September 12, 2011
I taught Gibson's "The Gernsback Continuum" today. I introduced the idea of probability in quantum physics and as the central metaphor of the story. Gibson plays with the idea of a rational explanation for what seems to be the protagonist's penetration into another quantum reality. None of his explanations are completely satisfactory, but his narrowing his vision to a "single wavelength of probability" allows him to regain his grasp on the dream of a shared, real world.
We discussed photography, since the protagonist is a photographer. I said that photography is the intersection between art and science, while often (at least before digital photography) it is seen by many as constituted more by the latter, it is filtered through the vision of the artist.
How much of our lives are made up of others' perceptions of reality? "The Dream" is a conscious yearning for a totalizing reality in America. Too many possibilities end in madness. In order to survive and function (act normal), we must narrow the wavelengths.