Friday, November 1, 2013

How Am I not Myself

Jasun Horsley writes "How Am I not Myself", published on Omni Reboot.

This exploration of Philip K. Dick’s neurological condition and potential autism is an edited version of a longer essay, taken from a book-in-progress about neurodiversity, culture, technology, and “extra-consensual perception,” by Jasun Horsley. The full, unedited, piece can be read here.

Philip K. Dick was a sci-fi prophet, among the most prescient science-fiction writers of the second half of the 20th century.

Among other things, he recognized that not only would technology provide us with the opportunity to expand our ideas about reality and ourselves—it would force us to do so. He foresaw that the opportunity of technology was also the crisis of technology, and that this crisis was not merely social, but existential, or even spiritual.

Less remarked upon—but in many ways more remarkable—is the way in which Dick’s fiction explored alternative forms of human consciousness, human reality, and human individuality. These explorations have have nothing to do with technology; rather, they present a biological crisis-opportunity. Which is to say, several of his novels involve a form of innate psychism possessed by a small minority, a mutant strain viewed either as a threat (crisis) or as a resource (opportunity) by the controlling powers.

While Dick’s worldview has long been described as “schizoid” (even Dick sporadically described himself that way), the word “autistic” has rarely, if ever, been attached to him or his work. This strikes me as a peculiar oversight. By my reckoning, Dick was the first writer to consider the psychic implications of autism in a work of fiction, or anywhere else.

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