Author Topic: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD  (Read 940 times)

Cramulus

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THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« on: May 19, 2020, 02:22:22 pm »
It's about time we had a thread about one of science fiction's most bizarre and fascinating authors.


What's your favorite Philip K Dick story, movie, or fact?

LMNO

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2020, 02:32:12 pm »
Oh, man.

Scanner Darkly, Transmigration of Timothy Archer, Flow my Tears, and of course, just for the bat-shit-craziness of it, VALIS.

Cramulus

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2020, 02:35:51 pm »
VALIS is always gonna have a special place in my heart. Its one of those books that felt, in places, like it was speaking directly to me. It's probably the best modern exploration of Gnosticism.

PKD's concept of the Black Iron Prison crackles with gnostic energy... the whole thing can be read on a few different levels. One of those levels is a direct commentary on your own spirituality. There are a few gnostic texts which have that same quality, but few hit me like VALIS did.



My second favorite PKD book is definitely Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Blade Runner is an excellent movie which only picked up 2 or 3 threads from the book. The book is much weirder and, IMHO, more interesting. I can see why they couldn't film a lot of those concepts, they're farrrr out there.

That being said, the sequel to Blade Runner, 2049, is also a gnostic masterpiece, but it's not based on Dick's work at all. The writers clearly did their homework on PKD's gnosticism though - there are a few subtle details in that movie (such as a table decorated with jesus-fish designs) that are direct references to very fine and specific images that exist throughout PKD's work.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2020, 02:38:52 pm by Cramulus »

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2020, 03:56:52 pm »
Coincidentally, I'm currently about half-way into Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.  Perhaps I'll post some thoughts here once I'm finished with it.
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.

Cramulus

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2020, 04:09:07 pm »
Coincidentally, I'm currently about half-way into Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.  Perhaps I'll post some thoughts here once I'm finished with it.

yes please! I will avoid spoiling.. but god damn, the Mercer machine ... that concept could be a whole movie.

it's especially germane right now... humanity in the real world is isolated by quarantine, craving human contact. Similar to the humans in that novel, who are spread out over largely empty cities. Everybody feels like they're missing something. Everybody feels a shared guilt for how fucked the world is. Conspicuous Consumerism fills the gap.

So they have this machine, looks kinda like a treadmill. When you grip it, your individual consciousness is suddenly replaced by the experience of being this specific guy, who is climbing a mountain while people throw rocks at him. Everybody who uses the mercer machine experiences the same sequence of events.

It creates a "shared sense of suffering", which is one of the building blocks of religion. So that's what religion is right now-- using the Mercer machine to bond with the rest of humanity. Joining the individual and the collective. Everybody identifies with this guy being pelted with rocks. We invent all sorts of lessons to take from this.

arewaglkahlahglagh it's so good -- just wait until the novel develops the idea further.

altered

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2020, 04:10:59 pm »
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. It’s a horror story in a way none of his other stuff is short of maybe Ubik, and it is a tale of a grand, hideous, petty god. It’s gross and metaphysically poisonous. I fucking love it.
“I am that worst of all type of criminal...I cannot bring myself to do what you tell me, because you told me.”

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— Blood Standard, Laird Barron

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Cramulus

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2020, 04:12:24 pm »
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. It’s a horror story in a way none of his other stuff is short of maybe Ubik, and it is a tale of a grand, hideous, petty god. It’s gross and metaphysically poisonous. I fucking love it.

This one is next on my list! It's in the mail right now.

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2020, 04:21:36 pm »

this is one of my favorite jokes


"he was a smart feller who felt smart"

Cramulus

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2020, 04:29:58 pm »
The Voight Kampff test is also such an interesting idea.

Throughout the novel, Dick gives us tiny details about the Androids which show they're not exactly what we imagine as robots. They cleary have emotions, fear death, and if you shoot one, it bleeds and screams just like a human. So how do we identify that they're not One Of Us? and keep in mind, this is a universe where spirituality/religion is based on shared experience of suffering.

The Voight Kampff test measures how much guilt and compassion one feels towards animals. That's basically it. Humans, in this universe, destroyed the ecosystem and have a very intense shared guilt about it (similar to German guilt post WWII--how it became a cultural standard; public schools had classes focused on examining and processing that guilt). Robots don't have this same experience, so they're not human and are therefore ok to destroy.

Isn't this similar to the energy that destroyed the environment? Humans > Nonhumans and therefore morally ok to exploit.

It makes me wonder... if we flash back in time by 50 years, and humans are busy destroying the ecosystem and making earth unlivable... would any of those humans pass the Voight Kampff? Isn't the Voight Kampff actually just a fingers-in-ears denial of innate humans callousness?

there's so many god damned IDEAS in that book

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2020, 04:33:30 pm »
I know for damn sure that there are humans now who'd fail.

Cramulus

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2020, 04:39:48 pm »
kinda reminds me of Camus' The Stranger, where the guy is put on trial for murder, but everyone is much more focused on how he didn't have the normal & expected emotional reaction to his mother's death.

Doktor Howl

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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2020, 07:44:59 pm »
Philip K Dick was more entertaining before his work turned into a documentary.
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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2020, 11:40:29 pm »
Only one of his books I've gotten around to read was Lies Inc. I don't  know how it compares to other stuff, but it sure left me confused. The book was filled with what can only described as virtual plots. Story shows you some elements, and your head goes "oh I bet these would fit together logically like this in a regular story" and then the story just drops them since it already told that story in your head and zooms off into whole another unpredicted trajectory.
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Re: THE PHILIP K DICK THREAD
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2020, 12:55:43 am »
I wanted to expand on the Three Stigmata a bit: it is way farther from reality than Dick’s other work, which is fucking creepy in how well it predicted our cyberpunk dystopia.

In a lot of ways it starts as the inversion of Electric Sheep, taking the same ideas and flipping the script on them. The eugenics subtext is brought out into full view, and the Mercer machine concept is inverted into a tool of capitalism and hedonism. But overall, the same themes are present, being explored from the other side.

Then about halfway through, something terrifying starts to take control of the narrative, and the last third of the book is bleak as fuck. I think it’s probably the most Dok Howl PKD story in some ways. There are no heroes, there is no Deus Ex Machina, and what limited benevolent power exists is stupid, weak, petty, and trying it’s goddamned best.

PKD can be awfully formulaic sometimes, his Gnostic take on reality is usually so heavy handed that you can guess a plot line before it happens, if you’ve read any of his other books. A Scanner Darkly is one of the ones that doesn’t lean too blatantly on the Gnostic  conception of reality, and even there the plotline essentially boils down to the same thing.

Three Stigmata is something different altogether, despite using similar plot elements and near identical symbolism. Wild fucking ride.
“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 #14 on: May 20, 2020, 01:30:29 pm »
I read Ubik this summer. I really love books that make you put them down, rub the bridge of your nose, and say out loud "what the living FUCK did I just read??"

He has such an interesting take.. in Ubik, commercialism has joined in on the invisible spiritual battle for the universe ... there are products which are consuming the universe, causing it to decay and regress -- and a product which can save it.

There's also this weird aristotelian idea, that any given object you can see is actually this ancient form which is disguised under a layer of culture. And as the world starts to fall apart in this novel, the forms regress.. Cars slowly become older and older models cars - eventually they become the Model T, and then they vanish. It's like this conceptual archaeology is going on. Any idea you have is actually a russian nesting doll containing all the ideas that it evolved from - the current point in history is basically like a "skin" on top of concepts .. which makes us think it's actually 2020 (or whatever year it is in the novel).