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:
The Truman Show
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
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: http://www.philipkdick.com/. 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.