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Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip…

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (original 1974; edition 2012)

by Philip K. Dick

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3,011471,897 (3.8)81
Title:Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
Authors:Philip K. Dick
Info:Mariner Books (2012), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:American Author, Bought, Fiction, Science Fiction

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Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick (1974)

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Flow, my tears, fall from your springs!
Exiled forever, let me mourn;
Where night's black bird her sad infamy sings,
There let me live forlorn.

Down vain lights, shine you no more!
No nights are dark enough for those
That in despair their lost fortunes deplore.
Light doth but shame disclose.

Never may my woes be relieved,
Since pity is fled;
And tears and sighs and groans my weary days
Of all joys have deprived.

From the highest spire of contentment
My fortune is thrown;
And fear and grief and pain for my deserts
Are my hopes, since hope is gone.

Hark! you shadows that in darkness dwell,
Learn to contemn light
Happy, happy they that in hell
Feel not the world's despite.

In “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said”, taken from “Flow My Tears” by John Dowland

This is one of the books that changed me in ways I’m still trying to come to terms with, and I’ve read it more than 30 years ago. At the time I lacked the tools to properly tackle this. That’s why I’ve been wanting to re-read it and analyse it in the light what I currently know. I still remember the feeling I had the first time I read it back in the day. Mind-boggling to say the least. 30 years later, can I define what reality is? Doesn’t reality belong to the subjective objectivity realm, i.e., isn’t it the highest degree of objectivity possible for a human being? Reality can only be a subjective objectivity as it falls back on whether I chose to accept it as the truth or deny it completely. This means objective reality does exist, but I can only perceive it with my own perception filters. I have to decide what is reality as best I can, and may choose to assert some prepositions even though everyone else denies it (Copernicus comes to mind). It’s to my advantage to seek to make my perception filters as little distorting as possible, but I doubt I could ever achieve that completely, because I’m the product of my own culture to start with, to say the least. This leads me to the question whether uncertainty in reality is a psychological phenomenon. Does it exist only in the mind, and not in the world? We’re dangerously delving into the quantum universe continuum…Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Dirac, dudes who I think knew what they talking about. At the time I knew zilch about these matters. Now I only know little bit more. Now I know reality does not exist until it’s measured. Regardless of that, I firmly believe in the fact that asymptotic convergence theorems are meaningful. Even in the realm of quantum physics, I believe that through asymptotic convergence I can get very meaningful on some states of information, but that state of information is sometimes not maximal, i.e., deterministic for observables. When the best I can do is some probabilistic function over observables, it's because I've left out essential details, not because the observables are random. That’s the nature of the quantum world for you. Quantum mechanics tells me I only perceive at most a tiny sliver of reality. The rest is just fuzzy stuff…The direct consequence of this is that the world of our perception is just a projection of a fantastical high dimensional space continuum. The space of all those space continuums has its existence and properties quite independent from our observations, i.e., from the “objective” reality as perceived by us. But once again, this n-dimensional space is unavailable to us — we can only see the ripple effects it has within our much smaller 3-dimensional space.

One of my plans for 2017 is to re-read some of my old-time favourites, being Phil Dick one of them. As I was reading “Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said” I kept thinking and trying to pinpoint what makes Phil Dick the writer he was. A hasty analysis tells me he had a peculiar way of delivering information (what some of us call “the act of writing” …). Dick usually set up an ecosystem that seems pretty much ordinary, except for a few tiny, bitsy details that on first reading go unnoticed (e.g., remember the electric animals in “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”); everything else about the universe created and depicted is relatively unchanged. This way of keeping things down-to-earth except for a few changes creates a bounded sense of realism in his writing; this is a very smart way to tell me not dismiss anything unusual. He uses this approach of make-believe realism to uproot his own philosophies on a subject into my head. What he does is he gives the main character a common frame-of-reference on something, and utilizes the other characters to change the main character’s frame-of-reference to what the minor characters are thinking. He does this with Taverner in “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said” regarding love. Pretty smart for a SF writer, don’t you think? Many Mundane Fiction writers are incapable of doing this successfully.

Coming to the theme of what reality is. Reality is being able to find beauty in Andreas Scholl singing several John Dowload ayres, particularly “Flow my Tears” while reading this novel. ( )
  antao | Dec 13, 2016 |
Having also read Dick’s Exegesis this story made a bit more sense than it might have otherwise. As the main character, Jason Taverner, admits near the end, he was “living in a world made of rubber. Everything bounced. Changed shape as soon as it was touched or even looked at.” But just when you agree that it was all a paranoid dream, Dick comes at you with an explanation. Of course, the explanation starts off sounding reasonable, blending drugs, neuroscience, the physics of alternate realities, and more until the explanation gives you and the “policeman” a headache. But if you really can’t make sense of it all, just enjoy the passing of the scenes. I especially liked the wall-to-wall carpet depicting “Richard M. Nixon’s final ascent into heaven amid joyous singing above and wails of misery below.” ( )
  drardavis | Nov 22, 2016 |
On Tuesday evening thirty million television viewers watched Jason Traverner on his weekly variety show. On Wednesday morning Jason wakes up in a cheap hotel where no one knows he exists. When he calls his agent and his girlfriend, they’ve never heard of him. There’s no record of his birth. He has a lot of cash in his pocket, but no ID, and to be without identity papers in the police state that America has become in 1988, in the aftermath of the Second Civil War, is very dangerous. He can get picked up at a random check point and sent to a forced-labor camp.

