Wednesday, February 1, 2012

questions/comments concerning dick/marcuse week 2

Like Caia, I too, thought that the scene with the spider towards the end of the novel was deeply disturbing. As Pris exemplifies the lack of empathy and thus lack of a conscious in androids, it leads also leads me to question the validity in what the government in Dick's novel labels as "human." This is because of the lack of pure empathy they seem to display and are able to turn on and off, as well as alter with the touch of a switch and a dial on their empathy boxes. It's all very robotic, even that which is meant to seem the most organic. The government is out to "retire" what they deem as robots, while they are convincing the citizens of Earth that regulating their emotional output with the dials, knobs and switches is perfectly and organically human. One of the things that I found was most interesting about this is that in our society, it is largely socially acceptable to regulate what we label as mental illnesses with medications in the form of pills. While I'm not opposed to this when it is necessary (as my family has a long genealogical history of a select few mental illnesses, primarily depression), reading this book made me question the difference of medicating with pills and medicating with knobs and dials. One seems more concretely robotic, but at the core, is there a difference? Now, this could be me justifying the use of pills for the sake of the continuation of my acceptance of it, but I truly believe that when they are actively partnered with therapeutic measures with a trained professional, they can be effective and more pure because they are working to solve a problem, they are working towards fixing the chemical imbalance in somebody's brain. On the other hand, the switches used to regulate or deregulate a human in Dick's novel is, and always has been, part of these citizens' lives. They know no different, as opposed to medication for mental illnesses which are detected at any point in a person's life, but always after a period of time without the medication. The boxes, as Isadore puts so perfectly towards the beginning of the novel, are "an extension" of each citizen's body. They rely on these boxes not to fix anything but rather to mask something by using a robotic device the government has convinced every one of them they are 100% reliant on to function. Which leads me back to my original question: what truly constitutes something as an android and as a person when they are both inorganically and robotically regulated?

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