Longer Blog Post #1: Love and Humanity in Neuromancer

The improvement of technology is a double-edged sword; intelligence increases at the expense of humanity. In the novel Neuromancer by William Gibson, the futuristic dystopian world shows that the more technology invades people’s lives the less human people behave. The dystopia of the novel illustrates a society riddled with crime, debauchery, greed, and cruelty. The advanced technology of the world in Neuromancer gives people more control, but they use this control for devious purposes. How does Case’s relationship with Linda show that technological advancement causes the deterioration of humanity in society? The technology is used to manipulate others, steal from others, and torture others. Through ROMs, RAMs, and simstims, the characters artificially make emotional connections with others, which make it easier to be detached from others. Through Case’s relationship with Linda Lee is where humanity is restored and technology is demoralized. Case seems to actually love Linda, but as technology further invades his life that love gets corrupted.

The glimmer of humanity seen in Case was his relationship with Linda Lee who, according to the bartender Ratz, is the only person to make Case smile. Despite never explicitly saying it, it seems like Case is in love with Linda Lee, which is the only truly humanistic relationship in the novel. When an assassin from his previous employer murders Linda Lee instead, Molly talks it over with Case saying:

“`Friends of your tight friend. Killed your girl for you. You haven’t done too well for friends in this town, have you? We got a partial profile on that old bastard when we did you, man. He’d fry anybody, for a few New ones. The one back there said they got on to her when she was trying to fence your RAM. Just cheaper for them to kill her and take it. Save a little money… I got the one who had the laser to tell me all about it. Coincidence we were here, but I had to make sure.’ Her mouth was hard, lips pressed into a thin line” (39).

Firstly, the man sent to kill Case would willingly murder for any amount of money, showing the immorality of murder and greed. Then, for this man to murder an innocent woman is twice as corrupt. Linda Lee’s life is monetized as it would be “cheaper” to kill her and get the RAM of Case. Thus, Linda Lee is not valued as a human, but as a commodity by Case’s employer, the assassin, and even Molly, who shows no remorse for Case with her mouth “pressed into a thin line”.

Linda Lee was killed trying to save Case’s RAM, which holds all of his memories and is one of the technologies of this story that facilitate people making an artificial connection with one another. The detachment that these people have between each other is also exemplified by calling people by the insensitive term “meat”. Calling people meat is a way of detachment. Linda’s body gets referred multiple times to as meat that is cooked and burnt. When Case finds her dead body it is associated with cooked meat when it says, “He found her. She was thrown down at the foot of a concrete pillar, eyes closed. There was a smell of cooked meat” (38). She is degraded as a person when her dead body is equated with cooked meat. Again, this comparison is made when Deane sends Case into the AI and the matrix turns into the arcade where Wintermute manifests Linda Lee. After she disappears from the matrix it says, “She was gone. The weight of memory came down, an entire body of knowledge driven into his head like a microsoft into a socket. Gone. He smelled burning meat” (117). Whenever Linda disappears it smells like meat is burning. I think that this is a metaphor for the disintegration of humanity. If meat is people and the burning means destruction, then every time Linda disappears, a little more humanity it destroyed in Case’s life. I think that Linda is the characterization of humanity because she represents the love that still exists in Case and since technology is the reason for her death and Case’s torment, then that is symbolic of technology destroying love and humanity.

In the end, Case returns to the matrix one last time where he sees three people, himself, Riviera/Neuromancer/Wintermute, and Linda. One of the last lines of what Case sees is, “Linda still wore his jacket; she waved, as he passed. But the third figure, close behind her, arm across her shoulders, was himself” (271). Case’s mind has been trapped by Neuromancer in the matrix and there he and Linda will be able to live on together forever. I think that this ending supports that had technology trapped Case’s “happy ending”. Had Case not succumbed to the pressures of society and the advanced technology, he would have been able to be with Linda in reality, but technology has taken that possibility from him. The matrix entombed Case’s love, happiness, and future.

Through the way relationships are portrayed in Neuromancer, it supports that advanced technology degrades decency and morals. Human bodies get described as “meat” and death of people is disregarded. Selfishness permeates the novel as there is no sincere love or genuine friendship between characters. Because of the technology use, humans get equated with technology and no longer are valued as living, feeling beings. Since the technology of this dystopia is so advanced it begins to reflect the complexity of humans, which blurs their separate identities. When technology pervades society to the extent it does in Neuromancer, people lose their ability to be “human”. Any compassion, sympathy, empathy, or loyalty —anything that makes a human a human—dissipates as people and technology become a single entity. Advanced technology is thus presented as a detriment to humanity.

2 thoughts on “Longer Blog Post #1: Love and Humanity in Neuromancer”

  1. It was interesting to revisit Neuromancer with your essay. I feel that after reading both Feed and Alif the Unseen, you get the sense that technology can be both extremely useful but also more detrimental to the progress of humanity. (And of course, most things are, depending on your perspective.) I thought your analysis of how the matrix “entombed Case’s love, happiness, and future” was particularly on point and beautifully phrased.

  2. I really appreciate your analysis of Linda. It’s sad how Linda’s attempt to save Case’s RAM, one of the few actions of love in Neuromancer, is indirect, the emotion being expressed through interaction with technology.

    I also find interesting your attention to this struggle between humanity and technology within Case. It makes me think of Case as a kind of case, or experiment, that Gibson has fostered for exactly this kind of assessment. To me, this explains Case’s relative lack of response/emotional engagement throughout Neuromancer; he is like a static dependent variable that is measured according to his interactions with independent variables (i.e. the more dynamic personalities of Molly, Riviera, Wintermute).

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