Do you know who you are, and can you honestly say your awareness encompasses the whole of the biomechanical system which is you-as an organism? May you be aware of the functioning of each organ; the pulsing of the heart, the filtering of the liver and kidneys, or the electrical crackle in your own brain?
Do you sing the body electric?
They say it's bad to ask questions of your audience. It's disruptive; breaks the flow, tears at the weave and begins to fray the threads by which they draw themselves into your narrative. But what better way to examine, to dig underneath the skin?
We're all skin-jobs.
That's the derogatory term for Replicants in Ridley Scott's seminal film Bladerunner, just as 'Toaster' is used for Cylons in Battlestar:Galactica.
Actually, this whole post was inspired by Edward James Olmos live-tweeting Bladerunner the other Sunday:
@edwardjolmos: #movienighttweet it all came from this film... BSG skinjobs... replicants.... thus toasters...
Behind both epithets lies the notion of falsity, of facsimile. In both narratives, we are presented with the notion that there are those who look like us, but are not like us. In Bladerunner, we are left with Deckard's humanity as an ambiguous question, while in BS:G the hybridization and shift into flesh leaves us with the possibility that the markers of 'humanity' are perhaps not so clear-cut as we would like to believe.
Bladerunner uses a test known as the Voight-Kampff to test empathetic responses -and if those responses are off, 'retirement' is not far away. The film itself is an adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and it's no secret that I'm a total and utter Dick-head.
In fact, anyone with an interest in philosophy, storytelling, myth and SF should be one too. Just look at the following:
'I am a fictionalizing philosopher, not a novelist; my novel & story-writing ability is employed as a means to formulate my perception. The core of my writing is not art but truth. Thus what I tell is the truth, yet I can do nothing to alleviate it, either by deed or explanation.
Yet this seems somehow to help a certain kind of sensitive troubled person, for whom I speak. I think I understand the common ingredient in those whom my writing helps: they cannot or will not blunt their own intimations about the irrational, mysterious nature of reality, &, for them, my corpus is one long ratiocination regarding this inexplicable reality, an integration & presentation, analysis & response & personal history.' - Philip K. Dick
In 1974, Dick had a series of mystical experiences which influenced his writing from then on, exploring his own version of Gnosticism. For us, it's the Gnostic view combined with schizophrenia that's interesting.
In 'Schizophrenia and The Book of Changes' he writes:
What distinguishes schizophrenic existence from that which the rest of us like to imagine we enjoy is the element of time. The schizophrenic is having it all now, whether he wants it or not; the whole can of film has descended on him, whereas we watch it progress frame by frame.
This, combined with the Gnostic idea that the world is a creation of the demiurge, which presupposes itself as sole Creator, can may be seen in a rather strange light: that 'reality' as we know it is defined by mediated perception.
It's our perception which ascribes the notion of 'real' or 'false' to a thing, and our perception is a direct, inextricable product of our sensory organs. The flesh, the body, is the only reality we know, and indeed can know.