Zero History

I was considering my previous blog post about how blank pages represent potential while I thought about the name of the book, Zero History.

As you read the book, it becomes clear that the character, Milgrim, is the character with no history. He cannot remember his past, and the only memories he seems to have are ones that occur over the course of the novel.

Anyways, I looked at this website for symbolic definitions of zero :

According to that site, zero represents potential. It is the shape of a “seed, womb or egg from which pure potential emerges”. It is also the shape of a circle which represents the cycle of life. Shapes associated with the zero’s shape are associated with time; infinity or a clock.

All of this delves deeper into the meaning of the title Zero History. If I had never read the book and had to analyse the title, I would guess that the book would be about a character with a forgotten past who matures over time and achieves his potential in the end.

Book Cover

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A Wireless Prison

It is a common misconception among teenagers that a wireless cell phone grants them freedom.

Sure, upon acquiring a cell phone they gain the ability to talk, text, and share media from virtually anywhere, but it is to my belief that cell phones act as somewhat of a leash for your parents. The rational behind this is that once you acquire a cell phone, your parents have a means to reach you 24/7 no matter where you are. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, in fact it can be quite useful if you are in need of help of some sort. However, they are able keep tabs on you as long as you have your cell phone.

This idea, I feel, is represented in Zero History through Milgrim’s Neo phone. Milgrim’s cell phone has a bug in it that allows for Sleight to track him via GPS and listen in to his conversations. Up until Milgrim gets rid of the Neo, he is at Sleights command and mercy and is even followed by one of Sleight’s men.

So really, do self phones give you freedom or do they make you a prisoner and take away your privacy ?

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Finding Meaning in What’s Left Out

Throughout the novel Zero History by William Gibson, there is somewhat of a side plot that occurs. Hollis attempts to track down a mysterious clothing brand known as Gabriel Hounds.

What is most interesting about that clothing brand, is the reason for its customers interest. Essentially, customers love the brand because of its sheer mystery. In other words they delight in the absence of its knowledge. Now, this is a concept commonly brought up in class where Mrs. White ( will talk about how meaning is found in what has been left out.

Now, the question is, why are people so attracted to mystery? The reason, illustrated by J.J. Abrams in this TED Talks video, is that the realm of mystery signifies endless possibility, and we are drawn to blank pages because of the thought that something great could be written on it.

Check it out:

J.J. Abrams


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Coloured by Bias

I’ve been reading the book Zero History by WIlliam Gibson in English class, and I’ve noticed a distinct male bias towards the assumed attitude of women in the novel.

Firstly, Hollis(one of the main characters) struggles to gather the courage to phone her ex-boyfriend after she’s heard about an accident he’s had that worried her. Secondly, Fiona(a less important character) seems to catch feelings for Milgrim(arguably the protagonist) and begins to usher him into sleeping with her, showering with her, and finally she kisses him. All the while, it seemed to me as though Milgrim didn’t understand what was going on.

What I wanted to highlight in both examples is the assumption that it was the females who needed to act first in the relationship. This rubs off as a somewhat delusional fantasy of the author’s perception of the perfect woman.

WIlliam Gibson

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To Risk or Not to Risk



I’ve been thinking about the message of Hamlet’s ‘to be or not to be’ soliloquy.

Essentially, Hamlet is contemplating suicide. However, due to the unknown nature of the afterlife, Hamlet is convinced that mortal suffering is better than whatever may come after death. In other words, since there is no direct answer as to what happens upon death, Hamlet concludes that it is not worth the risk.

If you attempt to apply this to everyday ideas (perhaps those less suggestive than suicide), you will find that Hamlet concludes that it is better to not take risks in life as future cannot be guaranteed. Obviously, the dilemma over taking the risk and not taking it is entirely different than when your life is on the line, however the principle still stands.

My belief, contrary to Hamlet’s, is that life requires risk. If you look at all technological innovations up to this point, they have been discovered because people have ventured into undiscovered territory and uncovered information that people previously knew nothing of. In my opinion, without risk, there is no progress.

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A Paradox That Makes Sense

Dating back to the time of which Hamlet’s story took place, a King’s adviser was supposed to be a trustworthy figure. If the adviser was deceptive or misleading, he was killed.

Polonius, the King’s adviser in Hamlet, hires Reynaldo to spy on his son Laertes:

“By indirections find directions out: So, by my former lecture and advice, Shall you my son.”

Not only is Polonius giving the order to make up lies about his son, he clearly has no trust in his son and doesn’t respect his privacy. Is it possible to trust a man who is spying on you?

The very act of having Polonius as the King’s adviser in the play is paradoxical because of this. However, although paradoxical things are generally out of place, it seems to fit perfectly with the plot of Hamlet. The existence of a Ghost, based on the Elizabethan belief, indicated that something was fundamentally wrong with reality.

Why shouldn’t Polonius be anything but a normal adviser to the King?

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A Not So Small Change english class, we are currently reading Hamlet.

It’s funny how different lines are open to different interpretations. By that I’m referring simply to how the meaning of the line is dependent on how the actor says it. Sentences can have entirely different meanings and set off different emotions with the slight variation of one word.

Take for example Hamlet’s quote to Horatio : “There are more things in heaven and earth; Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Now read it this way : “There are more things in heaven and earth; Horatio, than are dreamt of in our philosophy.”

Notice the difference? The first one has, what I believe to be, limited meaning in comparison to the second one. It is but a condescension that seems to belittle Horatio’s view of the world.

The second quotation seems more like an open proposition. The use of the word “our” includes Hamlet and refers to every single person in the world, and therefore holds more meaning than if it were to refer only to Horatio.

My point is, once again, it is important to note the slight variations in line interpretations. Slight variances of tongue and tone can hold exponentially different meanings.

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