Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Philip K. Dick on his discovery of the Torah

“I must admit that when I got into the Torah and discovered the humane elements of this ancient system of beliefs, for me it was probably one of the great moments of my life. And I still read it — I was reading it last night. There is one thing in Deuteronomy where he says, “You must always pay the hired man before sunset. For he is poor and has his heart set on it.” And in the notes Rabbi Hertz has for that, there is: “The workman is so poor that unless he is paid by sunet, he will not be able to buy food for his family.” I just lay there thinking about that, “For he is poor and has his heart set on it.” It is so incredible that we have fallen away from something that was so basic to our civilization, for maybe as many as 2,000 years."
from an interview (his last?)

PKD Fan Group regular Aharon Varady comments:

PKD was using the Hertz Ḥumash. Rabbi Hertz was the former Chief rabbi of Britain and his Ḥumash (the five books: Genesis, Exodus...) was pretty much the standard Hebrew-English volume available in synagogues when I was growing up. It's an interesting edition -- it's probably the first Jewish Hebrew-English ḥumash to include the commentary and scholarship of non-Jews that Rabbi Hertz considered valuable for his modern audience.

Oh and the verse in Deuteronomy is 24:15.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Netflix review I wrote for Radio Free Albemuth

Radio Free Albemuth is the most faithful adaptation of a Philip K. Dick movie so far--and Linklater's A Scanner Darkly was pretty faithful! RFA is hand-crafted labor of love. The director and his wife, who co-produces, have bled for this scrappy indie film, which deserves to make it to Netflix!

It is well acted, with serious performances from a few familiar faces. Shea Whigham as Philip K. Dick was a casting coup. He nails the man's deadpan humor with his laconic delivery. This performance can be profitably contrasted with Bill Pullman's portrayal of a Phil Dick-based character in Your Name Here. Whereas Pullman's performance exploited the cheap laughs that can be had from Dick's apparent craziness, Whigham goes deeper and captures the seriousness of Dick's own sense of humor, as well as the rationality that complicates his paranoia. Jonathan Scarfe believably captures the beatific confidence of the ecstatic with his likable Nicholas Brady, and Katheryn Wynnick brilliantly captured the loving harshness of his concerned wife. Hannah Hall was terrifying as the honeytrap "teen" police state agent. Her seduction scene is the most sexy/paranoid PKD love scene on film. Finally, Alanis Morrissette pulled off the mysterious aura required of her character, who is the center of the intrigue powering the plot about a secret rebellion against a dystopian America.

Also worth noting are the special effects, which economically and with great originality present a compelling vision of Philip K. Dick's religious experiences, fictionalized in the novel.

You don't have to take my word for it: RFA just won an award: “In our view, the best adaptation of PKD’s works to screen by far!” — Sci-Fi London Film Festival

Saturday, May 26, 2012

PKD on "The Little Black Box"

"Here, a religion is regarded as a menace to all political systems; therefore it, too, is a kind of political system, perhaps even an ultimate one. The concept of caritas (or agape) shows up in my writing as the key to the authentic human. The android, which is the unauthentic human, the mere reflex machine, is unable to experience empathy. In this story it is never clear whether Mercer is an invader from some other world. But he must be; in a sense all religious leaders are...but not from another planet as such."