Monday, January 30, 2012

Questions/Comments on Marcuse & Philip K. Dick, Part 2

After finishing "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" I cannot get the spider scene out of my mind. The scene I'm referring to takes place on page 204 when the android Pris, decides to cut off the legs of a spider Isidore found.
"Pris glanced up inquiringly.
'Is it worth something?' '
Don't mutilate it,' he said wheezingly. Imploringly.
With scissors, Pris snipped off one of the spider's legs."
This scene goes on for several pages and I believe it is vital to the story Phillip K. Dick is trying to tell. Here we have a clear example of the ways in which androids are devoid of empathy. Isidore is horrified, and lapses into a weird fit of rage mixed with (what appear to me as) hallucinations. Isidore puts the spider out of its misery by drowning it, and then leaves the apartment. As a human being with empathy, I cringed as I read this. Unnecessary cruelty to any living being seems barbaric, and I loathed Pris as I read this unfolding scene. Is this what Phillip K. Dick wanted? Was he conducting some sort of thought experiment to see if the reader had this element of human empathy towards animals? I don't know. Perhaps I am reading too much into this, but this is the question I am posing.


Ben Fellows said...

When reading "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" I found the part about the toad particularly interesting. The scene where Rick finds the toad is very Mercerism-like, but when he arrives at home, the toad is revealed to be fake. Why was the toad out there in the first place? Did Dick use the electric toad to represent Mercerism's falseness?

I was also interested in the part where Rick mentions that although he is not glad that the toad is fake, he is glad he knows it is fake. I wonder whether the purpose of this is to relate to androids, perhaps saying he is glad he is aware androids exist on Earth, unlike many other humans. Perhaps Rick may also be comparing this situation to that of androids who are not aware that they are androids, glad he is aware of the truth of the situation. On top of that, I believe its purpose could be to relate to knowledge that Mercerism is false, although one has to question whether the religion is truly false if it still holds a useful purpose to society, even after it is revealed as false, very much like Rick's toad.

Kira Scammell said...

Like Caia, I was also intrigued by the spider scene. Somehow I feel that the spider is directly representing John Isidore. To other humans John Isidore's life is worth more than that of a spider, but to androids, like Pris, the spider is utterly worthless. I believe that Pris torturing the spider shows how little she values living things, even human beings.
But then there's the second spider given to Isidore by Mercer, which seems to have a more positive association with it. Maybe even something along the lines of representing Isidore coming into his own and finding his place. That sounds inherently cheesy though, so I'm not sure how much I'm really reading into that.