Well…all right. As usual I am writing this the night before it is due, with no real idea as to what I really want to say. All I know is that I couldn’t decide which piece with which I wanted to study ‘critcally.’ Whatever that means.
Finally in the last moments it came to me. Or rather it appeared on my screen through the intra-blarg. I really prefer to write as I speak, in case that hasn’t become clear, but you are all bright eyed and sharp as tacks, so I am sure you saw through my pretentious throw-away comments.
So considering that I like to keep my funky fresh flows as informal as possible, and we are writing for a blog, and Dick’s speech is very anecdotal I figured I would engage with a few of his ideas. He certainly puts forth more than a few novel concepts in this piece, and I could probably spend countless hours trying to dissect his ‘drug-addled ramblings’ as Hung Te called them. Also, we briefly touched on this in class, so please forgive any rote repetition for those not present. Very early in the speech, he says this:
“The old, the ossified, must always give way to new life and the birth of new things. Before the new things can be born the old must perish…What I am saying is that objects, customs, habits, and ways of life must perish so that the authentic human being can live”
So what Dick seems to be saying is that traditions–which normally are the foundation of any culture–must be exorcised to make way for new practices. This implies that the new things take nothing from their ancestors, and old things die out withour propagating. But without old practices upon which to base new evolutions where is this progress coming from?
Alas, later in his speech, Dick invokes one of the oldest institutions–the Church–in order to legitimize his bid for the supernatural. He claims to have channeled the essence of the Holy Spirit in order to have predicted the events that happened to him later in life. I find it hard to reconcile that a man of such fantastic imagination would also believe that God’s thoughts and God’s plan were the ultimate causation for all things.
Again, I apologize for the repetition, but I need to set the stage for my next two Dick-inspired (hahahahaha…get those dick laughs out now) anecdotal jumps. In the first part, I was raised Catholic. I went to private school all my life, and while that is not all that special, I went to an all-male Catholic prep school. Yep. Pressed shirt, tie, blazer with a crest, pleated slacks…the whole shebang-a-bang. Picture that for a moment if you will. I would link pictures, but I might die of embarassment.
So! In short, I was taught by a selection of religious brothers over the years and intelligent design was the rule. Basically, God planned every step of the way, from evolving from apes to waking up this morning with clutches of yesterday still clinging to you. Yep, that was all God, the Holy Ghost (which is a fucking terrifying concept when you are 8), and J.C.
But the best way to get someone to reject a religion is force them to practice it for 12 years. Yeah, I was an altar server, and I am convinced my parents will one day try and blackmail me with the pictures. So it would be safe to say that I have effectively rejected most of the dogmas of Catholicism. I mean, it’s pretty tough to toss out the things like don’t kill, don’t steal. Those are tenets of basically any religion or code of conduct. Everyone should live like that, right?
So when I see Dick riposte by saying–in so many words–that intelligent design is kosher as Christmas and he writes by chanelling the Holy Ghost, the alarm bells start going off. Later in the address, Dick says this, “my two preoccupations in my writing are “What is reality?” and “What is the authentic human?” So then I started thinking about this part of his argument in terms of Clarke’s City and the Stars.
Diaspar is a city that ultimately turns in upon itself, relying on traditions to maintaint itself. But what kind of existence doe sit have? It’s a paltry half-life. They sit in stasis. There is no variety, no adventure, nothing new. All it takes is one free-thinking man to break the cycle though. These ossified traditions do need to be excised so that new ones may develop. They have led an ingenuine humanity to a place where there is no such thing as progress and truly in order to go forward we must go backwards.
End of line.