Resisting “The World”: Philip K. Dick, Cultural Studies, and Metaphysical Realism
How does one fashion a book of resistance, a book of truth in an empire of falsehood, or a book of rectitude in an empire of vicious lies? How does one do this right in front of the enemy?—Philip K. Dick1
Manipulations of reality and appearance are surely the most prominent formal devices in Philip K. Dick’s science fiction. Critical writing on Dick’s novels is extensive, and some of the best of it offers important insights into these manipulations. Nevertheless, the critical literature seems to me not yet to have developed a full-blown theory of what Dick was trying to get at in returning to these devices so persistently. In what follows I argue that such a theory will require sustained thinking about both metaphysical and political issues. I argue further that a prominent strand of recent work in cultural studies, along with Dick’s novels, can help us to articulate a theoretical perspective on “reality” that is of crucial importance for critical and cultural theory.2
1. Rather than beginning with either cultural studies or with Dick himself, however, I want to begin with contemporary analytic philosophy, in which discussions of the idea of “reality” have reached a certain remarkable level of nuance and sophistication. I do not want, though, to recommend that cultural studies become a kind of philosophy, nor that it spend too much time haggling over philosophical niceties. In this sense I want not to place us inside a philosophical debate, but instead to tease out a particularly critical strand of recent philosophical writing which I find salutary for cultural studies—namely, the position known loosely as “anti-realism,” associated with the writings of Hilary Putnam, Michael Dummett, and Crispin Wright. In this effort I hope to provide not a ground or foundation, then, for the work of cultural studies, but a useful way of thinking about grounds and foundations, and of more clearly articulating that thought, which I will suggest already underwrites much of cultural studies, and which can well underwrite further work in this vein.
“Realism” is a term with a long and complex history in Western thought. Prior to the contemporary debates, it has most often been used in laying out two sets of philosophical dichotomies: the distinction between realism and nominalism with regard to the existence of universals, a debate having its origins in both classical and medieval philosophy; and the distinction between realism and idealism in metaphysics, a debate which reaches its high point in the writings of Kant and his commentators and followers. Although the current distinction between Realism and anti-realism shares few characteristics with these debates, it does have in common with both controversies their relational character. Indeed, as several writers have noted, one of the clearest ways to characterize the contemporary notion of anti-realism is simply as any doctrine which raises doubts about, or directly challenges, any of several forms of Realism.3 As Crispin Wright explains, “anti-realism is simply oppositional to realism” (“Introduction,” 2). This sense of anti-realism will be central for our understanding of the functions of the metaphysics of Dick’s sf and of cultural studies. Indeed, unless I specify otherwise, by the phrase “anti-realism” in this paper I shall simply mean any view that opposes the central doctrines of what philosophers call Metaphysical Realism.
In analytic philosophy, those doctrines have been most carefully elaborated by anti-realists rather than Realists themselves. Michael Dummett has been the principal architect of anti-realism as a linguistic doctrine, on which more in a moment; but it has been Hilary Putnam, perhaps the most important philosopher of his generation, who has presented anti-realism as a full-fledged alternative view of metaphysics, mind, epistemology and language.4 Putnam characterizes Metaphysical Realism in the following way:
Great philosophical points of view which have permanent appeal cannot be expressed in a single sentence. This is one reason I feel justified in having taken the ‘metaphysical realist’ to be a philosopher who accepts what Hartry Field calls ‘metaphysical realism1’ (the world consists of a fixed totality of mind-independent objects), and accepts ‘metaphysical realism2’ (there is exactly one true and complete description of the way the world is), and also accepts ‘metaphysical realism3’ (truth involves some sort of correspondence). These doctrines have been held by philosophers of every historical period, and one can think of a rich filigree of ideas, doctrines, and detailed arguments which flesh out these abstract theses in different ways. (“A Defense of Internal Realism,” 30, emphasis in original)
We are largely concerned here with the ontological component of metaphysical realism. I take Putnam’s metaphysical realism1 and the non-linguistic aspect of metaphysical realism2, to offer together a thesis about what Putnam calls the “One True World” and the truth about it. That thesis says there exists, regardless of our access to it, one world, and one (ideal) way of conceptualizing the truth about it. As Michael Devitt, one of today’s leading Realist philosophers, puts it, the central Realist thesis is that “common-sense physical entities objectively exist independently of the mental” (“Dummett’s Anti-Realism,” 76).
In order to better understand what is at stake in this formula, we need to spend some time explicating the linguistic theses underlying Realism. Indeed insofar as Dummett’s writings have provided the spur for anti-realist philosophy, it is chiefly his thoughts on problems of language that have done so. For Putnam, as we have seen, the chief linguistic thesis of Realism is that truth consists in some kind of correspondence between the objects in the world and the words of a language. Putnam argues that no such correspondence can be reliably identified, and perhaps most significantly, that the identification of such a correspondence assumes what he calls a “God’s-Eye View” that obliterates just the very (and, in an important sense, only) kind of perception available to human knowers.5 For Dummett, the chief anti-realist notion is a perspective on what philosophers call bivalence, the principle that each statement is definitively either true or false. Dummett’s contends that, relative to what he calls the “given class” of statements (which is to say a particular realm of discourse such as mathematics or ethics),6
in every case, we may regard a realistic view as consisting in a certain interpretation of statements in some class, which I shall call ‘the given class.’
So construed, realism is a semantic thesis, a thesis about what, in general, renders a statement in the given class true when it is true. The very minimum that realism can be held to involve is that statements in the given class relate to some reality that exists independently of our knowledge of it, in such a way that that reality renders each statement in the class determinately true or false, again independently of whether we know, or are even able to discover, its truth-value. Thus realism involves acceptance, for statements of the given class, of the principle of bivalence, the principle that every statement is determinately either true or false. (“Realism ,” 55)
For example, a Realist about ethics would hold that a statement like “murder is wrong” is determinedly either true or false, and a Realist about mathematics (a “Platonist” to analytic philosophers) would believe that every mathematical statement is either true or false.
The connections between this feature of anti-realism and the ontological aspects described above may not be immediately clear. They center on the interpretation of statements for which no truth is immediately apparent (for example, statements about the past for which no documentary evidence exists: “last Friday, at exactly 15 seconds after noon, I was staring at my computer screen and thinking about a corned beef sandwich”). Dummett suggests that the Realist insists on a transcendent realm in which such statements can be “ultimately” or “definitively” adduced to be true or false, while the anti-realist is content to allow that such statements might be neither true nor false, since no extra-human or extra-linguistic realm obtains where the truth value of the statements can be judged. As Putnam writes,
Metaphysical realism presents itself as a powerful transcendental picture: a picture in which there is a fixed set of ‘language-independent’ objects (some of which are abstract and others are concrete) and a fixed ‘relation’ between terms and their extensions. What I am saying is that the picture only partly agrees with the commonsense view it purports to interpret; it has consequences which, from a commonsense view, are quite absurd. (“Realism with a Human Face,” 27-28)
Now this may seem counter-intuitive to what seems a grounding idea of Realism, that it is committed just and only to our regular, every-day experience of the world.
