Tag Archives: philip k dick

Ubik

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Ubik [Bookshop, Amazon, Publisher] by Philip K Dick.

Dick Ubik

Ubik is easily one of my favorite PKD novels: less lauded but more tightly composed than VALIS, it too makes pervasive but subtle use of Gnostic themes throughout. In his self-exegetical notes, Dick paired Ubik with The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch as stories grounded in the mechanism of the Eucharist. (In Three Stigmata the Eucharist is averse or malign–a sort of interplanetary Black Mass.) The initial science-fictional concept in Ubik is that of the “moratorium,” a medico-funerary facility that arrests brain deterioration in fresh corpses, so that the “dead” can be milked for small amounts of further interaction with their survivors; all of which opens up the question of the subjective experience of such “death,” not to mention all death, and perhaps life as well.

The characters are unusually clear, lacking the amorphousness that Dick’s psychological approach often inflicts on his protagonists, and this feature may well have been a function of his onetime development of this story as a prospective film treatment. In my dream universe, David Cronenberg has already directed a production of Ubik!

“How strange,” Juliana said. “I never would have thought the truth would make you angry.” Truth, she thought. As terrible as death. But harder to find. I’m lucky. “I thought you’d be as pleased and excited as I am. It’s a misunderstanding, isn’t it?” She smiled, and after a pause Mrs. Abendsen managed to smile back.

Philip K Dick, The Man in the High Castle

Hermetic quote Dick Castle angry truth

I mean, after all; you have to consider we’re only made out of dust. That’s admittedly not much to go on and we shouldn’t forget that. But even considering, I mean it’s a sort of bad beginning, we’re not doing too bad.

Philip K Dick, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

He inhaled briskly, and the Beau Nash mixture stung his nose, burned the roof of his mouth. But still he inhaled; it woke him up and allowed his dreams, his nocturnal desires and random wishes, to condense into a semblance of rationality.

Philip K Dick, Total Recall

We do not have the ideal world, such as we would like, where morality is easy because cognition is easy. Where one can do right with no effort because he can detect the obvious.

Philip K Dick, The Man in the High Castle