Author Topic: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD  (Read 3164 times)

altered

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2020, 07:14:57 pm »
The conceptual archaeology thing you mention feels a lot like Renaissance-era neo-Platonism. Which makes sense for a fucking Gnostic.
“I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me.”

“Ever watch that famous war movie? That’s how it’ll be.”
“Which one?”
“The one where everybody dies.”
— Blood Standard, Laird Barron

Remember the fall of Yin Tu.

Cramulus

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2020, 10:12:18 pm »
ahhh yeah I meant to say Platonic, not Aristotelian  :punchballs:


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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2020, 06:17:39 pm »
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (spoilers):

1.  The characterization feels backward.  The humans seem flat, unemotional, robotic.  They fill out their roles, they do their jobs.  They acquire and keep animals as a symbol of social status--fake ones, if they can't afford the real thing.  They tune their emotions with a mood organ.  In contrast, the androids are passionate, dangerous, manipulative.  They're fighting for their lives.

We're told that there are different grades of android, but we aren't shown them; instead, we see different grades of human.  Isidore's fallout-induced(?) brain damage qualifies him as a sort of subhuman (Special).  Roy Baty casually discusses killing Isidore in Isidore's presence, but Isidore doesn't react.  If presented with the scene out of context, which one would you think was the android?

Reading a version of this book with the words "android" and "human" swapped might be an interesting exercise.

2.
Quote
"How can I save you," the old man said, "if I can't save myself?" He smiled.  "Don't you see? There is no salvation."
"Then what's this for?" Rick demanded.  "What are you for?"
"To show you, " Wilbur Mercer said, "that you aren't alone.  I am here with you and always will be.  Go and do your task, even though you know it's wrong."

3.  Making the androids organic (rather than electromechanical) is an interesting choice, which isn't seen very often in western science fiction.  But these androids are so close to human that specialized testing is required to identify them; either psychological, neurological, or by bone-marrow testing.  But if they fail these subtle (and potentially error-prone) tests, they are immediately eligible for retirement.  If we can dehumanize entities that are human in practically every way except for their origin and their lifespan, then we can dehumanize humans, too.

I cannot say whether or not I would pass a Voight-Kampff test.

4.  Buster Friendly's revelation that Mercerism is fake was an interesting twist.  But it didn't matter, and PKD knew it didn't matter.  If a person's religion is based on their personal experience, you can't talk them out of it, and Mercerism--fake or not--is entirely a religion of personal experience.

But I don't quite get the mechanics of Mercerism.  How did Mercer just show up out of nowhere and warn Deckard he was being flanked, when Deckard wasn't in contact with an empathy box?

5.  I find it hard not to mentally autocomplete "Deckard" -> "Deckard Cain".
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Cramulus

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2020, 03:00:53 pm »
I've probably read VALIS five times and finally got myself a paperback copy. (previously, I'd had it all printed out in a 3-ring binder)


The image I'm intrigued by right now is embedded in Horselover Fat's Cosmonogy. There's a section where he's writing his Exegis about where the universe came from, what it actually is. This one section basically says


Back in the Beginning, everything was part of one big thing, called the One, which is actually a mind. But as this unified thing, it can't do anything, or change, or grow, because everything is inside of it. So it separates into two parts, the twins. The One becomes the Two. (we discordians say Chaos, then Discord)

These two parts are Yin and Yang, Universe I and Universe II. But they are not equal - the dark twin is smaller, and sick. The sickness has infected the light twin too. Ideally, these twins would compete against each other in complementary ways. But because of the sickness, the conflict has become toxic and is making everything weak and insane.

at the tail end of this description,

Horselover Fat (who can perhaps be described as the insane part of Philip K Dick) says that the Two will not come into balance. What needs to happen is that the light twin needs to defeat - that is, euthanize - the dark twin. Once this happens, the light twin will split into two halves. And the conflict will become between the two disease-free halves of existence, and proper growth, proper competition between light and dark, will be possible.



he's writing about the self and the world, simultaneously


a lot of material in there to consider

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2020, 03:25:57 pm »
also, I only learned yesterday that Philip K Dick actually had a twin sister who died at a young age.

As a kid, his parents took him to visit her grave--and young Philip saw that his parents had also purchased a grave plot and tombstone for him. The two twins would be buried next to each other.

Looking at his own grave, his death date not yet inscribed, Philip became uncertain which twin actually died. Was there another universe in which his sister lived but he died? Is he dead right now?

this confusion, this transposition of two identities - informed PKD's entire writing career

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2020, 08:19:10 pm »
also, just rewatched A SCANNER DARKLY


     woah
          \


I love it even more than I did when I saw it in 2006.

Rotoscope is the perfect medium for PKD's work.. it makes it feel so dreamy and irreal.


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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #21 on: June 23, 2020, 10:26:07 pm »
Great interview with Erik Davis (of Techgnosis), who's a PKD scholar.. wrote his thesis on PDK, helped publish Dick's Exegesis, etc...

https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=263803811610504&ref=watch_permalink

I enjoyed the whole thing, but if you were only gonna listen to 5 minutes of it, the stuff right after 1:05 is nice and chewy

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #22 on: July 02, 2020, 03:22:33 pm »
Just finished reading THE THREE SIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH. Whew, what a crazy book! really enjoyed it.


Can I talk about it with some spoilers? If you don't want to read anything about it, plz skip. I'll only talk about the world itself, not the plot.


