Sunday, December 11, 2005

Eclectic Farming

…A Study In The Absurd

Adults with brain injuries, parents of children with A.D.D., and old 60’s hippies who haven’t come down from the rafters may understand this blog. The rest of you will just have to give it your best shot.

What self-respecting female makes an effort to find a writer who’s a Dick? This one. I kept running into Philip K. Dick at the movies, in conversations, on the written page. PKD wasn’t the first Dick I encountered. There was another one earlier…a young comedian called Timothy Allen Dick, who was forced by show biz to shorten his name to Tim Allen.

But The Big Dick was a whole ‘nother animal. Consider this quote for an insight to the writer:

In our society a person might frequently have to choose between what he thinks is practical and what is ethical. He might choose the practical, and as a result he disintegrates as a human being. ~ Philip K Dick

The first story I read of his was “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, and I was hooked immediately. I studied PKD as one writer to the other, and it fascinated me how anyone could give such depth of character to a machine with so many other writers struggling just to make their humans pop off of the page in 3-D.

It made a better than average film, as well, “Imposter”, with Gary Sinese as Spencer Olham. Most of PKD’s sci-fi fans probably got turned on to the Blade Runner series and movies. With me it was the stories in which he positioned Everyman in surreal circumstances that made him question his very existence.

Stranger still was the writer’s ability to convey confusion and illusion without losing me. And, trust me, I get lost pretty easily. But then I’m easily persuaded when a writer can toy with the fundamentals of human existence and force me into a corner where I question my own beliefs on things such as reality. Isn’t that what all writers do to a certain point—ask others to suspend their disbelief long enough to get hooked into our plots, our characters, to dip far enough into the worlds we create to make the entire journey?

Some of you may not even know of Philip K. Dick, but I’m betting you’ve seen movies based on his works or his influence:

Vanilla Sky
The Truman Show
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Minority Report
The Matrix
Total Recall
Blade Runner

Info about an upcoming movie based on “A Scanner Darkly”, starring Keanu Reeves, Woody Harrelson, and Robert Downey, Jr. can be found at PKD’s official site run by his children: Here is a copy of the original book’s cover. The movie poster is at the top of the blog post.

PKD was a writer way ahead of his time. He died in poverty, yet his estate is worth millions twenty years after his death because his children saw to it that Dad’s genius was taken seriously.

Sometimes when we’re not taken seriously, I think we need to ask ourselves why we do what we do. For me, finding a story is pretty much a matter of eclectic farming, using my own experiences and dreams to construct with words something to share with a reader whose imagination happens to coincide with my desire to express myself. I’ll never be a Dick, but I think I can be happy just being the best me that I can be. Reading good books, watching good movies, talking with interesting people…all serve to round out what I bring to the table.

And that’s why I’m sharing PKD with those of you who might not know him. Whether you write erotic romance, science fiction, mystery, or mainstream, I think he has methods we can all observe and absorb. Who knows? Maybe something you write will influence another writer in twenty years. But does it really matter if it’s twenty years or twenty minutes from now? I don’t think that PKD’s goal was to garner an audience—I think it was to express himself, and that is why he is remembered and revered. It takes genius to open ourselves and honestly portray what we think and feel.

Works for me, anyway. Here are lists of PKD’s novels and his short stories.

Happy writing, all.



At 8:32 AM, Blogger Shesawriter said...

I may give Memento another try. I got frustrated with the structure, but then I've never been known for patience. I remember the first time I saw Highlander. DH and I turned it on about fifteen or twenty minutes into the movie, and couldn't figure out what the bleep was going on. Connor kept going back and forth in time (we didn't know it was about immortals). I got frustrated with that, so I turned it off. Now ten years later, I'm an UBER Highlander fan. (g) Who'd a thught it.


At 2:35 PM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

I love "Highlander" (1st one - lol). "Memento" absolutely floored me. This one isn't PKD's - it's based on a short story by the script writer, but PKD's influence is certainly there. I think what amazed me was that the writer was able to withhold the ending as long as he did. *I'm also a huge fan of the primary actor, Guy Pearce.*

Here's the link to movie info on IMDB if you can copy and paste this:

At 6:13 PM, Blogger Jordan Summers said...

He's produced some amazing work. I'm going to have to pick up some of his books. Thanks for sharing.

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Rinda Elliott said...

With me it was the stories in which he positioned Everyman in surreal circumstances that made him question his very existence.

This is my favorite type of story.

I loved Memento and I did get frustrated myself a few times. Make it to the end and it all comes together in a way that steals your breath.

I know I've read some of his shorts, but I'll have to check to remember the titles. I do remember being very impressed.

EXCELLENT POST, my friend.

At 9:04 PM, Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

I'm a big Dick fan -- and isn't it nice to be able to say that with a straight face?

I'm not a big Keanu Reeves fan, but I'll have to see this movie when it comes out.

My favorite Dick novels: The Man in the High Castle and the Valis trilogy.

Off topic, but since y'all brought up Highlander, doesn't the first Prophecy movie totally rock? (Same creator.) That's one of my favorite screenplays.

Great post, Lyn.

At 1:54 PM, Blogger Lyn Cash said...

DH, you kill me - lol. Only you could say that and pull it off well.

Prophecy rocked!

I like ole Keanu, and not because he's cute or sleeping with a woman much older than I, but for films like My Own Private Idaho, The Gift, Feeling Minnesota, and The Devil's Advocate.

You know who I'd like to see in a Philip K. Dick adaptation? Vincent D'Onofrio. I still haven't seen him play author Bob Howard in "The Whole Wide World." Might suck, but I'd still like to see it.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Amie Stuart said...

Amazing! I can't believe how much of his work I'm famliar with--and I'm not surprised in hindsight. You can definitely see the connection betwee movies like Vanilla Sky and Minority Report (and not Tom Cruise but coicidentally enough he was in both and I liked both). I think the only two I haven't seen are Paycheck (didn't htat just come out a couple weeks ago at hte movies) and Eternal Sunshine which didn't grab me but now I might have to watch just as a matter of prinicipal. I'm surprised he didn't do The Butterfly Effect. Hmmmm WOW! I learned something. Thanks babe!


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