Her car decloaked behind her. It was patterned, someone had told him, on something called a Dymaxion, though he’d never bothered to look the term up.
— William Gibson, Agency
Emotion pictures. If all-gender Snapchat glut reached critical mass oohing over Ava, that smart sex-bomb bot in the 2015 movie Ex Machina, William Gibson’s Agency (Berkley, 2020) gifts us with (“kinda sorta”) one, up close and personal, if disembodied Eunice, who comports in her select tele-present terms, as “culturally African-American,” “Pronoun, she.” An AI upload hybrid for which overheated readers can host friendly fire/side, warm and fuzzy feelings! In Greek, Eunice spells Joyous Victory. She’s one of the Nereids; they’re sea nymphs. “She’s an intermittently hierarchical array, complexly conterminous” (page 36). UNISS: “Untethered Noetic Irregular Support System” (page 68). Cherish is the word that I use to describe.
Gibson “re-calibrated” Agency, his adroit Future(s) Is Now novel, then still a work in progress, pursuant to the calamitous results of our 2016 Presidential Election. That re-vision took him one whole year.
So, on a gravely topical note, yet indicative of just how far-eyed Gibson undoubtedly is (he created “Cyberspace” in 1982 for the short story “Burning Chrome”), one thread here prophetically starts in Qamishli, Syria, which in the 21st century will be the site of a real-world Armageddon, years before the Kurds and Turks began fighting there recently, in October 2019.
It is rumored that during the Hush Hush A-Bomb Manhattan Project, the Defense Department sent field agents to interrogate Isaac Asimov, who had previously published science fiction featuring atomic bombs. When asked how he knew, he told them he didn’t. He took what facts we had, and extrapolated. Met with blank stares, he defined “extrapolated.”
Here, in this unequaled sequel to Gibson’s The Peripheral (2014), certain fab favorites come back from the future. Virtually, and with a vengeance. You’ll brunch with varying avatars of 8-ball-eyed “semi-mythological magistrate executioner” Agent 0069, Ms. Inspector Ainsley Lowbeer. Did you miss, in the film by that name, TV’s Wonder Woman’s plastic invisible plane? Well, once again, you can’t find chic Lowbeer’s invisible car.
Parking? Hands free. Due to The Jackpot, some dark black undecidable Event way beyond Badiou, as of CE 2500, 80 percent of humanity will have been disappeared.
Welcome back, too, badly addled ex-Haptic Recon combat vet Conner Penske! Disgruntled Grunt toggling eerily athwart continua, cheerily transgressing wildly disparate eons or eras, today satisfactorily compensated for his mind-bending disabilities by weaponized prosthetics shunted home from five futures, enabling Conner to kill to his heart’s content without ever leaving his chair.
* * *
“Hi. I’m Eunice. No last name. Siri and Alexa don’t have ‘em either, but the resemblance stops there. […] I’m here because I’m something new, and because I want to introduce myself before anyone else starts explaining their idea of me to you. While I’m at it, I want to say that I’m nobody’s property, not a product, and neither Stets or anyone else, any entity of any kind whatever, is going to profit financially from my being here, now and going forward. I pay my own way. And while we’re on that, I’m culturally American, obviously, but I’m not the citizen of any nation-state. I don’t exist physically, so I’m in no place in particular, no one country. I’m globally distributed, and that’s how I view my citizenship. Lots of you are hearing me in a language other than English. I’m translating for myself, as I speak. I’m as multilingual as anybody’s ever been, but saying that brings up the question of whether I even am anybody.” She paused. “Whether I’m a person. Human. All I can tell you about that is that it feels to me like I am” (pages 391-392).
Say what you may, with his Blue Ant trilogy (Pattern Recognition, 2003; Spook Country, 2007; Zero History, 2010), Gibson crossed that undefined line into high literature. Breakneck on a straightaway, dime tight in the turns. Code dicey and sly like Stéphane Mallarmé, Agency is as slick as a wet slide off a nine. The well-wrought urn without the burn.
Agency by William Gibson (2020) is published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
The settlement comes after Tate prevented an artist who exposed sexual harassment by one of its largest donors from co-curating an exhibition.
Let’s be honest: On a best bathrooms list, no one wants to be number two.
The Newark Museum of Art Presents Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection
Photographers Antony Armstrong Jones, Milt Hinton, Chuck Stewart, Barbara Morgan, and more capture a breadth of legendary and local musicians and performance artists. On view through August 21.
Advocacy groups are pushing for a 5% royalty in resales, which would pertain even after the artist dies, in which case the funds would go to their estate.
This week, the Getty Museum is returning ancient terracottas to Italy, parsing an antisemitic mural at Documenta, an ancient gold find in Denmark, a new puritanism, slavery in early Christianity, and much more.
Art and photographs, publications from the 19th and 20th centuries, manuscripts, posters and more are set to cross the auction block on August 18.
The absence of an explicit framing of American art, in all of its diversity, as a visual culture of empire distorts and hampers our ability to understand — and reimagine — our social world.
The gap between the material body and the psychological one, which we all too often take for granted, is one of the underlying themes of Hiro’s exhibition.
David Rios Ferreira and Denae Shanidiin join forces to bring awareness to the plight of Indigenous women and girls, and LGBTQ+ individuals.
Metrograph’s series The Process features films that were either directed by Robert M. Young or made with the help of Irving Young’s postproduction facility.
Memes depicting a sinister, all-powerful Joe Biden alter ego are sweeping the internet, and the Democratic establishment is loving it.