Masculinity in the Novels of Philip K. Dick. By Extrapolation

Masculinity in the Novels of Philip K. Dick.

By Extrapolation

  • Release Date: 2006-06-22
  • Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines

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The quintessential Dick character is the paradigm of masculine subjectivity in crisis: he is uncertain in his job, his interpersonal relationships, and in his own sense of himself. Carl Freedman has noted that Dick's "stature [as the greatest of all science fiction authors] can be at least partly explained by his preeminence in the production of paranoiac ideology, his uniquely rigorous and consistent representations of human subjects caught in the web of commodities and conspiracies" (Incomplete Projects 157). Dick's most meaningful representations of subjectivity are almost exclusively of a masculine subject in crisis. When Dick represents women, if they are not essentially irrelevant or reactive, they figure as integral components of the conspiracy webs in which the main male characters are netted. The one exception is The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, where the main narrator is a woman who makes all the observations. Rather than consider in detail Dick's representation of women, I will instead consider Dick's representation of men in Martian Time Slip and Dr. Bloodmoney as a way of suggesting that within Dick's larger critique of American hegemony is the beginning of an analysis of gender in post-atomic culture. It will become clear that atomic detonation is a reified image, to the degree that it functions as the organizing symbolic in Cold War ideology. In this way, atomic detonation functions as the desired phallus. This is so much the case that I will show the way in which Fredric Jameson's critique of Dr. Bloodmoney also reifies atomic detonation to the degree that he forecloses on some of the abundant possibilities of the novel. Dick works to dereify atomic detonation in Dr. Bloodmoney; because of this, his novel begins an analysis of gender, even if it does not finish that analysis or maintain a self-consciousness about doing so.