Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I just read Phillip K. Dick's "The Mold of Yancy," a cleverly written little short story about the uniqueness of humanity and the value of individual thought and personal taste. It's only something like fourteen pages, but it's become one of my favorites in allegorical science fiction. It's short enough that I can't really say much about it without revealing the whole thing, so it's better off that you just read it.

If you have, I'd like to talk to you about John Edward Yancy, Britney Spears, Coca-Cola, and American presidents.

Dick's argument in "Yancy," is, more or less, that complex thoughts are undesirable to an authoritarian political regime, because those who have definite, expresssed, debatable opinions aren't able to be duped into agreement. Those with more watered-down thoughts, who "only thought they had an opinion" (from the story), are much easier to persuade and control. I believe this is the same effect that goes into platinum records, fast-food chains, and representative democracy.

I found the story in a collection of Dick's early shorts that I tracked down at Powell's for Eight Bucks on sale. Powell's is a Portland staple; a massive used bookstore with a ceaseless supply of used books. It's not always the best place for a deal, as they move through their used books quickly, but you can find just about anything there.If you read this story, I can use it as a great springboard to a conversation about my Philosophy on life, politics, and religion; an admittedly overarching theme! But I'm against watered-down, trite shit in any form.

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