The Penultimate Truth About Philip K. Dick: Documentary Explores the Mysterious Universe of PKD

Even read­ers not par­tic­u­lar­ly well versed in sci­ence fic­tion know Philip K. Dick as the author of the sto­ries that would become such cin­e­mat­ic visions of a trou­bled future as Blade Run­nerTotal RecallMinor­i­ty Report, and A Scan­ner Dark­ly. Dick­’s fans know him bet­ter through his 44 nov­els, 121 short sto­ries, and oth­er writ­ings not quite cat­e­go­riz­able as one thing or the oth­er. All came as the prod­ucts of a cre­ative­ly hyper­ac­tive mind, and one sub­ject to more than its fair share of dis­tur­bances from amphet­a­mines, hal­lu­cino­gens, uncon­ven­tion­al beliefs, and what those who write about Dick­’s work tend to call para­noia (either jus­ti­fied or unjus­ti­fied, depend­ing on whom you ask). But Dick, who passed in 1982, chan­neled this con­stant churn of visions, the­o­ries, con­vic­tions, and fears into books like The Man in the High Cas­tle, Do Androids Dream of Elec­tric Sheep?Ubik, and VALIS, some of the most unusu­al works of lit­er­a­ture ever to car­ry the label of sci­ence fic­tion — works that, indeed, tran­scend the whole genre.

But what must it have felt like to live with the guy? The Penul­ti­mate Truth About Philip K. Dick (named after his 1964 nov­el of human­i­ty tricked into liv­ing in under­ground war­rens) seeks out the writer’s friends, col­leagues, col­lab­o­ra­tors, step­daugh­ter, ther­a­pist, and wives (three of them, any­way), assem­bling a por­trait of the man who could cre­ate so many tex­tu­al worlds at once so off-kil­ter and so tapped into our real wor­ries and obses­sions. Each of these inter­vie­wees regards dif­fer­ent­ly Dick­’s ded­i­ca­tion to the pur­suits of both lit­er­ary achieve­ment and psy­cho­nau­ti­cal adven­ture, his com­pli­cat­ed con­cep­tion of the true nature of real­i­ty, his at times unpre­dictable behav­ior, and his pen­chant for encoun­ters with the divine. Direc­tor Emeliano Larre and writer Patri­cio Veg­a’s 2007 doc­u­men­tary reveals one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing per­son­al­i­ties in late 20th-cen­tu­ry let­ters, though, as any pro­fes­sor of lit­er­a­ture will tell you, we ulti­mate­ly have to return to the work itself. For­tu­nate­ly, Dick­’s per­son­al­i­ty ensured that we have a great deal of it, all of it unset­tling but great­ly enter­tain­ing. Read­ers tak­en note. You can Down­load 14 Great Sci-Fi Sto­ries by Philip K. Dick as Free Audio Books and Free eBooks.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Robert Crumb Illus­trates Philip K. Dick’s Infa­mous, Hal­lu­ci­na­to­ry Meet­ing with God (1974)

Philip K. Dick Pre­views Blade Run­ner: “The Impact of the Film is Going to be Over­whelm­ing” (1981)

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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  • La Vern De Wilde says:

    Exquis­ite doc­u­men­tary!!!!! As an astrologer/numerologist/symbolist, I have come to under­stand that there are def­i­nite­ly per­son­al, indi­vid­ual astro­log­i­cal aspects and tran­sits to one’s per­son­al birth aspects (plan­e­tary aspects) which opens the door to var­i­ous mys­ti­cal expe­ri­ences and insights which can­not be relayed by word, it can only be expe­ri­enced. This is the foun­da­tion of Hin­du sym­bol­ism, Bud­dhism, Zen, the ancient spir­i­tu­al tra­di­tions that prac­tice astrol­o­gy and each prac­ti­tion­er will have their own indi­vid­ual expe­ri­ences. One who has expe­ri­ences much of what P.K. Dick expe­ri­enced was glimpses of these mys­ti­cal expe­ri­ences. Because they can­not be explained, they can only be expe­ri­enced, the com­mon indi­vid­ual can in no way under­stand, with­out study­ing astrol­o­gy, numerol­o­gy, and such ancient spir­i­tu­al sci­ences which con­nect one with the mys­ti­cism of the ancients and some of the con­tem­po­rary indi­vid­u­als who have expe­ri­enced such pro­found spir­i­tu­al dimen­sions.

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