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The "Sensorium", Simstim, and the Matrix

July 11 2000 at 3:01 PM
Brittany Artimez 


I was just rereading this section of Neuromancer and I came across something that made me think. I may ramble a bit. :) I'd appreciate opinions on my comment, too, so read on if you're interested.

When Case and Molly make the run on Sense/Net in order to obtain the Flatline construct, they are both fitted by the Finn for a simstim mechanism that allows Case to access Molly's sensorium. Finn explains this to Case on p. 53; (Finn:) "It's a flipflop switch, basically. Wire it into your Sendai here, you can access live or recorded simstim without having to jack out of the matrix." (Case:) "What for?" (Finn:) "I haven't got a clue. Know I'm fitting Moll for a broadcast rig, though, so it's probably her sensorium you'll access. So now you get to find out how tight those jeans really are, huh?"

When Case jacks into the matrix and flips to Molly's sensorium, Gibson describes it as "the abrupt jolt into other flesh." From that point onward, Case becomes a sort of passive "passenger behind her eyes", able to occupy her body, feel what she is feeling, look at what she is looking at. Case's connection with her nervous system is so powerful that when Molly breaks her leg during the run (p. 64), her pain is manifested in his own body.

This brings me to my first question. What would happen if Molly had been killed when Case was still in her sensorium? Once Case flips out of the matrix and into her, where does his consciousness remain -in cyberspace or in Molly? The entire point of the simstim connection is to enable that passive connection without jacking out of the matrix; however, how would it be possible for Case's mind to be in two places (the matrix and Molly) at one time? If Molly had been killed while Case occupied her sensorium, would he die as well? However, if he died with her, what part of him would still be in the matrix? Like I said before, the point of the simstim is so that Case would still technically be in the matrix while in Molly at the same time. So, what _would_ happen?

One more thing. On p. 55, Gibson describes the matrix as "a drastic simplification of the human sensorium" and simstim as "a gratuitous multiplication of flesh input.". Then, are the two opposites? His descriptions imply that simstim is more like reality, at least in terms of the way it is presented, than the matrix itself.

Thoughts would be appreciated - I love a good argument.


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