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Select Quotes from the William Gibson Talk at the Chicago Humanities Festival

“The internet is turning itself inside out.”

“I’m suspicious of influence. When people say who their influences are, I think that’s usually who they want people to see them as. What matters is not the conscious influences but the personal microcosm that you create for yourself as a reader.”

“We won’t talk about it [the internet], because it will have colonized everything.”

“It was interesting when people started using the word cyberspace. But what I’ve always been interested in is how it will disappear.”*

“‘The city changes faster than the human heart’–I think there’s an element of that in my work. It inherently saddens us all to some extent when the environment we grew up in goes away. It’s a particularly modern sensibility.”

“There’s not going to be any future, because things are happening too fast for us to afford one. There’s just going to be more and more stuff.”

*Gibson coined the term “cyberspace” in his 1982 short story “Burning Chrome.”

Photo credit @rebasilverman

  • James Tadd Adcox's work has appeared in TriQuarterly, The Literary Review, Barrelhouse Magazine, and Another Chicago Magazine, among other places. He is the editor-in-chief of Artifice Magazine/Artifice Books (www.artificemag.com). His first book, The Map of the System of Human Knowledge, is forthcoming in 2012 from Tiny Hardcore Press (www.tinyhardcorepress.com).

9 thoughts on “Select Quotes from the William Gibson Talk at the Chicago Humanities Festival

  1. Oh, and nice to Mr. Gibs quoting Baudelaire. Who is, as I’m so fond of saying, fucking everywhere—omnipresent to such an extent that I think a full semester of any English program should be spent just reading the entirety of his work. Because it predicts just about everything we have today, and if anyone has found anything new to do since him, I must confess I haven’t seen it.

  2. I remember, years ago when Virtual Light first came out, that Maureen Speller interviewed Gibson and asked him all about architecture and urban planning. For everyone else, this was weird. Gibson was all computers and cyberspace, wasn’t he? But Gibson himself thought she was spot on. His work has always been mostly about how our modern urban environment works (or doesn’t work). Even in the original Sprawl Trilogy (and note the title), the nature of the Sprawl was far more interesting than the rather bland nature of cyberspace.

    1. The city is a kind of information technology, right? The internet is primarily interesting as an extension of the information technologies we already had. I had a Bible-as-Lit professor once who told us, you can always tell a false prophet because he’s talking about the future. All real prophets are primarily interested in the present.

  3. Nice Tadd. I like the influence one. I saw Kenneth Goldsmith at the Brooklyn Book Festival about a month ago. He said, “If it’s not happening on the internet, it’s not happening.”

    1. I like the influence one, too. It’s gotten me thinking quite a bit about who my actual influences are. Like, I know who I say they are, but it’s worth giving some thought to which writers convinced you that those other writers are the ones worth claiming as influences (for my part, my list of “actual influences” seems like it contains Robert Asprin, Robert Anton Wilson, and Donald J. Sobol, just to start with).

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