Philip K Dick, author of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep utilizes many of his childhood experiences as a basis for his writings. His fascination with the science fiction world has lead him to create characters within his various novels that exhibit qualities often prevalent in cyborgs and androids. Through his characters, Rachael Rosen, Pris Stratton, Irmgard Baty, Rick Deckard and J.R. Isidore, Dick also employs various ideals of gender that challenge the reader's current perceptions of Male vs Female.
Philip K. DickEditPhilip Kindred Dick was born a twin to Dorothy Kindred Dick on December 16, 1928. His twin sister, Jane Dick, died shortly after birth due to malnutrition. It was later revealed his mother did not have enough breast milk to feed both her children - that only Dick only ever received enough milk. This greatly affected Dick as he took blame for his sister's death, believing that he had drank both his and his sister's share of milk. As a result, Katherine Hayles states in her essay, during his early life "Dick developed a phobia about eating and could not consume food in public, as if eating was a shameful act,". The women in Dick's life, including his mother and sister, eventually became a large influence in his written work, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.
Dorothy Kindred DickEdit
Dick's mother was described as an intelligent individual who was both cold and distant. She had little, if any, capacity for empathy and this characterization would later be used in Dick's novel to describe androids. He would also use his mother's inability to care for his twin sister as another basis to describe androids who, in his novel, are incapable of caring for and keeping alive a living animal.
The Dark, Brown-Haired GirlEdit
Throughout his life, Dick had several sexual encounters with females, all of whom shared a few similar characteristics: they all had dark brown hair. Dick began to refers to these females, collectively, as the dark, brown haired girl. Aside from physical appearance the dark, brown haired girl was similar to his mother in that she was "intellectually gifted but emotionally cold," . The dark, brown haired girl would eventually reflect andriod characters such as Pris Stratton and Rachel Rosen in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.To read more about Philip K. Dick, read his biography or watch this documentary:
CyborgsEditAccording to the Oxford English Dictionary a cyborg is
"a person whose physicial tolerances or capabilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by a machine or other external agency that modifies the body's function;an intergrated man-machine system."
Philip K Dick, intrigued by the realm of science fiction, incoorportated it into his various works such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep . In doing so, it becomes evident that many of his characters exhibit cyborg/ andriod like qualities. Unlike a cyborg, an android is typically viewed as an artifical form of intelligence. Dick challanges this perception and often blurrss the distinction between andriods and cyborgic humans. Critic Katherine Hayles claims "the androids and simulacra of Dick's fiction include characters who are empatic, rebellious, determined to define their own goals and as strong individuated as the humans whose world they share".
Although the idea of an andriod has not fully developed in our society yet, its precursor- the concept of cyborgs is certianly forming it's place. Our perceptions of cyborgs continue to evolve as society changes. Cells phone, contact lenses, camera eyes, and prosthetics are just some examples of how society has transformed to accomate synthetic methods of aid, unlimated creating the modern cyborg.
Below is a video that directly shows how technology has aided in the creation of a real life Man-Machine
Although it is hard to think of a society where individuals willingly sacrifice competant REAL body parts in exchange for an enhanced synthetic version, the idea is not the far fetched. As our society evoloves so does our beliefs and way of thinking. The speaker could very well be the first to spark a trend of future camera eyes and prosthetic replacements. Only time can tell.
Click [HERE ] for more informations regading the future of cyborgs!
Rachael Rosen is an interesting character in the novel. She makes the readers question whether or not androids can actually feel empathy. In one quote, Rachael says, "'I love you.' Rachael said. 'If I entered a room and found a sofa covered with your hide, I'd score very high on the Voigt-Kampff test.'" This moment in the novel is a turning point for Rick Deckard because he feels as if she has feelings for him which he thought androids did not. Later on we find out that Rachael had alternative motives for sleeping with Rick. After the incident, Rachael reveals that she only slept with Rick because she had to "retire" Rick so that he wouldn't kill her fellow androids. All along we believed that androids could not feel empathy towards humans as well as other androids but we see here that that is not true at all. Maybe androids do not feel empathy towards humans but they definitely are empathic towards other androids. Rachael could be considered posthuman because of the fact that memories were transmitted into her consciousness.
Pris StrattonEditWhile Rachael seemed like a human to begin with, Pris was cold to begin with so we knew right away that she was an android. She would be considered the typical "schizoid woman" as described in Katherine Hayles' article. As J.R. Isidore described, she acted in a very strange way. Also, when Isidore found a spider (which could have been the last living spider), Pris and Irmgard did not hesitate to mutilate the insect by clipping off its legs. They did not show any feeling toward the helpless insect nor did they show any feeling towards how Isidore was reacting to what they were doing. Although she was initially very emotionally detached, and cold, later on we see that she is the one who decides that they should let J.R Isidore live rather than side with Roy who wanted to kill Isidore. According to this wikipedia article about "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", Irmgard recruits Isidore to help them survive. Again, it is the female characters in the novel that challenge our preconceptions of androids being emotionless, cold and unempathic.
