The SFFaudio Podcast #411 – READALONG: The Chromium Fence by Philip K. Dick
Filed under: Podcasts
Talked about on today’s show:
Imagination, Stories Of Science Fiction and Fantasy, July 1955, his most obscure story, a great random story, everything he touches is chromium, the robot, metallic, on the fence, the commute disk, the invisible safety rail, flying carpets, reading the newspaper, he completed the load, beautiful writing,
EARTH TILTED toward six o’clock, the work-day almost over. Commute discs rose in dense swarms and billowed away from the industrial zone toward the surrounding residential rings. Like nocturnal moths, the thick clouds of discs darkened the evening sky. Silent, weightless, they whisked their passengers toward home and waiting families, hot meals and bed.
the ground, Detroit, ashes and cinders, this is the bus guys, Speech Sounds by Octavia Butler, a post apocalyptic story, Butler like Dick had to take the bus a lot, I like philosophy and music, he’s invented the strip mall, the counselor (charlie), do all the other stores have robots in them too?, weird touches, a boy and a girl making love, from the 1950s, he’s a sexual man, on point for everything happening right now, basically conapts, beauty of clunkiness,
Through the thin walls of the bright little dining room came the echoing clink of other families eating, other conversations in progress. The tinny blare of tv sets. The purr of stoves and freezers and air conditioners and wall-heaters.
you can really feel the world, the Philip K. Dick rhetorizer, the disgusting beauty of bodies, the bullshit idea, the brother in law,
Across from Walsh his brother-in-law Carl was gulping down a second plateful of steaming food.
It was true. Walsh gazed unhappily past his son, into the days that lay ahead. He saw himself involved in endless wretched situations like the one today; sometimes it would be Naturalists who attacked him, and other times (like last week) it would be enraged Purists.
being contrary, arguing both sides, the Horney amendment and the Butte petition, having your sweat glands removied, teeth whitened, no balding for you sir, we’re going underground, smaller portions, relating to this story after living in Hollywood, two kinds of people, half want to be dirty and bald and fat, oh no!, the B-Ark from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, something of Socrates dying here, tearing up the get out of jail free card, cold beams, frozen and then reduced to basic mineral elements, thisis the kind of act they freeze you for, millions of cryo-units,
the analyst sat back and gave a low, soundless whistle. “That’s a felony, Don. They’ll freeze you for that; it’s a provision of the new Amendment.”
the robot psychologist, a suitcase called Dr. Smile, A. Lincoln, Simulacrum, horrible and awesome,
“Don,” it called heartily. “Come on in and sit down.”
He entered and wearily seated himself. “I thought maybe I could talk to you, Charley,” he said.
“Sure, Don.” The robot leaned forward to see the clock on its wide mahogany desk. “But, isn’t it dinner time?”
“Yes,” Walsh admitted. “I’m not hungry. Charley, you know what we were talking about last time… you remember what I was saying. You remember what’s been bothering me.”
“Sure, Don.” The robot settled back in its swivel chair, rested its almost-convincing elbows on the desk, and regarded its patient kindly. “How’s it been going, the last couple of days?”
“Not so good. Charley, I’ve go to do something. You can help me; you’re not biased.” He appealed to the quasi-human face of metal and plastic. “You can see this undistorted, Charley. How can I join one of the parties? All their slogans and propaganda, it seems so damn — silly. How the hell can I get excited about clean teeth and underarm odor? People kill each other over these trifles… it doesn’t make sense. There’s going to be suicidal civil war, if that Amendment passes, and I’m supposed to join one side or the other.”
Charley nodded. “I have the picture, Don.”
“Am I supposed to go out and knock some fellow over the head because he does or doesn’t smell? Some man I never saw before? I won’t do it. I refuse. Why can’t they let me alone? Why can’t I have my own opinions? Why do I have to get in on this — insanity?”
The analyst smiled tolerantly. “That’s a little harsh, Don. You’re out of phase with your society, you know. So the cultural climate and mores seem a trifle unconvincing to you. But this is your society; you have to live in it. You can’t withdraw.”
Walsh forced his hands to relax. “Here’s what I think. Any man who wants to smell should be allowed to smell. Any man who doesn’t want to smell should go and get his glands removed. What’s the matter with that?”
“Don, you’re avoiding the issue.” The robot’s voice was calm, dispassionate. “What you’re saying is that neither side is right. And that’s foolish, isn’t it? One side must be right.”
did we not hear this in 2016?, it was the news channels, Hey Don!, an intellectual virgin,
“I have a right to hold my own ideas.”
