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I Think I Am

Philip K. Dick

Laurence A. Rickels

Publication Year: 2010

For years, noted writer Laurence A. Rickels often found himself compared to novelist Philip K. Dick—though in fact Rickels had never read any of the science fiction writer’s work. When he finally read his first Philip K. Dick novel, while researching for his recent book The Devil Notebooks, it prompted a prolonged immersion in Dick’s writing as well as a recognition of Rickels’s own long-documented intellectual pursuits. The result of this engagement is I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick, a profound thought experiment that charts the wide relevance of the pulp sci-fi author and paranoid visionary.
I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick explores the science fiction author’s meditations on psychic reality and psychosis, Christian mysticism, Eastern religion, and modern spiritualism. Covering all of Dick’s science fiction, Rickels corrects the lack of scholarly interest in the legendary Californian author and, ultimately, makes a compelling case for the philosophical and psychoanalytic significance of Philip K. Dick’s popular and influential science fiction.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vii

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pp. 1-15

Philip K. Dick died in the spring quarter of my first (academic) year in California. For many years during my tenure at the University of California, students would claim to recognize Dick’s influence in my classes. They were each time surprised that I had never read any of his works. I should...

Part I

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pp. 17-27

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Endopsychic Allegories

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pp. 19-45

Following a discontinuous case of California, from here to Germany, it proves possible to fold P. K. Dick’s Valis trilogy inside a relay of texts—by Daniel Paul Schreber, Freud, and Walter Benjamin—which together promote in the details and among the effects of haunting a process of secularization...

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Schreber Guardian

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pp. 46-57

A year before The Matrix (1999) chose mysticism over science fiction Dark City (1998) hit the screen, running science fiction into the burial ground of lost worlds. Aliens have abducted a large number of humans to study under the lab and maze conditions of their life-or-death experiments. The...

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Belief System Surveillance

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pp. 58-75

According to Emmanuel Carrère, Dick’s 1977 novel A Scanner Darkly is, as the author’s bid for a sane or mainstream intermission from his psychotic states, his most deluded work. The nonfictional afterword in which Dick declares A Scanner Darkly to be his own work of remembrance could...

Part II

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pp. 77-87

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Deeper Problems

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pp. 79-84

Turning up the contrast in their reception with Freud’s view of delusion formation in psychosis as activity of recovery (or rescue) of the loss of world, Carl Jung and Ludwig Binswanger would diagnose a certain streamlining of Freud’s concept of projection in delusions as illustration of the living...

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Veil of Tears

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pp. 85-98

In the early 1960s P. K. Dick studied (and was terrified by)1 Ludwig Binswanger’s case study of Ellen West, whose delusional impasse—which took the close- range form in her own terms of “becoming fat” (Dickwerden)—inspired Binswanger to plot on his own terms her “tomb world”...

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Go West

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pp. 99-105

In the course of breaking down--by now she’s undergoing her second analysis--Ellen West registers a new (or now) beginning: “I am reading Faust again. Now I begin to understand it for the first time. I now begin” (Binswanger, “Der Fall Ellen West,” 92). Another one of Binswanger’s...

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Dick Manfred

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pp. 106-111

A Scanner Darkly borrows its skewer of dissociation from doubling in and as Faust I, quotations from which crowd the introduction of the splitting theme or condition. Dick’s other bookend of Faust reference is his novel Galactic Pot-Healer, which at one point in his Exegesis, the monumental...

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pp. 112-119

In Martian Time-Slip, research identified as Swiss, associated by name with Jung only, suggests an application or understanding of Binswanger’s Heideggerean notion of Zeitigung, which can be translated and misunderstood as “timing.” The hypothesis is that schizophrenia is essentially a...

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pp. 120-129

Subsequent masterpieces—notably The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and Ubik—would refine and reflect the combinations first tried out in Martian Time- Slip. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? falls by the wayside only to the extent that it focuses on Dick’s other big question—...

Part III

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pp. 131-141

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Spiritualism Analogy

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pp. 133-151

While Jung postulated a collective unconscious based on the archaic forms of association that archetypically recur or revert in schizophrenia and in dreams, he also admitted (for example in his 1958 publication “Schizophrenia”) that the schizophrenic complex cut itself off from understanding...

