Neal Stephenson – Fall, or Dodge in Hell

Stephenson, Neal (2019). Fall, or Dodge in Hell. London: The Borough Press. 2019. ISBN: 9780008168841. Pagine 720. 14,30€

amazon-it

Romanzo molto complesso, oltre che molto lungo. Consigliato, ma forse non a chi non ha mei letto nulla di Stephenson.

Neal Stephenson è un altro scrittore di culto. Ma di culto letteralmente, non nel pedissequo scimmiottamento che dell’aggettivo cult o della sua traduzione letterale di culto si usa fare parlando di un libro o di un film. I lettori di Stephenson sono una setta – una setta non particolarmente numerosa, quanto meno in Italia – ma non disimile dalla setta dei lettori di William Gibson, tanto per fare un nome che in qualche modo gli può essere accostato.

Penso di essere un membro di questa setta. Ho cominciato quasi per caso, molte estati fa, con Cryptonomicon: ho l’edizione hardcover, addirittura (il libro è stato tradotto anche in italiano, da Rizzoli, e il Corriere della sera lo pubblicò a puntate come un feuilleton estivo). Poi non ho più smesso, e penso di avere letto tutto quello che ha scritto, almeno della fiction. Stephenson ha scritto soltanto un romanzo veramente brutto (secondo me), il primo (The Big U). Per tutti gli altri c’è almeno una buona ragione per leggerli (sul blog ci sono alcune mie recensioni: di Anathem, di Reamde e di Mongoliad, uno, due e tre).

Stephenson è uno cui piace scrivere. I suoi romanzi sono veri e propri mattoni, quanto a dimensioni. Ma a Stephenson piace soprattutto divagare. O, meglio, soffermarsi a spiegare il perché e il percome delle cose che lo interessano. Il che può essere molto irritante o, per me (che evidentemente non sono fatto di una pasta molto diversa), uno dei motivi principali per trarre piacere dalla lettura. Questo nuovo romanzo non fa eccezione. Ancora di più: al di là delle apparenze, questo romanzo è fatto di diversi romanzi: diverse storie e diversi generi letterari. Questo spiega perché le recensioni – qui sotto ho messo una raccolta delle principali che ho letto – attribuiscono il centro del libro a storie diverse e giudicano le altre, o meno interessanti, o meno riuscite.

Prima però di lasciare il campo a questi autorevoli recensori, voglio provare a dire la mia.

La vicenda comincia con un incidente quasi mortale, in cui il riccone Dodge (l’avevamo già incontrato in Reamde) viene ibernato nella speranza di poter rivivere almeno come mente-cervello-identità. La cosa riesce, ma questo aldilà virtuale è tutto da inventare: di qui uno sviluppo fantasy – tra la mitologia greca e nordica, la Genesi e Il paradiso perduto di Milton – che occupa gran parte del volume. Altre parti si svolgono però su questa terra e coinvolgono altri personaggi, di cui alcuni sono ricorrenti nella produzione letteraria di Stephenson (i Waterhouse, gli Shaftoe, il misterioso Enoch Root). Il cattivo di turno è chiaramente ispirato a Ray Kurzweil

A me sembra che al centro della riflessione di Stephenson (mi pare difficile chiamare apologo un’opera di quasi mille pagine) ci sia questo: se la nostra mente-cervello-identità incorporea dovesse essere caricata sulla “nuvola” come software, che cosa sarebbe la realtà? la ricostruiremmo a nostra immagine e somiglianza? avevano ragione Kant e gli idealisti? e se così fosse, anche la realtà che ci circonda è un prodotto (o quanto meno è formata) dalle nostre strutture mentali? e se così fosse, quanto e come può essere influenzata dalla realtà virtuale del web e dei social network?

Ammesso e non concesso che il romanzo sia riuscito solo in parte, si tratta comunque di grandi temi, che ne fanno un racconto filosofico di grande rilevanza. Almeno per me.

