Friday, August 07, 2009

Not Reading Philip K. Dick

A whacked out edition of a pulp sci-fi book by loser and insane person Philip K. Dick -- if you believe what you read on Bookslut.Dear Bookslut, my newest and bestest friend:

I can see why you do not allow comments on your site. You'd be deluged with intelligent posts refuting the drivel of writers such as Lorette C. Luzajic.

In "Speed Reading: The 44 Novels of Philip K. Dick" she does a hatchet job on a significant American writer, presenting him as the worst sort of madman lunatic fringe weirdo. I never met him, but having read some of the biographical information (readily available for anyone hoping to write about him) I drew a very different picture. Certainly I would not be so hung up on exactly where and when he was sane/insane, as though a complex and deeply experienced life can be measured by such dichotomies.

What sort of a critic writes "Dick doesn't have readers -- he has disciples." What does this even mean? That no-one reads Dick? That he is head of some sort of cult? That he does have readers but they are all besotted by him? That the author of the statement has some privileged view others cannot possibly possess?

Luzajic continues "Once upon a time, he was churning out sci-fi pulp, but longing to be taken seriously as a writer. The next thing, he had followers hanging on his every word."

Now that is a strange assertion. It somehow simultaneously claims that he was an overnight success and that he spent years in the wilderness of pulp fiction. It also implies that the "sci-fi pulp" is not worthy of consideration. I wonder: does this apply to the novel "Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb" (written 1963, published 1965)? The title certainly sounds like pulp and it was published with a garish cover by populist Ace books. The characters include a psychokinetic phocomelus named Hoppy Harrington, an atomic physicist gone sheep farmer Bruno Bluthgeld (aka Dr. Bloodmoney), Bill Keller, a fetus in telepathic contact with the dead, and so on. Yes, one could certainly categorise this novel as pulp.

Yet the Library of America saw fit to include it in one of their volumes on Dick -- one of their three volumes I should stress, embracing no less than thirteen novels they view as being worthy of continued study. So maybe this hangup regarding "pulp" is one the author needs to rid herself of, at least before considering an analysis of such an author.

I'll mention in passing that "sci-fi" refers to science-fiction film and "SF" refers to the novel form. It is certainly true that enough people elide these terms, but there is no excuse for this in an article pretending to be correct.

And what of those "44 Novels" the author professes to have sped read? None of them make an appearance in the article. In fact my rebuttal here already has said more about one of his books than Luzajic dares to write.

And that is because it is clear she is writing a third-hand account of Dick from various potted (and potty) bios, all of which have much mileage to get from the fact that Dick was some sort of crazed loser. Rename the article "Speed Reading Articles Other People Have Written About Dick Without Ever "Getting" One His Books" and it would be a lot more honest.

I've only railed against the first couple of sentences of a truly dire article. I now turn you over to Total Dick-Head for more pain.

Meanwhile I'll skip right on to Luzajic's bio, in which she calls herself a "Fascinating Writer", proclaims she has an "awesome new book" and is so modest her domain name is "thegirlcanwrite". While that is no doubt true of some "girls" it is woefully inappropriate when applied to the one under consideration. It also makes me wonder if she squats on "thegirlcannotwrite" to catch those web searchers who make the obvious mistake?

I'd rather spend my time with flippered mutants, a talking foetus, speed freaks and even PKD disciples than read another word on this horridly misguided website.

Yours,

Bookreader

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8 comments:

fascinatingpeople said...

Wow, I was warned about you SF slash sci-fi nerds but never wanted to adhere to stereotypes- I am shocked and amazed that anyone would find my story upsetting or refutable, because I’m a fan of Philip K. Dick and clearly that didn’t come across because I dared to mention his speed use. No, I’m not a diehard fan, but when I said ‘disciples’ over ‘readers’ I meant it with sincere reverence for an unusual and brilliant philosopher.

With no disrespect to either camp, I’ll say it now: I have never received as much hate mail for my writing as I have over this Dick article except from vegetarians over my Paleo Eating work, in a different world, different market. The vegans are eager to string me up for asserting the need for DHA and complete protein in the diet. But at least they hate me because our opinion differs- you guys hate me because I mentioned facts that Dick acknowledged himself and called you slash us disciples? I don’t get it.

Either you are already freaked out paronoid wastoids, or else clearly you know nothing whatsoever about the effects of speed on the human brain, but I know them intimately. While certainly not the only factor in a writer’s life, it was a big factor in a writer who popped thousands of amphetamines. That he used his delusions, reality, illusions to spawn his works is amazing, as I thought was made clear. I’m not the only woman who watched men she loved live and die from speed addiction- that is how my husband and his brother died. I lived and breathed the things Phil wrote about which you could only dream about while you masturbated. Phil doesn’t need your sorry support. He was looking for the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and that’s what he wrote about.

robin said...

Somehow you think I am defending speed use and that Dick's work promoted it. You could not be more wrong. You should read A Scanner Darkly -- or at least rent the film if reading comprehension is an issue -- to broaden your horizons.

As for "freaked out", I think you provided a great example of that in your comment. If everything you wrote had the same over-the-top zeal and incoherence it would at least be more entertaining.

Maybe you should look at all the "hate" you are receiving as an indicator of how wrong you are instead of how wrong everyone else is. You might learn something.

P.S. How retro of you to use "nerd" as a pejorative.

tuffy777 said...

So, the news is getting around.

That slash piece did not merely mention Phil's use of prescription methamphetamine. It repeated the vicious rumor, perhaps fueled by an offhand remark Phil once made in jest, that he was popping pills like candy.

This sort of tripe belongs with the propaganda spewed out by education Nazis who banned Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass because, as they claim, Alice took drugs. She ate a mushroom and drank a liquid. Oh, horrors!

Thanx for the thoughtful article, Robin. Thumbs down on the hack piece by "thegirlcanwrite", spun out by a "writer" who doesn't even know the difference between "then" and "than".
~~ Tessa B. Dick
~~~

Republibot 3.0 said...

There are some people who will always manage to misconstrue any attempt to create beauty as some kind of personal attack. The woman who claimed that PKD doesn't have readers, he has disciples is such a person.

Either that, or perhaps the kind of person who decides to build a little rebel-cred for themselves by throwing stones at other people who are occasionally perceived as rebelious or at least fringy, and decrying them as fakes or sellouts.

Either way, this kind of pretentious undergraduate diatribe masquerading as groundbreaking insight is sad.

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tuffy777 said...

I'm trying to criticize the article, not the person who wrote it, since I don't know her. Besides, personal attacks tend to devolve into name-calling.

The article claims to review 44 novels, but it reviews none of them.

~~~

Anonymous said...

She walked into a bee's nest and appears to be astonished that she got stung because she likes bees. She might want to stand back and watch them for a while; they are interesting and she could learn quite a bit.

robin said...

I like that analogy!

But maybe that's because there's a buzz, buzz, buzz in my ear.

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