Sunday, 7 September 2014

Turns out I do like Dick

This surprises me.

Blade Runner is one of my favourite films. Its sleek, dark beauty, sticky, bleakness appeals to me for many reasons. And it has Harrison Ford in it. And a fit Rutger Hauer. Tears in rain... Ahhhhhhhh.

I tried to read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? sometime in the mid 80s. I would have been around 12. Due to a general ambivalence towards science fiction (apart from Douglas Adams for some reason, but that could be because he's the least 'sci fi' sci fi writer ever), and an instinctive aversion to the way Dick constructs sentences - long, misplaced commas, seemingly impenetrable (to a 12 year old). I put it down pretty much straight away. I didn't get the sheep thing and I didn't get the whole vibe.

It's taken me 26 years to pick Dick up again.

Over the years I've had a bash at Gibson, a small sniff around Dune and always retreated from the worlds they created. I just don't feel it, man.

During the last 12 months I've struggled to read at all. It's a symptom of my depression and anxiety. My mind is unable to concentrate for long enough, its thoughts are skittering around wildly like weird little robots and trying to tame them without using TV, music or some kind of outward stimuli has proved difficult.

Reading is one of the reasons I'm happy to be alive and to feel unable to do it is close on heartbreaking. Recently I've found myself wondering whether I can ever, in all good conscience, call myself a 'reader' ever again. Although I have discovered some major ace books over the last few months, they've been few and far between.

Today, I picked up Dick and I can feel my synapses zapping again. Without reading, without stimulating input, I don't feel like I'm alive. I think it makes it harder to write (I don't mean blogging and work stuff, I mean actually writing - writing words that make me feel something). Without inspiration, I am no artist, it turns out. And I need to absorb other words to make me feel like I have something worth saying.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? did The Thing that my favourite writing does. It makes my heart beat faster. It makes me get a surge of adrenaline. Here's someone who can put words in the exact order for my brain. Fucking YES. Obviously, the film is in my mind - who else could Deckard be other than Ford? And Sean Young is fixed in there as Rachel. Isodore breaks my heart, Deckard's internal monologue is so much greater than the film allows for. The story is deeper, richer, better, stronger.

I do love the film, and I always will, but I also think that already the book is far superior.

I haven't finished it yet, because I made myself stop reading. It's been so long since that's happened to me, like my brain has had a refreshing bath. It's now spinning with questions, ideas, analyses, speculations. Who knew that Dick could be so edifying?

"Despair like that, about total reality, is self-perpetuating."


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