Friday, March 21, 2008

Kevin Kelly on PKD

Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor at Wired Magazine, wrote up a little something on PKD:

"Dick's themes are becoming our themes. The question of "Who are we?," "What is reality?" will move from the edges of science fiction and into the center of our culture. I can imagine these questions occupying the front seat of our societal consciousness. The question of human identity will be the headlined in USA TODAY and CNN. They will be addressed by Supreme Court. They will be the topic of dinner conversations."

What percentage of PKD articles reference these "two fundamental questions in his fiction: 'What is human?' And 'what is real?'?

Don't you think PKD did more than simply pose these questions? Didn't he provide some answers? Perhaps something like:

The universe is made up of information and what is real is what we experience when we are emotionally involved in our reality (PKD says his characters transition from living by their wits to living by their heart). And the human is the unpredictable being that is emotionally and empathetically engaged with his or her reality (these are the answers I'm working on these days).

Or maybe:

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

I know those answers don't exactly jibe with one another, but that doesn't mean they can't both be true.

What do you think? Let's stop repeating the questions and starting digging into the answers.

Kelly ends on this ominous note:

"You know how it is when a friend gets consumed by these unanswerable questions? They may flip out, or become paralyzed by the unrelenting weight. Now image a whole world waylaid by these Dickian obsessions. An entire species afflicted with an identity crises. It's coming."

What on Earth would lead someone to believe these questions are "unanswerable" other than the notion that any sufficient solution would have to be consensual, agreed upon by everyone? What you see in PKD's novels is the multitude of answers different characters provide for these questions, the variety of behavioral solutions a complex, morally ambiguous universe evokes in various types of people from intergalactic business tycoons, to down and out tire re-treaders.

The questions won't kill us, but some of the answers people come up with might - and that's what Philip K Dick was trying to warn us about.

I'm not saying this is a bad article, just that there's nothing new there.


MDK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MDK said...

I found Phil's quote on my Zen Page-A-Day Calendar.

Following is a link if you'd like to see the image.

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