Putnam argues, however, that Realism can be construed as a doctrine which is precisely not interested in the proclivities and subtleties of that everyday world. As Crispin Wright says in speaking of Dummett:
Antirealism, in the sense associated with Dummett’s work, is exactly the view that the notion of truth cannot intelligibly be evidentially unconstrained—or the view, at least, that once it is so unconstrained, it is no longer in terms of truth-conditions that the meanings of the statements in question can be interpreted. (“Realism, Antirealism, Irrealism, Quasi-Realism,” 27; emphasis in original)
In this sense, anti-realism may in fact better account for our everyday experience and our metaphysical ideas than does the supposedly “common-sense” perspective associated with Realism. While the defenders of Realism, like
Devitt, gesture at common sense as if to make anti-realists sound not altogether sane (not an irrelevant consideration when it comes to Dick’s works and life), it is crucial to note that anti-realists also attempt to hold onto those features of common-sense experience that none of us find ourselves able practically to do without.7 Too often Realism presents itself as a “common-sense” attitude to contrast itself with anti-realism. What I am suggesting is that, to the degree that Realism is in fact compatible with “common-sense,” that is due to an ideological operation within Realism and not to an obvious better fit of Realist principles with everyday human experience.
2. The recurring fascination with the nature of reality found in Dick’s writing has occasioned a wide range of critical discussion. Very often, especially given that much of the best writing on sf has Marxist precepts at its base,8 these discussions have advanced a sophisticated and specifically class-based viewpoint on the reality breakdowns that occur in Dick’s writings. Very quickly critics have become disenchanted with the metafictional, formal reading that might have been applied to Dick and have gone on to a quite sophisticated ideological reading, one that locates a technical and highly sophisticated Althusserian critique of the nature of ideology in Dick’s manipulations of fictional reality. As Peter Fitting has written, there exists
a suggestive similarity between Dick’s preoccupation with the nature of reality... and the Althusserian critique of empiricism and the latter’s emphasis on how reality—which is a ‘given’ for empiricism—is not apprehended directly, but by means of various signifying practices which ‘construct’ both a ‘representation of the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence’ and the ‘subjects’ or identities necessary to those ‘representations.’ Accordingly, ideology is no longer a simple misapprehension of reality (‘false consciousness’), but a collective means for bestowing meaning on the world, and for defining oneself and one’s place in that world. (“Reality as Ideological Construct,” 233)
I consider the development of this line of thinking about Dick’s writing to be one of the most important developments in recent cultural criticism, for it offers an especially striking way of connecting the author’s manipulation of the metaphysics of his or her fictional world with analogous metaphysical operations in our everyday world. While it is clear that such manipulation is a cardinal aspect of all fiction writing, Dick’s writing and the criticism of that writing have brought those operations to the surface in a particularly compelling fashion.
Nevertheless, I want to suggest that there are limitations in focusing our understanding of Dick’s fiction solely on the class-based criticisms that are clearly one of his primary concerns. This suggestion is very much in line, I think, with one of the chief insights of recent cultural studies, which is to suggest that the complex of oppressive and manipulative practices we associate with late capitalism cannot always be fully apprehended through an attention too narrowly focused on issues of class. We can get some sense of the limitations of this approach for dealing with the full range of Dick’s writing in Fitting’s comment that although the metaphysical explanation informs both of the discovery scenes, VALIS ends without any resolution in the seeming denial of the validity of those experiences. From my perspective, the novel’s interest lies in its inability to resolve this dilemma. This is not to disparage Dick’s own personal convictions or struggle, but to point to the way in which ideology conditions what can or cannot be written (or thought) in a given context. In the earlier novels there was often a practical solution, a moment when the characters simply turned their backs on the contradictions and dilemmas and sought, through manual activity, to make their own limited meaning for an irrational world. But these practical solutions end with the defeat of Scanner. The more complete insistence on a metaphysical explanation only increases the intensity of the contradiction between the author’s yearning for a world other than this ‘Black Iron Prison’ and the inadequacy of metaphysical solutions in attempting to deal with real conflict and injustice. (233)
Fitting argues that “one of the most familiar responses to the disintegrating and hallucinatory realities within Dick’s novels is what I shall call the appeal to metaphysics” (220; emphasis in original); he goes on to praise Dick’s “uneasiness and ambivalence toward the metaphysical solution,” a “temptation” which is “almost always rejected” in Dick “until his last works” (222). This appeal to metaphysics—“the possibility of an answer ‘behind’ phenomenal reality,” fails because “whatever or whoever stands behind the reality of the novel usually turns out to be even more questionable than the character’s original ‘illusory’ reality.” Instead, Fitting argues, Dick in all but his last novels favors what Fitting himself favors: a “practical solution...where the problem of reality is resolved pragmatically...through action” (223, emphasis in original).
While there is much to recommend this view, especially with regard to the early fiction, it is clear that other interpretations of Dick’s metaphysical permutations are possible. To begin with, we can look at Dick’s writing under the lens of the (broadly) psychoanalytic Marxism associated with writers like Jameson, Žižek, and Laclau and Mouffe (as well as Althusser).9 This important critical view has also found a sophisticated advocate in Dick criticism:
I am in disagreement with the prevailing view among Marxist critics that Dick’s late, theological works represent an unambiguous turning away from politics and a pointless obsession with ‘ontological puzzles.’ Whatever their ultimate political implications—and they are, as we shall see, by no means unambiguous—Dick’s works remain, in my view, an attempt to grapple with contradictions inherent in the politicization of late-capitalist delirium which no counter-hegemonic cultural politics can ultimately fail to address. (Durham, “Death of the Subject,” 174)10
Durham goes on to tie his readings of Dick’s metaphysics directly into the cultural-theoretical critique of subjectivity:
In this reformulation, a ‘real’ whose very nature is in question from the perspective of desire, whose very definition is at stake in a struggle between desire (which increasingly tends to appropriate and transform the real in its everyday immediacy) and an oppressive reality principle (which reasserts the impenetrability and immutability of the established real), would be stabilized by the transcendent gaze of the critic who, armed with a historical method, would tower above this struggle, locating its ultimate referent (post-World War II American society) and assimilating that referent to an object of historical knowledge (late capitalism). (180)
As valuable as both of these kinds of criticisms continue to be, what I am trying to offer here is a “third stage” in the critical project of interpreting Dick’s writing (and by extension in what I see as a nascent but important tendency in cultural studies). Fitting sees Dick’s early manipulations of reality as clear analyses of the operations of ideology, but finds his later “metaphysical” writings wanting in that regard. Durham finds in the later writings an effort to get at the buried ideological fictions about and constructions of subjectivity. I want to suggest here that all of the metaphysical concerns of Dick’s writing, early and late, point in addition to a grounding metaphysical and political problem. That problem is much like the one Derrida gestures at by his use of the Heideggerian phrase “metaphysics of presence.” What Derrida calls “presence,” and what I am here, following Dick and the anti-realist philosophers, calling “Reality” (with a capital “R”), informs and supports the large-scale power structures of the West, including late capitalism as well as patriarchy, racism, nationalism, the construction of “objective” sexuality, and so on. It is in this critical spirit that Dick’s writings present their sustained attack on the very idea of Reality.
