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‘Ruminating in Greek’
The Exegesis of Phillip K. Dick: Letter to Ursula Le Guin, September 23, 1974
Leguin wrote The Left Hand of Darkness and The Earth Sea Trilogy, was an overtly feminist speculative fiction writer of some genius, who would become critical of Dick’s Valis trilogy for a negative depiction of the female, betraying the modern feminist as the inheritor of New England puritanism what tolerates not a single breach from the worship of purity of the favored form of the Civic Mother.
Dick is obviously reaching out for a secular opinion here yet tries to convince the post-modern woman that he is possessed by an ancient Hellenic ghost, perhaps a time-traveler, as opposed to his friend Tom Disch’s suggestion that he is possessed by the Old Testament prophet Elijah.
Ultimately Dick demonstrates a need for faith, an intense need to believe that he is being possessed by an ancient soul, or a cacophony of them, perhaps having travelled through Time down to see him and help save the world from Richard Nixon. Hs secularized angst over Nixon previously expressed in a letter to a European fanzine, seems to have been sacralized into a belief of Nixon as an antichrist figure, plainly placing Dick in the category of obtuse victims of mass hysteria. The comedy of the early 1970s, in which the American left characterized the corrupt and evil Nixon administration of being the first to breach public trust, when all presidential administrations in this or any other nations are founded on the exploitation and betrayal of the populace they are falsely pledged to serve, truly paints Dick in his own words as just another docked sheep in the feedlot of souls that somehow expects the proprietors of the animal farm where they were born, weened and will be slaughtered, as existing for their well-being!
That a mind which believed such banal political dogma could write such insightful human fiction speaks to a talent given wing by something externally inspiring or internally damaged and might be the best argument for Dick having been used as a vessel for illumination by an extra-human intelligence. For the man, despite his talent and ability to project societal dysfunction into the future in fable form, was a fool propelled by the same mob hysterias that would cause beggars to be burned alive for causing poor harvests in early Modern Europe and will cause bad thinkers of Dick’s immediate future to be persecuted by such puritanical tarts as Le Guin.
He claims to be researching brain fluid and tries to convince Le Guinn that his experience is real and potent and sacred, something she would blandly characterize at a later date as “slowly going crazy.”
Onward this reader puts down this book for this year and picks up The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant, seeking some more context for the mind wreck that was Phillip K. Dick’s possession.
However, the last word should belong to the prophet, who never loses faith that:
“…this Other which I had encountered deep within me—an Other which had been slumbering…now we function smoothly in synchronization…not mine alone. Looking always clearly to the future.”
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