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tom moody

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I was shocked--shocked--to learn of science fiction author Philip K. Dick's "treachery" toward his Marxist lit-crit champions, back in the '70s. According to an indignant article by Jett Heer in Lingua Franca, Dick received these people into his home, benefited from their insights into his work, and then ratted them out to the FBI! In a series of letters to the Bureau, Dick complained that critics Fredric Jameson, Peter Fitting, Richard Pinhas, and others were pressuring him to put Commie messages in his stories. The quoted letters are frankly hilarious, and as far as we know, led to no files being opened on these individuals. The article gives a few reasons why Dick might be paranoid (apparently the FBI tried to recruit him to spy on students in the '50s) but minimizes the fact that the letters were written during the most unsettled and drug-damaged period of his life. What's disturbing about the article is not Dick's "disloyalty" (he never asked the academics for their Marxist spin, or swore an oath to the Left)--it's the fickleness of the critics he supposedly "betrayed." After legitimizing his work with weighty-sounding observations about his "conception of reality[,] which mystifies the actual reality of the capitalist mode of production and the resultant repression and alienation," and so forth, a couple of them are now retracting their praise, on the grounds that he's not ideologically pure. Only fellow science fiction novelist Thomas Disch, who has written brilliantly about Dick (and was himself the subject of Dick's FBI correspondence), has the generosity to shrug off the episode, putting it in the proper context.

- Tom Moody 4-28-2001 8:35 pm [link] [1 comment]