Thursday 7 May 2015

I am an eclectic reader but science fiction is a step too far sideways, even though I have in the attic my brother's collection of science fiction books and magazines and for a period in my twenties I did read them, alongside Gödel Escher Bach and a lot of maths and philosophy I couldn't understand but which got me going in ways I didn't understand either. Who was I, poking around in other worlds achieved by knowledge not language? I was in danger of lift-off myself, with a head full of Mallarmé, Berlioz and the like.

I did like Blade Runner though, Harrison Ford in love with a replicant and endless rain in Chinatown, Darryl Hannah on the roof, Rutger Hauer biting heads off whippets. And in the nineteen eighties Philip K Dick was re-issued in paperback, including the non-science fiction novels. I bought Confessions of a Crap Artist.

It's a brother story, the eponymous crap artist is a brother who has a collection of rocks and electronics and a head full of unnatural ideas, such as regarding lamp posts as authority figures and believing his geometry teacher to be a rooster in a suit. He lost his job as a tyre re-groover because he stole a can of chocolate-covered ants from a supermarket.
When in exasperation – and fear– I had realised that his brain simply had a warp to it, that in distinguishing fact from fiction he chose fiction, and between good sense and foolishness he preferred foolishness. He could tell the difference – but he preferred the rubbish. 
This is the sister speaking.
This is the brother, the author.
I used to believe the universe was basically hostile. And that I was misplaced in it, I was different from it… I had a lot of fears that the universe would discover just how different I was from it… and its reaction would be normal: it would get me.  I didn't feel that it was malevolent, just perceptive. And there's nothing worse than a perceptive universe if there's something weird about you.
His clean, disconcerted paranoia slices through crass Californian human life like a kid on a bike in a mud patch. Information is the only escape, half an explanation of the weirdness and the effort, as well as an obscure warning: if all this is the case, then what?
Sunlight has weight. Every year the earth weighs tens thousand pounds more, because of the sunlight that reaches it from the sun. That fact has never left my mind, and the day I calculated that since I first learned the fact, in 1940, almost one million nine hundred thousand pounds of sunlight have fallen on the earth.
My preferred forms of weirdness are more claustrophobic (Kafka, Kharms, and other writers whose names begin with K), more abrupt and organic. But there are moments in Philip K Dick when I feel at one with his weirdness.
Every time there's a quake I ask myself: is this going to open up the crack in the ground that finally reveals the world inside? Will this be the one?

No comments :

Post a Comment