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I Think I Am

I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick

LAURENCE A. RICKELS
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 456
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttv679
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  • Book Info
    I Think I Am
    Book Description:

    I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick explores the science fiction author’s meditations on psychic reality and psychosis, Christian mysticism, Eastern religion, and modern spiritualism. Laurence A. Rickels corrects the lack of scholarly interest in the legendary Californian author and, ultimately, makes a compelling case for the philosophical and psychoanalytic significance of Philip K. Dick’s popular and influential science fiction.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7364-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Introjection
    (pp. 1-16)

    Philip K. Dick died in the spring quarter of my first (academic) year in California. For many years during my tenure at the University of California, students would claim to recognize Dick’s influence in my classes. They were each time surprised that I had never read any of his works. I should proceed directly to this, that, or the other title. I was not surprised that all these proclamations of soul mating (or murder) led me not to read Dick. Soon extramural readers of my work noted its uncanny compatibility with Dick’s work. In time for the new millennium I...

  4. Part I

    • Endopsychic Allegories
      (pp. 19-45)

      Following a discontinuous case of California, from here to Germany, it proves possible to fold P. K. Dick’s Valis trilogy inside a relay of texts—by Daniel Paul Schreber, Freud, and Walter Benjamin—which together promote in the details and among the effects of haunting a process of secularization while at the same time addressing and maintaining, in the big picture, the religious frames of reference, but as abandoned ruins, lexicons still deposited in our range of reference, but deposits without redemption value. As illuminated by the German intertext or introject’s Californian supplement, the overlaps and gaps between the cluster...

    • Schreber Guardian
      (pp. 46-57)

      A year beforeThe Matrix(1999) chose mysticism over science fictionDark City(1998) hit the screen, running science fiction into the burial ground of lost worlds. Aliens have abducted a large number of humans to study under the lab and maze conditions of their life-or-death experiments. The aliens are fading fast: it is surmised that what the humans call soul (or psyche) has marked them, in contrast, for survival. The intermediary or double agent between the manipulated mediatic human habitat and the control room of the alien experimenters—whose voice-over, which is in the beginning, introduces us to the...

    • Belief System Surveillance
      (pp. 58-76)

      According to Emmanuel Carrère, Dick’s 1977 novelA Scanner Darklyis, as the author’s bid for a sane or mainstream intermission from his psychotic states, his most deluded work. The nonfictional afterword in which Dick declaresA Scanner Darklyto be his own work of remembrance could indeed be seen to fit or foot that bill. However one should also note that it is in this novel that Dick makes breach of contact between his revalorization of psychosis in terms of alternate present realities and external topical points of interest such as drugs, violence, and surveillance. It took this Christian...

  5. Part II

    • Deeper Problems
      (pp. 79-84)

      Turning up the contrast in their reception with Freud’s view of delusion formation in psychosis as activity of recovery (or rescue) of the loss of world, Carl Jung and Ludwig Binswanger would diagnose a certain streamlining of Freud’s concept of projection in delusions as illustration of the living end a patient has arrived at when gadget goes to psychosis. The first man’s negative transference onto Freud is the second one’s schooling by Martin Heidegger.

      According to Heidegger, psychoanalysis and technologization are in it together. InBeing and Timethe address to the uncanny is dead giveaway—like the giveaway of...

    • Veil of Tears
      (pp. 85-98)

      It is so much easier to let oneself go, than to let the other go.

      In the early 1960s P. K. Dick studied (and was terrified by)¹ Ludwig Binswanger’s case study of Ellen West, whose delusional impasse—which took the close-range form in her own terms of “becoming fat”(Dickwerden)—inspired Binswanger to plot on his own terms her “tomb world” against the “aetherial world,” with which he sided, thus taking sides, he concluded, with his patient, whose suicidal conclusion to and escape from the tomb world’s encroachment he assisted or cosigned. Dick projected the aetherial world along the horizon...

    • Go West
      (pp. 99-105)

      So much easier to let oneself go, than to let the other go.

      In the course of breaking down—by now she’s undergoing her second analysis—Ellen West registers a new (or now) beginning: “I am reading Faust again. Now I begin to understand it for the first time. I now begin” (Binswanger, “Der Fall Ellen West,” 92). Another one of Binswanger’s patients remarked that if Goethe hadn’t writtenFaustshe would have had to. It’s manic-depressing that he plagiarized her in advance.¹ Indeed, Ellen’s youthful expressions of despair were already recognizable between the lines ofFaust:the gray allegorical...

