A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
Brilliant, tight and prescient. Wells is working about 3 themes right on top of each other. He makes us the rabbits, the ants, the colonized and is able to explore not just themes of technology and evolution, but colonialism and imperialism.
The Spencer narration, however, just doesn't seem able to carry the full weight of Wells. It was clear, but his clipped reading seemed unable to make the Wells words flow easily.
Enter into PKD's drug-infused, gnostic future. All his entheogens are belong to us. PKD is at his high point when he infuses his dark futurism with his gnostic explorations and his drug-fueled moral investigations. In 'The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch', Dick entertains that funky zone between religious dogma and drug addiction, while at the same time throwing in some key ideas about evolutionary therapy, evolution, atonement, eternal life, time, God, etc.
There is a precidence in the idea of finding God with the assistance/escape of drugs. There are similarities between the euphoria of worship and the euphoria of drugs. Just look at the Dionysian & Eleusinian Mysteries with their ambrosia, the Bwitists and their root bark, the Kiowa's and their peyote. The Rastafari's smoke a bit of the cannabis, the Vedas have their Soma, the Rus' people have their mushrooms. Hell, some people in Appalachia even get close to God with a little sip of Strychnine and few rattlesnakes. Who am I to judge?
PKD explores the use of two different drugs: Can-D and Chew-Z to explore two dimensions of the God-inducing euphoria. One leads to a greater sense of community, the other leads to isolation. Which is Heaven and which is Hell folks? Or do they both end up being Hell? Anyway, I'm still trying to work out exactly how I feel about it all. Like most of Dick's big (BIG) idea novels they aren't easy to deconstruct and leave me churning for a few days. He drops me off the last page feeling trapped, trying to figure out where I am and who to exactly to believe. He does a fantastic job of disorienting this reader, making me feel both time scrambled and a bit paranoid. Like Ben Harper says, when it's gone: "Some drink to remember, Some to forget"
I'd review more, but I'll have to wait until the drugs stop working and those voices in my head stop talking to me.
Be happy NOW, for tomorrow I'll be rewriting.
Take the cash and let the credit GO.
I'll write MY review tomorrow.
Let US all be happy.
And play AGAIN.
So, I wrote a review I was really proud of today during lunch. Four or five paragraphs. I liked it a lot. So, I was rather disheartened when my computer froze and I had to do a hard-boot to unfreeze it. Lost everything but the vague outlines of what I wrote. Even those vague outlines seem difficult to grasp right now. I'm kinda demoralized. Alas, I can probably make some bridge to how THIS loss of data...this unrecoverable review...this remorse over the ebbs of life dovetails quite nicely with some of the themes of 'A Scanner Darkly'. But right now I just don't care. I'm still pissed about THE loss (MY loss) and have a hard time seeing through the glass at all.
So, I'm going to give my review resurrection a shot:
'A Scanner Darkly' fits well on the addiction/drug/alcoholism as literature shelf. It needs no subsidy to sit next to Infinite Jest, Tender Is the Night, Under the Volcano, Less Than Zero, Naked Lunch, On the Road and the rest. This list is basically unending.
It seems like all novels about drug abuse, alcohol addiction, etc.., inevitably become a form of science fiction. They surf those disjointed, dream-like spaces -- seducing man from the first time he got buzzed from eating, drinking, or smoking something deliriant. These dope trips aren't rational, they aren't lucid, etc., but they still have a certain narrative coherence. It is like science fiction was created (... and in the beginning) by some belladonna-infused deity and formed into a perfect literary template to explain/capture all the paranoia and weirdness of the trips highs and lows.
It is impossible to read a novel about addiction without recognizing the author's fingerprints all over it. These novels are all memoirs of sorts. Their pages hold more truth than the Library of Congress. They are funky road trips through hell and PKD is the perfect acid artist for this vicious trip.
As I read 'A Scanner Darkly', I was haunted by the open wounds in the dialogue, the festering beauty of PKD's prose. These weren't scenes created ex nihilo. These pages all resonate like some haunted Totentanz. They chill like a Vanitas dream you can't quite escape. I can't remember what I wrote. The words, the melody, even the beat of what was once alive is now dead... and waiting for a trippy ressurection.
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
Beautifully written classic tale of Charlie Gordon, a man with mental retardation who undergoes an experimental surgical procedure to cure his “condition.” Charlie is mentally and physically abused by his mother and teased for the entirety of his 32 years. He enters into therapy, and an accelerated learning program, attending classes and racing mazes with the first subject, Algernon the mouse. Keeping a diary, Charlie tracks his current progress and remembers the painful details of his previous memories with new clarity.
The story questions the attitudes and sickening treatment of people with special needs and the isolation felt from being on the outside looking in. I’m reminded of George Bernard Shaw’s, “Pygmalion.” Eliza Doolittle, like Charlie, becomes a subject in a test to prove those believed inferior can transform to the norms of society. The question ignored is when emotional immaturity doesn’t catch up quickly enough with newfound intelligence and the pitfalls therein. The human being is ignored for the advancement of science. Charlie also struggles to find meaning and purpose. All of these themes are explored in depth by Keyes and the narrator is phenomenal; moving back and forth with spot on cadence and dialect, perfectly emoting the evolution and regression of Charlie.