Saturday, July 21, 2007

Chapter Three

OK, I think I'm getting the hang of blogging a novel. As I work my way through the book, I am trying not to influence anybody's interpretation of the book. There is no one way to read this book, no single set of themes or tropes that should trump any other, no single perspective that is 'correct' or even complete. Therefore these chapter summaries are heavy on footnotes, and lighter on analysis. This is not to say that there will be no deep analysis, or that I will withhold my personal views about the book forever, but, rather, I want to wring every drop of meaning we can from this book, before we attempt to impose some kind of order on all the ephemera this may yield. For me, the footnotes prove the most effective (and efficient) way of doing this. So be patient readers, I will get into some more depth, but I think the time to do that is later rather than sooner, when we have assembled all of the evidence.

Blogging of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch Part Four


In his 1964 letter to Ron Goulart PKD says of his formula for writing novels that in chapter three:

"We switch tracks, and here we begin to develop in a manner forbidden to a short piece. We continue with both Mr. S [the protagonist] and the subhuman.... in a sense. But in another sense, although technically we carry on with Mr S, we are in another dimension; that of the super human. This is the huge They problem, for instance, an invasion of Earth, another sentient race, etc., and though Mr S's eyes and ears, we glimpse for the first time this superhuman reality -- and the human being, we shall call him Mr Ubermensch, who inhabits this realm; [...] just as Mr G is the taxpayer and Mr S is the "I," the median person, Mr U is Mr God, Mr Big [...] he is Atlas, carrying the weight of the world, so to speak, however evil -- and he may well be the heavy -- or good; in any case, power has brought responsibility, and it hurts; it weighs, ages him... yet he is big enough to fill this high office; he can endure it; he is sufficient... We are deep in a book, not a mere story now [...] because of the interplay of these three characters. It is the fate of Mr S to dramatically evolve along a pathway which carries him into a direct confrontation with Mr. U. (Sutin Divine Invasions 137).

For those keeping score at home, what PKD seems to be saying here is that based on this formula we're headed for a conflict between the protagonist (Dick calls Mr S - in this case the obvious candidate is Leo Bulero) and Mr Big/God: Palmer Eldritch. While Dick seems to be following his standard formula in this novel, he also seems to be complicating it at every possible turn. He's got so many plates spinning at this point the effect is somewhat kaleidoscopic, but at the same time, Dick is demonstrating the kind of careful precision he used to great effect in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Dick's use of multiple viewpoints creates a rich, fully developed world for his characters to inhabit. At the same time, the sheer number of characters, each with their own developed agenda and unique take on the sheer madness of the world, are used in different combinations to develop really full, what EM Forster would call 'round,' characters.

Chapter three is the greatest yet in scope. We travel from a bar near P.P. Layouts in New York, where Hnatt signs the contract with Icholtz of Chew-Z Enterprises, to the hovels of the colonists on Mars. Mr Hnatt, licking his wounds after Mayerson's rejection of the ceramics, signs away the rights to Chew-Z enterprises. Following Dick's formula, Hnatt is totally passive when signing the contract. Look at the passage, Dick doesn't even have a thought cross this guy's brain as he's signing away exclusive rights to his wife's property:

"As he bent to sign, Richard Hnatt saw the name of Icholtz's firm on the contract. Chew-Z Manufacturers of Boston. He had never heard of them" (33).

But afterwards, Hnatt realizes how much money's he's just made and suddenly we see his motivation. He wants to EVOLVE (man). Like Deckard in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? who wants live animals not to love and cuddle but instead to show off as bling, Hnatt wants E- therapy, not for the advantages of increased intelligence (and the cool rind on his head) but instead for the social cache, more specifically the way it will enable him to earn MORE MONEY.

In the next scene we're on Mars, at the anything-but-bucolic Chicken Pox Prospects. Of course many of the characters in this section appeared first in the short story "The Days of Perky Pat." In fact in the footnotes check out how similar the descriptions of the UN ships dropping of supplies are.

First thing we need to see on Mars is not only how bad it sucks, but how hopeless the colonists are. They're not even trying to dredge sand out of the irrigation ditches anymore. I'm reminded of the joke where the two guys discuss how bad the job market is while taking bong hits. It sounds so horrible on Mars we instantly understand the appeal of Can-D and the layouts even though we know almost nothing of what the drug is like.

