Distraction

I realized today that over the last weeks, I’ve begun a series of thoughts here that I haven’t fully followed through on — too appropriately, the thoughts seem to obsolesce before they hit the input screen. My Gibson re-reading, for instance: I found myself making mental notes of possible entries as I read, but then I kept getting sidetracked by other, apparently more interesting topics.

So, two random follow-ups.

  1. Gibson claims, in a Salon interview (subscription or ad-viewing required) that the apparent relationship between Neuromancer‘s Case and Pattern Recognition‘s identically-pronounced Cayce is non-existent, and that the critical suggestion of meaningful links between them is pure apophenia, “the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness in unrelated things.” Gibson says, about the choice of his latter heroine’s name, “I had to decide whether to do it and have some people assume that it had some symbolic meaning . . . or do it knowing that it has no symbolic meaning for me, but that some people would assume that it did, and consequently in some weird way it would.” I’m not sure why this surprises me, but there’s something in the author’s assumption that there is no meaning where he did not intend it (except in “some weird way”) that’s not simply pre-Foucault, pre-Barthes, but pre-Freud as well.
  2. One of the strangest things I saw in London, from my pretty American-media-consumer-centric perspective, was cable television. Not simply that channels actually go off the air for hours-long stretches of the day — intentionally! — something I haven’t seen here in the U.S. for years. Not simply the presence of the all-U.K.-military-history, all-the-time channel. Not simply the curious channel, which I never tuned in to when it was actually broadcasting, called “U.K. Bright Ideas.” (I think we could use one of those here.) No, the strangest thing I saw was, perhaps predictably, on Rupert Murdoch’s SkyNews, during a story about the Hutton inquiry. Prepared for the Dateline NBC approach to such a bit of reporting (lots of stock footage; testimony from key officials read in excerpt by Jane Pauley, while images of highlighted typewritten transcripts show the text in question), I had, at first, a bit of trouble following what I was actually seeing. Which was a serious-looking “official” against the backdrop of a darkened studio, speaking to an unseen, unheard person about a meter to the left of the camera. In the top left-hand corner of the screen, just below the “SkyNews” logo, was a red textbox, the import of which took a minute to sink in:

Actor Reconstruction

Actor Reconstruction?

Now, apparently this has been going on for quite some time, and no one seems particularly bothered by it. Perhaps this is just an inventive response to Lord Hutton’s denial of the major British broadcasting authories’ application to air the hearings. But one wonders: have Hutton’s concerns about avoiding “exposing witnesses to the additional strain which would be placed on a witness giving evidence to the Inquiry if his or her evidence were televised or broadcast” really been assuaged by having the witnesses instead transformed into roles played by actors?

3 thoughts on “Distraction

  1. I saw that same interview about the same time as I read Pattern Recognition and I wondered if he could possibly be serious.

    That’s one of those quotes that scholars and students will refer to years down the road, some in an “I told you so” fashion (much the same as a student said to me when Ridley Scott “revealed” that Deckard – played by Harrison Ford in Blade Runner – really was an android … as though that sealed the deal), and others to point out that the author never really gets the final say as to their intention (or importance thereof).

  2. Wow. Either you can time-travel, Jason, or something’s gone wonky with my date-stamp. I’m assuming that my server’s clock is off, but if you have, in fact, magically teleported back to this morning, would you drop me an e-mail warning me that the lunchtime burritos are No Good?

    (On a serious note: I think you’re right about the future import of this interview. I still wonder how seriously anyone takes the author’s opinion of his own meaning, in this late age, but then I remember the legions of students arriving this week, ready to tell me I’m “reading too much into” things…)

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