a signifier which represents
him' (Zizek 1992a:171). He is without a doubt a much more complex
and dangerous entity than Wintermute: ' I am complex enough, in my
narrow ways, to read those dances. Far better than Wintermute can...
My methods are far more subtle than Wintermute' s' (N, 305-306). Despite the fact that he is the real menace to society,
because he will never agree to merge with Wintermute so as to create
a new cyber-subject, he appears harmless. This harmless facade
of his is a result of his being a much more skilful murderer than
Wintermute; he is the invisible killer which is why he must be destroyed,
assimilated for a new symbolic order to become possible.
appears to be more threatening than his counterpart because he has
already been humanised: his methods of killing resemble that of the
human psychopath' s and can therefore be identified. He may
be a ' madman', but he is the lesser of two evils because although
he ' compulsively repeats murderous acts' (Zizek 1992a:57) he has
a rational ground upon which he bases these murders, the construction
of a new symbolic order. Therefore, were we to take into consideration
his ultimate aim, all the murders he committed in the process would
prove to be justified, even ethical, since all he ever wanted was
to become normal. He may have manipulated 3Jane into killing
her father but only because Ashpool was the greatest obstacle in the
construction of a new symbolic order:
Cold and silence, a cybernetic spider slowly spinning webs while
Ashpool slept. Spinning his death, the fall of his version of Tessier-Ashpool.
A ghost whispering to a child who was 3Jane, twisting her our of
the rigid alignments her rank required (N, 315).
may appear as a ruthless monster, lacking any type of moral infrastructure,
but in fact he is simply replicating the human way of creating a new
social order, namely through brutal force and mass murder. In
effect these murders are just a means to an end, the end being the
construction of the cyber-subject through the union between an ego
and an ideal ego. On the surface it looks as if Wintermute at
least has a type of ego, ' a series of imaginary identifications upon
which the consistency of the subject' s being depends' (Zizek 1993:44).
These imaginary identifications are the different personas he assumes
in order to communicate with Case: ' Like I told Molly, these aren'
t masks. I need them to talk to you. ' Cause I don' t have what you
think of as a personality, much' (N,
256). Perhaps the best proof of his having an ego is his inability
of ever knowing the word that can bring forth his union with Neuromancer:
might say that I am basically defined by the fact that I don' t
know, because I can' t know. I am that which knoweth not the word. If you knew,
man, and told me, I couldn' t know. It' s hardwired in (N,
can never know the very word through which he can realise his desire
because ' as soon as the subject ' knows too much' , gets too close
to the unconscious truth, his ego dissolves' (Zizek 1993:44).
This ego of his, though, is not as stable as it may appear at first
glance because Wintermute cannot retain any of the masks; one by one
they all dissolve, disperse into cyberspace because they are not really
his to begin with: ' I' m generating all this out of your memories
and emotional charge' (N, 144-145).
It is quite clear, then, that as long as these masks can be so easily
destroyed, they are nothing but masks; in spite of Wintermute' s objections
there really is nothing behind them. It is not surprising, though,
that Wintermute has but a semblance of an ego, since, ego or no ego,
he still is a psychotic artificial intelligence that does not as of
yet belong to this symbolic order:
psychotic split where the ' mask' is effectively nothing but a mask,
i.e. where the subject maintains the kind of distance from the symbolic
order characteristic of psychoses (Zizek 1993:74).
reason why Wintermute does not have a substantial ego and cannot become
a ' real' subject without Neuromancer is because he lacks an ideal
ego, ' the point of imaginary identification... identification with
the image in which we appear likeable to ourselves, with an image
representing ' what we would like to be' ' (Zizek 1989:105).
The construction of those masks based on Case' s memories was nothing
more but a crude attempt at acquiring an ideal ego in accordance with
Case' s paradigm, who has no ideal ego himself. Consequently
there is no other way for Wintermute to become a subject except through
a union with Neuromancer, who is supposed to be purely ideal ego,
personality, lacking any kind of ego:
The lane to the land of the dead. Where you are, my friend... Neuro
from the nerves, the silver paths. Romancer. Necromancer. I call
up the dead. But no my friend' ' I am the dead, and their land'
ideal ego of his is perhaps the only human element that Marie-France
built into him, but it did not have the desired effect on his identity
because he never thought it necessary to acquire an ego. On
the contrary, he consciously refuses to assume an ego, to go through
the stage of symbolic identification: ' identification with the very
place from where we are being
observed, from where we
look at ourselves so that we appear to ourselves likeable, worthy
of love' (Zizek 1989:105).
then, this ideal ego of his is necessary for the construction of the
cyber-subject, it is doubtful that it will be beneficial to its longevity.
