The Man in the Paul Stuart Coat

I think it is interesting (or might prove to be) to explore the relation between the empty school blazer found in the Georgetown home (with all it's accompanying loneliness) and the identity of the person who possessed the Paul Stuart coat before Milgrim.

I am not suggesting any connection between the two absent owners, I am merely interested in the way Gibson juxtaposes these two abandoned (or stolen) bits of self which wind up both inspiring Milgrim in some way.

These artifacts, removed from the host, still carry the pregnancy of that person's psyche (the book, the stern context of the coat's closet) and inform us about Milgrim in the ways in which he imposes or extracts meaning from them.

Gibson has always found a quiet poetry in the street's cast-off personal items, from floating shoals of Styrofoam to watches long forgotten by their owners and indeed by the histories in which they inhabited. His lyricism of objects, stripped bare from their original owners and recontextualized in those of another is a thread of common humanity I find poignant in a way that is subtle and oblique

Perhaps it is best described by the Turner box shop window Cayce sees, which I believe he refers to specifically as a kind of poetry himself.
Original Post
I do not feel there is such a connection, as one was left and the other was actively stolen, except in the way that one may represent arrested infancy, as shown in the afraid comment, while the other is maturity getting a well earned rest, past his prime, offering at the same time stability and reliability, so valuable for Milgrim, and hopefully for a child. Whether the connection exists in Milgrim's mind or in Gibson's mind is really unimportant, as one is, in my opinion, a subset of the other.

But that is not why I post. I post because I have found only one overcoat in Paul Stuart's catalogue, which considering the conservatism of the brand, makes it most likely similar to the one Milgrim steals.

The leather coat in Node is so clearly not an overcoat that it is ridiculous.

Here is "The Mansfield":



Except for the beaver collar, similar to what was in my mind's eye.

As for E. Buk's window, it is not really a cast off series, but how the antiquarian arranges his current crop of offerings, always making a beautiful tableau, following his own, invisible rules.

There are a couple of images of the window shop around, easier to find in Gil's F:F:F: site.
The window are cast offs, they are things left behind and collected into a poetry of meaning by another. at least to me. The cast-off isn't as important as the left behind part. His books are filled with human detritus yet filled with a kind of melancholy after their owner's have moved on, died, what have you.

There is certainly a subconscious connection between two found coats by the same character in one book. If nothing else the one he actually finds represents his better state, or potentially better, before he moves on to adulthood and his "acquisition" represents the level he's sunk to since. This would explain the sentimentality he evidences in that room and also goes toward a symbolic meaning for why Milgrim pairs the two objects by leaving the stolen coat behind. In this fashion two ages of his maturation are shed and left in the same time-paused closet in Georgetown.
I do not think that Gibson intended any of this, of course, but we each manufacture our own novels as readers.
What I inferred from the two coats finally left behind in that closet was an attempt from Milgim to heal old wounds. He might have projected his own past life, old traumas, on that found garment, left the other as closure; he had to be conscious of the possibility he wasn't likely to get out alive from the situation he was in, after all. That's my personal take on this, of course.

And yes, the old art of shop display arrangement, creating aesthetically pleasing constructs via mundane objects is disappearing, usually only to be found in small town stores, away from the high streets.

quote:
Originally posted by Psychophant:
Here are the window images. One was taken by my wife, and the other by WG himself...

Maybe it is the fact of having been there, experiencing the whole SoHo experience, finding by chance (as most people apparently do) the window, what keeps me from calling them cast off, when someone clearly had a purpose in arranging them, an offering to the uncaring crowds.


But that's the thing, contextualizing so as to create meaning. These found object only have poignancy because we imagine that some narrative (now possibly ended) must lie behind them.

RE: Image link: A teddy bear, head cast down, on an old wooden rocking horse. You don't get sadder than that!
I agree it all depends on the centext, as that same teddy smacks me of smart marketing, making the observer wish they could give a home to an old teddy. Shop smarts.

Now, as this has drifted to Buk's window, I do not know how many new people will have read this:

quote:
Wrote following for THE NATIONAL POST, September 20, 2001, where it was published as "Mr. Buk's Window":

All that terrible week I would think of the very small display window of E. Buk, a marvelously idiosyncratic antiques dealer in SoHo. E. Buk is never open. There is no shop directly behind the little window in a side street. A locked door, and, one assumes, stairs. A tarnished brass plaque suggests that you may be able to make an appointment. I never have, but when I happen on Mr. Buk's window (somehow I can never remember exactly where it is) I invariably stop, to gaze with amazement and admiration at the extraordinary things, never more than three, that he's dredged from time and collective memory. It's my favorite shop window in all of Manhattan, and not even London can equal it in its glorious peculiarity and Borgesian potency.

