The Staggering Brilliance Of Writer Philip K. Dick

I bought a cheeeeeeap MP3 player recently. This one:


It was US$5.00 for 2GBs of storage. Even though I have tons of MP3 files, I’ve yet to fill the 2GBs. I listen to stuff, then shuttle them off, add new stuff, listen, repeat.

I cannot recommend that player, by the way. While it’s mostly fine for things like audio interviews and Old Time Radio, it’s absolute shit for music. Music sounds cramped, lacks depth, lacks bass, and all of the equalizer settings are worthless. But hey — five bucks! I saw it on sale once for US$40, then US$20. For five bucks, eh. Spoken word. If you can put up with its UI frustration — which I barely can.

So one of the things I finally cleared out of my audio backlog was an interview with writer Philip K. Dick.

I was going to transcribe the part I wanted for this post, but thank God I Googled first. Someone else did that gruntwork (thanks!).

Hour 25: A Talk With Philip K. Dick

Mike: Which comes first for you, situations, characters or do they, are they sort of interleaved and you can’t tell?

Phil: Well, the first thing is the idea, which is a pure idea.

And the next thing is the characters who will be confronted by an environment based on the idea. That is, you create an environment which is a kind of a special effects mock-up of an idea. You translate it from an idea into a world.

And then, but then you have to have the people who must live in that world. And if my books all have a consistency it’s because my ideas interlace and interact with each other. And I always try to find somebody who’s the victim of the idea and somebody who is the master of the idea. So you have a bifurcated society always with the loser, you know, and the winner. Somebody’s going to make it off the idea and somebody’s going to be victimized by the idea.

Suppose we use pretzels for money, as an example. And all the people who own bakeries would probably — instead of a president we’d have the chief baker. See what I mean, and then there’s another guy who has a dietary deficiency. He’s got to eat pretzels or he’ll die. And so whenever he’s paid off at the end of the month he has to eat the pretzels instead of using them to buy things with. So they give him his months pay and it’s in a papersack, a little white paper bag, like you get pretzels in. And he eats the pretzels on the way home and then he realizes that now he can’t pay any of his bills. But his system requires the salt in the pretzels or something like that. …

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

He did that off the top of his head during the interview!

Listen here:

Or downloadable audio files at the Internet Archive.

Previously here:

Our Bleak Philip K. Dick Future



Filed under Video, Writer, Writing

2 responses to “The Staggering Brilliance Of Writer Philip K. Dick

  1. For a minute there I thought it was *you* (Mike) that did the interview!

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