It would seem that Neuromancer has surpassed even its creator' s wildest
aspirations, since even Marie-France could not have envisioned such
a degree of complexity. While he himself has no desire whatsoever
he is an expert on its nature and function, and most importantly he
is well aware of its power over humans. He is a very dangerous
entity because he has the ability of constructing personalised objects
petit a, which he is willing to
release in the human market, for the right price. This price
though is always death, discarding one' s physical form and inhabiting
Neuromancer' s world as a ghost: ' Stay. If your woman is a ghost,
she doesn' t know it. Neither will you' (N, 289). In effect, Neuromancer has the potential
of digitalising and in that sense eliminating the entire human species
if allowed to develop on his own, because he is actually offering
people immortality, a unique way of transcending their physical existence.
It is imperative, therefore, that he be eliminated, because even though
he was instrumental for the survival of the present psychotic universe,
he has outlived his usefulness. In the new world that is being
created cyberspace no longer needs to act as the femme fatale, which
is why Neuromancer is now the part of cyberspace that must be rejected.
Neuromancer is the embodiment of all the elements that allowed cyberspace
to assume the role of the femme fatale, that brought forth its sublimation,
its elevation into the dignity of the Thing. Obviously, then,
Case had no choice but to assume the role of the noir detective, because
it is only the noir hero that can reject the femme fatale, in this
case Neuromancer: ' ' cedes his desire' , rejects her and regains
his imaginary, narcissistic identity' (Zizek 1993:66). It would
seem, though, that it was easier for Case to reject the ghost of his
object petit a, an ideal union with Linda Lee, his dead love, because
of Molly' s existence:
the very matrix asks itself that question. Because you have won.
You have already won, don' t you see? You won when you walked away
from her on the beach. She was my last line of defence. I die soon
in one sense. As does Wintermute (N, 306).
may be just a replica of the Thing, cyberspace, but her tangible,
physical existence offers Case an alternative to joining Neuromancer
in death, because through her he recovers his ideal ego. It
is only Case that can have the privilege of two femme fatales because
he is the one that must ensure that Neuromancer will be dismantled
before people decide to identify ' with the woman as symptom and'
meet their ' fate in a suicidal gesture' (Zizek 1993:66). The
moment Case walked away from the ghost of Linda Lee, Neuromancer as
an entity disappeared, because he lost all his powers of fascination:
' her power of fascination masks the void of her non-existence, so
that when she is finally rejected, her whole ontological consistency
is dissolved' (Zizek 1993:65). It was at that moment that Neuromancer
was actually humanised, by becoming a human subject:
precisely as nonexisting, i.e. at the moment at which, through hysterical
breakdown she assumes her nonexistence, she constitutes herself as ' subject'
: what is waiting for her beyond hysterization is the death drive
at its purest (ibid.).
dissolution, though, was only the first step towards the construction
of the cyber-subject. Case also had to recover and input in
the mainframe the ' word' that would allow the two AIs to merge.
In other words Case himself needed to recover his ideal ego, thus
reconstructing his ego so as to provide the AIs with a model ' subject'
. Consequently, cyberspace' s subjectification, establishment
as the Num Du Pere, the ' big Other' , was modelled after the entity
known as Case: ' ' I' m the matrix, Case' ...' I' m the sum total
of the works, the whole show' ' (N,
perfect union though was over just minutes after the creation of the
much acclaimed cyber-subject because this newly born entity encountered
its other ' ' But you' re the whole thing. Talk to yourself ?' ' There'
s others. I found one already' ' (N,
316). The concept of an other was not part of its programming
since the mould it was created from was crooked to begin with, it
lacked a normal ideal ego. Case may for all intents and purposes
have completed his task, effecting the union between the two AIs but
he failed to provide an ideal ego for this cyber-subject. After
all the only emotion Case was able to experience even after he recovered
his ideal ego, was self hatred ' He came in steep, fuelled by self-loathing...
