Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Joe Liu's graded blog post # 3, Option 3

Option #3) Focusing on specific passages, use either Joy or Lyotard to respond to or analyze Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

In the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, there are many exciting, unusual, and even deep parts to it. The author, Philip K. Dick, incorporates scenes that can almost seem like they came straight from a movie. He also includes a whole new set of terminology that is used in his imaginary future. However, the most interesting aspect of the book is when Rick Deckard’s mind wanders and his thoughts are exposed to the reader.

On page 96, Rick enters the opera house and begins to really think about his job as a bounty hunter and about life itself. He starts his thought process by thinking about Mozart and his thoughts:

“And Mozart, not long after writing The Magic Flute, had died . . . and had been buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave. Thinking this, he wondered if Mozart had had any intuition that the future did not exist, that he had already used up his little time. Maybe I have too, Rick thought as he watched the rehearsal move along. This rehearsal will end, the performance will end, the singers will die, eventually the last score of the music will be destroyed in one way or another; finally the name “Mozart” will vanish, the dust will have won. If not on this planet then another. We can evade it awhile. As the andys can evade me and exist a finite stretch longer. But I get them or some other bounty hunter gets them. In a way, he realized, I’m part of the form-destroying process of entropy”

When reading this passage, it is interesting to think if the author himself holds these views. Rick in a way puts androids and humans on the same level by speaking about the ends of their existences on an equal level. In his thoughts, humans and androids are equivalent beings because in the end, nothing matters anyway. Anyone or anything that tries to become remembered through time will ultimately fail when the world is destroyed. Even Mozart, Rick suggests, wasted his life by writing down every little detail of his masterpieces in his manuscripts since everything will be “destroyed one way or another.” It cannot be avoided.

In Lyotard’s Can Thought Go On Without a Body, he addresses the same issues in his work. Lyotard informs the reader that the sun will explode in 4.5 billion years, and that when it does, “there won’t be a thought to know that its death took place” (Lyotard 9). He continues by stating that “With the disappearance of earth, thought will have stopped – leaving that disappearance absolutely unthought of” (Lyotard 9). As can be seen, Lyotard and Rick (or presumably the Philip Dick) would have gotten along quite well. Their outlook on the world is very similar, that when the human population is dead and the world is gone, nothing matters anymore. Even Mozart, possibly one of the world’s most recognizable names, won’t even exist anymore. Even “thought” will not exist! Theoretically, this formal blog won’t even exist!

Lyotard makes it clear that many want to be remembered:

“ . . . it’s been underway for some time – the job of simulating conditions of life and thought to make thinking remain materially possible after the change in the condition of matter that’s the disaster. This and this alone is what’s at stake today in technical and scientific research in every field . . . whatever the immediate stakes might appear to be . . . For the benefit of humankind, as the saying goes.”

Rick has thought of these ideas also. He has pondered why he does what he does despite the fact that one day it won’t even matter anymore when the world is gone, as it pretty much is in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The world is already deteriorated and most living creatures have already died form the radioactive dust that covered the Earth. These thoughts and ideas alone in my opinion, make this book a worthwhile read. It will be very interesting to see what Rick will do later in the book since it is becoming more and more apparent to me that these androids that he is killing are almost identical to humans. Only very exacting tests can one determine is a being is a human or an android. Even Rick says to himself regarding the death of Luba Luft, “The planet could have used her. This is insane.” Will Rick incorporate the ideas of Lyotard and his thoughts in his future actions? Why should he continue to “kill?”

So far, I am really enjoying this book and I have a positive response to it. Perhaps as I get further in it, I will be able to answer some of the questions I have posed in an informal blog.

And about my midterm project proposal . . .

Adam Johns said...
I'm fine with the idea as well, but here's a simple question. What do you hope to gain from using Powerpoint (maybe Sean's answers are yours, but I'd like to hear your version). What does Powerpoint offer that you value?

Actually, I really didn’t even think about Sean’s answers (btw, thanks a lot b/c those are some great ideas!). I am not very good with computers and making flash videos and such, but I was thinking about using powerpoint because it would be interesting to say something like “if you did ________, then go to slide 43.” I thought it would be utilizing technology to make your reading experience easier. But after thinking about it, it would be very interesting to incorporate pictures and links in the powerpoint. I could be able to post pictures that pertain to the story. Also, maybe if in the story for example, you decided to fight someone or try to outrun someone, there would be a link present that would take you to a site with a simple online game. If you win, you would turn to a certain page. If you lose, you would turn to a different page. IN general, the book would be much more interactive in powerpoint than if it were an actual book. The only think I am worrying about (and hopefully we will get into this during class a bit) is what kind of story should I do? I have yet to read the project from last semester (which I will do tonight), but am I free to choose ANYTHING to write about? Can I just make up a random story?


Sean Dolinar said...

I don't know how much you know about PowerPoint, but to follow up on my comments. I know you can actually have links to other slides with in the presentation, so instead of just 'flipping through pages' you could have them click a button which would take them there.

The buttons could also link to websites and documents. And you could definitely incorporate sound.

Adam Johns said...

Final Project first:

Yes, any story is fine. _Ideally_ both the story and the way it is written will relate to the concerns of the class, but if you end up writing something in which _only_ the form relates to the class, that's actually fine. Sean's ideas seem helpful once more.

Now the post itself:

I'm actually not sure what to say; I'm mostly still absorbing it. You've zeroed in on the nihilism of PKD's text - it's not an unambiguous nihilism, but it's very real nonetheless. I almost expected you to argue that the androids themselves are the equivalent of the machine Lyotard envisions; they certainly think, they suffer, they are gendered - they are post-human rather than non-human.

One funny thing about your original point, that the book reads like a movie. In the movie version the scene with the opera is a actually replaced by a strip club - it's a very Hollywood thing to do, which we might talk about today.