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Alfred Adler

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Alfred Adler
Alfred Adler (1870-1937) Austrian psychiatrist.jpg

Alfred Adler
Born
Alfred Adler

7 February 1870

Died 28 May 1937 (aged 67)

Residence Austria
Nationality Austrian
Alma mater University of Vienna
Known for Individual psychology
Superiority complex
Inferiority complex
Style of life
Spouse(s) Raissa Epstein
Children Alexandra Adler, Kurt Adler, Valentine Adler, Cornelia Adler
Scientific career
Fields Psychotherapistpsychiatrist
Part of a series of articles on
Psychoanalysis
Freud's couch, London, 2004 (2).jpeg

Alfred Adler (/ˈædlər/;[1] German: [ˈaːdlɐ]; 7 February 1870 – 28 May 1937) was an Austrian medical doctorpsychotherapist, and founder of the school of individual psychology.[2] His emphasis on the importance of feelings of inferiority,[3] the inferiority complex, is recognized as an isolating element which plays a key role in personality development.[4] Alfred Adler considered a human being as an individual whole, therefore he called his psychology “Individual Psychology” (Orgler 1976).

Adler was the first to emphasize the importance of the social element in the re-adjustment process of the individual and who carried psychiatry into the community.[5] A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Adler as the 67th most eminent psychologist of the 20th century.[6]

Early life

Alfred Adler was born at Mariahilfer Straße 208[7] in Rudolfsheim, then a village on the western fringes of Vienna, and today part of Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus, the 15th district of the city. He was second of the seven children of a Hungarian-bornJewish grain merchant and his wife.[8][9] Alfred’s younger brother died in the bed next to him, when Alfred was only three years old.[10]

Alfred was an active, popular child and an average student who was also known for his competitive attitude toward his older brother, Sigmund.

Early on, he developed rickets, which kept him from walking until he was four years old. At the age of four, he developed pneumonia and heard a doctor say to his father, “Your boy is lost”. At that point, he decided to be a physician.[11] He was very interested in the subjects of psychology, sociology and philosophy.[12] After studying at University of Vienna, he specialized as an eye doctor, and later in neurology and psychiatry.[12]

Career

Adler began his medical career as an ophthalmologist, but he soon switched to general practice, and established his office in a less affluent part of Vienna across from the Prater, a combination amusement park and circus. His clients included circus people, and it has been suggested[11] that the unusual strengths and weaknesses of the performers led to his insights into “organ inferiorities” and “compensation”.

In 1902 Adler received an invitation from Sigmund Freud to join an informal discussion group that included Rudolf Reitler and Wilhelm Stekel. The group, the “Wednesday Society” (Mittwochsgesellschaft), met regularly on Wednesday evenings at Freud’s home and was the beginning of the psychoanalytic movement, expanding over time to include many more members. Each week a member would present a paper and after a short break of coffee and cakes, the group would discuss it. The main members were Otto Rank, Max Eitingon, Wilhelm Stekel, Karl Abraham, Hanns Sachs, Fritz Wittels, Max Graf, and Sandor Ferenczi. In 1908, Adler presented his paper, ”The aggressive instinct in life and in neurosis”, at a time when Freud believed that early sexual development was the primary determinant of the making of character, with which Adler took issue. Adler proposed that the sexual and aggressive drives were ”two originally separate instincts which merge later on”. Freud at the time disagreed with this idea.

When Freud later proposed his dual instinct theory of libido and aggressive drives in Freud’s 1920) Beyond the Pleasure Principle, without citing Adler, he was reproached that Adler had proposed the aggressive drive in his 1908 paper (Eissler, 1971). Freud later commented in a 1923 footnote he added to the Little Hans case that, ”I have myself been obliged to assert the existence of an aggressive instinct” (1909, p. 140, 2), while pointing out that his conception of an aggressive drive differs from that of Adler. A long-serving member of the group, he made many more beyond this 1908 pivotal contribution to the group, and Adler became president of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society eight years later (1910). He remained a member of the Society until 1911, when he and a group of his supporters formally disengaged from Freud’s circle, the first of the great dissenters from orthodox psychoanalysis (preceding Carl Jung‘s split in 1914).[13] This departure suited both Freud and Adler, since they had grown to dislike each other. During his association with Freud, Adler frequently maintained his own ideas which often diverged from Freud’s. While Adler is often referred to as “a pupil of Freud”, in fact this was never true; they were colleagues, Freud referring to him in print in 1909 as “My colleague Dr Alfred Adler”.[14] In 1929 Adler showed a reporter with the New York Herald a copy of the faded postcard that Freud had sent him in 1902. He wanted to prove that he had never been a disciple of Freud’s but rather that Freud had sought him out to share his ideas.

Adler founded the Society for Individual Psychology in 1912 after his break from the psychoanalytic movement. Adler’s group initially included some orthodox Nietzschean adherents (who believed that Adler’s ideas on power and inferiority were closer to Nietzsche than Freud’s). Their enmity aside, Adler retained a lifelong admiration for Freud’s ideas on dreams and credited him with creating a scientific approach to their clinical utilization (Fiebert, 1997). Nevertheless, even regarding dream interpretation, Adler had his own theoretical and clinical approach. The primary differences between Adler and Freud centered on Adler’s contention that the social realm (exteriority) is as important to psychology as is the internal realm (interiority). The dynamics of power and compensation extend beyond sexuality, and gender and politics can be as important as libido. Moreover, Freud did not share Adler’s socialist beliefs, the latter’s wife being for example an intimate friend of many of the Russian Marxists such as Leon Trotsky.[15]

The Adlerian school

Following Adler’s break from Freud, he enjoyed considerable success and celebrity in building an independent school of psychotherapy and a unique personality theory. He traveled and lectured for a period of 25 years promoting his socially oriented approach. His intent was to build a movement that would rival, even supplant, others in psychology by arguing for the holistic integrity of psychological well-being with that of social equality. Adler’s efforts were halted by World War I, during which he served as a doctor with the Austro-Hungarian Army. After the conclusion of the war, his influence increased greatly. In the 1920s, he established a number of child guidance clinics. From 1921 onwards, he was a frequent lecturer in Europe and the United States, becoming a visiting professor at Columbia University in 1927. His clinical treatment methods for adults were aimed at uncovering the hidden purpose of symptoms using the therapeutic functions of insight and meaning.

Adler was concerned with the overcoming of the superiority/inferiority dynamic and was one of the first psychotherapists to discard the analytic couch in favor of two chairs. This allows the clinician and patient to sit together more or less as equals. Clinically, Adler’s methods are not limited to treatment after-the-fact but extend to the realm of prevention by preempting future problems in the child. Prevention strategies include encouraging and promoting social interest, belonging, and a cultural shift within families and communities that leads to the eradication of pampering and neglect (especially corporal punishment). Adler’s popularity was related to the comparative optimism and comprehensibility of his ideas. He often wrote for the lay public. Adler always retained a pragmatic approach that was task-oriented. These “Life tasks” are occupation/work, society/friendship, and love/sexuality. Their success depends on cooperation. The tasks of life are not to be considered in isolation since, as Adler famously commented, “they all throw cross-lights on one another”.[16]

In his bestselling book, Man’s Search for MeaningDr. Viktor E. Frankl compared his own “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy” (after Freud’s and Adler’s schools) to Adler’s analysis:

According to logotherapy, the striving to find a meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man. That is why I speak of a will to meaning in contrast to the “pleasure principle” (or, as we could also term it, the will to pleasure) on which Freudian psychoanalysis is centered, as well as in contrast to the will to power stressed by Adlerian psychology.[17]

Emigration

In the early 1930s, after most of Adler’s Austrian clinics had been closed due to his Jewish heritage (despite his conversion to Christianity), Adler left Austria for a professorship at the Long Island College of Medicine in the US. Adler died from a heart attack in 1937 in Aberdeen, Scotland, during a lecture tour, although his remains went missing and were unaccounted for until 2007.[18] His death was a temporary blow to the influence of his ideas, although a number of them were subsequently taken up by neo-Freudians. Through the work of Rudolf Dreikurs in the United States and many other adherents worldwide, Adlerian ideas and approaches remain strong and viable more than 70 years after Adler’s death.

Around the world there are various organizations promoting Adler’s orientation towards mental and social well-being. These include the International Committee of Adlerian Summer Schools and Institutes (ICASSI), the North American Society of Adlerian Psychology(NASAP) and the International Association for Individual Psychology. Teaching institutes and programs exist in Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Switzerland, the United States, Jamaica, Peru, and Wales.

Basic principles

Adler was influenced by the mental construct ideas of the philosopher Hans Vaihinger (The Philosophy of ‘As if’) and the literature of Dostoyevsky. While still a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society he developed a theory of organic inferiority and compensation that was the prototype for his later turn to phenomenology and the development of his famous concept, the inferiority complex.