Gazing into E. Buk's window, for me, has been like gazing into the back reaches of some cave where Manhattan stores its dreams. There is no knowing what might appear there. Once, a stove-sized, florally ornate cast-iron fragment that might have been a leftover part of the Brooklyn Bridge. Once, a lovingly-crafted plywood box containing exquisitely painted models of every ballistic missile in the arsenals of the US and the USSR at the time of its making. This last, redolent of both the Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis, had particularly held my attention. It was obviously a military learning-aid, and I wondered what sort of lectures it had illustrated. It seemed, then, a relic from a dark and terrible time that I remembered increasingly as a dream, a very bad dream, of childhood.

But the image that kept coming to me, last week, was of the dust that must be settling on the ledge of E. Buk's window, more or less between Houston and Canal Streets. And in that dust, surely, the stuff of the atomized dead.

The stuff of pyre and blasted dreams.

So many.

The fall of their dust requiring everything to be back-read in its context, and each of Buk's chosen objects, whatever they may have been, that Tuesday: the dust a final collage-element, the shadow-box made mortuary.

And that was a gift, I think, because it gave me something to start to hang my hurt on, a hurt I still scarcely understand or recognize; to adjust one of my own favorite and secret few square yards of Manhattan, of the world, to such an unthinkable fate.

They speak of certain areas in Manhattan now as "frozen zones", and surely we all have those in our hearts today, areas of disconnect, sheer defensive dissociation, awaiting the thaw. But how soon can one expect the thaw to come, in wartime?

I have no idea.

Last year I took each of my children for a first visit to New York. I'm grateful now for them both to have seen it, for the first time, before the meaning of the text was altered, in such a way, forever. I think of my son's delight in the aged eccentricities of a Village bagel restaurant, of my daughter's first breathless solo walk through SoHo. I feel as though they saw London as it was before the Blitz.

New York is a great city, and as such central to the history of civilization. Great cities can and invariably do bear such wounds. They suffer their vast agonies and they go on -- carrying us, and civilization, and windows like Mr. Buk's, however fragile and peculiar, with them.
quote:
Mr. Buk's, however fragile and peculiar, with them

Maybe everything in Buk's is a kind of Zahir run out down on charge.

Bill says:

In any case, and again re apophenia, a great deal of the detail around publishing a book is accidental. Indeed, a great deal of the detail in any book (or any book of mine, anyway) is more or less accidental as well, as I like to work with "readymades", things I encounter either during or before the period of composition. This means that some of the detail will be accidental, in that it came along with the found object, and wasn't invented. I have a sort of half-conscious theory that this furthers an experience of mimetic texture, for the reader, that differs from the one that would result in my simply having made up some "random" detail. It also has something to do with my fondness for Cornell boxes, which consist entirely of found objects, framed, as it were, by a device akin to narrative.
More fun here:

I think he's rationalizing, personally. The links seem pretty clear to me. I am not sure we ever, as writers, see a work we have created in the same way the world does. there is something fundamental in the act of creation that's make some portion of that created forever unable to be fully disclosed to us.




posted 6:18 PM
PATTERN RECOGNITION AS...NEUROMANCER

[Edited to remove spoiler. Sorry. I'm completely unused to thinking about that.]

This idea, which I'd never myself thought of, turned up in a recent thread: PR is really NEUROMANCER all over again.

This is really a wildly appropriate supposition for a set of fora in which apophenia keeps turning up (both as a concept and, I would hazard, as a behavior).

Long ago, I somewhere (T.S. Kuhn's THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS?) read of an experiment in which the subjects were shown a rapid series of standard playing-cards, which they were required to verbally identify. Unbeknownst to the subjects, a few these cards were *anomalous*, for instance an all-black ace of hearts. The result (expected) was that the anomalous cards were identified as their nearest non-anomalous equivalents: the all-black ace of hearts for instance as simply an ace of hearts. The unexpected result was that when reshown the anomalous cards, the subjects continued to ignore the anomaly, even on longer viewing, and became visibly pissed-off with the experimenters. This behavior is, I would guess, relates to apophenia, or to the more garden-variety psychological concept of "projection".

Likewise, I suspect, is the perception that PR and NEUROMANCER have much (or indeed anything) in common. (Could this also be behind the interest in Case/Cayce?)

