Philip K Dick discussion

how many wives/drugs do you have to do?

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message 1: by Hertzan (new)

Hertzan Chimera (hertzanchimera) | 225 comments to be Philip K Dick on top form?

I guess I'm asking, as a reader, do you prefer the early pre-amphetamines Dick or the later Valis-drenched Dick.

Me, I go for the early more-traditionally sci-fi books every time just because they were more like real stories rather drugs-and-religion-soaked pondering - with the exception of the late and very funny A Scanner Darkly.



message 2: by Sean (new)

Sean | 1 comments I like both, but I do lean more toward the "psychedelic" stuff (it seems PKD dabbled with psychedelics--but I'm not certain it was anywhere near what the rumour mill suggests). The stuff written after '74 seemed to be mainly his attempt to grapple with what had happened to him after that fateful visit to the dentist and the dose of anaesthetic.

I think before that - his stuff seemed good, but not as mind-blowing as "VALIS". Books like "Ubik" seem to lead up to that, though.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I was in high school when VALIS and Radio Free Albemuth, Timothy Archer, et al. were new on the shelves. Those are where my love of PKD started. And I still love those. When you say PKD, that's what I think of. I never really read any of the pulpier books or the late-60s "psychedelics" until college. I actually find a lot of the late-60s to be the least interesting. Ubik is ok, Martian Time-Slip is OK. But I love the pulpier 50s/early-60s books which just bound with this wild exuberance no matter what the subject. I love Time Out of Joint with its sudden change of the world into nothing but slips of paper. The Man Who Japed is wild fun. I don't know. If you put me down, there's probably very few that I dislike, but I definitely have a fondeness for late-period PKD....

message 4: by Drew (new)

Drew | 1 comments For those of you interested in a concise and straightforward approach to a difficult and multi-faceted subject I recommend 'Divine Invasions: A life of Philip K. Dick' by Lawrence Sutin. I've read 16 or 17 novels by Dick including one of the collections he helped edit (Best of Philip K. Dick) and his post-humous non-fiction collection of essays, speeches, and excerpts of the Exegesis. I find real depth and insight into reality and the human condition in the majority of his work. A few of my favorites include A Scanner Darkly (I don't, however, find this to be a comic novel, I find it to be a sometimes humorous but ultimately deadly serious look at drug use and the duality of addiction), Radio Free Albemouth, The Man in the High Castle, Dr. Bloodmoney, Flow My Tears the Policeman Said, and last night I read the Cosmic Puppets, which I thoroughly enjoyed as an old fashioned mystery and a treatise on the power of thought, although I found the ending less enticing than the build up. Anyway, I hope some people find this useful or informative. It's nice to meet all of you and see that a love of PKD is alive and well...

message 5: by Tod (last edited Mar 10, 2008 05:53AM) (new)

Tod (todney) | 7 comments I don't think Philip Dick's later stuff was fueled by drugs per se, so much as an awareness of drugs and drug culture. Let's face it, the newly-emerging mass drug culture was edgy and cool. But PKD was never as cool as his alter-egos, and it shows in his awkward use of hipster jargon. The "new mentality" in his later work always seemed to me to have more to do with fear than drugs. I think his few experiences with psychotropics (and the trip to the dentist) actually elevated that fear to the level of a cosmic psychosis. Where other people saw trippy colors and outer space metaphors, Dick fell into an epistemological nightmare that threatened to devour his soul. And that's why I prefer his later work ;-)

message 6: by Hertzan (new)

Hertzan Chimera (hertzanchimera) | 225 comments now we gotta try to define what a 'drug free' creative mind is ... aren't we all in some way 'addicts' to some chemical/theological/aspirational edict?

Gah, drugs, if it weren't for the expense...


message 7: by Tod (new)

Tod (todney) | 7 comments It's cheap and cliche, but you could easily say that drugs simulate dementia, and we all know that dementia can feed creativity. So drugs can be seen as the Lazy man's way to Crazy.

message 8: by Hertzan (new)

Hertzan Chimera (hertzanchimera) | 225 comments or The Time Traveller's Express Elevator To Crazy, temporal linear speaking.


then we gotta define thie CRAZY ELEVATOR and see how very like a normal elevator it is ... maybe it's made of mirrors that refract not only light but also thought.

etc............. hey, I'm drug free before you ask, ya fukrZ


message 9: by Tod (new)

Tod (todney) | 7 comments I agree the difference between a 'sane' mind and an 'insane' mind is one of degree, not of kind. They may be differently configured, but they share the same basic operating system.

To take all the magic out of it, ;-) dementia, like drug experiences, causes "stochastic synaptic activity" (similar to what dreams seem to do) which subjectively translates into "unusual thoughts". And from these unusual thoughts can arise logical connections which - while valid and possibly even true - would simply never have been seen from another vantage point. It should not surprise us that there is such a strong link between genius and madness.

message 10: by Rich (new)

Rich | 12 comments Sorry to be a party pooper but I don't think there is a strong link between madness and genius. In my experience, "mad" (schizophrenic, psychotic, whatever) people are not usually particularly creative and their "insights" tend towards banality; very unhappy, frustrated and unfulfilled human beings.
Even a creative mad person of genius is unlikely to fulfill their potential because of all their other problems (whether stemming from society or themselves as an individual).
Why romanticize other people's (or even your own!) desperate unhappiness?
Apologies again, I think you may have a valid point as long as it's only pertaining to specific individuals!

message 11: by Matthew (new)

Matthew (victor_von) | 24 comments I think there are different kinds of genius and different kinds of madness. Perhaps it is just that the minds that are both great and fractured stand out so much to us. However, it's hard to ignore figures like Tesla, DaVinci, Van Gogh, Jean D'Arc, and their influence.

I thought Dick handled this theme in a lovely fashion in "Clans of the Alphane Moon," btw. His portrayal of a functional society based on various madnesses probably was not a very realistic portrayal of mental diseases. It's still an enjoyable read.

message 12: by Steven (new)

Steven | 5 comments From reading his biography, it seems the early work is the stuff that was done with the help of amphetamines. His later, weirder stuff was done when he was off drugs. Strange, I know. And he only did LSD twice, contrary to the image of "drug guru" that some people have of him. I think his later work is the best personally. Once he got off the amphetamines and slowed down from the 3 or 4 books per year rate he had done previously, his work became more polished.

message 13: by Byron 'Giggsy' (new)

Byron  'Giggsy' Paul (giggsy) | 110 comments Mod
I have done very little drugs in my life because I don't need them. :) I think Dick may fall into that same category.

As far as the debate, like Steven says, his later work become more polished. I think he grew from a great SF mind and a good writer to both a great SF mind and a great writer, so I like his later works the best.

Also, Drew recommended 'Divine Invasions: A life of Philip K. Dick' by Lawrence Sutin. I happily tracked down an out-of-print copy 2 years ago and haven't read it yet (hopefully this year), but I also noticed that this was just reprinted in the US. I saw last month my local bookstore had 6 copies of it. A few weeks later they had only 3 copies... but hopefully this title will now be easily findable for fans. The new version has an updated introduction by Sutin, but otherwise I believe was the same.

message 14: by Matthew (new)

Matthew (victor_von) | 24 comments 'Divine Invasions' is excellent. I also recommend 'What If Our Earth is Their Heaven?' a series of interviews with Dick conducted by his friends in the last year of his life.

I like odd people, but I definitely feel like Dick was the best kind of odd.

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