Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

This building, except for my apt, is completely kipple-ized. Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday’s homeopape. When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apt, when you wake up the next morning there’s twice as much of it. It always gets more and more. There’s the First Law of Kipple. Kipple drives out nonkipple. But no one can win against kipple, except temporarily and maybe in one spot, like in my apt I’ve sort of created a stasis btw the pressure of kipple and nonkipple, for the time being. But eventually I’ll die or go away, and then the kipple will again take over. It’s a universal principle operating thruout the universe; the entire universe is moving twd a final state of total, absolute kippleization.

In a way, he realized, I’m part of the form-destroying process of entropy. The Rosen Association creates and I unmake.

You and I, all the bounty hunters–we stand btw the Nexus-6 and mankind, a barrier which keeps the two distinct.


Do androids dream? Rich asked himself. Evidently; that’s why they occasionally kill their employers and flee here. A better life, w/o servitude. Like Luba Luft; singing Don Giovanni and Le Nozze instead of toiling across the face of a barren rock-strewn field. On a fundamentally uninhabitable colony world.

Given to mystical preoccupations, this android proposed the group escape attempt, underwriting it ideologically w/ a pretentious fiction as to the sacredness of so-called android “life.” In addition, this android stole, and experimented w/, various mind-fusing drugs, claiming when caught that it hoped to promote in androids a group experience similar to that of Mercerism, which it pointed out remains unavailable to androids.

The account had a pathetic quality. A rough, cold android, hoping to undergo an experience from which, due to a deliberately built-in defect, it remained excluded.


Watching, Rick thought, My god; there’s sth worse about my situation than his. Mercer doesn’t have to do anything alien to him. He suffers but at least he isn’t required to violate his own identity.

Don’t you see? There is no salvation. I am here w/ you and always will be. Go and do your task, even thou you know it’s wrong. You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.

What a job to have to do, Rick thought. I’m a scourge, like famine or plague. Where I go the ancient curse follows. As Mercer said, I am required to do wrong. Everything I’ve done has been wrong from the start.


This is a clean, noble, virgin type of bed. Only clean, noble girls who– Androids can’t bear children, is that a loss? Is it a loss? I don’t really know; I have no way to tell. How does it feel to have a child? How does it feel to be born, for that matter? We’re not born; we don’t grow up; instead of dying from illness or old age, we wear out like ants. Ants again; that’s what we are. Not you; I mean me. Chitinous reflex-machines who aren’t really alive. I’m not alive!  You’re not going to bed with a woman. Don’t be disappointed; okay?


The validity of Mercerism is called into question by Mercer himself when he tells Rick that he can offer no salvation. Dick seems to be suggesting that what religion offers is not what most believers believe it is. Mercer does not save people. Instead, he brings people together so that they can understand each other’s humanness.

This tension between the collective and the individual leads some to view Electric Sheep in Marxist terms. Dick’s novel proposes that only through the suffering of all people is humanity able to overcome the obstacles and challenges that suppress the best in humanity.

This theme can also be seen as a rebuke of one of the important tenets of Marxism: that religion is simply an “opiate of the masses.” Though Dick was sympathetic towards Marxist principles, this theme seems to suggest that he saw value in a particular kind of amorphous spirituality that might blur distinctions between real and unreal.

“Do androids dream? Rick asked himself.”

This quote reflects the title of the book and the basic philosophical question that the book asks: what qualities and traits makes one human. Roy Baty, Rick’s shadow character, seems to have just as many dreams as Rick himself does; dreams for a better life and for the ability to have spiritual fusion with Mercer. Yet, Rick is sent to kill them as if they did not dream. This conflict frames the novel’s debate over the value of life.


Kipple is the spiritual manifestation of this reality because kipple seems to appear from nowhere and drives out the more positive state of non-kipple. This parallels themes found in eastern religion in which the lack of material objects is equated with spiritual balance. John Isidore has been able to find a spiritual balance in this world of destruction and in his own life, because he has been able to keep the kipple at bay.

Humans, it is assumed, would be able to appreciate beauty because of their empathetic ability. Rick, therefore, can tell that he is human because he enjoys opera.

It is Iran that closes the novel. Though she plays only a small role in the book, Iran becomes the symbol for the capacity of human empathy. She is one of the only developed characters to stay consistent in her empathetic responses. She begins the novel by describing her self-induced depressions over the state of the world and she ends the novel by making arrangements to care for a false animal and for her husband. It is Iran’s character, and her compassion, that offers the ray of hope in an otherwise dark fictional world.

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