Metavalent Stigmergy

How New Default Consensus Realities Instantiate

Got Ubik?

We, my associates and myself, are in a line of business that surpasses all rational understanding. I'm not at liberty to make disclosures at this time, but we consider matters at present to be ominous but not however hopeless. Despair is not indicated -- not by any means (Dick 1969, Ubik, 5).

If I haven’t mentioned it before, Philip K. Dick’s Ubik truly is part of the core curriculum for any responsible posthuman aspirant due to the interactions and interdependencies between the characters in Ubik’s world and analogical relationships in a world of uploaded, substrate independent posthumans. If you haven’t read it, get ready to be disappointed at just how unoriginal some of your ideas have been … and maybe even some of William Gibson’s … all along. On the other hand, if ego can take the hit, it could well be affirming and inspiring, along with PKD’s entire body of work.

Also worth the commentary is a recent essay, Blows Against the Empire: The return of Philip K. Dick, by Adam Gopnik at The New Yorker. Gopnik takes a few disingenuous jabs at PKD fans in a transparent attempt to breed at least enough “controversy” to not leave his entry entirely untouched by the Digg machine, but despite the straw-grasping and formulaic faux stripping down of Dick’s work that is so yawningly typical of his genre, Gopnik does reluctantly add:<blockquote>It doesn’t dilute the force of [PKD’s] vision to see it as a metaphor, consistent with, but crazier than, the central metaphor of his earlier work: the social arrangement of power is always that of a brute oligarchic minority forcing its will on a numbed population, with amusements the daily meal and brutality the implicit threat; for all that has changed technologically, that fatal pattern has never really altered. The future will be like the present, he had once known, and now he saw that the past was like the future, too.

What is moving in Dick’s madness is his insistence that the surest sign of the madness of the world outside him is the violence that we accept as normal. (How exactly is this evocative of our pity, Adam? Whatever. [ms]) “The Empire is the institution, the codification, of derangement; it is insane and imposes its insanity on us by violence, since its nature is a violent one,” Fat writes.

Until his death, of a stroke, in 1982, Dick never stopped crying out. He was buried at last beside his infant sister, Jane, the missing half he had longed for and eventually made into a part of his cosmic mythology, the much mourned female God. The vision of an unending struggle between a humanity longing for a fuller love it always senses but can’t quite see, and a deranged cult of violence eternally presenting itself as necessary and real—this thought today does not seem exactly crazy. The empire never ends.</blockquote>

Ended, Adam … the empire never ended … the least you can do is to render such an obstinately smarmy ineluctable obeisance with some degree of accuracy. Sheesh; what a ‘zine hack.

Written on September 6, 2007


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