Thursday, January 31, 2013
In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the Earth’s population now has hover cars, mechanized animals, and the ability to emigrate to other planets. On Earth, the people live relatively akin to our time, they go to work; they try to have relationships, but there is one major exception. Almost all of the characters own an animal and many own multiple animals. This doesn’t seem odd at first until the reader realizes that the bigger stock animals are always desired by the population. Also, the main character is a bounty hunter who destroys androids on the planet Earth; androids that could be beneficial. This can be partially explained by Marcuse in his book, One Dimensional Man, which states, “The intensity, satisfaction, and even the character of human needs, beyond the biological, have always been preconditioned” (1). This can be understood to mean that all levels of needs have already been ingrained by the general population. By looking at the desire for animals, the destruction of androids and comprehending the quote from Marcuse, we can understand how the government and general populace have created this need.
It should first be noted that the government first created the need for the general populace to have animals. When Rick and his neighbor are speaking in chapter one, the neighbor mentions, “how people are not taking care of an animal… it’s not a crime like it was right after WWT, but the feeling’s still there” (p.13). This created the original desire for an animal, because although the punishment was never stated, it can be implied that the punishment for not owning an animal was rather terrible. From wartime, it has now gone into a full obsession and a mark of prosperity on Earth. At the Rosen Corporation Rick is amazed at all of the animals that the company owns, however, once Rick realizes that their rarest animal, the owl, “is artificial. There are no owls” (p. 53). The company loses part of its value to Rick. The intense desire to own an animal and that satisfaction that happens from it all originate from laws in the past that were strongly enforced by the government.
There is also another new business on Earth, the destruction of androids. Androids are not supposed to be on Earth. Many citizens do not know of their existence as noted in chapter twelve, “Other humans, having no knowledge of the presence of androids amongst them, had to be protected at all costs- even at losing the quarry” (p. 108). This also seems odd, the androids, when not threatened, just try and live out seemingly human lives. They become police officers, singers, and other members of the community. However, these mechanical beings are not supposed to be on Earth, they are free slaves for the people who have decided to emigrate to another planet and are a major incentive to travel that distance. Those that do not travel to another planet to live on a colony are deprived of these robot slaves, but the robots are escaping these planets and are trying to live a new life. The government does not appreciate that and are willing to spend resources into making sure that the humans that are still on Earth do not have access to such robots Rick’s boss even states, “W.P.O. [world police organization] is enough interested in the new Nexus 6 that they want a man of theirs to be with you” (p.72). The government’s wish for androids to only be on the new planets is why Rick has such a strong determination to eradicate these robots from the planet.
From Marcuse, we can understand that conditioned responses drive most of the non-biological human needs that we see in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The need for animals is now driven by the general populace, but beforehand it was directed by the government and the major reason that androids are destroyed on Earth is that the government does not want them to exist on the planet because they are only supposed to be the slaves of the people who have decided to emigrate. So just as it is described in The One Dimensional Man, the majority of the society ha wants that are akin to the agenda of its government.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Clearly quoting or citing a location in Marcuse's text (just citing the chapter number, or prologue, is fine for Marcuse, since we all have access to the electronic text), identify an idea or concept, used by Marcuse, which you believe can and should be used to better understand some aspect of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Then, do exactly that: show how and why that concept from Marcuse can be used to understand the novel. Be sure to show and understanding of, and cite material from, both texts. Our discussions of how Heidegger can be applied may be relevant here.
Prompt 2 (Research):
Using academic sources only, probably from Pitt's library (that is, an actual book, or an article from a peer-reviewed journal), present research relating to Marcuse that you think would help the class, and that is at least moving toward an argument. To put it another way: it's fine to spend most of your space simply presenting one or several interesting sources, but you need to also, at the very least, show us the beginning of an argument, or to pose a question or series of questions which would lead to an argument. A 75%/25% division between research and argument would be fine, although I'd be skeptical of a 90%/10% division.
Your sources should be obviously serious and substantive - at least 20 pages of academic writing, and probably more. If you're using a book, you shouldn't necessarily read the whole thing, but read at least the introduction, and whatever material deals with a topic of interest to you.
Example topics: how was Marcuse's work received and used when it was published? How did Marcuse use, and react against, Heidegger? How can/should we understand Marcuse using either the history of philosophy, or the history of technology? What was the role of Marcuse's thought in American politics of the 1960s? Etc.
Recommended book: Andrew Feenberg's The Catastrophe and Redemption of History, which relates Heidegger and Marcuse, and is even available as kindle book, if you're too lazy to go to the library.