“Canada Gains A Noted Science Fiction Writer”
by Michael Walsh
Thanks to Frank Bertrand for contibuting this long-lost article to philipkdickfans.com.
from: Vancouver Provence, Entertainment Arts column, Monday, February 21, 1972, p 25
….This year’s convention, held during the weekend at the Biltmore Motor Hotel, did not repeat that first jaunty display of nationalism. It did, however, attract an immigrant.
Author Philip K. Dick, the gathering’s guest of honor and keynote speaker, has decided to stay in Canada. Although Dick had previously discussed the possibility of such a move with convention planners, the apparent abruptness of his decision was a surprise.
According to Dick, he has been deeply impressed by this, his first trip to Vancouver. That, combined with a growing disenchantment with the United States, most forcefully expressed in his speech to the convention, led him to decide to stay.
Dick, 43, currently owns a home in the San Francisco suburb of San Rafael. Friday he made arrangements for its sale and is now actively searching for a new home here in Vancouver.
The Dick decision was one of the major conversation points Friday evening as conventioneers gathered for a showing of the 1936 film Things To Come and a social evening….
Most eagerly awaited was convention guest of honor Philip K. Dick. His talk, “The Human and the Android: The Contrast between the Authentic Person and the Reflex Machine,” had been delivered in a somewhat modified form Thursday at UBC but many of its conclusions were more sharply pointed in light of Dick’s decision to remain in Vancouver.
Though his talk was laced with a quick, absurdist wit, his ideas were serious and frightening. The android, he said, is an inauthentic human and “the production of such inauthentic human activity has become a science of government and such like agencies, now.
“The reduction of human beings to mere use — men made into machines, serving a purpose which although ‘good’ in an abstract sense has, for its accomplishment, employed what I regard as the greatest evil imaginable: the placing on what was a free man who laughed or cried and made mistakes and wandered off into foolishness and play, a restriction that limits him, despite what he may imagine or think, to the fulfilling of an aim outside of his own personal — however puny — destiny. As if, so to speak, history has made him into its instrument.”
Describing his life in contemporary California, Dick said, “The totalitarian society envisioned by George Orwell in 1984 should have arrived by now. The electronic gadgets are here. The government is here, ready to do what Orwell anticipated. So the power exists, the motive, and the electronic hardware.”
From this particularly bleak vision Dick emerges optimistic. Not all people can be made into androids.
“Becoming what I call, for lack of a better term, an android, means as I said, to allow oneself to become a means, or to be pounded down, manipulated, made into a means without ones knowledge or consent — the results are the same. But you cannot turn a human into an android if that human is going to break laws every chance he gets. Androidization requires obedience. And, most of all, predictability.
“If, as it seems we are, in the process of becoming a totalitarian society in which the state apparatus is all-powerful, the ethics most important for the survival of the true, free, human individual would be: cheat, lie, evade, fake it, be elsewhere, forge documents, build improved electronic gadgets in your garage that’ll outwit the gadgets used by the authorities.”
In other words, said Dick, the lifestyles of today’s youth. As horrifying as it sounds for the conventional, the establishmentarian and the parental generation, “even the most base schemes of human beings are preferable to the most exacted tropisms of machines.”
According to Dick the preservation of humanity is preferable to the preservation of systems, possessions, principles, or positions. “Our flight must be not only to the stars but into the nature of our own beings. Because it is not merely where we go, to Alpha Centaurus or Betelgeuse, but what we are as we make our pilgrimages there. Our natures will be going there, too. ‘Ad astra’ — but ‘per hominem’. And we must never lose sight of that.”