Utopias & Dystopias – Technological Utopianism & Dystopian in Philip K. Dick’s Cyberpunk Classic – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Is there a place for utopia? Frederic Jameson has claimed that in a postmodern world, we hold a deep suspicion towards utopian ideals (1991 cited in Vieira, 1993). Scepticism towards the possibility of utopia can be found within the term ‘utopia’ itself; coined in 1516 by Thomas More, it is taken from the Greek ou-topos meaning “no place”. Jameson also argues that under closer analysis, the impulse towards utopianism can still be pulled out from postmodern artefacts, thereby illuminating the human unwillingness to abandon utopianism despite such widespread suspicion. Author and media theorist Douglas Rushkoff has openly advocated for utopian ideals, particularly giving credence to the potential of technology to further our social, political and spiritual progression. This essay will lay out Rushkoff’s strand of technological utopianism, offering an analysis of its dystopian counterpart found in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, while also addressing the paradoxical nature of our relationship to the utopian impulse and the unavoidable ontological implications of this.