I am reading William Gibson again. Neuromancer, Idoru, and now, Pattern Recognition. It comes to me now that I am quite fond of science fiction and I wonder where the fondness comes from since when I was younger the idea of reading about space travel and anomalies in time and speculations/extrapolations/fantasies was too boring for words. I read westerns, like my Dad did, and sports novels and anything that promised sex, even the bible but not sci-fi. Then something happened. I discovered Theodore Sturgeon’s More Than Human and Phillip K. Dick’s The Golden Man and of course, Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. Oh yeah, and Phillip Wiley’s The Disappearance. Fortunately, in college, I developed a habit of making lists of the authors I came across during the school year that I would save for summer. Then I’d go the library and check out all of each author’s writings, novels, that is. I wasn’t very fond of short story collections. I liked to dig into the idea of a book and let the story explain itself to my sub-conscious mind. We loners are like that I guess. We inhabit our inner selves which is why finally I began to see that sci-fi and I were made for each other.
So Pattern Recognition, a novel written in 2003 and definitely tied to 9/11 and the cataclysmic effect that event has had on our collective consciousness, is ostensibly about the main character, Cayce Pollard, and her ability to feel the rightness of things intuitively in a world dominated by consumerism and product placement and advertisement. Not dissimilar to our world, eh?
In the past, I have written about serendipity and how it seems to play an important part in my perception of things. This novel, one I picked up at the library during a random search of the shelves for something interesting, fits that description to a tee. Less is more, spend less earn more, buy green; all current day mantra wanna bees, are patterns of behavior waiting to be recognized as solutions to our current economic dilemma. One by the way which is apparently shared by just about every English speaking country these days.
This time the serendipity is in the fact that I have been trying to figure out how our capitalist economy which is based on consumerism can be stimulated by spending and rendered green at the same time? A couple of days ago, in the LA Times, I read an op ed piece that claimed that America’s corporations were becoming more and more humanitarian. Wal Mart raising wages and adding employee health-care, the Gates’ philanthropic endeavors, Warren Buffet’s gifts to charity were all sited. The idea was that these more than successful role model businesses were now providing a pattern that was being recognized by other corporations as a new way of doing business. So now I am trying to imagine a world where the commercials we view/hear, at some estimates close to 100 an hour 24/7, reflect this new consciousness. A new world where buying to keep up with the newest trend, to be better than our neighbor, is replaced with ads to recognize that we only need enough and not more. No more super-sizing, no more we’re number one finger wagging, no more buying just to have more toys than the next guy/girl. Wow, that is some science fiction, don’t you think? And yet . . .