A fairly moderate copyleft almost-rant about Phillip K. Dick

September 14, 2007

My copyleft acid reflux has been acting up, I keep starting to draft rants but I don’t have time to edit out the incomprehensible mumblings.

Then Total Dick Head had a thread about how PKD’s daughters asked him nicely to take down the PKD Society Newsletters (good on them for leaving the lawyers out of it), which he did (here’s why), and one of the daughters tried to clarify and it was hard to tell if she being disingenuous, or naive, or sincere under fundamental assumptions different than my own. Anyway, she took a couple of posts on the chin (several were deleted, I might not know the half of it), then a copyright plutocrat came to her defense, then she got frustrated and emotional, and then the Blogger asked nicely would everyone please lay off of her. I had somehow successfully drafted a contribution to the thread, but there is some non-zero risk that it could be read as not laying off of her, which would transform me from lurker to troll. Fortunately I have my own blog. Be sure and read the thread first, it’ll make more sense.

Those wishing to denigrate the estate ought to keep in mind that there would likely be no PKD books to read were it not for the continued work of the estate. It is the estate which pushes the legacy of the author. As for the financial remuneration the estate receives (and is thus in the interest of protecting), anyone who would begrudge the estate of profits from their work is, in my view, quite petty (not to mention naive).
“…I’m going to give up trying to communicate it’s simply too painfulYou all have simply no idea. It’s frustrating and disappointing.

Bottom line: Laura’s right, I have no idea. That’s why I didn’t post the snarky bon mot I drafted the other day. Maybe Cal’s right, but I kinda doubt it. I suspect that any competent agent could keep the Dick ouvre in print. I just bought me some new Cordwainer Smith and Ridley Linkberg never did jack for him. If in fact it is only the work of the trust that keeps all of these great books in print then I am grateful for that and do not begrudge the trust a living. However, I wonder if they may be doing a damn sight better than a living (none of my business, I don’t want to know- but it matters). And while I’m glad that the books are available to me, the effects of the trust that are more apparent to me are that I’m not alowed to see Charlie Kaufman’s “A Scanner Darkly” (which is not allowed to compete against Linklater’s in the marketplace), I’m not allowed to read the newsletters online (although I may at sometime in the future be allowed to read whatever fraction of them some publisher decides that I may), PKD’s overweight balding aging characters are played by Tom Cruise, and I am afraid to videotape myself and my friends acting out “Service Call” and post it on YouTube.

So having no actual idea all I can say to the estate is a) Thank you to the extent that Cal’s lilygilding is accurate, and b) to the extent that my paranoid conspiracy theories are accurate please get out of the way.

And Laura, although I suspect you and I may disagree on many fundamental issues, I want you to continue to communicate freely and without fear or pain. My primary interest is not to judge/begrudge/ridicule/belittle you or your work, it is to gain the knowledge which you correctly perceive that I lack. That end is not served if you give up trying to communicate. If I lose myself, just say “dude, that’s harsh,” and it should bring me back to civilization. (If we ever find ourselves posting to the same thread again)[which, of course, we never were in the first place]

The other reason I feel funny posting at TDH is that as PKD scholars those guys are the real deal, but for some reason they feel like the movies A Scanner Darkly and The Minority Report did justice to the novels, whereas I feel like they were good flicks but had all the Dick sucked out of them from which the Dickisms that made the books great had been surgically removed. Maybe I should check them out again. They also have a really hard time accepting what I consider PKD’s very obvious limitations as a wordsmith, but I ain’t gonna say that over there because they’ll scholar me into the ground!

Someday I’ll finish my PhD and then I can write real rants.


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