Wednesday, September 7, 2011


It is the terms of employment--short-term contract work, virtual freelancing, obsession turned investigation--more than the type of the work (although this is also enviable) that makes Cayce Pollard`s position in William Gibson`s Pattern Recognition so appealing. She is hired for her aesthetic sense, which is attuned to the yet-to-be cool (itself, an outdated term, Cayce thinks). Like binary computing or the primacy of plus/minus, Cayce`s output is a yes or a no, but it is a gutteral, instinctual yes/no; she needs only an instant, a quick glance, to receive the impression. There is then the idea, so carefully preserved, that aesthetics--this resonance between sensory impression and expression, this self-moving enterprise--itself exists. Cayce`s skill (which even if believable is nonetheless somewhat superhuman) at knowing these things is impervious to external threats, which come mainly in the form of paranoia and of being exposed to phobic logos. Although Lauren Berlant calls it affect--and arguably, it is--it is nonetheless not the affective aspect of Gibson`s novel which invites its readers to take on the terms of Cayce`s world as their own but the leap that is required and continually performed in order to establish aesthetic certainty.

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