Consider: The reviewer for The New York Times Review of Books, who on contextual evidence is very conscious of Thomas Pynchon, saw PR as to some extent a "remake" of Pynchon's THE CRYING OF LOT 49. This startled me, when I first read the review, but I could see it, although I knew that I hadn't consciously been rewriting Pynchon's first novel. I had, however, thought of LOT 49, somewhere toward the close of the book, but mainly in the light of knowing I needed to *end* my novel. (THE CRYING OF LOT 49 has, as I recall, no actual ending in any conventional sense; the equivalent version of PR could be created by ripping out all of the pages following Cayce stepping through that on particular door; you would never see what was on the other side, or learn what's been going on.)

But my point here is that if PR so closely resembles THE CRYING OF LOT 49, does NEUROMANCER also closely resemble THE CRYING OF LOT 49? Not that I can see. Nor, as far as I know (which I suppose isn't very far) has this been suggested. What is going on here, in my opinion, is that the reviewer has a Pynchon thing going on, and the posters seeing NEUROMANCER in PR have a Gibson thing going on.

And that's the a-word, all over.
Crying of Lot 49 VS. PR

To me Cayce is a nod to Oedipa and Bigend serves as Invarariety. (Sp?)

The plot structure is the same: looking for something mysterious, which may or may not exist, but whose existence would imply or impose a kind of meaning to a woman whose life is all fucked up.
That only proves that you have read The Crying of Lot 49. And, as Gibson has confessed to have read The Crying of Lot 49, that it is possible that it has influenced his writing unconsciously.

However, as others have mentioned, I think the similitudes are much greater with the Marly subset in Count Zero. In this case, as the author says he has not read that book after publication, the possibility of subconsciously repeating some tropes used twenty years earlier is quite large.

As I also think The Crying of Lot 49 did influence that mentioned Marly story, and Pynchon was much more influential with the young Gibson than the old Gibson, I propose it is indeed a Pynchon influence, refined through Gibson's own view in Count Zero, and some of them unearthed in his recovered "non-artist looking for life changing art" plot.

So I agree with you but not for the same reasons. And anyway it does not matter because the only witness is unreliable.

Which makes me turn full circle to Milgrim, because he is the perfect example of an unreliable narrator, and yet, just because Gibson dislikes that narrative trick, we tend to assume he is reliable.

And yet, there is very little cross referencing to really check if the narrative is reliable or not.

As an exercise, let's assume that Milgrim is a dissociated personality of Brown, his addict personality, which also happens to incorporate his Russian speaking side. When Brown is acting, Milgrim is a helpless watcher. Otherwise he keeps some initiative. He is almost invisible, and almost does not affect the plot. The perfect witness, if you could trust him. But Gibson's hyperrealism makes us discount that possibility from the start, even if Milgrim is a cypher, a mistery, and apparently a watcher rather than an actor.

Perception is everything.
quote:
Perception is everything.


Is Bingo! sir.

The last person to realize they appear to be copying or emulating a work they have often professed to revere (and we all know Gibson is a Pynchon junkie) is that same person, precisely because they were neither copying nor emulating but acting out in subconscious logic their their deep absorption of art they revere.

Their are numerous back alleys leading to the same point in Chinatown.
Psych, I think perception is a relativistic easy out, but that's an old argument of mine around here.

Gibson is, as you say, an unreliable witness to his own creations but I think the associations prove more than me having read Lot 49 and PR. There are at least two other critics that I know of who have sussed out the same thing.
quote:
Psych, I think perception is a relativistic easy out, but that's an old argument of mine around here.

Gibson is, as you say, an unreliable witness to his own creations but I think the associations prove more than me having read Lot 49 and PR. There are at least two other critics that I know of who have sussed out the same thing.


Consensually overlapping perception has its place, to be sure. But the view from the inside looking out can be very difficult to match up to the view outside looking in:

"There! Right there! With the velvety green glow! On sector 7-c/y!"

"7-c/y? THat's like, dark rusty icicles, man."

"But you're an unreliable witness and all three of us see it!"

"Unreliable to YOU, maybe, but I have no choice but to trust myself."
quote:
Originally posted by kenmeer livermaile:
quote:
Psych, I think perception is a relativistic easy out, but that's an old argument of mine around here.

Gibson is, as you say, an unreliable witness to his own creations but I think the associations prove more than me having read Lot 49 and PR. There are at least two other critics that I know of who have sussed out the same thing.


Consensually overlapping perception has its place, to be sure. But the view from the inside looking out can be very difficult to match up to the view outside looking in:

"There! Right there! With the velvety green glow! On sector 7-c/y!"

"7-c/y? THat's like, dark rusty icicles, man."

"But you're an unreliable witness and all three of us see it!"

"Unreliable to YOU, maybe, but I have no choice but to trust myself."


I have your qualia. I am open to offers of women and gold for its return.

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