Thursday, September 29th, 2011...2:47 am

Addiction

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One of the challenges for me in reading Neuromancer is in trying to understand the culture that the characters are living in. Although it’s vividly portrayed, because Gibson doesn’t spend too much time explaining what things are (and because, although I enjoy science fiction, I’m not really that ‘technologically minded’) I have a hard time placing the characters and getting a grip on their world.

Something that has really stuck out to me is how drug-oriented Chase and the entire culture seems to be—in fact, the second sentence of the whole book is about drugs, and addiction. Drugs have been present through most all of human history, but they seem extremely prevalent in Neuromancer.

Of course, Chase can’t, by this point, use most of the drugs that he’s used to; he can’t even receive the effects of what he is given to prevent SAS. But there are two notable ‘drugs’ that he makes use of in 7-12. Apart from all of his cigarettes, he uses Betaphenethylamine twice. To me it says a lot about his character that he is willing to do this before a formal dinner with Armitage; though he says he hadn’t been expecting side effects it was irresponsible and unprofessional to not look into possible side effects, especially when he was worried that Armitage could be a dangerous man (or… AI.). When he says on page 129 “I’m a drug addict, Cath,” it’s apparently true.

More interesting, though, was when he seemed to refer to his cowboy work as a drug. When Molly asks why Case isn’t particularly interested in AIs, he responds:

“’I dunno, it just isn’t part of the trip.’

‘Jockeys all the same,’ she said. ‘No imagination’” (91).

Removed from the context, my only possible conclusion would have been that he was discussing a drug. This fits in with how Case was acting in the beginning of the book, before Armitage got him medical service; he was certainly itching for something.

Is jacking in actually like a drug to him, or is it just an addiction, a part of himself that he can’t deny? We saw how poorly Chase was making it before he regained his ability to jack in, but what was he like before that? Could he not function so well without jacking in because he physically needed to, or did he just let himself slump because he was depressed about not being able to do something that he loved?



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