Looking at Zero History through a Marxist lens, this short poem I came across seems to do a pretty good job at summing up the whole novel.


Full Human Status

“‘Bigend told everyone to afford you full human status.'”

— Zero History (Gibson 525)

Full. Human. Status. Three words that chilled my mind. Three words that really show the extent of business hierarchy and corruption. Three words that really showed the controlling nature of Bigend and his perception of his company.


I can’t say I was unaware that Milgrim was being used throughout the novel. In fact I think Milgrim himself was fully aware he was being used, caught in a position he didn’t ask for, and yet that single line still brings horrors to my mind. Milgrim being Milgrim just let the remark slide, but I’m not like that. That line bothers me like an itch that refuses to remain unscratched. How can a person go to such lengths to intentionally use someone as though they were an object of possession, as though there were nothing more than a disposable tool. If this were to happen to me I don’t think I would have had the same reaction as Milgrim. I guess I would have reacted more like Hollis, with annoyance at being used and possibly anger at not having the guts to change my situation. Thank goodness I’m not a sci-fi book character.

Things Revealed

“When you want to know how things really work, study them when they’re coming apart.”

Zero History (Gibson 276)

Procrastination and Technology

Caught red handed. Okay so I’m procrastinating but hey, in my defense writing scholarship essays isn’t exactly the most exciting things ever, plus it’s Saturday (and don’t you have other things you currently need to be doing rather than reading a rant of post, if you’re in my English class then never mind congratulations you’re actually doing what you’re supposed to be)! It’s weird how I’ve come to refer to my laptop as the “distractomachine” (for obvious reasons) and so far the score is 5 billion distromachine – Maryam 0. Technology, Y U So Distracting! It’s got me thinking though, about how easily technology has taken over our lives.


Take this image, for example. There was a point in time were I would have said, without any hesitation, that I would be that lonely guy doing the book sniffing and fondling but now I’m not so sure. While I’d still go with books over iPad’s any day (as I’m not big on Apple products) but give me an Android tablet or an e-reader and suddenly I’m not so sure. Not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line, I drifted into the world of e-books and digital libraries. I mean it’s so convenient to just carry a full library of books all stuffed into a tiny electrical circuit, ready to open a new book at my will (especially handy for someone like me who for some bizarre reason is always reading at least 3 books at once).

Then again e-reading has its disadvantages as well. Oh look the battery died! Oh look a new YouTube video I never knew I needed to watch but suddenly now I do! Oh look someone messaged me, better reply! All these distractions, it’s a wonder I get anything done. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who’s distracted by the call of the internet. Milgrim, in William Gibson’s Zero History does the same as well one night, sitting on a bed, refreshing his Twitter feed instead of sleeping. Interesting how the pull of technology and the internet overrides our needs of sleep. Self-control? Seems like that’s something I lack.

The Value of Value

“And all of them were pickers. … Constantly finding things. Value in rubbish.

Zero History (Gibson 158)

Value and rubbish, two words I don’t normally associate with each other and yet this line suggests there is potential value in rubbish. The question is, what is value? What makes something valuable? The sophistication of the object? Its beauty? Its functionality? Sure those characteristics apply sometimes but going back to the line, I think we can safely disregard those options as “rubbish”  is not sophisticated, has no functionality, and no beauty. So what is “‘valuable? What is true worth?'” (270)

special offer, scarcity principleAs human beings we like to believe we are creatures of free will. In fact we highly prize this freedom (more than you might imagine), so much so when something threatens to restrict this freedom in anyway, we’re quick to act. This is hardwired into all of us, and is known as the scarcity principle. Its a big part of everyday life and is what drives businesses and companies. They tap into our inner primal instincts, to act before our options are restricted, before that choice is no long one we can make. This creates value, gives objects significance and makes them desirable.

Thinking about that I guess it makes sense that the designer of Gabriel Hounds made the company as secretive as it is. It became elusive and renowned only to a select handful, adding value to the product. Being known only to a few individuals gave those individuals an illusion of being part of a special, elite group, known only to a small minority, which leads to increased value. Its all in the mind. After all we’re only talking about a pair of jeans.

Life and Stability

“Stability’s the beginning of the end. We only walk by continually beginning to fall forward.”

Zero History (Gibson 233)

Questions, Answers and Actions


Knowledge is the key. The question is, the key to what? After obtaining this proverbial key, where do we go? What good will it do? What will we uncover? It seems as though the more questions we ask, the more we learn and discover the world around us and the more we learn and discover, the more questions we ask, and so the cycle repeats. It’s a cycle of growth that allows us to uncover bits and pieces about the world we live in.


After all that, I guess it becomes pretty obvious that questions and questioning the world around you is pretty important. Sure it’s essential to fundamental scientific breakthroughs and self-discovery, yet does all this questioning get you anywhere? Do these questions mean anything without answers? Does asking all these questions get you anywhere if you don’t act upon them? This is Hamlet’s predicament. He’s filled with questions, yet between all his questioning and philosophical thinking, there’s no action. Throughout the play he goes on THINKING about how Claudius murdered his father, he QUESTIONS his life and yet there’s not much ACTING upon his thoughts, no actions to implement the answers he feels are correct.

stand out, ask questions

I think a lot of us go through this as well. We wake up every morning, go to school, sit in class, and prepare our minds for a wealth of knowledge that could potentially mean nothing at all to us. Sometimes I wonder whether a lot of us actually learn through the current education system. Sure it works for some people (I certainly have no quarrels with it, though getting higher marks would be a nice) but do the majority of us students actually learn? Sure we ask questions in class and ponder different ideas and theories and laws, but once that bell rings or that exam is over, do you act upon the questions we asked? Do we actually search for answers to those newly discovered questions? Do we act upon those answers in hopes to make this world a better place? I think that is the question.