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Philip K. Dick

Birthdate: 16. December 1928
Date of death: 2. March 1982

Philip Kindred Dick was an American science fiction writer. Dick explored philosophical, social, and political themes in his novels with plots dominated by monopolistic corporations, alternative universes, authoritarian governments, and altered states of consciousness. His work reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology, and often drew upon his life experiences in addressing the nature of reality, identity, drug abuse, schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences.

Born in Illinois before moving to California, Dick began publishing science fiction stories in the 1950s, initially finding little commercial success. His 1962 alternative history novel The Man in the High Castle earned Dick early acclaim, including a Hugo Award for Best Novel. He followed with science fiction novels such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Ubik . His 1974 novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel. Following a series of religious experiences in February–March 1974, Dick's work engaged more explicitly with issues of theology, philosophy, and the nature of reality, as in such novels as A Scanner Darkly and VALIS . A collection of his non-fiction writing on these themes was published posthumously as The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick . He died in 1982 of a stroke, aged 53.

In addition to 44 published novels, Dick wrote approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime. A variety of popular films based on his works have been produced, including Blade Runner , Total Recall , Minority Report , A Scanner Darkly , and The Adjustment Bureau . In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923. In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.

Works

A Scanner Darkly
A Scanner Darkly
Philip K. Dick
VALIS
VALIS
Philip K. Dick

Quotes Philip K. Dick

„No tools. He doesn't build anything or utilize anything outside himself. He just stands and waits for the right opportunity and then he runs like hell.“

—  Philip K. Dick

The Golden Man (1954)
Context: "We were always afraid a mutant with superior intellectual powers would come along," Baines said reflectively. "A deeve who would be to us what we are to the great apes. Something with a bulging cranium, telepathic ability, a perfect semantic system, ultimate powers of symbolization and calculation. A development along our own path. A better human being."
"He acts by reflex," Anita said wonderingly. She had the analysis and was sitting at one of the desks studying it intently. "Reflex — like a lion. A golden lion." She pushed the tape aside, a strange expression on her face. "The lion god."
"Beast," Wisdom corrected tartly. "Blond beast, you mean."
"He runs fast," Baines said, "and that's all. No tools. He doesn't build anything or utilize anything outside himself. He just stands and waits for the right opportunity and then he runs like hell."
"This is worse than anything we've anticipated," Wisdom said. His beefy face was lead-gray. He sagged like an old man, his blunt hands trembling and uncertain. "To be replaced by an animal! Something that runs and hides. Something without a language!" He spat savagely. "That's why they weren't able to communicate with it. We wondered what kind of semantic system it had. It hasn't got any! No more ability to talk and think than a — dog."

„It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.“

—  Philip K. Dick, book VALIS

Variant: What he did not know then is that it is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.
Source: VALIS (1981)

„We ourselves are a part of this language; changes in us are changes in the content of the information.“

—  Philip K. Dick, book VALIS

VALIS (1981)
Context: We hypostasize information into objects. Rearrangement of objects is change in the content of the information; the message has changed. This is a language which we have lost the ability to read. We ourselves are a part of this language; changes in us are changes in the content of the information. We ourselves are information-rich; information enters us, is processed and is then projected outwards once more, now in an altered form. We are not aware that we are doing this, that in fact this is all we are doing.

„We are not aware that we are doing this, that in fact this is all we are doing.“

—  Philip K. Dick, book VALIS

VALIS (1981)
Context: We hypostasize information into objects. Rearrangement of objects is change in the content of the information; the message has changed. This is a language which we have lost the ability to read. We ourselves are a part of this language; changes in us are changes in the content of the information. We ourselves are information-rich; information enters us, is processed and is then projected outwards once more, now in an altered form. We are not aware that we are doing this, that in fact this is all we are doing.

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„Can any of us fix anything? No. None of us can do that. We're specialized.“

—  Philip K. Dick

"The Variable Man" (1952), The Collected Short Stories of Philip K. Dick, v.1: The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford (1987)
Context: Can any of us fix anything? No. None of us can do that. We're specialized. Each one of us has his own line, his own work. I understand my work, you understand yours. The tendency in evolution is toward greater and greater specialization. Man's society is an ecology that forces adaptation to it. Continued complexity makes it impossible for us to know anything outside our own personal field — I can't follow the work of the man sitting at the next desk over from me. Too much knowledge has piled up in each field. And there are too many fields.

„That is the best in humanity, there; that is who and what I love.“

—  Philip K. Dick

Introduction to The Golden Man (1980)
Context: Several years ago, when I was ill, Heinlein offered his help, anything he could do, and we had never met; he would phone me to cheer me up and see how I was doing. He wanted to buy me an electric typewriter, God bless him — one of the few true gentlemen in this world. I don't agree with any ideas he puts forth in his writing, but that is neither here nor there. One time when I owed the IRS a lot of money and couldn't raise it, Heinlein loaned the money to me. I think a great deal of him and his wife; I dedicated a book to them in appreciation. Robert Heinlein is a fine-looking man, very impressive and very military in stance; you can tell he has a military background, even to the haircut. He knows I'm a flipped-out freak and still he helped me and my wife when we were in trouble. That is the best in humanity, there; that is who and what I love.

