Paris Review – William Gibson, The Art of Fiction No. 211

There was a lot of inherent cultural relativism in the science fiction I discovered then. It gave me the idea that you could question anything, that it was possible to question anything at all. You could question religion, you could question your own culture’s most basic assumptions. That was just unheard of—where else could I have gotten it? You know, to be thirteen years old and get your brain plugged directly into Philip K. Dick’s brain!

That wasn’t the way science fiction advertised itself, of course. The self-advertisement was: Technology! The world of the future! Educational! Learn about science! It didn’t tell you that it would jack your kid into this weird malcontent urban literary universe and serve as the gateway drug to J. G. Ballard.

And nobody knew. The people at the high school didn’t know, your parents didn’t know. Nobody knew that I had discovered this window into all kinds of alien ways of thinking that wouldn’t have been at all acceptable to the people who ran that little world I lived in.

Paris Review – William Gibson, The Art of Fiction No. 211

Who needs a plain old crime now? Crimes need endorsement, distribution, crowds.

Masha Tupitsyn on Steubenville | berfrois. Reminds me of William Gibson on terrorism:

You’re a small group with no reputation, and you start covertly blowing up or murdering the people of a big group, like a government or a nation-state or a whole race. And you can’t just do it and then go and do the next one. You have to do it, and then go and do your PR. “We just bombed your mall. It was us.”

Gibson-Faulkner space = “The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.” × “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

The Net Is a Waste of Time – New York Times

I stay in. Hooked. Is this leisure – this browsing, randomly linking my way through these small patches of virtual real-estate – or do I somehow imagine that I am performing some more dynamic function? The content of the Web aspires to absolute variety. One might find anything there. It is like rummaging in the forefront of the collective global mind. Somewhere, surely, there is a site that contains … everything we have lost?

Oldie but a goodie. William Gibson in 1996.

Today, in its clumsy, larval, curiously innocent way, it offers us the opportunity to waste time, to wander aimlessly, to daydream about the countless other lives, the other people, on the far sides of however many monitors in that postgeographical meta-country we increasingly call home. It will probably evolve into something considerably less random, and less fun — we seem to have a knack for that — but in the meantime, in its gloriously unsorted Global Ham Television Postcard Universes phase, surfing the Web is a procrastinator’s dream. And people who see you doing it might even imagine you’re working.

The Net Is a Waste of Time – New York Times

Post-industrial creatures of an information economy, we increasingly sense that accessing media is what we do. We have become terminally self-conscious. There is no such thing as simple entertainment. We watch ourselves watching. We watch ourselves watching Beavis and Butt-head, who are watching rock videos. Simply to watch, without the buffer of irony in place, might reveal a fatal naiveté.

William Gibson on Twitter, in 1996. Cf. Marshall McLuhan, (via)

A book exists at the intersection of the author’s subconscious and the reader’s response. An author’s career exists in the same way. A writer worries away at a jumble of thoughts, building them into a device that communicates, but the writer doesn’t know what’s been communicated until it’s possible to see it communicated.

William Gibson. Reminds me of Umberto Eco:

I always assume that a good book is more intelligent than its author. It can say things that the writer is not aware of.

And Montaigne:

An able reader often discovers in other men’s writings perfections beyond those that the author put in or perceived, and lends them richer meanings and aspects.

Writers, it seems to me, should write, not make speeches. But speeches, like quasi-journalistic writing assignments, can come attached to plane tickets, to hotel rooms in cities one might never have thought of visiting otherwise. In writing speeches, curiously, one sometimes finds out what one thinks, at that moment, about something. The world at large, say. Or futurity. Or the impossibility of absolutely grasping either. Generally they make me even more uncomfortable to write than articles, but later, back in the place of writing fiction, I often discover that I have been trying to tell myself something.

William Gibson on creative transference.

One of the more peculiar, more semiconscious exercises I practiced, early in my fiction-writing career, consisted of reading record reviews in, say, Melody Maker, while pretending that I was actually reading a review of a new science fiction novel. I would later attempt to recall that novel, my sense of it from the review, as a species of writing-prompt.

William Gibson. Imaginative reading, recalling, repeating… Ben Franklin did the same thing to improve his writing as a teenager.

We [are] shaped as writers, I believe, not much by who our favorite writers are as by our general experience of fiction. Learning to write fiction, we learn to listen for our own acquired sense of what feels right, based on the totality of the pleasure (or its lack) that fiction has provided us. Not direct emulation, but rather a matter of a personal micro-culture.

William Gibson via Brain Pickings. I just picked up this book. Really looking forward to reading more.