Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kripal vs. "PKD as postmodernist" critics

Dick is often read by literary scholars as a "postmodern" writer. Postmodernism is a complex of concepts that asserts that all our constructs are just that, constructs; that there are no grand narratives or abiding truths; that all such grand narratives are illegitimate power moves; and that every perspective is necessarily a limited and local one. Here Dick realizes that such a way of thinking, which he himself has championed in dozens of novels, is a half-truth, in the sense that its claims rely on a non-duped subjectivity and a privilege claim, which, ironically, is itself a grand narrative or abiding truth. Dick, then, was finally no postmodern thinker, not at least in the sense in which that label is commonly understood. In his own mind, at least, his body of work constituted both a demonstration that the sensory and social world is an illusory simulation and a revelation of another order of mind and being from outside this maze of cognitive and cultural tricks. As Dick puts it later on in the Exegesis: "Valis proves there is an outside." J.J. Kripal in a note on p.341 of the Exegesis

"There is nothing outside the text." -one possible translation of Derrida's notorious remark

“this is the kind of stuff that gives bullshit a bad name.” John Searle on Derrida

"What do you know about me, given that I believe in secrecy? ... If I stick where I am, if I don't travel around, like anyone else I make my inner journeys that I can only measure by my emotions, and express very obliquely and circuitously in what I write. ... Arguments from one's own privileged experience are bad and reactionary arguments." -Gilles Deleuze

"Talking about things that are understandable only weighs down the mind"
Alfred Jarry

"When philosophers argue about truth, they are arguing about how not to inflate the truth about truth into the Truth about Truth, some absolutistic doctrine that makes indefensible demands on our systems of thought."
-Daniel Dennett, Postmodernism and Truth

"I refute it thus." Samuel Johnson vs. radical skepticism, kicking a stone


  1. I'm assuming, hopefully, that the explanation/definition you've given for "postmodernism" would apply to postmodernism itself, would it not??? It would not be immune from being a necessarily limited and local perspective???

    1. Yes, It's contradictory and illogical, just like all of post-modernism. The entire reason it's been shoved down our throats is to de-legitimize objective exploitation. It's an ideology of, by, and for elitists, who prefer to excuse their own egoism. Also lets dig deeper on the implications of post-modernism, accepting two contradictory statements as if they were both true? That is the foundations of totalitarianism, it's called doublethink, and from a post-modernist framework it's irrefutable. Don’t trust anyone who speaks in contradictions.

  2. On second thought, it probably should be noted that the Derrida "notorious remark" you reference, once got an equally famous retort from John Searle, Slusser Professor of Philosophy at Univ. of California - Berkeley, who said: “this is the kind of stuff that gives bullshit a bad name.” I found it noted in Keith DeRose's (Allison Foundation Professor of Philosophy, Yale)wide ranging and quite informative essay, "Characterizing A Fogbank" (10/23/05), available on the Internet, and at his website.

  3. Actually, to make it easier for those open-minded followers of whether or not postmodernism will survive Philip K. Dick, Professor DeRose's essay, "Characterizing A Fogbank," call be found here:

  4. Thanks Frank for the comments as always. I'm with Searle on the Derrida stuff (his paper "Literary Theory and its Discontents" changed my life), but it seems like his propositional content is on the way out. See for example the research of my freshman teacher, Robert Cummins.

  5. p.s. a search of the Exegesis does not turn up any results for "postmodern" ... Dick doesn't seem to have had any use for the term.