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AC Harper
AC Harper
3 months ago

The powerful, the Elite, have always used whatever is to hand to bolster their status and position. So although the internet and surveillance provide a fresh club to beat the non-Elite with, it’s nothing new. It’s no more widespread than religious orthodoxy, no more illusionary than democracy, no more thorough than control of resources, no more final than war.
It is quicker though.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
3 months ago

From the original U.S television series The Outer Limits (1963), the 7th episode entitled O.B.I.T.

“The machines are EVERYWHERE! Oh you’ll find them all, you’re a zealous people. And you’ll make a great show of smashing a few of them, but for every one you destroy hundreds of others will be built. And they will demoralize you, break your spirits, create such rifts and tensions in your society that no one will be able to repair them! Oh, you’re a savage, despairing planet; and when we come here to live, you friendless, demoralized flotsam will fall without even a single shot being fired. Senator, enjoy the few years left you. There is no answer. You’re all of the same dark persuasion! You demand – *insist* on knowing every private thought and hunger of everyone: your families, your neighbors, everyone – but yourselves”.

polidori redux
polidori redux
3 months ago

d**k was no stylist, but he had the gift of foresight. The solipsistic nightmare of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? will infest our waking lives. Rather glad I won’t be around to enjoy it.

Last edited 3 months ago by polidori redux
Gary Masters
Gary Masters
3 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Since I started reading PK d**k in the 50’s, my focus has changed. Early on I liked “Eye in the Sky” and “Solar Lottery” but “The World Jones Made” was my favorite. It has people talking about what it was like to know the future and have no choice at all. How do you get effects of knowledge when there was no way to change the future? Now I have come back to “We Can Build You” as the ultimate answer to “What is human?” and have recently began so suspect that Louis Rosen is a sim. Likely Pris made him for her own needs and gave him the same mental problems she had to be able to observe it from a part. Again it is all about the dialog and those who think the plot is broken, may not see the basic question: “Who is real?” Lincon? Barrows? Or all?

polidori redux
polidori redux
3 months ago
Reply to  Gary Masters

Are you familiar with the British writer J G Ballard? As someone said, his stories weren’t so much about outer space as about inner space. Intellectually out of my league, but I am fascinated by him. To science fiction, what Kate Bush is to pop music.

Sam Wilson
Sam Wilson
3 months ago

Thank goodness reality is more complicated – more messy, less controlled, less easy to surveillance and control – than this article makes out. All the same, good stuff. We might catch ourselves reflected back in the glass of d**k’s dystopia.

John Shea
John Shea
3 months ago

Interesting! Though Philip K. d**k DID see “BLADE RUNNER”. He was shown a rough-cut of the movie shortly before his death.

