PKD-Day 3@NTU is a Huge Success
My absence from Ludus ex this time was due to the fact that I was co-organising PKD-Day with Prof John Goodridge from my department. NTU had another fab event: the third successful PKD-Day. We did it again.
PKD-Day, as regular readers of Ludus ex, will know is a small and offbeat event for those who enjoy the works of Philip Kindred Dick, the legendary Science Fiction writer. For the absolutely uninitiated, he's the guy who wrote the Blade Runner book (called do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). This time's event had an interesting mix of papers featuring Baudrillardian responses to Dick's work, the Dickian response to ideas of humanity, the police-state in Dick's novels, samizdat responses to Dick on YouTube and a Gnostic reading of PKD. My own paper was on how the Phildickian world is actually like a videogame because of the alternate realities and parallel tracks of time that Dick (in a very Deleuzian way, I argue) presents in his books and discusses at length in his talk 'If You Find This World Bad, Go Take A Look at Others'. I used the obvious example of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time to start my discussion. self-reflexively states that time is not linear like a river but like an ocean. Then I looked at Dick's novels The Man in the High Castle and Ubik in terms of the alternate realities they posit.
There were two highlights of the day. One was the lovely lunch that John had laid out for us and the other was the key attraction: a Skype conversation with Tessa Dick, PKD's last wife. This, although effected using improvised means (since the university apparently doesn't support Skype), worked out really well in that the audience were able to ask Tessa questions and hear her live, without our having to pay the loads of money for airfare or telephony that our small event cannot afford. Tessa spoke on A Scanner Darkly, PKD's philosophy and even PKD's cats.
Besides these events, we also had a workshop to discuss the reading experiences of the participants and thereafter, a chance to reconvene at a local pub (which took us 30 mins to reach on foot, courtesy my superb planning!). Anyway, the ale was good (even though they ran out of Bombardier) and the event came to a fantastic close. The papers and more details about PKD-Day will be available on the event's website. We also aim to create a mailing list to keep the PKD-Day community active and involved.
'Literature is a combinatorial game that pursues the possibilities implicit in its own material [...] but it is a game that at a certain point is invested with an unexpected meaning' - Italo Calvino