Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I finished (finally) Philip K. Dick's 'Valis' last Sunday. I respect his work too much not to finish one of his books, but it is a tough read. Certainly there is a lot of esoteric Gnostic thought, a lot of hare-brained cosmology, and a lot of the usual Dickian questioning of Reality, but there is so much going on, and so much of it is just plain crazy, that it's hard to get involved. What does surprise though is his own reasonably coherent stance with regard to an event that is generally thought (at least by Dick) to have happened him in real life; his enlightenment in 1974 by an alien/divine power. At least to get a proper appreciation of Dick and this event, reading 'Valis' should be compulsory for all his fans. It also brings together almost everything he deals with in all his fiction prior to this, one of his last novels. I'm just not sure it works.
There are some nice touches to the book though. From a pop reference point of view, despite the similarity of name of fictional rock star, Eric Lampton, to Eric Clapton, my sense from the book is that Eric is more of a Bowie (stars in a sci-fi film, for instance), while his tech music guru, Brent Mini, could only be Brian Eno. Dick's obsession with Linda Ronstadt is a little disquieting, but then I wouldn't know her work. From a craziness point of view, Dick providing narration while featuring as TWO characters (himself and crazed Horselover Fat) is pretty bewildering. But I'm not sure if I am as affectionate to Fat as Dick evidently is, and the treatment of the dying/dead female friends has a nasty whiff of misogyny. Worth a look though, just read "A Scanner Darkly", "Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said" and 'The Man in the High Castle' first.

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