    • Dick Manfred
      (pp. 106-111)

      A Scanner Darklyborrows its skewer of dissociation from doubling in and asFaust I,quotations from which crowd the introduction of the splitting theme or condition. Dick’s other bookend of Faust reference is his novelGalactic Pot-Healer,which at one point in hisExegesis,the monumental corpus of reflections on his mystical experience of healing pink light in 1974, he admits and identifies as his one fully psychotic work (In Pursuit of Valis,195–99).

      Martian Time-Slipwas Dick’s first full-corpus immersion in schizophrenia as the in-between bardo state of undeath or projection and, as such, as alternate reality...

    • Timing
      (pp. 112-119)

      InMartian Time-Slip,research identified as Swiss, associated by name with Jung only, suggests an application or understanding of Binswanger’s Heideggerean notion ofZeitigung,which can be translated and misunderstood as “timing.” The hypothesis is that schizophrenia is essentially a “derangement in the interior time-sense” (107). For purposes of investment or speculation the plan is underway to render what a schizo knows via this other time-sense accessible to those living in a shared world. Since their experimental subject was autistic from birth, Jung’s alleged decoding of schizophrenic language is useless. Instead a kind of slow-mo decoder chamber must be built...

    • Glimmung
      (pp. 120-130)

      Subsequent masterpieces—notablyThe Three Stigmata of Palmer EldritchandUbik—would refine and reflect the combinations first tried out inMartian Time-Slip. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?falls by the wayside only to the extent that it focuses on Dick’s other big question—What is human?—which more or less pushes the reality question out of the running of the novel’s world.A Scanner Darkly,which in some of its trappings may be Dick’s most deluded work, places recovery against/alongside delusion or dissociation. As Emmanuel Carrère argues,A Scanner Darklyreflects the author’s hard-won acquisition of the owner’s...

  6. Part III

    • Spiritualism Analogy
      (pp. 133-151)

      While Jung postulated a collective unconscious based on the archaic forms of association that archetypically recur or revert in schizophrenia and in dreams, he also admitted (for example in his 1958 publication “Schizophrenia”) that the schizophrenic complex cut itself off from understanding and integration not only via the same archaic forms but also, and in particular, via random distortion. The schizophrenic complex usurps the conscious mind and, in the course of its own autodisintegration, destroys the personality. “It does not produce a ‘double personality’ but depotentiates the ego-personality by usurping its place” (191). Thus even though the archetypes of the...

    • Imitating the Dead
      (pp. 152-158)

      InDr. Bloodmoneythe homunculus Bill (another ambulatoryFaust IIreference or property) saves the world from psychotic destructiveness or omnipotence that goes around and comes back around between the mad scientist, Dr. Bluthgeld, and Hoppy, the birth defective repairman who gets around through his prosthetic fit with technology and exceeds (or throws) every fitting limit when he develops spiritual or psychic prosthetic powers. Bill, who has lived seven years inside his twin sister Edie, with and through whom he made contact with the world, replaces Hoppy in the omnipotence seat. Bill obtains embodiment while adding a sensibility graduated through...

    • Indexical Layer
      (pp. 159-167)

      Deus Iraewould be another work of fantasy, in which both genres (according to Tolkien), the Germanic and the Christian hero fantasies, would meet and cross over, only if fantasy as such could survive the introduction of mutation as the new missing link to a future of survival of the loss of the world to nuclear devastation. Be a sport, like the painter without limbs, Tibor, or identify with one of the new species or tribes of “muties” (including bugs, lizzys, and runners) that have replaced large portions of humankind. But can the latter be accepted as motivated versions of...

    • Ilse
      (pp. 168-182)

      Lara Jefferson dedicates her account of her madness,These Are My Sisters: A Journal from the Inside of Insanity,to her “Shakespearian Salvation.” Prior to Lara’s birth, all five siblings had died on her mother. Even as she succeeds in overturning her mother’s creation so that she can be reborn as herself, she takes comfort in her newborn strength, which will prove a match for “the ghost of the person” whom she succeeded (18). Her mother drove her into the wordless abyss of suffering without the witness protection of understanding. But then one day she tells the nurse that she...

    • Hammers and Things
      (pp. 183-189)

      Vulcan’s Hammerraises its title like a philosophical gesture, which, however, comes down, once, twice, sold out as gadget designation for what the computer Vulcan 3 starts manufacturing on its own. The last man on whom the computer was still dependent as reality-testing prosthesis began withholding his services. But his strike was preceded by the paranoid shutdown of the computing sensorium. However, without the input of data pertaining to the political or social world, the policy-making machine becomes more perfectly paranoid, until it reaches the point at which paranoia rebounds to its credit, belief, and reservations, which reality can only...

