I started reading 'Welcome to Reality: The Nightmares of Philip K Dick' this morning. It's an anthology of short stories with Philip K Dick starring as a character. I've only read the two introductions, one by editor Uwe Anton, and one by Paul Williams. The book is amazing and I can't believe I had been unaware of its existence for so long.
Anton mentioned an article in his introduction I had never heard of before: "Mystery still surrounds death of local sci-fi writer" from the August 28, 1983 edition of the Oakland Tribune. I immediately walked down the block to the main branch of the Oakland Public Library and after playing Rick Deckard (Enhance 224 to 176. Enhance, stop. Move in, stop. Pull out, track right, stop. Center in, pull back. Stop. Track 45 right. Stop. Center and stop. Enhance 34 to 36. Pan right and pull back. Stop. Enhance 34 to 46. Pull back. Wait a minute, go right, stop. Enhance 57 to 19. Track 45 left. Stop. Enhance 15 to 23. Give me a hard copy right there) located the article on microfiche:
Page D-1 click to enlarge
Page D-2 click to enlarge
For you conspiracy nuts out there this article may be too much. If you're looking for an excuse to believe that PKD is working for the United Nations on a secret base on the dark side of the moon (actually it's just an old warehouse in the New Mexico desert but PKD believes he's on the moon) then you may not want to read this. The astonishing truth may lead you to quit your job and devote all of your time to solving the riddle.
My favorite cypher is in the fourth paragraph on the second page. It reads:
"But his daughter says she would like to have answers to questions about his hospitalization and death certificate, thus fueling suspicions and raising the possibility of a publicity 8-27-83 19:47te she administers may profit from the attention surrounding investigation of a possible hoax."
What startling revelations could be covered up by the inadvertent insertion of a time index?
Actually this is a pretty cool article. A very interesting snapshot of the state of the estate 18 months after Dick's death. Notice how many of Dick's family members are willing to talk to reporters. Dick's father Edgar was still alive and they got a quote from him. A portion of the article appeared in issue #15 of PKD Otaku, but as far as I know this article has never been available in its entirety on the Internet before now. This is a Total Dick-Head exclusive!
This article is certainly further evidence that Dick's persona has transcended death, but how?
In his introduction to "Welcome..." Paul Williams writes:
"The promiscuous chain of appearances in other people's stories reflects more, I think, than just a desire on the writer's part to pay tribute to a man who has influenced and inspired them. It is rather a testimony to the mysterious substantiality of Dick's personality, as it comes through in his writings (and in interviews, anecdotes, etc.)."
I thought that was quite elegantly said. I argued in my masters thesis that Dick's persona was alluring because his paranoia displayed a narcissism that was attractive to people who had repressed their own overarching self-love in order to become socialized. Williams puts forth a truly beautiful explanation for Dick's posthumous substantiality by arguing that when a text fundamentally destabilizes a reality we invest our need for stability in the author who becomes more substantial as the only constant in worlds that are coming apart at the seams. Williams writes:
"Reality ceases to exist or at least to be perceived as trustworthy, and so the observer of reality's fickleness takes its place, and (like Palmer Eldritch in Dick's novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch) refuses to stop existing. He won't go away."
Today is one of those days I love living in Dick's old stomping grounds.
Update: Reader Mark Daniels kindly retouched these images! Thanks Mark, your empire will end before ours.