3. To get to this understanding, we need to turn to the substance of Dick’s writing, with tools that are explicitly meant for metaphysical analysis—that is, philosophical tools. It is clear that this is a sort of analysis with which Dick was himself profoundly engaged, even if he may not have been especially conversant in the contemporary forms of such analysis. It’s easy enough, especially in the Exegesis, the “Tractates Cryptica Scriptura” appended to VALIS, the interviews in Paul Williams’s Only Apparently Real, and so forth, to say nothing of the fiction itself, to find examples of Dick denying the meaning of or utility of “everyday” reality. Just to cite two examples: “the world as we experience it is not the real world. It’s a simple as that”;11 “our universe is a hologram” (VALIS, 216).
Still, Dick’s offhand comments deserve fuller explication, especially with regard to the personal mythology that seems to inform so much of his writing in this vein. In the “Tractates” Dick goes on at length about the “Real [i.e., noumenal] world” which “ended in 70 CE” and the “Black Iron Prison” (phenomenal) world which started then and continued until the “events” of August 1974, when the “Palm Tree Garden” noumenal world came back into being. Such a change seems apocalyptic, but apparently no one but Dick (and perhaps Bishop Pike’s “ghost”) observed the change. In Dick’s later writings (such as the fictional part of VALIS itself) one detects more than a hint of irony in the descriptions of this apocalyptic change. This is an important point to begin with because, taken in one way, Dick’s writings might be construed as intensely Realist. Dick posits an “ultimate” reality which exists “beneath” or “under” this “holographic” one, an “ultimate” reality which through various means human (or otherwise conscious) observers might, at least in principle, gain access. As Garson Poole, the narrator of Dick’s 1969 short story “The Electric Ant,” puts it, “What I want...is ultimate and absolute reality, for one microsecond. After that it doesn’t matter, because all will be known; nothing will be left to understand or see” (225).
If such a reality existed, and we had full access to it and knowledge of it, there would be no doubting Realism’s viability: no doubt not only about the objective existence of the Real world, no doubt even, one might insist, on the relation of our words and statements to the objects in that world. For our purposes it is crucial to distinguish two ways of looking at Dick’s work. The first is the contention that such an Absolute Reality exists, that Dick imagines that he himself has access to it and that we all should strive for such access and be able to achieve it. And the second is that such an Absolute Reality, in whatever fashion, does not exist; but that in any number of fashions, it is a trope, an instrument, a way of speaking, or even a desired but, in principle, unattainable goal. I believe this latter perspective, in the end, to be far more important to Dick’s writing than is the former.
As the point is central to the discussion, I’ll take one of Dick’s most important (apparently “non-fictional”) presentations of the issue as a touchstone, again from the “Tractates”:
29. We did not fall because of a moral error; we fell because of an intellectual error: that of taking the phenomenal world as real. Therefore we are morally innocent. It is the Empire in its various disguised polyforms which tells us we have sinned. “The Empire never ended.”
30. The phenomenal world does not exist; it is a hypostasis of the information processed by the Mind.
31. We hypostatize information into objects. Rearrangement of objects is change in the content of the information; the message has changed. This is a language which we have lost the ability to read. We ourselves are a part of this language; changes in us are changes in the content of the information. We ourselves are information-rich; information enters us, is processed and is then projected outward once more, now in an altered form. We are not aware that we are doing this, that in fact this is all we are doing. (VALIS, 219)
“All we are doing” is “projecting” and “processing” information, “beamed” through us by an Hegelian Mind. Our mistake is taking the phenomenal world as Real, when in fact the world of that Mind is indeed Real, as other entries in the “Tractates” (cf. §32, §47 and §48) make clear.
Although it is possible, in perhaps both biographical and theological senses, to take Dick’s posit of an “ultimate reality” seriously, I want to insist here on the rather obvious point that there is much in the fiction, both pre- and post- the “events of 1974,” to cause us to think otherwise. We can, I think, take Dick’s thoughts about the phenomenal world, our world, seriously qua themselves, and simply put aside what Dick says about the “Palm Tree Garden” and “absolute reality,” insofar as these realms are supposed to have a different kind of existence from our own world. It’s an obvious point, but Dick rarely if ever succeeds in showing the reader these worlds: one wonders in fact just how such a depiction could be managed. (In this respect it seems almost too fitting that the novel which presumably would have depicted the “Palm Tree Garden,” namely The Owl In Daylight, was never written.) Indeed, when a “false” reality is disrupted in one of Dick’s fictions, the “true” reality that obtains rarely seems much more stable or impressive than the one whose place it has taken. In this sense, we can say that Dick’s works are resolutely about the phenomenal world. Taken in this way, his insistence at the end of VALIS that we have committed the central “intellectual error...of taking the phenomenal world as real” takes on a very different meaning from the one it may seem to have on first blush.
What I am taking Dick’s works directly to suggest is that the “intellectual error,” independent of whatever other knowledge we have about “reality,” is an error we may currently be making. Dick says that we have sufficient evidence to come to the conclusion that in the crucial sense the “phenomenal world,” our world, again, is not “real.” Along with that conviction goes the understanding that the “Empire,” a sort of generalized and widely instantiated power structure not unlike the ones described by Foucault in his later writings,12 is invested just in our belief that the phenomenal world is real in just the sense Dick seems to be opposing. While this may seem schematic I think it is clearly justified: the “Empire” is aligned with oppressive use of power and with, in philosophical terminology, Realism. Recognition of this error, understanding of the crucial ways in which such Realist beliefs are both untenable and oppressive, is aligned with what I have been calling anti-realism: the general understanding that it is wrong to believe in the existence of the One Real World.
4. In this spirit, I want to turn to one of Dick’s most “metaphysical” novels, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1964), to show that even there the strong metaphysical component can be read in the service of a deeply interventionist perspective on the metaphysical work of cultures. If it is possible to locate in this semi-metaphysical novel a commitment to metaphysics-as-theory, then a fortiriori such a perspective should be recoverable in the later, more fully-blown metaphysical works; at least that is the assumption which serves as a ground for the analysis of Dick which follows.
The politics and metaphysics of Three Stigmata13 are more complex than some analyses have assumed. The novel sets up a multiplicity of sites for attack and interrogation. Centers of economic and ideological oppression are distributed throughout the book. In the first place there is Perky Pat Layouts, the huge capitalist corporation which serves as one of the book’s loci and a base for the book’s two protagonists—Leo Bulero, the president of PP Layouts, and Barney Mayerson, chief New York pre-cog (meaning he can somewhat adequately predict future events) fashion consultant for PP LAYOUTS, whose job is to predict whether given items will be successful when “minned” (miniaturized) for use in the Perky Pat layout. The cultural valences of these various institutions are all unclear. PP LAYOUTS has a true monopoly on layout products; no one else is either allowed to or choose to make such items. This is due in part to the production of Can-D, the hallucinatory drug which allows its users to “enter” the world of Perky Pat.
