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Don Wollheim Was Right: Philip K. Dick's: The Unteleported Man (AKA Lies, Inc.)
Philip K. Dick originally wrote The Unteleported Man (his title) as a 40,000 word novella for magazine publication, around '63-'64. It's a fairly tightly written, straightforward science fiction story about an Earth colony world that turns out to be a bleak garrison state rather than the pleasant place to immigrate advertised on TV (Dick claims he wrote it to go with a piece of cover art the publisher had acquired). It's not his best work, but has a good paranoid premise and features his classic "little guy" character with entrepreneurial dreams, who is dead broke and harassed by "creditor balloons." The morals are (a) governments should always monitor corporate activities (they might disguise a coup d'etat) and (b) the "good German" still exists after Nazism (which needed to be said forty years ago, one supposes). Ace Books asked Dick to expand the story, so in 1965 he wrote about seven chapters of hallucinogenic, parallel worlds nonsense ranging from brilliant to self-indulgent. Ace editor Donald Wollheim rightly rejected this material: unlike other Dick novels that contain dreamlike passages (Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Martian Time Slip), these chapters couldn't be artfully integrated into the existing nuts and bolts story, logically or dream-logically.1 The rejection nevertheless angered Dick, and after Ace went out of business, he planned to combine the original novel with the extra chapters. He hadn't completed the necessary rewrites before his death, however. Since then, publishers have released three flawed versions of the book, in a combination, I would say, of misplaced Dick-worship and the desire to cash in on every nugget of his work since he has become "hot property" in Hollywood.
There are essentially four published versions of this novel:
(1) The original 40,000 word novella, released by Ace Books as a "double" in 1966 and 1972. The title is The Unteleported Man ("TUM").
(2) A posthumous 1983 edition published by Berkley, with the "expansion chapters" originally rejected by Ace. Also titled TUM. The Berkley editor somewhat arbitrarily stuck this material (with three manuscript pages missing) at the end of the original novella, even though Dick had been working on a revised chapter order at the time of his death.
(3) A 1984 British edition titled Lies, Inc. ("LI"). This was Dick's uncompleted 1979 rework (not used by the Berkley editor for the 1983 edition), still with missing pages (only two now because he had shortened the expansion material). Science fiction writer John Sladek was hired to write connective material to fill the gaps.
(4) The 2004 edition of LI, including the expansion material and Dick's 1979 rewrites, but with the original missing pages restored after they turned up in the papers of the estate in 1985.
Most of this is explained in ex-executor Paul Williams' afterward to the 2004 edition. Aaron Barlow's online thesis chapter exhaustively outlines the differences between the 1983 TUM and the 1984 LI. Both Williams and Barlow are ardent fans and never seem to question whether it was proper to release or even consider the "expanded" novella as a finished work. While it's true the missing pages have been restored, they were unavailable to Dick when he did his 1979 revamp. Moreover, he never ultimately approved "Lies, Inc." before he died. In '79 he decided to insert the expansion material about 2/3 of the way through (completely destroying the flow of the original novella), wrote a new first chapter (not as good), and did some chopping and rewriting, but he never finished the project. Ultimately what the publishers are calling LI is a flawed or failed bit of posthumous writing: the reading public would be better served to have the original novella re-released and the expansion material and rewrites included in appendices, like DVD extras.
1. In the 1983 TUM, Rachmael is shot with an "LSD-tipped dart" after he goes through the teleporter to the garrison world to rescue Freya, and the resulting hallucinatory description is excellent, but the rest of the expansion material is meandering and meaningless, plot-wise (although there is much thoughtful and clever writing). In both editions of LI, Rachmael goes through the teleporter several chapters earlier, at a point when he is supposedly in a starship on his way to Fomalhaut. The feeble parallel world foreshadowing in the added first chapter just isn't enough explanation to justify this glaring non-sequitur. Only the most loyal fan will try to defend the hallucinatory chapters as somehow proceeding from--or subverting--the core novel.
|To the left is Time Out NY's "Infinite Fill Show" review; on the whole it's better than the NY Times'. Below is the accompanying photo. My notes on the review:
At least this writer got Jamie Arcangel's sex right, but it's Foxy Production, singular.
"[F]ew of the artworks reveal the influence of the computer age..." This is to calm regular readers of the Time Out art page, who might be freaked out by too much computer art in a gallery.
"Several of the artists display Op Art grids made from media as disparate as a latch hook and cassette tapes, including a vinyl piece by the curators' mother." That is how that sentence should read: I suspect editorial garbling in the published text.
Props to Joe McKay for undulations catching the critic's eye. His piece is good, a sort of moving Suprematist abstraction gliding in and out of a permanent dark band on a broken PowerBook. Broken consumer tech=very good.