    • Crucifictions
      (pp. 190-199)

      The World Jones Made,which was written at the same time as the novella version ofVulcan’s Hammer,continues to contemplate the unattended aberration that is technophobicity, which arises when the group-psychologization of gadget love or life as preparedness is dismissed or reinterpreted in favor of rationalization, the word Ernest Jones made. At least in the European crisis center of the 1930s, Marxists, for instance, tended to deny the irrational force that is with mass psychology, while the fascists hitched their head start to it. The masses want to express themselves and for no good reason. Developmentally as well as...

    • Over There
      (pp. 200-209)

      One man’s religious frame of reference is another man’s outer-space escape or rescue. The higher purpose of interstellar exploration that gave Jones the advantage in his move against Relativism figures as outside chance and hope for changes in the future worlds depicted inSolar LotteryandOur Friends from Frolix 8.John Preston and Thors Provoni, the respective space travelers in the two works, are explorers searching the frontiers of outer space for a new planet on which to found an alternative society in the former case and, in the other case, to summon an alien cavalry (from Frolix 8)...

    • Martyrology
      (pp. 210-220)

      The case of Ilse overlaps significantly with that of Suzanne Urban. Binswanger composed the case study of Suzanne Urban as, after the fact, the second bookend concluding reflections begun in the Ellen West study. Urban is paranoid schizophrenic. What makes her case so different from what Freud discovered in Schreber’sMemoirsis that the whole development into the delusional world was laid out for Binswanger, including all the transitions. Indeed, he thus discovers a case of paranoid schizophrenia in which the “trans-” permeates all phases and phrases of Urban’s disintegration and reduction. In psychotic hell there would appear to be...

    • Can’t Live, Can’t Live
      (pp. 221-236)

      On Earth as it is in heaven or on Titan: InThe Game Players of Titan,The Game, which was imported from Titan to Terra as the free gift that came with conquest, is nevertheless recognizable as Monopoly, though the stakes turn out to be as high in fact as one always imagined them to be anyway. To be B is to own property: because to begin the game is the deed. Bindmen engage in games of Bluff in the course of which properties (entire urban areas) are won and lost. Following the radiation catastrophe that resulted from Red Chinese...

    • Lola
      (pp. 237-244)

      The momentum of Binswanger’s case study of Lola Voß, which follows the patient as she shifts from polymorphous schizophrenia into paranoid schizophrenia, goes against Freud’s revalorization of Schreber’s delusional system as moment of recovery. Binswanger proposes instead that what Lola wants or lacks is what she gets in the end: the psychotic defense of loss of self, self-being, and freedom. Her paranoia marks a point of no return of the process of deterioration that leads via increasingVerweltlichungor “worldification” of her existence to a new structure ofDaseindetermined by a specificWeltentwurf,“world view” or “projection of world,”...

    • Umwelt, Mitwelt, and Eigenwelt
      (pp. 245-260)

      Richard Kongrosian, the identified psychotic inThe Simulacra,starts out “an anankastic, a person for whom reality had shrunk to the dimension of compulsion; everything he did was forced on him—there was for him nothing voluntary, spontaneous or free. And, to make matters worse, he had tangled with a Nitz commercial” (60). The deodorant commercial has contaminated him with “phobic body odor” (60). “At the same time he knew that the odor was a delusion, that it did not really exist; it was an obsessive idea only. However, that realization did not help him” (61). The odor also transmits...

    • Outer Race
      (pp. 261-268)

      Dick dedicates the future to minority reports, both the recognizable votes or voices and the mutational links (which do not, like the outer space aliens inStar Trek,pay the token for the minorities we know—aren’t represented). This future of rebalancing acts is situated within the culture industry. The first African-American U.S. president (inThe Crack in Space) had his first career boost as TV weatherman in a clown suit. He is accordingly immune to any more racism he might encounter: “He had experienced too much already in his years as a newsclown. In my years, he thought to...

    • The German Introject
      (pp. 269-276)

      The Penultimate TruthandLies, Inc.¹ (formerly known asThe Unteleported Man) form a kind of portal for working through the one history without parallel or alternative. InThe Penultimate Truth,it’s all a fair, a show, in love of war: to cut losses on the human side, the Terran population was provided vast mine-like shelters while total nuclear war commenced on Mars. When mankind went underground it was believed “to be for perhaps a year at longest . . . or, as real pessimists had forecast, two years” (102). But it’s been fifteen years at the novel’s start, during...