The book, set in the space travel far future of 2016, follows a few characters who work for these drug companies. The earth is now increasingly uninhabitable due to global warming, and so people are being "drafted" to live in colonies on other planets. Mars is a grim hellworld which is basically a labor camp, but they don't specify exactly why it's so hellish, just that people there are all suicidally depressed and need to do heavy hallucinogens in order to cope with it.

The first drug, Can-D, lets people escape into a communal transcendental experience. They chew up the drug together, and then they appear in this fantasy world which is Earth, New York, in the 1970s. (er.. present day) While tripping, you inhabit the bodies of these specific people - males become Walt and females become Pat. They call this experience Translation. If multiple people are translated at once, they share a body - so all the men are sharing Walt's body and collectively deciding how he'll behave. Furthermore, when you do the drug, you have to sit in these "layouts"... basically like a little doll house. You can buy "min" furniture (basically doll furniture), or other items, and it will appear in your trip. So if you buy this fancy wardrobe, then when you're "translated", it appears in your experience. So there's a materialistic component to it.

The rival drug, Chew-Z, lets people escape into a personal transcendental experience. You can imagine anything you want, and it seems real, but you're alone. You could live in a memory, or a fantasy. Essentially, you are in a mind. But whose mind? maybe it's not yours...

Both drugs are incredibly habit forming, and the colonists on mars are badly addicted. These experiences - which the users regard as spirituality, true religion - are the exact experiences permitted by the drug manufacturers. Users feel like their soul actually moves into another body, which proves (to many) that souls are real and the material world torturing us is actually an illusion. But any of these translation experiences are actually controlled by the company that prodces the drug. 

PKD is commenting on two types of transcendental experiences... but rather than the experience itself, he's more interested in where they come from. Who offers them. People are transformed by religious experiences, and then become servants of whoever offered it. Trapped in a mode of thinking. Freed into a form of bondage.


There's a lot more going on in this book than that. Without spoiling the plot too much, I'll mention that this is another book where PKD explores religion with a very skeptical attitude. He views religious experiences as real, but does not take the church's explanation at face value. A lot of his books seem to say -- the bible actually is divinely inspired, but we shouldn't trust God's statement about who or what he is. We all bought into this ancient/medieval idea of god, but what if it's more like an alien invader? what if god is wrong about himself, and only thinks he's perfect? What if creation is flawed in ways that god cannot understand (in the same way that a psychotic person cannot perceive their own psychosis)?
« Last Edit: July 02, 2020, 03:30:05 pm by Cramulus »

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #23 on: July 02, 2020, 03:46:34 pm »
The figure of Palmer Eldritch in the book is hugely fascinating to me.

Quote is spoilers.

Quote
A petty, foolish god with omnipresence and nothing else. God the Observer, another wage slave trying his best is a freakish conception, and I adore it. The idea that he needs a human sacrifice in just the right way to ensure his continued existence feels like a scathing indictment of the accepted story of Jesus Christ.

Crazy shit. My favorite.
“I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me.”

“Ever watch that famous war movie? That’s how it’ll be.”
“Which one?”
“The one where everybody dies.”
— Blood Standard, Laird Barron

Remember the fall of Yin Tu.

Cramulus

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #24 on: July 02, 2020, 04:08:50 pm »
I heard a story that the kernel of the novel is this experience PKD had in the 60s... brain fried on amphetamines, he had a vision... the sky was filled with this terrible face -- steel jaw, metal eyes, a mechanical hand... he got the sense that it was both malevolent and divine. An evil director, in the sky. And that that this was more than just a hallucination; something essential about the nature of the cosmos had been revealed to him.

Quote from: Philip K Dick
I looked up at the sky and saw a face. I didn’t really see it, but the face was there, and it was not a human face; it was a vast visage of perfect evil… it was immense; it filled a quarter of the sky. It had slots for eyes — it was metal and cruel and, worst of all, it was God
(quote ripped from this article)

He understood that the vision was likely a product of the drugs he was on... and also a product of a childhood experience... his father was a veteran of World War I, and would tell stories about his time in the war while wearing a gas mask. The mask terrified young PKD, and it probably screwed up his god/father archetype for life.

but despite knowing how it arose in his psychology because of early childhood experiences and heavy drugs, he also thought this vision was real, in a way. Valid, despite his intoxication. The book is an exploration of that moment.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2020, 05:10:05 pm by Cramulus »

altered

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #25 on: July 02, 2020, 08:24:44 pm »
The godhood in this case is more debatable.

Quote
Palmer Eldritch wasn’t omniscient, he was outwitted on multiple occasions. He wasn’t omnipotent, his power was purely illusory: remember the scene at the monument. He certainly wasn’t omnibenevolent.

He wanted to do good but his vision was small and petty like him, and limited because he could see everything first hand but had no way of truly understanding any of it. He was purely God the Observer. Not a creator, nor a true interloper, or a scholar, or even a “knower”. He could only watch.

His capacity to shape the future required others to accept he was trying his best and was the best placed one to make sweeping, vast decisions, because all he could do is attempt to convince.

A small, petty, stupid, self-serving divinity trying to help everyone live a better life, and not knowing how or even what that looks like. That was the thing that made Palmer Eldritch such a stand out figure to me. Joe Schmoe gets divine awareness and tries to play god, with none of the power or mindset needed. Nothing quite like it.
“I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me.”

“Ever watch that famous war movie? That’s how it’ll be.”
“Which one?”
“The one where everybody dies.”
— Blood Standard, Laird Barron

Remember the fall of Yin Tu.