Thursday, January 26, 2012

Blog 3 Prompt 1- Margaret Julian

Margaret Julian
January 26, 2012
Blog 3, Prompt 1

In Chapter one of Marcuse’s One Dimensional Man he talks about a time in which “continued progress would demand the radical subversion of the prevailing direction and organization of progress.” He goes on the say that, “This stage would be reached when material production (including the necessary services) becomes automated to the extent that all vital needs can be satisfied while necessary labor is reduced to marginal time. From this point on, technical progress would transcend the realm of necessity.” In Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? we find our characters have already reached this point in history, even their mood is programmed for them through their personal “mood organs”. (Chapter 1 paragraph 1) This lack of the basic human emotion is important because through the book it is hard to imagine these people as real because they “dial up” their emotions at will. They seem to lack the ability to conjure motions of their own because they are always reliant on a machine to do so. That would in my opinion constitute technology that is “transcends the realm of necessity.”

More importantly than that we see these “dialed-in” humans, that indeed are controlled to some degree by machines, hunting human-like machines. Who is to say that had Rick not dialed in the will to perform his job well, that he would even bother trying to remedy the problem. Had the androids been given a mood machine maybe they would be capable of feeling empathy, or in reverse people without the machines would find it hard to feel empathy at all.

Rick and other characters exhibit a lot of the qualities that Marcuse says defines a “one dimensional” person. For example they are completely dependent on the government as the sole provider of nearly everything. They have even taken control of the media “the government in Washington, with its colonization program, constituted the sole sponsor which Isidore found himself forced to listen to.” (Chapter 2 ~ paragraph 10) Rick works for the government and follows their orders to hunt and kill these androids, regardless of whether or not they are currently causing any harm.

Throughout Marcuse’s piece we also see a lot about this homogeneous society in which “The more rational, productive, technical, and total, the repressive administration of society becomes, the more unimaginable the means and ways by which the administered individuals might break their servitude and seize their own liberation.” Isidore is a prime example of this kind of thinking, he spends his time doing what it is the government has deemed him worthy of. There is even a “minimal mental faculties test,” (Chapter 2 ~paragraph15) that people are required to take that determines their worthiness based on intelligence that the prevailing government has decided is important.

(my apologizes for the odd citation I have an e-copy of the book right now and it does not have page numbers.)

1 comment:

Adam said...

Surely the mood organ surpasses any ordinary necessity (although we *can* understand it as medication...). But note that this is also in many ways a struggling, even dying world, with many needs - although maybe the needs come strictly as a result of the massive destruction which the "system" visited upon itself and the world.

Your short paragraph on "dialed in" humans vs human like machines, although skirting along the edge of the obvious, emphasizes the non-necessity of the struggle - even if I don't fully understand your direction or argument, it meshes well with the previous paragraph

Your shift over to talking about the ways in which the characters in the novel are one-dimension is promising, worthwhile, and smart. But it's also really abbreviated and underdeveloped. For this to work, you'd need to focus probably a whole essay on arguing that the characters in the novel are one-dimension, while asking what that means (what about the androids? Is there any hope in the future? Is Marcuse's influence direct or indirect? Etc.). What you need most here is a way of bringing everything together: showing the relationship between the theme of "beyond necessity" and the one-dimensional character of *this* society, and then relating it back to Marcuse. Also there is the critical, higher-level question of what we as readers gain by bringing the two authors together - not just how are they connected (which you do), but how does one help us understand the other.