Adler was also influenced by the philosophies of Immanuel KantFriedrich NietzscheRudolf Virchow and the statesman Jan Smuts (who coined the term “holism“). Adler’s School, known as “Individual Psychology”—an arcane reference to the Latin individuus meaning indivisibility, a term intended to emphasize holism—is both a social and community psychology as well as a depth psychology. Adler was an early advocate in psychology for prevention and emphasized the training of parents, teachers, social workers and so on in democratic approaches that allow a child to exercise their power through reasoned decision making whilst co-operating with others. He was a social idealist, and was known as a socialist in his early years of association with psychoanalysis (1902–1911).[19]

Adler was pragmatic and believed that lay people could make practical use of the insights of psychology. Adler was also an early supporter of feminism in psychology and the social world, believing that feelings of superiority and inferiority were often gendered and expressed symptomatically in characteristic masculine and feminine styles. These styles could form the basis of psychic compensation and lead to mental health difficulties. Adler also spoke of “safeguarding tendencies” and neurotic behavior[20] long before Anna Freudwrote about the same phenomena in her book The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense.

Adlerian-based scholarly, clinical and social practices focus on the following topics:[citation needed]

  • Social interest and community feeling
  • Holism and the creative self
  • Fictional finalism, teleology, and goal constructs
  • Psychological and social encouragement
  • Inferiority, superiority and compensation
  • Life style/style of life
  • Early recollections (a projective technique)
  • Family constellation and birth order
  • Life tasks and social embeddedness
  • The conscious and unconscious realms
  • Private logic and common sense (based in part on Kant’s “sensus communis“)
  • Symptoms and neurosis
  • Safeguarding behaviour
  • Guilt and guilt feelings
  • Socratic questioning
  • Dream interpretation
  • Child and adolescent psychology
  • Democratic approaches to parenting and families
  • Adlerian approaches to classroom management
  • Leadership and organisational psychology

From its inception, Adlerian psychology has included both professional and lay adherents. Adler felt that all people could make use of the scientific insights garnered by psychology and he welcomed everyone, from decorated academics to those with no formal education to participate in spreading the principles of Adlerian psychology.[citation needed]

Adler’s approach to personality

Adler’s book, Über den nervösen Charakter (The Neurotic Character) defines his earlier key ideas. He argued that human personality could be explained teleologically: parts of the individual’s unconscious self ideally work to convert feelings of inferiority to superiority (or rather completeness).[21] The desires of the self ideal were countered by social and ethical demands. If the corrective factors were disregarded and the individual overcompensated, then an inferiority complex would occur, fostering the danger of the individual becoming egocentric, power-hungry and aggressive or worse.[22]

Common therapeutic tools include the use of humor, historical instances, and paradoxical injunctions.[23]

Psychodynamics and teleology

Adler maintained that human psychology is psychodynamic in nature. Unlike Freud’s metapsychology that emphasizes instinctual demands, human psychology is guided by goals and fueled by a yet unknown creative force. Like Freud’s instincts, Adler’s fictive goals are largely unconscious. These goals have a “teleological” function.[24] Constructivist Adlerians, influenced by neo-Kantian and Nietzschean ideas, view these “teleological” goals as “fictions” in the sense that Hans Vaihinger spoke of (fictio). Usually there is a fictional final goal which can be deciphered alongside of innumerable sub-goals. The inferiority/superiority dynamic is constantly at work through various forms of compensation and overcompensation. For example, in anorexia nervosa the fictive final goal is to “be perfectly thin” (overcompensation on the basis of a feeling of inferiority). Hence, the fictive final goal can serve a persecutory function that is ever-present in subjectivity (though its trace springs are usually unconscious). The end goal of being “thin” is fictive however since it can never be subjectively achieved.

Teleology serves another vital function for Adlerians. Chilon’s “hora telos” (“see the end, consider the consequences”) provides for both healthy and maladaptive psychodynamics. Here we also find Adler’s emphasis on personal responsibility in mentally healthy subjects who seek their own and the social good.

Constructivism and metaphysics

The metaphysical thread of Adlerian theory does not problematise the notion of teleology since concepts such as eternity (an ungraspable end where time ceases to exist) match the religious aspects that are held in tandem. In contrast, the constructivist Adlerian threads (either humanist/modernist or postmodern in variant) seek to raise insight of the force of unconscious fictions– which carry all of the inevitability of ‘fate’– so long as one does not understand them. Here, ‘teleology’ itself is fictive yet experienced as quite real. This aspect of Adler’s theory is somewhat analogous to the principles developed in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and Cognitive Therapy (CT). Both Albert Ellis and Aaron T. Beck credit Adler as a major precursor to REBT and CT. Ellis in particular was a member of the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology and served as an editorial board member for the Adlerian Journal Individual Psychology.[citation needed]

As a psychodynamic system, Adlerians excavate the past of a client/patient in order to alter their future and increase integration into community in the ‘here-and-now’.[25] The ‘here-and-now’ aspects are especially relevant to those Adlerians who emphasize humanism and/or existentialism in their approaches.

Holism

Metaphysical Adlerians emphasise a spiritual holism in keeping with what Jan Smuts articulated (Smuts coined the term “holism”), that is, the spiritual sense of one-ness that holism usually implies (etymology of holism: from ὅλος holos, a Greek word meaning all, entire, total) Smuts believed that evolution involves a progressive series of lesser wholes integrating into larger ones. Whilst Smuts’ text Holism and Evolution is thought to be a work of science, it actually attempts to unify evolution with a higher metaphysical principle (holism). The sense of connection and one-ness revered in various religious traditions (among these, Baha’i, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism) finds a strong complement in Adler’s thought.[citation needed]

The pragmatic and materialist aspects to contextualizing members of communities, the construction of communities and the socio-historical-political forces that shape communities matter a great deal when it comes to understanding an individual’s psychological make-up and functioning. This aspect of Adlerian psychology holds a high level of synergy with the field of community psychology, especially given Adler’s concern for what he called “the absolute truth and logic of communal life”.[26] However, Adlerian psychology, unlike community psychology, is holistically concerned with both prevention and clinical treatment after-the-fact. Hence, Adler can be considered the “first community psychologist”, a discourse that formalized in the decades following Adler’s death (King & Shelley, 2008).

Adlerian psychology, Carl Jung‘s analytical psychologyGestalt therapy and Karen Horney‘s psychodynamic approach are holistic schools of psychology. These discourses eschew a reductive approach to understanding human psychology and psychopathology.[citation needed]

Typology

Adler developed a scheme of so-called personality types, which were however always to be taken as provisional or heuristic since he did not, in essence, believe in personality types, and at different times proposed different and equally tentative systems.[27] The danger with typology is to lose sight of the individual’s uniqueness and to gaze reductively, acts that Adler opposed. Nevertheless, he intended to illustrate patterns that could denote a characteristic governed under the overall style of life. Hence American Adlerians such as Harold Mosak have made use of Adler’s typology in this provisional sense:[28]

  • The Getting or Leaning They are sensitive people who have developed a shell around themselves which protects them, but they must rely on others to carry them through life’s difficulties. They have low energy levels and so become dependent. When overwhelmed, they develop what we typically think of as neurotic symptoms: phobias, obsessions and compulsions, general anxiety, hysteria, amnesias, and so on, depending on individual details of their lifestyle.
  • The Avoiding types are those that hate being defeated. They may be successful, but have not taken any risks getting there. They are likely to have low social contact in fear of rejection or defeat in any way.
  • The Ruling or Dominant type strive for power and are willing to manipulate situations and people, anything to get their way. People of this type are also prone to anti-social behavior.
  • The Socially Useful types are those who are very outgoing and very active. They have a lot of social contact and strive to make changes for the good.

These ‘types’ are typically formed in childhood and are expressions of the Style of Life.

The importance of memories

Adler placed great emphasis upon the interpretation of early memories in working with patients and school children, writing that, “Among all psychic expressions, some of the most revealing are the individual’s memories.”[29] Adler viewed memories as expressions of “private logic” and as metaphors for an individual’s personal philosophy of life or “lifestyle”. He maintained that memories are never incidental or trivial; rather, they are chosen reminders: “(A person’s) memories are the reminders she carries about with her of her limitations and of the meanings of events. There are no ‘chance’ memories. Out of the incalculable number of impressions that an individual receives, she chooses to remember only those which she considers, however dimly, to have a bearing on her problems.”[30]

On birth order

Adler often emphasized one’s birth order as having an influence on the style of life and the strengths and weaknesses in one’s psychological make up.[31] Birth order referred to the placement of siblings within the family. Adler believed that the firstborn child would be in a favorable position, enjoying the full attention of the eager new parents until the arrival of a second child. This second child would cause the first born to suffer feelings of dethronement, no longer being the center of attention. Adler (1908) believed that in a three-child family, the oldest child would be the most likely to suffer from neuroticism and substance addiction which he reasoned was a compensation for the feelings of excessive responsibility “the weight of the world on one’s shoulders” (e.g. having to look after the younger ones) and the melancholic loss of that once supremely pampered position. As a result, he predicted that this child was the most likely to end up in jail or an asylum. Youngest children would tend to be overindulged, leading to poor social empathy. Consequently, the middle child, who would experience neither dethronement nor overindulgence, was most likely to develop into a successful individual yet also most likely to be a rebel and to feel squeezed-out. Adler himself was the third (some sources credit second) in a family of six children.