The matter is complicated because while Perky Pat layouts are a legal product, they fill the role of a capitalist and monopolistic commodity, an almost purely fetishized commodity with no practical use. Dick’s novels are as famous for their ingenious metafictive twists as their many-leveled lacunae, and so one of the major lacunae in this novel has to do just with the status of the layouts and of Can-D; the layouts are useless without the drug, the drug is even apparently useless without the layouts (though what it is about the layouts, as opposed to any other physical objects, that makes them usable with the apparently unrelated drug Can-D, is never made clear). Both the drug and the layouts, or rather the two together, do play at least one important use: they allow the colonization of extraterrestrial sites, necessary because Terran meteorological conditions are becoming intolerable for human beings. But the colonies are hardly more tolerable than Earth itself, and so the colonists need to use Can-D and the layouts to imagine themselves on an idealized Earth. In this context the drug is the subject of intense “theological” debate, between those who believe that the drug and layouts actually transport the user to Earth, and those who believe in the drug merely as an inducer of complex hallucinations.
Behind all of this we can detect a wide range of critiques of the capitalist system (and the Foucauldian “power” system), the colonial/imperialist system, and in a sense the sex/gender system, although their valences, as I have suggested, are not always clear. Perky Pat Layouts are clearly the object of quasi-Marxian critique as an example of capitalist monopoly, even though two of its highest executives are (at least partially unambiguous) heroes of the book. Leo Bulero, unknown to the other employees of PP LAYOUTS, is explicitly linked to the production of Can-D, which is “tolerated” by the United Nations in some sense, although their explicit policy is to oppose its production (indeed, at least some factions of the UN hierarchy directly attempt to prevent the distribution of Can-D—see, for example, 2:20, where the UN Narcotics Control Bureau seizes a million skins’ worth of the drug—which, given the status of the colonies discussed below, makes much of the novel’s political structure difficult to comprehend). It is a bit confusing that Perky Pat Layouts could be a legal product in this context, given that they have no use whatsoever without their illegal adjunct. It is furthermore clearly implied that the UN is a coercive imperialist force: colonists are drafted for missions to other planets, and the novel makes it clear that return visits, at least permanent returns to Earth, are not allowed. In the uneasy, complicitous and yet covert relationship between Perky Pat Layouts and the UN, we can see a clear critique of monopoly and late capitalism, although that critique is complicated by the fact that Leo Bulero is never explicitly repudiated as the president of this major corporation, and indeed his opposition to the “evil” force in the novel, Palmer Eldritch, is in no way associated with any sort of decision on his part to restructure his own participation in the capitalist economy.
Furthermore, the role of colonization in the novel is never really clear, as it is apparent that most of the colonies are failures, that the farms and other productive aspects of the colonies are rarely attended to and that the colonists spend most of their time either pursuing Can-D or using it. So here we have one clue to the political metaphysics of the novel: because if we locate the main coercive force in the book’s set-up in the nexus between PP LAYOUTS and the UN’s colonization effort, then its purpose seems to be solely to get the consumers to consume: to put them in an environment where they have no choice, no purpose, other than to consume their sacrament. These colonists are not productive; they only consume, and what they consume is Can-D. The distinction from classical Marxism is meaningful, because the colonists do no “work,” at least in the direct productive sense, which can be absorbed by the capitalist system: whatever work they do is directly part of the production, or consumption, of ideology, or more precisely the ideological construction of reality.
Into this already complex situation comes Palmer Eldritch. Eldritch has left ten years before the novel’s fictional present, apparently to much public fanfare, for the Prox system,14 clearly with business dealings in mind, though it is also apparent that for whatever reasons, observers have made more of his trip than just business (cf. 2:27-28). In the fictional present of the novel Eldritch has returned to the Terran system—or something has which physically looks like Eldritch, but may in fact be a Prox alien or even a third, non-Prox and non-Terran life form, either of the latter two of which may have overtaken Eldritch on his way to or way from the Prox system.
Eldritch’s presence in the novel adds an entirely new level to the critiques implicit in the fictional structure. Eldritch brings with him Chew-Z, another reality drug which is supposed to replace Can-D because it is non-addictive; indeed, Eldritch receives UN sanction to sell the drug legally as a replacement for Can-D; as Eldritch himself explains to Leo,
‘We’re going to have layouts, of course, but that comes later with our Terran activities. And anyhow that’s a formality, a ritual to ease the transition. Can-D and Chew-Z will be marketed on the same basis, in open competition; we’ll claim nothing for Chew-Z that you don’t claim for your product. We don’t want to scare people away; religion has become a touchy subject. It will only be after a few tries that they realize the two different aspects: the lack of a time lapse and the other, perhaps the more vital. That it isn’t fantasy, that they enter a genuine new universe.’
‘Many people feel that about Can-D,’ Leo pointed out. ‘They hold it as an article of faith that they’re actually on Earth.’
‘Fanatics,’ Eldritch said with disgust. ‘Obviously it’s illusion because there is no Perky Pat and no Walt Essex and anyhow the structure of their fantasy environment is limited to the artifacts actually installed in the layout.’ (6:78)
There is one fine point in particular to be drawn from this interchange, perhaps the most specific one about the differences between the two drugs, conducted by the producers of each drug. Eldritch explicitly proclaims that Chew-Z provides entrance into a “genuine new universe,” while Leo insists only that Can-D allows its users to debate over whether that drug does or does not provide such transmission; indeed Leo himself seems not to know the answer to the philosophical problem.
So even though it is clear that Can-D is meant in some way or other, as Peter Fitting explains, to express the characters’ “fundamental dissatisfaction with...reality” (“Reality as Ideological Construct,” 227), and that Chew-Z also expresses this dissatisfaction, there is nevertheless a crucial distinction to be made between the two drugs and the experiences provided by them. Chew-Z does indeed provide transport to another world, a single and in a sense determinate world, a world ruled by and controlled by Palmer Eldritch or whatever alien or deic presence has taken him over; it specifically and determinedly eliminates the participation of its users in the construction of its reality (something it is very clear that Can-D users, however conflicted they are, do get to participate in). For this reason Chew-Z is understood to be even more unacceptable than Can-D.
Indeed, before the advent of Chew-Z, it is clear that the Martian colonists are not extremely happy with the effects of Can-D, at least when looked at in toto. As Anne Hawthorne, who arrives on Mars along with Barney Mayerson, explains after taking a Can-D ‘trip’ with the other members of Barney’s colony, “I know something else, Barney. They’re tired of it, too; all they did was bicker while they—we—were inside those dolls. They didn’t enjoy it for a second, even” (9:125). The response to Chew-Z is, if anything, much more instantaneous and much less pleasant than that to Can-D. Indeed, a curious explanation for the different attitude of the UN toward the two drugs is offered toward the end of the novel: “‘This is why the UN belatedly banned it and turned against Eldritch; [UN Secretary] Hepburn-Gilbert initially approved it because he honestly believed that it aided the user to penetrate to concrete reality, and then it became obvious to everyone who used it or witnessed it that it did exactly the [opposite]’” (11:164).
