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Human and post-human in Gibsons Neuromancer
2001 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor)Student thesis
Abstract [en]

As with most types of literature, cyberpunk literature invites complex analyses. After having read Neuromancer (1984) by William Gibson, I have decided to take a closer look at the interaction of the human and technology in the novel. The main idea of the analysis is to see the extent to which technology is being used, but also how the Gibsonian characters use the technology for different purposes. I would among other things, like to investigate if Gibson´s use of technology spreads over a greater area, than simply being a look into the future, at post-technology. If my theories prove to be correct, this would imply that Gibson´s writing not only is about technology for a post-human usage, to improve, or enhance the human characteristics, but also in some cases actually could be seen as contemporary technology, e.g., in the shape of different kinds of body prosthesis. For the purpose of showing the different categories of body types represented in the novel, I am using Mischa Peter’s diagram, dividing the body into: the material body, the modified body, the enhanced body and finally the repressed body. The cyberpunk fiction represented by William Gibson, deals with things that are both possible and probable, but also with technology that already exists. The technology range from personal computers to more advanced machines, such as cyberdecks, used by hackers to infiltrate different corporations in order to steal information. Another difference is how the technology is used. Almost every character in Gibson´s novel has access to the technology. People who enter cyberspace, a place that is also referred to as the matrix, do so by means of a link. One end is connected to a cyberdeck (Ono-Sendai deck), the other end being plugged to the person`s brain. The novel presents a very pessimistic vision of the future, showing the negative effect that the forthcoming technologies might have on human life, and the gloomy outcomes of technology that progresses faster than humans do. Everything is centred on information. Gibson portrays a future world where the human species has gone so far in its alienation from nature that it no longer needs nature as the indispensable human environment. Many people would rather live without it, in a completely artificial world- the matrix, or cyberspace. Case and Molly are the main characters in the novel, and total opposites. While Case belongs to the category of the material bodies, which are the bodies made of flesh and blood, without any alterations, modifications or enhancements, Molly represents a different category. Molly is to be considered a post-human, having been subject to a great number of enhancements to her body. Besides Molly there are a number of other characters who are subjects of interaction with technology, including the character of Ratz, who´s grubby pink arm-prosthesis is to be seen as the opposite of Molly´s highly sophisticated scalpel nails and mirrorshades. By allowing the reader to experience the contrast between for example Ratz and Molly, Gibson creates a balance between humans and technology. Even though Molly´s enhancements are science fiction to the reader, Ratz prosthesis does not seem very high-tech, and therefore something that the reader can relate to. Every saga, or novel need characters such as Case and Molly, characters that the reader can relate to and understand, and at the same time Gibson needed Case to be the opposite of Molly; Two human bodies, each one fighting against the constraints of “the meat” in their own ways, both sharing the same dream- the dream of transcendence.

Abstract [en]

As with most types of literature, cyberpunk literature invites complex analyses. After having read Neuromancer (1984) by William Gibson, I have decided to take a closer look at the interaction of the human and technology in the novel. The main idea of the analysis is to see the extent to which technology is being used, but also how the Gibsonian characters use the technology for different purposes. I would among other things, like to investigate if Gibson´s use of technology spreads over a greater area, than simply being a look into the future, at post-technology. If my theories prove to be correct, this would imply that Gibson´s writing not only is about technology for a post-human usage, to improve, or enhance the human characteristics, but also in some cases actually could be seen as contemporary technology, e.g., in the shape of different kinds of body prosthesis. For the purpose of showing the different categories of body types represented in the novel, I am using Mischa Peter’s diagram, dividing the body into: the material body, the modified body, the enhanced body and finally the repressed body. The cyberpunk fiction represented by William Gibson, deals with things that are both possible and probable, but also with technology that already exists. The technology range from personal computers to more advanced machines, such as cyberdecks, used by hackers to infiltrate different corporations in order to steal information. Another difference is how the technology is used. Almost every character in Gibson´s novel has access to the technology. People who enter cyberspace, a place that is also referred to as the matrix, do so by means of a link. One end is connected to a cyberdeck (Ono-Sendai deck), the other end being plugged to the person`s brain. The novel presents a very pessimistic vision of the future, showing the negative effect that the forthcoming technologies might have on human life, and the gloomy outcomes of technology that progresses faster than humans do. Everything is centred on information. Gibson portrays a future world where the human species has gone so far in its alienation from nature that it no longer needs nature as the indispensable human environment. Many people would rather live without it, in a completely artificial world- the matrix, or cyberspace. Case and Molly are the main characters in the novel, and total opposites. While Case belongs to the category of the material bodies, which are the bodies made of flesh and blood, without any alterations, modifications or enhancements, Molly represents a different category. Molly is to be considered a post-human, having been subject to a great number of enhancements to her body. Besides Molly there are a number of other characters who are subjects of interaction with technology, including the character of Ratz, who´s grubby pink arm-prosthesis is to be seen as the opposite of Molly´s highly sophisticated scalpel nails and mirrorshades. By allowing the reader to experience the contrast between for example Ratz and Molly, Gibson creates a balance between humans and technology. Even though Molly´s enhancements are science fiction to the reader, Ratz prosthesis does not seem very high-tech, and therefore something that the reader can relate to. Every saga, or novel need characters such as Case and Molly, characters that the reader can relate to and understand, and at the same time Gibson needed Case to be the opposite of Molly; Two human bodies, each one fighting against the constraints of “the meat” in their own ways, both sharing the same dream- the dream of transcendence.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2001. , 16 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53661Local ID: ENG C-12OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53661DiVA: diva2:1102221
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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