Gli autori di cui ho raccolto le recensioni qui sotto concordano tutti nel ritenere che il romanzo non sia perfettamente riuscito. Eppure discordano su quale sia il vero nucleo centrale del romanzo: il prologo in terra, la grande post-verità di Moab, l’Ameristan, la creazione di Bitworld, la sua evoluzione, la guerra tra Dodge e il suo arcinemico, le peregrinazioni su Bitworld… A me sembra invece che il romanzo sia tenuto insieme da una riflessione complessiva sulla mente e sulla realtà: riuscito o non riuscito, la storia è avvincente e lo sfondo filosofico (ancorché non sviluppato del tutto) molto interessante.

Ecco le recensioni (purtroppo WordPress non mi lascia fare l’embedding e sono costretto a inviarvi a un sito esterno).

***

Ed ecco un po’ di citazioni che mi sono appuntato durante la lettura.

He wondered whether the designers of the phone had performed clinical studies on snoozers in order to decide on the nine-minute interval. Why not eight minutes, or ten? The makers of the phone were famously particular about design. This had to have been data-driven. (pos. 85)

Pompitus Bombasticus was Richard’s favorite group. Apparently it was just one guy working alone in a studio in Germany; the philharmonic, the choir, and all the rest were faked with synthesizers. This guy had noticed, some years ago, that all inexpensive horror movies used the same piece of music—Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana—in their soundtracks. That opus had become a cliché, more apt to induce groans or laughs than horror. This German, who had been living the starving-artist lifestyle while trying to establish a career as a DJ, had been struck by an insight that had transformed his career: the filmmakers of the world were manifesting an insatiable demand for a type of music of which Carmina Burana was the only existing specimen. The market (if the world of composers and musicians could be thought of as such) was failing to respond to that demand. Why not then begin to make original music that sounded like the soundtrack of the sort of movie scene in which Carmina Burana inevitably played? It didn’t have to sound exactly like Carmina Burana but it needed to evoke the same feelings. The German gave himself a new name, which was Pompitus Bombasticus, and put out a self-titled album that was enthusiastically ripped, torrented, downloaded, and stolen by innumerable aspiring young filmmakers united by a common sentiment that if they heard Carmina Burana one more time they would shove pencils into their ears. (pos. 395: Wendy Carlos?)

The purposes of linen and beer trucks were obvious, being printed right on their sheet metal, but of course every vehicle on the street and every pedestrian on the sidewalk had a purpose as well. It was the flowing-together and interaction of all those intentions that made a city. (pos. 450)

Crows , or ravens (the distinction was unclear), were set apart by their extreme intelligence, memory, and resourcefulness; but no matter how well they embodied those fine traits, no one appreciated them. (pos. 1711)

For he always had the sense that he was playing tic-tac-toe while El was playing four-dimensional hyperspace chess. (pos. 2637)

Humans were biology. They lived for the dopamine rush. (pos. 3513)

“ Hmm. Yeah, I guess the whole point of a conspiracy theory is to offer a kind of false coherence.” (pos. 3536)

“Initiate Nail Removal Immediately” (pos. 3664)

“As far as I can make out, I am an emissary of sorts from another plane of existence.” (pos. 3707)

Now, theater, and later movies, eventually get us into the realm of shared hallucinations. (pos. 3765)

They had a monopoly on the fantastical. Science fiction and fantasy combined with a revenue model. (pos. 3780)

And it’s all perfectly self-consistent, what you’re experiencing and what I’m experiencing, so that our understandings of the world tally. (pos. 3944)

“I would say that the ability of people to agree on matters of fact not immediately visible — states of affairs removed from them in space and time — ramped up from a baseline of approximately zero to a pretty high level around the time of the scientific revolution and all that, and stayed there and became more globally distributed up through the Cronkite era, and then dropped to zero incredibly quickly when the Internet came along. And I think that the main thing it conferred on people was social mobility, so that if you were a smart kid growing up on a farm in Kansas or a slum in India you had a chance to do something interesting with your life. Before it — before that three-hundred-year run when there was a way for people to agree on facts — we had kings and warlords and rigid social hierarchy. During it, a lot of brainpower got unlocked and things got a lot better materially. A lot better. Now we’re back in a situation where the people who have the power and the money can get what they want by dictating what the mass of people ought to believe.” (pos. 4027)

“Identity” had been forever changed by the Internet; formerly it had meant “who you really are” but now it meant “any one of a number of persistent faces that you can present to the digital universe.” (pos. 4094)

