Skip

“I hear voices from another star.”
June 6, 2008 4:40 AM   Subscribe

A Day In The Afterlife of Philip K Dick - An Arena documentary first broadcast by the BBC in 1994 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
posted by fearfulsymmetry (31 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great. Thank you.
posted by jouke at 5:07 AM on June 6, 2008


When I was a kid, I didn't "get" any Dick (OK OK, settle down). I thought he was just pointless and psychedelic.

Recently I tried some audiobooks of his. They weren't all great, but nothing compares to hearing A Scanner Darkly read by Paul Giamatti. Holy crap.
posted by DU at 5:42 AM on June 6, 2008


He's the heaviest.
posted by Liquidwolf at 6:43 AM on June 6, 2008


As much as I hate to say it (on a couple different levels), I like Dick. His stuff is pulp fiction, sure--you can probably get through any one of his books in less than a day, with no interruptions. But it's thinking man's pulp fiction. Dick's books are always chock full of interesting ideas and oddball philosophical perspectives. The first book of his I ever read was "The Divine Invasion," then later I read "Ubik" and "Valis" (collectively known as "The Valis Trilogy"); I've since read about 20 of his titles. I wasn't a big reader of Science Fiction at all before Dick. Now I've moved beyond Dick to the hardcore SciFi stuff like Herbert and Heinlein. He's a gateway drug. Thanks for this!
posted by saulgoodman at 6:45 AM on June 6, 2008


The first 'A' I received in college was for a paper I wrote for an Intro to Film class comparing the religious symbolism in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Blade Runner.

Come to think of it, picking apart Phillip K. Dick's and Ridley Scott's symbol- and metaphor-rich storytelling for that paper probably helped lead me towards eventually majoring in Religion and Anthropology.
posted by elfgirl at 7:07 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this. I just read The Man in the High Castle, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and Ubik in quick succession and my mind remains largely blown.
posted by rusty at 7:10 AM on June 6, 2008


I agree; I sometimes wish that I could run into Giamatti on the street and say how much I liked A Scanner Darkly, because I'm sure that he doesn't hear that enough.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:35 AM on June 6, 2008


As long as it's not "A Day in the Life of Andy Dick." 'Cuz that's a documentary I just really really don't want to see.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:43 AM on June 6, 2008


Was that sarcastic? Did I make a SciFauxPas?
posted by DU at 7:44 AM on June 6, 2008




Anyone want to hazard a guess as to how long it takes for the BBC to pull this content from Youtube? What is the half life of copyrighted material these days?
posted by BigBrooklyn at 7:58 AM on June 6, 2008


Now with Ubik!
posted by Artw at 8:16 AM on June 6, 2008


BBC's stuff is all over Google video, they don't pull it.
I heard something about Paul Giamatti playing Phil Dick in an upcoming film???

I don't know, doesnt really look like him......
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:32 AM on June 6, 2008


On a note related to this comment upthread: Speaking of that other Dick, Andy Dick crashed my old band's first headlining show in Tallahassee (he'd basically just gotten booed off the stage at an FSU homecoming event that was going on the same night and he wandered into the club where we were playing, drunk). He just took over the stage right after our set was done, and started singing these incoherent, funny(?) songs. The crowd of course ate it up. At the conclusion of his set, at the apex of a tuneless song dedicated to that anatomical member that shares his patronym, he whipped it out. And that's about all the (Andy) Dick I'll ever need to see.

/tangent
posted by saulgoodman at 9:53 AM on June 6, 2008


Now with Ubik!

Man, I loved that one. So creepy.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:55 AM on June 6, 2008


I am pretty much obsessed with anyone whose last name is four letters long.

Dick, Beck, Monk. (My wife's last name has four letters, and when you type her name into Google you get lots of articles about an active man-turned-woman in Illinois.)
posted by kozad at 10:06 AM on June 6, 2008


I'm on part 3. Thanks for the link.
posted by kozad at 10:07 AM on June 6, 2008


then later I read "Ubik" and "Valis" (collectively known as "The Valis Trilogy")

"Ubik" is not part of the "VALIS Trilogy". PKD planned a third novel to go with "Divine Invasion" and "VALIS" but did not complete it. "The Transmigration of Timothy Archer", his last novel, gets lumped in as the third book. "Transmigration" is one of my favorites, partly because it is strangely non sci-fi for PKD.
posted by comadreja at 10:09 AM on June 6, 2008


Radio Free Albemuth can be considered part of the Valis Trilogy series. It fits more than Timothy Archer.
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:17 AM on June 6, 2008


Ah--thanks for the correction, comadreja. I've read "Transmigration...", too, but got confused about what belonged where in the Trilogy (there are so many recurring motifs in Dick's stuff, it all just becomes a sort of psychedelic fog after a while)...

Is "Transmigration" the one where the guy's passing through his hometown only to find everything's somehow changed completely (even his own past) and that he can't escape? No, wait--that was a different one...? Damn, can't keep 'em all straight anymore.

I recall really liking Radio Free Albemuth, too.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:23 AM on June 6, 2008


Radio Free Albemuth fits in because it is basically the first version of VALIS.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VALIS_trilogy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Free_Albemuth
posted by comadreja at 10:31 AM on June 6, 2008


Awesome. Hope I can find the time to watch all of this.

