Saturday, August 11, 2007

More Gibson

(He must be sick of saying the same things in response to the same questions, over and over again!)

But this is a good one: Tim Adams interviews Gibson at the Observer.

(Mmmm, I really want to read this book--I almost stopped at the bookstore and bought a copy earlier this afternoon, only my apartment is full already of desirable and unread books, and I had just picked up five swimming-and-cycling related works of more-or-less literature from the library. I think I will see if I actually reread Pattern Recognition first, which I believe I still have somewhere about the place--or maybe I pressed it upon somebody else?--and then get Spook Country if I cannot resist...)

Here are a few especially good bits:
Gibson can place the exact moment he first saw the future. It was when his father brought home a huge, wooden television set with a small, round screen and turned it on. Gibson would have been five. He knows the date because his father died that year, unexpectedly, and he moved with his mother from the port of Norfolk, Virginia, to a small mining town in the Appalachians where nothing had changed since his mother had grown up there. After that, turning on the television always made Gibson, an only child, feel like he was stuck in the past and with his face pressed up against modern life.

'In those early days of broadcast television, you were a little kid walking around and holding two realities at the same time in your head,' he says.

His other form of escape came from books. Gibson started to read science fiction in trade paperbacks from rotating wire racks. There were three racks in his town and he would spend his Saturday mornings walking between them looking for new titles. 'It was like being able to look through a little tube at a different place. Not the fictional places that these writers were describing so much, but the place that had the freedom that allowed these writers to write. Those books made me realise that existed somewhere.'
And again:
'You could say, in some ways technology and entertainment culture does not look that good from outside. I mean, if you looked at the internet objectively, sometimes you would think it was just a tsunami of filth, something you would not want anywhere near your children.'

It is though, he believes, an intimately human form of culture. 'I think that one of the things that sets us most thoroughly apart is the ability to preserve our individual memory. The information of the cave paintings becomes Borges's library, Borges's library becomes a laptop computer.' The internet is the shared memory of the species.

I wonder if Gibson, an inveterate blogger, thinks it possible to have human relationships in cyberspace that are as close as in the real world?

'If they are text-based, I would say yes. I have some friendships conducted almost entirely through email that are very intimate. I think we are getting to the point that a strange kind of relationship would be one where there was no virtual element. We are at that tipping point: how can you be friends with someone who is not online? In a couple of years, we will be no more disturbed by our relationship with virtual worlds than we are by our relationship with broadcast television.'
(Writing in this sense is a virtual technology--think of those eighteenth- and nineteenth-century letter-writers...)

1 comment:

  1. In at least one sense all relationships are virtual anyway - mediated.