For me the most interesting part of the chapter is when Fran and Sam are discussing what is essentially the theology of Can-D. Following this exchange in which Sam seems to be espousing the view that translation is a metaphorical experience and Fran seems to be arguing that translation is nothing short of a kind of divine transubstantiation, I read lots of stuff on wikipedia (so you know I'm an expert now) on the Eucharist and Anamnesis, and Transubstantiation. Finally I headed over to the New Testament for a crash course in First Corinthians. Paul discusses the need to be pure of heart when eating the sacrament and I've included the highly relevant passages in a footnote. What I think is important to notice is the way Fran goes from prude to nude. As Richard Hnatt has been heard to say, "Wowie"! That's some drug.


15) Page 32 'Icholtz': I can find no obvious reference for this name, although it certainly sounds intriguing (and even strangely familiar).

16) Page 34 'Dr Willy Denkmal': also no obvious reference, Denkmal is German for 'monument' (dg)

17) Page 34 'personae gratae': an acceptable person, esp. a diplomatic representative acceptable to the government to which he or she is accredited. an acceptable person, esp. a diplomatic representative acceptable to the government to which he or she is accredited. Source: (dg)

18) Page 36 'Fineburg Crescent Area': Apparently this is not an 'actual' place on the surface of Mars. Most likely invented by PKD.

19) Page 36) "At ten in the morning..." cf with these lines from PKD short story, "The Days of Perky Pat":
"The care ship sparkled close overhead, set against the gray sky as if hanging from an uneasy thread. Good pilot, this drop, Tod decided. He, or rather *it* just lazily handles it, in no hurry. Tod waved at the care ship, and once more the huge horn burst out its din, making him clap his hands to his ears. Hey, a joke's a joke, he said to himself. And then the horn ceased; the careboy had relented. "Wave to him to drop," Norm Schein said to Tod.
"You've got the wigwag."
"Sure," Tod said, and began laboriously flapping the red flag, which the Martian creatures had long ago provided, back and forth, back and forth. A projectile slid from the underpart of the ship, tossed out stabilizers, spiraled toward the ground.
"Sheoot," Sam Regan said with disgust. "It is staples; they don't have the parachute." He turned away, not interested." (Thanks fb)

20) Page 38 'Forty five minutes': the average length of time for a psychoanalytic therapy session is forty five minutes; the analyst uses the remaining fifteen minutes to makes notes on the case. (dg)

21) page 41 'what the colonists called accidents': important reference to transubstantiation -- from wikipedia: ""Substance" here means what something is in itself. (For more on the philosophical concept, see Substance theory.) A hat's shape is not the hat itself, nor is its colour the hat, nor is its size, nor its softness to the touch, nor anything else about it perceptible to the senses. The hat itself (the "substance") has the shape, the colour, the size, the softness and the other appearances, but is distinct from them. While the appearances, which are referred to by the philosophical term accidents, are perceptible to the senses, the substance is not." (dg)

21) Page 41 'I think we should abstain. In order to not contaminate the experience'

On the Eucharist:
1st Corinthians Chapter 11:23-33
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for [5] you. Do this in remembrance of me.” [6] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. [7] 31 But if we judged [8] ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined [9] so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

33 So then, my brothers, [10] when you come together to eat, wait for [11] one another— if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come." (dg)

23) Page 43 'newsclown Jim Briskin': Recurring name in PKD

The Broken Bubble of Thisbe Holt: The narrator is Jim Briskin, a radio personality who has jeopardized his job in an act of willful rebellion and now turns to his ex-wife Pat, whom he still loves.