Adler never produced any scientific support for his interpretations on birth order roles, nor did he feel the need to. Yet the value of the hypothesis was to extend the importance of siblings in marking the psychology of the individual beyond Freud’s more limited emphasis on the mother and father. Hence, Adlerians spend time therapeutically mapping the influence that siblings (or lack thereof) had on the psychology of their clients. The idiographic approach entails an excavation of the phenomenology of one’s birth order position for likely influence on the subject’s Style of Life. In sum, the subjective experiences of sibling positionality and inter-relations are psychodynamically important for Adlerian therapists and personality theorists, not the cookbook predictions that may or may not have been objectively true in Adler’s time.

For Adler, birth order answered the question, “Why do children, who are raised in the same family, grow up with very different personalities?” While a strict geneticist, believing siblings are raised in a shared environment, may claim any differences in personality would be caused by subtle variations in the individuals’ genetics, Adler showed through his birth order theory that children do not grow up in the same shared environment, but the oldest child grows up in a family where they have younger siblings, the middle child with older and younger siblings, and the youngest with older siblings. The position in the family constellation, Adler said, is the reason for these differences in personality and not genetics: a point later taken up by Eric Berne.[32]

On addiction

Adler’s insight into birth order, compensation and issues relating to the individuals’ perception of community also led him to investigate the causes and treatment of substance abuse disorders, particularly alcoholism and morphinism, which already were serious social problems of his time. Adler’s work with addicts was significant since most other prominent proponents of psychoanalysis invested relatively little time and thought into this widespread ill of the modern and post-modern age. In addition to applying his individual psychology approach of organ inferiority, for example, to the onset and causes of addictive behaviours, he also tried to find a clear relationship of drug cravings to sexual gratification or their substitutions. Early pharmaco-therapeutic interventions with non-addictive substances, such as neuphyllin were used, since withdrawal symptoms were explained by a form of “water-poisoning” that made the use of diuretics necessary. Adler and his wife’s pragmatic approach, and the seemingly high success rates of their treatment were based on their ideas of social functioning and well-being. Clearly, life style choices and situations were emphasized, for example the need for relaxation or the negative effects of early childhood conflicts were examined, which compared to other authoritarian or religious treatment regimens, were clearly modern approaches. Certainly some of his observations, for example that psychopaths were more likely to be drug addicts are not compatible with current methodologies and theories of substance abuse treatment, but the self-centred attributes of the illness and the clear escapism from social responsibilities by pathological addicts put Adler’s treatment modalities clearly into a modern contextual reasoning.[33]

On homosexuality

Adler’s ideas regarding non-heterosexual sexuality and various social forms of deviance have long been controversial. Along with prostitution and criminality, Adler had classified ‘homosexuals’ as falling among the “failures of life”. In 1917, he began his writings on homosexuality with a 52-page magazine, and sporadically published more thoughts throughout the rest of his life.

The Dutch psychologist Gerard J. M. van den Aardweg underlines how Alfred Adler came to his conclusions for, in 1917, Adler believed that he had established a connection between homosexuality and an inferiority complex towards one’s own gender. This point of view differed from Freud’s theory that homosexuality is rooted in narcissism or Jung‘s view of expressions of contrasexuality vis-à-vis the archetypes of the Anima and Animus.

There is evidence that Adler may have moved towards abandoning the hypothesis. Towards the end of Adler’s life, in the mid-1930s, his opinion towards homosexuality began to shift. Elizabeth H. McDowell, a New York state family social worker recalls undertaking supervision with Adler on a young man who was “living in sin” with an older man in New York City. Adler asked her, “Is he happy, would you say?” “Oh yes,” McDowell replied. Adler then stated, “Well, why don’t we leave him alone.”[34]

According to Phyllis Bottome, who wrote Adler’s Biography (after Adler himself laid upon her that task): “He always treated homosexuality as lack of courage. These were but ways of obtaining a slight release for a physical need while avoiding a greater obligation. A transient partner of your own sex is a better known road and requires less courage than a permanent contact with an “unknown” sex. […] Adler taught that men cannot be judged from within by their “possessions,” as he used to call nerves, glands, traumas, drives et cetera, since both judge and prisoner are liable to misconstrue what is invisible and incalculable; but that he can be judged, with no danger from introspection, by how he measures up to the three common life tasks set before every human being between the cradle and the grave. Work or employment, love or marriage, social contact.”[35]

Parent education

Adler emphasized both treatment and prevention. With regard to psychodynamic psychology, Adlerians emphasize the foundational importance of childhood in developing personality and any tendency towards various forms of psychopathology. The best way to inoculate against what are now termed “personality disorders” (what Adler had called the “neurotic character”), or a tendency to various neurotic conditions (depression, anxiety, etc.), is to train a child to be and feel an equal part of the family. The responsibility of the optimal development of the child is not limited to the mother or father, but rather includes teachers and society more broadly. Adler argued therefore that teachers, nurses, social workers, and so on require training in parent education to complement the work of the family in fostering a democratic character. When a child does not feel equal and is enacted upon (abused through pampering or neglect) he or she is likely to develop inferiority or superiority complexes and various concomitant compensation strategies.[36] These strategies exact a social toll by seeding higher divorce rates, the breakdown of the family, criminal tendencies, and subjective suffering in the various guises of psychopathology. Adlerians have long promoted parent education groups, especially those influenced by the famous Austrian/American Adlerian Rudolf Dreikurs (Dreikurs & Soltz, 1964).

Spirituality, ecology and community

In a late work, Social Interest: A Challenge to Mankind (1938), Adler turns to the subject of metaphysics, where he integrates Jan Smuts’ evolutionary holism with the ideas of teleology and community: “sub specie aeternitatis“. Unabashedly, he argues his vision of society: “Social feeling means above all a struggle for a communal form that must be thought of as eternally applicable… when humanity has attained its goal of perfection… an ideal society amongst all mankind, the ultimate fulfillment of evolution.”[37] Adler follows this pronouncement with a defense of metaphysics:

I see no reason to be afraid of metaphysics; it has had a great influence on human life and development. We are not blessed with the possession of absolute truth; on that account we are compelled to form theories for ourselves about our future, about the results of our actions, etc. Our idea of social feeling as the final form of humanity – of an imagined state in which all the problems of life are solved and all our relations to the external world rightly adjusted – is a regulative ideal, a goal that gives our direction. This goal of perfection must bear within it the goal of an ideal community, because all that we value in life, all that endures and continues to endure, is eternally the product of this social feeling.[38]

This social feeling for Adler is Gemeinschaftsgefühl, a community feeling whereby one feels he or she belongs with others and has also developed an ecological connection with nature (plants, animals, the crust of this earth) and the cosmos as a whole, sub specie aeternitatis. Clearly, Adler himself had little problem with adopting a metaphysical and spiritual point of view to support his theories. Yet his overall theoretical yield provides ample room for the dialectical humanist (modernist) and the postmodernist to explain the significance of community and ecology through differing lenses (even if Adlerians have not fully considered how deeply divisive and contradictory these three threads of metaphysics, modernism, and post modernism are).

Death and cremation

Adler died suddenly in AberdeenScotland, in May 1937, during a three-week visit to the University of Aberdeen. While walking down the street, he was seen to collapse and lie motionless on the pavement. As a man ran over to him and loosened his collar, Adler mumbled “Kurt”, the name of his son and died. The autopsy performed determined his death was caused by a degeneration of the heart muscle.[39] His body was cremated at Warriston Crematorium in Edinburgh but the ashes were never reclaimed. In 2007, his ashes were rediscovered in a casket at Warriston Crematorium and returned to Vienna for burial in 2011.[40]

Use of Adler’s work without attribution

Much of Adler’s theories have been absorbed into modern psychology without attribution. Psychohistorian Henri F. Ellenberger writes, “It would not be easy to find another author from which so much has been borrowed on all sides without acknowledgement than Alfred Adler.” Ellenberger posits several theories for “the discrepancy between greatness of achievement, massive rejection of person and work, and wide-scale, quiet plagiarism…” These include Adler’s “imperfect” style of writing and demeanor, his “capacity to create a new obviousness,” and his lack of a large and well organized following.[41]

Influence on depth psychology

In collaboration with Sigmund Freud and a small group of Freud’s colleagues, Adler was among the co-founders of the psychoanalytic movement and a core member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society: indeed, to Freud he was “the only personality there”.[42] He was the first major figure to break away from psychoanalysis to form an independent school of psychotherapy and personality theory,[43] which he called individual psychology because he believed a human to be an indivisible whole, an individuum. He also imagined a person to be connected or associated with the surrounding world.[44]

