Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cover of the Day


One of the few PKD collaborations that made its way to publication "The Ganymede Takeover" is a politically-charged invasion story Dick wrote with longtime friend (and the supposed inspiration for Roy Baty in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) Ray Nelson.

Nelson provided a lot of detail for Sutin's account of Dick's 1960s and was with Dick during the now-infamous "Libera Me Domine" LSD trip. In addition to inventing the propeller beanie while in high school, Nelson also produced some great science fiction in his own right including the short story "8 O'clock in the Morning" which was made into the John Carpenter classic "They Live."

On his website Nelson has a wonderful account (either fictional, non-fictional, or, as most things Dickian, somewhere in between) of the last time he saw PKD titled "The Last Days of Philip K Dick." Nelson imagines Dick as a regular customer at an outdoor cafe at nearby Disneyland:

"[Dick] took out his wallet and extracted a laminated card. "It's a pass to Disneyland, good for one whole year."

"You must have paid a fortune for it". I took it in my hand and stared at it. It appeared to be exactly what He said it was. "To pay so much for one visit".

"For one visit, yes. But it's a bargain for several times."

"Several times?"

"Many times."

"How many?"

"Every day at first. Now only two or three times a week."

"My God Phil."

"There's a little cafe in Disneyland. They have outdoor tables. I've gone there so often the waiters greet me by my first name."

Many people who visited Dick in his Anaheim apartment noticed his ironic proximity to an actual alternative reality. In 'The Visionary State' Erik Davis writes:

"[Dick] loved out his last days in the distant shadow of Disneyland, the ultimate example of false worlds that, as a writer, he felt compelled to build and destroy."

Disneyland is an example of what our reality would look like after taking Chew-Z, the negative Eucharist peddled by the intergalactic Walt Disney, Palmer Eldritch. Disneyland is an alternate reality designed to induce rampant consumerism and religious brand loyalty, simply read mouse ears as a metal eye, the hand that clasps the bag of souvenirs as metal, anything you buy to eat at the Magic Kingdom will need to be masticated by your steel teeth.

Disneyland is the perfect choice for a Philip K Dick convention. In Nelson's account Dick mentions the tulpa:

"In Tibet they believe that if you imagine someone, set a place for them at the table, talk to someone as if He was really there, talk to other people about him as if He was real, after a while you'll glimpse that someone out of the corner of your eye. The food on that someone's plate will start to disappear. You'll hear someone breathing at night when you're all alone. Finally one night, out of the shadows a someone will step into the light from the campfire and sit down, and perhaps, perhaps..."

How many Dick-heads does it take to substantiate a dead author in Tomorrow Land?

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