Passing the Voight-Kampff test

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The question itself sounds almost absurd, but as I read more of the novel, it starts to resemble a genuine question, and although I have a vague idea of where the plot is heading with the title alone, I don’t want to jump to conclusions before reading the rest of it.

These first five chapters¬†have been an interesting read, although I do gt the feeling¬†that there are some elements that have not been completely fleshed out so far, one of them being the setting. We know the exact year, and based on our discussion of ‘The Machine Stops’ in the last class, I try to imagine the “future 2021” that a person from 1968 (the year DADOES was published) would. I guess this is somewhat challenging as opposed to envisioning 2021 as we do today.¬†The world I am building in my head while reading is a sort of retro-future, if that’s the correct term.

Parts of the story that have stood out to me so far are:

– Rick and Iran’s (and presumably¬†anyone else that owns one) dependency on the ‘Penifold Mood Organ’ in order to start the day, by artificially administering hormones/chemicals into their body/brain. Although not fully explored, I have a feeling the Mood Organ, or the dependency thereof, will play an important part in the plot at some point. The mood machine and the way it operates might be symbolizing a chemical dependency of some sort.

– A¬†post-apocalyptic Earth, where human reproduction is controlled by the government. The concept of “specials” as individuals carrying distorted genes due to radioactive toxic dust, and the measures men must take in order to protect their… seed.

– A strange religion, or belief system, called Mercerism, based on the possession of live animals and the ability to empathize with other living beings, and the “fusion” with the televised image of Wilbur Mercer, where the individual visualizes or hallucinates a connection to every other individual on Earth, with the hallucination having actual physical effects.

– The concept of ¬†“emphatically underdeveloped” individuals, people who¬†do not demonstrate the expected reactions to the Voight-Kampff test for discerning androids from humans, which (SPOILER ALERT) Rachael is described as before being revealed as an Android. The test itself seems to be about detecting slight physical reactions to verbal cues describing cruel or harmful situations toward animals (and a baby).This makes me wonder how much of the test is based on actual [in-universe] science, and how much of it revolves around Mercerism. Regardless of its basis, if there really is¬†a small subset of humans that can fail the test and be falsely identified as a rouge andy, bounty hunters such as Deckard run the risk of “retiring” an actual person.¬†I have a feeling this will become an important plot point as the story¬†approaches its climax.

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