Study Guide

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Kipple

By Philip K. Dick

Kipple

Don't look, but chances are there's kipple hanging around your life somewhere right now.

No, no, it's not you specifically—it's just that kipple is everywhere, because it's the representation of decay and degeneration in physical form. In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, it's really everywhere. World War Terminus has left our home planet in an awful mess: entire cities have been leveled, radioactive dust is getting in everyone's hair, and people have left the planet to go seek a new existence in the space colonies—leaving behind all their stuff. As that stuff rots and decays, it becomes kipple.

Isidore describes it:

"Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday's homeopape. When nobody's around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there's twice as much of it. It always gets more and more." (5.23)

So, in other words, just like the dishes in our sink?

We kid, we kid. But that does give you an idea of what this means. The decay of an entire planet or species might be too much for us to fully grasp, but we experience the disrepair of consumer goods in our everyday lives. Anyone who has ever maintained an attic, rented out a storage unit, or had a locker can tell you how true this is. As we collect stuff, and the stuff just spreads out, growing in number, expanding the mess as it goes, bringing disarray into our lives with a tsunami of junk.

Is there hope against this state of decay? Maybe:

"No one can win against kipple," [Isidore] said, "except temporarily and maybe in one spot, like in my apartment I've sort of created a stasis between the pressure of kipple and nonkipple, for the time being. But eventually I'll die or go away, and then the kipple will again take over." (5.31)

Maybe it's time to buy a tiny house.