Monday, 26 May 2014

Authors Note

The author in this case is not me, it's Philip K Dick. It was written about drug use & when I read this at 12 or 13 years old it had a profound impact on me. I'm not saying it mirrors what's going on, but I can't help but feel there are some similarities. Take from it what you will.


Author's Note

This has been a novel about some people who were punished entirely too much for what they did. They wanted to have a good time, but they were like children playing in the street; they could see one after another of them being killed -- run over, maimed, destroyed -- but they continued to play anyhow. We really all were very happy for a while, sitting around not toiling but just bullshitting and playing, but it was for such a terrible brief time, and then the punishment was beyond belief: even when we could see it, we could not believe it. For example, while I was writing this I learned that the person on whom the character Jerry Fabin is based killed himself. My friend on whom I based the character Ernie Luckman died before I began the novel. For a while I myself was one of these children playing in the street; I was, like the rest of them, trying to play instead of being grown up, and I was punished. I am on the list below, which is a list of those to whom this novel is dedicated, and what became of each.

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. When a bunch of people begin to do it, it is a social error, a life-style. In this particular life-style the motto is "Be happy now because tomorrow you are dying," but the dying begins almost at once, and the happiness is a memory. It is, then, only a speeding up, an intensifying, of the ordinary human existence. It is not different from your life-style, it is only faster. It all takes place in days or weeks or months instead of years. "Take the cash and let the credit go," as Villon said in 1460. But that is a mistake if the cash is a penny and the credit a whole lifetime.

There is no moral in this novel; it is not bourgeois; it does not say they were wrong to play when they should have toiled; it just tells what the consequences were. In Greek drama they were beginning, as a society, to discover science, which means causal law. Here in this novel there is Nemesis: not fate, because anyone of us could have chosen to stop playing in the street, but, as I narrate from the deepest part of my life and heart, a dreadful Nemesis for those who kept on playing. I myself, I am not a character in this novel; I am the novel. So, though, was our entire nation at this time. This novel is about more people than I knew personally. Some we all read about in the newspapers. It was, this sitting around with our buddies and bullshitting while making tape recordings, the bad decision of the decade, the sixties, both in and out of the establishment. And nature cracked down on us. We were forced to stop by things dreadful.

If there was any "sin," it was that these people wanted to keep on having a good time forever, and were punished for that, but, as I say, I feel that, if so, the punishment was far too great, and I prefer to think of it only in a Greek or morally neutral way, as mere science, as deterministic impartial cause-and-effect. I loved them all.

Here is the list, to whom I dedicate my love:

To Gaylene - deceased
To Ray - deceased
To Francy - permanent psychosis
To Kathy - permanent brain damage
To Jim - deceased
To Val - massive permanent brain damage
To Nancy - permanent psychosis
To Joanne - permanent brain damage
To Maren - deceased
To Nick - deceased
To Terry - deceased
To Dennis - deceased
To Phil - permanent pancreatic damage
To Sue - permanent vascular damage
To Jerri - permanent psychosis and vascular
...and so forth.

In Memoriam.

These were comrades whom I had; there are no better. They remain in my mind, and the enemy will never be forgiven. The "enemy" was their mistake in playing. Let them all play again, in some other way, and let them be happy.


  1. Something of an overstatement, I would say.

    I was heavily involved in the drug culture of the 60s and 70s; I was wedded to morphine and heroin for a decade, a good friend was one of the major purveyors of LSD in London in the late 60s, and supplied me, gratis, with an endless supply; in the 80s I hoovered up industrial quantities of cocaine, and in-between I managed to consume large quantities of just about every other psychotropic substance known to man. And of course, (smoking) dope was a constant throughout. And most of my friends were ploughing a similar furrow, if not as extreme as my own. And yes, there were a few casualties along the way, some of them tragic. But the majority survived and went on to other things, as I did.

    I think I've lost as many, if not more, friends / acquaintances to traffic accidents as I have to drugs.

    I'm not suggesting that it's a recommended career choice, I'm just saying that one needs to keep things in perspective.

  2. I agree with what you are saying, it's not a direct correlation whatsoever, but I think there are relevant points in it for sure. I woke this morning thinking of this and so sought out the text. Perhaps I am more attached to the note as it's probably my favourite book. That aside, I do think the 'not victims, don't treat us as such' is relevant.

  3. I am one of those who does believe addiction is a disease, but here is the thing: if you have a disease, you are the one responsible to see it gets treated. If you have diabetes, you are responsible for making dietary choices that do not trigger drastic changes in your insulin levels, and for taking medication if necessary. If you have severe food allergies, you have a responsibility to avoid certain foods, ask questions in restaurants, inform your hosts at parties, and carry an Epi-pen. If you are nearsighted or farsighted, you get glasses. The fact that you have a health condition doesn't make you a pathetic victim, but it does mean you have to take action to compensate and reduce the impact that condition has on your life.

    Some people seem to be able to use drugs without terrible consequences. They become intoxicated and probably do silly things while under the influence, but they manage to avoid the traffic fatalities, domestic violence, brain damage, death from overdose, bankruptcy, and other horrors that other people experience. For those people, there's no particular reason to stop using.

    But once there are consequences, for you or others, it's time to stop playing in traffic.

  4. Differently abled toilet.