Sunday, August 7, 2011

PKD's Bible For Sale on Ebay

Not pictured: actual Bible

OK, all you rich folks out there, we all know you don't pay enough in taxes, so how's about shelling out $6500 for PKD's old Bible currently listed on ebay?! It appears that Dick made several notes on the flyleaf of the front cover about "the resurrection, gnosticism, and the casting out of devils." Of course this would be amazing to own. As far as I know there has been no effort to catalog or reproduce PKD's marginalia (reading Darwin's marginalia was great fun for me in college). The seller seems legit and I can tell you that's definitely PKD's handwriting. So, who's in?

William Gibson has been tweeting some snark on the sale

He begins:

William Gibson


Ditz said...

The seller has a rating of (0) and it's a private listing, so how can you tell if the seller seems legit?

Ragle Gumm said...

The seller claims that this is ex-Powers and ex-Lopez. Before his death, Dick inscribed a bunch of books to Tim Powers so that Powers would have something valuable to sell later, which he did through the bookseller Ken Lopez. And that looks like PKD's handwriting to me. I guess Tim Powers would be the person to authenticate the item. I certainly would want to do that before I paid that kind of money for something.

Mr. Hand said...

William Gibson exposes his ignorance once again. He can't get our attention with legitimate literary or critical work. What's weird is that the temporal lobe epilepsy thing is such a canard, even from a materialist point of view, since it doesn't explain anything.

Brandon said...

Gibson has always rubbed me the wrong way... This just adds to it.

Wainscot Smith said...

Why break a butterfly upon a wheel by trying to understand the comments of someone like William Gibson? He has always been an overrated, uninteresting writer, who is only famous because he was in the right place at the right time when the media and academia had their little love affair with cyberpunk. I once read an interview with Gibson where he basically admitted that he has no ideas and nothing to express, and that when it's time for him to write he flips through magazines to come up of something to write about. He's a pop-culture dilettante.

palmer_eldritch said...

Ah, so that's who GreatDismal is. Makes sense.

ct-scan said...

Why does he have to keep talking about Phil? If for no other reason, it makes him more relevant...and since he hasn't written anything of any consequence since "Neuromancer", maybe this IS the only way for him to bring attention to himself.

Gabriel Mckee said...

I suspect Gibson has a chip on his shoulder about being permanently associated with PKD due to Neuromancer winning the PKD award. He's said that he never really liked PKD's writing, and now he's forever linked with him in people's minds-- anytime PKD is in the news he gets called for a quote, and I think it's started to really grate on him. Which would explain-- but not excuse-- his increasingly nasty tone...

John Fairchild said...

There is another question to ask: was this *the* Bible that Phil used after his 1974 experiences? I seem to remember a New Jersualem Bible being mentioned, yet if this is a New English Bible, then I could simply be mistaken. No apparent mention of marginalia in the Gospels or the Book of Acts, etc. Would Phil have only made notes in the front of the Bible and not have made notes in the text itself? Does anyone know this for a fact?

Anonymous said...

Gotta agree with Mr. Hand. I'd even say *especially* from a materialist point of view. Logically, you have to believe in some kind of non-material factor if you're going to dismiss experiences because of some (factual or not) material explanation like a medical condition or drugs. Everything can be said to have material causes.

I don't imagine Gibson read much of the gnostic-y stuff PKD wrote long before VALIS.

Regardless, I actually like some of Gibson's writing. I've liked it since I was a kid actually (no thanks to the non-existent MSM coverage at the time). It tends to be preposterous but I don't mind (this is a PKD blog, innit?).

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the interpretation that Gibson is a poor harassed victim of the media's false notion that his writing has anything to do with Dick's. All he would have to do is decline the invitations to write introductions and provide quotes on Dick-related matters. It's his choice to benefit from the publicity by playing along with an association with a writer he doesn't even like. I think the real source of Gibson's resentment is that he knows that Dick actually deserves his fame, whereas Gibson's is accidental. Dick was an obsessional writer with a unique vision of the world, which Gibson the journalistic dilettante envies.

Robert Cook said...

I don't know what to think of Dick's visionary experiences except to say that, as a skeptic, I tend to think they were generated within his own mind...whether as a reaction to medication or as some sort of unusual brain activity I have neither the expertise nor the knowledge of all the facts sufficient to say. I do not think Dick was visited by an alien or spiritual entity.

But then, I could end up being the one with egg on his face!

As for Gibson, I don't know why he seems to go out of his way to disdain Dick. Perhaps he's just offended aesthetically by Dick's sometimes clumsy prose. But then, when I tried to read NEUROMANCER many years ago when it was new and much talked about, I put it down almost immediately when I got to the description of a woman with needle sharp points or blades on her finger tips or something. I thought, having been a fan of punk from its first visible inception as a bunch of NYC neo-beatnik bands playing at CBGBs--(experienced vicariously through the press and recordings, not being then a resident of NYC)--that Gibson was using the cheapest sort of vulgar, pulp-magazine tropes to express the "punk" experience or image in his tricked up Raymond Chandler future. Clumsy prose-stylist though he may sometimes have been, Dick was always writing from an adult, if eccentric, perspective for adults. He was genuinely wrestling with the substance of life in even his potboilers...he didn't condescend.

