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Philip K. Dick - Quotes

Imagine a brain floating in a tank with millions and millions of electrodes attached to specific nerve centers. Now imagine these electrodes being selectively stimulated by a computer to cause the brain to believe that it was walking down Hollywood Boulevard chomping on a hamburger and checking out the chicks.

Now, if there was a technological foul-up, or if the tapes got jumbled, the brain would suddenly see Jesus Christ pass by down Hollywood Boulevard on his way to Golgotha, pursued by a crowd of angry people, being whipped along by seven Roman Centurions.

The brain would say, "Now hold on there!" And suddenly the entire image would go "pop" and disappear.

I've always had this funny feeling about reality. It just seems very feeble to me sometimes. It doesn't seem to have the substantiality that it's suppose to have.

Dick, Philip K. (with Joe Vitale Interviewer) ”An Interview With America’s Most Brilliant Science-Fiction Writer The Aquarian, No. 11. 2002.

[The writer] must offend people if he's going to be effective. It's like someone once said about opera. "Stab a tenor and he sings." Stab a writer -- or step on his toes -- and he'll write. It's an automatic reflex reaction. A writer writes because it's his response to the world. It's a natural process, like respiration.

But above all, a writer must have a capacity for indignation. The capacity for indignation is the most important thing for a creative person. Not the aesthetic capacity but the capacity for indignation. And especially indignation at the treatment afforded other people… To see a blind and deaf baby and to feel anger, to feel fury, at the starving of children and the arrest of political dissidents. That is the basis of the writer.

Dick, Philip K. >”An Interview With America’s Most Brilliant Science-Fiction Writer The Aquarian, No. 11. 2002.

Does science fiction have a didactic purpose?’ - a message in the bourgeois sense of the novel as the "message novel", that teaches some moral, it somehow improves the reader, the reader goes away after having read it a better person, he now knows something he did not know before (presumably about life). I have never accepted the bourgeois concept that the novel must do that, anyway, be it science fiction or any other kind of novel… I think aesthetics must be separated from morality…[When] you look at the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and you can say, "Well, does this make you a better person, or do you just enjoy looking at it?", and the bourgeois person will always say it makes you a better person, because he is always thinking in terms of self-improvement. The artist is always thinking of aesthetics.

Dick, Philip K. (with Daniel DePerez Interviewer) ”An Interview with Philip K Dick” Science Fiction Review, No. 19, Vol. 5, no. 3. 1976.

That's my purpose. My purpose is to take these characters, who I know, and present them to other people, and have them know them, so that they can say that they've known them, too, and have enjoyed the pleasure of their company. And that is the purpose that I have, which, I suppose, is a purpose beyond entertainment.

Dick, Philip K. >”An Interview with Philip K Dick” Science Fiction Review, No. 19, Vol. 5, no. 3. 1976.

People just have no criterion left to evaluate the importance of things. I think the only thing that would really affect people would be the announcement that the world was going to be blown up by the hydrogen bomb…outside of that, I don't think they would react to anything.

Dick, Philip K. ”An Interview with Philip K Dick” Science Fiction Review, No. 19, Vol. 5, no. 3. 1976.

All responsible writers, to some degree, have become involuntary criers of doom, because doom is in the wind; but science fiction writers more so, since science fiction has always been a protest medium.

Dick, Philip K. ”Pessimism in Science Fiction”. 1955.

Sometimes the presence of grave social problems is a stimulus to exploration; man searches relentlessly for a way out of his problems, and in doing so he presses at every door, hoping to find one that will lead him somewhere that is new and different.

Dick, Philip K. The Moon Plaque. 1969.

Death makes me mad. Human and animal suffering make me mad; whenever one of my cats dies I curse God and I mean it; I feel fury at him. I'd like to get him here where I could interrogate him, tell him that I think the world is screwed up, that man didn't sin and fall but was pushed -- which is bad enough -- but was then sold the lie that he is basically sinful, which I know he is not.

Dick, Philip K. ”Introduction” to The Golden Man. 1980.