The Crack in Space:
Jim Briskin, campaigning to be the first black president of the United States, thinks alter-Earth is the solution to the chronic overpopulation that has seventy million people cryogenically frozen

There is also a mention of a 'Jim Briskin series' which I think may have been a special issue of Amazing Stories in Oct/Nov of 1963. (anyone know anything about this?) (dg)

24) Page 43 'Jaguar XXB': According to Sutin's biography: 'For Phil, one of the great joys of the "good life" was sports cars. [Sometime around 1959] They bought a used Puegot, then traded it for a '53 Jaguar Mark VII with a mohagoney dashboard, gray leather upholstery, and a sun roof. Phil cranked it up to 96mph on the freeway. But it broke down, and in the autumn rains the sunroof leaked and the blue carpet sprouted mushrooms. When Phil refused to help build a garage Anne traded the Jaguar for a Volvo" (107-108). (dg)

25) Page 45 'The girl at A & F': American 'outfitters' Abercrombie & Fitch (dg)

46) Page 45 'Like mad dogs and Englishman': "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun," from Noel Coward's song featured in the revue The Third Little Show (1931) (jl)

Mad Dogs and Englishmen by Noel Coward

"In tropical climes there are certain times of day
When all the citizens retire to tear their clothes off and perspire.
It's one of the rules that the greatest fools obey,
Because the sun is much too sultry
And one must avoid its ultry-violet ray.
The natives grieve when the white men leave their huts,
Because they're obviously, definitely nuts!
Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun,
The Japanese don´t care to, the Chinese wouldn´t dare to,
Hindus and Argentines sleep firmly from twelve to one
But Englishmen detest-a siesta.
In the Philippines they have lovely screens to protect you from the glare.
In the Malay States, there are hats like plates which the Britishers won't wear.
At twelve noon the natives swoon and no further work is done,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
It's such a surprise for the Eastern eyes to see,
that though the English are effete, they're quite impervious to heat,
When the white man rides every native hides in glee,
Because the simple creatures hope he will impale his solar topee on a tree.
It seems such a shame when the English claim the earth,
They give rise to such hilarity and mirth.
Ha ha ha ha hoo hoo hoo hoo hee hee hee hee ......

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The toughest Burmese bandit can never understand it.
In Rangoon the heat of noon is just what the natives shun,
They put their Scotch or Rye down, and lie down.
In a jungle town where the sun beats down to the rage of man and beast
The English garb of the English sahib merely gets a bit more creased.
In Bangkok at twelve o'clock they foam at the mouth and run,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The smallest Malay rabbit deplores this foolish habit.
In Hong Kong they strike a gong and fire off a noonday gun,
To reprimand each inmate who's in late.
In the mangrove swamps where the python romps
there is peace from twelve till two.
Even caribous lie around and snooze, for there's nothing else to do.
In Bengal to move at all is seldom ever done,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun."

I'm away from my complete PKD collection, but perhaps a kind user might look this up: I think the beach scene between Walt and Pat is eerily reminiscent of a romantic beach scene in Confessions of a Crap Artist. Does that ring any bells with anyone?


Anonymous said...

There's the scene in chapter 11 where Nat and Fay go fishing on the out-of-the-way beach. It's not very romantic, though - it's more about the practicalities of their relationship, what each would get out of it.

Anonymous said...

Roni Fugate behaves like a 'dark-haired girl', despite being blonde!

Anonymous said...

'Icholtz' as a name could come from Eicholtz, meaning 'oak (eich) wood (holz)'. 'Ich' is, of course, 'I' in German, making another possible interpretation 'I wood' or 'I would'. Given the brevity of Icholtz' part in the novel, I would like to think this backs up my theory that Icholtz is actually Palmer Eldritch.

'Icholtz' claims to want Emily's pots to 'min' for the newly-formed Chew-Z Manufacturers, competitors for PP Layouts. However later in the novel Eldritch tells Leo that he wants to take over PP Layouts' distribution and advertising network because he hasn't got one.

There's also the American painter Jacob Eicholtz, who painted this portrait in 1841. The painting is entitled 'Dorothea' but could just as easily be called 'Monica' ;)

Anonymous said...

Abercrombie & Fitch needs to be explained for contemporary readers: it was originally an outfitter for outdoor activities, much like L.L.Bean or REI. It went bankrupt in 1977 and the name was resurrected as a preppie teen clothing store in the 1990s. According to Wikipedia, "During the beginning of the 20th century, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. was a retail store for New York's elite sporting expeditions. Prominent American figures who have worn clothing from the company include Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, John Sloan, Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Clark Gable, Harpo Marx, John Steinbeck, Tole Liberman, and author Ernest Hemingway (who is said to have bought the gun he used to commit suicide at Abercrombie & Fitch)."

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