‘Do androids dream of electric sheep?’

In the den at night with the flue to the gas fire open it’s so drafty it feels like we’re outside, and Dawn and I wrap ourselves in blankets, play vinyl, and it’s a pain to get up and have to flip it. The kids stayed at different houses but we didn’t find out until after our date night/movie was over so we turned around, went back to the store for a bottle of wine, felt like we should stay out longer but didn’t and came back home, where Dawn fell asleep after her first glass.

And though she was asleep I still talked to her about the character from the film, a replicant, the year 2049: and if there’s three types of basic conflict (man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. himself), surely the conflict with self was most interesting: but that wouldn’t be enough to sustain a film for +2 hours so they had to include token villains, though their motivations were unclear, less interesting.

And for a time there was a sound in the theater of stilted, garbled audio like a broken transmission we assumed was part of the film but wasn’t, it was a moviegoer talking uncontrollably back to the film, unable to distinguish what’s real vs. make believe, to quiet his inner/outer voices.

I broke down and called the eye doctor: it was Friday, I’d had a bug in my eye since Monday, but explained to the nurse I had an eye sensitivity and didn’t like people touching me there, wasn’t sure if there was anything that could be done: and in her bright, London accent she said, well it sounds like we’re just going to have to flip your lid and dig it out, then!

And I sat in the chair waiting for the doctor to come, biting the hair on my lower lip. The nurse said there was a magazine I could read but it was Sports Illustrated, it said on the cover “A Nation Divided”: football players with their arms locked, posing like film actors.

The doctor used a Q-tip to try to flip my lid but they were too strong she said, my lids kept fighting her, and though she tried to blast me with saline to flush it out it was no use and I hurried out, glad at least I’d tried.

There’s one thing I liked from that memoir class, I told Dawn as she snored: that when you’re writing a story it’s good to imagine how the story feels, to really go inside the feeling of it, it gives you an architecture to fit inside. It sounded pretentious, and I was starting to slur. And that’s what I liked about Blade Runner, its aesthetic/integrity: it had its own inner logic it stayed true to and you could identify with (at least I did).

And there was the struggle the characters came back to, to distinguish what was real vs. rendered. And how we’d continue with the same conflict well into the future as we got better at making whatever we imagined seem real. Because we could, and the gods we’d made up we now rivaled or surpassed with technology and our own ability to create, though we were not fit to play that role, and it would destroy us.

Facial Animation System “Alfred” (Wiki commons)




Categories: Memoir, musings, technology, writing

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

25 replies

  1. Been going deep on the PKD lately. There’s an online transcription project of his journals during his break down period I just discovered, pretty crazy, awesome stuff. Been meditating a lot lately on his ideas about insanity, basically how you can’t really say what’s insane, or not, crazy or not. How a madman’s thoughts could be the realist thing out there, and that the sane, flat world most live in carries the real dulsion of normality. Hope you get that bug out your eye! Makes me think of the bugs in A Scanner Darkly, hope yours ain’t one of those.


    • Did you see the Blade Runner film by any chance? Would be curious to hear what you thought of it. A Scanner Darkly sounds terrifying. I had the bug in range tonight but it eluded me. It’s deeply disturbing and not, at the same time. It’s a bug. and dead. And not a flesh-eating parasite, which is coming next, with the singularity. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • Makes me laugh, I love it. The new Bladerunner? I have not, will though and will blow my wind then. Crazy how PKD (I like using the acronym like we’re in a cult or something) died in relative anonymity right before the first film came out. Also interesting how much of his stuff permeated the Matrix and all that sort of thing, New Agism in general I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

      • PKD (I like the sound too) is a prophet, and all that irony is just adornment innit? What a master; wish I knew him as well as you. I had the serious jonz for inspiration, it came down to that, I cracked the spine on my Joyce companion and did 100 pages this weekend, feel I’ve been douched.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joyce and PKD seem to be on a similar trip, don’t they? Joyce’s enigma Ulysses was all about spatial-temporal distortion, whole day/world in a book, everything caught between the two flaps, the two hemispheres, the self and other self. Joyce, PKD, the Bible all are total mind fucks when you really start to dig in. Bible most of all maybe. Our current hermeneutics fall incredibly short in understanding, I’m afraid. Ulysses sits on my shelf collecting dust currently, probably like most copies of that enigmatic work, which is funny in itself, like how does the book even find a person? I know asshole would say its want to be intellectuals, trying to be cool, and that may be part of it, but I thinks it’s much more than that probably, great artistic works are like scars, or burnt forest of the collective unconscious. We like to stand their and marvel and say holy shit, this one here, he was on to something. Anyway, good day to you friend. Keep at the Joyce. I’m currently reading this Biographical sketch on Orson Welles, another madman magician artist of the highest order.


      • Also weird, there’s now brothels employed by sex-bots, so PKDs looking saner everyday.


      • Imagine it build it

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ha, ha. Roger that. Good gracious, your Joyce/PKD comment. It’s too much for a hand-held! Feel like I need to write you a letter in response, and mail it. That’s a compliment BTW

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Slurry literary theories are the best … I just wish I could remember mine the next day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the parallel between the man mumbling at the screen and you mumbling at Dawn, both of the recipients deaf to the proffered philosophy. Great last sentence too.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I watched the original Blade Runner (5th time) and the next day, went to the new movie.
    Perhaps I’m just not perceptive enough to enjoy the nuances of Gosling’s performance. I did think his slightly wooden performance was perfect for portraying a latter-day Pinnochio, 2.75 hours angst over I-want-to-be-a-real-boy. And not a glimpse of Jiminy, a chirpy conscience is an inconvenient pal for an assassin, and anyway all the crickets rendered into protein bars I guess. I did think the sorting/screening process for memories was interesting, and I can understand why it might appeal to you, as I begin to read your pieces, since all of us edit, distort, create, or bury memories. The android is desperate for a real memory, and lots of the rest of us are eager to erase a few.
    My sister is studying neuroscience, and tells me about real experiments to implant memories, At least, I think we had a conversation about that, I hope sis isn’t experimenting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good god, that comment of yours is prismatic and dense Robert! Good-dense! I hadn’t thought of “K/Joe” as a Pinocchio, I like that analogy. And his performance, wooden. Not as much as the creepy bearded guy with the eyes, though right? He had real mechanical, wooden qualities. Some problems with the film, but I was really happy with it. How about the sound design, my god?! Yes, I’m going to watch the original with my wife here soon, who’s never seen it. (How about the Darryl Hannah look alike in the new one? Uncanny, right?!) I saw the film in the theater, was only 11 or 12. Was expecting a version of Star Wars, I think. Glad it was what it was. And grateful for your readership, thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m curious about the soundtrack, I think it overwhelmed the audio system in the aging movieplex we were in, so it sometimes sounded a lot like an industrial HVAC system in its death throes, coming to pieces over our heads, I’m not sure if that’s what the studio intended, but it added to the dystopian vibe.
        I’d really like to see the original in a theater.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We had the same effect you describe with the sound, where it trembled and rattled like it was about to implode. I liked that; what a sense of unease. “Sound is a character,” was for me in that film.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Can’t add anything to this enjoyable commentalogue so I’ll just say I enjoyed this. (And I got the mumbling thing too, so there.)


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