Oh boy… PKD in the Crosshairs

Sorry, Gil, but what else is there to say, so I had to take your line. Let’s start with what our own obsessive blogger David Gill says in The Total Dickhead. This piece in the Washington Post apparently started the discussion — because of this:

Loughner’s favorite writer was Philip K. Dick, whose science-fiction tales travel a mystical path in which omnipotent governments and businesses are the bad guys and the average man is often lost in an identity-shattering swirl of paranoia, schizophrenia and questions about whether the universe and the individual are real or part of some vast conspiracy.

That mention became fodder for Slate, which further analyzes PKD and his obsessions. The discussion is underway now on Cal’s PKD discussion list (sorry, members only.) So far just this addition, beyond above, from member Andre Welling:

Well the whole development described here sounds like a classic case of garden-variety juvenile shizophrenia: I knew someone exactly like this – if they are intelligent, the reality breakdown suffered from the illness is always channelled into complex theories about fakes, scams, conspiracies. This person threatened me with violence out of anger that I was so stupid and uncareful so that I let them film me and live-transmit that footage into his disabled TV set at night. He thought better of me. Maybe I was in on the plan to wreck is sanity…

So I guess it is rather Phil’s than Sarah’s fault?

Unfortunately Patrick won’t be able to cover this in the upcoming Otaku, because it just went to press with a review of AKS (A Kindred Spirit) in it. I’m waiting anxiously for that to post. For those who remember PKD ‘zines FDO or Simulacrum Meltdown, Otaku is really the last of our dying breed. sigh… (to everything, Loughner link, losing our ‘zines and our sanity.)

6 thoughts on “Oh boy… PKD in the Crosshairs”

  1. Ok, I have to say something. Actually, I’d like to say a lot, but I don’t know how much space I’m permitted and it’ll get really frustrating to write thousands of words and find I can’t post it, so I’ll keep it brief. My idea of brief.

    First of all, that comment by Andre Welling, So I guess it is rather Phil’s than Sarah’s fault?, is just absurd in the presumption that the question has any basis in reality. How about, oh, you know, it’s not Phil’s fault and it’s not Sarah’s fault, ok?

    Now about this think that PKD was Loughner’s favourite author. Here we go again. The myth of the evil god had a favourite author which of course, by dint of even being mentioned, meant that the author was obviously an evil god too or at least an evil god’s tutor. Ugh, meh, bah, humbug, and every other disapproving grunt one can think of – iow, codswallop.

    When I was in HS, back in medieval times, I had the most interesting course in which we spent a month or so on any number of arcane subjects. For a boring standard government issue high school education, this was truly a unique class – the sort of class that from a previous teacher had produced the likes of the Zucker Brothers of Airplane fame, and the type of class whose teachers regularly had their lives ruined, but that’s another story. So we did cursory study of such interesting topics as charades, comparative religions, debate, psychic phenomenon (in that class, I learned by experiment that talking to plants makes a difference), and a book called Psycho Cybernetics (unless my memory fails and it was one word).

    Now, in my usual oblivion of the social fabric, I have no idea if psychocybernetics had any kind of cultural impact, if it was big, if it became a cult classic, whatever. All I can say is that it was a natural 60’s style follow up on the power of positive thinking and a kind of predecessor to the multitudes of books that followed. There was a kind of golden triangle technique which was kind of magical, but which had the same end. There were others. In the last few decades, these types of positive thinking books have proliferated at an incredible rate, as if no one ever thought of it before. The Secret was an amazing seller, but it was the same old, same old, in many ways. Most of these post sixties books are selling a kind of magic, a low grade spirituality – so-called – as if it’s all about an ethereal plane.

    Psychocybernetics was based on psychology and the power of the subconscious to cause events. The basic idea, though it didn’t actually say so explicitly, was to program your brain basically and then let it do its work while you busy yourself with your life. Sure. Well, when I was 16, I got into this in a big way and it sure worked. But I think – it’s cloudy now – I drifted away from it because it was a bit scary, how things came about so that I could get what I wanted.

    Anyway, what I’m leading up to is that James Earl Ray, MLK’s assassin, was traveling around from grade B motel to grade B motel, carting a dog-eared copy of Psycho Cybernetics with him wherever he went.