I also tried Dick in high school (ahem) and didn't really get it, or into it for that matter. But over the past year I've read about half of his novels (I find them all to be quick reads, even the "heavier" later books) and I just can't say enough about them. It's unfortunate that people (myself included, previously) make so many assumptions about his work before they actually wade through some of it. Sure, there's tons of drug use, but he does something really interesting stuff with it, almost to the point where it becomes a metaphor for everything else (just read The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch if you don't believe me). And people also tend to forget that A Scanner Darkly is a powerful anti-drug statement.

But what really got to me about his work after I gave it a healthy college try and put aside my prejudices? His major theme is religion. And he writes about it in so many different ways, brilliantly. And not just in the final novels, which are overtly about the subject (Transmigration of Timothy Archer, VALIS).

And fun tidbit -- AFAIK, he pretty much predicted global warming in Three Stigmata. Not sure he's ever been given official credit for it. Rich people can afford to live underground, while everyone else has to suffer above ground. It's actually funny as hell and incredibly depressing at the same time, which is typical of the man and his work. Oh, and Blade Runner was a cool movie and all but misses out on so much of the humor of Electric Sheep -- all the men left on earth are wearing huge, lead-lined codpieces to protect their junk from radiation. That just wouldn't jibe with Ridley Scott's sense of "aura," I guess. Which is a shame.
posted by bardic at 12:14 PM on June 6, 2008


Sure, there's tons of drug use, but he does something really interesting stuff with it, almost to the point where it becomes a metaphor for everything else (just read The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch if you don't believe me). And people also tend to forget that A Scanner Darkly is a powerful anti-drug statement.


What's the problem with drug use and references? His writing is manages to capture drug states both paranoid and psychedelic incredibly well.
posted by Liquidwolf at 1:11 PM on June 6, 2008


Thanks for this. I just watched the whole thing. Very good -- at least for us fans.

Timothy Archer is based on Bishop Pike, head of the California Episcpal Church, who died in the Israeli desert while seeking to commune with his dead son. Dick's book is one version of that story.

One thing about BladeRunner that is seldom mentioned is that Scott offered Dick a very large sum to do a movie adaptation of the novel. Dick refused and insisted that Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? stand as the movie tie-in, though he did allow the word(s) "BladeRunner" to be larger than his title on the movie edition.

The "drug group" mentioned in the docu was X-Kalay, a Vancouver program run by ex-cons. Therapy consisted of group talk sessions based on Synanon-style theory. Dick recognized the problems with this -- the ego-crushing bullying, group attacks on individuals, cult-style brainwashing, and so on -- yet his writing about it expesses a kind of exhilaration as though he really enjoyed playing head games at that level.
posted by CCBC at 1:39 PM on June 6, 2008


Oh, and Blade Runner was a cool movie and all but misses out on so much of the humor of Electric Sheep -- all the men left on earth are wearing huge, lead-lined codpieces to protect their junk from radiation.

There's lots, lot's more than that of course. Like the real and fake animals, and Deckards desire to replace the fake sheep of the title with a real one. Or the competing TV ideologies of Buster Friendly and Mercerism, or the Empathy Box that adherants of Mercerism use. Or the fake policestation. The walk in the desert at the end is rather wonderful as well.
posted by Artw at 1:48 PM on June 6, 2008


You can't have a PKD thread without a link to the R. Crumb illustrated "Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick" from Weirdo #17.
posted by lilnemo at 2:51 PM on June 6, 2008


saulgoodman: actually the VALIS trilogy is "VALIS," "The Divine Invasion," and "The Transmigration of Timothy Archer." "UBIK" is a separate work. I don't blame you for getting them confused, though, the books of the trilogy are only thematically related, and "UBIK" really seems to fit better than TTOTA.
posted by contraption at 5:22 PM on June 6, 2008


I've been on a Dick kick (well, actually, a harder scifi kick) recently, and I am so happy you posted this.
posted by crataegus at 12:05 AM on June 7, 2008


Fans of PKD will find a lot of interest at the (really badly named) blog Total Dick-Head. Among other things I've seen linked from there is this interview with one of Dick's daughters, who has written a memoir which has supposedly been blocked due to legal threats from the Dick estate; it also has some information about the upcoming Ubik movie and the unauthorized biopic about "William J Frick". I am loath to post this before I mine it for excellent PKD-related links to use in future posts, but it really is an excellent resource for rabid fans like myself.
posted by whir at 9:55 AM on June 7, 2008


whir: those are really good links, but the interview is not with one of Dick's daughters, but rather the daughter of his second wife, Kleo, (fathered by a man Dick introduced her to). Although, he did act as a father to this girl and clearly helped form the woman she became.
posted by CCBC at 2:40 PM on June 7, 2008


I think it was Cosmic Puppets I was thinking of, btw...

And thanks again for this fpp. Now that I've had a chance to watch all of the segments of the documentary, I'm just that much more psyched about it. Lot's of good stuff (and cool to see that Elvis Costello cameo; big fan of his, too).
posted by saulgoodman at 8:24 PM on June 7, 2008


« Older share your neuroses.   |   Oh look, we have created enchantment. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post