The Cyberpunk Aesthetic in Gibson's Neuromancer Trilogy
Throughout the Neuromancer trilogy, Gibson examines the implications of technological manipulation on conceptions of the self, self-presentation, and aesthetics. Early in Count Zero we come upon a casuual mention of elective cosmetic surgery used to enable the person who undergoes it succeed in the game of life by making them fulfill a social ideal of the beautiful. Turner, the mercenary adventurer who in some ways parallels Armitage in the first volume, remarks to himself t hat his companion does not fit the usual stereotype:
In addition to providing another inst ance of Gibson's reliance upon Darwinian natural selection as a social, rather than simply biological, principle, this passage also serves several purposes -- it helps advance the plot, adds to Turner's characterization, and suggests that those people (li ke Turner) who will interest the reader do not buy into standard commodified notions of physical beauty. Early in Neuromancer Gibson had taken this prototypically romantic emphasis on intensity and authenticity much father when his description of R atz emphasizes the aesthgetic of honest ugliness.
Case turned his head and looked up into Wage's face. It was a tanned and forgettable mask. The eyes were vatgrown sea-green Nikon transplants. Wage wore a suit of gunmetal silk and a simple bracelet of platinum on either wrist. He was flanked by his joeboys, nearly identical young men, their arms and shoulders bulging with grafted muscle. [N21]
The one who showed up at the loft door with a box of diske ttes from the Finn was a soft-voiced boy called Angelo. His face was a simple graft grown on collagen and shark- cartilage polysaccharides, smooth and hideous. It was one of the nastiest pieces of elective surgery Case had ever seen. When Angelo smiled. r evealing the razor-sharp canines of some large animal, Case was actually relieved. Toothbud transplants. He'd seen that before. [N59]
The Panther Modern leader, who introduced himself as Lupus Yonderboy, wore a polycarbon suit with a recording fea ture that allowed him to rcplay backgrounds at will. Perched on the edge of Case's worktable like some kind of state of the art gargoyle, he regarded Case and Armitage with hooded eyes. He smiled. His hair was pink. A rainbow forest of microsofts bristled behind his left ear; the ear was pointed, tufted with more pink hair. His pupils had been modified to catch the light like a cat's. Case watched the suit crawl with color and texture. [N67]
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