ennui is for suckers (t3dy) wrote in philipkdick,
ennui is for suckers
t3dy
philipkdick

another grave-pissing and my extreme reaction

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n13/burt01_.html
I found this article interesting but disappointing. Obviously the writer is in control of rhetorical power, and the article is somewhat useful as an introduction to PKD criticism, but I found it to be full of howlers and somewhat poorly informed. I'm not convinced that this critic understands why PKD receives the attention he does ("lifted above" other SF writers), what Kim Stanley Robinson's analysis of PKD's literary worth consisted of, or Dick's life--which obviously can't be understood if one reads only the second-rate novelistic biography by that french guy. Not only is he confused about whether Dick boasted of writing Three Stigmata under LSD (he didn't, Harlan Ellison misreported him on that one), he doesn't appear to have looked very closely at Dick's attitudes to drugs or psychoanalysis. Beyond the grave-pissing, which I thought was peculiarly vicious and unearned (I was especially appalled that the crescendo involved an ad hominem "guilt-by-association" link with Timothy Leary--which in reality was little more than a phone call from Leary and John Lennon), his attacks on the PKD literary style also ring hollow. He is correct to point out that Dick wrote fast and sloppy, but quite dismissively and idiotically rules out many of the principal topics and themes by labeling them "bad prose," or even "boring." He doesn't seem to have much of an idea of Dick is actually doing in these "boring" segments, which he apparently impatiently skimmed since he felt they had already been figured out ahead of time. He has no interest in the decades of scholarly work that has been done on Dick's fiction and religious writings, and does not cite either of the reliable biographies. It's a shame that someone who has gone to the trouble he apparently has in reading and citing a few novels and one or two secondary sources fails so dramatically in findind anything useful to say about the problems in Dick's work. Any honest reader of Dick will readily grant that there are some unpolished moments in the writing, but a sound critical approach to PKD must include an understanding of why so many not-uncritical readers are willing to overlook these arguably minor problems. There are some deeper problems in the presentation of religious and psychological ideas, but this critic is nowhere close to them--perhaps not only because they are out of reach of the average grad student in either subject. I'm getting quite weary of reading all these clumsy attacks on the guy, which if you're keeping track continue falling in the same predictable grooves, with little in the way of original literary review and much of the usual knee-jerk reactions to a spectacular and notorious set of stories (both personal and scientific-fictionalized). 
 
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