I love Philip K. Dick.
What I love most about PKD is that he never stopped experimenting with concepts. He was always throwing philosophical ideas into his stories to make them live – to make them more than stuffy theories tied down in academic texts. Like Einstein and his trains, or Schrodinger and his cat, PKD was putting his thoughts into words we could not only understand, but also enjoy.
Today, this kind of experimentation – although not frowned upon – is somewhat rare.
I wouldn’t like to say why, or how, or when, but to me it seems as if the literary world is swimming in texts that are all rather similar. New things do turn up occasionally, but like 3D films they either turn out to be somewhat gimmicky or the author decides to play too safely with his new feature, and his book becomes just ‘one of the others’. It may well be a commercial success, but commercial success is very different from trying to further the way in which we express, or create, or think.
I met with a group of writers/publishers/painters last year in London (Ruud Antonius, Steve Aylett, Michael Butterworth, Carter Kaplan, Elkie Riches) . We came to talk about an anthology that one of us was working on, and many of the others around the table were already involved or published in it. There were a number of proof copies on the table in front of us, and I picked one up to get a better understanding of the texts it included. The introduction read:
‘The field of experimental literature in English, as unwelcome as the intrusion of a parenthetical clause, has up to this point found no adequate activity in the 21st centure, which is not surprising […] Emanations aspires to be – not a manifestation of decadent modernism but rather an experiment – conducted somewhere safely ‘outside’ in the postmodern vacuity we inhabit – and for no other purpose than to promote in literature the project of scientific progress. But it is not a progress driven by market forces, political machinations, gauche attempts at social engineering, or jejune bourgeoisie-bashing – traditional activities of the postmodern cycle – but rather the modernist advancement of curiosity, the need to attempt, the need to know […] Emanations is thus an experiment, a literary laboratory, a grammatical seance, a poetical blasting cap set carefully but forcefully into a powerful explosive…’
I knew then that I’d love it – maybe you’d love it too? Not only that but they’ve just put out a call for submissions for Emanations II…
Emanations II: A Call for Submissions (Blogspot)