  7. Part IV

    • Materialism, Idealism, and Cybernetics
      (pp. 279-284)

      As indicated in “Introjection,” Gotthard Günther is our spokesperson for the philosophical cathexis of the coordinates of science fiction, largely because John W. Campbell commissioned occasional interventions by him for popularist publication in the 1950 s in the States. But we’ll begin with his more recognizably or properly published work, which stands behind the U.S. articles addressed to the readership of American science fiction. Under the title I’ve borrowed above, which inThe Consciousness of Machines (Das Bewusstsein der Maschinen)is Part 3, Günther lets roll a genealogy of mankind’s new self-relationship via technology. All the dualisms in a row,...

    • Startling Stories
      (pp. 285-291)

      Günther claimed that the gist of his philosophizing could be located in the gaps and overlaps between his American-language and German-language works. Exile in the American-language world with his Jewish wife was a career move that bordered on pop cultural success or access. While the better half of his life was German, the portion first set aside for reflection on science fiction was American. InStartling Storiesin 1953 Günther published a brief article, addressed to the readership (and authorship) of science fiction, titled “Can Mechanical Brains Have Consciousness?” Here Günther sees only greater difficulties in extending consciousness to robot...

    • A Couple of Years
      (pp. 292-307)

      Nick and the Glimmungtakes off into the outer-space setting for its fantasy to get around a future law prohibiting pets on earth. Nick’s father has in fact been considering leaving Earth again and again “during the last two years” (9). The cause of their cat, Horace, puts a period to that two-year span or sentence. The newspaperman tries to draw a distinction between wildlife and pets. The latter “‘love us and we love them, even though there is a law against them. What we love, I suppose, is their memory.’ ‘You meanourmemory,’ Nick’s mother said. ‘Our memory...

    • Android Empathy
      (pp. 308-321)

      When Deckard busts an android network he senses that he, as the Form Destroyer, is impinging on a microcosm of life. Thus he rises to the occasion as overseer and death driver while the androids are miniaturized, in a sense, inside their representation of world or life. Truth be told, Deckard doesn’t know the half of the ubiquity of androids crowding the passing lane on Earth. It would appear that most people in the android-making and the media entertainment industries are androids. This is whereBlade Runnerfits right in.

      That the distinction between humans and androids, between empathy and...

    • Homunculus and Robot
      (pp. 322-333)

      In differentiating between the two creations and their respective scientific traditions in “Homunculus and Robot” (“Homonkulus und Roboter”), Gotthard Günther follows the history of technological no-way know-how not in terms of the new and improved—of immediacy—but through all the mediations adding up not to machine history but to endopsychic allegory.

      The creation of the homunculus inside a retort or test tube abbreviates the history of the world and mankind by withdrawing time and space from the whole process (though not completely, of course, since the test tube as last retort also takes up its share of space and...

    • ALL OF YOU ARE DEAD. I AM ALIVE.
      (pp. 334-347)

      InThe Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch,adolescent or group psychology organizes the communion-like experience of fusion or translation that human colonists on Mars share when downing the drug Can-D and projecting themselves into the couple of dolls Perky Pat and her boyfriend Walt and into the doll layout, which represents life on Earth (or, more specifically, on the Coast).¹ Palmer Eldritch’s competing experience of other worlds via his drug Chew-Z represents the psychotically heightened version of Can-D fantasy.

      In Mercerism “fusion” was the highest attainment of empathic identification as group identification: clutching the empathy box one surrenders to the...

    • Go with the Flow
      (pp. 348-358)

      Flow My Tears, the Policeman Saidis the scattershot estimation of the prospects for mourning when every interpersonal connection has been lost and your social context no longer recognizes you back. The protagonist Jason Taverner endures a loss of reciprocity that would resemble the psychotic break or the half-life of a ghost if reality did not continue to compute but only one way. It turns out that social reality was displaced by a relationship that crossed fantasy with realization of the wish through alterations in time and space. Alys Buckman, it turns out, reduced the world she swallowed whole with...

  8. Part V

    • Room for Thought
      (pp. 361-366)

      Aby Warburg filed for release on his own consciousness to the surprise of Ludwig Binswanger, who, when he considered the patient’s disorder, was cureless. Like Heidegger, like Jung, Binswanger was a technophobe who saw delusions of reference to technologization as the chronic endpoint of psychotic regression. Contrariwise, Freud, in his Schreber reading, saw the point of any delusion, which invariably and endopsychically ranged from underworlds to the cosmic or galactic projections of techno-futures, as being the point of return to world, no longer the world lost in the breakdown but a Sensurround of cathected relations all the same.

