Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What the Mind Sees

In the world of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep advancing technology, and the use of it, has entirely reshaped the world as we know it. Post World War Terminus (WWT), the social classes have been divided into two main groups: those who can afford to move off planet and those who are stuck on earth. In order to survive the hell that life on earth has become, the population has had to drastically alter its view of representation; or how things are presented to the mind.

To aid in this endeavor, several pieces of technology are used to make the strain of living less for each individual. The first one I will talk about is the empathy box. Since everyone stuck on earth feels hopeless at times, people can use the box to connect to others and Mercer. This enables them to share their emotions to everyone else using the box, whether the emotion is one of sorrow or jubilation.

The empathy box reminds me of the movie The Matrix when the characters “jack into” the matrix. In both cases, when a character is connected, they are not seeing things with their eyes. Instead of being seen by the eyes and interpreted, they have a direct mind link to whatever the input is. Also, whenever you are hurt in the world of the box, your mind makes that damage an actual reality.

Another technology is the Penfield mood organ. No matter what you feel like, you can instantaneously change your mood. Using this technology, anyone can make the world they live in seem like a paradise or at least the next best thing. However it works, the mood organ alters the way you perceive your surroundings, changing the way you view the world you live in.

The last piece of technology would be the TV, specifically with Buster Friendly and his Friendly Friends. This is something we can relate to in the real world. With Buster Friendly going on 23/7, everyone can watch as Buster does…almost nothing. Buster simply exists to pass the time, talking to a never-ending loop of guests. At any point, people can switch on the show and immerse themselves in a meaningless world of entertainment. They can forget all about the hardships of living on the earth while the richer people live in paradise on Mars.

As I said, the TV show is something that we can all relate to. When we want news, we turn it on. When we don’t want to listen to the news, we simply change the channel and find some meaningless show, like Buster Friendly, to watch and forget about what’s happening in the world. We also have our computers and the internet to sway our views. When we want it, we can instantly find a story/image/video to instill whatever mood we want. While we don’t have anything like the empathy box yet, the closest we come is chat rooms. In the chat rooms we can share stories and experiences that might evoke some emotional response. However, the chat rooms are limited to the words we choose to describe our emotions; they can’t relay the actual feeling.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

I liked this. I think it would have been stronger in critical ways if you had opened up with the fact that you see the nature of representation in the novel as having something do with represenation (especially of emotion) in the real world - ultimately this does have a clear thesis, but having one at the beginning might have helped you focus.

Your discussion of the Matrix was good. It's probably no surprise that this film was influenced in many ways, both directly and indirectly, by PKD's work.