    So what’s going on here, one might wonder. I suppose it could be some kind of deliberate propaganda job, but I sort of doubt it. These days, I tend to look for, well, patterns in group behaviour on a more dynamic level. Almost as if, as a friend puts it, there are fields of force that influence human behaviour.

    For purposes of discussion, let’s call these gods, in a Greek/Roman mythological sense, like gods of nature. Let’s just pretend for a moment that there is a very powerful god or set of gods that are devoted to the matrix, the mainstream, the conventional. Maybe we can call it the god of matrix, who is in charge of that overlay over natural reality which is so much a part of the blend of what we think of as reality.

    Ok, out of space, continued in part II

  2. Part II

    This god [matrix] is usually a century or two out of date, which is why most of us are still thinking in a sort of 19th century fashion, even if we are focused on 21st century subjects, objects, or concepts. We deconstruct things like a mechanic deconstructs an automobile, which is pretty much how a buggy (horse driven) would have been deconstructed. Sure, modern cars are heavily computerized, the the mechanics are not geeks, they’re still the old fashioned type of mechanic who look to computerized information as a labour saving device and the voice of god, to make their own labours easily. (Thus, of course, we are gradually losing the intelligence that went into the old style diagnosis of machinery and such.)

    Another force is the god of evolution, we could say, the force that grows and changes, that actually develops within us, or so we hope. Biologists are probably getting really annoyed about now, because of the way I’m using that term – so let’s be clear, I don’t mean evolution in the way that the unimaginative Richard Dawkins means it. I mean more like the kind of evolution that may have taken place to move us from the bicameral mind, if there was such a thing, to our current mind.

    And of course, there’s often a god of imagination and new ideas, which produces a load of unworkable, flaky ideas, all jumbled up in a hat with the occasional really good idea. That so many of these are a kind of construction that defy laws of the universe and can’t work is why the god of the matrix can so easily discredit ALL of this god’s work, but the reality is that mixed in with all those ideas are germs of new realities only hinted at for us, only seen from the corner of our eyes, sometimes requiring language we don’t even have yet. Just try to think in words and concepts you don’t have – obviously the very idea is ridiculous. But it doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally see shadows, pass through a room and have a moment of wondering about that thing that wasn’t there at all, or so it seems.

    This is a long way around, but the subject is a difficult one to talk about. The point is that PKD’s experiences is a threat to the matrix, so naturally lone nut cases have to be walking around reading their books. I just had a gander at an old movie last night with, believe it or not, Wesley Snipes and Sybill Shepherd. The thing is, Sybill and another actor play the parts of this mother son team of serial torturers and killers who are up to the weirdest (and most deadly) psychotic games with their victims you could imagine and in the midst of that, we see them talking about the great holistic forces of love and what not in the great mother earth, blah, blah, blah – that too is just more of that field of discouraging the flaky along with the good. None of this sort of thing is disconnected from the Sarah Palin school of anti-intellectualism… maybe that’s another field, or a god in charge of any number of gods including the god of the matrix, who knows.

    Remember, I’m not talking about actual gods at all, in the Greek sense, but only using them as metaphors for fields of energy we haven’t begun to stumble into, never mind grasp.

    So while the media god convinces every citizen to ask for more government secrecy, the matrix god is always working on converting the unusual into the flaky and thus to marginalize any of the thinking connected to the unusual.

    The short version? Ok:

    Who the hell cares what Loughner liked to read. I’m not to worried about the Loughners of the world – you’re about three times as likely to be struck by lightning than by the next Loughner – I’m worried more about the control freak politicians, the technocrats, and the bankers. Believe me, Loughner and all he represents scares me a lot less as a force in today’s world than does the power of the top 100 corporations and the power of the American federal government. What are they reading?

  3. Terry, the PKD community is incredible obsessive — in fact, it’s the very definition of Otaku 😉 That’s why we care. We care about any sighting or mention of Phil! And, now there is a plethora of reaction on the discussion list… too many to post here. Perhaps Cal can round them up and post them on the fan site at some point? Folks prefer email discussion to forum, it seems, but the forum preserves the comments to review later. And we love that 😉

  4. No shit, larua, you think?

    Tell me, were Amy Gardner, David A. Fahrenthold and Marc Fisher being sarcastic too?

    Could it be that I was making the same point as Andre? Perish the thought!

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