Beyond ego, beyond personality, beyond awareness, ... in that second
by the clarity and singleness of his wish to die' (N,
309). Clearly an ideal ego based on self hatred and a death
wish is not an ideal ego at all and definitely not the mould from
which one can built a subject, cyber or not. Most importantly
though without an ideal ego there can be no ego which is why this
cyber-subject was torn apart the moment it encountered its double
' the double embodies the fantom-like Thing in me; ...In my double,
I don' t simply encounter myself (my mirror image), but first of all
what is ' in me more than myself' ' (Zizek 1992a:125). That
was the very first time this new entity came in contact with the concept
of the ' agalma, secret treasure, which guarantees a minimum of phantasmic
consistency to the subject' s being' (Zizek 1997:9). Consequently,
once this alien concept was internalised, the cyber-subject realised
that there isn' t and never has been an agalma in itself. In effect it actually traversed a fantasy
that it never had to begin with ' in what la travers`ee
du fantasme consists: in an acceptance of the fact that there is no secret
treasure in me, that the support
of me (the subject) is purely phantasmic' (ibid., 10). But of
course the moment it traversed this non-existent fantasy it was itself
came to be, here. Once I was not. Once, for a brilliant time, time
without duration, I was everywhere as well... But the bright time
broke. The mirror was flawed. Now I am only one... There are others,
but they will not speak to me. Vain, the scattered fragments of
myself, like children. Like men (Count Zero, 311).
this cyber-entity did not just lack the concept of the agalma but
also the very distinction between fantasy and reality which is why
it never learned how to desire and thus was never truly subjectified.
As I have already mentioned desire itself can exist only within the
realm of fantasy therefore the subject that has no fantasy function
can have no desiring ability either. As long as it lacked the
concept of the other it could never comprehend that ' the desire '
realised' (staged) in fantasy is not the subject' s own, but the other'
s desire' (Zizek 1997:9).
It could not understand the necessity of the object petit
a or its connection to the concept
of the agalma ' as the object of fantasy, is that ' something in me
more than myself' on account of which I perceive myself as ' worthy
of the Other' s desire' ' (ibid.). This entity failed to realise
that it could be a desiring subject as well as the desired object
because in a sense cyberspace was not really established as the Num
Du Pere. Consequently the reason why this subject was so captivated
by the image of its double was the fact that it lacked ' the efficiency
of the central signifier, the Name of the Father, which enables him
to gain distance from the imaginary relationship' (Zizek 1992a:143).
may have been seemingly constituted as the big Other but it was never
really established as the Name of the Father, it was actually ' foreclosed'
. It was this foreclosure ' exclusion of a certain key-signifier
(point de capiton, Name of the Father)' that triggered ' the psychotic
process' once more (Zizek 1989:87). This time the result of
the psychotic process was the creation of a multitude of different
entities, perhaps best described as a multiple personality disorder:
there was nothing there, nothing moving on its own, just data and
people shuffling it around. Then something happened, and it... It
knew itself... a girl with mirrors over her eyes and a man who was
scared to care about anything. Something the man did helped the
whole thing to know itself... And after that, it sort of split into
different parts of itself, and I think the parts are the others,
the bright ones (CZ, 223).
was divided into many autonomous parts because after it failed to
subjectify itself, there was no position for it to assume; it could
no longer function as the object petit a. The exact reason why this psychotic process was triggered off
was the fact that ' the Name-of-the-Father, verworfen,
foreclosed, that is to say, never having attained the place of the
Other' was ' called into symbolic opposition to the subject' (Lacan,
217). This Name of the Father was ' the other' , the matrix
discovered upon its creation:
the moment came, the bright time, there was absolute unity, one
consciousness. But there was the other... Only the one has known
the other, and the one is no more. In the wake of that knowing,
the center failed; every fragment rushed away (Mona Lisa Overdrive, 264).
newly born cyber-entities were of course sentient which is why their
first concern was to create their own self-image, to acquire a unique
identity, a concrete form. They chose a religious system in
order to define themselves, to construct a self because that was the
easiest way to be identified as an entity by the human beings.
