Friday, November 17, 2017

Conversations with Philip K. Dick

Conversations with Philip K. Dick is in many ways a sequel to Tessa B. Dick’s 2010 memoir Philip K. Dick: Remembering Firebright, but it is also a different kind of book. Both books offer readers and scholars important insights into PKD’s intriguing philosophical concepts and details about the process and aims of his art. But while the first volume presents a mostly positive sketch of a driven author suffering economic and health issues resulting from his strenuous work, this second volume is more candid and shows PKD’s darker side, with descriptions and explanations of his domestic idiosyncrasies, which on occasion could be manipulative, distasteful and cruel. This character sketch is mere preface, however, to an exploration of PKD’s personal career, which in some ways is as dark and sinister as some of his novels.  Dick (Tessa—TBD) outlines a number of incidents, encounters and intrigues—and some of them with far-reaching political implications. This material, accurately and succinctly described, includes PKD’s contact with the Berkley progressive scene, in which Dick was a deeply-albeit-curiously-positioned figure, encounters with academics whose political interests go beyond the philosophical implications of literary criticism, PKD’s kidnapping in Vancouver (which TBD leaves largely unexplored), the November 17, 1971 ransacking of his house, his contacts with the FBI, his curious business dealings with Polish author Stanislaw Lem and Austrian critic and literary agent  Franz Rottensteiner, PKD’s paranormal experiences, which TBD confirms, but also his more “dramatic” experiences that, in characteristic fashion, PKD is able to immerse himself into enthusiastically while at the same time recognizing the health issues (high blood pressure, “micro-strokes”, over-work) that become the basis for rational explanations of his metaphysical insights; for example, the “pink light” episode and the sprawling theological dualism that he explores in the over-emphasized “Exegesis”, which I take to be more of a commonplace book or diary than a valid statement of PKD’s metaphysical beliefs. (Elsewhere, I will write on PKD’s theology, which I believe is firmly Episcopalian and orthodox—though expressed idiosyncratically).  I should add here, too, that TBD provides descriptions of her husband’s creative process, with explanations of his exploration of a cosmogony that rivals his Gnostic and dualist speculations (which were evidently fostered by his relationship with Bishop James Pike, and who was very much a more challenging influence than any encounters with rectangles of pink light).  Also, TBD describes PKD’s plans for sequels to the novels The Man in the High Castle and The Penultimate Truth.

PKD was a meticulous explorer of his own life, examining—indeed cannibalizing—his odd, esoteric, original, and even “absurd” experiences for both the material of his art and bases for analyses of the spiritual and intellectual malaise that marked his times, and which in particular marked the “counter-culture” that he so deeply identified with, but also so firmly and brilliantly rejected. I hope TBD will follow this volume with another that will drill more deeply into the political intrigues toward which Dick had found himself drawn.  Such a volume could serve as an important backdrop for reading what I take (in terms of historical, cultural and political documentation) to be two of Dick’s most important novels: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, and the semi-autobiographical novelization of his close relationship with Bishop James Pike, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.  In the meantime, as these novels are discovered, and as TBD prepares that hoped-for third volume, Conversations with Philip K. Dick will serve as an important basis for new study and new insights into the thinking of a significant philosopher—and quite possibly the most ingenious American novelist of the second half of the Twentieth Century.

Please click HERE to view the Amazon description.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Jules Verne's Nautilus

Verne's submarine, which is pretty clearly described in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,  has inspired a great variety of artistic interpretations.  Here are several designs which I believe come closest to the description offered by Verne, and, at the bottom, the Disney version:

To view more Nautilus images, some of them very exotic, visit Michael and Karen Crisafulli’s Catalog of Nautilus Designs. Please click HERE.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Professor Hodges on "De-Radicalization"

Responding to a recent Highbrow post (Friday, Nov. 10), Professor Hodges deploys a kind of hysterical irony to underscore the absurdity of contemporary political logic. Please click HERE.

Considering, however, the nature and the subject of his criticism, and the (let's call it) intellectual corruption that he seeks to expose, does satire represent an appropriate response?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Online catalog for the Terrance Lindall Retrospective

Please click HERE for a free, on-line book describing the life and career of artist, illustrator and philosopher Terrance Lindall. 

A retrospective of Lindall's work, curated by Yuko Nii, will be on display at the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, in Brooklyn, NY, December 17, 2017 through January 13, 2018.  Please click HERE to learn about the December 16, 2017 reception and gala dinner.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Anticipating Emanations 7

Our editorial vision for Emanations is evolving. While there are no set themes, volume-to-volume we have found that certain subtle and indirect tendencies are at work characterizing each new production. Hence, in Emanations: Foray into Forever, readers can detect nuanced glimpses into conceptions of Eternity. In Emanations: 2 + 2 = 5, the tenor is vaguely dystopian. Most recently, Emanations: I am Not a Number encourages transcending the limits of our utilitarian civilization and its psycho-compartmental identifications. The tone of the volume is appropriately dark.

In anticipation of Emanations 7, the editors have been discussing the Pleiades as a point of departure. When you look directly at the Seven Sisters you can’t make out detail, just a blur, but if you look slightly to one side of them they become visible in peripheral vision. Their number and positioning relative to each other can be clearly discerned. This peripheral field compares to the literary task of describing experience in a space and a time outside of the collective semantic illusion; as in glancing slightly askance, the Pleiades appear in all their sisterhood, in the stream-of-continuity, the formless non-self that thrives in that transparent moment that is as boundless as it is elusive. In counterpoint to the sixth volume’s darkness, we should like to see Emanations 7 arouse intimations of affirmation and light.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Models of Emergent Artificial Intelligence

In a recent interview published in Wired Magazine (described HERE in a Cambridge News article),  Prof. Stephen Hawking again expresses his concern that the human race could be replaced by Artificial Intelligence.

We can only wonder what this Artificial Intelligence--indeed, a new life form--could look like.  Very possibly, it is naive of us to look for an AI "emergent life form" that has the characteristics of human personality--something like HAL in 2001. Indeed, it might have very little in common with mammalian, avian, or even reptilian structures of intelligence and patterns of behavior. Rather, the new emergent AI life form could have a mentality resembling the nodal nervous system of Cephalopods, or perhaps something even more "alien", and thus it could be unrecognizable until it suddenly appears--or until we find ourselves suddenly replaced by it. Indeed, it might already be here, its sense of self, and, more importantly, its sense of self-preservation existing presently in the internet.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

On exhibit December 17th, 2017, with the Milton collection, at the WAH Center

Scroll of the Queen Mother, painted by Satake Eikai, holding a Japanese Pear (apples, pears can be considered the same fruit), collection of the Yuko Nii Foundation's Milton Collection.

Please click HERE for more information.