Abstract

Cognitive science-based enactive theories of perception afford surprising insight onto a less examined component of perceptual experience: perceptual entrainment through the embodied encounter with tools. My analysis of the body/tool/perception nexus in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash (1992) introduces the concept of perceptual entrainment in two steps: first I explain Alva Noë's claim that perception is virtual—that it takes place as an active process of environmental investigation rather than through computer-processing-like brain activity. I then take Noë's approach to perception a step further by examining how tool use directs and amplifies our perceptual focus. I argue that in Snow Crash, tools contain within them ideologies of repression that emerge precisely at the “technological interface,” moments when characters in the novel engage with tools that interpellate them, enable them to wield power, or blur the boundaries between control and abjection. This article analyzes the novel's computational anxiety—the fear of loss of self identity via an informational/mathematical determinism mapped by the tool that entrains our perception.

You do not currently have access to this content.