Philip K. Dick's Philosophical Machines

Philip K. Dick's Philosophical Machines

Erik Davis

November 18, 02014

Erik Davis discussed some of the more peculiar gadgets that Philip K. Dick ever described in his fiction. He showed how surreal devices in books like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, and The Divine Invasion play with philosophical possibilities and give us insight into 21st century personal technologies. In fact Davis spotlighted how Dick's fiction strikingly anticipated some very real features of our contemporary world.

Since his death in 01982, Dick's reputation has grown, first as a cult icon and ultimately into mainstream recognition and fame. The many adaptations of his stories include the films Blade Runner, Total Recall (twice), Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. While PKD's cultural cachet has never been higher, new film and TV adaptations continue to appear, much is excised in the journey from page to frame.

In Erik Davis we have a passionate scholar who has been in the head of this iconoclastic science fiction author for decades; he unpacks the Dick-ian machines from the source and restores the weirdness even to devices as familiar as those in the film Blade Runner. What importance does the Voight-Kampff Machine, Penfield Mood Organ, or the 3D interactive Bible hold in Dick's stories? And a half a century later what can they tell us about the gadgets of today?

Erik Davis is an award-winning journalist, author, independent scholar, and lecturer based in San Francisco. His 01998 book TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information has been praised by Bruce Sterling, Terrence McKenna and Hakim Bey, amongst others. Mark Dery called him "a postmodern classicist, equally at home with ancient automata and alien autopsies." Davis' other books include The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape and Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica. His podcast Expanding Mind is carried by the Progressive Radio Network.

Author Erik Davis is best known for his book Techgnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information. But he has been writing about Philip K. Dick for decades, and was a co-editor of The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, a surreal and daunting task in tis own right. Davis took time out from his dissertation on the "High Weirdness" figures of the early 01970s (which includes PKD) to give us a guided tour of the strangely inspired technologies that were born in Dick's fiction. And what's weirdest is how much they resonate with the tech we use today.

Philip K. Dick is widely acknowledged as one of the most important and prophetic science fiction writers of the twentieth century. His career and work is also deeply connected to the San Francisco Bay Area; he produced such landmark works of science fiction The Man In The High Castle, Time Out Of Joint, and Ubik while living in the area.

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