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A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
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A Scanner Darkly (1977)

by Philip K. Dick

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,7361041,095 (3.98)133
  1. 10
    Rubicon Harvest by C. W. Kesting (Aeryion)
    Aeryion: The world of Rubicon Harvest seems to be a mixed homage to both Scanner Darkly and A Clockwork Orange in the way the sub-culture of designer drugs are used and abused and how their importance interplay with the expression of self and the experience of perception on reality. The synthetic neurocotic Symphony makes Substance D look like Tic-Tacs. Rubicon Harvest deserves it's place among the medicated plots of these other great postmodern works of spec-fiction!… (more)
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English (98)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  German (1)  Slovak (1)  All languages (104)
Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)
"Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then"





PKD beautifully portrays characters with unstable worlds and existential doubts, who are struggling with increasing doubts over the nature of reality and personal identity. It is a study on the separation and fracturing of self-consciousness.
Due to the nature of his job, the protagonist never felt entirely grounded in a single identity, a feeling intensified by the fact he is frequently required to view himself as the third person. By this 'literary device', PKD captures the feeling of existential detachment which appears in many descriptive accounts of psychosis—as it also reflects the Multiple Personality Disorder and Dissociative Identity Disorder—Eugene Bleuler included “Multiple Personality” in his category of Schizophrenia (meaning literally, ‘split mind’)
The protagonist’s dilemma with equal clarity when he describes the breakdown of self-consciousness as including:
- Disorders of the distinction between me & not-me.
"It is not me who is seeing the object over there – I am the object"
- Exceptional experiences of unity in the present moment.
"I feel like I am 2 persons at the same time"
- Continuing identity across time.
"Time & especially my own actions are fragmented"
- The loss of my-ness of one’s own experiences
"It's not me who is doing the actions or having this perception"

PKD was highly knowledgeable about the subjects he wrote. He himself had regular sessions with psychiatrists for most of his life, and had read many texts on psychology and psychiatry. One can easily observe how beautifully he melds science fiction with science fact!
For instance, in the book, Substance-D induces a split-brain disconnection, providing an explanation for the protagonist’s increasingly fractionated and incoherent self-consciousness.
This was inspired by a famous research on split-brain patients, by Roger Sperry in 1993. Sperry discovered that patients with surgically disconnected cerebral hemispheres seemed to show a dual or partitioned consciousness. Hitherto it was thought that the right side of the brain was largely ‘silent’ and relied on the dominant left, his research suggested that each hemisphere appeared to be using its own precepts, mental images, associations, and ideas.
(The idea that psychosis might result from a disengagement of the hemispheres was subsequently discussed, and is still influential)

In this case, I saw the movie first, and I absolutely love the movie adaptation with great performances by Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson., and I think Keanu Reeves made this book more awesome for me, as while reading I keep imagining Archtor as Keanu, and he was as always phenomenal! ( )
  iSatyajeet | Nov 21, 2018 |
"Strange how paranoia can link up with reality now and then"





PKD beautifully portrays characters with unstable worlds and existential doubts, who are struggling with increasing doubts over the nature of reality and personal identity. It is a study on the separation and fracturing of self-consciousness.
Due to the nature of his job, the protagonist never felt entirely grounded in a single identity, a feeling intensified by the fact he is frequently required to view himself as the third person. By this 'literary device', PKD captures the feeling of existential detachment which appears in many descriptive accounts of psychosis—as it also reflects the Multiple Personality Disorder and Dissociative Identity Disorder—Eugene Bleuler included “Multiple Personality” in his category of Schizophrenia (meaning literally, ‘split mind’)
The protagonist’s dilemma with equal clarity when he describes the breakdown of self-consciousness as including:
- Disorders of the distinction between me & not-me.
"It is not me who is seeing the object over there – I am the object"
- Exceptional experiences of unity in the present moment.
"I feel like I am 2 persons at the same time"
- Continuing identity across time.
"Time & especially my own actions are fragmented"
- The loss of my-ness of one’s own experiences
"It's not me who is doing the actions or having this perception"