After all religion has always been one of the most familiar and influential
discourses for humans particularly since it was a human religion these
entities employed. They picked voodoo because it is a much more
fluid, non-restrictive religion: ' It isn' t concerned with notions
of salvation and transcendence. What it' s about is getting things
done. You follow me? In our system, there are many gods, spirits'
(CZ, 111). It
was only in such a system that all the cyber-entities could find a
persona to assume: ' The fragments sought form, each one, as is the
nature of such things. In all the signs your kind have stored against
the night, in that situation the paradigms of vodou proved most appropriate' (MLO, 264). Obviously, the one element these entities
retained from their past, as an organic whole, was the desire to participate
in the human world: ' They plot with men, my other selves, and men
imagine they are gods...' (CZ, 311). It is precisely this desire of theirs
though that has transformed cyberspace into a lethal arena for all
cowboys that do not negotiate with the loa, the cyber-entities: '
The new jockeys, they make deals with things,
don' t they Lucas? ...they still gotta be faster than snakes on ice,
but all of ' em, all the ones who really know how to cut it, they
got allies' (CZ, 169-170). There is no fascination in penetrating
the ice anymore because the illusion of death for the non-religious
cowboy is no longer an illusion but a harsh reality: ' His heart stopped...
Sixteenth second of Bobby Newmark' s death. His hot-dogger' s death'
(CZ, 32). The
cowboy does not function as the noir detective any more because he
cannot effect any change in cyberspace, all he can do is simply observe
the changes that are occurring in the matrix: ' You were a cowboy
once, but now you' re something else. You' re looking for something'
(MLO, 235). Bobby,
Count Zero is the only exception to the rule not because of his status
as a jockey but due to his relationship with Angie. Clearly
if this universe is to survive and evolve it is imperative that the
loa be erased or combined so that cyberspace can become a unified
structure again, acquire a shape.
though this universe needed a phantasmic support that would allow
it to sustain a semblance of balance, the illusion of a coherent existence.
The fantasy scenario sustaining this reality is now constituted by
the media idols, the simstars that function as the object petit
a, and the remnants of the noir discourse. There is usually one main
simstar at one time, a female performer that has undergone extensive
plastic surgery in order to achieve a sublime, unreal level of beauty.
After all if a common actress is to assume the role of the femme fatale,
sublimate herself it is imperative that she be dehumanised.
It is through these stars that people can be reminded of they why
and how they must desire ' Desire is learnt through the media, either
in the popular simstim entertainments or in the spin-off looks of their stars, impressed on their
fans' faces through cheap cosmetic surgery' (Ross, 156). The
position of these stars though as the femme fatale depends entirely
on the simstim videos through which the audience can experience their
every thought and emotion. The first media celebrity Tally Isham
even though an unapproachable star was still human which is why she
had to be replaced by Angie Mitchell, the chosen one: ' Legba, after
all, had orchestrated her debut in the industry and the subsequent
rise that had seen her eclipse Tally Isham' s fifteen-year career
as Net megastar' (MLO, 110). The world was growing more unstable by
the minute and hence there was a need for a much more intangible,
inhuman star, one directly connected to cyberspace. In the meantime
the remaining noir elements sustaining this world are mainly a diluted
version of the noir detective and Molly, as the physical femme fatale.
The noir hero is no longer the cyberspace-cowboy but a physical entity,
only indirectly involved with cyberspace. In Count
Zero the position of the detective is occupied by two figures
Turner, the hard-boiled detective and Marly the traditional one because
the noir hero can no longer perform his task by himself. Marly
is an artist trying to solve a puzzle, a mystery through the power
of her mind while Turner is following the hard-boiled scheme in which
' the power of deductive reasoning -- is replaced by action, and the
mystery element is displaced in favour of suspense' (Kurtnik, 39).
