The Author Is Dead

Kyra Jucovy klj at sccs.swarthmore.edu
Mon Jun 25 19:33:23 EDT 2001


On Fri, 22 Jun 2001, Melissa Proffitt wrote:
> 
> I think a truly postmodern reading would still consider the "Philip Dick" of
> the novel as a fictional construct that might or might not resemble the real
> person.  But I'd be more inclined to read it as something closer to
> autobiography.  (It sounds like a very interesting book; maybe I need to
> check it out....)  I'd wonder how much he was being honest about.  I would
> have to work very hard not to assume that I knew him just from reading this
> book--does that make sense?  If he's writing about himself, and it's
> explicit that he's writing about himself, then yes, I think one possible
> reading would be treating the fictional character as a representation of the
> person.  (You could even say this about the people you know in real
> life--that what you know is really a fiction you've constructed about them
> through observation.  And the person I am on this list bears only small
> resemblance to "the real me," whatever that is--another fiction.  Sounds
> like PKD is only doing what we all do in an online community, only more
> formally.)
> 

	Hmm. . . thanks for your answers!  Well, I think _Valis_ really begs 
the question - especially since, in many ways, despite the first-person
narrative, it's very hard to imagine the book PKD writing the
book.  As it happens, _Valis_ is a. . . work of speculative
fiction.  I'm _very_ inclined to think that some of it had to be
wish-fulfilment for him, although he manages to make this far more
complex.  But definitely I was fascinated to find out how much of what the
book character had undergone was in fact part of PKD's experience.  I
still don't know how he could write the book, given that.
	As for fiction - it does happen to be an idea I follow closely,
that what we know about people's personalities, even about our own, are
basically constructs.  I certainly think that I tend to think about
artists I respect in the fashion you describe - if I had to, for some
reason, list everyone I could think of as either a fictional character or
a real person, I would very probably put DWJ into the fictional character
list, despite the fact that I assume she actually exists ;-).  So maybe I
am not so far from the "Author is Dead" view after all - only I feel free
to speculate about the author anyway.  Should I call it the "Author is
Imaginary" view, perhaps?

					---Kyra

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