Tuesday 16 June 2009

PKD Day at Nottingham Trent University - 13th June 2009

Last Saturday I attended a fascinating day of discussion and lectures at Nottingham Trent University. With me was fellow BLOG member Mick (of "Cordoba" fame) and his girlfriend Jan.

The papers in the morning were highly academic in their approach. Indeed it took me back to my own university days in the mid 1970's. Clearly the approach was textual rather than personal in that the themes discussed Phil the writer not Phil the man. However this is what was to be expected as it was taking place in the English Department.

In the afternoon I presented a paper entitled "PKD-PRECOG?" It is difficult to evaluate how this went down with the assembled academics and enthusiasts but I think the lack of questions (except from Mick and the organisers) suggested to me that the audience were, at best, confused and at worst somewhat underwhelmed.

On reflection my presentation was somewhat different to those that had gone before. I was dealing with "facts" (as reported by Phil himself so I guess the word "fact" in this case consists of many "factors") whereas my predecessors had analysed Phil's writing in a sociological or textual way. I was fascinated to realise that a simple science-fiction story can be analysed and taken apart for meaning. I wonder what Phil would have made of it?

I was really expecting some challenging questions - particularly as I presented evidence from Phil's life that he had been precognitive. Indeed I even distributed copies of the fascinating letters that Phil wrote to Gloria Krenz, one of which actually described the circumstances of his own stroke that was to happen seven years later. I guess that because my analysis did not work within a Marxist, Derridian or Deleuzian approach it caused a degree of confusion.

Of course it could simply be that my lecture was the last of the day before Tessa Dick joined us on SKYPE and everybody was anticipating chatting with her.

Tessa was wonderful, being witty, funny and very open in her comments about Phil. However I found it again very strange that not many questions were asked of her. I can only assume it is because many attendees of the conference were more used to answering questions than asking them.

One question Tessa was asked was to seek out her opinions on the biographers of her husband, specifically Lawrence Sutin and Emmanuel Carrere. Her response was to say that parts of Sutin's book contained accurate information and some did not. She did not seem to be aware of the Carrere book. However she then said that she had been very impressed by a new book by an English writer by the name of Anthony Peake - she said that with the exception of his suggestion that Phil experienced TLE, she felt that this book, "The Daemon" was excellent!

This really made my day, no, far more than that, it made all my hard work worthwhile. Tessa was actually an external witness to most of Phil's 2-3-74 "experiences" so with the exception of Phil himself she is the only person qualified to really comment upon my "take" on Phil's theophany.

Indeed Tessa finished of her communication by categorically stating that she agreed fully with Phil that the reality that we perceive is an illusion and that we are all living within this illusion.

I would like to thank Tessa for these kind comments regarding my work and also Professor John Goodridge for organising a wonderful, and very enlightening day.

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