Rastafarians in Cyberspace

While the first section of Neuromancer was indisputably difficult to follow, the second section presented (to me at least) its own unique set of challenges for the reader. As we discussed in class, one thing that makes this novel difficult is the quasi-fabricated language Gibson uses; in chapters 7-12, however, the story becomes easier to follow based on the language simply because you have already spent  100 pages immersed in Case’s world. I am definitely not saying that I fully understand the language, because how could I with a paragraph like this:

“ ‘They’re def triff, huh?’ Cath asked, seeing him eye the transparencies. ‘Mine. Shot ‘em at the S/N Pyramid, last time we went down the well. She was that close, and she just smiled, so natural. And it was bad there, Lupus, day after these Christ the King terrs put angel in the water, you know?” (130)

Not only do I not understand most of the vocabulary in this paragraph (when Cath is talking to Case/Lupus when he is trying to purchase drugs), but I have no idea what the whole paragraph is supposed to mean. Only meaning to use that paragraph for a humorous tangent, however, I did generally find the second section to be more understandable on the language front. What really struck me as difficult in this section were some of the concepts Gibson juxtaposed with his imagined world.

 

While this book is indeed quite strange, I was a bit thrown off by the sudden appearance of stereotypical Rastafarians who created their own colony called Zion (utopia) in zero-gravity “orbital Geneva.” Gibson even writes their dialogue in actual Rastafarian/Jamaican dialect. If you just ignore the rest of the book, this section ALMOST seems realistic; it is noted that “Zion smelled of cooking vegetables, humanity, and ganja” (102). As a reader, you may or may not be familiar with all three of those smells, but the point is that this is a part of the book that is reasonably easy to relate to, giving you brain whiplash from the time you just spent laboriously pouring over the complex plot and language of the rest of the book. What is especially interesting about this section, and particularly this line, is that Zion is described as smelling like humanity. The question of what is and what is not humanity in this book is constantly challenged; the world that has been created is one of overwhelming technological pervasiveness, with technology seeping into both the natural and the unnatural. It seems particularly fitting, though, that during this part of the book (one that I view as relatable, if not normal), humanity is mentioned as being present.

 

Through the Rastafarians and the section in the novel about Zion, Gibson effectively sinks you into a foreign world where the line between technology and nature has been blurred, and then inserts what can be read as an extremely familiar and almost comforting concept that immediately shocks the system into questioning, yet again, what kind of world you are reading about and what is and is not “real.”

 

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