jane baker
jane baker
3 months ago

I’d like to refer to two writers in reference to this topic of universal surveillance. First in one of his more recent books and I think it may have been “None Of My Business” the late P.J O’Rourke wrote very interesting observations on the majority of people’s reactions to knowing that their phone is spying on them,that the companies are selling their data,that Facebook et al are recording for ever all the stupid things they ever said or did. They don’t care. (Me too but I know I’ll be crying one day). In fact he even suggests that in a faithless atheist age the idea that someone is taking an interest in all you do is not only a bit flattering but a secular version of God’s Eye on you.
The second writer who is actually a full time youtuber now,he is based in Paris,we all love Paris on you tube,the city where EVERYONE is young,beautiful and cool. His name is Jay Swanson and the book he wrote is called “Couriers-Off Grid”. Its not Booker Prize grade and his writing lacks that spark(sorry to say that) even though I’m sure it grammatically correct etc. I read this story in 2018,and even them it chimed with me in certain thoughts I had about how our society was going but then,talk about prophetic literature,covid happened. Its about a post apocalyptic society in which the majority of the people have no tech and live like in the 19th century,they farm,they take the produce to market in horse and cart,etc but they are under constant attack from another population of survivors,the ones who got maimed and damaged in whatever it was happened. These live by robbery,pillaging and murder. However there is another group who survived the apocalypse. These are the Elite. They live in a hidden guarded place in a canyon. They get their food from the homesteaders in return for protection.
These Elite have ALL the tech,all.that has survived. They use it to monitor the land and keep one step ahead of the marauding gangs by warning the homesteaders of an approaching attack so the homesteaders can fight them off. Its worked well for a number of years. The Elite know they are The Elite. They consider themselves The Elite. They consider themselves to be the natural and right rulers of their society even though they keep apart from much of it.
However,some of the Homesteaders are starting to.question the innate right of the Elite to rule them and there has been unrest and disturbance. This group is also saying that the Elite are not protecting them well enough because some outlying settlements have been attacked and destroyed by the marauders with no warning. They say that The Elite are sacrificing some places to concentrate on protecting others. And they happen to be right.
The Elite meanwhile are finding that their tech is getting old and less reliable and no-one knows how to replace it but their whole power and ascendancy is based on the tech. So they’ve got a problem. I’m sure I read and am reading,more into this book than the author even intended. I’m sure some of its preesence is accidental (or fate?l,as I’ve said I read it pre-covid and then was struck by the question is poses,who runs society,then covid happened and now we’re all asking that question. The book I’d COURIERS-OFF GRID. The author is JAY SWANSON.

Last edited 3 months ago by jane baker
David Dougherty
David Dougherty
3 months ago

On the topic I recently read 1984 and Brave New World to see who came closest to todays world. Both did deal with the psychology of what mental changes these societies produced. Double think is a great example. I always wordered how the average person reacted to living in Nazi Germany before WW2.

Ian Alterman
Ian Alterman
3 months ago

As one who has read not only the entirety of PKD’s output – every novel and every short story – but also his infamous (and almost unreadable) Exegesis, I would simply like to say bravo to a well-written article. Though I do not agree with every single point, I would say that the author has one of the best grasps of the PKD “esthetic” of anyone I have read, and makes some very solid points about the aspect of PKD’s writing to which he is responding.
BTW, if you have never seen the feature film version of A Scanner Darkly (starring Robert Downey, Jr., Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, and Woody Harrelson), you must. It is my favorite PKD-derived film, and possibly the most faithful to the original book. It is “animated” so be prepared for a very trippy experience.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
3 months ago

It was the attempt to eliminate privacy, which is a necessary precondition for being human.”
Yes my slum dwelling ancestors of just a hundred years ago used to complain all the time about the lack of privacy preventing their humanity, as they grubbed around in the streets for work and scraps.
What a silly Californian thing to say.

Laura Kelly
Laura Kelly
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Seems to me that “privacy” means mental and emotional privacy as well. Look at Japan, very crowded yet quite private. In the past, our interior self was unknowable unless we chose to share, but now, all the mechanisms of society are digging, digging, digging into our souls.

Jack Taylor
Jack Taylor
3 months ago

Thanks for the article. A little forced but made me think and gave me some new book reading ideas / thought themes to explore.

Last edited 3 months ago by Jack Taylor
Nikki Hayes
Nikki Hayes
3 months ago

I had never heard of Philip K d**k until the Electric Dreams tv series which, if you didn’t see it, was a reimagining of some of his stories by a variety of people. I then got the book, always prefer to read, followed by several of d**k’s novels. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? As I said in my review of the book, I think maybe they do.

Scraps DeSelby-Bowen
Scraps DeSelby-Bowen
2 months ago

d**k’s rawest book and the one that reads least like science fiction

A Scanner Darkly is my favorite PKD book, and I appreciate your take. But PKD wrote non-science-fiction (“mainstream”) books, half a dozen or more, and they were published late in his life and posthumously. I’ve read all of them, and they are definitely even less “like science fiction” than A Scanner Darkly.