This was after Freud declared Adler’s ideas as too contrary, leading to an ultimatum to all members of the Society (which Freud had shepherded) to drop Adler or be expelled, disavowing the right to dissent (Makari, 2008). Nevertheless, Freud always took Adler’s ideas seriously, calling them “honorable errors. Though one rejects the content of Adler’s views, one can recognize their consistency and significance.”[45] Following this split, Adler would come to have an enormous, independent effect on the disciplines of counseling and psychotherapy as they developed over the course of the 20th century (Ellenberger, 1970). He influenced notable figures in subsequent schools of psychotherapy such as Rollo MayViktor FranklAbraham Maslow and Albert Ellis.[46] His writings preceded, and were at times surprisingly consistent with, later neo-Freudian insights such as those evidenced in the works of Otto RankKaren HorneyHarry Stack Sullivan and Erich Fromm, some considering that it would take several decades for Freudian ego psychology to catch up with Adler’s ground-breaking approach.[47]

Adler emphasized the importance of equality in preventing various forms of psychopathology, and espoused the development of social interest and democratic family structures for raising children.[48] His most famous concept is the inferiority complex which speaks to the problem of self-esteem and its negative effects on human health (e.g. sometimes producing a paradoxical superiority striving). His emphasis on power dynamics is rooted in the philosophy of Nietzsche, whose works were published a few decades before Adler’s. Specifically, Adler’s conceptualization of the “Will to Power” focuses on the individual’s creative power to change for the better.[49] Adler argued for holism, viewing the individual holistically rather than reductively, the latter being the dominant lens for viewing human psychology. Adler was also among the first in psychology to argue in favor of feminism, and the female analyst,[50] making the case that power dynamics between men and women (and associations with masculinity and femininity) are crucial to understanding human psychology (Connell, 1995). Adler is considered, along with Freud and Jung, to be one of the three founding figures of depth psychology, which emphasizes the unconscious and psychodynamics (Ellenberger, 1970; Ehrenwald, 1991); and thus to be one of the three great psychologists/philosophers of the twentieth century.[51]

Personal life

During his college years, he had become attached to a group of socialist students, among which he had found his wife-to-be, Raissa Timofeyewna Epstein, an intellectual and social activist from Russia studying in Vienna. They married in 1897 and had four children, two of whom became psychiatrists.[52] Their children were writer, psychiatrist and Socialist activist Alexandra Adler;[53] psychiatrist Kurt Adler;[54] writer and activist Valentine Adler;[55] and Cornelia “Nelly” Adler.[56]

Author and journalist Margot Adler (1946-2014) was Adler’s granddaughter.

Artistic and cultural references

The two main characters in the novel Plant Teacher engage in a session of Adlerian lifestyle interpretation, including early memory interpretation.[57]

English-language Adlerian journals

North America
United Kingdom
  • Adlerian Yearbook (Adlerian Society, UK)

Publications

Alfred Adler’s key publications were The Practice and Theory of Individual Psychology (1927), Understanding Human Nature (1927), & What Life Could Mean to You (1931). Other important publications are The Pattern of Life (1930), The Science of Living (1930), The Neurotic Constitution (1917), The Problems of Neurosis (1930). In his lifetime, Adler published more than 300 books and articles.

The Alfred Adler Institute of Northwestern Washington has recently published a twelve-volume set of The Collected Clinical Works of Alfred Adler, covering his writings from 1898-1937. An entirely new translation of Adler’s magnum opus, The Neurotic Character, is featured in Volume 1. Volume 12 provides comprehensive overviews of Adler’s mature theory and contemporary Adlerian practice.

  • Volume 1 : The Neurotic Character — 1907
  • Volume 2 : Journal Articles 1898-1909
  • Volume 3 : Journal Articles 1910-1913
  • Volume 4 : Journal Articles 1914-1920
  • Volume 5 : Journal Articles 1921-1926
  • Volume 6 : Journal Articles 1927-1931
  • Volume 7 : Journal Articles 1931-1937
  • Volume 8 : Lectures to Physicians & Medical Students
  • Volume 9 : Case Histories
  • Volume 10 : Case Readings & Demonstrations
  • Volume 11 : Education for Prevention
  • Volume 12 : The General System of Individual Psychology

Other key Adlerian texts

  • Adler, A. (1964). The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler. H. L. Ansbacher and R. R. Ansbacher (Eds.). New York: Harper Torchbooks. ISBN 0-06-131154-5.
  • Adler, A. (1979). Superiority and Social Interest: A Collection of Later Writings. H. L. Ansbacher and R. R. Ansbacher (Eds.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-00910-6.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ “Adler”Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.
  2. ^ Hoffman, E (1994). The Drive for Self: Alfred Adler and the Founding of Individual Psychology. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. pp. 41–91. ISBN 978-0-201-63280-4.
  3. ^ Alfred Adler, Understanding Human Nature (1992) Chapter 6
  4. ^ Carlson, Neil R (2010). Psychology the science of behaviour.
  5. ^ “my.access — University of Toronto Libraries Portal”. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  6. ^ Haggbloom, Steven J.; Warnick, Renee; Warnick, Jason E.; Jones, Vinessa K.; Yarbrough, Gary L.; Russell, Tenea M.; Borecky, Chris M.; McGahhey, Reagan; et al. (2002). “The 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century”Review of General Psychology6 (2): 139–152. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.6.2.139.
  7. ^ Prof. Dr. Klaus Lohrmann “Jüdisches Wien. Kultur-Karte” (2003), Mosse-Berlin Mitte gGmbH (Verlag Jüdische Presse)
  8. ^ “Alfred Adler Biography”. Encyclopedia of World Biography. Archived from the original on 7 January 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  9. ^ O., Prochaska, James (2013-05-10). Systems of psychotherapy : a transtheoretical analysis. Norcross, John C., 1957- (Eighth ed.). Stamford, CT. ISBN 9781133314516OCLC 851089001.
  10. ^ Orgler, Hertha. Alfred Adler, the Man and His Work;. London: C. W. Daniel, 1939. 67. Print.
  11. Jump up to:a b C. George Boeree (1937-05-28). “Personality Theories – Alfred Adler by Dr. C. George Boeree”. Webspace.ship.edu. Retrieved 2014-05-19.
  12. Jump up to:a b Orgler, H. (1976). Alfred Adler. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 22(1), 67-68.
  13. ^ For further detail, see Sigmund Freud#Resignations from the IPA
  14. ^ Sigmund Freud, Case Histories II (PFL 9) p. 41n
  15. ^ Jones, p. 401
  16. ^ The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler, 1956, edited by H. L. Ansbacher, R. R. Ansbacher, pp. 132–133
  17. ^ Frankl, Viktor. (1959). Man’s Search for Meaning. Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press; also, Seidner, Stanley S. (June 10, 2009) “A Trojan Horse: Logotherapeutic Transcendence and its Secular Implications for Theology”Mater Dei Institute. pp 10-12.
  18. ^ Carrell, Severin (11 April 2011). “Ashes of psychoanalysis co-founder Alfred Adler found after 74 years”The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 13 April 2011. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  19. ^ “Alfred Adler’s Influence on the Three Leading Cofounders of Humanistic Psychology”. Journal of Humanistic Psychology (September 1990).
  20. ^ Encyclopedia of Theory & Practice in Psychotherapy & Counseling By Jose A. Fadul (General Editor)
  21. ^ ‘Inferiority Complex’, in Richard Gregory ed, The Oxford Companion to the Mind (1987) p. 368
  22. ^ Adler, Understanding Ch. 11 ‘Aggressive Character Traits’
  23. ^ Gerald Corey, Theory and Practice of Counselling and Psychotherapy (1991)p. 155 and p. 385
  24. ^ Adler, Understanding p. 69-76
  25. ^ Adler, Understanding p. 139-42
  26. ^ Adler, Understanding p. 209
  27. ^ Henri F. Ellenberger, The Discovery of the Unconscious (1970) p. 624
  28. ^ H. H. Mosak/M. Maniacci, A Primer of Adlerian Psychology (1999) p. 64-5
  29. ^ Adler, Alfred. What Life Could Mean to You. 1998, Hazelden Foundation. Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden. 58.
  30. ^ Adler, Alfred. What Life Could Mean to You. 1998, Hazelden Foundation. Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden. 58–59.
  31. ^ Adler, Understanding Ch 9 “The Family Constellation”
  32. ^ Eric Berne, What Do You Say After You Say Hello? (1975) p. 71-81
  33. ^ Adler, A. (1932). Narcotic Abuse and Alcoholism, Chapter VII. p. 50-65. The Collected Clinical Works of Alfred Adler: Journal articles: 1931-1937. Transl. by G.L.Liebenau. T.Stein (2005). ISBN 0-9715645-8-2.
  34. ^ Manaster, Painter, Deutsch, and Overholt, 1977, pp. 81–82
  35. ^ “Alfred Adler – A Biography”, G.P.Putnam’s Sons, New York (copyright 1939), chap. Chief Contributions to Thought, subchap. 7, The Masculine Protest, and subchap. 9, Three Life Tasks, page 160.
  36. ^ Adler, Understanding p. 44-5
  37. ^ Social Interest: A Challenge to Mankind, Alfred Adler, 1938, translated by Linton John, Richard Vaughan, p. 275
  38. ^ Social Interest: A Challenge to Mankind, Alfred Adler, 1938, translated by Linton John, Richard Vaughan, pp. 275–276
  39. ^ Donaldson, Norman and Betty (1980). How Did They Die?. Greenwich House. ISBN 978-0-517-40302-0.
  40. ^ “Lost ashes of Alfred Adler return to Vienna”BBC News. 18 April 2011.
  41. ^ Ellenberger, Henri F. “The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry.” United States of America. Basic Books. 1970. Pages 645-646.
  42. ^ Freud, quoted in Ernest Jones, The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 353
  43. ^ Stepansky, P (1983). In Freud’s Shadow: Adler in Context. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum. p. 325. ISBN 978-0-88163-007-7.
  44. ^ Orgler H (1976). “Alfred Adler”. International Journal of Social Psychiatry22 (1): 67–68. doi:10.1177/002076407602200110PMID 783061.
  45. ^ Quoted in Jones, p. 400
  46. ^ Stein, H.T. (2008). “Adler’s Legacy: Past, Present, and Future”. Journal of Individual Psychology64 (1): 4–20.
  47. ^ Ruth L. Munroe, Schools of Psychoanalytic Thought (1957) p. 437
  48. ^ Adler, Alfred (1931). What Life Could Mean to You. Center City, MN: Hazelden.
  49. ^ Stepp, G. “A Psychology of Change”.
  50. ^ Peter Gay, Freud: A Life for our Time (1988) p. 503n
  51. ^ James Hemming, Foreword, Alfred Adler, Understanding Human Nature (1992) p. 9
  52. ^ “Classical Adlerian Photograph Gallery”. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  53. ^ “Adler, Valentine (1898–1942)”Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Gale Research Inc. Archived from the original on 18 May 2013. Retrieved 10 January2013.(subscription required)
  54. ^ Burkhart, Ford. “Dr. Kurt Alfred Adler, 92; Directed Therapeutic Institute”The New York Times. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  55. ^ Hoffman, Edward (1994). The drive for self : Alfred Adler and the founding of individual psychology (1. print. ed.). Reading, Mass. u.a.: Addison-Wesley. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-201-63280-4.
  56. ^ Hoffman, Edward (1994). The drive for self : Alfred Adler and the founding of individual psychology (1. print. ed.). Reading, Mass. u.a.: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 978-0-201-63280-4.
  57. ^ Alethia, Caroline. Plant Teacher. Viator. United States. (2011) ISBN 1468138391. ASIN B006QAECNO.