[J]ust as computers generate complexity using a binary system of 1s and 0s, the Arcangels' two simple criteria [black & white + repeating patterns] have yielded a superabundance of pattern--not to mention artwork..." Yes! Bemoaners of the "crisis of criticism," you get your theory where you find it in the art world; this is a variant of Sally McKay's here on this blog (scroll down to comments). Roberta Smith only got the second half of this thought.
My studio-based artwork from the past couple of years has been archived in blog form; not all of it, but whenever I think of it. The 2004 archive is here and the 2003 is here; the 2004 wasn't getting regularly updated while I was doing a bunch of animation (even though I was making art, too)--I just added stuff today. By the way, I don't know if I've mentioned that my artistic heroes include Francis Picabia, Sigmar Polke and the late Martin Kippenberger, and I can't think of a better life project than trying to communicate their kinds of quirky, problematic sensibilities in digital-age terms. Not imitating them, but giving in to the perverse turns of mind I think they all represent. The animation, writing, music, and whatever is all a spinoff from, and contingent on, my studio practice. In case there's any question about what I'm up to.
Two by Noah Lyon, from "The Infinite Fill Show." Above: "Paper Rodeo Head," ink and whiteout on Bristol, 2004; below: "12 Eyes," mixed media, 2004. Paper Rodeo is a Providence zine crammed with imagery such as Lyon's cartoon homage to Arcimboldo. (The grey smears to the left are shadows from the buttons, which are adjacent to the drawing in the show.) The explosion of psychotropic-influenced graphics coming out of Providence is duly noted; still waiting for a critic to stop complaining about the state of criticism and get down to the hard work of defining how this particular graphic revolution differs from the Zap comix '60s and the Raw magazine '80s (it does differ). These days my taste leans more towards the cartoon minimalism of the "eye buttons," though it's so damn easy to provoke a response with eyes.
About a year ago I posted a link to Eric Fensler's remixed GI Joe PSAs. Those links now redirect to his main page. I hadn't looked in a while, but he's added a few new ones. They're on this video page, which includes all 25. "Pork chop sandwiches!"..."Stop all the downloading!"..."It's such a wonderful experience here with the Indian"... Relive these moments from the magical year of 2003. And be sure to play PSA 25!
My 54th Street (Hell's Kitchen) studio, ca. 1998. Left hand image(s): Pipes 2, 1998, laser prints and linen tape, 88" X 78", previously exhibited here. The work on the right is untitled, same media. Each piece is essentially a giant paper quilt made of approx. three by five inch rectangles of xerox-printed paper taped together on the back (the linen tape is starchy and moistened when applied; when it dries it forms a "kite frame" of plaster-like strips that give the piece a sense of volume perceptible from the front). The big one hangs loosely on the wall, the small one is folded around a stretcher. Perhaps you can see where a group exhibition of black and white, repeating, Op art-like patterns, computer-made, with a kind of "jenky" outsider craft focus, would interest me. The "pipes" were originally intended to be cut out and used as struts or sticks for the molecules I was making, but I discovered that when placed side by side, they created intense, fairly painful optical vibration (not visible in these polaroid scans). These, and the allover patterns of spheres I was doing simultaneously, are what lead to my investigation and reworking of Op art rhetoric and ultimately my involvement in the "post-hypnotic" exhibition.
"p-h" traveled around the U.S. but never made it to NY. It would have been a hard sell here. I knew the idea of a (multiply-recontextualized) Op pseudo-revival was doomed when I read Roberta Smith's review of the Bridget Riley show at Dia. I'm paraphrasing here, but Smith basically said that Riley was tainted by her association with artists who would be forever on the margins, "especially in anti-Op New York." Wow, opposition to Op art is institutionalized here! Or was that another way of saying "anti-Op Roberta"? Considering the predominance of Op-like patterns in "The Infinite Fill Show," I guess it took the "teen bedroom angle" to override Roberta's dislike of the form and/or perception that it was discredited. Or, less cynically, maybe it was just the overwhelming evidence that artists find it more interesting than she does. [reposted from a few days ago with modifications.]
Work in progress; the back side of a piece prior to taping. It looks kind of elegant as a drawing.
Wishful thinking (?) by Steve Gilliard: "Bloomberg isn't going to risk a riot in Central Park. And if he tries to arrest people for that, he knows that is exactly what will happen. Forget the paranoid fear, a riot in New York during the RNC would be a nightmare for Bush and Rove. They don't want the attention taken away from the President and the party and this will do just that. UFPJ is families, is middle class people with kids. It is not the Ruckus society. If the cops go haywire on them, the whole city will react badly. Bloomberg's popularity isn't high now, chasing yuppie families down 79th St is not something people want on TV or on the cover of the Daily News."