Philip K. Dick wrote his novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” in 1968. It’s been nearly 42 years since the book was first published and yet the novel’s thematic elements portray the society in which we live in today. Ideally, it is a shocking thing to realize that many of the elements Dick incorporates are exactly what we live by today-certain values and ideas. Even with the all the “futuristic” feel within the characters and setting, it’s certainly possible to apply some parts of the book to today’s businesses striving to successfully produce environmental-friendly products and become a part of the Going Green Movement.
In brief, Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter whose ultimate job is to “retire” androids. There’s the Rosen Association that has just created a new kind of android-the Nexus-6 unit, which Deckard is in charge of “retiring”. There are false assumptions everywhere, including the idea of not knowing whether one is an android or not and which animals are artificial.
In the environmental sense, online communities have been established for users to share and pass on eco-friendly news and products that will somehow improve the way a business impacts the environment. There are forums available and news articles dedicated to businesses that are becoming more aware of the importance of sustainability. The following video is an example that focuses on sustainability.
In the novel, World War Terminus leaves the majority of the population extinct because of the exposure to intense radiation. This setting underlines how it’s vital to see how we’re using up the planet’s energy and natural resources. We are experiencing Global Warming and temperatures are usually off between different seasons. Businesses, especially large corporations, need to use products that are not only good for the environment, but save money as well in the long run. The novel’s setting towards the end is described as “[a] lonely and unfamiliar terrain remote from everything; nothing lived here except himself” (230). Now, people have shifted to the online world. They shop, play games, meet other people, gather daily world and local news, and even talk to each other online through Facebook, Skype, AIM, and Twitter. Although these aspects allow for a higher degree of convenience, they fall under Jean Baudrillard’s idea that as society continues to fall under the constant need for acceptance and materialism, society will cease to exist as authentic, physical personalities in the real world.
This image fits well with Dick’s reference to postmodernism in his novel. When we see the environmental direction in which companies are heading, it seems only a process of one business following orders because they are forced to do so by higher governmental authority or they are pressured by this idea of simulacra to be the same as every other company or business. So when we’re looking at the image of the pipe, we see a pipe, but more specifically, it’s an image of the pipe itself. Even though we see ads and changes, there are still not enough people who recognize this Go-Green movement. Yes, there have been great achievements such as solar cars and panels, but are we doing this because we truly care about the environment or are we simply reproducing products that we think will make us look good?
Mercerism is a religion in which most of the characters in the novel follow. Rick Deckard eventually becomes Mercer and feels that he is living a “life which we can no longer distinguish; life carefully buried up to its forehead in the carcass of a dead world…” (238). The idea for businesses to go green seems like a common trend to follow nowadays. It is already something that is rooted in our culture. In the novel, Sidney’s is a booklet consisting of the values and prices an animal is worth. Rick Deckard’s character is obsessed with wanting to purchase an animal that is real and valued at a very high price. Just as there is an endless list of possible eco-friendly products a consumer can purchase and say they’re using, it can many times seem to relate more to the idea of materialism. For example, just because someone is holding an environmental-friendly mug or cup doesn’t mean they are truly dedicated to the cause.
In many ways, this is very superficial. It’s one thing for companies to partner with each other to promote green awareness. However, it’s possible that many companies can be heading towards the only idea of looking good in hopes of spreading a trend that will expand their businesses.
Flying cars and video calls are found in the novel. These ways of communication are identical to what we use today.
The video screen the characters use in the novel is very similar to the Skype we use today.
We also have solar cars that save energy and run on solar power.
These elements show that the advancement in technology is heading in the direction of running many things through the internet and the goal is always to find a way that uses less energy and time. Disney Channel repeatedly utilizes its commercials to advertise their project called “Friends for Change: Project Green” that encourages everyone to become involved in preservation of the environment. Since many popular artists and actors participate in this project, the use of videos and commercials encourages even the younger generations to see the importance of taking action. In this way, Disney’s business aspects are heading towards an eco-friendly direction.
The link below includes several videos and links that show how far along they are with the project.
Another element of postmodernism is the disorientation of society. Dick’s novel includes androids that are very similar to humans. When it’s hard just to differentiate whether or not one is an android or not, everyone has become alike in a way because they all live under the idea of conformity.
It’s amazing how he could have predicted and sensed this dramatic change of society. In the novel, the term “kipple” is used to describe all the things that gather more and more every day on a daily basis. This falls under the category of consumerism and the idea of entropy in which the world is naturally more likely to become disordered. Going Green involves knowing that there are plastic bags floating on the streets, causing pollution or that we’re using too much water when we turn on the sink. These things lead to the kind of “kipple” that Dick mentions. Consumers endlessly purchase things because they’re attracted to the advertisements around them, whether it’s on TV or on the internet. These ads are unavoidable and we simply purchase more and more until we have so many things that increase the space we take up. This is why we have so many ongoing issues about deforestation and other problems.
The film Wall-E is a great example that depicts a similar condition in which earth is heading. According to The Internet Movie Database, the movie setting is “approximately seven hundred years in the future, the earth is over-run with garbage and devoid of plant and animal life; the consequence of years of environmental degradation and thoughtless consumerism”. In other words, everything is extinct because of our actions and ignorance towards the environment. This whole concept of novels such as “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” and movies like “Wall-E” serve as postmodern ways to inform us about a possible end to the planet we live on. That’s when environmental knowledge comes in and we can take advantage of the technology we have now to spread the word and take action as much as we can.
Facebook is among one of the most well-known social networking site that is beginning to use its domain to spread the Go Green movement. Its increasing “Likes” are gaining more attention as people spread the word.
1Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (The Random House Publishing Group, 1968), 230, 238.
2 How to recycle an old lightbulb into a ship in a bottle, 2008,http://www.wonderhowto.com/how-to-recycle-old-light-bulb-into-ship-bottle-266516/(November 20, 2010).
3 René Magritte, Ceci n’est pas une pipe, 1929.
4 I am not a paper cup, 2008, http://www.vancouvercoffee.ca/category/cups_mugs (November 20, 2010).
5 Skype, 2006 , http://blogs.skype.com/mac/2006/09/skype_for_mac_with_video_is_he.html (November 20, 2010).
6 Ketek-ketek berloncatan…, Project #3: Solar Car, 2008, http://ketekloncatz.wordpress.com/2008/10/16/project-3-solar-car/ (November 20, 2010).
7 Disney, Disney Friends for Change, http://disney.go.com/projectgreen/ (November 20, 2010).
8 Andrew Stanton, Director, Wall-E, 2008
9 Dystopia in the Future, 2010, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0910970/synopsis (November 2010).
10 Facebook, Green on Facebook, 2010, http://www.facebook.com/green (November 20, 2010).