Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Special PKD Issue of Scratch Pad 44 Available

Bruce Gillespie has dedicated an entire issue of his e-zine Scratch Pad 44 to PKD and posted it online (click here to download as a .pdf file). The 22 page issue is well-written, interesting, and obviously a labor of love. There's a lot here and frankly, I'm still getting through this (along with teaching two very short and very intensive Freshman Comp classes this semester so forgive the sporadic posts).

This caught my eye on first glance:

"There was a personal knock down fight between Philip K Dick and reality, and the novels tell the rounds of that fight. Not only did Dick have the ability to generalize from his own experience to the experience of the characters in his fiction, but he could render those generalisations in the melodrama of snappy popular fiction."

I keep coming at this from the other direction, thinking that Dick is scripting two universes when he writes: the one he is creating where his characters live and breath and suffer debilitating existential angst, AND the world where Dick is creating this world. At times Dick reminds me of the famous self-portrait of Norman Rockwell in which we see the artist drawing the artist in an infinite regress (a concept I first learned about from Dick in The Transmigration of Timothy Archer). Who can possibly say what personal experiences Dick included in his fiction and what fictions he passed off as personal experiences? What's remarkable about the effect this creates is that it isn't cheesy and simple self-reflection that PKD evokes: he is not a simple Narcissus drowning in his own reflection. Dick surrounds the reader with fun house mirrors which twist and distort the action he creates in his texts. And these mirrors reflect back a distorted picture of Dick himself, a picture that is in part a conscious creation of an artistic mind, part quasi-historical record of perhaps one of the longest and strangest trips ever taken, and part a collaborative effort on the part of all his readers and fans to make Dick into the man we all want him to be and to have been.

While I agree wholeheartedly with Gillespie's notion that Dick was a master of weaving his personal reality into his fictional worlds, I've never been able to find the border between the two. In fact I think the boundary lies on shifting sands and this is no accident, this is Dick's greatest achievement.


palmer_eldritch said...

No wonder he found Three Stigmata... so terrifying, then - he must've seen some parallels between Palmer Eldritch and himself.

Andrew Macrae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Macrae said...

Hi David,

You linked to the wrong Bruce Gillespie. The real Bruce Gillespie is an Australian fan writer, editor and publisher of one of the first books of PKD criticism, Philip K. Dick: Electric Shepherd.

His fanzine SF Commentary is a treasure.

I don't think Bruce has much of a web presence, beyond his contributions on efanzines:

palmer_eldritch said...

The essay on PKD's mainstrem writing is excellent.

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