PKD

I have this t-shirt because I am a Philip K. Dick fan. I first learned of Philip K. Dick from Madhu, a friend of mine long, long ago in the early 90s who wondered what was wrong with me that I hadn’t read PKD. Madhu is/was Indian and brilliant and a chain smoker and I had a good time once writing a short story about him, but Madhu said it wasn’t a short story; it was a transcription of our conversation and then, “Inside that gargantuan brain is there an imagination at all?” A point I took seriously and forever and no longer make the mistake of thinking my life is art. It’s not. It’s my life. Art is something else…

So I read The Man in the High Castle and I loved it and then I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Which is the basis for Bladerunner which, of course, I loved… I became hooked on Philip K. Dick, though after a while I began to see a certain hole in his fiction. Confessions of a Crap Artist was, to me, awful. It seemed to eschew PKD’s usual disorientation and paranoia and fall into a miasma filled abyss in which I didn’t want to spend much time. One of the most inspiring novels I’ve ever read is Galactic Pot Healer and for pure entertainment I think it’s difficult to outreach Ubik.

So yesterday I was in a local Starbucks and the bespectacled young Baristo looked at my shirt and said, “I like your shirt.”
“You’ll dream of it later,” I said, wondering if he knew what he was looking at.
“I liked that book but I haven’t read any other books by Dick.”
(“Yikes,” I thought, “watch me NOT go there.”) And I didn’t.
“What do you recommend?” he asked. “I’m geeky but not so much science fiction geeky.”
“You need to explore your geekitude potential,” I said. “Read The Man in the High Castle.” As for me, I just rebought Galactic Pot Healer to read on a flight I’ll be taking soon. Nothing like Philip K. Dick to provide good company in life’s moments of rapid transformation when everything familiar suddenly looks as if you’ve never seen it before, those moments when the rules show up never to have been those printed on the page or engraved upon your heart.

3 thoughts on “PKD

  1. I really love VALIS and I am reading ‘The Divine Invasion’ at the moment. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get round to it. Have you read ‘The Exegesis of Philip K Dick’? I have been saving it for a time when I can temporarily lose my mind in his world. I think full immersion would probably be the best way of doing it justice though perhaps not the best approach if you value sanity!

    • I loved Valis and The Divine Invasion. I don’t know exactly why, but I decided against reading the Exegesis. I think it was because I, well, honestly, I didn’t want him not to be an artist. I don’t actually know how to explain that. What I knew/know about the Exegesis is that it’s less revelatory than PKD’s fiction. What I loved most about Galactic Pot Healer was the idea that God needed an artist who practiced a very old art — one that was barely even needed anywhere in the world any more — to repair “Him.” Sometimes I think when I’m writing or I’m looking at paintings that work somehow that all of that beauty maybe makes a kind of mosaic that in its way is a mirror in which people could see the divine if they knew how to see it. That’s just me, though. Thanks for your comment!

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