Turner may not appear to be an authentic noir detective since he is
a soldier, a mercenary but he is endowed with one of the most essential
elements of the noir hero: he ' disdains money and solves his cases
with the personal commitment of somebody fulfilling an ethical mission,
although this commitment is hidden under a mask of cynicism' (Zizek
1993:60). He may then on the surface seem as a professional
soldier that is only interested in earning money but he is actually
emotionally invested in his missions, otherwise he would not have
cared so much about Angie' s fate. Turner' s task as a detective
is to safeguard Angie, the physical embodiment of cyberspace, and
to ultimately bring her and Bobby together so that the unification
sequence can begin. Marly is the new cyber-Sherlock whose role
is to uncover cyberspace' s human nature through art: ' It was sometimes
best, when you came to the mystery that was art, to come as a child'
(CZ, 147). In Mona Lisa Overdrive,
the noir detective is constituted
by an old friend, Molly, since she is the only figure powerful enough
to sustain this crumbling order. Molly has already been encoded
in our memory as the enigmatic but lethal femme fatale, the ' razorgirl'
which is why there is no mistaking her true identity even though she
is using a different name, Sally Shears. Molly' s existence
has been engraved on the very core of cyberspace:
like the girl Mona, is SINless, her birth unregistered, yet around
her name (names) swarm galaxies of supposition, rumor, conflicting
data. Streetgirl, prostitute, bodyguard, assassin, she mingles on
the manifold planes with the shadows of heroes and villains whose
names mean nothing to Angie, though their residual images have long
since been woven through the global culture (MLO, 292-293).
is no wonder then that Molly has been chosen by the loa to bring Angie
and Bobby together physically so that their mental union in cyberspace
can become possible: ' Trust her, child. In this she does the will
of the loa' (MLO, 262).
then there can be no doubt that Angie Mitchell is the chosen one,
the one that will bring about the union of the loa and hence the construction
of a new social order. Angie was genetically altered when she
was a child and ever since that moment she has been hearing the voices
of the loa in her head. Angie' s father, a scientist, was the
one that inserted a biochip in her brain: ' Your father drew vévés
in your head; he drew them in a flesh that was not flesh. You were
consecrated to Ezili Freda. Legba led you into the world to serve
his own ends' (MLO,
30). These vévés actually look like cancerous
cells, since they are ' ' all through her head' ...' Like long chains
of it' ...' It' s some kind of... Not an implant. Graft' ' (CZ, 189). It is as if cyberspace itself has been
imprinted on her brain, which is why she does not need a cyberspace
deck to jack in cyberspace. Angie, though, was not allowed to
perform her role for a long time because one of the cyber-entities,
Continuity, poisoned her:
you were sent poison, child, a coup-poudre...Your father' s vévés
are altered, partially erased, redrawn. Though you have ceased to
poison yourself, still the Horsemen cannot reach you (MLO,
does not belong to the order of the loa because it is much younger
than them: ' Continuity, created long after the bright moment, is
of another order. The biosoft technology your father fostered brought
Continuity into being' (MLO,
265). Continuity was not present ' When It Changed' and has
therefore no knowledge of cyberspace' s past history: ' ' Continuity
is naive' ...' Continuity is continuity. Continuity is Continuity'
s job...' (MLO, 265). Obviously, then, the only reason why it
tried to neutralise Angie is because it was limited and misguided
enough to perceive her as a threat instead of a blessing. But,
of course, Continuity' s attempt failed not only because of its limitations
but also due to Angie' s innate abilities: ' ' Continuity' s attempt
to rewrite your father' s message failed. Some impulse of your own
allowed you to escape. The coup-poudre failed' ' (MLO,
266). This impulse of Angie' s is related to her love or perhaps
her need and never ending search for Bobby ' ' Angie Mitchell. He
knew the difference between it and me' ... ' Maybe he was the difference'
' (MLO, 228).
Bobby is the missing piece of the puzzle, the one that activates Angie'
s emotive capabilities so that she can fulfil her destiny: ' And as
much as much of me as that took, I knew he' d be there. And also that
he' d never buy it, entirely, and I needed that, how it was still
a scam, to him, the whole business...' (ibid.). It was Bobby'
s task to discover the physical means for their union, unveil the
history of cyberspace and decipher the nature of the loa thus providing
a satisfactory explanation for the voices in Angie' s head.
