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Quotes of the day: William Gibson

Published Monday, March 16, 2015 @ 7:02 PM EDT
Mar 16 2015

(photo by Fred Armitage)

William Ford Gibson (b. March 17, 1948) is an American-Canadian speculative fiction novelist and essayist who has been called the "noir prophet" of the cyberpunk subgenre. Gibson coined the term "cyberspace" in his short story "Burning Chrome" (1982) and later popularized the concept in his debut novel, Neuromancer (1984). In envisaging cyberspace, Gibson created an iconography for the information age before the ubiquity of the Internet in the 1990s. He is also credited with predicting the rise of reality television and with establishing the conceptual foundations for the rapid growth of virtual environments such as video games and the World Wide Web. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A nation... consists of its laws. A nation does not consist of its situation at a given time. If an individual’s morals are situational, that individual is without morals. If a nation’s laws are situational, that nation has no laws, and soon isn’t a nation.

All any drug amounts to is tweaking the incoming data. You have to be incredibly self-centered or pathetic to be satisfied with simply tweaking the incoming data.

Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts...

Fiction is an illusion wrought with many small, conventionally symbolic marks, triggering visions in the minds of others.

For most people, the present is enough like the future to be pretty scary.

Have you ever considered the relationship of clinical paranoia to the phenomenon of religious conversion?

I don't think nostalgia is a healthy modality. But nostalgia and a sense of history are not the same thing. Nostalgia is a dysfunction of the historical impulse, or a corruption of the historical impulse.

I think of religions as franchise operations. Like chicken franchise operations. But that doesn't mean there's no chicken, right?

I think that technologies are morally neutral until we apply them. It's only when we use them for good or for evil that they become good or evil.

If ignorance were enough to make things not exist, the world would be more like a lot of people think it is. But it's not. And it's not.

If you're fifteen or so, today, I suspect that you inhabit a sort of endless digital Now, a state of atemporality enabled by our increasingly efficient communal prosthetic memory. I also suspect that you don't know it, because, as anthropologists tell us, one cannot know one's own culture.

It's easier to desire and pursue the attention of tens of millions of total strangers than it is to accept the love and loyalty of the people closest to us

It's that truth-is-stranger-than-fiction factor keeps getting jacked up on us on a fairly regular, maybe even exponential, basis. I think that's something peculiar to our time. I don't think our grandparents had to live with that.

Language is to the mind more than light is to the eye.

My first impulse, when presented with any spanking-new piece of computer hardware, is to imagine how it will look in ten years’ time, gathering dust under a card table in a thrift shop

Some things you teach yourself to remember to forget.

Terrorism as we ordinarily understand it is innately media- related.

The future is already here. It's just not very evenly distributed.

The future is not google-able.

The Internet is part of this ongoing, species-long project we've been working on since we climbed down out of the trees in the savanna. We've been working on it without really knowing it.

(The Internet) will bring about the extinction of the nation-state as we know it... I think it will be as big a deal as the creation of cities.

The most interesting applications turn up on a battlefield, or in a gallery.

The Net is a waste of time, and that's exactly what's right about it.

The straight world didn't end. The straight world and the other world had bled into one another and produced the world that we live in today.

The street finds its own uses for things.

There are times when you can only take the next step. And then another.

Things aren't different. Things are things.

This perpetual toggling between nothing being new, under the sun, and everything having very recently changed, absolutely, is perhaps the central driving tension of my work.

Time is money, but also money is money.

Time moves in one direction, memory in another. We are that strange species that constructs artifacts intended to counter the natural flow of forgetting.

We live in a world where emissions from our refrigerators have caused the ozone layer to evaporate and we'll get skin cancer if we sunbathe. If that's not a science fiction scenario, I don't know what is.

When the past is always with you, it may as well be present; and if it is present, it will be future as well.

When you want to know how things really work, study them when they're coming apart.

Why shouldn't we give our teachers a license to obtain software, all software, any software, for nothing? Does anyone demand a licensing fee, each time a child is taught the alphabet?

You must learn to overcome your very natural and appropriate revulsion for your own work.

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