Friday, August 21, 2009
The Skylark Book Club: Pattern Recognition
We met at our local pub Goldie's last night, where a pint of PBR is $1, for our book club to discuss William Gibson's Pattern Recognition. We had an amazing discussion which lasted a lot longer than I thought it would. We started this book club to read books that were loosely spiritual, philosophical or inspiring. The idea came about when our friend Tony recalled how powerfully moved he was as a kid reading Catcher In The Rye and how it seemed to change the way he looked at the world, that his analysis of life began to question and seek. So he wanted to ry to find more books activly recommended as books by his friends that might bring such an experience to us today. I thought it was a great idea for a book club. Like many book clubs, we're taking turns picking a book...and then choosing a location to discuss it. This time, it was Stagg's turn, and he chose Pattern Recognition. I thought it was a pretty interesting choice. We had both read it a couple years ago and it has some provocative ideas about the heart, art making, storytelling and layers of meaning. Last night we landed up talking a lot about the difference between the spiritual and material. I believe there is no spearation between the supernatural and the material. Interestingly, we all agreed. We also all felt that it was a European thought process of Age of Enlightenment that influences some people to separate the two. All four of us turned out to be people who did not put reason above other faculties. I thought that was quite an interesting coincidence...we all seemedto be influenced strongly by holistic thinking rather than polarized thinking. And this led us to discuss Brand Logo, how it effects us, if we watch tv, how the internet is or is not related to spirituality, Jesus, Jesus's attitude (in fact, we talked quite abit about whether we believed Jesus had married, if he was a man, what the story of him building a temple meant, the concept of hope versus the negative controlling of the ego...we went all over the place really...the idea of how it is almost impossible for two images to not have a dialogue...that the brain automatically wants to look for patterns and connections. It was a lot of fun.
We met a new participant for the first time and guess what? She is also a film maker. She is in the middle of fantastic project so her and I were able to share our film ideas and I am so grateful to have met her. She is one rocking woman!
Our next book is Tony's choice and he is choosing The Gospel of John. We're going back to The Skylark Tavern in Pilsen which we all love, plus they have great pub snacks! Food is very important for book club lovers! We need to keep up our energy!
Pattern Recognition is a novel by science fiction writer William Gibson published in 2003. Set in August and September 2002, the story follows Cayce Pollard, a 32-year-old marketing consultant who has a psychological sensitivity to corporate symbols. The action takes place in London, Tokyo, and Moscow as Cayce judges the effectiveness of a proposed corporate symbol and is hired to seek the creators of film clips anonymously posted to the internet.
The novel's central theme involves the examination of the human desire to detect patterns or meaning and the risks of finding patterns in meaningless data. Other themes include methods of interpretation of history, cultural familiarity with brand names, and tensions between art and commercialization. The September 11, 2001 attacks are used as a motif representing the transition to the new century. Critics identify influences in Pattern Recognition from Thomas Pynchon’s post-structuralist detective story The Crying of Lot 49.
The novel is Gibson's eighth and the first to be set in the contemporary world. Like his previous work, it has been classified as a science fiction and postmodern novel, with the action unfolding along a thriller plot line. Critics approved of the writing but found the plot unoriginal and some of the language distracting. The book peaked at #4 on the New York Times Best Seller list, was nominated for the 2003 British Science Fiction Association Award, and was shortlisted for the 2004 Arthur C. Clarke and Locus Awards. Wkipedia
The first of William Gibson's usually futuristic novels to be set in the present, Pattern Recognition is a masterful snapshot of modern consumer culture and hipster esoterica. Set in London, Tokyo, and Moscow, Pattern Recognition takes the reader on a tour of a global village inhabited by power-hungry marketeers, industrial saboteurs, high-end hackers, Russian mob bosses, Internet fan-boys, techno archeologists, washed-out spies, cultural documentarians, and our heroine Cayce Pollard--a soothsaying "cool hunter" with an allergy to brand names.
Pollard is among a cult-like group of Internet obsessives that strives to find meaning and patterns within a mysterious collection of video moments, merely called "the footage," let loose onto the Internet by an unknown source. Her hobby and work collide when a megalomaniac client hires her to track down whoever is behind the footage. Cayce's quest will take her in and out of harm's way in a high-stakes game that ultimately coincides with her desire to reconcile her father’s disappearance during the September 11 attacks in New York.
Although he forgoes his usual future-think tactics, this is very much a William Gibson novel, more so for fans who realize that Gibson's brilliance lies not in constructing new futures but in using astute observations of present-day cultural flotsam to create those futures. With Pattern Recognition, Gibson skips the extrapolation and focuses his acumen on our confusing contemporary world, using the precocious Pollard to personify and humanize the uncertain anxiety, optimistic hope, and downright fear many feel when looking to the future. The novel is filled with Gibson's lyric descriptions and astute observations of modern life, making it worth the read for both cool hunters and their prey. --Jeremy Pugh