Aric's Final Paper

The day 9/11 happened was the day Cayce’s view of the world changed. In William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition, the main character, Cayce, views the world through a bubble, not really interacting with society so much as viewing the interactions of society from the sidelines. The footage attracts Cayce for this very reason; she can participate without having to change the way she views society. Globalization and global society have had their negative effects on society, but their change in direction has produced a way in which individuals can be both connected and keep their culture.
Cayce wants to believe that her world has gone in “such a different direction”(203) since the “instant of having seen the petal drop,”(203) and it would seem that way if viewing the world through a bubble, but in reality, her life and everything about 9/11 was the culmination of the events preceding the plane attacks. Cayce tries to put blame on certain events that she does not perceive, but meanwhile accepts all the advancements of the changing world. Without the globalization of the world, her services would not be needed to market the mass production of goods and without globalization she would never have found out about film clips made in Russia. Cayce undergoes major events in her life and she does not let them change her, and in the process always stays outside in this bubble.

Stella draws contrast from Cayce by the fact that Stella allows the major event in her life to shape her, whether willingly or forced, because of her uncle’s life style. Stella realizes that her uncle’s and her parents’ life style was the reason for the tragic incident to happen and therefore can be part of the solution. Stella and her sister now devote their lives to the production and spreading of the footage. This footage is a way of connecting the creative side that their parents advocated for with the resources of their uncle.

There is a contrast between Cayce, who indentifies fads by standing in a bubble to the side, and Stella and her sister, who create the fads by using globalization to spread their own creativity. Globalization does have these negative effects from which 9/11 occurred, but the spreading of ideas can help to revive and grow the original domestic culture of society. Globalization of Coca-Cola is a great example of how something like an American soft drink is changed in its recipe depending on the societal taste. The same thing can be done with clothing, cars, jewelry, or any number of goods that can be made in mass production ways, but then specialized to account for individual taste. This specialization can follow from the company changing the design per each marketable niche, but in a simpler way can be adjusted by the society while being kept the same when it is produced. An example of this is clothing; whereas in America a Polo shirt might be worn with khakis, in the Middle East it could be worn with traditional Muslim attire, creating an identity that is co-habitable within that society. On page 130 in Pattern Recognition, Cayce arrives at the Park Hyatt hotel, a European style hotel that has a bamboo garden incorporated within the lobby, which shows an imprint of culture on to the globalized structure of a European style hotel.

The globalization and individual’s culture/society have an effect on an individual’s “oddness” (203), but further globalization will not lead to a decrease in personal “oddness.” Instead, Globalization will allow the individual to mix and match what aspects of different parts of the world they want to incorporate into how they see the world and how they appear to other individuals. Before the rise of the modern media, an individual would only know the morals and religion that one had available in their region. If you were a Southerner during the 1920s, you were probably Baptist, but through this spreading of information, a Southerner can now be a Buddhist who does not view sweet tea favorably (southern blasphemy). This individual’s original religious stance on Buddhism was not because he had the individual choice, but instead because he didn’t know what other religious views were in the world. This is in a way a contrast to Cayce’s view for most of the book that peoples’ identities are made up of how they dress, and that the only way to have an identity would be to avoid globalization at all costs. Her black clothing represents this decision to not take part in the globalization of goods. Nearing the end of the book, after Cayce escapes from the Russian prison (337), she has a conversation with Peter Gilbert, aka Parkaboy, in which she only is able to know that it is Parkaboy from the footage forums by asking questions and probing his memory. This creates juxtaposition between the Cayce that identified everyone from what they would wear to the Cayce that can only recognize someone for certain by their personality. This lends the idea that individual identity can be made up in part by outward signs like fashion; it is the personality and shared experiences that create the individual’s “oddness.”

Cayce’s ability to determine new trends and fashions seems to have one specific qualification: originality. At the end of the story Cayce is able to get over her phobia of logos, but what brought this on? The disappearance of her phobia coincides with the bigger picture of how originality and individuals can exist in a world of globalization. When Cayce originally went looking for the footage on Bigend’s dime, she was doing it for herself and was worried that if Bigend globalized the footage that it would become generic and lose its appeal. Cayce later finds out through Stella that they were trying to globalize the footage anonymously so that people could see her sister’s work. Only in the end of the novel did Cayce realize the fact that globalization can help spread an idea and keep its originality factor while still being tweaked by individuals in different societies so that it fits into their culture. In realizing that globalization is not evil, Cayce is able to get over her phobia and see products as not original in themselves, but able to contribute to the originality of individuals when combined with different cultures.

One important idea that Gibson is trying to get through in the novel is that identity and individuality are based on a combination of all experiences, values, physical appearances, and behaviors. The globalization of the world and commodities has an advantage in being able to connect the world and share ideas. While it does have its downside in events like 9/11 or the mass production of generic clothing, the benefits gained from globalization and increased connectivity allow other attacks not to take place. The more economic and social interaction that occurs between old enemies, the less likely an attack between the two will occur. In Cayce’s case, her ability is how she makes money, and without the global economy there would be no products to need to be marketed. The world has “gone in such a different direction,” and the change occurred due to the mere fact that people saw more benefit out of the new way of marketing and production. Cayce comes to accept that different directions are only bad when the potential for good is outweighed by the potential of bad.

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