Mariela's Final Paper

A world in which there is no private self; a world in which everything is easily accessible, even our innermost thoughts. What kind of life would that be, and where does individuality and creativity fit in? This is the type of life, in William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition, that Cayce is forced to live in after her world takes a “different direction”; she questions how this change came to be; was there something she had done or is this brought upon her by someone else’s actions.

“She knows too much about the processes responsible for the way product is positioned, in the world, and sometimes she finds herself doubting that there is much else going on. But this is a mood, she tells herself, a bad one in its low-key way, dealt by soul-delay. Somewhere that lagging part of her is being wound in, and her job here is simply to walk, to be in London and let her body know that she is here (p.202).” Cayce has just travelled to London and is experiencing jetlag which she describes as soul-delay, however, there’s more to the notion of soul-delay than simple jet-lag. The fact that she states that “somewhere that part of her is being wound in, and her job here is to simply walk” is a metaphor to what is happening in her life. Cayce is describing herself almost like a puppet or a wound up toy, there have been changes in her life all brought upon by someone else, someone is guiding her steps in their desired direction, and Cayce is nothing but a tool, a messenger. Therefore, as the protagonist of the novel, Cayce is a very weak and ignorant character. It’s as if Gibson wants us to think of her as this powerful woman that has control of people’s thoughts through the creation of logos on a globalized way, for she possesses this gut feeling, like a sensation, of what people would be interested in and how they would interpret advertising logos, making her the best at her job, an important member of a corporation. However, the story is in no way controlled by her, her life decisions revolve around what others, like Bigend and Volkov have planned for her.

“Just now she wishes lives could be replaced as easily, but knows that that isn’t right. However odd things seem, mustn’t it be to exactly that extent of oddness that a life is one’s own, and no one else’s? Hers has never been without its share of oddness, but something in its recent texture seems to belong to someone else.” Here Cayce emphasizes how her life has changed; she has lost her “oddness”, individuality, to someone else and as result finds herself in a state of soul-delay. But who is this someone else; who is responsible for this change in her life? She used to live this “normal” life in which her “oddness” [sensitivity to logos] did not interfere with her day to day life, she blended in with everyone else in New York. Cayce would go to work, in which she was incredibly successful, and spend time with her close friends not thinking much about how the rest of the world sees her, she is who she is and is not worried about expressing herself through her clothing and simple life style. However, major events occur that change that just the individuals directly affected by it but the entire world; September 11, 2001, the attacks on the twin towers brought upon global changes but specially affected some people more than others. This date seems to be the turning point of Cayce’s life. She now lives in a “fictional life”, a life full of mysteries and fears.

“The world had gone in such a different direction, in the instant of having seen that petal drop, that nothing really is the same now, and that her expectations of the parameters of how life should feel are simply that, expectations, and increasingly out of line the further she gets from that window in the SoHo Grand (pg. 203).” The “petal drop” symbolizes the fall of the World Trade Center, these globally known towers that were the central point of many corporations had just been destroyed, and were was the world heading now was in question. Would the people of New York be able to forget and dream again, including Cayce, and will the rest of the world take action. This uncertainty is what drives Cayce to search for something meaningful to her, something that cannot be destroyed; a work of art. The moment that petal dropped Cayce lost part of who she was along with the people of New York; the fear brought upon by that event changes her view on life from just an observer to a more active participant. Cayce is no longer just a successful professional woman but a type of detective.

Her new outlook on life leads her to join a forum in which she would attempt to find the creator of this footage that has been gaining popularity as way of coping with the lost of the WTC and possibly her father through the protection of art. When Cayce joins the forum, is when she begins to really lose control of her own identity, she begins to spend more time looking at the footage and analyzing it then having personal interactions and conversations with her friends. “The idea that Bigend, or his employees, have been lurking on F:F:F will take some getting used to. The site had come to feel like a second home, but she’d always known that it was also a fishbowl; it felt like a friend’s living room, but it was a sort of text-based broadcast, available in its entirely to anyone who cared to access it (p.67).” At this point Bigend has discovered Cayce’s interest in the footage and has prepared a proposition to her, he wants Cayce to find the creator and he will facilitate anything she needs to do so. At first Cayce’s only interest in the footage seemed to be to understand what was happening in the videos and how they all fit together, was it a completed work or a work in progress; the origin of the videos was always in the back of her mind for it would provide more content knowledge that will help her comprehension. It never occurred to her that she would go on a search around the world for the creator. This is the first instance in which Bigend controls her path in life because he sends her on this search. However, Cayce is more concerned with protecting this work of art she loves from Bigend that she agrees to go on the search but withholds information from him throughout.

The search for the footage turns Cayce into a more fictional character. Cayce’s life has become the life of a detective in a constant fight for survival in order to reach the truth. While searching for the footage she gets robbed and followed around by people hired by Volkov. Her every move is no longer dependent on what she wants to do but on what members of the forum tell her to do. She is puppet that everyone interested in the footage is using to gain more knowledge and because she is playing this role of the messenger or globalized network, she is the one running all the risks of being attack. Because of all the flying from place to place she has lost a sense of where home is for her, she is always staying in a hotel or at a friend’s house. This is why she is constantly in a state of jet-lag, “soul-delay”, she is leaving her life behind and constantly jumping from someone else’s life to another as she completes a task for them. She invests her entire soul on her job and forgets to live her own life outside of work. Cayce’s overload of others emotions like Stella and Nora’s situation is simply a coping mechanism for her own lost, the national symbol of the WTC and her father.

Furthermore, the use of the phrase soul-delay to reference Cayce’s own life is that the soul is the one thing that cannot be touched or taken away from a person, therefore, her soul is delayed [not present] when her actions are control by external people like Bigend, Volkov and the members of the forum. It can also be a representation of the footage and how this art work cannot be duplicated for its meaning is subjective to the individual creating it as well as the observer.

Towards the end of the story, Cayce has finally reached her goal of meeting the creator of the footage; as a result her life must take yet another turn. "She feels as though something huge has happened, is happening, but she can't define it. She knows that it's about meeting Stella, and hearing her story, and her sister's, but somehow she no longer is able to fit it to her life. Or rather she lives now in that story, her life left somewhere behind, like a room she's stepped out of. Not far away at all but she is no longer in (pg.303).” Throughout the novel Cayce had been experiencing this soul delay where ever she went, none of the countries felt familiar to her it was as if she had never been there before, she was a walking puppet. A walking puppet that was expected to carry out the task set upon her by Bigend, avoid the obstacles presented by Volkov and put the pieces of information provided by the forum into a coherent whole. Therefore, once she had met the creator and listened to their story, the narrator says “but somehow she no longer is able to fit it to her life” refers to the fact that Cayce has found the creator, her search has come to an end and soon she must return to her own life wherever that might take her. She needs to forget about the footage and start living again.

“Or rather she lives now in that story, her life left somewhere behind, like a room she's stepped out of. Not far away at all but she is no longer in” is a commentary on how Cayce has been stepping in and out of her life, at the moment she has left hers to become a part of Nora and Stella’s life’s for she is so emotionally invested in the footage. However, she is only invested in this life of the footage temporarily because “not far away at all” is her true life, the real journey; finding out the truth about her father. In the end, Cayce is able to receive some closure on her father’s death and returns to her “normal” life. Despite Cayce’s ability to move on, what exactly happened to her father?

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