      Jung was...

    • Caduceus
      (pp. 367-370)

      Dr. Futurityentitles the medical profession to raise the healing snake emblem above all other totems in an alternate future of mankind. The protagonist, Parsons, is a physician who time slips into the future where healing and surviving are outmoded personal effects readily sacrificed to the future life of the race, species, or kind. Parsons was summoned or met halfway by a renegade Indian clan seeking to restore the family values of reproduction in a Teen Age that cooks up its future generation out of the frozen stock taken from boys fixed in preadolescence. Sexuality is thus charged with child...

    • Jump
      (pp. 371-373)

      Time travel serves as outer limit of long distance. In other words or worlds, it offers a model for the mode of transportation—beyond distance—that interstellar travel necessarily requires. Gotthard Günther contemplates in another science fiction spread of three installments the meaning of motion that gets seconded or skipped in the space-warp notions of outer-space fiction and is already concept-limited to the paradox of Achilles’s futile race against the tortoise. Logically, in terms of denumerable material units of distance, the tortoise must remain, since in constant motion, one point ahead of its pursuer. Achilles could catch up with and...

    • Still
      (pp. 374-380)

      Dr. Johann Heinrich Jung, who in later years added to his name Stilling, which he borrowed from an uncle, as indication that he was happy or, in any event, tranquil in the prospect of the next life, publishedTheory of the Doctrine of Ghosts (Theorie der Geisterkunde)in 1808 . Goethe had already published the first part of Jung-Stilling’s memoirs, an act of ghost publishing that would appear to be the reverse of the occult act of plagiarism. We have the body of work that is reckoned as the onset of theEntwicklungsroman,the other novel of development, on Goethe’s...

    • A Wake
      (pp. 381-391)

      Exiting Kreuzlingen (a slight toss of the word salad gives youKreuzigungor “crucifixion”) Warburg had determined to abandon art history and set out on a new path marked by totemism, allegory, and the technological relation. The technophobicity of the Serpent Ritual presentation belonged to the fever pitch for release. Judging by Warburg’s emphasis and by the reluctance on Binswanger’s part to let him go—since both moves reflect the scale of valuation Binswanger applied to delusional systems, according to which technological delusions occupied the incurable living end of psychosis—we get a good idea of how proximate Warburg’s break...

    • Spätwerk
      (pp. 392-398)

      Among the dreams Adorno recorded for his unfinished dream book, there is one that turns up the contrast with the daytime recording of seemingly resolved and remembered transference proceedings. It’s a school dream about a school day. But the high school is now fifty years old and former student Adorno has been invited to contribute to theFestschriftthus occasioned. In his dreams the musical direction of the high school is ceremoniously transferred to him. That the transference is where the heat still is becomes evident via the physical return of his “repulsive” music teacher, who honors him. “Afterwards a...

    • Let the Dead Be
      (pp. 399-402)

      As Binswanger comes close to working through a phenomenology of the psychotherapeutic setting toward a social ontology based on Heidegger’s ontology—in 1945—he turns to von Uexküll’s animals. Mankind inhabits countless worlds while holding a world in common. But the psychotic, in forgoing the common world, fits the worlds within worlds von Uexküll claims for the animals. Psychiatry wasted time assessing the divergence between delusional systems and the common world. Instead we must follow Freud and focus on the private world of the psychotic on its own terms.

      Just as we would say that it is not possible to...

    • Play Bally
      (pp. 403-408)

      For the complex of readings that have become the environment of von Uexküll’s corpus it is the notion of the moment in a world of marking or noting that commands these pages as the very translation scene of their words or worlds of difference. Here we restore what Agamben inThe Openleaves out of his close paraphrase of the tick passage from the 1933 pamphletExcursions through the Environments of Animals and Humans (Streifzüge durch die Umwelten von Tieren und Menschen),through which von Uexküll popularized the work that had established his reputation twenty-five years earlier. At the close...

    • Das Hund
      (pp. 409-418)

      If it were not for Structuralism, we might have noticed already that Freud’s famous pronouncement that we do not find our love objects but only re-find them is at least as melancholic as it would be Oedipal (or symbolic). But ambivalence accepts this as law of desire. While the diagnostic handbooks decree that zoophilia always substitutes for a missing human connection (which is presumably a blocked outlet that can be open to treatment), we can also say, in reverse, that every beloved animal—every pet—is, without the synthesis of ambivalence but as melancholic chain operation or compulsion, a RePet....

  9. Notes
    (pp. 419-430)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 431-440)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 441-441)