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Quotes of the day: Philip K. Dick

Published Monday, December 15, 2014 @ 6:39 PM EST
Dec 15 2014

Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist and philosopher whose published work is almost entirely accepted as being in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments, and altered states. In his later works Dick's thematic focus strongly reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology. He often drew upon his own life experiences in addressing the nature of drug abuse, paranoia, schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences in novels such as A Scanner Darkly and VALIS. He also wrote extensively on philosophy, theology, the nature of reality and science later in his life that was published posthumously as The Exegesis. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A lot can be said for the infinite mercies of God, but the smarts of a good pharmacist, when you get down to it, is worth more.

Any given man sees only a tiny portion of the total truth, and very often, in fact almost... perpetually, he deliberately deceives himself about that precious little fragment as well.

Anybody with a genuine system of prediction would be using it, not selling it.

Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups...So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.

Certainly it constitutes bad news if the people who agree with you are buggier than batshit.

Crazy people do not apply the principle of scientific parsimony... they shoot for the baroque.

Don't try to solve serious matters in the middle of the night.

Drug misuse is not a disease, it is a decision, like the decision to step out in front of a moving car. You would call that not a disease but an error in judgment.

Everything in life is just for a while.

Fish cannot carry guns.

For each person there is a sentence- a series of words- which has the power to destroy him... another sentence exists, another series of words, which will heal the person. If you're lucky you will get the second; but you can be certain of getting the first: that is the way it works. On their own, without training, individuals know how to deal out the lethal sentence, but training is required to deal out the second.

Giving me a new idea is like handing a cretin a loaded gun, but I do thank you anyhow, bang, bang.

I have never yielded to reality. That's what science fiction is all about.

I want to write about people I love, and put them into a fictional world spun out of my own mind, not the world we actually have, because the world we actually have does not meet my standards.

I'm not much but I'm all I have.

I, for one, bet on science as helping us. I have yet to see how it fundamentally endangers us, even with the H-bomb lurking about. Science has given us more lives than it has taken; we must remember that.

It is amazing that when someone else spouts the nonsense you yourself believe you can readily perceive it as nonsense.

It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.

Mental illness is not funny.

My schedule for today lists a six-hour self-accusatory depression.

People just have no criterion left to evaluate the importance of things. I think the only thing that would really affect people would be the announcement that the world was going to be blown up by the hydrogen bomb. I think that would really affect people. I think they would react to that. But outside of that, I don't think they would react to anything. 'Peking has been wiped out by an earthquake, and the RTD- the bus strike is still on.' And some guy says, 'Damnit! I'll have to walk to work!'

Perhaps if you know you are insane then you are not insane.

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

Science fiction writers, I am sorry to say, really do not know anything. We can't talk about science, because our knowledge of it is limited and unofficial, and usually our fiction is dreadful.

Skill is a function of chance. It's an intuitive best-use of chance situations.

That there is no perfect defense. There is no protection. Being alive means being exposed; it's the nature of life to be hazardous—it's the stuff of living.

That was my problem then and it's my problem now; I have a bad attitude. In a nutshell, I fear authority but at the same time I resent it- the authority and my own fear- so I rebel. And writing SF is a way to rebel.... SF is a rebellious art form and it needs writers and readers and bad attitudes- an attitude of 'Why?' or 'How come?' or 'Who says?'

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.

The church of my choice is the free, open world.

The electric things have their life too. Paltry as those lives are.

The hell with the newspapers. Nobody reads the letters to the editor column except the nuts. It's enough to get you down.

The problem with introspection is that it has no end.

The schizophrenic is a leap ahead that failed.

The trouble with being educated is that it takes a long time; it uses up the better part of your life and when you are finished what you know is that you would have benefited more by going into banking.

The true measure of a man is not his intelligence or how high he rises in this freak establishment. No, the true measure of a man is this: how quickly can he respond to the needs of others and how much of himself he can give.

The unconscious is selective, when it learns what to listen for.

There are no small matters. Just as there is no small life. The life of an insect, a spider; his life is as large as yours, and yours is as large as mine. Life is life.

There will come a time when it isn't 'They're spying on me through my phone' anymore. Eventually, it will be 'My phone is spying on me.'

This is a mournful discovery.
1) Those who agree with you are insane
2) Those who do not agree with you are in power.

This, to me, is the ultimately heroic trait of ordinary people; they say no to the tyrant and they calmly take the consequences of this resistance.

To live is to be hunted.

We'll know homo superior when he comes- by definition. He'll be the one we won't be able to euth.

When I believe, I am crazy. When I don't believe, I suffer psychotic depression.

When two people dream the same dream, it ceases to be an illusion.

Whom the gods notice they destroy. Be small... and you will escape the jealousy of the great.

You must beware of seeing malice behind accidental injury.


(December 16 is also the birthday of Jane Austen, George Santayana, Arthur C. Clarke, and Margaret Mead.)

Categories: Philip K. Dick, Quotes of the day


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