PKD was highly knowledgeable about the subjects he wrote. He himself had regular sessions with psychiatrists for most of his life, and had read many texts on psychology and psychiatry. One can easily observe how beautifully he melds science fiction with science fact!
For instance, in the book, Substance-D induces a split-brain disconnection, providing an explanation for the protagonist’s increasingly fractionated and incoherent self-consciousness.
This was inspired by a famous research on split-brain patients, by Roger Sperry in 1993. Sperry discovered that patients with surgically disconnected cerebral hemispheres seemed to show a dual or partitioned consciousness. Hitherto it was thought that the right side of the brain was largely ‘silent’ and relied on the dominant left, his research suggested that each hemisphere appeared to be using its own precepts, mental images, associations, and ideas.
(The idea that psychosis might result from a disengagement of the hemispheres was subsequently discussed, and is still influential)

In this case, I saw the movie first, and I absolutely love the movie adaptation with great performances by Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson., and I think Keanu Reeves made this book more awesome for me, as while reading I keep imagining Archtor as Keanu, and he was as always phenomenal! ( )
  iSatyajeet | Nov 21, 2018 |


“I have seen myself backward.”
― Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly

A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick's searing, hyperrealist tale of a specific time (late 1960s), a specific place (California), and a specific mentality (seek maximum happiness now since tomorrow you might die) set in 1994, enough in the near future for the author to inject massive doses of his signature wild imagination into the mix. As most readers will know, director Richard Linklater employed distinctive digital technology and animation in creating a blockbuster film based on the novel.

In his Author's Note to A Scanner Darkly, PKD lists fifteen of the people he loved who lost life or sanity during those outrageous years. He also reveals something extremely personal to his readers: he is not in the novel, he is the novel. Intrigued? You should be. Here are ten hits of what this unique, drug-centered classic is all about:

1. Freak-Out: The opening scene features doper Jerry Fabin in a frantic battle with thousands of aphid bugs infesting his hair and every inch of his body. Unfortunately, Jerry is fighting a losing battle - even standing under hot water in the shower ten hours a day doesn't help. After suffering one particularly severe attack, Jerry admits defeat and is admitted into Number Three Federal Clinic. The psychic meltdown of Jerry Fabin is a haunting reminder to all of Jerry's friends of what can happen with too much dope, a reminder coating every page of the novel like a thick syrup.

2. Drugs and More Drugs: In addition to hash, heroin, cocaine, mescaline, LSD, speed and other familiar names on the list, there is the new prima numero uno drug of choice, Substance D aka Death or Slow Death. Among its many side effects is the risk of split brain phenomenon, where a user will develop two identities and have one side of their brain talk to the other as if two different people in conversation. And cut with bad ingredients, in a matter of months, Substance D can cause a sixteen year old girl to look like a scraggly old lady with grey hair falling out. But the supercharged high produced outweighs the possible side effects by far. Oh, wow!



3. The Setting: Sprawling air-conditioned Southern California nightmare, an unending repetition of McDonald hamburger stands, strip malls, gas stations and freeways. Main character Robert Arctor reflects: "They (McDonald's) had by now, according to their sign, sold the same original burger fifty billion times. He wondered if it was to the same person. Life in Anaheim, California, was a commercial for itself, endlessly replayed. Nothing changed; it just spread out father in the form of neon ooze."

4. War: It's straights vs. dopers since the dopers can't stomach the air conditioned nightmare and just want to turn on and drop out but the straights think all the neon ooze is as American as grandma and apple pie. And those straights include fully armed Birchers and Minutemen, city police and federal police, army forces and unidentified forces. If you are a doper and caught off guard, you will quickly be eliminated via jail or bullet or even worse, a federal clinic. In this war, the straights don't take any prisoners since, for them, dopers are disgusting filth, not even on the level of mangy dogs.

5. Scramble Suits: An underground cop will report gathered information wearing a futuristic scramble suit, a full body, head to toe covering, a piece of technological magic, rendering the wearer a vague blur. The police chief receiving this information will also wear a scramble suit. Thus concealment and secrecy are maintained on all levels.



6. Surveillance: In this futuristic world the police possess powerful technology to spy on dopers in all sorts of ways, including scanners that can zoom in and out in 3-D. Feeling paranoid? There might be good reason - smile, you are on candid camera.

7. Robert Arctor, One: Bob was once a straight, living with his wife and two little girls out in their three bedroom house, working as an investigator for an insurance company, but one day Bob hit his head in the kitchen and all instantly came clear in a flash: his entire life was a sham, nothing but a deadly routine and he hated all of it. Soon thereafter Bob gets a divorce and shifts into the doper life.

