Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Prompt 2: Marcuse and Dick

           Upon reading Marcuse’s “One Dimensional Man”, it is extremely clear what his views on technology are. Plain and simple Marcuse is strongly against the changing technology and this can be seen when he brings up his theory on technological rationality, “the progress of technological rationality is liquidating the oppositional and transcending elements in the higher culture". Technological rationality is the theory that over time technological advancements can change what is considered rational in society such as the arts. This theory can also be seen in Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” many times. In fact, there are many similarities between Marcuse’s and Dick’s respective writings dealing with their views on technology and the arts.
            Throughout Marcuse’s “One Dimensional Man” he writes about how the advancements in technology are changing society for the worse, and how society is losing touch with what really matters, art. Marcuse sates, “The truth of literature and art has always been granted as one of a "higher" order, which should not and indeed did not disturb the order of business.” Marcuse believes that art such as literature, opera, and theater are far more beneficial to society than technology. Marcuse alleges that the arts are designed to create and invoke another dimension of reality. The fact that Marcuse was strongly against technology and favored the arts is a characteristic which Dick includes in DADES. Dick’s novel which takes place in the future shows how advancements in technology end up destroying society as a whole. This can be seen from the results of World War Terminus which completely changed Earth due to the development of nuclear weapons. Dick illustrates a chaotic world where entire cities are deserted and people run from the “dust”. Clearly Dick and Marcuse share similar views about the advancements in technology are destroying society, and they have other similar views on things such as art. Throughout the entirety of DADES it can be argued that the most calming moment is when Deckard is after Luba Luft, the opera singer. Before Rick confronts Luba Luft, he takes time to sit down and listen and reflect on the opera music being performed. Dick shows art uninterrupted by the advancements in technology and how Deckard is a fan of it, it even brings tears to Deckard’s eyes. This break in the pursuit of androids shows how Dick too is a fan of the arts similarly to Marcuse. Marcuse writes, “The higher culture of the West whose moral, aesthetic, and intellectual values industrial society still professes--was a pre-technological culture… no longer exists and which cannot be recaptured because it is in a strict sense invalidated by technological society”. Marcuse believes that cultures such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Gothics stressed the positive side of art without the use of today’s technology. Marcuse is a strong believer of the arts and wishes society was not moving away from them and toward technology, ideas which Dick used in his writing.

            Marcuse and Dick share similar views on the advancements in technology and how they are not only destroying society but the arts that society is used to. It can be seen in “One Dimensional Man”, how Marcuse believes that society is worse off now with the technology than without technology. This view is also very prominent in DADES with society being destroyed from the advancements in technology. Through Marcuse’s and Deckard’s writings it is clear that art is favored far more than technology. 

2 comments:

Brianna R. Pinckney said...

As I was reading your essay the structure and flow fit very nicely but I wasn't convinced; I'm not quite sold on your idea of how Dick and Marcuse both value art rather technology. I think your argument would benefit from more evidence from DADES verifying why Dick places a higher value in the arts compared to our technical way of living. Also relating both authors reasons for their love of the arts to the themes in their works may also be helpful in making your claim stronger.

Adam said...

Marcuse is undeniably difficult. It's understandable but incorrect to think that he is opposed to "changing technology" as such; this is a book fundamentally about how we think in a technological world, and how we use and fail to use our technology. Marcuse is very much in favor of technological advancement *as such*. The simple opposition you set up between art and technology in Marcuse is essentially incorrect, as well. Having some understanding of "one dimensional thought" is important here. See our discussion in class.

Your discussion of Luba Luft has a central flaw. You - like Deckard - need to wrestle with the fact that she is both an android and a great artist herself. The seemingly simple dichotomy of art vs. technology collapses in DADEs precisely because of who Luba Luft is. To put it bluntly: the only artist we meet *is* an android.

Overall: Getting Marcuse wrong is understandable, although last week's class discussion should have helped. Failing to wrestle with any of the complexity in DADES is a bit more of a problem, though - you're generalizing about the text rather than thinking through exactly the same issues that Deckard wrestles with at length. You needed to pay far more attention to the actual text of the novel here.