References

  • Adler, A. (1908). Der Aggressionstrieb im Leben und der Neurose. Fortsch. Med. 26: 577-584.
  • Adler, A. (1938). Social Interest: A Challenge to Mankind. J. Linton and R. Vaughan (Trans.). London: Faber and Faber Ltd.
  • Adler, A. (1956). The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler. H. L. Ansbacher and R. R. Ansbacher (Eds.). New York: Harper Torchbooks.
  • Connell, R. W. (1995). Masculinities. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
  • Dreikurs, R. & Soltz, V. (1964). Children the Challenge. New York: Hawthorn Books.
  • Ehrenwald, J. (1991, 1976). The History of Psychotherapy: From healing magic to encounter. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson Inc.
  • Eissler, K.R. (1971). Death Drive, Ambivalence, and Narcissism. Psychoanal. St. Child, 26: 25-78.
  • Ellenberger, H. (1970). The Discovery of the Unconscious. New York: Basic Books.
  • Fiebert, M. S. (1997). In and out of Freud’s shadow: A chronology of Adler’s relationship with Freud. Individual Psychology, 53(3), 241-269.
  • Freud, S. (1909). Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy. Standard Edition of the Works of Sigmund Freud, London: Hogarth Press, Vol. 10, pp. 3-149.
  • King, R. & Shelley, C. (2008). Community Feeling and Social Interest: Adlerian Parallels, Synergy, and Differences with the Field of Community Psychology. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 18, 96-107.
  • Manaster, G. J., Painter, G., Deutsch, D., & Overholt, B. J. (Eds.). (1977). Alfred Adler: As We Remember Him. Chicago: North American Society of Adlerian Psychology.
  • Shelley, C. (Ed.). (1998). Contemporary Perspectives on Psychotherapy and Homosexualities. London: Free Association Books.
  • Slavik, S. & King, R. (2007). Adlerian therapeutic strategy. The Canadian Journal of Adlerian Psychology, 37(1), 3-16.
  • Gantschacher, H. (ARBOS 2007). Witness and Victim of the Apocalypse, chapter 13 page 12 and chapter 14 page 6.
  • Orgler, H. (1996). Alfred Adler, 22 (1), pg. 67-68.

Further reading

  • Orgler, Hertha, Alfred Adler, International Journal of Social Psychiatry, V. 22 (1), 1976-Spring, p. 67
  • Phyllis Bottome (1939). Alfred Adler – A Biography. G. P. Putnam’s Sons. New York.
  • Phyllis Bottome (1939). Alfred Adler – Apostle of Freedom. London: Faber and Faber. 3rd Ed. 1957.
  • Carlson, J., Watts, R. E., & Maniacci, M. (2005). Adlerian Therapy: Theory and Practice. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. ISBN 1-59147-285-7.
  • Dinkmeyer, D., Sr., & Dreikurs, R. (2000). Encouraging Children to Learn. Philadelphia: Brunner-Routledge. ISBN 1-58391-082-4.
  • Rudolf Dreikurs (1935): An Introduction to Individual Psychology. London: Kegan Paul, Trench Trubner & Co. Ltd. – New edition 1983: London & New York: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-21055-0.
  • Grey, L. (1998). Alfred Adler: The Forgotten Prophet: A Vision for the 21st Century. Westport, CT: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-96072-2.
  • Handlbauer, B. (1998). The Freud – Adler Controversy. Oxford, UK: Oneworld. ISBN 1-85168-127-2.
  • Hoffman, E. (1994). The Drive for Self: Alfred Adler and the Founding of Individual Psychology. New York: Addison-Wesley Co. ISBN 0-201-63280-2.
  • Lehrer, R. (1999). “Adler and Nietzsche”. In: J. Golomb, W. Santaniello, and R. Lehrer. (Eds.). Nietzsche and Depth Psychology. (pp. 229–246). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-4140-7.
  • Mosak, H. H. & Di Pietro, R. (2005). Early Recollections: Interpretive Method and Application. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-95287-5.
  • Oberst, U. E. and Stewart, A. E. (2003). Adlerian Psychotherapy: An Advanced Approach to Individual Psychology. New York: Brunner-Routledge. ISBN 1-58391-122-7.
  • Orgler, H. (1963). Alfred Adler: The Man and His Work: Triumph Over the Inferiority Complex. New York: Liveright.
  • Orgler, H. (1996). Alfred Adler, 22 (1), pg. 67-68.
  • Josef Rattner (1983): Alfred Adler – Life and Literature. Ungar Pub. Co. ISBN 0-8044-5988-6.
  • Slavik, S. & Carlson, J. (Eds.). (2005). Readings in the Theory of Individual Psychology. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-95168-2.
  • Manès Sperber (1974). Masks of Loneliness: Alfred Adler in Perspective. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0-02-612950-7.
  • Stepansky, P. E. (1983). In Freud’s Shadow: Adler in Context. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press. ISBN 0-88163-007-1.
  • Watts, R. E. (2003). Adlerian, cognitive, and constructivist therapies: An integrative dialogue. New York: Springer. ISBN 0-8261-1984-0.
  • Watts, R. E., & Carlson, J. (1999). Interventions and strategies in counseling and psychotherapy. New York: Accelerated Development/Routledge. ISBN 1-56032-690-5.
  • Way, Lewis (1950): Adler’s Place in Psychology. London: Allen & Unwin.
  • Way, Lewis (1956): Alfred Adler – An Introduction to his Psychology. London: Pelican.
  • West, G. K. (1975). Kierkegaard and Adler. Tallahassee: Florida State University.

External links]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Adler

 

Jordan Peterson

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Jordan Peterson
Jordan Peterson June 2018.jpg

Jordan Peterson in Dallas, Texas, USA in June 2018
Born
Jordan Bernt Peterson

June 12, 1962 (age 57)

EdmontonAlberta, Canada
Residence TorontoOntario, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater
Spouse(s)
Tammy Roberts (m. 1989)
Children 2
Scientific career
Fields Psychology
Institutions
Thesis Potential psychological markers for the predisposition to alcoholism (1991)
Doctoral advisor Robert O. Pihl
Notable students Colin G. DeYoung
Influences Carl Jung
Influenced Gregg Hurwitz
Website jordanbpeterson.com
Signature
Jordan Peterson Signature.svg

Jordan Bernt Peterson (born June 12, 1962) is a Canadian clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. His main areas of study are in abnormalsocial, and personality psychology,[1] with a particular interest in the psychology of religious and ideological belief[2] and the assessment and improvement of personality and performance.[3]

Peterson has bachelor’s degrees in political science and psychology from the University of Alberta and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from McGill University. He was a post-doctoral fellow at McGill from 1991 to 1993 before moving to Harvard University, where he was an assistant and then an associate professor in the psychology department.[4][5] In 1998, he moved back to Canada as a faculty member in the psychology department at the University of Toronto, where, as of 2019, he is a full professor.

