Sunday, April 8, 2007

Scenery from Confessions of a Crap Artist

Henri over at the Philip K Dick Bookshelf has posted some beautiful pictures from areas around Point Reyes Station mentioned in Confessions of a Crap Artist. Even better, he's quoted the relevant passages as captions for the photos. Really nice work Henri!

The least talked about PKD film adaptation is Barjo:

I think this French adaptation of Confessions of a Crap Artist is one of the best PKD adaptations ever. I wish it was available on DVD.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Excellent photos, particularly the abandoned boat! In the UK, previous homes of famous people often have blue plaques on the walls outside - does the US have something similar?

Anonymous said...

Actually, I hate "Barjo" more than any other misinterpretation of PKD I've seen. "Crap Artist" is one of my favorite books, and part of what makes it so good is the wonderful way it evokes a particular time and place: late 1950s California.

By taking place in present-day France (or what was present-day France when the film was made) "Barjo" strips out the heart of the book and it feels hollow and soulless.

I could forgive it this, if it didn't also have such a god-awful score. Every time the Jack Isidore simulacrum does something supposedly funny a chirpy "Barjo, Barjo, Barjo!" is sung on the soundtrack. I think it's meant to be charming, but the effect is more like the trombone "wha-whaaaaaa" you'd hear in old movies when a character does a pratfall. After a few repetitions you want to strangle the director.

I saw this abomination on video soon after it was released, and after all this time I can't even think about it without feeling disgust. Some day a good version of "Confessions of a Crap Artist" will be filmed, but believe me, this movie ain't it. It's more of a betrayal than an adaptation.

Wurmbrand said...

Having read seven (I think) of PKD's novels now, and seeing these pictures, I can state that one of the things that draws me to much of his work that I've read is the sense of place, of American towns before everybody holed up all their lives indoors with games, TV, etc. It was a time when high school guys liked to mess around with cars and men fixed radios and stereo turntables, etc. See Matthew Crawford's book Shop Class as Soulcraft. Many women saw much of their children as they grew up. There were neighborhoods, not just "rich" neighborhoods or "bad" neighborhoods, but neighborhoods with a flavor that was neither threatening nor enticing but just marked by the lives of people who had settled in the places where they lived. I'm not saying those were better times in every way or people were better in every way. I think people like that are often more interesting, though, to read about as characters, than people who live in no-places, work in cubicles, manipulate data, etc.

I'm going out on a limb here a bit, but I'd say that Dick's American novels, like Time Out of Joint, have a sense of place, and have a lingering connection too with "the old weird America." (That's Bob Dylan referring to Hank Snow as quoted by John Derbyshire.) Hawthorne knew it ("Roger Malvin's Burial") and Joseph Mitchell tapped a rich vein of it in Up in the Old Hotel.

It's interesting that it's folk like this that I find myself thinking of in connection with PKD, more than, say, Asimov or Heinlein or more recent SF authors.

Wurmbrand said...

I think I said "Hank Snow" when I meant "Hank Williams."

This is the John Derbyshire piece:

Dick is understandably thought of in connection with androids, aliens, difficulties with real vs. unreal, and so on. But he also was interested in people with "ordinary" troubles, including the decisions they make that hurt vulnerable other people and themselves, their guilt, etc. That is all a real concern of PKD's and his handling of such matters connects him with some interesting non-sf matters.

I haven't read any of his realistic fiction.