Jacking in

William Gibson published Neuromancer in 1984. It’s the first book of his “Sprawl trilogy” and often pitted against Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, published in 1992, as the origin of (or precursor to, depending on your religion) cyberpunk, a science fiction subgenre.

But whichever chicken you believe came first, there’s no doubting Neuromancer’s influence on all the eggs that hatched after it. Were it not for Neuromancer, the word “cyberspace” wouldn’t even exist.

The novel’s central character is a 20-something hacker named Case whose main pleasure in life is “jacking in” … entering the “consensual hallucination” of cyberspace via his computer console to exist for a time, disembodied, as a kind of living data packet.

In other words, he enters the Matrix, the one of red pill fame, and before you ask, yes, the Wachowski Brothers film is a direct descendant of Gibson’s novel, too.

I happened to be reading Neuromancer last week as I was building out Lake Conestee’s website and was reminded by it of my own disembodiment.

How many hours have I spent jacked in recently, unaware of my surroundings, my cat, myself? Untold. Plenty.

Even as I take a break from jacking in to write this, I’m jacked back in again. The line between the real and the virtual has become a philosophical nit hardly worth picking.

Still, I congratulate myself for walking as much as I do, even as I walk in the company of podcasts. I congratulate myself for reading only books printed on actual wood pulp, even as I almost never set pen or pencil to paper.