Peterson’s first book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief (1999), examined several academic fields to describe the structure of systems of beliefs and myths, their role in the regulation of emotion, creation of meaning, and several other topics such as motivation for genocide.[6][7][8] His second book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, was released in January 2018.[4][9][10]

In 2016 Peterson released a series of YouTube videos criticizing political correctness and the Canadian government’s Bill C-16, “An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code”. The Act added “gender identity and expression” as a prohibited ground of discrimination,[a][11] which Peterson characterised as an introduction of compelled speech into law,[12][13][14] although legal experts have disagreed.[15] He subsequently received significant media coverage, attracting both support and criticism.[4][9][10] Peterson is associated with the “Intellectual Dark Web“.[16][17][18]

Contents

Early life

Peterson was born on June 12, 1962,[19] and grew up in FairviewAlberta, a small town northwest of his birthplace Edmonton, in Canada.[20] He was the eldest of three children born to Beverley, a librarian at the Fairview campus of Grande Prairie Regional College, and Walter Peterson, a schoolteacher.[21][22] His middle name is Bernt (/ˈbɛərənt/ BAIR-ənt),[23] after his Norwegian great-grandfather.[24]

When he was 13, he was introduced to the writings of George OrwellAldous HuxleyAleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and Ayn Rand by his school librarian Sandy Notley—mother of Rachel Notley, leader of the Alberta New Democratic Party and 17th Premier of Alberta.[25] He also worked for the New Democratic Party (NDP) throughout his teenage years, but grew disenchanted with the party. He saw his experience of disillusionment resonating with Orwell’s diagnosis, in The Road to Wigan Pier, of “the intellectual, tweed-wearing middle-class socialist” who “didn’t like the poor; they just hated the rich”.[21][26] He left the NDP at age 18.[27]

Education

After graduating from Fairview High School in 1979, Peterson entered the Grande Prairie Regional College to study political science and English literature.[2] He later transferred to the University of Alberta, where he completed his B.A. in political science in 1982.[27] Afterwards, he took a year off to visit Europe. There he began studying the psychological origins of the Cold War, 20th-century European totalitarianism,[2][28] and the works of Carl JungFriedrich NietzscheAleksandr Solzhenitsyn,[21] and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.[28] He then returned to the University of Alberta and received a B.A. in psychology in 1984.[29] In 1985, he moved to Montreal to attend McGill University. He earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology under the supervision of Robert O. Pihl in 1991, and remained as a post-doctoral fellow at McGill’s Douglas Hospital until June 1993, working with Pihl and Maurice Dongier.[2][30]

Career

Peterson at the University of Toronto in March 2017.

From July 1993 to June 1998,[1] Peterson lived in Arlington, Massachusetts, while teaching and conducting research at Harvard University as an assistant and an associate professor in the psychology department. During his time at Harvard, he studied aggression arising from drug and alcohol abuse and supervised a number of unconventional thesis proposals.[27] Two former Ph.D. students, Shelley Carson, a psychologist and teacher from Harvard, and author Gregg Hurwitz recalled that Peterson’s lectures were already highly admired by the students.[4] In July 1998, he returned to Canada and took up a post as a full professor at the University of Toronto.[1][29]

Peterson’s areas of study and research are in the fields of psychopharmacologyabnormalneuroclinicalpersonalitysocialindustrial and organizational,[1] religiousideological,[2] political, and creativity psychology.[3]Peterson has authored or co-authored more than a hundred academic papers[31] and has been cited almost 8,000 times as of mid-2017. [32]

For most of his career, Peterson had an active clinical practice, seeing about 20 people a week. He had been active on social media, and in September 2016 he released a series of videos in which he criticized Bill C-16.[25][33]As a result of new projects, he decided to put the clinical practice on hold in 2017[9] and temporarily stopped teaching as of 2018.[22][34]

In June 2018, Peterson debated with Sam Harris at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver while moderated by Bret Weinstein, and again in July at the 3Arena in Dublin and The O2 Arena in London while moderated by Douglas Murray, over the topic of religion and God.[35][36] In April 2019, Peterson debated professor Slavoj Žižek at the Sony Centre in Toronto, Canada over happiness under capitalism versus Marxism.[37][38]

Works

Books

Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief (1999)

In 1999 Routledge published Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. The book, which took Peterson 13 years to complete, describes a comprehensive theory about how people construct meaning, form beliefs and make narrativesusing ideas from various fields including mythologyreligionliteraturephilosophy and psychology in accordance to the modern scientific understanding of how the brain functions.[27][5][39]

According to Peterson, his main goal was to examine why both individuals and groups participate in social conflict, explore the reasoning and motivation individuals take to support their belief systems (i.e. ideological identification[27]) that eventually results in killing and pathological atrocities like the Gulag, the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Rwandan genocide.[27][5][39] He considers that an “analysis of the world’s religious ideas might allow us to describe our essential morality and eventually develop a universal system of morality”.[39] Jungian archetypes play an important role in the book.[4]

In 2004, a 13-part TV series based on Peterson’s book Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief aired on TVOntario.[21][29][40]

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (2018)

In January 2018, Penguin Random House published Peterson’s second book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. The work contains abstract ethical principles about life, in a more accessible style than Maps of Meaning.[9][4][10] To promote the book, Peterson went on a world tour.[41][42][43] As part of the tour, Peterson was interviewed in the UK by Cathy Newman on Channel 4 News which generated considerable attention, as well as popularity for the book.[44][45][46][47] The book topped bestselling lists in Canada, the US, and the United Kingdom.[48][49] As of January 2019, Peterson is working on a sequel to 12 Rules for Life.[50]

YouTube channel and podcasts

Peterson (right) speaking to Dave Rubin in September 2018

In 2013, Peterson began recording his lectures (“Personality and Its Transformations”, “Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief”[51]) and uploading them to YouTube. His YouTube channel has gathered more than 1.8 million subscribers and his videos have received more than 65 million views as of August 2018.[33][52] In January 2017, he hired a production team to film his psychology lectures at the University of Toronto. He used funds received on the crowdfunding website Patreon after he became embroiled in the Bill C-16 controversy in September 2016. His funding through Patreon has increased from $1,000 per month in August 2016 to $14,000 by January 2017, more than $50,000 by July 2017, and over $80,000 by May 2018.[25][33][53][54] In December 2018, Peterson decided to delete his Patreon account after Patreon’s controversial bans of political personalities.[55]

Peterson has appeared on many podcasts, conversational series, as well other online shows.[52][56] In December 2016, Peterson started his own podcast, The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast, which has included academic guests such as Camille PagliaMartin Daly, and James W. Pennebaker.[57] On his YouTube channel he has interviewed Stephen HicksRichard J. Haier, and Jonathan Haidt among others.[57] In March 2019, the podcast joined the Westwood One network with Peterson’s daughter as a co-host on some episodes.[58] Peterson supported engineer James Damore in his action against Google.[10]

Biblical lectures

In May 2017, Peterson began The psychological significance of the Biblical stories,[59] a series of live theatre lectures, also published as podcasts, in which he analyzes archetypal narratives in Book of Genesis as patterns of behavior ostensibly vital for personal, social and cultural stability.[10][60]

In March 2019, Peterson had his invitation of a visiting fellowship at Cambridge University rescinded. He had previously said that the fellowship would give him “the opportunity to talk to religious experts of all types for a couple of months”, and that the new lectures would have been on Book of Exodus.[61] A spokesperson for the University said that there was “no place” for anyone who could not uphold the “inclusive environment” of the university.[62] After a week, the vice-chancellor Stephen Toope explained that it was due to a photograph with a man wearing an Islamophobe shirt.[63] The Cambridge student union released a statement of relief, considering the invitation “a political act to … legitimise figures such as Peterson” and that his work and views are not “representative of the student body”.[64]Peterson called the decision a “deeply unfortunate … error of judgement” and expressed regret that the Divinity Faculty had submitted to an “ill-informed, ignorant and ideologically-addled mob”.[65][66]

Self Authoring Suite

In 2005, Peterson and his colleagues set up a for-profit company to provide and produce a writing therapy program with a series of online writing exercises.[67] Titled the Self Authoring Suite,[21] it includes the Past Authoring Program (a guided autobiography); two Present Authoring Programs which allow the participant to analyze their personality faults and virtues in terms of the Big Five personality model; and the Future Authoring Program which guides participants through the process of planning their desired futures. The latter program was used with McGill University undergraduates on academic probation to improve their grades, as well as since 2011 at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.[68][69] The programs were developed partially from research by James W. Pennebaker at the University of Texas at Austin and Gary Latham at the Rotman School of Management of the University of Toronto.[4] Peterson’s co-authored 2015 study showed significant reduction in ethnic and gender-group differences in performance, especially among ethnic minority male students.[69][70] According to Peterson, more than 10,000 students have used the program as of January 2017, with drop-out rates decreasing by 25% and GPAs rising by 20%.[21]

Political views

Jordan Peterson speaking in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest, Hungary, in May 2019.

