Sunday, March 27, 2011

Philip K. Dick's Late-Career Revelation

Note: I wrote this post a few weeks before the earthquake in Japan. The last Philip K. Dick work I read was a short story collection I bought at a foreign language bookstore in Sendai. Sendai is the kind of city where you can find, tucked away on the third floor of shopping complexes, bookstores that carry science fiction in foreign languages. For that and many, many other reasons, it is my favorite city in Japan. Do what you can to help.

Ludicrously, there are more Dick films coming. I have not yet read the Christian-mysticism-themed Radio Free Albemuth, though I'm more excited about the coming Ridley Scott version of the Man in the High Castle.

I had never heard of Dick's late life real-life Christian mystic conversion, though given some of his other experiences it's not too surprising. Of course if we want to read about a science fiction writer from that era with a connection to religion, L. Ron Hubbard is much better known. There is of course the story that Hubbard once said to another science fiction writer that there was no money in science fiction, and the way to get rich was to start a religion. Though I have no love for something as silly as Scientology, I always thought that this too-fitting story was of dubious verisimilitude (although if you have a source please comment).

Well, it turns out that one common version of that story has Dick as the other writer. Zany! If such an exchange actually happened, it leads to interesting speculation about the motivation for Dick's In-Hoc-Signo:

1) He was honestly reporting his experiences, and was influenced by thiopental (schizophrenia initial onset at that age would be unusual, but these are heavy drugs)

2) He was doing clever marketing.

3) He saw that Scientology had actually taken off, got jealous, and wanted to start his own Xenu club.

I'm half and half #1 and #3.

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