Worlds and selves falling apart - The science fiction of Philip K. Dick

GRIN Verlag
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Swiss Diploma Thesis from the year 2000 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 1.5 (A), University of Zurich (English Seminar), 77 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Philip K. Dick's science fiction can be seen as a discussion of the human condition in a world where nothing is what it seems. Human identity has become uncertain, as has the nature of reality itself. This Dickian ontology has a striking similarity to postmodernist theories by thinkers such as Jameson, Baudrillard and McHale, most of whom, by the way, have a weak spot for science fiction. The discussion of Philip K. Dick's novels and short stories against a backdrop of postmodernist theory leads to conclusions that are not only relevant for the author's particular poetics, but for the ontology of our lives in times that science fiction couldn't have imagined. This work focusses on Philip K. Dick's unstable worlds and subjects, investigating Dickian space, time and meaning as well as the author's subjects and the question of schizophrenia and paranoia. Works discussed include Ubik, Time Out of Joint, The Man in the High Castle, A Maze of Death, Eye in the Sky, A Scanner Darkly, Martian Time-Slip and Impostor.
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GRIN Verlag
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Published on
Jun 26, 2003
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Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / General
Literary Collections / American / General
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Essay from the year 1998 in the subject American Studies - Culture and Applied Geography, grade: 1 (A), University of Aberdeen (English Department), course: Read the City - Read the Text, 11 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Edward W. Soja called Los Angeles ‘the quintessential postmodern metropolis’. This, however, shall not be the premise of my argument in this essay, because of the obvious danger of circularity. Yet I will use postmodern critics and compare my findings to postmodern models of culture, space and society. I will not discuss the term postmodernism itself, simply because the range of this essay does not allow my entering this ongoing debate. The term will be used as denoting both a period, beginning, for my purposes, in the 1960s, and a theory of cultural tendencies in contemporary life. For this essay, I will assume that postmodernism is a fact, a part of everyday reality, and that it differs substantially from modernism. The main body of this essay will consist of a discussion of the fundamental factors which define Los Angeles as postmodern space. I will focus on particularities that distinguish Los Angeles from other cities, most of all from those which have not yet crossed the threshold of postmodernity. Firstly, I will investigate the geographical instability of the city; the fact that it is threatened to be annihilated by natural forces such as earthquakes and the desert. Secondly, I will address the idea of the city as a desert, its horizontality, its vastness, its lack of centre. Thirdly, the structure on this flat surface will be addressed; the freeways as an arterial network, and the structure of segregating walls, both literal and metaphorical. Finally, I will conclude by investigating the parallels between the idea of instability that underlies all of the factors I discuss, and the notion of the unstable in postmodernism.
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