Influence of Philip K. Dick and his Novels

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American novelist and science fiction writer Philip K. Dick was well-known for transcending readers above the authorial point of view to better explore the character's morality. Dick was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1928 with his twin sister, Jane Charlotte, who tragically passed away just six weeks later. After his parent's divorce, he moved to Berkeley, California, where he later attended Berkeley High School. Fascinated by science fiction from an early age, he wrote 'Return to Lilliput' at the age of thirteen and published short stories in newspapers. Shortly afterward, he developed anxiety so severe that he finished school in 1945 at home. Dick attended the University of California in Berkeley up until 1947, when he dropped out, citing his political differences with the mandatory ROTC program (Mackey 1-5).

Some of Dick's earliest work was centered around human ethics and principles, which were influenced by his personal beliefs. Dick digs into the complexity of the subjects with more modern realist views forcing the reader to question his or her own conscience (Vottler and Henry 72). Dr. Bloodmoney is an excellent example of this, as explained by Fredrich Jameson, 'the idea that concepts do not exist in isolation, but are defined in opposition to each other on the further refinement that there is a basic distinction between the opposite,' (Jameson #5, volume 2). Such concepts blur the line between good and evil and allow the reader to form his or her own moral conclusions about the characters and his or her motives.

During the mid-1950s, Dick attempted to transition into realist literature. Dick implemented several realist novels; however, most were proven unsuccessful. In 1975, 'Confessions of a Crap Artist' hit shelves making it the only realist novel to be published while Dick was still alive. He laid his dream of being an American literary author to rest in the early 1960s due to a lack of interest in his realist literature (Stableford 251-260).

Although Dick wrote with a distinct style, he drew inspiration from many different literary works. Dick analyzed many of his realist authors while learning to write. He often reflected on the dialogue between Ernest Hemingway and Richard Wright. Culture and religion were also great contributors to Dick's written work, such as Buddism and Greek philosophy. These influences can be seen through his works when he questions consciousness and spirituality (Mackey 1-5).

Dick had a decently successful career. However, he did run into many hardships. He endured four failed marriages and even turned to amphetamines as a way to drive projects forward quickly. After spiraling down a path of intense drug use, he withdrew from writing for roughly five years. During that time, he attended rehabilitation and met his final wife, Tessa (Mackey 1-5). In 1974, Dick experienced a mysterious essence that he called VALIS (Arnold/ Oxford University Press). This prompted him to reiterate his spiritual experience in 'Exegesis.'

Dick's mind was a curious place to explore. He talked about instances in which he was enlightened by a spirit. Dick described it as 'an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind as if I had been insane all my life and suddenly I had become sane' (Dick, 1974). He accounted that it was beneficial in numerous ways, as it gave him wisdom and even aided him in saving the life of his son. Soon afterward, Dick began to show obvious signs of schizophrenia and professed his second life as Thomas, a Christian from Roman times (New World Encyclopedia).

In the journal, 'Exegesis,' Dick contemplates the visions bestowed upon him in the early months of 1974. Here he explores the possible religious implications of what he experienced. Unsure of his own sanity and desperate to understand and document what he believed to be happening, Dick spent most of the last years of his life writing eccentrically under the influence of amphetamines and suffered extreme paranoia. Dick's once-deep in psychological writing became steadily more unhinged over the remainder of his life (New World Encyclopedia) A number of Dick's novels and stories were influential in many of today's science fiction novels and motion pictures.

In,' Welcome to Reality: The Nightmares of Philip K. Dick, adorning authors encapsulate Dick's work through emulated short stories. Gary Walkow's film, 'The Trouble with Dick,' illustrates his prolific work and eccentric lifestyle. Even the famous 1982 film, 'Blade Runner,' was impacted by Dick's, 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' (Bosky, Lynn, and Hlavaty) Unfortunately, Dick passed away in 1982 before Blade Runner's premiere due to a stroke and never saw the final product. Philip K. Dick was an interesting and thought-provoking author whose compelling work will go on to inspire generations.

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Influence of Philip K. Dick and His Novels. (2023, Mar 09). Retrieved May 22, 2024 , from
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