This comes as a surprising confession, at least on one reading of the reality dynamics of Dick’s fiction. Like Garson Poole’s manipulation of his “reality tape” in “The Electric Ant,” Chew-Z is supposed to provide access to an Absolute Reality, which we can now identify, tentatively, with the One True World under consideration in Putnam’s critique of Realism. Of course characters in Dick’s fiction, from Eye in the Sky through The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, are heavily invested in penetrating to such a Reality. But rarely is the pursuit of Absolute Reality identified with omnipresent, capitalist-inflected, overtly coercive and imperialist structures like the UN of Three Stigmata. Indeed, the pursuit of Absolute Reality is most often conceived as an anti-establishment quest, to break through the arbitrary structures of reality imposed from without; this is the dynamic that licenses the general ideological interpretation of Dick, in which artificial or otherwise unacceptable considerations are imposed on the perceiving subject’s ability to understand and perceive the “actual,” read “material,” structures of the world.
But in this episode from Three Stigmata we have the inklings of a different way to read Dick, in which it isn’t the falsity, or the deceptiveness, of the ideologically-imposed Reality, but the very attempt to posit such a reality that is called into question. This is what Eldritch and the UN have in common, and it is what Leo, Barney and Can-D all mitigate against. Because in the state of the world pre-Chew-Z, even though to all appearances it is a more “realistic” world than the Chew-Z world, in fact reality is in danger of collapsing into One True World. What the UN doesn’t like about that, of course, is that it can’t control the reality: rather, the Eldritch-presence will (or does). In this respect it is wrong to locate the ideological critique in Three Stigmata only with a general critique of capitalism or even of imperialism; rather it is critical of univocal—that is, Realist—readings of the world.
The novel thus rejects both the (oddly aligned, in this case) capitalist and materialist readings of the world-as-one-Reality. But we can read more deeply into the technical definitions of anti-realism courtesy of Three Stigmata. I will take two propositions in particular, and then return to the global definition of Realism provided by Devitt. First of the anti-realist theses is the more general linguistic thesis provided by Putnam, that “truth consists in some sort of correspondence (between words and the objects they refer to in the world).” Now this is not the place to explicate the full-fledged Correspondence Theory of Truth, but only to note that what Eldritch, in his theological role, seems to provide is a specific way of arbitrating the relations between things and the ways we refer to them. More precisely, everything in the Chew-Z world—indeed, everything in the everyday world of the novel—refers to Eldritch; every person begins to bear marks of being Eldritch, first to the users of Chew-Z and then, generally, to everyone in the novel. This comparison does not get down to the technical level of a true correspondence between words and things, taken precisely, but it does notably prevent us from implementing any number of alternative theories. Were Eldritch’s scheme to succeed, a true correspondence would be established: not just established but licensed and maintained by Eldritch himself. Clearly Dick means for Eldritch to have characteristics of the Logos, the Word of God, and part of the effect of instituting such a figure into the world has the effect of radically altering the function of language with regard to the world—altering it, one might add, if we don’t already suppose that words function in that way.15
If we push further to the more technical discussion of language provided by Dummett and Wright, there is a similar operation in the novel. Dummett and Wright construe anti-realism as a linguistic thesis involving
the view that the notion of truth cannot intelligibly be evidentially unconstrained— or the view, at least, that once it is so unconstrained, it is no longer in terms of truth-conditions that the meanings of the statements in question can be interpreted. (Wright, “Realism, Antirealism, Irrealism, Quasi-Realism,” 27; emphasis in original.)
Of course the introduction of Eldritch into the metaphysical economy of the Three Stigmata world accomplishes precisely the eradication of this thesis, as the discussion between Leo and Eldritch quoted above shows. For the users of Can-D, what is evidentially unconstrained is just the status of the Can-D experience; there is inadequate empirical evidence—and presumably there can be no adequate evidence—about what happens to the users of Can-D, and Leo, the producer of Can-D, stands back from passing judgment on what happens. Crucially, he who is in the highest position of authority regarding the action of the drug has no opinion as to what it actually does; there is a systematic lack of evidence as to that fact. But Eldritch insists not only that Chew-Z provides evidence as to its own action. He even insists that he can establish the truth with regard to Can-D: “obviously it’s illusion because there is no Perky Pat and no Walt Essex and anyhow the structure of their fantasy environment is limited to the artifacts actually installed in the layout” (6:78). It is no mistake whatsoever that these views are associated with Eldritch. For all his deformation of fictional Reality, Eldritch is a card-carrying Metaphysical Realist, and that is precisely the thing which we as readers, like the characters of the novel, are supposed to most fear about him.
Michael Devitt’s formulation of Realism has proved especially useful in this argument so far: “common-sense physical entities objectively exist independently of the mental” (“Dummett’s Anti-Realism,” 76). Now we can apply pressure to that definition of Realism for a moment, specifically on the word “exist.” If we take “exist” to mean “absolutely exist,” or “really exist,” or to put the matter more bluntly, “exist in the noumena,” then the controversial status of Dummett’s and Wright’s claim becomes more clear, and it becomes less apparent to common sense that one should accept Realism. It might be just as common-sensical to say, with Dummett and Wright, that what we don’t know about we don’t know the truth-value of; and just what the metaphysical status of everyday objects is, is something we may very well not have evidence about. In Three Stigmata, it is clear that this position is allied with Can-D and Perky Pat Layouts, and that the UN in and with its support of Chew-Z and Eldritch, opts for a far more certain thesis, a much more Realist thesis, about the truth status of claims about the everyday world—or the non-everyday world—inhabited by both the colonists and the users of Chew-Z. Indeed, this may provide the linchpin for understanding the UN’s ambivalent attitude toward Can-D. Because while it helps to make possible the colonial enterprise, Can-D does nothing to affirm the Realistic, straightforwardly capitalist view of reality the UN wants to maintain (in its role as a Dickian representative of “Empire”); and it is through Eldritch’s access to Absolute Reality that such a conception of everyday objects can be enforced.
This reading helps a great deal in explaining the two major ending points of the novel, involving the novel’s two protagonists, Barney Mayerson and Leo Bulero. Barney ends up, after two disastrously disorienting Chew-Z trips (including one in which Palmer Eldritch switches places with him just as Eldritch is about to be killed by Leo Bulero), deciding to stay on Mars as a colonist:
‘You’ll never get off Mars,’ Leo said. ‘I’ll never wrangle a passage back to Terra for you. No matter what happens from here on out.’
‘I know it.’
‘But you don’t care. You’re going to spend the rest of your life taking that drug.’ Leo glared at him, baffled.
‘Never again,’ Barney said.
Barney said, ‘I’ll live here. As a colonist. I’ll work on my garden up top and whatever else they do. Build irrigation systems and like that.’ He felt tired and the nausea had not left him. ‘Sorry,’ he said. (12:175)
Later, Anne Hawthorne asks Barney if he won’t miss Earth, never being able to go back to it, and Barney responds:
‘Earth,’ Barney said, ‘I’ve had.’ He too had meant what he had said, his anticipations for his own life which lay ahead here on Mars.
