Nate's Final Paper

Pattern Recognition

My mind seemed to go in a million different directions when I was first told the true significance of the September 11th attacks on New York City. At first I had no idea why schools were being dismissed, but as soon as I arrived home every channel depicted a dreadful scene that seemed to be branded in my mind. Fear became a huge factor for an exceedingly long time, but as I grew older even though the fear became less frequent, the September 11th attacks still showed to be prevalent in my life and something that I would never forget. Failing to remember 9/11 was something that would not happen to Cayce Pollard, the protagonist in Pattern Recognition. He world seemed to have “gone in such a different direction”, since the tragic day of September 11th was linked to her father’s death, Win Pollard. Not only does she deal with the tragedy of 9/11 which was linked to her father’ s death, but also finding her own identity in a society where globalization is so universal. In Pattern Recognition, William Gibson depicts an ever-changing environment in which rapid flow of information results in the loss of individuality and concrete reality. Gibson explores these concepts primarily through Cayce, as she struggles with forming her own identity, an affect of the more emphasized wholistic perception of the world. These notions tie into the novels generally ambiguous structure, as things are usually not what they seem.

Death can be considered one of the hardest phenomenons to deal with in one’s life and is extremely hard to recover from. Cayce’s world began to change when her father mysteriously disappeared during the disaster in New York on September 11th. Not knowing why he was there is what puzzled her the most. Since “his reason or reasons for being there remained a mystery” (Page 137), Cayce should not help but have an assortment of questions she pondered about. Even though the relationship Cayce had with Win was never equivalent to a “normal father-daughter relationship” she obviously must have been flustered to find out that her biological father had been a victim of a tragic accident for no apparent reason. It was evident that this tragedy put a whole in her identity, even though she may have not have had the relationship she may have wanted with her father. Truly not knowing one of you parents or losing one of them definitely can affect your identity whether it be conscious or subconsciously. It may feel as if something is missing or your life is lacking something. Tragedy not only affects the personal realm of things, but in a worldview as well. In terms or September 11th, an event such as this impacted everyone, not only the United States. This even caused the whole world to change as a whole. A tragedy can either strengthen or weaken a person or object; in this case I believe the 9/11 attacks strengthened most of the world rather than break it down, especially the United States.

Globalization can also be considered one of the most prevalent topics in Pattern Recognition due to the fact that advertising is one of the main themes in the novel. Globalization can be described as corporations controlling a large part of many industries, in which those industries depend on each other tremendously. Excessive amounts of globalization in the world can be considered more of a negative than a positive, due to the fact that with all the interdependence there lacks a sense of uniqueness. Since Cayce is an ad consultant she is able to detect when there is a deficiency in authenticity. That is why Cayce refers to Tommy Hilfiger to a “null point, black hole” in advertising. (Page 18) Just the sight of his logos provokes her allergy because she believes there are no individualistic qualities present in is his ads. Throughout the book Cayce tries to show her own sense of individuality in a world where globalization is taking over.

How is it possible for Cayce to be an individual in a world where globalization dominates? In the novel, Gibson writes, “It’s as though the creative process is no longer contained within an individual skull, if indeed it ever was. Everything, today, is to some extent the reflection of something else.” This statement poses the question, is there any piece of art that is unique? Since there are so many things that have been passed on generation to generation, when a case of true individualism actually takes place it is truly a special thing. In Cayce’s line of work she thrives on being able to discern whether something is generic or uncommon. Cayce is able to decipher what is truly authentic by her sensitivity or so called “allergy” to logos and ads. Her allergy allows her to execute her job at very high degree and to be very successful at what she does at the same time. This in turn sets her apart from many other ad consultants and makes her truly unique.

Throughout the book, Cayce Pollard dealt with many instances that could have inhibited her in finding who she truly was; her identity. Her past enabled her to assist her in finding her true identity even though her future was indefinite. “The future is there,” Cayce hears herself say, “looking back at us. Trying to make sense of the fiction we have become. And from where they are, they past behind us will look nothing at all like the past we imagine behind us.” At times we don’t realize how much our past correlates to our future. Although it is natural to not see the positives in a negative situation, those instances truly can build us up rather that break us down. Gibson clearly illustrates that point in Pattern Recognition. Cayce never imagined that her father dying in the attacks on September 11th in New York City would have influenced her future in a positive way and accommodate her in finding her own identity.

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