Regan's Final Paper

I can remember the exact moment I found out it happened. I was sitting at my desk in 5th grade when our assistant principle walked into the room with an expression on her face that contained both fear and sorrow. As she walked over to whisper something to our teacher, I knew something was wrong. When our teach finally told us the devastating news that two planes had just crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, I wasn’t sure how to react. As soon as I heard this, the first thing I wondered was ‘why would something like this possibly happen’? It wasn’t until later at dinner time, when my dad arrived home that I knew this was a terrible and horrific tragedy for our nation as a whole. Following the events of September 11th, almost all aspects of each American citizen’s lives were altered permanently. This concept that the world is constantly changing is explored in William Gibson’s novel Patter Recognition. Most importantly it is demonstrated through Cayce, the main character, who is struggling to find her identity and is confused on whether the change in her life was caused by something she had done or whether it was something out of her control. The death of Cayce’s father and the fact that the world is becoming less unique and more homogenized seem to be the two biggest reasons why she seems to be having a hard time forming her identity.

“Win Pollard went missing in New York City on the morning of September 11, 2001. The doorman at the Mayflower flagged an early cab for him, but couldn’t remember a destination (p.137).” This day is so important to the book because personalized tragedy (Win’s death) is represented as equivalent with communal tragedy (9/11). This is a key component in why Cayce is struggling to find her identity because ever since that day when her father, Win, disappeared, her life has gone in a whole new direction. “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).” At this point in the book Cayce realizes that nothing is the same as it used to be and that her whole life is changing. She never imagined it would turn out like this and as we see throughout the book, Cayce moves forward in time but still has expectations and parameters from before 9/11.

When something traumatic happens in one’s life, it usually stays with them over a long period of time. Especially when a person loses a close one, it is very hard to overcome and move on with their everyday life. From a personal aspect, my grandfather passed away when I was 12 years old. I had a very special relationship with him and since he lived close by, I used to see him just about every day. He used to come to all of my sports game so it was hard for me to move on and play while knowing that he would have been at the game if he were still living. I know for myself, as much as I loved him and was upset about his loss, I had to find the inner strength and move forward. The disappearance of Win signifies a loss and lack of Cayce that seems to be a part of her identity that is missing and no longer there. The same confusion and sense of loss is shown through the hole in Cayce’s Rickson. “Reaching for her Rickson’s, where she’d hung it on the back of her chair, she sees a round freshly made hole, left shoulder, rear, the size of the lit tip of a cigarette. (p.16)” She has to ask herself whether she should find a new one or patch it up. The death Cayce’s father is causing her this same confusion because obviously she has strong emotions and he will always be a part of her, but at the same time she knows that she needs to move on with her life and make the best of it instead of dwelling on the past.

While traveling throughout the world on her quest to find the creator, of the footage, Cayce learns even more about globalization and how the world is always changing. It used to be that different cities would have their own distinctiveness which made them unique. Now, due to modern technology, communicating globally is much easier with all of the new tools such as the internet, cell phones and satellites. This has brought a rise in global corporations which has homogenized the world drastically in the sense that no matter where you go, you know you will still see a McDonalds or a Nike store. “Russian Federation’s got it. Means huge changes in the flow of global capital. Means we’re going to be running on Russian oil.” This quote by Boone Chu shows how globalized our world has become. It seems as though whatever country is thriving in a certain aspect, the rest of the world seems to follow in its footsteps and try to copy it. Even though each country still has its own flavor, every place is becoming more and more alike.

It doesn’t seem to be until when Cayce goes and meets Stella that she comes to find her true identity. Cayce’s unique allergy that she has with advertisement helps her tremendously with her job, which, essentially, is to go on a mission to find the creator of FFF. “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.” When she finally meets Stella she can relate to her and feels a certain connection since they both lost their fathers. This seems to be when she finds her true identity and no longer needs to dwell on the past but can now focus on what makes her happy.

This metanarrative shows how the world is always changing and that your identity is formed by it, so you can’t have expectations from the past. It teaches us a good lesson that you really never know what to expect and that at any given time your life can change dramatically.

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