I can't say Gibson condescends, as I never read any more of him than those first pages of NEUROMANCER, but the razor-fingered chick with shades seemed written to excite the teenaged boys in the reading audience, and not for adults. I was well beyond the stage where I could be intrigued by such shallow effects. I understand Gibson is taken seriously as a writer, and perhaps I'm guilty of hasty judgement in his case, but be it.

As for Dick's less virtuous aspects, those of us who have been long term or serious enough admirers of his work to have read his biographies are well aware he was a decidedly imperfect human being. Gibson's going out of his way to highlight some of Dick's less admirable behavior seems particularly juvenile at this late date, so long after it all happened, when all that's left of Dick is what really mattered all along: his books.

Christian Mengele said...

It would certainly be worth the money to me, if it had a lot of PKD's writing on it. But if it's just what's shown there, I think it's overpriced. How hard is it to come by such PKD handwriting samples? This is the first one I've ever seen on eBay.

Anonymous said...


You seem to be holding ad-hoc neurological explanations as an alternative to a literal interpretation of an unusual experience.
I have no idea about what PKD actually believed. I didn't try to learn much about his life.
But if you indeed believe that PKD's works are what really matters and that they're relevant to our lives, don't you see in those works an invitation to pursue another path? PKD's characters have many unusual experiences. How do you interpret them within the context of their world? I assume you don't always choose between a neurological explanation and a literal interpreration. Granted, you were often provided a ready-made materialist explanation. But you must sometimes have been driven to reinterpret these experiences as your turned the pages.
And it's not only the stories as such which evidence PKD's interest in another path. PKD's works also allude to famous proponents of non-literal interpretations.

the teenage Gibson fan

tuffy777 said...

I believe that this Bible on eBay is probably a forgery. I had Phil's actual Bible that he used in 1974 (it was the New English Bible) and it was inscribed -- by Tim Powers as a gift to Phil!

I sold it to a doctor in Hawaii about a year ago.

Furthermore, I have posted an image of Phil's actual handwriting on my blog for comparison.


Anonymous said...

I don't get the problem. I am as much a fan of Gibson as I am a fan of PKD and I really don't understand whats the problem when one of them does not really like the other. Especially if that criticism is not as unjustified as many of you claim. You probably just blindly defend a fetishised idol. I personally can love an author and at the same time be aware of his flaws, in writing as well as in his personality. So I can totally deal with a great author being not so fond of another author as I would personally like.
Also, it's perfectly okay to be sceptical about an obscure religious experience one claims he had, regarding pink beams from space or writing accusation of other authors to the FBI while becoming increasingly paranoid.
PKD was a brilliant author but he certainly had his flaws. Fucking deal with it.

Robert Cook said...

@teenage gibson fan

I appreciate your obviously thought out response, but I really don't understand at all what you're trying to say.

Wainscot Smith said...

The notion that anyone who has problems with Gibson's remarks only does so because they're blindly worshiping an idol and refusing to acknowledge Dick's artistic flaws is a blatant straw man.

I actually struggled for a long time to get into and understand Dick's writing (I put more effort into learning to appreciate his work than I have with any other writer) and my favorite books of his still don't rank among my favorite books overall. I have no objection to people criticizing Dick's notoriously inconsistent writing.

What I do object to is the notion that Gibson's attitude has anything to do with the quality of Dick's writing, or that personal attacks are the same as literary critiques. Gibson's attitude toward Dick just comes across as really slimy--if he doesn't like Dick's work, as others have pointed out, and if he doesn't like being associated with Dick in the media, as others have claimed, then why did he accept the invitation to write the introduction he mentions in his tweets? And why does he seize any opportunity to bring up the worst thing he knows about Dick and act like it's a representative trait of the whole person and discredits everything Dick said, did, or experienced? As someone else said, it seems very childish, and it has nothing to do with assessing the quality of Dick's writing.

This idea that Gibson only dislikes Dick for literary reasons, suggesting that his comments are legitimate critiques that only fanboys could object to, is absurd.

ct-scan said...

Nobody here thinks PKD is flawless...and if you spent any amount of time here, you would realize that.

Der Zorn Gottes said...

"My money's on temporal lobe epilepsy, on my kinder days." And why can't that be a completely fascinating and culturally invaluable way of looking at his body of work, Mr. Gibson? Extremely distorting neurological disorders exist, and it's possible Dick was one of the modern world's most committed, prolific, and imaginative explorers of that turf. Then again, it could also be originating from something radically different.

The old Ken Lopez collection catalog for anyone interested:

When I contacted Ken last year about the Jaynes letter while researching connections between Dick's works and bicameralism, Mr. Lopez said the entire collection had been sold and the site shouldn't even still be up, but it remains a nice reference for a few things.

However Gibson feels about Dick, this seems like an odd venue for it...his remarks fail to foreground Gibson's concern about the severity of naming-names, nor are they valid in the context of the Bible's price...Gibson's treating Dick like it's the deceased's fault the thing was priced at $6500.