„Van Vogt influenced me so much because he made me appreciate a mysterious chaotic quality in the universe which is not to be feared.“

—  Philip K. Dick

As quoted in "Vertex Interviews Philip K. Dick" by Arthur Byron Cover, in Vertex, Vol. 1, no. 6 (February 1974) http://2010philipkdickfans.philipkdickfans.com/frank/vertexin.htm
Context: I started reading SF when I was about twelve and I read all I could, so any author who was writing about that time, I read. But there's no doubt who got me off originally and that was A. E. van Vogt. There was in van Vogt's writing a mysterious quality, and this was especially true in The World of Null A. All the parts of that book did not add up; all the ingredients did not make a coherency. Now some people are put off by that. They think that's sloppy and wrong, but the thing that fascinated me so much was that this resembled reality more than anybody else's writing inside or outside science fiction. … reality really is a mess, and yet it's exciting. The basic thing is, how frightened are you of chaos? And how happy are you with order? Van Vogt influenced me so much because he made me appreciate a mysterious chaotic quality in the universe which is not to be feared.

„Anyhow, even if they agreed to lead us, I felt uneasy as where we would wind up going.“

—  Philip K. Dick

Story notes for The Golden Man (1953), in the short story anthology The Golden Man (1980)
Context: Here I am saying that mutants are dangerous to us ordinaries, a view which John W. Campbell, Jr. deplored. We were supposed to view them as our leaders. But I always felt uneasy as to how they would view us. I mean, maybe they wouldn't want to lead us. Maybe from their superevolved lofty level we wouldn't seem worth leading. Anyhow, even if they agreed to lead us, I felt uneasy as where we would wind up going. It might have something to do with buildings marked SHOWERS but which really weren't.

„Man's society is an ecology that forces adaptation to it.“

—  Philip K. Dick

"The Variable Man" (1952), The Collected Short Stories of Philip K. Dick, v.1: The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford (1987)
Context: Can any of us fix anything? No. None of us can do that. We're specialized. Each one of us has his own line, his own work. I understand my work, you understand yours. The tendency in evolution is toward greater and greater specialization. Man's society is an ecology that forces adaptation to it. Continued complexity makes it impossible for us to know anything outside our own personal field — I can't follow the work of the man sitting at the next desk over from me. Too much knowledge has piled up in each field. And there are too many fields.

„I always felt uneasy as to how they would view us. I mean, maybe they wouldn't want to lead us.“

—  Philip K. Dick

Story notes for The Golden Man (1953), in the short story anthology The Golden Man (1980)
Context: Here I am saying that mutants are dangerous to us ordinaries, a view which John W. Campbell, Jr. deplored. We were supposed to view them as our leaders. But I always felt uneasy as to how they would view us. I mean, maybe they wouldn't want to lead us. Maybe from their superevolved lofty level we wouldn't seem worth leading. Anyhow, even if they agreed to lead us, I felt uneasy as where we would wind up going. It might have something to do with buildings marked SHOWERS but which really weren't.

„I am a fictionalizing philosopher, not a novelist; my novel and story-writing ability is employed as a means to formulate my perception. The core of my writing is not art but truth.“

—  Philip K. Dick

In Pursuit of Valis: Selections from the Exegesis (1991)
Context: I am a fictionalizing philosopher, not a novelist; my novel and story-writing ability is employed as a means to formulate my perception. The core of my writing is not art but truth. Thus what I tell is the truth, yet I can do nothing to alleviate it, either by deed or explanation. Yet this seems somehow to help a certain kind of sensitive troubled person, for whom I speak. I think I understand the common ingredient in those whom my writing helps: they cannot or will not blunt their own intimations about the irrational, mysterious nature of reality, and, for them, my corpus of writing is one long ratiocination regarding this inexplicable reality, an investigation and presentation, analysis and response and personal history. My audience will always be limited to those people.

„On their own, without training, individuals know how to deal out the lethal sentence, but training is required to deal out the second.“

—  Philip K. Dick, book VALIS

VALIS (1981)
Context: For each person there is a sentence — a series of words — which has the power to destroy him … another sentence exists, another series of words, which will heal the person. If you're lucky you will get the second; but you can be certain of getting the first: that is the way it works. On their own, without training, individuals know how to deal out the lethal sentence, but training is required to deal out the second.

„You have seen these things. You know a great deal. And you are not coordinated with the new configuration.“

—  Philip K. Dick, book Adjustment Team

Adjustment Team (1954)
Context: "I get the picture." His voice was almost inaudible. A chilling premonition moved through him. "I was supposed to be changed like the others. But I guess something went wrong."
"Something went wrong. An error occurred. And now a serious problem exists. You have seen these things. You know a great deal. And you are not coordinated with the new configuration."
"Gosh," Ed muttered. "Well, I won't tell anybody." Cold sweat poured off him. "You can count on that. I'm as good as changed."

„For a moment he studied the massive figure who stood calmly between the two Civil Policemen. Beside him, they seemed to have shrunk, become ungainly and repellent.“

—  Philip K. Dick

The Golden Man (1954)
Context: For a moment he studied the massive figure who stood calmly between the two Civil Policemen. Beside him, they seemed to have shrunk, become ungainly and repellent. Like dwarves... What had Jean said? A god come to earth. Baines broke angrily away. "Come on," he muttered brusquely. "This one may be tough; we've never run up against one like it before. We don't know what the hell it can do."

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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