What does a scanner see? he asked himself. I mean, really see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does a passive infrared scanner like they used to use or a cube-type holo-scanner like they use these days, the latest thing, see into me—into us—clearly or darkly? I hope it does, he thought, see clearly, because I can’t any longer these days see into myself. I see only murk. Murk outside; murk inside. I hope, for everyone’s sake, the scanners do better. Because, he thought, if the scanner sees only darkly, the way I myself do, then we are cursed, cursed again and like we have been continually, and we’ll wind up dead this way, knowing very little and getting that little fragment wrong too.
I just finished reading ‘A Scanner Darkly’ again. Man, I dig that book. That last time I read it, I had a girlfriend and a car and a salary, and regularly went grocery shopping, and so on. In short: I was dumb and soft. Now I am, maybe, a little less dumb . . . and certainly not soft. “Chewed up,” is how I’d put it, I reckon . . . maybe “flea-bitten” and “time-rotten” too.
Anyway: Lord! What a book. It’s one of those books where someone says, “Hey, whatcha readin’?” and you tell them. And then they say, “Oh yeah—I think I’ve read that. I don’t remember anything, though.” And you say, “Um,” because, for God’s sake, how do you forget an experience that consumes dozens of hours that are real fun and cool and, more often than not (forgive me for using this word) profound as well?
(People say this about ‘Moby-Dick’ and ‘War & Peace’ and ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ as well, which is mind-blowing to me.)
((Why not just say you haven’t read it? It’s OK if you haven’t read a book, or watched a movie, or whatever. And anyway if you really want to, there’s still time—until there isn’t, of course. . . .))
Anyway: I like it so much because you’re mostly inside Bob Arctor’s dreary head as he slowly goes insane. And you know, I’m willing to believe a lot (. . . maybe all . . .) of the things Bob Arctor thinks and sees, even when he’s really losing it, cuz it sure as hell ain’t wrong to me. Often I nodded along vigorously to long passages, vibrating with a weird fraternal sadness, and saying aloud: “Oh heck yeah, brother.”
(“Brother”—my brother, Philip K. Dick. I hope you’re OK, dude, wherever it is you are.)
Did you know that once, a long time ago, PKD was recovering from an impacted wisdom tooth, and a woman came to his house to deliver pain medication, and she had on around her neck one of those Jesus fish necklaces—and he perceived that the fish was emitting a pink beam of light into his head, which he said was “an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind. It was almost as if I had been insane all of my life and suddenly I had become sane.”
And, he said, the pink beam, which had come from God, or an alien satellite, or some other such thing, granted him strange arcane knowledge, such as visions of the future, and being able to detect a birth defect in his infant son, and so on. Sometimes the dude would slip into a mental state where he could read and write Koine Greek.
You know what: I one hundred percent believe this, and don’t doubt for one second that it is true. I myself have had similar experiences, though not quite this profound (hah!!). But then, there is still time to have one as hot and tasty as Philip K. Dick’s . . . until there isn’t!! You can’t wait on these things to happen, though. They either come to you or they don’t. I just hope I’ll know it when I see it.
I wonder: What vessel will my particular transcendentally rational mind choose? I would really dig a purple beam of light, just in case anyone or anything is out there listening. Though hell, I certainly won’t be picky about it. You gotta take what you can get, as far as those things go, and maybe a lot of other things besides.
Uh, anyway: I’m gonna let Bob Arctor finish this post for me, because, god darn it, I really do like that guy:
He had brought with him an ability to see things as funny no matter how bad he felt. Everybody in the circle clapped, and, glancing up, startled, he saw the ring of smiles, everybody’s eyes warm with approval, and the noise of their applause remained with him for quite a period, inside his heart.
Wait—no. I’m going to end this post with a picture of Philip K. Dick holding a cat: