Friday, November 2, 2007

A Moment in the Classroom

Discussing possible essay topics on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? in class Thursday:

Student: I want to write about how Philip K Dick wrote this book on all these drugs.

Me: What parts of the novel do you think the drugs wrote? Which words specifically were written by the drugs and which were written by Philip K Dick? Where does one stop and the other begin?

Silence.

12 comments:

palmer_eldritch said...

There are official guidelines in the UK which tell teachers not to use sarcasm. Like anyone's going to follow them.

That said, though, I have always wondered how PKD managed to consume the amount of amphetamine he reportedly did. Testament to the powers of the human body to take abuse, I suppose.

Anarch Peak said...

Did not John Lennon and Timothy Leary phone up PKD and congratulate him on the book. They thought (wrongly) it was inspired by LSD.

PKD seems, through Harlan Ellison's "Dangerous Visions," to have rather encouraged the myths of his drug use.

Isn't it not likely that the book was written under the influence of amphetamines?

PKD's use of drugs must be a subject worth discussing, even if it is to debunk some of the sillier myths?

Ragle Gumm said...

Palmer,
I wasn't being sarcastic.

anarch peak,
PKD definitely fueled rumors of his own drug use.

And I have no problem with the notion that Dick wrote on amphetamines. The problem, for me, is that we can never be sure how they affected him, and so we are left with only one, completely ridiculous task: trying to determine precisely HOW the drugs affected the prose in the book.

You could write a paper that examines rumors of PKD's drug use, but imagine trying to determine precisely how Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was created.

Besides, even if you are under the influence of drugs, the starting and ending point for artistic endeavor is still 'you.'

In other words, could some other writer take the same drugs and write the exact same novel?

Imagine arguing that a piece of bad fish eaten by PKD was the cause of say Vulcan's Hammer.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about PKD but the guy who wrote this must have been on drugs:

Alanis Morissette Is A Fan Of Dick
Cinema Blend - USA
She's joined the cast of Radio Free Aftermath, a semi-biographical movie about famed and fascinating science fiction author Philip K. Dick. ...

palmer_eldritch said...

Ah, right Ragle - apologies for impugning! It read as sarcastic to me, but then I am naturally very sarcastic, so that's probably why.

Anyhow, you're right of course - the drug-taking is all part of the PKD myth. Perhaps the question could be how he was influenced by the drug culture, rather than his own consumption?

Ragle Gumm said...

palmer,
OK maybe I was being a bit sarcastic.

Do they really have a rule about being sarcastic in the classroom?

Does that mean I could get fired for saying I thought this was the greatest rule in the world?

Ragle Gumm said...

Palmer,
Have they lifted the injunction on eating your pudding even if you don't finish your meat as well?

Jeffrey said...

Tell your student he can only write about the affect of Dick's drug use on his writing if he (the student) writes said paper while on drugs himself.

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palmer_eldritch said...

Ha! There's probably a 'Consumption of Pudding With Regard To Prior Consumption of Meat' policy somewhere!

And there are indeed guidelines which mention the use (or not) of sarcasm - they're called 'Non-Confrontational Behaviour Management' or something. In my experience, sometimes sarcasm is all that can keep you sane.

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Lord RC said...

The thing to remember is how drugs of all kinds dominated the social conscience of the 60s and 70s. Writing on drugs would not have been considered unusual at the time.