I am exploring an idea so I’m breaking it into two parts.
Empathy towards the androids? Rick Deckard, the hero in the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, faces the dilemma of having to choose between killing or not killing the renegade androids required of his job as a bounty hunter. If he continues on his mission then to be effective he decides that he would need the help of the only android available to him who knows the inner workings of the android mentality. Her name is Rachel Rosen, and she is the prototype android that was created for the pleasure of the colonists inhabiting the other planets. Unavoidably, he’s discovered he’s attracted to her beyond her professional qualifications. Another effective bounty hunter sees Deckard’s problem, and tells him to sleep with her then kill her.
Killing is against his philosophy to respect all living things, and though androids are living they do not qualify as human beings or an animal. He has managed thus far in his career to keep the organization of an organic living entity separate from the non-organic living entity. But the lines begin to blur, especially since he’s been acting as a caretaker of an electric sheep. Everyone dreams of owning a real animal. Most animals and insects have become extinct since the fallout of the dust. Owning a fake, though, very real-looking sheep “sapped his morale”.
His assignment to kill the renegade androids who escaped from a colony in Mars will reward him with $1,000.00 per kill, and he’ll be able to afford something real if can “retire” the 6 androids who came to Earth. They had escape a life of servitude to the emigrants of the colony, for which thet were created of toiling for the human beings. But neither their creators nor the androids expected an evolutionary possibility/probability the androids would develop a sense of individuation – a self-governing entity with its own purpose.
As Deckard knocks off 3 of the six remaining androids in his list, he begins to doubt his ability to kill the last 3 androids. In desperation to finish the job and fully own a real animal he calls the “Rachel Rosen” prototype and they sleeps with her. After having sex with her he aims his laser tube to kill her. She is, by design, cooperative and instructs him to do it painlessly by pointing him to the exact spot to aim. He aims, but he can’t fire, and sends her away. “I’m not going to kill you.” The hero straddles the worlds of his analytical self and his empathic self.
Empathy, as one android suspects is the quality that differentiates herself from the human being. She orders another android to experiment with cutting off the legs of a spider to see if it can still walk with only 6 legs instead of 8. The other android uses a pair of cuticle scissors and dutifully cuts off 4 legs. Isidore, a servile and grateful human being, nicknamed as “Chickenhead” (because of his low IQ) befriends the remaining renegades. Considered a “special” he is treated with painful pity by society, given only a menial job to serve the community. He is constantly aware of his burden. He presents the spider, as a gift, to the droids; but witnesses the cruelty and inhumane torture the spider is subjected to. Unable to withstand the torture any further, he takes the spider and drowns it in the kitchen sink. The androids look on with fascination only.
In the last 24 hours I’ve been thinking about “The Human Condition”. I thought I would paint the words in big bold letters on the wall opposite my desk. It would be a reminder of the frail human condition. What is it about seeing a life unfold, like the uncurling of a petals of a flower to its fullness, and it permeates your senses with its fragrance and its heart-breaking beauty? It’s a wonder. And knowing at the same time that at its peak it is also quickly receding to its death, each molecule decomposing to its basic building elements that all organic and inorganic matter is made of. I somehow begin to know the meaning of the expression “Life begets life.”
It’s complicated beyond words. I think I had to reach a certain age, or experience life to a certain breadth and depth to begin to grasp its profoundness. I’ve seen hints of it in the poetry of the lyrics of the band “Tool”. Their version of it is “Life Feeds On Life.”
Here’s a link to the song on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luSJiBjqz_s
The lyrics below with credits go to Tool.
Life Feeds On Life
And the angel of the Lord came unto me,
Snatching me up from my
Place of slumber,
And took me on high,
And higher still until we
Moved in the spaces betwixt the air itself.
And he bore me unto a
Vast farmland of our own midwest,
And as we descended cries of
Impending doom rose from the soil.
One thousand, nay, a million
Voices full of fear.
And terror possessed me then.
And I begged,
“Angel of the Lord, what are these tortured screams?”
And the angel said unto me,
“These are the cries of the carrots,
The cries of the carrots.
You see, reverend Maynard, tomorrow is harvest day
And to them it is the holocaust.”
And I sprang from my slumber drenched in sweat
Like the tears of one millions terrified brothers
“Hear me now,
I have seen the light,
They have a consciousness,
They have a life,
They have a soul.
Let the rabbits wear glasses,
Save our brothers…can I get an amen?
Can I get a hallelujah? thank you, Jesus.
Life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on life feeds on…
This is necessary
It was daylight when you woke up in your ditch.
You looked up at your sky.
That made blue be your color.
You had your knife with you there too.
When you stood up there was goo all over your clothes.
Your hands were sticky.
You wiped them on your grass,
So now your color was green.
Oh Lord, why did everything always have
To keep changing like this?
You were already getting nervous again.
Your head hurt and it rang when you stood up.
Your head was almost empty.
It always hurt you when you woke up like this.
You crawled up out of your ditch unto your gravel road
And you began to walk
And waited for the rest of your mind to come back to you.
You could see the car parked far down the road
And you walked toward it.
If God is our father, you thought,
Then Satan must be our cousin.
Why didn’t anyone else understand these important things?
When you got to your car,
You tried all the doors,
But they were locked.
It was a red car and it was new.
There was an expensive leather camera case lying on the seat.
Out across your field
You could see two tiny people walking by your woods.
You began to walk towards them.
Now red was your color and of course,
Those little people out there were yours too.