An earful of Dick

By Matt Perryman

That’s the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, who I heard on this old radio show called Hour 25.

That show used to play in California back in the 70s when that was a functioning state. What they did was interview science fiction and fantasy authors without the cornball small-talk. The host and the guests brought a high level of thinking that you don’t find often today.

PKD is the guy that wrote, among other things, the stories behind Blade Runner and Total Recall.

He had a ton of interesting things to say. One story that stuck out to me was about this wealthy man that he knew who had fried his brain on dope. He goes to this man’s house, this great big mansion, and there’s Spinoza on the shelf, all these works of philosophy and literature, the guy clearly used to be a sharp dude. Now he’s so out of his gourd that he can’t do anything but stand there and juggle.

It’s meant to be a cautionary tale, though if you know anything about PKD’s life and death, it’s sadly prescient.

But he spins off that story into a riff on writing science fiction. What PKD did, when he found an idea, he’d look for the winners and the losers. Back in those days, everybody thought that psychedelics were this mind-expanding drugs, but he knew all these guys that burned out their brains. Every new technology has winners and losers, so he’d find out who they were and that would create the conflict in his stories.

That right there is a deep insight that goes well beyond writing science fiction. Conflict is in the bones of existence.

Maybe you aren’t going through your day in a fake life of made-up memories implanted into your brain (that might be another year away), but conflict is everywhere.

How you face conflict, whether you react to it, or respond to it with maturity and resourcefulness, makes all the difference.

That’s a skill I train and practice in my own life.

I also help a small number of the right people work on this skill. You’ll have to be on my email list to learn about those opportunities, which you can do by clicking here.

Matt Perryman

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