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Imitating the Dead

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pp. 152-158

In Dr. Bloodmoney the homunculus Bill (another ambulatory Faust II reference or property) saves the world from psychotic destructiveness or omnipotence that goes around and comes back around between the mad scientist, Dr. Bluthgeld, and Hoppy, the birth defective repairman who gets...

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Indexical Layer

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pp. 159-167

Deus Irae would be another work of fantasy, in which both genres (according to Tolkien), the Germanic and the Christian hero fantasies, would meet and cross over, only if fantasy as such could survive the introduction of mutation as the new missing link to a future of survival of the loss of the...

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pp. 168-182

Lara Jefferson dedicates her account of her madness, These Are My Sisters: A Journal from the Inside of Insanity, to her “Shakespearian Salvation.” Prior to Lara’s birth, all five siblings had died on her mother. Even as she succeeds in overturning her mother’s creation so that she can be...

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Hammers and Things

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pp. 183-189

Vulcan’s Hammer raises its title like a philosophical gesture, which, however, comes down, once, twice, sold out as gadget designation for what the computer Vulcan 3 starts manufacturing on its own. The last man on whom the computer was still dependent as reality-testing prosthesis began...

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pp. 190-199

The World Jones Made, which was written at the same time as the novella version of Vulcan’s Hammer, continues to contemplate the unattended aberration that is technophobicity, which arises when the group- psychologization of gadget love or life as preparedness is dismissed or reinterpreted in favor...

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Over There

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pp. 200-209

One man’s religious frame of reference is another man’s outer- space escape or rescue. The higher purpose of interstellar exploration that gave Jones the advantage in his move against Relativism figures as outside chance and hope for changes in the future worlds depicted in Solar Lottery and Our...

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pp. 210-220

The case of Ilse overlaps significantly with that of Suzanne Urban. Binswanger composed the case study of Suzanne Urban as, after the fact, the second bookend concluding reflections begun in the Ellen West study. Urban is paranoid schizophrenic. What makes her case so different from...

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Can’t Live, Can’t Live

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pp. 221-236

On Earth as it is in heaven or on Titan: In The Game Players of Titan, The Game, which was imported from Titan to Terra as the free gift that came with conquest, is nevertheless recognizable as Monopoly, though the stakes turn out to be as high in fact as one always imagined them to be...

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pp. 237-244

The momentum of Binswanger’s case study of Lola Voß, which follows the patient as she shifts from polymorphous schizophrenia into paranoid schizophrenia, goes against Freud’s revalorization of Schreber’s delusional system as moment of recovery. Binswanger proposes instead that what...

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Umwelt, Mitwelt, and Eigenwelt

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pp. 245-260

Richard Kongrosian, the identified psychotic in The Simulacra, starts out “an anankastic, a person for whom reality had shrunk to the dimension of compulsion; everything he did was forced on him—there was for him nothing voluntary, spontaneous or free. And, to make matters worse, he...

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Outer Race

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pp. 261-268

Dick dedicates the future to minority reports, both the recognizable votes or voices and the mutational links (which do not, like the outer space aliens in Star Trek, pay the token for the minorities we know—aren’t represented). This future of rebalancing acts is situated within the culture industry...

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The German Introject

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pp. 269-275

The Penultimate Truth and Lies, Inc.1 (formerly known as The Unteleported Man) form a kind of portal for working through the one history without parallel or alternative. In The Penultimate Truth, it’s all a fair, a show, in love of war: to cut losses on the human side, the Terran population...

Part IV

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pp. 277-287

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Materialism, Idealism, and Cybernetics

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pp. 279-284

As indicated in “Introjection,” Gotthard Günther is our spokesperson for the philosophical cathexis of the coordinates of science fiction, largely because John W. Campbell commissioned occasional interventions by him for popularist publication in the 1950s in the States. But we’ll begin with...

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Startling Stories

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pp. 285-291

Günther claimed that the gist of his philosophizing could be located in the gaps and overlaps between his American-language and German- language works. Exile in the American-language world with his Jewish wife was a career move that bordered on pop cultural success or access. While the...