8. Robert Arctor, Two: To support his drug habit and live in his now rundown doper house, Bob takes on the job of undercover narcotics agent. The drug world, Arctor recognizes, is a murky world were dopers work for the cops and cops posing as dopers get hooked on dope and might even become full-time dealers. And Robert Arctor gets hooked on a bunch of dope, most notably on Substance D. Arctor escaped his drab, humdrum, straight family life but can he be sure his new doper life will turn out to be any better?

9 Robert Arctor, Three: Bob reports to his boss Hank in his scramble suit where he assumes name and identity as Frank. But, then, Bob has to deal with the crazy effects of Substance D causing his personality and identity to split in two. Oh, my spacey hallucinations! - an undercover agent living two lives with two different names experiencing split brain phenomenon. A custom-made phenomenon for the one and only PKD.

10. Dopers Friends: We are provided detailed glimpses into the inner and social lives of the two doper dudes living at Bob's house: supercool Ernie Luckman and supersmart Jim Barris. There is also Arctor's heartthrob - young, superfoxy Donna Hawthorne. Hey, wait a toker minute. Is Luckman or Barris or Donna what they appear to be? How many of them are also living a double life? As noted above, the drug world is a murky world. And that includes government agencies more than happy to slide into a sinister double life to achieve their goals. Read all about it. Remember PKD IS this novel. What a trip.



“The tragedy in his life already existed. To love an atmospheric spirit. That was the real sorrow. Hopelessness itself. Nowhere on the printed page, nowhere in the annals of man, would her name appear: no local habitation, no name. There are girls like that, he thought, and those you love most, the ones where there is no hope because it has eluded you at the very moment you close your hands around it.”
― Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly ( )
1 vote Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |
Trippy, very seventies, about the brief good times and the terrible price of drug use. The haunting downward spiral of losing one's brain is described from an obvious first hand experience, and the tripped out conversations of junkies are both funny and sad at the same time.

Three and a half stars. ( )
  Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
A dark semi-autobiographical journey into drug abuse and the loss of identity with some subtle SF/F elements throughout. By turns funny, sad, sobering, and harrowing, a sadly dystopian tale made the worse for how real it all feels. We follow the undercover agent Fred / drug house owner Bob as the line between these identities becomes suddenly concrete as one side of his personality forgets the other and begins looking at his own image as a stranger. Eventually his whole sense of self begins to dissolve and the story takes its darkest, saddest turns yet. ( )
  michaeladams1979 | Oct 11, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip K. Dickprimary authorall editionscalculated
Burgdorf, Karl-UlrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gasser, ChristianAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
North, HeidiCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ochagavia, CarlosCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Webb, TrevorCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Once a guy stood all day shaking bugs from his hair.
Era uma vez um tipo que passava todo o dia a catar piolhos. O médico disse-lhe que não tinha piolhos.
Quotations
Robert Arctor halted. Stared at them, at the straights in their fat suits, their fat ties, their fat shoes, and he thought, Substance D can't destroy their brains; they have none.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679736654, Paperback)

Mind- and reality-bending drugs factor again and again in Philip K. Dick's hugely influential SF stories. A Scanner Darkly cuts closest to the bone, drawing on Dick's own experience with illicit chemicals and on his many friends who died from drug abuse. Nevertheless, it's blackly farcical, full of comic-surreal conversations between people whose synapses are partly fried, sudden flights of paranoid logic, and bad trips like the one whose victim spends a subjective eternity having all his sins read to him, in shifts, by compound-eyed aliens. (It takes 11,000 years of this to reach the time when as a boy he discovered masturbation.) The antihero Bob Arctor is forced by his double life into warring double personalities: as futuristic narcotics agent "Fred," face blurred by a high-tech scrambler, he must spy on and entrap suspected drug dealer Bob Arctor. His disintegration under the influence of the insidious Substance D is genuine tragicomedy. For Arctor there's no way off the addict's downward escalator, but what awaits at the bottom is a kind of redemption--there are more wheels within wheels than we suspected, and his life is not entirely wasted. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:18 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A drug dealer of the future periodically moves away from his spaced-out world to become an informer for narcotics agents until he becomes unable to separate his two personalities.

» see all 8 descriptions

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