literature of the apocalypse_17

Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, chapters 7-14

notes & response:
– “And that’s impossible; Buster is the most important human being alive, except of course for Wilbur Mercer . . . but Mercer, he reflected, isn’t a human being; he evidently is an archetypal entity from the stars, superimposed on our culture by a cosmic template.”
-“ Funny, he thought; even though I know rationally it’s faked the sound of a false animal burning out its drive-train and power supply ties my stomach in knots. I wish, he thought painfully, that I could get another job. If I hadn’t failed that IQ test I wouldn’t be reduced to this ignominious task with its attendant emotional by-products. On the other hand, the synthetic sufferings of false animals didn’t bother Milt Borogrove or their boss Hannibal Sloat.”
-“ How did they keep talking? They never repeated themselves — not so far as he could determine. Their remarks, always witty, always new, weren’ t rehearsed. Amanda’s hair glowed, her eyes glinted, her teeth shone; she never ran down, never became tired, never found herself at a loss as to a clever retort to Buster’s bang-bang string of quips, jokes, and sharp observations.”
-“ The deep-pile carpets, the expensive genuine wood desks, reminded him that garbage collecting and trash disposal had, since the war, become one of Earth’s important industries. The entire planet had begun to disintegrate into junk, and to keep the planet habitable for the remaining population the junk had to be hauled away occasionally . . . or, as Buster Friendly liked to declare, Earth would die under a layer — not of radioactive dust — but of kipple.”
-It’s interesting to think of the world ending in a pile of trash, rather than under some sort of chemical or nuclear debris.
-Can machines program themselves to always say something different?
-Does the wit of an android really allow it to program against repetition?
-“ This man — or android — Rick Deckard comes to us from a phantom, hallucinatory, nonexistent police agency allegedly operating out of the old departmental headquarters on Lombard. He’s never heard of us and we’ve never heard of him — yet ostensibly we’re both working the same side of the street.
He employs a test we’ve never heard of. The list he carries around isn’t of androids; it’s a list of human beings.”
-Who polices the police? And how do we truly know if they know right from wrong?
-Have these judgers of moral/ethical code been brainwashed to believe only what they’re told? Maybe that makes them the machines…
-“ Androids, however, had as he knew an inn—ate desire to remain inconspicuous.”
-“I know whatit is. You like to kill. All you need is a pretext. If you had a pretext you’d kill me. That’s why you picked up on the possibility of Garland being an android; it made him available for being killed. I wonder what you’re going to do when you fail to pass the Boneli test. Will you kill yourself? Sometimes androids do
that.” But the situation was rare.

It can be difficult to rationalize the killing of any creature, human or not. There’s a special attention given to the love, care, sympathy, and remorse felt for all animals in this story. However, the irony of the language is that we tend to refer to human beings as animals when they’ve been reduced to something beyond our imagination, something inexplicable. Yet there’s still a difficulty in distinguishing between the human race and that of the androids. Maybe Dick is making a subtle hint at the current state of human beings and the difficulty in separating the machines from those who are truly living. This becomes more apparent in these chapters. There’s this constant question of who’s android and who’s human, and then how to kill either. Naturally, it’s hard to feel remorse for a machine that could take its own life. But really, shouldn’t we? The argument could be made that some human beings have been reduced to machines—so does the fact that they’re no longer living, so to speak, make it less important when they permanently end that living? Perhaps Dick is begging this question to be asked of the reader. Where do you find your importance in truly living?


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