Thursday, January 26, 2012

Blog #3, Prompt #1 Marcuse and Dick

Patrick Kilduff

When reading the Marcuse text, I came upon a quote on the very first page of the introduction I thought to be very interesting that could be applied to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The quote stated: “And yet society is irrational as a whole. Its productivity is destructive of the free development of human needs and faculties, its peace maintained by the constant threat of war, its growth dependant on the repression of the real possibilities for pacifying the struggle for existence-individual, national, and international. “ With this quote, I feel that it sort of perpetuates societies’ post apocalyptic attitude on life it self, even though it mostly describes war. I feel that it also reflects on how terrible life is on earth, a place once abundant with life and buzzing with entertainment, now desolate and depressing.

Applying this quote to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, one takes a look at now the post-apocalyptic Earth while reading and can see how it affects each person’s/character’s attitude and outlook on life. We see Rick in the very beginning of the story, using a mood simulator to make himself feel better and prepare himself for the day ahead. Now his wife had one as well, but these machines help the characters simulate behavior, thus simulate their own attitudes for the day. We also see his wife simulate depression for the day. Why would one want to simulate depression when they have this technology at their disposal? This to me shows the decline in attitude of all the characters in the novel.

One other aspect we can see when it comes to interesting, possibly negative attitude is Rick and his obsession with wanting a real animal. Rick prided himself on having a real sheep in the past, but now tries to pass off his mechanical one as a real one. The obsession with animals in this book fascinates me, and it just shows that even though some people might be fortunate enough to have animals (Rick, Barbour), some crave for more, or for real animals. One would think that in a post-apocalyptic society that the factor of a pet wouldn’t really make too much of a difference, but Rick is willing to pay for a horse, one of the most expensive animals to buy, just to “fit in” or satisfy his desire. He could afford a house pet, such as a cat, but as stated on page 12: “I don’t want a domestic pet. I want what I originally had, a large animal.” Is it greed compelling him to want more? Is it just madness? An interesting point to think about per say when reading more of the book later on.

I like how Marcuse talks about “individual”, “class”, “private”, and “family”. He uses these in quotations because these do not exist in his “society” that he describes; they only “become descriptive, deceptive, or operational terms”. I agree with this statement, along with the declining attitudes in this story, we do not see any of these in the story, except the “individual”. I would not consider Rick and his wife to be a family, they are so distant and their relationship so “simulated” that I would just consider it to be Rick and Rick alone. I would say this contributes to Rick’s attitude greatly. He is alone on a planet that is almost inexistent, a world consumed by fallout, androids, and danger at every corner.

Another interesting proposition of the quote stated above about the “individual” or the “family” is could one say that there is even a “society” on Earth at the moment? We can clearly see on the colony planets that there is a booming and intellectual society, but can we say the same for earth. Of course there are jobs, and economy, and individuals to participate in all of them, but can we really call it a society? This society is comprised of normal humans, “chickenheads” (mentally deficient humans), and androids. Humans participate on earth, trying to live as normal as possible, earning a living and so on, but he other 2 categories of this society really have no other purpose to this society. The androids are in constant hiding, and the “chickenheads” are mentally insane. Sure, we saw the one example of John Isidore, a “chickenhead” who holds his own, but he is still an outcast, just like the other ones, not acceptable by any means. This “society” or the lack of would forcefully contribute to a declining attitude about life.

When reading the Marcuse text and applying it to our novel, we see many good applications of his theories. Marcuse knew what was going that occur before any of us, and we still have much more to go. As for the attitude of characters in this book, we can see that the first quote is a good representation of how the characters live. They are constantly in fear, stricken with grief, and hoping for a better tomorrow, although this is highly unlikely.


Brandon said...

"Is it greed compelling him to want more? Is it just madness?"

You propose these questions, along with many different ideas in this essay. Rather than discussing many topics narrowly, try discussing one or two of them heavily in depth. It will make for a much more focused paper.

Your argument that society doesn't exist is very, very interesting and I'm absolutely sure you could find more information to support it if you wanted to. Focus heavily on that and on Deckard's relationships with others, as together they could support one central thesis statement in relation to Marcuse.

Adam said...

In the second paragraph, you use simulate when I thin you probably mean stimulate - the difference is pretty important.

When you are discussing the need people have to own animals, and raise the possibility of greed and madness, you're overlooking at least two things: the book demands that we think of the animals in terms of their scarcity, and in terms of Mercerism. Now, that doesn't mean greed and madness aren't involved, or even of primary importance - but it does make your discussion seem very incomplete.

The idea that Rick and Iran are not a family, because they are simulated (maybe you do mean simulated instead of stimulated above - in which case, maybe your introduction should explain what you're trying to do re: simulation in this essay).

The question of whether a society exists is a relevant one - but this is the moment when the highly scattered, tentative, and disconnected nature of this essay comes through. You make no serious attempt to engage with the question. It's not a *bad* question, but nor is it an effective ending.

Overall: You raise fine questions, but no part of this essay is fully developed, and there is no sustained dialogue between Marcuse and DADES here which could form a coherent argument - the scattered ideas are fine, but they aren't yet even a true starting point for an argument.