Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Cover of the Day

Reader Steve scanned in this awesome Panther Edition of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. What a great novel! This is definitely one of Dick's A+ works. Utterly perfect. But the book is also furtive and difficult to grasp because it reflects Dick's view that the nature of reality is to conceal itself, never revealing its true and ultimate nature -- in fact taking active steps to remain hidden, and unknowable.

In her essay, "Philip K. Dick's Political Dreams" Hazel Pierce writes:

"In The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch we enter that arena -- the metaphysical reality which forever eludes us, a reality of which we are forever a part, yet paradoxically from which we must remain forever estranged."

Dick said this novel contained a negative Eucharist, the transubstantiation of man into something more sinister. In Ubik the spray is regenerative, but Chew-Z, Eldritch's mind-altering communion wafer is entropic, connecting the user to a false reality - a reality in which capitalism and materialism corrupt the soul. It is this kind of illusory world I'm guessing Gabriele Frasca connects with Pottersville sans George Bailey in his book on PKD and "It's A Wonderful Life" -- a reality in which greed triumphs over cooperation, apathy over sympathy.

In his essay "Artifice as Refuge and World View" Darko Suvin writes:

"The three stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, the interplanetary industrialist who peddles dope to enslave the masses, are the three signs of demonic artificiality. The prosthetic eyes, hands, and teeth allow him -- in a variant of the Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood -- to see (understand), grab (manipulate), and rend (ingest, consume) his victims better. Like the tycoon in "Oh to Be a Blobel!" this eldritch palmer or uncanny pilgrim towards the goal of universal market domination is clearly a "mad capitalist" (to coin a term parallel to mad scientist)."

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