John R. Isidore and Rick DeckardEdit
John R. Isidore Edit
BackgroundJohn Isidore is considered a special due to the damage the fallout has caused him. Due to this damage he is not allowed to immigrate to the colonies or to procreate on earth. Stuck on earth he is forced to take on one of the few jobs that are allowed to him, he is a driver for an electric animal “veterinary” and lives on an abandoned building by himself. Isidore also takes part on Mercerism and relies on it to have contact with other humans.
Isidore comes to show himself as the more “human” character in the novel due to his lack of prejudice. He shows extreme emotions to all he considers life. One of the themes on the book is to identify what it means to be human and its shown that everyone has a different definition for what they will describe as human. Isidore throughout the novel changes his ideas on what makes something humans or alive. We can see in his relationship with Pris Stratton that he finds humanity in that which fulfills his need of human contact “In order to live at all one must live with other people.” Isidore, due to the alienation he has suffered, finds comfort and the needed interaction he needed in androids, so to his eyes the androids are human due to the needs they fulfill on him. Changes
With time he sees that although the androids may fulfill his needs for human interaction they happen to lack a feature he takes very seriously, Isidore has respect for all living things and when he sees the ways androids are willing to torture a spider without any guilt his idea of humanity changes. Knowing the capabilities of the androids to disregard the importance of life Isidore begins to see the division between androids and humans.
Isidore takes part of Mercerism and believes it’s important for him to be in touch with Mercer. However when Buster Friendly shows that Mercerism is a sham Isidore must decide on what is real for him. He sees that although Mercerism may be false it affects him in a very real way, and when he is in link with Mercer, after viewing the torture of a spider, and Mercer he gives Isidore a spider it serves to show Isidore hope again.
Isidore constructs his own reality on what he needs. When his condition as a “chickenhead” removes him from normal interaction with humans his minds makes the androids he meets fill the void created by that lack of interaction and therefore become as human as anyone else for him. The same happens with Mercerism, when Isidore knows Mercerism is fake he also know that Mercerism is the one thing that can fill the void that solitude has created on him, and how Mercerism is that which will give him hope, so for Isidore Mercerism is real because it fulfills something he needs.
Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter with the San Francisco Police Department, as a bounty hunter Rick is supposed to hunt and kill illegal androids that come to earth from the colonies. He is married to Iran; both of them heavily depend on their mood organ to feel certain emotions. Rick owns an electric sheep who he has to take care of as a real sheep, the reason he has an electric one is because he can’t afford to get a new live one and it is frowned upon to not take care of a living creature. Rick must fill in for another bounty hunter that got injured on duty while hunting down six Nexus 6 androids that emigrated from the colonies.
Rick is introduced as a cold hearted person who disregards the human side of the androids and is out of touch with his own emotions. Ricks idea of what I human and what isn’t is very clear to him at first but as time passes this line starts to blur. His relation with androids suffers a small change when he has his first encounter with a Nexus 6, Rachel Rosen. Rick starts to see how some androids can feel more human to him than some other humans, we see this when he is in the elevator with Phil and Luba and starts to feel more empathy towards Luba. Ultimately Rick starts to have very human feelings towards Rachel and changes his idea of what life means.
Rick begins to questions his definition of human when he meets Luba Luft and Phil Resch, knowing Luba was an android he still felt more empathy towards her than for Phil Resch due to her physical appearance and Resch cold harted way of killing androids. His line between what is considered human completely blurs when he is manipulated into sleeping with Rachel, who by tricking him into sleeping with her she tries to retires him as a bounty hunter. Ultimately towards the end he merges with Mercer and finds a toad, which he accepts as something, he truly cares for regardless of the fact that it might be “fake” showing his new appreciation for this new kind of life.
Human or Android?Edit
Over the course of the novel the idea of Rick Deckard actually being an android with false memories is played around with. As Rick’s character develops we see that Rick rarely feels empathy towards human and anytime he feels empathy s towards another android. However we see at the end that he truly cares for his toad something androids are not able to do, we see that androids are capable to feel empathy towards each other but not towards other creatures.
Gender plays a big role in Rick’s personality and actions. As a character Rick fits the stereotypical role of an alpha male in the way he tries to be independent and as direct and straightforward about his actions. The biggest role his gender plays on the novel is the sexual tension he feels towards certain female androids; Rick learns that he can feel empathy towards androids as long as they are females. This is shown when he admits to being attracted to Luba but truly changes him when this leads him to sleep with Rachel Rosen.
- ↑ Turning Reality Inside out and Right Side Out: Boundary Work in the Mid-Sixties Novels of Philip K. Dick, Katherine Hayles, page 166
- ↑ Turning Reality Inside out and Right Side Out: Boundary Work in the Mid-Sixties Novels of Philip K. Dick, Katherine Hayles, page 165
- ↑ Turning Reality Inside out and Right Side Out: Boundary in the Mis-Sixties Novels of Philip K. Dick, Katherine Hayles, page 164
- ↑ "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" by Philip K. Dick. Page 194.
- ↑ "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" by Philip K. Dick. Page 166
- ↑ "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" by Philip K. Dick. Page 159