Chapter 32

Prepared by: SANTILLAN, Marjorie Grace C. (073101)

Chapter 32 is a rather interesting and engaging chapter (no bias intended!) as it reveals the turning point in Cayce's goal of identifying the creator of the footage. Also, this chapter describes Cayce's heartfelt feelings which are almost absent in most of the discussed chapters, such as her feeling of liminality, jealousy, and endless curiosity towards the creator of the footage. Other topics concerning this chapter would be discussed below.

On Hyperreality

We have come a long way since the beginning of the Second Wave of technology and yet its presence still lingers. The presence of early industrialization has been around for an extremely long time that it has become a creeping normalcy for its witnesses. Consequently, any absence of it would seem very strange. London, being the first ever industrialized city, would seem rather strange if it were to have the very same structures and landmarks since the 19th century sans the dust and soot from the industrial pollution. This is exactly what occurred to Cayce Pollard as she strolled around the Albert Memorial in London.

"She walks from the direction of the park. Bright gilt of the Albert Memorial, never quite real to her since they cleaned it. When she'd first seen it, it had been a black thing, funereal, almost sinister (263-264)."

And so when you clean up a city like London, it almost looks artificial and unreal, knowing that London is the paragon of industrialization. A picture of the Albert Memorial below shows its glinting unreal-ness in the midst of industrialization. In other words, Cayce Pollard feels that the place is real and unreal at the same time, which is metaphorical to her feeling of ambivalence towards her job, the footage, and perhaps her life as well after the fall of the Twin Towers. See how the picture below shows the bright gilt of the Albert Memorial, especially as it is reflected by the sun.


Prince Albert Memorial pic


//Twin Tower image from

Our very own city of Makati shows the hyperreality of nature and cleanliness vis-a-vis industrialization and pollution. A picture below shows a garden inside Greenbelt mall. It seems pretty fantastic to have very perfectly trimmed trees and shrubs inside a place of commerce. But doesn't it seem to be too perfect to be considered as au naturel?


Picture taken from:

On Being Liminal

In the third paragraph of the Chapter 32, Cayce describes her feeling of liminality.

"Liminal, she thinks… Katherine McNally's word for certain states: thresholds, zones of transition. Does she feel liminal now, or simply directionless? (263)"

The word liminal pertains to more than one definition as much as the context of this novel is concerned. First, it pertains to the borderline between real and unreal, such as her deep involvement in cyberspace, which is real because of the people in it but at the same time unreal because there is no palpable or tangible reality in cyberspace. Second, it pertains to her feeling of knowing the current state of things but at the same time not knowing where the current state of things lead to. Like, she has the email address of the supposed maker of the footage but what next? At the same time, she still has not established a closure with regard to her father's physiological or mental absence.

Her feeling of liminality is manifested in her email to ur.zamra|ronallets#ur.zamra|ronallets. By the end of her letter, she could not help but ask a handful of questions from the supposed maker.

"What I want to ask you is who are you? Where are you? Are you dreaming? Are you there? The way I'm here (266)?"

The liminality of cyberspace is further obscured now as reports of mischievous acts resulting from intertwined reality and non-reality become more publicized. Here is the link to a headline regarding virtual theft. Virtual Theft Results In Real-Life Arrest []

One Click Away: Boon or Bane?

A simple click of a button does many things. One need not go too far in the world of the internet and advance technology. A simple click can instantly do this.


//Image taken from:

Hence, with a simple click of a camera's shutter, one can almost magically extract a fraction of a second's worth of nature's magnificence. Things being just one click away may be considered a boon for many and one such example of this remarkable progress would be the development of electronic mail or email. Having email instead of snail mail reduces the tedious task of the sender of the mail to handwrite the letter, buy envelopes and stamps, go to the post office, and pay for the mail service. All these are reduced by just a simple click of the Send button. For Cayce, however, this instantaneous communication may have been a bane for her as she honestly did not intend to send the email to the addressee.

In real life, I am quite sure that this is experienced by many of us through the simple erroneous act of unintentionally sending a text message to another person who is not the intended recipient. Personally, this has happened to me quite a number of times already, much to my dismay.

With the paradoxical nature of the future being certain yet obscure, could it be possible that a simple click could do more technologically-advanced things that are beyond our imagination? Could the future be idealized to that extent? Here's a video from Pixar's Wall.e that could encompass my thoughts as well as give a little piece of entertainment for the rest of us. :)

If you can't play the video, here's the link:

Participation Mystique

Participation Mystique elicits a rather interesting and enigmatic aura which is obviously because of Gibson's choice of words. In addition to that, the chapter title perfectly describes what Cayce and her friends have been up to since the start of the novel. Cayce and her friends from cyberspace all partake in this journey to the discover the roots of the footage even if their path is completely enveloped by mystery and danger.

Cayce Pollard and her friends could be compared to anthropologists performing a case study of a certain object through participant observation. However, the process of participant observation requires physical presence and the very idea of this presence is clearly impossible (as for the moment) for Cayce and her friends, since the world they "live" in is in cyberspace, which is a world different from Earth that requires no physical presence. And so this type of participant observation of Cayce's could be that of a participant observation similar to an anthropologist's but to an entirely different level. This kind of participation Cayce and her friends have is that of a mysterious one, one which cannot be easily explained. They have become very deeply involved with the happenings about the footage and the entirety of it that it became merged with their own virtual identity. In other words, the footage completes them; the footage is their partial identity. Without it, they are nothing.

Towards the end of the chapter, Cayce says:

"I've got your participation mystique right here… though whether to Parkaboy, London, or the general or specific mysteries of her life today, she doesn't know (272)."