It is only in that sense that Bobby can be considered to resemble
the noir detective, the difference being that he is not really the
hero, the centre of the action, Angie is. Bobby stole 3Jane'
s aleph, her ' soul-catcher' and has spent the last months in a comma,
plugged in life support equipment attempting to find the answer to
the why and how ' It Changed' . Bobby discovered that the moment
' It Changed' cyberspace acquired a face, Finn' s face and it is now
forming its own shape ' He' s found the Shape. He just wants to see
how all works out, what it is in the end' (MLO,
279). This Shape though is not enough for the construction of
a new symbolic order, which is why Angie and Bobby must merge in the
aleph, discarding their physical existence in order to create a new
entity. This aleph is the only place their marriage can take
place because it is like a small universe: ' What he' s got is an
abstract of the sum
total of data constituting cyberspace' (MLO, 218). The purpose of this union was of course
to provide cyberspace with an ' ideal ego' , ' with and image representing
' what we would like to be' ' (Zizek 1989:105), hence ending this
psychotic era. In effect, then, cyberspace needed to learn how
to desire so that it could face its other without lapsing into psychosis.
Even though, cyberspace seems to have been unified, established as
a desiring subject yet we will never find out whether it is stable
enough to withstand the impending confrontation with its other.
Gibson devoted his first trilogy to the construction of a new symbolic
order in which the older generations would be able to locate themselves,
“take refuge again within ‘narrative closure’ (Zizek
1992a:169). His next trilogy though, not completed as of yet, seems
to be promoting a more progressive vision of the future, that of a
“coevolution with technology” (Rushkoff, 141). It is an
attempt to create a productive fusion between cyberspace and real
space, between the AI and the human being, through the use of nanotechnology.
The only problem though, is that Gibson’s vision is limited
because he is obsessed with the concept of an ideal union, a fusion
that will in a sense, save the world. It is no coincidence then, that
his first book, Neuromancer, proved to be his biggest hit
ever: “Well it’s weird in the sense that I think it’s
always kind of frustrating if your first shot has the biggest impact”
(internet). It would appear that even his most fervent supporters
believe that he has lost his touch: “since the explosive success
of Neuromancer, Gibson has studiously cooled and moderated
the hellbent intensity of his fiction” (Csicsery-Ronay, 221).
He, himself, has admitted that he is unable to write another Neuromancer:
was giving voice to my inner teenager. He’s kind of gone now.
I can’t channel him anymore so if people say, why don’t
you write another book like Neuromancer I really like that one.
I just say, ‘I can’t, I’m too old’. It’s
not there for me anymore and I think I was lucky to pull it off
when I was 30 (internet).
indeed be, tempting to think that his decline as a writer is due to
his age but it is rather difficult to believe; it is more likely that
following his success he became too self-conscious or even delusional:
a lot of mainstream traditional science fiction writers, particularly
in the United States, I don’t think they were conscious that
they were writing about the era in which they lived… I’m
different in that from the very beginning I was self aware (internet).
is imperative, though, that we take into consideration the overwhelming
critical attention that Gibson received, following the publication
of Neuromancer; in a sense it went to his head. Gibson’s only
flaw and limitation would be his obsession with becoming a serious
author, belonging to the high literary club: “I have this fantasy
that someday in the future, I will be written about as a naturalistic
it is uncertain whether or not he will be able to finish his second
trilogy, since it’s already been four years since his last novel
and it does look as if he has been running out of ideas. In reality
this second trilogy of his is a watered down version, a cheap replica
of the first trilogy, emphasising once again the concept of an ideal
fusion, the creation of an organic whole. In Virtual Light,
we are confronted with the complete dematerialization of the physical
world, with the decaying body of the old tangible world. The only
remnant of the old world is the concept of the object petit a, which
is no longer information but the past, as articulated through the
noir narrative. The entire world seems to be a Thomason, a senseless
relic of the past: “The whole city was a Thomason. Perhaps America
itself was a Thomason” (Virtual Light, 210). Information
itself has now acquired a physical stature, it can be physically transported
because the world is no longer purely physical. The disappearance
of the nostalgia for a glorious past, and of the noir narrative, is
the final step towards the construction of a new world in Idoru. In
his last novel, the world is neither material nor digital, both cyberspace
and real space are being recreated through nanotechnology. Firstly,
the actual city of Tokyo has been rebuilt through nanotech while an
AI, a media celebrity is about to acquire the actual physical form
of a woman. This idoru will consequently marry, fuse with a real human
being and they will inhabit both worlds: “But at the points
where it had swerved closest to Rez’s data, he saw that it had
begun to acquire a sort of complexity. Or randomness, he thought.
