Believe in Me or I’ll Kill You


 Out
there:

Science
Fiction Practice and Theory

earl jackson, jr

another
scene
 

 

A Conversation
on Belief, Reality,
and Dick
.

Roberto
Freeman
andEarl
Jackson, Jr
.
 

Out there:

Science Fiction
Practice and Theory

earl jackson, jr

another
scene

Out
there:

Science
Fiction Practice and Theory

earl jackson, jr

another
scene

 

The main conversation begins
at http://www.anotherscene.com/outthere/roberto.htm.
On this page, Earl is focusing on particular points in Roberto’s discussion.
Those points are given here in
white
type, and Earl’s responses are in
aquamarine.

Roberto:kinda
the same way believing in god allows many people access to a reality they
can believe in.


 

 


Earl: This
is a solipsism – or circular reasoning. Belief in something gives you access
to the thing you believe in. That’s the circularity
there. But you raise a much interesting question, and one that’s so pertinent
to
the
work of Philip K. Dick
, I thought I’d bore you to death for a few moments
about it. This is only to stimulate discussion among everyone – not to
whack you on the head with the
Answer
.

I’m not interested in Answers.
Rather, I’m interested in questions and conversations.


 

Belief
in god
, does, as you write, give that person access to whatever fantasy
that particular belief energizes. But note beyond the comfort of circular
reasoning
, this doesn’t tell us much. This pseudo-logical loop parallels
– semantically and syntactically – the psychological condition of said
believer. The believer grants him- or herself
access to a private theatre
, an enclosed, perhaps self-induced hallucinatory
system. That is not a reality; rather, it is a form of withdrawal from,
or defense against, „reality“.


You write: „Belief
in god
is the necessary lie
“ – Here’s
a question that is neither
rhetorical
or a trick question – unless it’s a trick question in the
sense that all questions are trick questions. But I promise I don’t mean
it rhetorically (think upaya).
Ok – here’s the question:


Give me two situations of a „necessary
lie“ and explain fully why the lie was „necessary,“ when it became necessary,
and when (and if) it ceased to be necessary. And during the period of its
„necessity,“ for whom was the lie necessary? And note the ambiguities of
the „direction““/reference/modality_of_the_preposition_/index.html“for“ in this sentence.
If a lie is necessary it means someone or persons knows it is a lie and
some one or persons do not. When the lie is necessary does it mean to serve
the purposes of those who know it
to be a lie
, or those who don’t? Are there times when entire groups
have to decide consciously to believe a lie? And how is this accomplished?
What is the difference between a lie and a fiction? And if the
upaya
doesn’t give you an avenue here, try Dick’s novel, The
Penultimate Truth
. Or what about Freud’s „Constructions in Analysis“?
Or, his reconstruction of the Wolfman’s generative trauma? Or even better
yet (and more relevant to the class, what about Delany’s
modular calculus
(Hi, Eric!).
Please answer all the questions correctly and exhaustively (ok this sentence,
including its parentheses is
a joke
but the rest is serious, as serious as any utterance from creatures
who know they will perish one day and everything they’ve hoped accomplished
loved etc will be nothing). I should say too,
that I think it is important in general, and in your discussions of Dick
in particular, to distinguish among the following:


 

  • the material world
  • the Real
  • „reality.“

By „material world“ I mean the
space we walk around in, the buildings that we will walk into – successfully
if we open the door prior to entry, unsuccessffully if we do not (or if
our contact with the building surface is at a point other than
an
entry space
.). That material world does not require our belief in it.

 The „Real“ is essentially
the same thing, but whenever I capitalize it, I am giving it the (I find,
very useful) Lacanian
spin on it – namely the whole magilla – the „total“ material world/situation
independent of our understanding of it – in other world whatever there
is, independent
of the mediations
between it and our cognitive
systems
, our
psychological associations
with it, the various modes of knowledge
imposed on it, the ideological interpretations of the Real as
internalized by
„citizens,“
etc etc. We have direct experience of the „Real“ but our cognitive knowledge
of it is always already mediated. This statement is extremely useful as
long as we recognize it as a very plain statement, extremely modest in
its claims, and one which in no way supports either a metaphysics
of Absolute
Reality
beyond appearances or the various forms of pessimism implicit
in such metaphysical
dualisms
.

„Reality“ is a variable
construct
(always inherently ideological
but not necessarily „evil“), but never an „anything
goes
“ licence. Look at Philip
K. Dick’s
texts. Even there the peculiar realities that achieve the
classification „reality“ are never fully
private
. „Reality“ is, in his terms, „a consensual
hallucination
,“ but NOT an individual one – not the drug induced hallucinations
of Perky Pat in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

See also: „The
Faith of Fathers
“ (probably the most perfectly crafted story Dick ever
wrote); The Unteleported Man; and Now Wait Until Last Year.
Individual hallucinations in Dick’s work entail aberrant and menacing solipsisms
such as Jory’s in Ubik, or inadvertently the policeman’s sister
in Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, or ‚liar’s
paradox
‚ type epistemological puzzles (that also convey the intimations
of a potentially
intolerable anguish
) such as „The Electric Ant.“

A graduate student in philosophy once
wrote Philip
K. Dick
, asking him what his definition
of reality
was. He wrote back to her: „Reality
is what hangs around after you’ve stopped believing in it.“


Roberto:But
the literature nerd in me wants to believe.

Earl: Acknowledge and cherish
that desire
to believe, knowing it to be:

  • (a) hopefully, impossible
  • (b) dangerous to succumb to
  • (c) on its way out.

Literature should neither
induce
nor reinforce beliefs – it should harm them. Science Fiction,
not being literature, even more
so.


 

 



Imaginary
Conversation- 

A: It’s reality,
you gotta believe me.

B:If it’s reality,
I don’t have
to believe you
.


 

Return
to
the conversation in progress

Out
there:

Science
Fiction Practice and Theory

earl jackson, jr

another
scene

Another
Conversation:


Robert
Glück

A Conversation with
Tim Gilman
on the relevance of Freud.

Conversations
from the First Hysteria
and Paranoia
Seminar.

Conversations with
Paul
Bauman
resumed. And resumed.

Conversation with
Vera on the object
of desire
.

The
Elenchus Intervention


Part
One
   and   Part
Two
.