Blogging The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch Part Five
It's good to be home and nice to get back to the novel. I can't believe I'm only on chapter four. I hope to pick up the pace significantly this week so let's dive in.
Chapter four begins with Leo Bulero attempting to see Palmer Eldritch at James Riddle Veteran's Hospital. Bulero in all his rind-headed glory is purposeful to the point of rudeness. Mayerson observes, "E-therapy had not brought [Bulero] tranquility" (58). Leo's got a 'purpose-driven life,' but not in that 'chicken-soup for the soul' kind of way (sorry there's lots of self-help books to browse in the airport).
Bulero meets Palmer's shall we say mannish daughter Zoe and quickly learns that he's been double-crossed by the United Nations who appear to be protecting Eldritch. Leo storms out and feverish phone calling ensues. The action in these first four chapters is mostly video conference calls and face to face meetings. I wonder how this would translate to film. But you cannot remove these plot points and I think it would be a disaster to substitute car or jet-pack chases for these scenes. I think a good adaptation of this film would focus on these meetings and background all of the trappings of the genre. In other words, the world could look very much like our own, having a kind of 'timeless' look, while in the background hover cars, personal cooling units and suitcase psychiatrists (all of which must be voiced by Albert Brooks) indicate a future earth. I like the scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey when that guy phones home from the yo-yo-shaped space station, wishing his kid a happy birthday. Not exactly edge of your seat cinema but who says science fiction can't slow down the plot a bit.
The doll-house and sacramental translation drug business is a dog-eat-dog one, as we are discovering. In this chapter. each character plots and schemes against the others in an attempt to get ahead. (I think this novel will actually be quite easy to write about for my students. I may ask them to give me three examples of characters looking to live someone else's life.) We see Mayerson and Fugate use their precognitive abilities to make a power grab at P.P. Layouts. Leo's making deals left and right in a panic; even Mayerson is surprised by Bulero's total inability to cope with any form of competition. Bulero, at one point, laments his involvement in the illegal drug business and wonders why he didn't end up designing rocket guidance systems for G.E. and General Dynamics - notice he didn't think about perhaps giving kittens to sick children or anything in any way charitable.
Dick moves the plot along incrementally, and with great economy he often shows us exactly where a particular character's story is headed. Mayerson notes in passing that he has sacrificed a lot of for his career, 'his marriage and the woman he - even now! - loved' (58). After Mayerson manages to get Leo to let him 'ride-herd' over all the pre-fash pre-cogs, Leo accuses Barney of being a tragic figure, of having that 'Greek sin - what did they call it? Hubris?' (61-62).
I love to hate Leo; he's hilarious and he's so unethical and selfish as to be completely unsympathetic. 'Come to me, artificially accelerated cortical-development idea, he said in prayer. God help me to overcome my enemies, the bastards' (56) and then, still in prayer presumably he begins to think, 'Maybe I can make use of my fashion pre-cogs.' Leo treats Mayerson like a commodity and then demands that Barney treat him like a pal when he needs him to. He reminds me a bit of Mr Burns on The Simpsons.
47) Page 51 'tipped his expensive hand-fashioned wubfur derby to the girl': The Martian Wub initially shows up in PKD’s first published short story "Beyond Lies the Wub,” (Planet Stories, July, 1952); able to engage in metempsychosis. Also integral to short story, “Not By It’s Cover,” (Famous Science Fiction, Summer, 1968); Wub-fur bound books have contents that deal with immortality changed. [Would a human that wears Wub-fur have it’s contents/essence changed?] (fb)
48) Page 61 'snink': as far as I can tell this is another word Dick made up, but there are a lot of videogamers out there with the screen name snink. Coincidence?