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Could the Philip K. Dick story "The Days of Perky Pat" reveal our current situation?

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posted on Feb, 17 2016 @ 08:47 PM
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As I discussed here, Philip K. Dick claimed that some of his stories were true in reality. The following article has an examination of Dick's explanation of that:

I will submit these statements to help human learning - although these will be difficult to accept, I will try to explain, also give Evidence and Outcomes.

Enough with the extreme woo woo, what I'm going to discuss in this post is quite down-to-earth. I ran across a story of Dick's called "The Days of Perky Pat", here's a synopsis of the plot:


In this story, survivors of a global thermonuclear war live in isolated enclaves in California, surviving off what they can scrounge from the wastes and supplies delivered from Mars. The older generation spend their leisure time playing with the eponymous doll in an escapist role-playing game that recalls life before the apocalypse — a way of life that is being quickly forgotten. At the story's climax, a couple from one isolated outpost of humanity play a game against dwellers of another outpost (who play the game with a doll similar to Perky Pat dubbed "Connie Companion") in deadly earnest. The survivors' shared enthusiasm for the Perky Pat doll and the creation of her accessories from vital supplies is a sort of mass delusion that prevents meaningful re-building of the shattered society. In stark contrast, the children of the survivors show absolutely no interest in the delusion and have begun adapting to their new life.
en.wikipedia.org...


What is our "Perky Pat" game in modern life? I believe it's increasingly the Internet. Just as how the characters in the story above were more concerned with a simulacra of life as experienced through a game than they were about their real lives...

IMHO, we are increasingly more concerned with a simulacra of life as experienced through the Internet than we are about our real lives.

I'm not pointing fingers or being judgmental, I'm completely to blame for that as well. But, I feel humanity may be losing touch with reality because of our addictions to the Internet. If you read "The Days of Perky Pat" it's clear that the characters had lost touch with reality and they were increasingly sliding further in that direction all the time. Just as I believe humanity is.

I could go on to discuss what all of this could mean in terms of the future but I think most of it is so obvious that there's no point.

One thing I think we all can agree on...it is bleak.




posted on Feb, 17 2016 @ 09:42 PM
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a reply to: Profusion

I think the reason that Dick could so closely describe our current social decline is that he could see it's rudiments back then when he was writing. For one, he clearly could see the way advertising was stealing the human spirit and how, with advancing technology, it would become the ever present, ever accepted and loved means of social and economic control that is has reached today.

Much of his work was dystopic though maybe not as dark as that of Orwell and Huxley yet certainly as predictive of future social controls. Yet now that I think about it he may have been darker. Trends and influences that they had written about were much more pronounced by Dick's time and he picked up and filled in many of the blanks that they had only suggested at.

I think that our Perky Pat is anything on the screen.
And I wish I could disagree with you assessment of bleakness, but I can't.



posted on Feb, 17 2016 @ 10:29 PM
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originally posted by: TerryMcGuire
a reply to: Profusion

I think the reason that Dick could so closely describe our current social decline is that he could see it's rudiments back then when he was writing. For one, he clearly could see the way advertising was stealing the human spirit and how, with advancing technology, it would become the ever present, ever accepted and loved means of social and economic control that is has reached today.

Much of his work was dystopic though maybe not as dark as that of Orwell and Huxley yet certainly as predictive of future social controls. Yet now that I think about it he may have been darker. Trends and influences that they had written about were much more pronounced by Dick's time and he picked up and filled in many of the blanks that they had only suggested at.

I think that our Perky Pat is anything on the screen.
And I wish I could disagree with you assessment of bleakness, but I can't.


Like you say, all one had to do was lookg around. Ray Bradbury says he isn't trying to predict the future in his books, he's trying to prevent it! He recounts vividly a scene from his middle age in the late 1950's or early 1960's. He was walking with his dog, I think. I may have that detail wrong. He's enjoying the walk and up approaches a couple also on a late afternoon walk. They're not talking. The woman is holding to her ear a portable radio. Bradbury says there was a eerie silence as they passed. He reveals there were many other evidences at the time of people tuning out from reality, so this was just one. This was inspiration for his Fahrenheit 451 novel, as well as some of his other fiction. He believes our technology is isolating us and depriving us of a richer life experience.

Science fiction writers have long warned of it. Back before fears of computers and robots it was machines. It was conjectured we'd grow complacent and incapable as the machines serve our every need. The few brave souls would escape and save humanity from doom. Here's an example from 1909:
archive.ncsa.illinois.edu - THE MACHINE STOPS by E.M. Forster (1909)...

