Monday, May 5, 2014

Mercerism is Real!



Humans believe that what is “natural” is automatically more worthy, because they were not created by humans. However, (at least for the majority of our population, for the majority of our time on the planet) we have believed that what is natural is created by God. Christopher Sims relates this idea to Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep in his article “The Dangers of Individualism and the Human Relationship to Technology in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Sims argues that we value “natural” things because they are godly.

HOWEVER, we created religion!! Religion is a human construct – it is man-made. Religion cannot be godly, because we made it up. At this point I would like to say that I am sorry if I offend anyone. Let’s just use Philip K. Dick’s Mercerism as an example.

Mercerism is the religion of humans in Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The humans in this novel are extremely caught up with things that make them human. They dial into their empathy boxes so they can feel emotions. They spend ridiculous amounts of money on living animals so they can prove their humanity by taking care of another living thing. And they connect with Mercer so they can maintain and express their empathy. It is revealed at the end of the novel that Mercerism is completely constructed. The outing no doubt perturbed the humans living within the novel’s universe. But it doesn’t change the fact that Mercerism served its purpose whether it was fake or not. It no doubt received much less reverence after the exploit, but that doesn’t change the fact that it had a real effect on the humans that subscribed to the religion.
Religions like Mercerism are technological constructions, but we need them to feel connected. As technology advanced (in our own human history) religion appeared to be more and more natural, because it came to exist on its own - without the help of advanced technology. Just because it's constructed, doesn't mean it doesn't work.

1 comment:

  1. Wow what a great post to advocate for Mercantilism and the formulation of religion in general! This post reminded me a lot of Jean Baudrillard’s section in Precession of Simulacra titled “The Divine Irreference of Images.” Baudrillard explains because of the nature of simulacra that drives fear into the hearts of Iconoclasts is because “they predicted this omnipotence of simulacra, the faculty simulacra have of effacing God from the conscious of man, and the destructive, annihilating truth that they allow to appear - that deep down God never existed, that only the simulacrum ever existed, even that God himself was never anything but his own simulacrum.” I think this might relate to and also explain what happened to Quinn at the end of Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli's adaptation of Paul Auster’s City of Glass. Quinn harbors himself in a vacant apartment like a hermit and eventually loses sight of reality, returning to innocence Humanity experienced before “the fall” in a room reminiscent of those constructed in the tower of Babel.

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