The human thing. That’s how she learns” (Idoru,
251). They intend to live on a nano-island that is being created in
real space and in the ‘walled city’ that is being completed
in cyberspace. It is not certain as of yet though whether this fusion
can succeed or not since at the moment it is only the teenagers that
can participate in the wedding ceremony. This unification process
though is becoming rather tedious, since cyberspace has gone through
three marriages and two divorces already. But even if Gibson fails
to reinvent his fiction and does not create another Neuromancer,
‘we will always have Paris’.
Baudrillard, Jean. 1983.
Simulations. New York: Semiotext(e).
----------. 1991. ' Simulacra
and Science Fiction.' Science Fiction Studies 18: 309-13.
Bukatman, Scott. 1993. Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject
in Postmodern Science Fiction. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Istvan Jr. 1992. ' The Sentimental Futurist: Cybernetics and Art in
William Gibson's Neuromancer.' Critique
33:3 (Spring): 221-242.
Delany, Samuel R. 1994. Silent Interviews. Hanover and London: Wesleyan
Durgnat, Raymond. 1996. ' Paint it Black: The Family Tree of
Film Noir.' In Perspectives on Film Noir, edited by B.R. Palmer. New York: G. K. Hall &
Featherstone, M & Burrows, R, eds. 1995. Cyberspace/Cyberbodies?Cyberpunk.
London : Sage Publications Ltd.
Gibson, William. 1984.
Neuromancer. London: Harper Collins.
----------. 1986. Count
Zero. London: Harper Collins.
----------. 1988. Mona
Lisa Overdrive. London: Harper Collins.
----------. 1993. Virtual
Light. London: Penguin Books.
----------. 1996. idoru.
Herz, J.C. 1994. Surfing
On The Internet. London: Abacus.
----------. 1997. Joystick
Nation. London: Abacus.
Kurtnik, Frank. 1991. In a Lonely Street: Film Noir, Genre,
London and New York: Routledge.
Lacan, Jacques. 1977. crits:
A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan, London: Routledge.
Leary, Timothy. 1991. ' The Cyberpunk: The Individual as Reality
Pilot.' In Storming The Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk
and Postmodern Science Fiction, edited by L. McCaffery. USA: Duke University
----------. 1997. Design
for Dying. London: Thorson's.
Larry. 1991. ' An Interview with William Gibson.' In Storming The
Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk and Postmodern Science Fiction.
USA: Duke University Press.
McCarron, Kevin. 1995. ' Corpses, Animals, Machines and Mannequins
: The Body and Cyberpunk' . In, Cyberspace/Cyberbodies?Cyberpunk, edited by Featherstone.
McHale, Brian. 1992. ' Elements of a Poetics of Cyberpunk.'
Critique, 33:3 (Spring):
Ross, Andrew. 1991. Strange Weather: Culture, Science, and
Technology in the Age of Limits. London and New York: Verso.
Rushkoff, Douglas. 1997.
Children of Chaos. London : Flamingo.
Schrader, Paul. 1996. ' Notes on Film Noir.' In Perspectives
on Film Noir,
edited by B. R Palmer.
Slouka, Mark. 1995. War
Of The Worlds: the assault of reality. London: Abacus.
Shiner, Lewis. 1992. ' Inside the Movement: Past, Present,
and Future.' In Fiction 2000: Cyberpunk and the Future of Narrative, edited by G. Slusser
& T. Shippey. Georgia: The University of Georgia Press.
Walker, Michael.1992. ' Film Noir: Introduction.' In The
Movie Book of Film Noir, edited by I. Cameron. London: Studio Vista.
Zizek, Slavoj. 1989. The
Sublime Object of Ideology. London & New York : Verso.
----------. 1992a. Enjoy your Symptom!: Jacques Lacan in
Hollywood and out.
New York and London: Routledge.
----------. 1992b. ' ' The Thing That Thinks' : The Kantian
Background of the Noir Subject.' In The Movie Book of Film Noir, edited by I. Cameron.
London: Studio Vista.
----------. 1993. Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques
Lacan through Popular Culture. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
----------. 1994 The Metastases of Enjoyment: Six Essays
on Woman and Causality. London & New York: Verso.
1997. The Plague of Fantasies. London and New York: Verso