"All this remains thrilling and funny; to detail Dick's conceits is to inventory a time. The trouble is that, much as one would like to place Dick above or alongside Pynchon and Vonnegut-or, for that matter, Chesterton or Tolkien-as a poet of the fantastic parable he was a pretty bad writer ... At the end of a Dick marathon, you end up admiring every one of his conceits and not a single one of his sentences ... That's probably why Dick's reputation as a serious writer, like Poe's, has always been higher in France, where the sentences aren't read as they were written. And his paint-by-numbers prose is ideally suited for the movies. The last monologue in "Blade Runner" ("All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die"), improvised by Rutger Hauer on the set that day, has a pathos that the book achieves only in design, intellectually, because the movie speech is spoken by a recognizable person, dressed up as a robot, where Dick's characters tend to be robots dressed up as people."
[HD: perhaps the French translations are better than the original, the way the Vulgate, King James' Version and Luther's translation all produce prose of great beauty from the generally disheartening Greek of the New Testament.]
Although “Blade Runner,” with its rainy, ruined Los Angeles, got Dick’s
antic tone wrong, making it too noirish and romantic, it got the
central idea right: the future will be like the past, in the sense
that, no matter how amazing or technologically advanced a society
becomes, the basic human rhythm of petty malevolence, sordid
moneygrubbing, and official violence, illuminated by occasional bursts
of loyalty or desire or tenderness, will go on. Dick’s future worlds
are rarely evil and oppressive, exactly; they are banal and a little
sordid, run by a demoralized élite at the expense of a deluded
population. No matter how mad life gets, it will first of all be life.
Gopnik later says:
At the end of a Dick marathon, you end up admiring every one of his
conceits and not a single one of his sentences. His facility is
amazing. He once wrote eleven novels in a twenty-four-month stretch.
But one thing you have to have done in order to write eleven novels in
two years is not to have written any of them twice.
No, Mr Gopnik. Not true. I once wrote 10 novels in 11 months, and they were all different -- but they were not all finished, because at the end of the year I got an offer of publication for The Last Samurai. If I had had another 3 months I suppose I would have finished 10 novels in 14 months. If I had had PDK's access to amphetamines it might have been a different story. It takes Adderall to write AND publish.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Philip K. Dick
A friend has send me a link to an article in the New Yorker by Adam Gopnik on Philip K. Dick; he comments: It really captures both what I like and dislike about him - for example: