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books Essay

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick

There I something quite special about reading Philp K. Dick. He knows how to snatch attention. With just a page or two you are completely under his control. You need more, you find it hard to let the book go. You need answers, damn it! And you will read as much as you can to get them. At least that is my experience reading his work. And I’m lucky to report I’m experiencing the same thing while reading another one of his works right now, Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said. Brilliant title and an addicting book. There should be a ballad with that title.

In some sense, there is a lot of difference between the book and the movie that it inspired, blade runner. Much like, for example, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, something brilliant in its complexity gets boiled down to a few simple ideas or mysteries. Is Deckard a replicant is probably the biggest mystery that a lot of movie watchers try to crack, carefully examining the movie, in some cases even frame by frame. Discard the movie before you start reading the book, that is the best piece of advice I can give you. Both the character of Deckard and the world he inhabits are vastly different from the movie.

One of my favorite parts of the book was the obsession with animals. Even in the run-down world, on the brink of being unhospitable, people still act as we do. There is an obsession with class and status and most of all being able to display your worth in a form of an animal (an object, much like today people flash cars, houses, and other superfluous items that stop them from doing actual good in the world with their money).

Another big part of the book is a religion called Mercerism. Like Abrahamic religions, it is built upon a prophet who suffered. The figure or mercer was stoned to death. But people still interact with him in a machine that can both regulate their mood and give them hallucinogenic experiences (hmm I wonder where he got that idea from). Thinking about this part has made me realize a few things about religion as a phenomenon. First of all, as an atheist, I can’t believe I’m writing this but I think religion will be a part of the human experience or condition as long as there are humans. Because I think religions are all about ideas and how significant those ideas become for a group of people. Ideas form and evolve over time. In certain groups of people, these ideas get exalted to the level of sacred and that is how religion starts. We will probably have similar events in the future. As long as there are new ideas and there are people who feel a certain way about them, religion as a phenomenon is here to stay.

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