If it was good enough for Palmer Eldritch it was good enough for him. Because Palmer Eldritch had lived many lives; there had been a vast, reliable wisdom contained within the substance of the man or creature, whatever it was. The fusion of himself with Eldritch during translation had left a mark on him, a brand for perpetuity: it was a form of absolute awareness. (12:176)
In the phrase “a form of absolute awareness” there is a meaningful distinction from the phrase “absolute reality,” precisely because if absolute awareness is absolute, then it should not have “forms”: it should be absolute. The language Barney uses to describe his decision to remain on Mars underscores this non-absolute knowledge. Barney declares that he’ll live “as a colonist,” doing “whatever they do,” but not whatever we do, not becoming wholly a member of the set he is joining. This is precisely because he maintains a tension between the awareness of the unavailability of absolute perceptions, and the knowledge that any of the social schemes he is offered to fully believe in partake in some way or other of a Realist metaphysics. Paradoxically, what Barney has received from Eldritch is absolute knowledge, but only in the sense of it being the only sort of metaphysical knowledge which is accessible to us, which is namely the knowledge of the contingency of absolute claims on the existence of any one (description of our) world.
This perspective is in fact underscored, and its political valence fully realized, in the fate of the novel’s other protagonist, Leo Bulero. Leo has seen, in a vision of the future which may or may not have been controlled by Eldritch, that he is to become a Terran hero in the future because he kills Eldritch, thereby freeing Earth to experience its own future destiny (even the extreme weather conditions on Earth may or may not be a consequence of the attempted ‘invasion’ by Eldritch). As the future Terrans show Leo, “centuries” later, a plaque still stands on Earth’s moon:
IN MEMORIAM. 2016 A.D. NEAR THIS SPOT THE ENEMY OF THE SOL SYSTEM PALMER ELDRITCH WAS SLAIN IN FAIR COMBAT WITH THE CHAMPION OF OUR NINE PLANETS, LEO BULERO OF TERRA. (6:91)
Again, it is odd that Leo, who is perhaps Earth’s leading capitalist and in a direct sense responsible for the imperialist enterprise of colonizing the other planets of the solar system (at least one of which, Mars, contains something like intelligent life), should nevertheless also be portrayed as a kind of unambiguous hero. Yet it is clear, both for the reasons I’ve given here and for “theological” reasons I have not gone into, that Eldritch is both a truly evil presence and a representative of distinctly destructive facets of our own culture transposed onto him. The critique of Eldritch is a critique of capitalism and of ideological manipulation; of the idea that there is one Truth which can, as it were by stipulation, be forced upon all who hear it. So Leo’s presence as hero in opposition to the figure of Eldritch is, as I’ve said, curious; within the critical structure of the novel he is not at all unambiguous or free from the general forces and ideas which seem to be put under critical scrutiny.
Indeed, this ambiguity is in part what makes Leo a suitable hero. It is precisely his position, which necessitates that he both understand the many ideological and, if you will, metaphysical worlds available to him, and nonetheless to make his own decisions—dialectical decisions, we might call them—in order to understand and to combat the troubling presence of Eldritch and of Eldritch’s represented positions about metaphysics and ideology. This reading accounts, I think, for the novel’s ending, which has been most often read as “ambiguous” and “precluding any final and definitive interpretation” (Fitting, “Reality as Ideological Construct,” 226); this is on the one hand true, but on the other hand it misses its own point. Here is the crucial passage, including the novel’s final words, in full:
I may not have lived as long as Eldritch in one sense [Leo thought], but in another sense I have; I’ve lived a hundred thousand years, that of my accelerated evolution [a process Leo and other characters undergo in the novel], and out of it I’ve become very wise; I got my money’s worth. Nothing could be clearer to me now. And down in the resorts of Antarctica I’ll join the others like myself; we’ll be a guild of Protectors. Saving the rest.
‘Hey Blau,’ he said, poking with his non-artificial elbow the semi-thing beside him. ‘I’m your descendant. Eldritch showed up from another space but I came from another time. Got it?’
‘Um,’ Felix Blau murmured.
‘Look at my double-dome, my big forehead; I’m a bubble-head, right? And this rind; it’s not just on top, it’s all over. So in my case the therapy really took. So don’t give up yet. Believe in me.’
‘Stick around for a while. There’ll be action. I may be looking out at you through a couple of Jensen luxvid artificial-type eyes but it’s still me inside here. Okay?’
‘Okay,’ Felix Blau said. ‘Anything you say, Leo.’
‘“Leo”? How come you keep calling me “Leo”?’
Sitting rigidly upright in his chair, supporting himself with both hands, Felix Blau regarded him imploringly. ‘Think, Leo. For Chrissakes think.’
‘Oh yeah.’ Sobered, he nodded; he felt chastened. ‘Sorry. It was just a temporary slip. I know what you’re referring to; I know what you’re afraid of. But it didn’t mean anything.’ He added, ‘I’ll keep thinking, like you say. I won’t forget again.’ He nodded solemnly, promising.
The ship rushed on, nearer and nearer Earth. (13:190-191)
In an important sense this passage is not at all ambiguous, and the lack of ambiguity is underscored by one of the most oddly undramatic sentences to end any of Dick’s novels. The one available dramatic reading, that the ambiguous transformation of Earth’s protector into an agent of Eldritch means that he, Leo, will be bringing the corrupting influence of Eldritch to Earth, is radically undercut by the knowledge that Eldritch can infiltrate Earth with or without Leo’s help—in fact Leo’s help was never something he counted on at all—and also by the repeated clairvoyant passages in the novel that leave us with a fair degree of certainty that Leo will, in fact, be able to kill Eldritch.
In fact, though, I don’t think that’s the most important aspect of novel’s final sentence at all. Rather its function, regardless of its intention, is to dramatize the process of awareness already underscored by Leo’s emphasis in this passage on his evolutionarily increased powers of cognition. And for us it is a happy coincidence that what Leo comes “nearer and nearer” to is Earth, or rather the World, let us say the One World, which is precisely that thing to which he shall never again assume he has access. Because the process of the novel has been a process both of destabilizing any assumption that such a world exists; at the same time it has emphasized the psychological necessity of groping after just such a world. This dialectical battle—the knowledge that what one strives after cannot be accessed—is seen as primary just precisely for Leo to carry out the politically positive, even revolutionary destiny for which he is destined in the novel’s future narrative. In order to carry out this destiny Leo must come to terms with the “new reality”—but, really, simply the breakdown of whatever he assumed was the old reality—and to continue to find and assert himself and his awareness in the new paradigm. In this sense he can come “nearer and nearer” to Earth, to the One World, but the precise knowledge he has to integrate is that he will never arrive there.
To go back to the most precise formulation of anti-realism on which my argument rests, namely that “anti-realism is simply oppositional to Realism,” we can see that Three Stigmata neatly functions so as to entertain just such an oppositional perspective. What is crucial for Leo, and in this sense for Barney as well, is to integrate into their systems of knowledge the metaphysical proposition that the Real world, however much they hanker after it, is something they can never assume access to; it is in principle beyond them and beyond whatever conceptual schemes they have access to. Human action, social action, need be carried out in a contingent, again dialectical, fashion which accepts the irreality of the world in which it takes place: and to insist on that world’s Reality would be precisely the mistake that would disable effective or meaningful action (or, one might add, language), and that would in fact be the mistake made by those who have in mind an enforced, top-down and total empire of what Dick calls “vicious lies.”
