Philip K. Dick was a great writer and thinker who, like Orwell, warned us of many traps and pitfalls of science, technology and ourselves, our darker nature, that could lead to the dystopic future we may now be facing. A common theme of his was a technocracy that could evolve its own amoral consciousness and adapt beyond the ability of society to control it or even perceive its reality (sound familiar?). In my opinion he was also one of the great moralists.

Terminator, Total Recall, Minority Report, I Robot, Adjustment Bureau are all based on Dick's short stories.

But my favorite is from a 1978 speech titled “How To Build A Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later” . Please indulge this lengthy quote:

"It was always my hope, in writing novels and stories which asked the question “WHAT IS REALITY?”, to someday get an answer. This was the hope of most of my readers, too. Years passed. I wrote over thirty novels and over a hundred stories, and still I could not figure out what was real. One day a girl college student in Canada asked me to define reality for her, for a paper she was writing for her philosophy class. She wanted a one-sentence answer. I thought about it and finally said, “REALITY IS THAT WHICH, WHEN YOU STOP BELIEVING IN IT, DOESN'T GO AWAY." That’s all I could come up with. That was back in 1972. Since then I haven’t been able to define reality any more lucidly.

But the problem is a real one, not a mere intellectual game. Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups. . . . So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing. It is my job to create universes, as the basis of one novel after another. AND I HAVE TO BUILD THEM IN SUCH A WAY THAT THEY DO NOT FALL APART TWO DAYS LATER.

But I consider that the matter of defining what is real — that is a serious topic, even a vital topic. And in there somewhere is the other topic, the definition of the authentic human. Because the bombardment of pseudo-realities begins to produce inauthentic humans very quickly, spurious humans — as fake as the data pressing at them from all sides. My two topics are really one topic; they unite at this point. Fake realities will create fake humans. Or, fake humans will generate fake realities and then sell them to other humans, turning them, eventually, into forgeries of themselves. So we wind up with fake humans inventing fake realities and then peddling them to other fake humans. It is just a very large version of Disneyland.

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.


CONSEQUENCES TO HIM AND THOSE WHOM HE LOVES. This, to me, is the ultimately heroic trait of ordinary people; they say no to the tyrant and they calmly take the consequences of this resistance. Their deeds may be small, and almost always unnoticed, unmarked by history. Their names are not remembered, nor did these authentic humans expect their names to be remembered. I SEE THEIR AUTHENTICITY IN AN ODD WAY: NOT IN THEIR WILLINGNESS TO PERFORM GREAT HEROIC DEEDS BUT IN THEIR QUITE REFUSALS. IN ESSENCE, THEY CANNOT BE COMPELLED TO BE WHAT THEY ARE NOT."

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Feb 10, 2022Liked by Moneycircus

I have just discovered your work thru one of the exxcellent Riley waggaman's substack and all I can say is... Just great!! I can contribute at the present moment and all I can do is write that little praise of your work.

I definitely think PKD's novels are essential. Thank you again Money Circus and Wayne Janis for your most interesting comment. Indeed, What is reality?

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