“No, Don,” the robot answered gently. “They’re not your ideas; you didn’t create them. You can’t turn them on and off when you feel like it. They operate through you… they’re conditionings deposited by your environment. What you believe is a reflection of certain social forces and pressures. In your case the two mutually-exclusive social trends have produced a sort of stalemate. You’re at war with yourself… you can’t decide which side to join because elements of both exist in you.” The robot nodded wisely. “But you’ve got to make a decision. You’ve got to resolve this conflict and act. You can’t remain a spectator… you’ve got to be a participant. Nobody can be a spectator to life… and this is life.”
at his own advice, this is life,
“You mean there’s no other world but this business about sweat and teeth and hair?”
the third option, prescient of his own fiction, that channel didn’t make any sense, wait a second she’s getting paid to say that!, the robot’s umblical, he controlling institutions of society (Fox News and MSNBC), so creepy, a freaky world, on the nose, about any two parties or topics, the life extension program, Chew-Z vs. Can-D, a reaction against consumerism,
“I wish they’d get it over with, once and for all,” Betty complained. “Was it always this way? I don’t remember always hearing about politics when I was a child.”
men uncomfortable in their bodies, the beautiful androids of Marissa’s neighborhood, an alien philosopher pig (Beyond Lies The Wub), flabby, a tuft of the rough hair, a tear rolled down the wub’s cheek and splashed on the floor, you’re fat!,
“They didn’t call it politics, back in those days. The industrialists hammered away at the people to buy and consume. It centered around this hair-sweat-teeth purity; the city people got it and developed an ideology around it.”
Betty set the table and brought in the dishes of food. “You mean the Purist political movement was deliberately started?”
“They didn’t realize what a hold it was getting on them. They didn’t know their children were growing up to take such things as underarm perspiration and white teeth and nice-looking hair as the most important things in the world. Things worth fighting and dying for. Things important enough to kill those who didn’t agree.”
“The Naturalists were country people?”
“People who lived outside the cities and weren’t conditioned by the stimuli.” Walsh shook his head irritably. “Incredible, that one man will kill another over trivialities. All through history men murdering each other over verbal nonsense, meaningless slogans instilled in them by somebody else — who sits back and benefits.”
big-endians and the little-endians, Babylon 5‘s Drazi, Green. Purple!, we all have this, eyebrow threading, every unit, a nail salon, a dental salon, a hair salon, the alcohol store, no bookstores, the dog’s cant smell bad either, waste excretion tubes, still suits Dune by Frank Herbert, Counter-Clock World, hairless future humans, transcending the body, hatred of the body, consciousness uploading, The Quiet American by Graham Greene, eating vitamin paste, so ridiculous, trying to sell this story, this is not a New Yorker story, a satire, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift,
The police spread efficiently into the room. Standing around the immobile Carl, they examined him briefly, then moved away. “No body odor,” the police sergeant disagreed. “No halitosis. Hair thick and well-groomed.” He signalled, and Carl obediently opened his mouth. “Teeth white, totally brushed. Nothing non-acceptable. No, this man is all right.”
WWII, torchlight rallies, 1984, the Anti-Sex League, I’m proud of my smell, untenable, re-education, dying for the right to not care, bound up with belief, “red hair and beer-swollen features”, a plutonium ring, depleted uranium, a sissy kissing purist (turning us all into women), putting on make-up, why? why are we doing this to ourselves, Axe Body Spray, high-heels were invented for men in the 18th century French courts, you’re lucky we’re on the internet, on behalf of society, Code Red, billowing scent clouds, bread and coffee, a fun story to teach to kids, what is the illustration supposed to mean?, is it supposed to be symbolic?, two giant arms, nothing that happens in the story, low stakes, of our reality, mimics so much of what you’re seeing in the media, you lib-tard, you cuck, you’re thallamicly oriented, the animals vs. the lilies, that’s the rhetoric, you call this a peaceful protest, windows smashed, great damage done, Can a robot think for a man?, rejecting the robots advice, not caring, playing within the rules of the society, what people don’t like about Trump, you can’t say it that way, his political incorrectness is what people find offensive, in this story, in our reality, on the purist side, the sound of people chewing, don’t chew in her presence, last thoughts?, Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut, snarky vs. full horror, Vonnegut starts with horror and then goes tricky, a double take, such a funny story, how easy it is to completely brainwash people,
Walsh waved gratefully. “Thanks,” he called up. “I appreciate that.”
“Not at all,” the gray-haired man answered, cheerfully examining a broken tooth. His voice dwindled, as the disc gained altitude. “Always glad to help out a fellow…” The final words came drifting to Walsh’s ears. “… A fellow Purist.”
“I’m not!” Walsh shouted futilely. “I’m not a Purist and I’m not a Naturalist! You hear me?”
a total Dick move, Beyond The Door, do you think it was suicide?, I didn’t mean that…, but nobody heard him,
“I’m not,” Walsh repeated monotonously, as he sat at the dinner table spooning up creamed corn, potatoes, and rib steak.
Philip K. Dick food, what side is the mother on?, you can’t vote, a card carrying boot-stamping member, the left handed party and the right handed party, star-bellied Sneetches, Star Trek, endlessly fighting for all eternity.
Posted by Jesse Willis
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