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Forum Home > General Discussion > The Scramblesuit Mindset

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In reading 'A Scanner Darkly' by Philip K. Dick, I came across a particularly interesting thought - In the book, there's a piece of technology called a 'Scramblesuit', which completely hides any form of individuality from the person wearing it. It projects a randomized, composite blur of millions of different faces, skin colors, body types... Essentially building a new, entirely randomized body several hundred times a second, and never the same form twice. As far as voice, it also mechanizes your voice, alters your vocal patterns, and essentially makes it so that everyone wearing a scramblesuit has the exact same voice.

In Philip K. Dick's world, undercover Narcotics police infiltrate the drug culture extensively, and report back to their superiors wearing these Scramblesuits.

One of the elements of the book's drug of choice - Substance D, or 'Slow Death', as the street name goes, causes, over time, a break between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. It is this divisiveness that Philip K. Dick explores extensively throughout the novel. The main protagonist, also a Narcotics Agent, is Robert Arctur - Also known as 'Fred', when he's wearing the 'suit. Nearer the beginning, his personalities are split, but he is still Robert Arctur, even when he's in the persona of 'Fred'. However, the antithetical natures of his two personalities eventually force a decisive split, eventually to the point that the two cease interacting, even within his own mind.

But there's something else I'd like to explore. When he wears the Scramblesuit, he experiences a certain detachment. He's reporting in on the people he's tasked to investigate - His friends, and himself - with total impassivity. By recognizing the total impersonality, he slips into what I termed 'The Scramblesuit Mindset', where his personal self is totally divorced from any aspect of himself within the Scramblesuit.

This concept, however, carries over extensively into real life - The internet, for example. There's a total disconnect of self and protrayed self, where a person can become anyone - Male, female, young, old, beautiful, handsome, rich, sociable - at will, simply by changing their displayed name, and behaviors. By disconnecting from the physical self, through a filter which removes all identifying characteristics, one begins to create an other identity, suited specifically to the cause of its' creation - Whether it be a factual report of the observations of a Narcotics agent, as in the book, or to a more mundane cause.

March 4, 2011 at 12:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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