google analytics

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What I’m Reading: A Scanner Darkly

For now we see through a glass darkly… Now I know in part…

Even though he wrote science-fiction, much of what Philip K. Dick wrote is autobiographical.  I noted as much when I shared some of my thoughts about his book Valis.  The same holds true for A Scanner Darkly.  And while he may not have been a character in the book (as in Valis) Dick wrote in the Author’s Note that follows the book, “I myself am not a character in this novel; I am the novel.”

The story follows the lives of drug dealers, users, and narcotic officers pretending to be drug dealers and users, and who become drug dealers and users, and who can no longer remember if they are drug users or narcotic officers pretending to be drug users…  And Dick, who himself was, for a time, a part of this culture, has captured the dark hilarity and tragic comedy of their lives. 

The title of the novel is derived, in part, from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, “For now we see through a glass darkly…”  The mirror-glass, in this case, is replaced by the science fiction “holo-scanners” hidden in the home of drug dealer / narcotics officer in order to continually monitor and record their actions.  The agent records and watches his life but, because of the schizophrenic-effects of his drug of choice, Substance D (also known as Slow Death) is unable to recognize the other half of his self.

But even this use of Paul’s letter is schizophrenically divided, only recognizing the first half the clauses in the referenced verse.  And though I greatly admire Dick’s writing, and am deeply moved by his willingness to import the tragedy of his own life into his work – I wonder how different his work (and life) might have been if he could have felt something of the second half of those clauses – and, what is more, what it might have been like if he could have felt the depth of the following verse as well.

For now we see through a glass darkly: but then shall we see face to face. Now I know in part: but then shall I know even as I am known.  And now abideth faith, hope and love, even these three: but the chiefest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13: 12 -13

No comments:

Post a Comment

Jeff Carter's books on Goodreads
Muted Hosannas Muted Hosannas
reviews: 2
ratings: 3 (avg rating 4.33)


Related Posts with Thumbnails