Neuromanticism: Cyberspace and the Sublime

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Voller, Jack G. "Neuromanticism: Cyberspace and the Sublime." Extrapolation 34.1 (Spring 1993): 18-29.

Starts with the "profound indebtedness" of all SF, including cyberpunk, "to the Romantic/Gothic tradition" and then moves on to cyberspace as "an extension of and comment upon one of the most significant elements of Romantic aesthetics, the sublime" 18; cf. Lance Olsen on "The Shadow Spirit in William Gibson's Matrix Trilogy." Edmund Burke (1759), linked sublimity and the infinite, arguing "that infinity 'has a tendency to fill the mind with that sort of delightful horror'" that attends the sublime; Burke's opponent, Richard Payne Knight (1808), associated the sublime with "'feelings of exultation and expansion of mind'"—but still "contributed significantly to a sublime of horror and emptiness" that is dominant in ideas of the sublime among the moderns. Gibson's Neuromancer trilogy is "the next step in this aesthetic evolution, not only filling the void of the infinite with human constructs . . . but relocating infinity" from the "heavens" or the ever-receding horizon into the narrow "interface between human mind and computer technology. Deals also with the voodoo gods (lao) in cyberspace. Cf. and contrast R. Schmitt's "Mythology and Technology: The Novels of William Gibson" and N. Easterbook's "The Arc of Our Destruction: Reversal and Erasure in Cyberpunk."

(RDE, 21/03/93)