5 Ways Philip K Dick's Insanity Changed the World of Movies

#2. Not That His Real Life Was Any Less Insane

It gets weirder. In the 1950s, Dick and his wife were visited weekly by two FBI agents who were investigating their left wing views. He eventually received their file on him under the Freedom of Information Act and found they'd been keeping notes on stuff like his beard length (makes sense, everyone knows only commies have beards).


"Sir? We've got a Class-Lenin on our hands."

But then Dick took the paranoia and ran with it. In the early 70's there was a break-in at his house which he eventually came to believe was part of a neo-Nazi conspiracy (rather than, you know, the work of one of the many junkies living in his house at the time). In 1974 he met with several literary critics who were fans of his. He disagreed with their interpretation of his work and naturally contacted the FBI claiming he'd uncovered a Marxist invasion of American sci-fi. In his letter, he accused Polish author Stanislaw Lem, who'd written an essay praising him, of actually being a "composite committee."

#1. Then Again, He Kind of Did See the Future

So why, after ignoring him for the duration of an incredibly prolific if not lucrative career, is Hollywood suddenly determined to get every word the man wrote in front of the camera?


Okay, yes. But also...

It's because over time, the real world and Dick's mental illness have met each other half way.

Hey, remember when Minority Report came out in 2002? It was right in the middle of the war on terror and everyone thought the movie was a thinly veiled allusion to the invasive Homeland Security tactics we were seeing in the headlines. And in fact, a few years later the government introduced cameras that could supposedly detect when you intend to commit a crime in the future. Yeah, Dick kind of seems like a prophet in retrospect. Especially considering he wrote that story in freaking 1956.

Via gunnar_maas
This is what you needed to record a video in 1956.

Meanwhile, those themes of confused self-identity he explored have become more relevant in the age of the Internet, where pretending to be a 15-year-old girl pretending to be an orc in a completely virtual world is a common way to spend a lunch hour. Paranoia about corporations and shady characters run amok behind the scenes? Hell, look at a headline.

So here's to Philip K Dick, who led a rough life, but kept churning out stories through it all. He no doubt took quite a bit of shit and ridicule from those around him back when he was ranting about time traveling aliens, but now, from beyond the grave, he's the one who has A-list stars saying his words out loud in front of millions.

So, are you a struggling writer? Who knows, perhaps if you start taking amphetamines, have five broken marriages, start hallucinating and become paranoid you could be the next Philip K. Dick, and your work will be in lights for decades after you're gone.*


"Though his fiendish speed habit lead him to an early grave, Tim will always be remembered by the EMTs who found his half-written manuscript and laughed for like, twenty minutes straight."

Note: This almost certainly won't happen, please don't do any of those things.

For more impressive things accomplished while under the influence, check out The 5 Greatest Things Accomplished While High and The 5 Most Inspiring Things Ever Accomplished While Drunk.

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