Once again Dick takes the reader down the rabbit hole to wonderlands that twist and turn your sense of reality with plots that are thoroughly unpredictable.
  MaowangVater | Sep 4, 2016 |
Fought with myself over whether to include this or include _Man In the High Castle_ as my favorite of Dick's sci-fi novels. Ultimately I chose this one because I can relate to it more easily. Both are essential Dick. If you have ever felt really paranoid, you'll be able to relate too. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
“Love isn't just wanting another person the way you want to own an object you see in a store. That's just desire. You want to have it around, take it home and set it up somewhere in the apartment like a lamp. Love is"--she paused, reflecting--"like a father saving his children from a burning house, getting them out and dying himself. When you love you cease to live for yourself; you live for another person.”What? This in a Philip K. Dick novel?

This is an unusual PKD book, though you could argue that all PKD books are unusual so there is nothing unusual about one of his books being unusual. What I mean is that the tone and style are different from the earlier PKD classics like [b:Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep|7082|Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?|Philip K. Dick|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327865673s/7082.jpg|830939] and [b:Ubik|22590|Ubik|Philip K. Dick|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327995569s/22590.jpg|62929]. First published in 1974 after the aforementioned classic PKD novels, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said seems to be written during a transitional period in Dick’s style. Profanities are common place in the dialogs, something not present in Dick’s works from the 60s (I believe), and there is more depth to the characters, more compassion and more emotional resonance.

This story is set in a dystopian 1988 USA (a “near future” at the time of writing) where the people live under a police state, anybody found at spot checks without proper documentation are liable to be summarily shipped off sent to labour camps (students especially). The novel’s protagonist is Jason Taverner, a famous singer who has his own nightly TV show with viewership in the millions. One day he wakes up in a rundown hotel and finds that nobody knows who he is, not even his closest friends and lover. The how and why of his predicament is one of Dick’s best story ideas, but the less I elaborate on that the better.

This is one of my favorite PKD books, I would rate it alongside the aforementioned [b:Ubik|22590|Ubik|Philip K. Dick|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327995569s/22590.jpg|62929], [b:Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep|7082|Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?|Philip K. Dick|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327865673s/7082.jpg|830939] and [b:The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch|14185|The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch|Philip K. Dick|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1338461946s/14185.jpg|1399376] as the best of his works; certainly I would rate it far above his Hugo winner [b:The Man in the High Castle|216363|The Man in the High Castle|Philip K. Dick|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1385189684s/216363.jpg|2398287] of which I am not a fan. The standout feature of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said is that it is more emotional than most of his fiction. There is a sadness and sympathy to it that I do not associate with his works. That said PKD fans will be right at home with the usual Dickian trope of drug induced reality warping.

Dick’s prose is the usual utilitarian style he uses in most of his works, the dialog is often stilted as if the characters are all drug addled to some extent. If this sounds like a criticism it really is not. I like the way Dick writes, it is clear and effective for conveying the weirdness inherent in his stories. As for the dialog his characters tend to say the oddest things out of the blue, like Jason Taverner suddenly tells a woman she looks too old for her age for no apparent reason and getting whacked on the head as a result. Dick’s sense of humour is also wonderfully weird, such as the title of Taverner’s latest hit being “Nowhere Nuthin' Fuck-up”, which he describes as a sentimental number. His depiction of 1988 of course bears little resemblance to that year in reality with personal flying vehicles and vinyl records still very much in use. I hope this does not dissuade anybody from reading it however, I believe that it is not sci-fi writers’ job to predict the future but to speculate and provide some food for thought.

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said is one of Dick’s most underrated books. As usual he makes us question the reality we live in but this time he also makes us think about how we perceive ourselves and others and how our perception affects our social interactions and relationships. An unexpectedly moving book. ( )
1 vote apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (40 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip K. Dickprimary authorall editionscalculated
Berni, OlivieroCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nagula, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Osterwalder, UteCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ulrich, HansCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Flow my tears, fall from your springs!

Exiled forever, let me mourn;

Where night's black bird her sad infamy sings,

There let me live forlorn.

(Part One)
Down, vain lights, shine you no more!

No nights are black enough for those

That in despair their lost fortunes deplore.

Light doth but shame disclose.

(Part Two)
Never may my woes be relieved,

Since pity is fled;

And tears and sights and groans my weary days

Of all joys have deprived.

(Part Three)
The love in this novel is for Tessa,

and the love in me is for her, too.

She is my little song.
First words
On Tuesday, October 11, 1988, the Jason Taverner Show ran thirty seconds short.
"Listen," he said, haltingly. "I'm going to tell you something and I want you to listen carefully. You belong in a prison for the criminally insane."
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 067974066X, Paperback)

>On October 11 the television star Jason Taverner is so famous that 30 million viewers eagerly watch his prime-time show. On October 12 Jason Taverner is not a has-been but a never-was -- a man who has lost not only his audience but all proof of his existence. And in the claustrophobic betrayal state of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, loss of proof is synonyms with loss of life.

Taverner races to solve the riddle of his disappearance", immerses us in a horribly plausible Philip K. Dick United States in which everyone -- from a waiflike forger of identity cards to a surgically altered pleasure -- informs on everyone else, a world in which omniscient police have something to hide. His bleakly beautiful novel bores into the deepest bedrock self and plants a stick of dynamite at its center.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:16 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Jason Taverner is a Six, the result of top secret government experiments forty years before which produced a handful of unnaturally bright and beautiful people - and he's the prime-time idol of millions until, inexplicably, all record of him is wiped from the data banks of Earth. Suddenly he's a nobody in a police state where nobody is allowed to be a nobody. Will he ever be rich and famous again? Was he, in fact, ever rich and famous?… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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