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A Couple of Years

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pp. 292-307

Nick and the Glimmung takes off into the outer-space setting for its fantasy to get around a future law prohibiting pets on earth. Nick’s father has in fact been considering leaving Earth again and again “during the last two years” (9). The cause of their cat, Horace, puts a period to that two- year...

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Android Empathy

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pp. 308-321

When Deckard busts an android network he senses that he, as the Form Destroyer, is impinging on a microcosm of life. Thus he rises to the occasion as overseer and death driver while the androids are miniaturized, in a sense, inside their representation of world or life. Truth be told, Deckard...

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Homunculus and Robot

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pp. 322-333

In differentiating between the two creations and their respective scientific traditions in “Homunculus and Robot” (“Homonkulus und Roboter”), Gotthard Günther follows the history of technological no- way know-how not in terms of the new and improved—of immediacy—but through...

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pp. 334-347

In The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, adolescent or group psychology organizes the communion-like experience of fusion or translation that human colonists on Mars share when downing the drug Can-D and projecting themselves into the couple of dolls Perky Pat and her boyfriend...

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Go with the Flow

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pp. 348-358

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said is the scattershot estimation of the prospects for mourning when every interpersonal connection has been lost and your social context no longer recognizes you back. The protagonist Jason Taverner endures a loss of reciprocity that would resemble the psychotic...

Part V

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pp. 359-369

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Room for Thought

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pp. 361-366

Aby Warburg filed for release on his own consciousness to the surprise of Ludwig Binswanger, who, when he considered the patient’s disorder, was cureless. Like Heidegger, like Jung, Binswanger was a technophobe who saw delusions of reference to technologization as the chronic endpoint of...

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pp. 367-370

Dr. Futurity entitles the medical profession to raise the healing snake emblem above all other totems in an alternate future of mankind. The protagonist, Parsons, is a physician who time slips into the future where healing and surviving are outmoded personal effects readily sacrificed to the future life...

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pp. 371-373

Time travel serves as outer limit of long distance. In other words or worlds, it offers a model for the mode of transportation—beyond distance—that interstellar travel necessarily requires. Gotthard Günther contemplates in another science fiction spread of three installments the meaning of motion...

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pp. 374-380

Dr. Johann Heinrich Jung, who in later years added to his name Stilling, which he borrowed from an uncle, as indication that he was happy or, in any event, tranquil in the prospect of the next life, published Theory of the Doctrine of Ghosts (Theorie der Geisterkunde) in 1808. Goethe...

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A Wake

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pp. 381-391

Exiting Kreuzlingen (a slight toss of the word salad gives you Kreuzigung or “crucifixion”) Warburg had determined to abandon art history and set out on a new path marked by totemism, allegory, and the technological relation. The technophobicity of the Serpent Ritual presentation belonged...

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pp. 392-398

Among the dreams Adorno recorded for his unfinished dream book, there is one that turns up the contrast with the daytime recording of seemingly resolved and remembered transference proceedings. It’s a school dream about a school day. But the high school is now fifty years old and former...

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Let the Dead Be

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pp. 399-402

As Binswanger comes close to working through a phenomenology of the psychotherapeutic setting toward a social ontology based on Heidegger’s ontology—in 1945—he turns to von Uexküll’s animals. Mankind inhabits countless worlds while holding a world in common. But the psychotic,...

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Play Bally

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pp. 403-408

For the complex of readings that have become the environment of von Uexküll’s corpus it is the notion of the moment in a world of marking or noting that commands these pages as the very translation scene of their words or worlds of difference. Here we restore what Agamben in...

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Das Hund

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pp. 409-417

If it were not for Structuralism, we might have noticed already that Freud’s famous pronouncement that we do not find our love objects but only re-find them is at least as melancholic as it would be Oedipal (or symbolic). But ambivalence accepts this as law of desire. While the diagnostic handbooks...


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pp. 419-429


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pp. 431-440

About the Author

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pp. 441-450

E-ISBN-13: 9780816673643
E-ISBN-10: 0816673640
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816666669

Page Count: 432
Publication Year: 2010