Tuesday, May 28, 2013

David Hyde on Kabbalah in PKD's 1974 letters

 In THE SELECTED LETTERS 1974, PKD mentions kabala/cabala/qabalah/etc. three times (not sure which as I only have my Index handy - I used 'Cabala') : (1). In a letter to Claudia Bush, 7-22-1974, SL 74 page 200ff (also in the EXEGESIS, page 37). (2). In a letter to Louise Zimmerman, 7-25-1974, SL 74 page 214ff. (3). In a letter to the Roiscrucian Supply Bureau, 9-30-1974, SL 74 page 256. Indexes are fun!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Radio Free Albemuth movie on KICKSTARTER

Radio Free Albemuth, the directorial debut of John Alan Simon is based on the bestselling Philip K Dick novel of the same name. The film stars SAG Award Winner Shea Wigham (Silver Linings Playbook, Boardwalk Empire), Grammy Award Winner Alanis Morissette (Weeds, Dogma), Jonathan Scarfe (Perception), Katheryn Winnick (Vikings, Stand Up Guys), Hanna Hall ( The Virgin Suicides, Halloween),  Ashley Greene (The Twilight Films), Golden Globe nominee Scott Wilson (The Ninth Configuration, The Walking Dead), and Oscar nominee Rosemary Harris.  

Come for the trailer, stay for the cool rewards.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Critchley on PKD+Giordano Bruno

Here Dick identifies his thinking with the Marxist idea that history is a dialectic that will culminate in communist revolution. In part, Dick is attempting to engage the leftist literary critics whose interest in his work in the 1970s both pleased and unnerved him. At the same time, Dick's thinking already employs dualistic motifs that cast history as a dialectical conflict between the forces of Empire and those who struggle for freedom—what is described elsewhere in the Exegesis as the struggle between God and Satan. We should also note Dick's frequent identification of true Christianity as revolutionary and Christ as a revolutionary figure. In this way, Dick retrieves the historical link that has often bound together rebellious quasi-gnostic movements, like the Cathars or the Heresy of the Free Spirit, with forms of insurgent political populism and indeed communism. Giordano Bruno, one of the other "heretics" to whom Dick is attracted, also professed a charismatic yet hermetic pantheism that has long been linked to forms of radical anti-Church insurgency. That is why, in many small Italian towns, a statue of Bruno, often erected by the local Communist Party, stands facing the principal Catholic church.—SC (Exegesis note)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Is The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick a bunch of crazy talk?

I hadn't noticed the "crazy talk" comment above. Not sure I understand why you'd use that phrase. Most of what we find in the published Exegesis is quite serious and reasonable exploration of his experiences and the research he was doing into theology/mysticism to understand them, although the experiences and ideas he's working with may be a bit strange. It's of great interest to serious students of religious studies and philosophy as well as literary theory and abnormal psychology. Those of us who have had extraordinary experiences, whether mystical or pathological, find a great deal of insight into these conditions. Frankly, I'm skeptical of the motivations of those who would triivialize or pathologize it. Most of the time when an author's notes are available we are grateful for the opportunity, and little ink is spilled attacking the notes for being in note form.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Was Philip K. Dick a great mystic?

I think there's an interesting question as to whether Dick "ranks" with the great mystics of the ages. He sometimes thought that he might on the basis of the extraordinary nature of his experiences, but there's also the nature and value of his writings. Moreover, Dick was a pioneering *theorist* of mysticism (with a nod to David Gill and Erik Davis I'm calling him a "garage theorist of religion" in my book) who is doing a lot of interesting religious studies work in the Exegesis (see the comments of Kripal to understand how he's interesting to a contemporary comparative religion professor), although in his characteristically unsystematic form. However, even the "unsystematic" nature of his work has been greatly exaggerated: as McKee demonstrates there's serious Christianity in there ("a cruel religion... but accurate" -PKD), and as countless modern day occultists can attest there's plenty of insight into Altered States of Consciousness and magical practices of all kinds. That all said, it's also important to understand that he couldn't have pulled off any of this as an academic, being that so many of his insights are actually misunderstandings, however productive. Perhaps rather than trying to fit him into the box of old school mysticism we should see him as designing a new way to be mystical. But isn't that what all great mystics do?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

another rant about Dick and Postmodernism

  • [Lord Running Clam had asked about when postmodernism "started," the Total Dick Head pointed out that you could go back to Shakespeare, then I replied:]

    Ted Hand  Another way to look at it is that there are no "postmodern" writers -- writers are just writers/don't fit into reductive categories etc-- only critics who use the term. And the term "postmodern" is certainly a 20th c. invention, usually employed by critics who have an agenda--and these critics are often not unjustly accused of obscurantism which explains why it's hard to find a simple answer (or hacks who are trying to get an academic job!). "Postmodern" is a term of art, and it's much easier to trace the use of the term rather than try to identify a trend in specific authors. I could argue all day that medieval authors like Chretien de Troyes, Chaucer, Pseudo-Dionysius, Cusa, Bruno etc already displayed many traits of the so-called postmodern.
  • Ted Hand But I digress. Perhaps the best way to understand it in the context of PKD's thought is that Heidegger was the "postmodern philosopher" that started it all. But then again, since Dick's often better situated in early modern philosophy, perhaps Hume was the "postmodern philosopher" that started it all. Then Again, Socrates was the original hipster ironist, and Heraclitus even more radically postmodern (explicitly cited by Heidegger as foundational in the continental giant's thought) so perhaps the greeks were the first postmoderns. That Dick was down with Heidegger, at least later in life as evidenced by Letters/Exegesis, is not controversial--although guys like Critchley can explain better than I can where Dick misunderstands Heidegger. Nobody ever said you have to be a GOOD postmodernist! Disobedience is the bread and butter of the postmodernist, and Dick was doing that before postmodernism.