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September 21, 1992 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-09-21

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Page 8 -The Michigan Daily- Monday, September 21, 1992

Philip K. Dick's notebooks
reveal method in semi-madness

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' 1

by John Morgan
Like many authors, Philip K. Dick's work was not
appreciated until after his death in 1982. Posthumously,
however, his books have found immortality both in re-
cent Vintage reprints of his books, and on the movie
screen in such films as. "Blade Runner" and "Total
Recall" (the latter being a very loose adaptation of one
of this short stories). Currently, the works that were
once banished to the realm of cheap SF thrillers are
numbered among the most important books of contem-
porary American fiction by such prestigious literary
courthouses as the New York Times.
In his lifetime, Dick was known as a science-fiction
writer, but those who treat his work seriously know that
his subjects have a much wider range than standard SF
fare. Dick's better books such as "Man in the High
Castle" and "Ubik," deserve comparison to the works of
such reality-distorting geniuses as Kafka and Borges.
This book consists of excerpts from his personal
notebooks, which Dick termed a "Dialectic" and never

intended for publication. It is his attempt to come to
terns with an experience he had in March of 1974 -
namely, contact with a supernatural being he called
VALIS (Vast Active Living Intelligence System). This
being, he claims, made contact and briefly shared its
great knowledge of the nature of reality with him.
In Pursuit of Valis:
Selections from the Exegesis
by Philip K. Dick
Underwood-Miller
No matter what one may think of Dick's claims
(many who knew him feel that they were really the re-
sult of his drug use in the '60s), the fact remains that
this experience formed the basis for all of his work after
Marchl974. Dick roams through the whole of religious
thought in his efforts to understand it, from the ancient
Chinese thinkers to Nietzsche. He also writes about
many other subjects - personal experiences, philo-
sophical concepts and, most importantly, his own work.
Dick discusses all of his important novels and stories in
these pages.
Dick reevaluates absolutely everything that happens
to be floating around in his mind. The book is often
reminiscent of Descartes' "Meditations": "Our minds
are occluded, deliberately, so that we can't see the
prison world we're slaves in, which is created by a
powerful magician - like evil deity." And this is only
the beginning of Dick's musings on the subject of real-
ity, much of which sheds light on the themes he dealt
with again and again in his fiction.
It is unlikely that those unfamiliar with Dick's work
will be interested in this book. Too much of it relates to
the details of his novels and life to have a wide audi-
ence. Nor is it the kind of book that must be read cover-
to-cover, and the index is a great help.
Like the notebooks of any author, it can be insightful
and entertaining, but it was not meant to be read by oth-
ers. The books themselves are where the talent lies.
Read them first.

Contagion
Contaminant PCB
Capitol
Just when you need to hear some
more euro-industrial beats to make
your ears bleed again, four knaves
from southern California re-emerge
from a dank studio with their new
album at your service. The Conta-
gion fellows (who used to be called
Biohazard PCB) are back with their
own brand of electronic slamming
music.
The user-friendly Band Com-
parison Meter puts them somewhere
between pre-"Psalm 69" Ministry
and Front Line Assembly, with ten-
dencies toward the new, tamer
Nitzer Ebb.
Faves on this album: the last two
remixes on side two. One is a remix
of a track called "Scratch," with a
guest vocalist who sounds like a
cross between George Michael,
Danny Elfman, and the frontman for
Night Ranger. The other is a grindy
track called "Agress," which war-
rants this album's forbidding
"Parental Advisory" sticker.
Overall, excellent study music

for the discriminating and san-
guinary listener.
- JerfiRosenberg
Nicholas Collins
It Was a Dark and
Stormy Night
Trace Elements
In the annals of electronic
musique, there are others who have
composed pieces like Nicholas Col-
lins, but they probably didn't use a
modified CD player or a digital
signal processor controlled by the
movements of a trombone slide.
Collins uses one or both on the three
pieces found on "It Was a Dark and
Stormy Night."
The first piece, "Broken Light,"
is for modified CD player and string
quartet. Collins reworks material
from early music, specifically string
works of Corelli, Locatelli, and
Torelli. In some spots the CD player
goes mad (kind of like when you use
the "search" feature on a regular CD
thang) and the quartet attempts to
match the racing CD sound. In other
parts the CD player skips at a bizarre
regular interval and the quartet just
plays along.

The second piece, "Tobabo
Fonio" uses Collins' "trombone-pro-
pelled electronics," which not only
has a slide-controlled digital signal
processor, but actually uses the
trombone bell as a loudspeaker.
Much of "Tobabo Fonio" is intense
droning, which Collins creates
through the use of his gadgets and
samples of recorded brass band mu-
sic from the Peruvian Andes. The
stoic buzzes and periodic stereo
phazing may be the preamble to a
skullbusting headache, but anyone
who can make these sounds come
out of a trombone is bound to get
one sooner or later.
The last piece, "It Was a Dark
and Stormy Night," is narrated by
two lilting voices and accompanied
by both electronics and orchestral
instruments. Of particular sonic pe-
culiarity are the backwards guitars
and drums triggered by the voices
narrating the piece.
Though the first two pieces are
both intense and long, "It Was a
Dark and Stormy Night" glides and
smashes eerily along for over 27
minutes, so have your favorite
comfy chair and beverage available.
- .ff Rosenberg

"

'Blade Runner'

U B

Monday Lunch
Special
BLT & Fries crisp
strips of bacon served up
on homemade French
bread
only $2.99
11:30-3:00 pm InrN

I
41URAT AN
4#1#4 IAL - SP

Monday Dinner
Special
Buffalo Wings
$2.00 a basket
Drink Special:
W Pi 9:00 pm-Close
Labatts Pitchers
$5.25
Monday Night Football

UNDERGRADUATE
PHILOSOPHY CLUB
Mass Meeting
Monday, September 2, 6:30pm
Angell Hall Room 2220

Happy Hour: 3:00-7:00 pm
$1.00 off Pints of'Beer, Well
Drinks, Wine

I

Three out of four moshers with crossed arms recommend the Charlie Sheen haircut from "Major League", but only
one of the boys from Contagion comes close.

m

ti

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