Philip K. Dick Was A Little Crazy
And by “a little crazy,” I mean “a lot of crazy.”
Now I recognize the man was a literary genius, at least in the sci-fi world.
But his genius was fueled by paranoia and schizophrenia. From an early age, Dick battled problems determining what was real and what wasn’t real.
He claimed to have encounters with a “pink beam”–which he said was an intelligent being that imparted wisdom and clairvoyance to him.
Then this, according to Wikipedia:
Throughout February and March 1974, Dick experienced a series of hallucinations, which he referred to as “2-3-74”, shorthand for February–March 1974. Aside from the “pink beam”, Dick described the initial hallucinations as geometric patterns, and, occasionally, brief pictures of Jesus and ancient Rome. As the hallucinations increased in length and frequency, Dick claimed he began to live two parallel lives, one as himself, “Philip K. Dick”, and one as “Thomas”, a Christian persecuted by Romans in the 1st century AD. He referred to the “transcendentally rational mind” as “Zebra”, “God” and “VALIS”. Dick wrote about the experiences, first in the semi-autobiographical novel Radio Free Albemuth and then in VALIS, The Divine Invasion and the unfinished The Owl in Daylight (the VALIS trilogy).
At one point Dick felt that he had been taken over by the spirit of the prophet Elijah.
Well, there you go. I don’t even know what to say.
All that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I struggled with the title of this post, but there’s no other way to describe a man who claims to be a prophet from the Bible. Sadly, it appears that Dick never overcame his mental issues. He died from a series of strokes in 1982.
Despite his instability, he managed to crank out 44 novels and 121 short stories, and he was the first science fiction author to be featured in the Library of America series. Dick penetrated the movie industry as well. His science fiction novels have been adapted to movie more times than any other author (more on that next week).
The guy was prolific, in spite of (or maybe because of) his mental illness.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)