The Infi nite Plasticity of the Digital?
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The Infi nite Plasticity of the Digital? book
In the many, varied academic responses to William Gibson’s archetypal novel Neuromancer, the most contested site of meaning has been Gibson’s re-deployment of the human body. Feminist critic Veronica Hollinger, for example, argued that Gibson’s use of cyborg characters championed the ‘interface of the human and the machine, radically decentring the human body, the sacred icon of the essential self,’ thereby disrupting the modernist and humanist division of human and technology, and associated dualisms of nature/culture, mind/body, and thus the gendered binarism of male/ female (Hollinger, 1990, p. 33). ‘Human bodies in Gibson’s stories’, Hollinger argues further, ‘are subjected to shaping and re-shaping, the human form destined perhaps to become one available choice among many’ (Hollinger, 1990, p. 35). Conversely, Thomas Foster has argued that Gibson’s bifurcation of cyberspace and the material world reifi es the mind and devalues the body as surplus ‘meat’. Moreover, far from disrupting the assumptions of humanism, in Neuromancer, although they are both cyborgs, the cyberspace cowboy (Case) is male, and the street warrior (Molly) is female, implicitly maintaining the gendered associations of masculinity with the mind, and femininity with the body (Foster, 1993, p. 18). As both of these (and most other) analyses of Gibson’s cyberpunk novels situate cyborgs as the central signifi er of embodiment, in order to explore Gibson’s development of ideas relating to the body in the Bridge trilogy, the fi rst question that needs to be asked is: ‘where have all the cyborgs gone?’