Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick is a writer who is getting a lot of press lately. Among other things, he was a paranoid schizophrenic. There is a lot you could say about him, especially concerning certain ideas he put forward in his writings.

One major idea was that of subjectivity. PKD suggests that each person has their own point of view– which is legitimized by their unique experience(s). For example, in Maze Of Death (1970 Doubleday), he demonstrates that, in a small group of people, each person lives in their own reality, dictated by particular rules and traits.

A result of my own schizophrenia is that I am aware of this view, and often tempted to adopt it. The purer the subjectivity I accept, the more I can put forward my own perspective. Though it is said that I have a mental illness, a subjective view rather suggests that my reality is still my own and is therefore genuine, as much as anyone else’s.

What is the problem? There is such a thing as a social fabric. I can say that, for example, I am having an aural hallucination, or “hearing a voice”. If no one else can hear it, it would likely be dismissed as not being “real”. This preserves the social order. And, I am one to admit, as I work with the public, that listening to people talk to themselves, especially in any volume, can be quite disturbing. It’s all real to them, sure, but what about everyone else, and the things they have to do?

You might say that reality is democratic. If most people accept it, then it is seen as the case. I can claim subjectivity, but my view might be eclipsed by the majority, dismissed as being incorrect.

Some people I dialogue with suggest that we are moving towards an era where subjectivity will be the ultimate guideline. I am not so sure. If we are, I wonder if we can also keep peace and order.

The issue of subjectivity never really resolves for me, but can only be reduced to a dialectic, shifting between poles of value.

That being said, I think I can understand why PKD would think of things in a subjective way, and I do appreciate his many contributions to the world of thought, which are seemingly so relevant today– including his idea that the world itself, or environment, is like a character, and is subject to changing traits and qualities.


Author: mystified13

Sole member of Mystified and Mister Vapor.

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