Tuesday, February 09, 2010

PK Dick scans SoCal

Scott Timberg of the LA Times reflects on PK Dick's last days in O.C.:

“In Southern California,” he wrote in the novel “A Scanner Darkly,” “it didn’t make any difference anyhow where you went; there was always the same McDonaldburger place over and over, like a circular strip that turned past you as you pretended to go somewhere.”
Cool, though I am not sure I agree with Mr. Timberg's assessment of Dick's later writing, which he considers continuous with Dick's earlier work. A Scanner Darkly flows from a weirder and darker place than, say, Man in the High Castle, UBIK, or "Do Androids dream..." (the novel which led to Blade Runner). Scanner's a bad trip, man, where cops, perps and druggies engage entropically in the bland dystopia of the SoCal 'burbs, the Disneyland of the mind, home to JOHN WAYNE AIRPORT. No space opera heroes nor Deckard like anti-heroes populate ASD. ASD does not seem quite as Kantian--or quantum-mystico--as some PKD, though Dickian characters often deal with a basic metaphysical problem: the relation of the perception of reality to...Reality itself, and really in philo-speak, the conditions of those perceptions, ie experiential knowledge, such as time and space (That said, PKD was not a postmodernist type. Subjective idealism does not imply, at least necessarily, that reason and science are merely fictions. )

Along with the philosophizing or, perhaps....anti-philosophizing, A Scanner Darkly reveals a hint of Hammett like detective pulp--a good thing, except to academics or east coast snobs. (Detectives often deal with a sort of primitive metaphysics, really, related to determining the facts... or chain of events) The OC hive revolves in a microdotted kaleidoscope, post-Nixon, Mao, and 'Nam. Stoners and gangsters turn narc (with the best eavesdropping snitch gear available), Jane Doe's become Ho's, and even cops turn out to be correct at times. Really, "Scanner" verges on madness at the end, like some metal-band jam gone awry, random, pathological as a friday night on the I-5.

More PKD


tuffy777 said...

Nice blog!

By the way, Scott Timberg's article libels me. The story attributed to Tim Powers, about me and my brother grabbing furniture, is a total fabrication concocted in someone's fevered brain. It is actually based upon a story that Phil used to tell about his fourth wife Nancy.
~~ Tessa

J said...

Thanks, Mrs Dick.

I don't claim to be a bona-fide scholar of all things Dickian, like Timburg, or the Total Dick head (you probably have grown tired of the sort of juvenile....er....sexpuns). Yet have I been greatly influenced and indeed shaped by PKD's visions, in print and film.

Yes, that story rang a bit ..weird. Either way, I thought it was cool the LA Times, supposed conservative-corporate media giant, ran the series, though it may have been a bit obvious to some.

I wager you have interesting tales to tell....one thing I found interesting was that some Dickians dispute the claims of PKD's heavy drug use. I've generally assumed the writer of A Scanner Darkly, or Osiris forbid, VALIS ingested a great deal of recreational substances, though some say otherwise.



tuffy777 said...

Yes, Phil's alleged drug abuse was highly exaggerated -- his doctor gave him a prescription, which is a far cry from buying street drugs

J said...

That's sort of important information actually.

Hollywood certainly has raked it in from adapting PKD's stories to the screen, have they not. I hope you and others connected to PKD have shared in that, though I have heard of some battles between the producers and PKD estate/family.

Minority Report probably bought a yacht or two for Spielburg and the thespians. Same for Total recall and Ahhnuld: could Ahhnuld even read the novel? Ich denke nicht.

Ridley Scott and crew's residuals from Blade Runner, which has reached like Kubrick like status, also must be huge. Blade Runner remains my fave PKD flick---Rutger Hauer rocked, as did Darryl, and Ford not bad. I hear a movie might be made from UBIK shortly.

I have seen quite a bit of the "graphix" version of A Scanner Darkly with Keanu, etc, on Youtube; haven't rented the video, though read the book a few times. I enjoy the look for the most part, though as with many novels to movies it's not exactly how I pictured the novel--not sure how it would be done...maybe call Ridley? Heh.

Anyway, nice to meet you Mrs Dick.


tuffy777 said...

thanx again, J!
unfortunately, I get almost nothing from Phil's work
- and almost nothing from my own books, for that matter
the major publishers are afraid that publishing my works might anger the litigation-happy family Trust

J said...

Sad. Of course Hollywood has a reputation for stiffing writers, and thus their families as well (as do lawyers for that matter). H-wood has ripped all of us off, including ordinary citizens.

Did you actually have a hand in writing A Scanner Darkly??!!??

That is impressive. ASD may be my fave PKD tome, and it's explorations of mental illness (and the mental health business) seem as pertinent as ever. See my recent blog/link to Neuropsychology and ASD (and hastily scrawled reaction: the Mindhack dissed RD Laing, which I thought a bit unfair. Laing was never a guru of mine but his thoughts on the institution of psychology/psychiatry seem slightly ..PKDickian in a way).

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