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Re: OT- literature

i agree Valis is not only an amazing book, but can also be read as an artist (pkd) documenting his decent into mental illness through the writing process.

Ubik is probably one of the best books to start with.


On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 12:02 PM, Mech <mech@m3ch.net> wrote:
At 8:59 AM -0700 9/24/08, Kevin Cheli-Colando wrote:

And as someone pointed out Ubik by Philip K. Dick, I would also add Valis and the Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch as crucial though you could do worse than reading all his novels.  PKD has the capacity to cause a major shift in your persepctives if you're not careful.

No f*cking sh*t: I'll give a big +1000 to that last sentence!  I was already a pretty big fan of Dick's and had read quite a bit of his stuff.

And then I hit "Valis".

I know I've a talent for hyperbole, but that book got my head messed up for the best part of a year -- like a bad case of carsickness or a mild hangover that just won't go away.  And it got worse as I worked through the rest of the trilogy ("Valis", "Divine Invasion", and "The Transmigration of Timothy Archer").  It wasn't until I finally followed those three with "Radio Free Albemuth" that I started to pull it back together again.  For some reason, that last book (although it was the first written of the four, but published posthumously) acted as a benediction, a coffin nail on that whole chapter.

PKD is fascinating, but he occasionally also offers glimpses of raw entropy -- the effects of the universe and everything connected to it gradually rotting to pieces before your eyes.  You can see it near the end of the story in "Ubik", in the true nature of "Palmer Eldritch", in the shared hallucinations of the autistic child in "Martian Time Slip", and even in the various forms of 'kipple' (both inanimate and animate) strewn throughout "Electric Sheep".

And the "Valis Trilogy" [sic] is one of Dick's most personalized visions of this.  At that point in his life, Phil Dick was legitimately concerned that he was becoming unhinged, and, being a writer, tried to deal with some very strange occurrences in the only manner he really knew how: to write his way through making sense of it.  Fortunately/unfortunately, he's very good at putting the reader inside his head, which is sometimes not the most pleasant or healthy place to be, especially in the case of possible mental illness.

Everyone's different, but I would NOT start a tour through the works of PKD with "Valis"; rather, I'd work up to that.  "Man In The High Castle", "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", "Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said" and even "A Scanner Darkly", are all excellent novels without having to worry about a great deal of excess baggage slipping in.  I'd ramp up to the heavier 'reality twisting' novels, like "Three Stigmata", "Ubik", or, of course, the "Valis" series.  But, as I said, everybody's different, and I'm sure there's somebody out there for whom even a Dick novel like "Deus Irae" has been a life-changing experience.

Anyway, sorry for the tangent and, as always, YMMV.

"we're no longer sure where home is; homesickness is our only guide"