Cathy's Second Paper Draft

Walking on the street of Shanghai, I see gigantic buildings, I see people lining up outside Gucci store to buy extravagant handbags, I see people crowding in real estate agencies for overpriced apartments. Walking on the street of Los Angeles, I see the same Coca Cola logo and I still see overpriced brands everywhere. It is obvious that the world has become more and more globalized. We benefit from imported products and ideas. In the meantime, some part of ourselves is missing,something human. In William Gibson’s novel Pattern Recognition, the protagonist Cayce Pollard is designed to reclaim a sense of humanity—something hard to find in the recent globalized community.

Before discussing about humanity, let’s step back a little and ask ourselves: What is humanity? What is a human community as opposed to a globalized community? From Pattern Recognition, I see a human community as a place where people are connected regardless of who they are, where they come from, and other external factors. Fetish:Footage:Forum is a typical example of a human community which Gibson presents. When Cayce opens the front page of the forum: “The front page opens, familiar as a friend’s living room.” she says. F:F:F is like a personal home for Cayce. A place where she can rest. A place she can talk to people without thinking of being taken advantage of. A place she feels connected. In contrast, a globalized community would be a company like Blue Ant, a community which can be seen across the world. It first emerged in Europe, then it was spread to United Kingdom, New York and Tokyo. Yet, Blue Ant is also a community that Cayce found heartless. “The idea that Bigend, or his employees, have been lurking the F:F:F will take some time getting used to.” When a globalized community is conflicted with a human community. Cayce found it uncomfortable. Blue Ant was trying to take advantage of F:F:F, a personal place which Cayce’d like to keep to herself. Cayce treasures F:F:F as a place she seeks humanity. Bigend however, sees it as a product and tries to take something from it. “I saw attention focused daily on a product that may not even exist. You think that wouldn’t get my attention?” Bigend said.

From the perspective of Pattern Recognition, I also see humanity as something real and authentic. Humanity is something that contains feelings even though it might be lifeless. Let’s compare real with fake. In this novel, brand names have a deeper meaning than labels. Brands can contain human elements or they can be “devoid of soul”. The Rickson’s jacket that Cayce frequently wears embodies humanity. “The Rickson’s having been created by Japanese obsessives driven by passions having nothing at all to do with anything remotely like fashion.” Cayce adores this jacket because it is totally different from ordinary voguish jackets. It was created with passion. It has a history: Rickson’s originally served a purpose as a flying jacket. It is real and human. Tommy Hilfiger, on the other hand,is described as soulless. Unlike Rickson’s flying jacket that served as a purpose, Tommy’s clothing is just merely “regimental”. It is a “repetition of repetition of repetition” which Cayce sees it as inhuman.

There is a lot of evidence in Pattern Recognition showing that Cayce is in favor of things that contain human elements, but the question is: Why does she put so much effort in seeking humanity. The answer lies in the absence of her father–the absence of someone real. Win’s death has played an influential role in Cayce’s life. After the disappearance of Win, Cayce was trying to run away from the fact that her father is gone. Whenever Cayce got an e-mail from her Mom talking about Win, she did not reply. She even had a hard time to clicking it open. “He took a duck in the face, Cayce says, closing her eyes.” Cayce had to say a line to alleviate her anxiety about opening the e-mail. Cayce cannot face the fact that she has lost someone real in her life. The person who made Cayce human is gone. Win’s absence has created a large hole in Cayce’s life that is hard to fix. “ I think it’s been good for me to get out of New York and stop thinking so much about Dad, which may also be why I haven’t been writing.” Cayce explained to her mother why she hasn’t replied to any of her e-mails. Another reason that might contribute to Cayce’s efforts to reclaim humanity is the globalized world around her. For example, when Cayce travelled to Tokyo, she saw the cloned Starbucks. “There’s a coffee place directly across the street, a two-story Starbucks clone.” The word “clone” implies the loss of humanity and uniqueness under the globalized community. Under globalization, everything is starting to turn out to be the same. The same coffee shop, the same brand, and therefore the same individuality. Everyone is trying to make profits from globalization and starting to forget the human elements of life.

The loss of humanity in Cayce’s world resulted in her effort to seek humanity. Let’s explore how she dealt with that loss and how she managed to reclaim a sense of humanity. Cayce treasured her Rickson’s jacket because it was real and authentic. When Dorotea burned a hole in the jacket, Cayce was more than depressed. How she dealt with that loss was by substitution. “Absently she reaches to touch the place where the tape should but it isn’t there. No hole. History erased via the substitution of an identical object.” To think further, Win’s absence burned a much bigger hole in Cayce’s life. And this hole cannot be replaced as simply as one flying jacket. The loss of her father means the loss of a beloved caregiver, the loss of a person that she has a strong connection to, the loss of humanity. F:F:F, a place where people are connected, seems like the substitution that Cayce found warmth and connection. She considered F:F:F as her second home. To protect this human community, Cacye was trying her best to separate F:F:F from Blue Ant. For example, when she was flying to Moscow to meet the maker of the footage, she actually told Blue Ant that she was flying to Paris. She did not want something human to be integrated with something inhuman.

Walking on the street of Nashville, I still see the same Starbucks. I walked in with Pattern Recognition in my hand. I imagine how Cayce sits in the coffee shop and checks her e-mail. I imagine how she observes people on the street. I imagine how she tries to seize humanity in the world around her. Because of the loss of her father, she values every human element in her life. Pattern Recognition awakens the humanity in our lives which we should always treasure.

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