Is it an irrational fear of change, or something else? One thing on my mind lately is how stories are usually a vehicle to either fortify our confidence in virtue or to warn us of sinister ends. It's life affirming.
edit on 2/17/2016 by jonnywhite because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 17 2016 @ 11:09 PM
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originally posted by: TerryMcGuire
a reply to: Profusion

I think the reason that Dick could so closely describe our current social decline is that he could see it's rudiments back then when he was writing. For one, he clearly could see the way advertising was stealing the human spirit and how, with advancing technology, it would become the ever present, ever accepted and loved means of social and economic control that is has reached today.



originally posted by: jonnywhite
Science fiction writers have long warned of it. Back before fears of computers and robots it was machines. The fear we'd grow complacent and incapable as they serve our needs. Here's an example from 1909:
archive.ncsa.illinois.edu - THE MACHINE STOPS by E.M. Forster (1909)...

Is it a irrational fear of technology or change, or something else? One thing on my mind lately is how stories are usually a vehicle to either fortify our confidence in virtue or to warn us of sinister ends.


It seems to me that with both of the quotes above, neither poster is taking into consideration what Dick said about his stories.


I in my stories and novels sometimes write about counterfeit worlds. Semi-real worlds as well as deranged private worlds, inhabited often by just one person…. At no time did I have a theoretical or conscious explanation for my preoccupation with these pluriform pseudo-worlds, but now I think I understand. What I was sensing was the manifold of partially actualized realities lying tangent to what evidently is the most actualized one—the one that the majority of us, by consensus gentium, agree on.
Philip K. Dick Theorizes The Matrix in 1977, Declares That We Live in “A Computer-Programmed Reality”



www.youtube.com...

I would think that if someone wants to know why an author was writing about certain topics/themes and/or writing certain types of stories, the best place to learn about that would be from the author themselves. I realize it takes effort to check (and that's why I tried to make it as easy as possible in the original post). After all, in this case it's a crucial issue, it looks like all the posters in this thread agree on that.


originally posted by: jonnywhite
Is it a irrational fear of technology or change, or something else? One thing on my mind lately is how stories are usually a vehicle to either fortify our confidence in virtue or to warn us of sinister ends.


Since we're discussing the "Perky Pat" story, I don't think that comment fits at all in this discussion. The "Perky Pat" game in Dick's story used very primitive technology. "Perky Pat" was literally like a Barbie doll. The theme of the story, IMHO, is how people can loose touch with reality by being addicted/obsessed with games or anything that occupies their time. If Dick were trying to write a story about the dangers of technology, wouldn't he have actually used an advanced technology to make the point?

Also, I think your comment above makes it sound like what we're discussing is just a theoretical issue that may or may not be happening. Well, why don't we start with stories such as the following and go from there.

Tragic teen gamer dies after 'playing computer for 22 days in a row'

That type of story alone establishes that something like "Perky Pat" is going on. After researching those type of stories, we could look at social media and its effects on this issue, we could look at online chatting and its effects on this issue, etc. etc.

I didn't think I would have to prove that those things are really contributing to the "Perky Pat" kind of problem because to me it's just too obvious. I would have thought it's obvious to everyone.
edit on 17-2-2016 by Profusion because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 17 2016 @ 11:58 PM
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a reply to: jonnywhite

F 451. I read that as a teenager in the late sixties. What struck me deeply about that one was not so much the memorization of books at the end but something in the middle. It was the TV's. TV's that filled a whole wall of a living room. And here we are, almost. But even more than just the size it was the enraptured nature of the viewers and how they were sucked up in the plots of the dramas. And how the characters in a show would go about the plot and talking and stuff and at the right moment they would all turn to the camera as if they were looking at the viewer, and a personalized computer program would fill in the views name and invite them to join the conversation. The viewer would say a few words, while the characters continued to look at the camera and then finally go back to the action. All the
viewers felt like they were in the show. Creepy in 67 and creepy in 16



posted on Feb, 17 2016 @ 11:59 PM
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This makes me wonder whether Jean Baudrillard had read Dick when he conceived his Simulacra and Simulation. The notion that symbols and signs begin to supersede the reality upon which they were originally based, and in time, simply come to exist as signifiers of nothing (while merely pretending to imply meaning) sounds very analogous between that treatise and Dick's story.

And I have for a while felt that the internet is the most fertile ground for that transformation to take place in - indeed, I would say it already is, at least to some extent.

I've never understood it myself. I'm not on the internet to portray a persona or play a game. But it seems increasingly, many people are. And as the great communication tool of our age, that concerns me. Because it seems that it can happen unconsciously for many, and just become a new social norm in the future to be false and create an "e-presence" that takes precedence over the true self, as more and more commerce and indeed, even governance, is conducted via the internet.