Peterson has characterized himself as a “classic British liberal“,[28][71][72] and as a “traditionalist”.[73] He has stated that he is commonly mistaken to be right wing.[52] The New York Times described Peterson as “conservative-leaning”,[74] while The Washington Post described him as “conservative”.[75]

Academia and political correctness

Peterson’s critiques of political correctness range over issues such as postmodernismpostmodern feminismwhite privilegecultural appropriation, and environmentalism.[56][76]

Writing in the National Post, Chris Selley said Peterson’s opponents had “underestimated the fury being inspired by modern preoccupations like white privilege and cultural appropriation, and by the marginalization, shouting down or outright cancellation of other viewpoints in polite society’s institutions”,[77] while in The SpectatorTim Lott stated Peterson became “an outspoken critic of mainstream academia”.[28] Peterson’s social media presence has magnified the impact of these views; Simona Chiose of The Globe and Mail noted: “few University of Toronto professors in the humanities and social sciences have enjoyed the global name recognition Prof. Peterson has won”.[33]

According to his study—conducted with one of his students, Christine Brophy—of the relationship between political belief and personality, political correctness exists in two types: “PC-egalitarianism” and “PC-authoritarianism“, which is a manifestation of “offense sensitivity”.[78] Jason McBride claims Peterson places classical liberals in the first type, and places so-called social justice warriors, who he says “weaponize compassion”, in the second.[21][2] The study also found an overlap between PC-authoritarians and right-wing authoritarians.[78]

Peterson considers that the universities should be held as among the most responsible for the wave of political correctness which appeared in North America and Europe.[33] According to Peterson, he watched the rise of political correctness on campuses since the early 1990s,[79] and considers that the humanities have become corrupt, less reliant on science, and instead of “intelligent conversation, we are having an ideological conversation”. From his own experience as a university professor, he states that the students who are coming to his classes are uneducated and unaware about the mass exterminations and crimes by Stalinism and Maoism, which were not given the same attention as fascism and Nazism. He also says that “instead of being ennobled or inculcated into the proper culture, the last vestiges of structure are stripped from [the students] by post-modernism and neo-Marxism, which defines everything in terms of relativism and power“.[28][80][81]

Postmodernism and identity politics

And so since the 1970s, under the guise of postmodernism, we’ve seen the rapid expansion of identity politicsthroughout the universities, it’s come to dominate all of the humanities – which are dead as far as I can tell – and a huge proportion of the social sciences … We’ve been publicly funding extremely radical, postmodern leftist thinkers who are hellbent on demolishing the fundamental substructure of Western civilization. And that’s no paranoid delusion. That’s their self-admitted goal … Jacques Derrida … most trenchantly formulated the anti-Western philosophy that is being pursued so assiduously by the radical left.

— Peterson, 2017[80]

Peterson says that postmodern philosophers and sociologists since the 1960s[76] have built upon and extended certain core tenets of Marxism and communismwhile simultaneously appearing to disavow both ideologies. He says that it is difficult to understand contemporary Western society without considering the influence of a strain of postmodernist thought that migrated from France to the United States through the English department at Yale University. He states that certain academics in the humanities

… started to play a sleight of hand, and instead of pitting the proletariat, the working class, against the bourgeois, they started to pit the oppressed against the oppressor. That opened up the avenue to identifying any number of groups as oppressed and oppressor and to continue the same narrative under a different name … The people who hold this doctrine—this radical, postmodern, communitarian doctrine that makes racial identityor sexual identity or gender identity or some kind of group identity paramount—they’ve got control over most low-to-mid level bureaucratic structures, and many governments as well.[80]

Peterson’s perspective on the influence of postmodernism on North American humanities departments has been compared to Cultural Marxist conspiracy theories.[46][82][83][84]

Peterson says that “disciplines like women’s studies should be defunded” and advises freshman students to avoid subjects like sociologyanthropologyEnglish literatureethnic studies and racial studies, as well as other fields of study he believes are corrupted by the Neo-Marxist ideology.[85][86][87] He says that these fields, under the pretense of academic inquiry, propagate unscientific methods, fraudulent peer-review processes for academic journals, publications that garner zero citations,[88] cult-like behaviour,[86] safe-spaces,[85]and radical left-wing political activism for students.[76] Peterson has proposed launching a website which uses artificial intelligence to identify and showcase the amount of ideologization in specific courses. He announced in November 2017 that he had temporarily postponed the project as “it might add excessively to current polarization”.[89][90]

Peterson has criticized the use of the term “white privilege“, stating that “being called out on their white privilege, identified with a particular racial group and then made to suffer the consequences of the existence of that racial group and its hypothetical crimes, and that sort of thing has to come to a stop. … [It’s] racist in its extreme”.[76] In regard to identity politics, while the “left plays them on behalf of the oppressed, let’s say, and the right tends to play them on behalf of nationalism and ethnic pride” he considers them “equally dangerous” and that, instead, what should be emphasized is individualism and individual responsibility.[91] He has also been prominent in the debate about cultural appropriation, stating it promotes self-censorship in society and journalism.[92]

Bill C-16

On September 27, 2016, Peterson released the first installment of a three-part lecture video series, entitled “Professor against political correctness: Part I: Fear and the Law”.[25][12] In the video, he stated he would not use the preferred gender pronouns of students and faculty, saying it fell under compelled speech, and announced his objection to the Canadian government‘s Bill C-16, which proposed to add “gender identity or expression” as a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and to similarly expand the definitions of promoting genocide and publicly inciting hatred in the Criminal Code.[12][93]

Peterson speaking at a Free Speech Rally in October of 2016

He stated that his objection to the bill was based on potential free speech implications if the Criminal Code is amended, as he claimed he could then be prosecuted under provincial human rights laws if he refuses to call a transgender student or faculty member by the individual’s preferred pronoun.[13] Furthermore, he argued that the new amendments, paired with section 46.3 of the Ontario Human Rights Code, would make it possible for employers and organizations to be subject to punishment under the code if any employee or associate says anything that can be construed “directly or indirectly” as offensive, “whether intentionally or unintentionally”.[14] Other academics and lawyers challenged Peterson’s interpretation of C-16.[13]

The series of videos drew criticism from transgender activists, faculty and labour unions, and critics accused Peterson of “helping to foster a climate for hate to thrive” and of “fundamentally mischaracterising” the law.[94][25] Protests erupted on campus, some including violence, and the controversy attracted international media attention.[95][96][97] When asked in September 2016 if he would comply with the request of a student to use a preferred pronoun, Peterson said “it would depend on how they asked me […] If I could detect that there was a chip on their shoulder, or that they were [asking me] with political motives, then I would probably say no […] If I could have a conversation like the one we’re having now, I could probably meet them on an equal level”.[97] Two months later, the National Post published an op-ed by Peterson in which he elaborated on his opposition to the bill and explained why he publicly made a stand against it:

I will never use words I hate, like the trendy and artificially constructed words “zhe” and “zher.” These words are at the vanguard of a post-modern, radical leftist ideology that I detest, and which is, in my professional opinion, frighteningly similar to the Marxist doctrines that killed at least 100 million people in the 20th century.

I have been studying authoritarianism on the right and the left for 35 years. I wrote a book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, on the topic, which explores how ideologies hijack language and belief. As a result of my studies, I have come to believe that Marxism is a murderous ideology. I believe its practitioners in modern universities should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to promote such vicious, untenable and anti-human ideas, and for indoctrinating their students with these beliefs. I am therefore not going to mouth Marxist words. That would make me a puppet of the radical left, and that is not going to happen. Period.[98]

In response to the controversy, academic administrators at the University of Toronto sent Peterson two letters of warning, one noting that free speech had to be made in accordance with human rights legislation and the other adding that his refusal to use the preferred personal pronouns of students and faculty upon request could constitute discrimination. Peterson speculated that these warning letters were leading up to formal disciplinary action against him, but in December the university assured him that he would retain his professorship, and in January 2017 he returned to teach his psychology class at the University of Toronto.[99][25]

In February 2017, Maxime Bernier, candidate for leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, stated that he shifted his position on Bill C-16, from support to opposition, after meeting with Peterson and discussing it.[100] Peterson’s analysis of the bill was also frequently cited by senators who were opposed to its passage.[101] In April 2017, Peterson was denied a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant for the first time in his career, which he interpreted as retaliation for his statements regarding Bill C-16.[32] A media relations adviser for SSHRC said, “Committees assess only the information contained in the application.”[102] In response, The Rebel Media launched an Indiegogo campaign on Peterson’s behalf.[103] The campaign raised C$195,000 by its end on May 6, equivalent to over two years of research funding.[104] In May 2017, Peterson spoke against Bill C-16 at a Canadian Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs hearing. He was one of 24 witnesses who were invited to speak about the bill.[101]

