I recently finished reading William Gibson’s novel, Pattern Recognition. Published in 2003, it’s a prescient social critique of surveillance marketing, the post-9/11 security state, and the uncomfortable blurring of the two. While reviews of the book when it came out apparently fretted at times as to whether it would seem dated within a few years, the topics it deals with, ranging from the discontents of globalization to NSA monitoring of Internet traffic, are in many places as relevant today or more so than they were a decade ago. A few of Gibson’s more memorable quotes from the book:
The site had come to feel like a second home, but she’d always known that it was also a fishbowl; it felt like a friend’s living room, but it was a sort of text-based broadcast, available in its entirety to anyone who cared to access it.
You ‘know’ in your limbic brain. The seat of instinct. The mammalian brain. Deeper, wider, beyond logic. That is where advertising works, not in the upstart cortex. What we think of as ‘mind’ is only a sort of jumped-up gland, piggybacking on the reptilian brainstem and the older, mammalian mind, but our culture tricks us into recognizing it as all consciousness. The mammalian spreads continent-wide beneath it, mute and muscular, attending its ancient agenda. And makes us buy things.
Everything Lenin taught us of communism was false, and everything he taught us of capitalism, true.