The book that inspired the film Blade Runner.
Click here for my previous thoughts on this book.
So my umpteenth time of reading this book, and each time it’s always a little different. My previous reading covered the What is real? thing, this time my focus was more on the Mercer thing with the Empathy Box. How Philip describes the continuous Sisyphean ritual of the followers of Mercer — which seems to be all of mankind.
The thing with Philip, at least for me, is that he didn’t write anything without a reason to it, and the Mercer thing is a large part of this story. Why? What’s the point he’s trying to make, what’s he want us to think about?
I feel that the Empathy Box experience would be similar to what Philip experienced with his meth use. To achieve the creative heights, bringing life, through empathy, to all his characters, that he would have gained using meth, only to crash down to the bottom afterwards with no way back up but to use more meth.
But Philip makes clear that all of mankind are in this ritual. That of climbing to tops of hills only to find themselves at the bottom again. And we see it everywhere. The guy who buys the fast car, but once he’s got it he’s just as unhappy as he ever was and now wants a faster car, or a yacht, or some other symbol of wealth to show to the rest of mankind.
And yet again, even in the Empathy Box, Philip brings us back to the main point of the story that i mentioned in my previous comments: that of what is real? Everyone is so convinced that the Empathy Box gives them a real genuine experience with Mercer, only at the end to be told that its all a hoax. But people won’t believe that its a hoax because they’ve invested too much into it and their lives are shaped by it, they’ve become addicted and to quit now would only leave them at the bottom of the hill with no way — that they know of — of getting back up the hill again without Mercer.
And so it was for Philip and his drug use. He was caught in the addiction and knew only how to create from within it. To quit his only known means to creativity, even when he realises that it’s all a hoax and none of it is really true, or real, is a step he couldn’t take.
So that’s my take on this reading. There’s definitely a lot of food for thought in the Empathy Box for all of us. Even if it’s just that morning coffee, you’re still a drug addict who can’t function without your cup of Empathy Box. But what you’re experiencing after drinking it cannot ever be real. Life becomes a corruption experienced through the over stimulated brain cells of a caffeine addict. But you need that coffee to climb your hill because you know of no other way — you have to keep up and share with everyone else, you all need to grab onto the handles of your morning coffee cups else you can’t be part of society, a society that is as sick, unwell and addicted to climbing that hill as you are. And even though there is no hill to climb, you all create one from your collective experience …
… it must be real if everyone’s doing it, right?