The reason behind Cayce's statement could be her nearing grasp to the maker of the footage. Also, because she was able to pour out her feelings through writing, her questions in life regarding the footage, her father, and life in general have all become more clear to her compared to her state at the start of the chapter. Lastly, this statement signals the gradual unraveling of all the mysteries in Cayce's life which are about to be solved.

A Hint Of Thailand In London


Image taken from:

The picture above shows Yao Thai, a Thai restaurant near Albert Memorial. Perhaps this could be the Thai restaurant William Gibson was pertaining to in the chapter. In this restaurant, Cayce "mechanically" consumes Thai salad. Throughout the novel, it is quite noticeable that Cayce usually eats at non-American restaurants or fast food chains. Instead, she eats in restaurants that offer a mix of Western and Eastern dishes, sort of like East meets West. One reason for this could obviously be because of Cayce's allergy to big brands. Another reason could also be Gibson's emphasis on globalization and the mixing of cultures to form a mutant different kind of food with an almost separate identity.

Convergence of Lines

"She almost feels as though something in the park had made her do it… Too much sun. Convergence of lines. (Convergence of something, certainly, she guesses, but in some part of herself she can't access.) (268)."

This quote relates to why Cayce unintentionally sent the email to stellanor, and she concludes that the reason behind this would be the convergence of lines. The convergence of lines could be metaphorical to fate. An external force (not God) might be responsible for this occurrence. This external force could be caused by two separate goals that would eventually meet together or converge, like that of an asymptote. Maybe, the footage also has a desire to be discovered. And since Cayce has a desire to discover more from the footage, their "lines" meet. This is fate in action.


Image from:
Annotations for Chapter 11: Boone Chu
Prepared by LAT, Alvin Brian (051813) COM12 G

Chapter 32 revolves around the mysterious email address that Baranov gave to Cayce in exchange for the curta calculator that she bought from Lucien Greenaway. After receiving the possible email address of the maker of the footages, Cayce was taken by a cab to Kensington High Street near the Albert Memorial. We can say that all the happenings in this chapter pretty much happened here.
In real life, the Albert Memorial is indeed located in Kensington High Street in London. The Albert Memorial looks like this: (taken from: image
The Albert Memorial described in the novel is pretty much an accurate description of the Memorial based from the picture; that the memorial is located within a park and there is some sort of garden.

While in the park, Cayce decided to compose a letter for the “maker” of the footage near the statue of Peter Pan. It is near the statue that she decided to check the email address she got from Baranov and compose a message.
This statue of Peter Pan with the bronze rabbits at its base in the garden actually exists. It is located in that same location as specified in the book. That statue of Peter Pan with bronze rabbits at the base looks like this:(taken from:
If you look carefully, the rabbit is located at the lower right side of the statue base.

Cayce is writing a letter without any intention of actually sending it to the email address she got from Baranov. This is very similar to what her therapist asked her to do before; compose letters for someone that will never been sent since the addressee may not actually exist.

In her letter she mentioned some personal information like the disappearance of her father on September 11, 2001, her age, and that she decided to follow the footages that “you” have been making. “You” here refers to the maker of the footage and presumably the owner of the email address. The email pretty much centers on the title of the chapter “participation mystique.” Participation Mystique, in my opinion, can be defined as the involvement of Cayce and the others in looking for a deeper meaning within the footage. They do not just see the footage as something flat because for them, there is something more in the footage than it being a flat object. For them, the footage has a meaning, a meaning that they do not know but a meaning that they wanted to know. In her email, she mentioned two poets namely Coleridge and De Quincey.

Coleridge is an English poet known for his work “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “Kubla Khan.” ( While De Quincey is an English author know for his work “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.” ( two authors share of the common ground that in one part of their life, they were drug addicts.
Picture of Coleridge:(taken from:
Picture of De Quincey:(taken from:

When Cayce finished writing the email, she accidentally clicked on send. She did not have any intention of sending the email but she managed to do it. But despite not wanting to send it, she was actually hoping for a reply in a way that she immediately checked for a reply.

After that, Cayce went to a Thai Restaurant and after eating, she decided to search the email address. One result came out and it say that the person responsible for the domain is A. N. Polakov from an office building in Cyprus. She wanted to call Boone and tell him what she just found out but when she called Boone, she heard a girl in a background. This made Cayce angry; some sort of a feeling of jealously that Boone is with another woman. It never came to her that the girl might be Boone’s way to get into SIGIL. The irony is that she called Boone to tell him something but she ended up not telling him anything while previously, she decided to compose a message with no intentions of sending it yet she manages to send it “accidentally.”

After calling Boone, she calls Bigend. She asked Bigend if Dorotea’s contact from Cyprus has a name and Bigend tells her that the name of the one who hired Dorotea is Andreas Polakov. After asking more questions she decides to end the conversation. She went online again with the intention of telling Parkaboy of what just happened. But when checks her mail, there was one incoming mail and that came from the email address that she got from Baranov. She decides to open the mail and she could not believe that there was a reply since she did not expect for someone to receive the email. The email tells Cayce that the sender is currently is in Moscow and shares similar experiences with Cayce.

After reading the email, Cayce decided to call Bigend again to inquire to who she needs to call for travel. Cayce wanted to go to Russia to confirm the identity of the sender of the footage. She wanted to determine if the person really exists and is telling the truth. She calls Voytek to ask him to keep the keys to Damien’s flat and promises him that she’ll buy him the scaffolding. At the end, Cayce said “I’ve got your participation mystique right here” and this means that she wants to confirm if the sender of the email is actually who s/he said s/he is.

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