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The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Vintage Books ed edition (January 30, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679747877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679747871
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 3.2 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #424,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A collection of largely unpublished or out-of-print essays, journals, speeches, and interviews on issues from the merging of physics and metaphysics to the potential influences and consequences of virtual reality by the Hugo Award-winning author of The Man in the High Castle. Non-fiction. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this posthumous collection of adventurous essays, journal excerpts, autobiographical sketches, plot scenarios and interviews, science fiction writer Dick (1928-82) ruminates on parallel universes, the Jungian connective principle of synchronicity (meaningful coincidence), mind as energy field, his LSD trips, the I Ching, telepathy and "fake realities" manufactured by the mass media. Dick, who in one piece describes himself as a "pre-schizophrenic personality," plunges readers into altered states of consciousness. He claims, for example, to have retrieved buried memories of alternate realities; in another piece, he recalls having been a secret Christian in ancient Rome, awaiting Christ's return from the dead. Sutin, Dick's biographer, in his useful introductory essay, interprets Dick as a philosophical and spiritual thinker with affinities to the Gnostics of the early Christian era. Included are two completed chapters of a proposed sequel to his novel The Man in the High Castle; they conjure a Nazi-controlled post-WWII world in which Hermann Goring runs a Luftwaffe base in Florida in 1956.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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That much closer.
Sunshine Greeny
For any PKD fan or anyone interested in the art of SF or any other genre of writing, for that matter, this book should be on every college text list.
C. Middleton
Lawrence Sutin has done us all a wonderful service by making these pieces available, some of them for the first time.
Joseph Davis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on December 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
There is a place in this collection of essays where Dick says "What helps for me-- if help comes at all-- is to find the mustard seed of the funny at the core of the horrible and futile." That sentence in particular carries the feeling that drew me so deeply into Dick's subject matter whatever he happened to be writing about. When he discusses the death of a dear friend by cancer and announces that he believe the spirit of that friend came to inhabit his cat it is-- on the one hand-- funny. It is also-- on the other hand-- clearly what he truly believes; so it's like so much of what Dick writes-- strange and moving and humorous and lightened with that quality of perceived truth that so few writers manage to convey.
This volume of essays covers everything from biography to notes about the conversion of "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" to "Blade Runner" to possible sequels to his novels to musings about the gnostic revalations and how they relate to Dick's idea of the universe.
One of the most thought-provoking books that I've ever read. My one caveat (warning) being that this is perhaps not the best introduction to Dick and I suggest reading at least one or two of his novels (ideally the Divine Invasion books) before attempting these waters.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Worldreels on August 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
THE SHIFTING REALITIES OF PKD is a perfect title for this material. It was in his speeches to college students that PKD exposed his mental terrain--holding little back. Here he discussed his two obsessions: What is reality? & What constitutes an authentic human? This material shows how Dick used his sci-fi novels to poke holes in simpler cosmologies. Dick made the universe his own sandbox.
In THE ANDROID & THE HUMAN he says that free will may be an illusion. Were humans also controlled by tropisms that are so evident in the growth of plants? He sounded out his greatest fear as �The reduction of humans to mere use--men made into machines, ... what I regard as the greatest evil imaginable.� Dick saw the time to come when a writer would be stopped not by unplugging his electric keyboard but by someone unplugging the man himself.
In MAN, ANDROID & MACHINE Dick found a hopeful theory at the end of his dark tunnel. In this essay he discussed Teilhard De Chardin�s Noosphere, �composed of holographic & informational projections in a unified and continually processed Gestalt,�--a summation of the globe�s intelligence. Dick never worried about the label �made in a laboratory.... the entire universe is one vast laboratory,� he writes. Here he also lays bare his own reality--one composed of a series of crystallized dreams. He cites Ursula Le Guin�s THE LATHE OF HEAVEN as his model for �understanding the nature of our world�. He adds: �I myself have derived much of the material for my writing from dreams.� PKD challenged the reader to pry beneath the facade of daily existence and knead the silly putty of the dream world into some recognized shape.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By OAKSHAMAN VINE VOICE on July 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
While I've read this entire book cover-to-cover, I have probably read the last half (Part Five: Essays and Speeches, and Part Six: Selections from the Exegesis) at least four times. That's where the real philosophy is. Or perhaps I should say the real mysticism. Actually, P.D.K.'s thought was a combination of philosophy and mysticism, not unlike the works of Pythagoras or Plato. Indeed, I would not hesitate to place him in such exalted company.

Dick's Gnosticism is the Gnostisism of true revelation, of epiphany and theogony (of union with the divine.) Yes, some people arrogantly write this off as the rantings of a "schizophenic", but then they would no doubt apply that same meaningless, garbage diagnosis to every great mystic teacher or shaman.

Here you get the revelations of his novel ,_Valis_, developed and fleshed out in a much more satisfying manner. Indeed, unless you are fortunate enough to track down a copy of his mythical _Exegesis_ this is the best expression of his thought that you will find.

One last note, as much as I agree with the gnostic idea of a transcedent God (or Logos, or Tao) breaking through into our material "Black Iron Prison", I do have a problem with his concept of a Yaldaboath (i.e. deranged, lesser, creator god.) You see, human materialistic, hyper-rational, civilization functions as such a lesser "god." Have we not made money, science, and ego into idols that are worshipped in their own right to the exclusion of the the true transcendant God? You simply do not need to posit the existance of such a supernatural demiurge, devil, or "Moloch" (as Ginsberg called it.) Human ignorance and evil are quite up to the role.

(...)
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Sunshine Greeny on June 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Being interested in speculative reality and philosophy, this was a must read. I was not disappointed.

Philip K Dick writes, "All responsible writers, to some degree, have become involuntary criers of doom, because doom is in the wind...and the doom stories are intended to call attention to reality."

This is made all the more relevant by the fact that the human folly that gave way to encroaching doom(war) ~ as the interviews and essays complied for this book run anywhere from twenty five to fifty five years ago ~ is far more manifest and pervasive in our own perceived time. That much closer.

Part five: Essays and Speeches, deals with schizophrenia, LSD and Gnosticism. He delves into the Jungian concept of synchronicity regarding his own life, and the inexplicable coincidences in his novel, "Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said"...(also see the movie, "Waking Life")..of "fiction mimicking truth, and truth mimicking fiction."

What he refers to as "a dangerous overlap, a dangerous blur." Take a look with *open* eyes at the society we've created and you realize that the "dangerous blur" is scarcely acknowledged it is so routine, so deeply solidified. 'Entertainment'(of the mindless sort) has proven to be the ultimate vehicle for Big Brother totalitarianism, so to speak.

The final section, Exegesis, at times feels like listening in on a discussion, a contemplation, within his own conscience, on the matter of God/Cosmos: "Creator: time past. Holy Spirit: time is. Christ: time completed."

Overall, a fascinating and unique read.
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