City Tech, Fall 2016

Empathy the weight of guilt.

Hey all this week we read chapters 6 to 15 of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Phillip K Dick. As we read further along the boo,  more details were given to us about the post apocalyptic world, but the story also further explains what type of a man is “Rick Deckerd” the bounty hunter. Through getting to know how Rick’s internal desires and career coexist we can see that empathy cannot be controlled.

Rick shows us the first real window to his empathy on androids when he says”Do you think of them as “it”?”… “When my conscience occasionally bothered me about work i had to do; I protected myself  by thinking of them that way, but now i no longer find it necsasary.”(125) Originally i saw Rick as a more cold hearted human since he has taken the job of killing human like things, but now we can see that Rick originally started this system in order to cope with his job and has grown use to this ideology. Whats strange is that Rick still holds on to empathetic values on androids. While on the job Rick is attack by a group Nexus 6 pretending to be a bounty hunting agency. One of them is an android named Phil Resch, he has false memory’s and believes he is a android bounty hunter. Rick works with Phil to retire Luba Luft and watches him handle the news that the memories he knows were fabricated on mars. As Phil realizes he is an android he defends his humanity by saying “It’s not just false memory structures,… I own an animal; not a false one but the real thing. A squirrel, I love the squirrel,…”(128) In this world we can see that humans take a large pride in being caregivers to animals. it serves a social and personal role, by proving you are moral person who cares about other species and giving yourself something to love. Of course Phil is an android, or something expected not able to feel empathy, but he has real memory’s of loving his squirrel despite his mechanical origins. Rick and Phil hold an internal dilemma, Phil feels as though his emotions cannot be false even if his memory’s are, while Rick begins to feel guilt due to the fact that he has to kill these emotional beings.

Rick later acknowledges that he still holds on to his values after a mini “Voight Kamp test” stating “”Im capable of feeling empathy for at least specific, certain androids. Not for all of them but- one for two” There’s the nothing unnatural or unhuman about Phil Resch’s reaction; it’s me.””(142)  Rick begins to acknoledge that he cannot control the emotional strife in his mind, tools like mood organs and dehumanizing of living being cant change his inner feelings only mask them. Phil then states “If its love towards a woman or an android imitation, its sex, Wake up and face yourself, Deckard, You wanted to go to bed with a female type of android- nothing more, nothing less….”(143) While Rick does kill androids here we see how he cannot control his emotions fully. The desire to engage with the androids just like humans are still strong, showing that the line that distinct’s human and androids get overpowered by romantic desires. Rick has realized now that he is a bad predator unable to stomach the killing of even an android.

Rick later suffers from this epiphany. we see it in

“The new and horribly unique depression which has floored him earlier in the day had not left. This, his activity here with an animal dealers, seemed the only weak spot in shrouded depression, a flaw by which he might be able to grab it and exercise it. In the past, anyhow, the sight of animals, the scent of money deals with expensive stakes, had done much for him. Maybe it would accomplish as much now.”(167)

Rick has gone to buying an expensive goat in order to cope with his emotional pain, he hopes to repent for his work and his pain by taking care of a living life. But while Rick hopes to leave this field of business we quickly see it isnt possible with all the debt he is. It isn’t until Mercer tells him

“You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition if life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse of work, the curse that feeds of all life. Everywhere in the universe.”(179)

He decides to stomach three more kills. This quote here shows us how humans in general must stomach many burdens in life in order to survive. Rick must remember that emotional strife from empathy is completely normal.


1 Comment

  1. Jill Belli

    Phil is actually not an android though (the test proves that) …

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