I want to write about people I love, and put them into a fictional world spun out of my own mind, not the world we actually have because the world we actually have does not meet my standards. Okay, so I should revise my standards; I'm out of step. I should yield to reality.I have never yielded to reality.

Dick, Philip K. ”Introduction” to The Golden Man. 1980.

Our situation, the human situation, is, in the final analysis, neither grim nor meaningful but funny. The wisest people are the clowns.

Dick, Philip K. ”Introduction” to The Golden Man. 1980.

This is what I get from being an Science Fiction writer: not fame and fortune, but good friends. That's what makes it worth it to me.

Dick, Philip K. ”Introduction” to The Golden Man. 1980.

Music is the single thread making my life into a coherency.

Dick, Philip K. “Introduction” to The Golden Man. 1980.

By applying Ockham's razor to the basic Epistemological question of "What is reality?" the Buddhist idealists reach the conclusion that belief in an external world is a "superfluous hypothesis"; that is, it violates the Principle of Parsimony – which is the principle underlying all Western science. Thus the external world is abolished, and we can go about more important business – whatever that might be.

Dick, Philip K. ”Introduction” to The Golden Man. 1980.

If it is good science fiction the idea is new, it is stimulating, and, probably most important of all, it sets off a chain reaction of ramification ideas in the mind of the reader; it so to speak unlocks the reader's mind so that that mind, like the author's, begins to create. Thus science fiction is creative and it inspires creativity.

Dick, Philip K. ”My definition of Science Fiction”. 1981.

The very best science fiction ultimately winds up being a collaboration between author and reader, in which both create -- and enjoy doing it: Joy is the essential and final ingredient of science fiction, the joy of discovery of newness.

Dick, Philip K. ”My definition of Science Fiction”. 1981.

My own feeling, especially in view of the very recent laboratory findings that some connection exists between schizophrenia and subsecretions of the adrenal gland, is this: "The sane man does not know that everything is possible." In other words, the mentally ill person at one time or another knew too much. And, as a result, so to speak, his head shut down.

Dick, Philip K. ”Drugs, Hallucinations, and the Quest for Reality”. 1964.

Imagine being able to plot in advance, in systematic fashion, the approach of all meaningful coincidences. Is that a priori, by the very meaning of the word, not a contradiction? After all, a coincidence, or as Pauli called it, a manifestation of synchronicity, is by its very nature not dependent on the past; hence nothing exists as a harbinger of it (cf. David Hume on the topic; in particular the train whistle versus the train). This state, not knowing what is going to happen next and therefore having no way of controlling it, is the sine qua non of the unhappy world of the schizophrenic; he is helpless, passive, and instead of doing things, he is done to. Reality happens to him -- a sort of perpetual auto accident, going on and on without relief.

Dick, Philip K. "Schizophenia & The Book of Changes". 1965.

Our environment, and I mean our man-made world of machines, artificial constructs, computers, electronic systems, interlinking homeostatic components – all of this is in fact beginning more and more to possess what the earnest psychologists fear the primitive sees in his environment: animation. In a very real sense our environment is becoming alive, or at least quasi-alive, and in ways specifically and fundamentally analogous to ourselves.

Dick, Philip K. "The Android and the Human”. 1972.

Machines are becoming more human, so to speak [and] some meaningful comparison exists between human and mechanical behavior. But is it ourselves that we know first and foremost? Rather than learning about ourselves by studying our constructs, perhaps we should make the attempt to comprehend what our constructs are up to by looking into what we ourselves are up to..

Dick, Philip K. "The Android and the Human”. 1972.

I have, in some of my stories and novels, written about androids or robots or simulacra – the name doesn't matter; what is meant is artificial constructs masquerading as humans. Usually with a sinister purpose in mind. I suppose I took it for granted that if such a construct, a robot, for example, had a benign or anyhow decent purpose in mind, it would not need to so disguise itself. The constructs do not mimic humans; they are, in many deep ways, actually human already.

Dick, Philip K. "The Android and the Human”. 1972.