A safety net for the university. A danger net for the student. (pos. 4521: si parla degli esami universitari)

It’s the Kant thing all over again […] (pos. 6255)

“[…] It was about Kant’s idea that space and time were ineluctable to the human mind — that we simply could not think without hanging everything on a space-time lattice. That any attempt to think outside of that framework would produce gibberish. He used it to take down Leibniz.” (pos. 6257)

And he went into her and was surrounded by her as a rock in a river is enfolded in its waters, smooth and yet strong, and their auras merged as when two rivers come together deep in a forest and flow as one to exhaust themselves much later into the ocean. (pos. 6627: una rara, direi unica, scena d’amore…)

[…] weird talismanic power of hard copies. (pos. 6905)

The physical reality of the object was proof that humans had put intention into their contents, that this was real, not just a game played with pixels. (pos. 6906)

But the reality was that when scanned brains were booted up as new processes, with the ability to draw upon computing resources and to interact with the other processes, they took on seemingly personlike attributes: they existed in one place, not all places; they moved about in a way that seemed physical; and they dealt with other processes in a way that seemed social. (pos. 7175)

To treat of appearances as if they were real was to make himself foolish and weak in the grip of one such as El who knew and was the master of the powers upon which those appearances were founded. (pos. 7654)

For what matters is not the continuity but the coherence of that thread and the story that is told by it. (pos. 7807)

[…] trapped in a tiny, crowded, and not very interesting corner of the space of all possibilities. (pos. 7962)

[…] spectation was the main driver of customer acquisition. (pos. 7976)

Agreement got by compulsion or trickery is not agreement, but a thing akin to slavery. Free minds are the only company worth having. (pos. 8724)

The tragedy — and the entire point — of being a parent was the moment when the story stopped being about you. (pos. 8708)

Millions must have been spent on the bra – strap – hooking algorithm . (pos. 8818)

[…] a slow transition from young-old to old-old. (pos. 10165)

“[…] Well, what does it mean for a thing to be convincing? Qualia are only part of it. I get those from the visuals, the movement, the air currents. But it turns out that we are wired for intersubjectivity. Our perception of reality is as much social as it is personal. Why are we disturbed by psychotics? Because they see and hear things we don’t, and that’s just wrong. Why do prisoners in solitary confinement go nuts? Because they don’t have others to confirm their perceptions. […] Ratifying the qualia, cross-linking the history into a social matrix.” (pos. 10211)

It has to do with the fundamental nature of reality—the Land of whose existence your mind convinces you from one moment to the next whenever you are awake. (pos. 10444)

“Destroying is just easier than creating […]” (pos. 11562)

“Nothing makes sense.” And she looked out toward the ocean.
“Oh, but it does. You might not like it. And this might lead you to question things, even to say, ‘This is senseless!’ But whenever I think that, I take a closer look, and lo, it does make sense, from end to end and top to bottom. Because it must. Because if it didn’t, the whole thing would split open and fall to pieces in an instant.” (pos. 11901)

“Patterned chaos,” Querc said. “Like a wave moving across the water, which is water plus something: a shape that retains its character even while it propagates through the stuff of which it’s made. ” (pos. 13809)

Una Risposta to “Neal Stephenson – Fall, or Dodge in Hell”

  1. puntomaupunto Says:

    Diciamo che Stephenson non è uno scrittore minimalista, quando parte lo fa alla grande… (sono parecchio indietro con i suoi libri, lo ammetto, e a volte il suo inglese è troppo per me)


Rispondi

Inserisci i tuoi dati qui sotto o clicca su un'icona per effettuare l'accesso:

Logo WordPress.com

Stai commentando usando il tuo account WordPress.com. Chiudi sessione /  Modifica )

Google photo

Stai commentando usando il tuo account Google. Chiudi sessione /  Modifica )

Foto Twitter

Stai commentando usando il tuo account Twitter. Chiudi sessione /  Modifica )

Foto di Facebook

Stai commentando usando il tuo account Facebook. Chiudi sessione /  Modifica )

Connessione a %s...

Questo sito utilizza Akismet per ridurre lo spam. Scopri come vengono elaborati i dati derivati dai commenti.

%d blogger hanno fatto clic su Mi Piace per questo: