The Viking Youth Power Hour have two excellent episodes on Philip K. Dick, the brilliant science fiction author who was inspired by his dreams, visions, paranoia’s, and various other altered states. Dick was very interested in religion, philosophy, metaphysics, and neo-Gnosticism which heavily influenced his stories. He is known for such works as ‘The Man in the High Castle’, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, ‘Ubik’, ‘Flow My Tears’, ‘The Policeman Said’, ‘A Scanner Darkly’, ‘VALIS’, and ‘Exegesis’. Also, many films have been based on his books and short stories such as Blade Runner, Minority Report, Total Recall, Imposter, Screamers, Paycheck, the just recently released A Scanner Darkly and the soon to be filmed Next.
Dick’s stories often descend into seemingly surreal fantasies, with characters discovering that their everyday world is an illusion, emanating either from external entities or from the vicissitudes of an unreliable narrator. “All of his work starts with the basic assumption that there cannot be one, single, objective reality,” Charles Platt writes. “Everything is a matter of perception. The ground is liable to shift under your feet. A protagonist may find himself living out another person’s dream, or he may enter a drug-induced state that actually makes better sense than the real world, or he may cross into a different universe completely.”
Be sure to check out ‘How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later‘, an entertaining and insightful essay by Philip K.Dick written in 1978. There are many wonderful quotes but I like the following two in particular:
“In my writing I got so interested in fakes that I finally came up with the concept of fake fakes. For example, in Disneyland there are fake birds worked by electric motors which emit caws and shrieks as you pass by them. Suppose some night all of us sneaked into the park with real birds and substituted them for the artificial ones. Imagine the horror the Disneyland officials would feel when they discovered the cruel hoax. Real birds! And perhaps someday even real hippos and lions. Consternation. The park being cunningly transmuted from the unreal to the real, by sinister forces. For instance, suppose the Matterhorn turned into a genuine snow-covered mountain? What if the entire place, by a miracle of God’s power and wisdom, was changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, into something incorruptible? They would have to close down.”
“The authentic human being is one of us who instinctively knows what he should not do, and, in addition, he will balk at doing it. He will refuse to do it, even if this brings down dread consequences to him and to those whom he loves. This, to me, is the ultimately heroic trait of ordinary people; they say no to the tyrant and they calmly take the consequences of this resistance. Their deeds may be small, and almost always unnoticed, unmarked by history. Their names are not remembered, nor did these authentic humans expect their names to be remembered. I see their authenticity in an odd way: not in their willingness to perform great heroic deeds but in their quiet refusals. In essence, they cannot be compelled to be what they are not.”