Wednesday, April 11, 2007
More Reasons Not to Die
Well, first of all, there are some (potentially) really great records coming out: the Pita LP on Carlos Giffoni's No Fun label, an Oren Ambarchi album on swanky UK imprint Bo' Weavil and finally, finally a vinyl reissue of Starsailor by Tim Buckley.
And then there are the novels of Philip K Dick, which have been making my bus rides to work bearable of late. Of the PKD books I've read so far, I honestly think that A Scanner Darkly is both my favourite and objectively the best. Richard Linklater's movie of Scanner (another scene from which is reproduced above) is great too and quite astonishingly faithful to the original text.
What really moves me about Dick's work is the recurring theme of empathy. In Scanner, Bob Arctor differentiates the universally messed up characters who inhabit his world entirely on their ability to feel empathy - especially empathy for cats, dogs and even insects. In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep empathy is used to differentiate humans from machines but the line is always blurry and Scanner takes things even further, with Arctor empathizing with the machines he uses to spy on his friends and himself.
PKD was a tough writer but an incredibly humane one too: a fact best summed up by the weapon used against invading alien hordes in The Zap Gun - a child's toy designed to teach... empathy. And I mean humane, by the way, not Humanist because I think Dick's point was that what makes life worth living is having the ability to love and feel a part of everything in the world around you: animal, vegetable, mineral or technological. The theme comes up again and again: in Flow My Tears the Policeman Said and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and goodness knows how many more of Dick's 40-or-so novels.
Read them all.