5. One part of cultural studies in which the problems of Realism have been most fully articulated is in recent feminist and queer (especially, lesbian) theory.16 Among the clearest explications of these problems is still Marilyn Frye’s “To See and Be Seen,” where Frye traces the connections between the historical notions of “real” and of “royal,” of the productions of the idea of “reality” with the wielding of (specifically, patriarchal) power:
One might say that a lesbian is one who, by virtue of her focus, her attention, her attachment, is disloyal to phallocentric reality. She is not committed to its maintenance and the maintenance of those who maintain it, and worse, her mode of disloyalty threatens its utter dissolution in the mere flick of the eye. This sounds extreme, of course, perhaps even hysterical. But listening carefully to the rhetoric of the fanatic fringe of the phallocentric loyalists, one hears that they do think that feminists, whom they fairly reasonably judge to be lesbians, have the power to bring down civilization, to dissolve the social order as we know it, to cause the demise of the species, by our mere existence. (Politics of Reality, 171)
Frye goes on to suggest that “what the loyalists fear...is a contagion of the maverick perception to the point where the agreement in perception that keeps Reality afloat begins to disintegrate.” I find the resemblance of this strongly feminist statement to the general condition of Dick’s fiction quite striking. The confluence of the two helps to make clear what is at stake in metaphysical thought per se for cultural studies. For while part of the problem with what Frye calls phallocentric reality lies in its being a product of patriarchy (as well as white Westerners, of members of the ruling classes, and so on), it is clear that another part of the problem with phallocentric reality is that it is a Realist reality. In this sense any of us who accepts the general utility of an anti-realist approach to cultural studies put ourselves in the position of the Frye’s lesbian subject. Those of us who have not done so as part of our “everyday reality” have much to learn from those who have lived in that subject position, who know Reality not as an objective and obvious given but rather as a contingent and oppressively-imposed metaphysics that is as compelling as resistance to it is necessary.
In this sense, precisely because of our need to navigate an “everyday reality,” we are not able simply to do away with Realism, as well as its accidental features, tout court. Perhaps it is this conundrum that inspires the narrator of VALIS to conclude:
I don’t know. I lack Kevin’s faith and Fat’s madness. But did I see consciously two quick messages fired off by VALIS in rapid succession, intended to strike us subliminally, one message really, telling us that the time had come? I don’t know what to think. Maybe I am not required to think anything, or to have faith, or to have madness; maybe all I need to do—all that is asked of me—is to wait. To wait and to stay awake. (VALIS, 14:211)
I see that staying awake, difficult though it may be, as much like the role played by Marilyn Frye’s lesbian, who disrupts the foregrounded reality and has no foregroundable reality with which to replace it. In Hilary Putnam’s terminology, and appropriately for the metaphorical strategy of VALIS, “there is a part of all of us...which wants to see the God’s-Eye View restored in all its splendor” (“Realism with a Human Face,” 18).17 We give in to that desire at our peril. Among the most important tasks of cultural studies, and of Philip K. Dick’s fiction, is to help us learn to resist it.
NOTES. I appreciate helpful comments on earlier versions (including some much earlier versions) of this essay from Marjorie Levinson, Jim English, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, two anonymous reviewers for SFS, and Suzanne Daly.
1. From Williams, Only Apparently Real; quoted in Dick, Collected Stories 5:15.
2. At the outset I should note that an opposing strand of cultural-theoretical work to the perspective I am describing is the “critical realism” associated with Roy Bhaskar. This essay may be taken as a sign of serious disagreement with Bhaskar’s approach, although I leave sustained discussion of its specifics for another forum.
3. See, especially, the writings of Michael Dummett and Crispin Wright. For Dummett see especially “Realism (1963),” “Realism (1982),” The Logical Basis of Metaphysics and The Seas of Language. For Wright see “Anti-Realism and Revisionism,” “Introduction” (as well as the whole of Realism, Meaning and Truth, especially “The Negative Programme,” 45-275), “Realism, Antirealism, Irrealism, Quasi-Realism,” and Truth and Objectivity.
4. Putnam’s fullest statements of his opposition to Metaphysical Realism can be found in “Realism and Reason,” Reason, Truth and History, “Why Reason Can’t Be Naturalized,” “Why There Isn’t a Ready-Made World,” “Models and Reality,” “Realism with a Human Face,” “The Craving for Objectivity” and Representation and Reality. It should be noted that, in all fairness, the critical stance I am attributing to Putnam here is no more than one of his many guises; his more recent work seems less enchanted with anti-realism (including his own brand of anti-realism, which he calls “internal realism”), and his earliest works (through the early 1970s) more or less embrace Metaphysical Realism.
5. The locus classicus of Putnam’s discussion of the problems in the correspondence theory of truth is his “Models and Reality”; arguments against and about the “God’s-Eye View” are found throughout the writings listed by him below, but see especially Reason, Truth and History, and “Realism with a Human Face”.
6. The somewhat blithe way in which areas of discourse such as mathematics or ethics are lumped together here is intentional; I remain acutely aware of their differences, and to the degree that these differences matter to the present discussion they are addressed in the latter parts of this essay. For Dummett’s views in full, see “Realism (1963),” “Realism (1982),” and The Logical Basis of Metaphysics.
7. This is not to suggest that we do not subject these aspects of common-sense to intense questioning, nor that we refrain from questioning the entire notion of “common sense” (as I am suggesting here), but only to say that, in practice, it is difficult to act in the world we have found without those principles. Using those principles while understanding their radical contingency is a cardinal feature of poststructuralist thought, as I discuss further down, and in my “Quine and Derrida on Meaning, Truth, and Philosophy” and “Derrida’s Politics: Affirming Deconstruction,” both forthcoming.
8. See, especially, Jameson, “Science Fiction as a Spatial Genre,” “Shifting Contexts” and Postmodernism; Freedman, “Science Fiction and Critical Theory,” the articles by Scott Durham and Peter Fitting discussed below; and Suvin, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction.
9. See, for example, Jameson, Postmodernism, Žižek, Sublime Object of Ideology, and Laclau and Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy.
10. Durham’s reference is to Darko Suvin, “Artifice as Refuge and World View: Introductory Reflections,” SFS 2:8-22, #5, March 1975.
11. Dick, quoted in Gregg Rickman, Philip K. Dick: In His Own Words (Long Beach, CA: Fragments West/Valentine Press, 1984), 138; cited in Mackey, Philip K. Dick, 28.
12. Cf. Foucault, Discipline and Punish and History of Sexuality I, among other works. Also see the provocative interpretation of Foucault’s work offered by Gilles Deleuze in his Foucault.