Peace.
edit on 2/18/2016 by AceWombat04 because: Typo



posted on Feb, 18 2016 @ 12:50 AM
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PKD was one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. I used to think he was just a highly original, too smart paranoiac churning out hack fiction... and he was, but dang, he was so much more, too.

Really, most of his utterly bleak, existentially disturbing ideas came from deeply loving people, in general, while acknowledging the deeply horrible banality of human existence ... a flavor of pain that comes from watching beloved figures fall far short of their potential along with, most importantly, oneself.

His scenarios tend to create loveless, empty and, at their base, false hells on Earth... despite best intentions and weak forces of good pitted against stronger forces of falsity/delusion.

No wonder he resonated with Gnosticism.

But Perky Pat as internet? Not as I see it... Perky Pat was more a 'biz as usual and fashion concerns while Rome burns' morality play... (eta) and ..well, maybe I CAN see that connection, heh


edit on 2/18/2016 by Baddogma because: (no reason given)

edit on 2/18/2016 by Baddogma because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 18 2016 @ 01:30 AM
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I've always thought of perky Pat as analogous to reality TV and soap operas.

In the story and in The three stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, people live vicariously through their Pat layouts which is what they seem to do with things like the X Factor, Jeremy Kyle and all the similar soaps.

The net is far too challenging and actually forces one to become creative in lots of ways to fit in with Dick's vision.

That said, maybe things like second life are good analogues...



posted on Feb, 18 2016 @ 01:55 AM
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originally posted by: TerryMcGuire
a reply to: jonnywhite

F 451. I read that as a teenager in the late sixties. What struck me deeply about that one was not so much the memorization of books at the end but something in the middle. It was the TV's. TV's that filled a whole wall of a living room. And here we are, almost. But even more than just the size it was the enraptured nature of the viewers and how they were sucked up in the plots of the dramas. And how the characters in a show would go about the plot and talking and stuff and at the right moment they would all turn to the camera as if they were looking at the viewer, and a personalized computer program would fill in the views name and invite them to join the conversation. The viewer would say a few words, while the characters continued to look at the camera and then finally go back to the action. All the
viewers felt like they were in the show. Creepy in 67 and creepy in 16


I read Fahrenheit 451 when I was a kid. I resonated with it. One of the things which Bradbury seemed to warn of was mindlessness. So while when you read a book you're pulled into another world, the difference is it's rich and trying to teach you about human nature. The TV's, by contrast, suck the life out of you and reduce you to a vacant stare.

Is that true though? Are books any different? This in fact might be very related to the OP. The doll (or the virtual reality) absorbs the players. Books absorb readers. Stories--however good--aren't real.

All of this is the same to me though. The OP asks me why do I bring these other authors up? Becaues to me it's all very similar. The fear we will fall into some kind of sleep or delusion and be overwhelmed by inaction.

So whether it's shutting the TV off or not playing with the doll or shutting the machine's off or escaping self bondage or what have you, all similar. It's just all told differently, but it's of the same substance.

EDIT: Games are the same thing. Games are a kind of delusion or absorption--into a psuedo-world. The departure from reality means inaction. Inaction means nothing real is being achieved. Just like in Fahrenheit 451 when those people were staring at the screens and the bombs started to fall, inaction precipitated their own deaths.
edit on 2/18/2016 by jonnywhite because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 18 2016 @ 02:45 AM
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a reply to: Profusion
Thanks. I have to agree. I was wrong about my judgments about Philip. I assumed he wrote about his observations and misgivings.

I was also wrong about Bradbury. He saw the couple AFTER he wrote Fahrenheit 451. I can't say for sure whether he was inspired by things he saw before he wrote it. Maybe, maybe not. He did say he wrote to prevent the future, but maybe only said it to produce laughs.

But this is still a common theme. So I have to think they're getting it from somewhere. Maybe not observation, but intuition.
edit on 2/18/2016 by jonnywhite because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 18 2016 @ 03:31 AM
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a reply to: Profusion

Cool. PKD wasn't the only SF/fantasy writer to be covering these dystopic futures and who can blame them? These guys had grown up in a word where holocausts and total war were a living memory and nuclear armageddon was advertised, daily, on the TV in warning broadcasts. The populations of Soviet Russia, East Europe and the USA were all kept at a slow boil with propaganda telling them that enemies were in their midst.

I'm not disagreeing with you here, but wonder if his analogy was also aimed at our misplaced energies? I mean, here we are and we're spending millions in search of the 'next great product' instead of trying to roll back the world's environments to something healthier? As the characters were playing with their Patty doll, they could have used their energies more effectively, in the long run, by putting down childish things (a bit of Biblical for you there lol). We're spending our resources on easier lives when the oracles of all our societies are warning of troubled times ahead.



posted on Feb, 18 2016 @ 04:07 AM
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originally posted by: Profusion
What is our "Perky Pat" game in modern life? I believe it's increasingly the Internet. Just as how the characters in the story above were more concerned with a simulacra of life as experienced through a game than they were about their real lives...

