Friday, December 30, 2011

Zero History

Another delight by William Gibson! Like Spook Country, Zero History satisfies my need for intricately-described stuff (in this case, interior cor and fashion clothing lines).

Yet again he reprises his apparent obsession with brand identities, in particular their absence. Secret brands, and then super-secret brands. Who advertise not even by word-of-mouth, but by scarcity and failure to advertise or even sell clothing. Sheer unavailability. This is related to a criticism of disposable mass-produced items and consumerist culture: almost all the main characters are (1) rich, but (2) own no physical possessions. They constantly list their full personal inventory, which is the same as their total worldly assets. An entire book is spent to track down the designer of a single jacket... but that jacket was designed to last forever, to be appropriate for all occasions, a unisex garment reminiscent of a fashionable dark thneed.

Plots are hatched, schemes are devised, and once more an international publicity company (run like a high-stakes terrorist cell) unfurls its curious tale across these pages.

He saw a magical-looking bookshop, stock piled like a mad professor's study in a film, and swerved, craving the escape into text. But these seemed not only comics, unable to provide his needed hit of words-in-a-row, but in French as well. (p 150)
My needed hit of words-in-a-row is fulfilled indeed.


This post's theme word is meretricious, "appealing in a cheap or showy manner: tawdry," or "based on pretense or insincerity." (From a Latin word meaning prostitute, although interestingly enough, the same root from which we get "merit" -- merere, to earn money.) Gibsonism is concerned with a focus on the antimeretricious aspects of popular culture, lightly sprinkled with -- and across -- cyberspace.

1 comment:

lewarcher said...

Are you going to see Gibson at the TRL on Jan.12? http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/programs-and-classes/appel-salon/