13. References to the novel in what follows are indicated parenthetically in the text by chapter and page number.
14. The Prox system itself is a fascinating trope which Dick uses repeatedly (see, for example “Precious Artifact”), often without depiction, for an alien presence, whose very name (in its twin senses of “proximity” and “proxy”) raises problems both about the role and the representation of alien civilizations in sf.
15. Here, again, the connection between the anti-realist perspective I am advocating and Derrida’s critiques of Western metaphysics should be readily apparent. Judith Butler’s “Contingent Foundations” and Jane Flax’s Disputed Subjects provide some hints at this connection as well.
16. See, for example, Butler, Gender Trouble and “Disorderly Woman”; Diamond, “Mimesis, Mimicry”; and Hart, “Blood, Piss, and Tears.”
17. For an interesting feminist perspective on the underlying purpose and valence of the vision metaphor, see Keller and Grontkowski, “The Mind’s Eye” which itself reflects interestingly off the first, historical, section of Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.
Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. NY and London: Routledge, 1990.
─────. “Disorderly Woman.” Transition 53:86-95, 1991.
─────. “Contingent Foundations: Feminism and the Question of ‘Postmodernism.’” Feminists Theorize the Political. Ed. Judith Butler and Joan W. Scott. NY and London: Routledge, 1992. 3-21.
Deleuze, Gilles. Foucault. Trans. Seán Hand. Minneapolis: U Minnesota P, 1988.
─────, and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: U Minnesota P, 1987.
Derrida, Jacques. Writing and Difference. Trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: U Chicago P, 1978.
─────. “Of an Apocalyptic Tone Recently Adopted in Philosophy.” Trans. John P. Leavey. Semeia 23:63-98, 1982.
─────. “No Apocalypse, Not Now (Full Speed Ahead, Seven Missiles, Seven Missives).” diacritics 14:20-32, Summer 1984.
─────. “Racism’s Last Word.” Trans. Peggy Kamuf. “Race,” Writing, and Difference. Ed. Henry Louis Gates Jr. Chicago: U Chicago P, 1986. 329-38.
Devitt, Michael. “Dummett’s Anti-Realism.” Journal of Philosophy 80:73-99 Feburary, 1983.
Diamond, Elin. “Mimesis, Mimicry, and the ‘True-Real.’” Acting Out: Feminist Performances. Ed. Lynda Hart and Peggy Phelan. Ann Arbor: U Michigan P, 1993. 363-82.
Dick, Philip K. “Precious Artifact” (1964). The Golden Man. By Dick. Ed. Mark Hurst. NY: Berkley, 1980. 270-86.
─────. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1964). NY: Manor Books, 1975.
─────. “The Electric Ant” (1969). Robots, Androids, and Mechanical Oddities: The Science Fiction of Philip K. Dick. Ed. Patricia S. Warrick and Martin H. Greenberg. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1984. 213-228.
─────. VALIS. NY: Bantam Books, 1981.
─────. In Pusuit of Valis: Selections from the Exegesis. Ed. Lawrence Sutin. Novato, CA & Lancaster, PA: Underwood-Miller, 1991.
─────. The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick, Volume 5: The Eye of the Sibyl. NY: Carol Publishing Group, 1992.
Dummett, Michael. “Realism” (1963). Truth and Other Enigmas. By Dummett. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1978. 145-165.
─────. “Realism” (1982). Synthese 52 (1982), 55-112. Also reprinted in The Seas of Language.
─────. The Logical Basis of Metaphysics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1991.
─────. The Seas of Language. Oxford and NY: Oxford UP, 1993.
Durham, Scott. “P. K. Dick: From the Death of the Subject to a Theology of Late Capitalism.” SFS 15:173-86, #45, July 1988.
Fitting, Peter. “Reality as Ideological Construct: A Reading of Five Novels by Philip K. Dick.” SFS 10:219-36, #30, July 1983.
Flax, Jane. Disputed Subjects: Essays on Psychoanalysis, Politics, and Philosophy. NY and London: Routledge, 1993.
Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction. NY: Vintage Books, 1978.
─────. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Trans. Alan Sheridan. NY: Vintage, 1979.
Freedman, Carl. “Science Fiction and Critical Theory.” SFS 14:180-200, #42 July 1987.
Frye, Marilyn. The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory. Trumansburg, NY: The Crossing Press, 1983.
Hart, Lynda. “Blood, Piss, and Tears: The Queer Real.” Textual Practice 9:55-66, Spring 1995.
Jameson, Fredric. “Science Fiction as a Spatial Genre: Generic Discontinuities and the Problem of Figuration in Vonda McIntyre’s The Exile Waiting.” SFS 14:44-59, #41, March 1987.
─────. “Shifting Contexts of Science-Fiction Theory.” SFS 14:241-47, #42, July 1987.
─────. Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1991.
Keller, Evelyn Fox, and Christine R. Grontkowski. “The Mind’s Eye.” Discovering Reality: Feminist Perspectives on Epistemology, Metaphysics, Methodology, and the Philosophy of Science. Ed. Sandra Harding and Merrill B. Hintikka. Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1983. 207-24.
Laclau, Ernesto, and Chantal Mouffe. Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics. London and NY: Verso, 1985.
Mackey, Douglas A. Philip K. Dick. Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers, 1988.
Norris, Christopher. “On Derrida’s ‘Apocalyptic Tone’: Textual Politics and the Principle of Reason.” Southern Review 19:13-30, March 1986.
─────. Derrida. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1987.
─────. “Limited Think: How Not to Read Derrida.” diacritics 20:17-36, Spring 1990.
Putnam, Hilary. “The Craving for Objectivity. New Literary History 15:229-39, Winter 1984.
─────. “A Defense of Internal Realism.” (1982). Realism with a Human Face, q.v., 30-42.
─────. “Models and Reality.” (1983). Realism and Reason, q.v. 1-25.
─────. “Realism and Reason.” (1976). Meaning and the Moral Sciences. By Putnam. Boston, MA: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978. 123-38.
─────. Realism and Reason: Philosophical Papers, Volume 3. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1983.
─────. “Realism with a Human Face.” (1987). Realism with a Human Face, q.v., 3-29.
─────. Realism with a Human Face. Ed. James Conant. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1990.
─────. Reason, Truth and History. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1981.
─────. Representation and Reality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1988.
─────. “Why Reason Can’t Be Naturalized.” (1981). Realism and Reason, q.v., 229-247.
─────. “Why There Isn’t a Ready-Made World.” (1981). Realism and Reason, q.v., 205-228.
Rorty, Richard. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1979.
Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Translator’s Preface.” Of Grammatology. By Jacques Derrida. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins UP, 1976. ix-lxxxvii.
─────. “Displacement and the Discourse of Woman.” Displacement: Derrida and After. Ed. Mark Krupnick. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1983. 169-195.
─────. “Love Me, Love My Ombre, Elle.” diacritics 14:19-36, Winter 1984.
Suvin, Darko. Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1979.
Williams, Paul. Only Apparently Real: The World of Philip K. Dick. NY: Arbor House, 1986.
Wright, Crispin. “Anti-Realism and Revisionism.” (1981). Realism, q.v., 433-57.
─────. “Introduction.” (1987). Realism, q.v., 1-43.
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