IMHO, we are increasingly more concerned with a simulacra of life as experienced through the Internet than we are about our real lives.


I don't know about that.. I think it all depends on how you use the internet.

I think in one sense, it is one of the greatest times in human history that we live in, since we can find out about all these things we could not before. It is open for us to explore. The encyclopedia of the world..

---

That and you have to know how to balance your life.



posted on Feb, 18 2016 @ 04:54 AM
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I think the social satirists seems more like comedians in their own time, and wise men later on... Androids I think was a metaphor for humanity becoming less empathetic, but maybe thats just my interpretation.



posted on Feb, 18 2016 @ 01:00 PM
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a reply to: Profusion
Do you think this is in anyway at all related:
(Note the parallels to Philip's story. The man survived an apocalypse, just as the people in "The Days of Perk Pat" survived a thermonuclear war. And just like them, he finds his escape. It's not a doll.)

Books! Can books overtake our lives to unhealthy extremes, if we have enough books and enough time? I ask this because you're making a comparison between the doll(s) in "The Days of Perky Pat" and the internet. You're asserting both of them may absorb us so much we lose our hold on reality. They're delusions (or trances) capable of harming us, like drugs or hedonism or over-reliance on machines (or technology in general) or anything which divorces us from the reality in which we live and depend on for sustenance. Widespread and continued estrangement from our source of sustenance is like giving ourselves over to the Grim Reaper. Do you agree? Do I rightly summarize what you were arguing?
edit on 2/18/2016 by jonnywhite because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 18 2016 @ 01:13 PM
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Simulacra is the lie that we perpetuate to be reality. Everyone has a varying degree of simulacra, because all of us are enthralled in the game to some degree. Truth is liberation, simulacra is self-enslavement.

Relevant to this:


If you are interested in Phillip K. Dick, watch the movie waking life. The movie is relevant to his ideas on realism. Waking Life Full Movie



posted on Feb, 18 2016 @ 02:06 PM
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a reply to: Profusion

I think the Perky Pat of today, is the same as it is in the book, all forms of distraction.
now be kind, and chew this piece candy with me, and be happy.

i am a huge dickhead.
edit on 18-2-2016 by solve because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 18 2016 @ 09:32 PM
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originally posted by: jonnywhite
a reply to: Profusion
Do you think this is in anyway at all related:
(Note the parallels to Philip's story. The man survived an apocalypse, just as the people in "The Days of Perk Pat" survived a thermonuclear war. And just like them, he finds his escape. It's not a doll.)

Books! Can books overtake our lives to unhealthy extremes, if we have enough books and enough time? I ask this because you're making a comparison between the doll(s) in "The Days of Perky Pat" and the internet. You're asserting both of them may absorb us so much we lose our hold on reality. They're delusions (or trances) capable of harming us, like drugs or hedonism or over-reliance on machines (or technology in general) or anything which divorces us from the reality in which we live and depend on for sustenance. Widespread and continued estrangement from our source of sustenance is like giving ourselves over to the Grim Reaper. Do you agree? Do I rightly summarize what you were arguing?


My opinion about the message of "The Days of Perky Pat" is summarized by what I wrote earlier in this thread:

The theme of the story, IMHO, is how people can loose touch with reality by being addicted/obsessed with games or anything that occupies their time.

The following example may help explain one reason why I believe the Internet fits precisely what the "Perky Pat" game represents:

Let's say someone has a YouTube channel or a blog that's all about helping starving children in Africa. This person spends countless hours making their channel/blog successful. Maybe it gets so big that they make a living on it and become a full-time activist. That sounds great, right?

There's only one problem. If the channel/blog never actually leads to even one child in Africa receiving more food, what was the point of the channel/blog?

That's part of what I'm getting at. I've been guilty of this too, I'm not being judgmental. But, is the channel/blog I just described different at all from playing the "Perky Pat" game in Dick's story? I would say no.

Dedicating all that time and effort and putting it into something on the Internet did nothing for the cause you were supposedly trying to help.

Now, when you expand that type of thing to all of the activities like that that everyone these days seems to be involved with online, the "Perky Pat" metaphor is quite clear to me.

Now, I believe that the same metaphor can be used for all kinds of other things as well. As I've already stated, it could apply to anything that occupies one's time.

Spending all your time studying books without ever putting what you've learned into action is another perfect example IMHO.




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