In November 2017, a teaching assistant at Wilfrid Laurier University first year communications course was censured by her professors for showing a segment of The Agenda, which featured Peterson debating Bill C-16 with another professor, during a classroom discussion about pronouns.[105][106][107] The reasons given for the censure included the clip creating a “toxic climate”, being compared to a “speech by Hitler“,[26] and being itself in violation of Bill C-16.[108] The censure was later withdrawn and both the professors and the university formally apologized.[109][110][111] The events were criticized by Peterson, as well as several newspaper editorial boards[112][113][114] and national newspaper columnists[115][116][117][118] as an example of the suppression of free speech on university campuses. In June 2018, Peterson filed a $1.5-million lawsuit against Wilfrid Laurier University, arguing that three staff members of the university had maliciously defamed him by making negative comments about him behind closed doors.[119] Wilfried Laurier asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, saying that it was ironic for a purported advocate of free speech to attempt to curtail free speech.[120]

Gender relations and masculinity

Peterson has argued that there is an ongoing “crisis of masculinity” and “backlash against masculinity” where the “masculine spirit is under assault”.[20][121][122][123] He has argued that feminism and policies such as no-fault divorce have had adverse effects on gender relations and destabilized society.[121] He has argued that the existing societal hierarchy that the “left” has characterised as an “oppressive patriarchy” might “be predicated on competence.”[20] Peterson has said that men without partners are likely to become violent, and has noted that “enforced monogamy”, i.e. societies wherein monogamy is a social norm, decrease male violence.[20][121] He has attributed the rise of Donald Trump and far-right European politicians to what he says is a push to “feminize” men, saying “If men are pushed too hard to feminize they will become more and more interested in harsh, fascist political ideology.”[124] He attracted considerable attention over a 2018 Channel 4 interview where he clashed with interviewer Cathy Newman on the topic of the gender pay gap.[125][126]Peterson disputed that the gender pay gap was solely due to sexual discrimination.[126][127][128] Writing for The New York TimesNellie Bowles said that most of Peterson’s ideas “stem from a gnawing anxiety around gender”.[20]

Climate change

Peterson doubts the scientific consensus on climate change.[129][130] Peterson has said he is “very skeptical of the models that are used to predict climate change”.[131] He has also said, “You can’t trust the data because too much ideology is involved”.[132][130]

Personal life

Peterson married Tammy Roberts in 1989.[25] They have one daughter and one son.[21][25]

He is a philosophical pragmatist.[60] In a 2017 interview, Peterson was asked “are you a Christian?” and responded “I suppose the most straight-forward answer to that is yes”.[133] In 2018, Peterson emphasized that his conceptualization of Christianity is probably not what is generally understood, stating that the ethical responsibility of a Christian is to imitate Christ, for him meaning “something like you need to take responsibility for the evil in the world as if you were responsible for it … to understand that you determine the direction of the world, whether it’s toward heaven or hell”.[134] When asked if he believes in God, Peterson responded: “I think the proper response to that is No, but I’m afraid He might exist”.[9] Writing for The SpectatorTim Lott said Peterson draws inspiration from Jung’s philosophy of religion, and holds views similar to the Christian existentialism of Søren Kierkegaard and Paul Tillich. Lott also said Peterson has respect for Taoism, as it views nature as a struggle between order and chaos, and posits that life would be meaningless without this duality.[28]

Starting around 2000, Peterson began collecting Soviet-era paintings,[26] displayed in his house as a reminder of, he argues, the relationship between totalitarian propaganda and art, and as examples of how idealistic visions can become totalitarian oppression and horror.[4][34] In 2016, Peterson became an honorary member of the extended family of Charles Joseph, a Kwakwaka’wakw artist, and was given the name Alestalagie (“Great Seeker”).[26][135] In late 2016, Peterson went on a strict diet consisting only of meat and some vegetables to control severe depression and an auto-immune disorder, including psoriasis and uveitis.[22][136] He stopped eating any vegetables in mid-2018.[137]

Peterson wrote the foreword to the fiftieth anniversary edition of The Gulag Archipelago, released in November 2018.[138]

Bibliography

Books

Select publications

Notes

  1. ^ The phrase “a prohibited ground of discrimination” means that it is illegal to discriminate against an individual or groups of people on the grounds of (based on) race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, etc.

References …

External links

 

 

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Steven Pinker – Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress — The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined — The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature — Videos

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Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress featuring Steven Pinker

STEVEN PINKER: ENLIGHTENMENT NOW

Stephen Fry & Steven Pinker on the Enlightenment Today

Enlightenment Now | Steven Pinker | RSA Replay

Dr. Steven Pinker, Harvard University – Collective Impact

The Personal Philosophy of Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker & Charlie Rose – “The Better Angels of Our Nature”

Prof. Steven Pinker – The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity

A History of Violence: Steven Pinker at TEDxNewEngland

The Great Debate: ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE (OFFICIAL) – (Part 1/2)

The Great Debate: ORIGINS OF VIOLENCE (OFFICIAL) – (Part 2/2)

Steven Pinker on Human Nature

Understanding Human Nature with Steven Pinker – Conversations with History

Steven Pinker – The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

Steven Pinker – The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

Steven Pinker: Human nature and the blank slate

Steven Pinker – The Genius of Charles Darwin: The Uncut Interviews

Steven Pinker — On psychology and human nature

 

Steven Pinker Books

https://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=steve+pinker+books&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=194752538360&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=18360483831547681179&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9060114&hvtargid=kwd-313239828936&ref=pd_sl_oakl91e0m_b

 

My new favorite book of all time

For years, I’ve been saying Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature was the best book I’d read in a decade. If I could recommend just one book for anyone to pick up, that was it. Pinker uses meticulous research to argue that we are living in the most peaceful time in human history. I’d never seen such a clear explanation of progress.

I’m going to stop talking up Better Angels so much, because Pinker has managed to top himself. His new book, Enlightenment Now, is even better.

Enlightenment Now takes the approach he uses in Better Angels to track violence throughout history and applies it to 15 different measures of progress (like quality of life, knowledge, and safety). The result is a holistic picture of how and why the world is getting better. It’s like Better Angels on steroids.

Pinker was generous enough to send me an early copy, even though Enlightenment Now won’t be released until the end of February. I read the book slowly since I loved it so much, but I think most people will find it a quick and accessible read. He manages to share a ton of information in a way that’s compelling, memorable, and easy to digest.

It opens with an argument in favor of returning to the ideals of the Enlightenment—an era when reason, science, and humanism were touted as the highest virtues. (Gates Notes Insiders can get a preview of this section of the book.)

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I’m all for more reason, science, and humanism, but what I found most interesting were the 15 chapters exploring each measure of progress. Pinker is at his best when he analyzes historic trends and uses data to put the past into context. I was already familiar with a lot of the information he shares—especially about health and energy—but he understands each subject so deeply that he’s able to articulate his case in a way that feels fresh and new.

I love how he’s willing to dive deep into primary data sources and pull out unexpected signs of progress. I tend to point to things like dramatic reductions in poverty and childhood deaths, because I think they’re such a good measure of how we’re doing as a society. Pinker covers those areas, but he also looks at more obscure topics.

Here are five of my favorite facts from the book that show how the world is improving:

  1. You’re 37 times less likely to be killed by a bolt of lightning than you were at the turn of the century—and that’s not because there are fewer thunderstorms today. It’s because we have better weather prediction capabilities, improved safety education, and more people living in cities.
  2. Time spent doing laundry fell from 11.5 hours a week in 1920 to an hour and a half in 2014.This might sound trivial in the grand scheme of progress. But the rise of the washing machine has improved quality of life by freeing up time for people—mostly women—to enjoy other pursuits. That time represents nearly half a day every week that could be used for everything from binge-watching Ozark or reading a book to starting a new business.
  3. You’re way less likely to die on the job. Every year, 5,000 people die from occupational accidents in the U.S. But in 1929—when our population was less than two-fifths the size it is today—20,000 people died on the job. People back then viewed deadly workplace accidents as part of the cost of doing business. Today, we know better, and we’ve engineered ways to build things without putting nearly as many lives at risk.
  4. The global average IQ score is rising by about 3 IQ points every decade. Kids’ brains are developing more fully thanks to improved nutrition and a cleaner environment. Pinker also credits more analytical thinking in and out of the classroom. Think about how many symbols you interpret every time you check your phone’s home screen or look at a subway map. Our world today encourages abstract thought from a young age, and it’s making us smarter.
  5. War is illegal. This idea seems obvious. But before the creation of the United Nations in 1945, no institution had the power to stop countries from going to war with each other. Although there have been some exceptions, the threat of international sanctions and intervention has proven to be an effective deterrent to wars between nations.

Pinker also tackles the disconnect between actual progress and the perception of progress—something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. People all over the world are living longer, healthier, and happier lives, so why do so many think things are getting worse? Why do we gloss over positive news stories and fixate on the negative ones? He does a good job explaining why we’re drawn to pessimism and how that instinct influences our approach to the world, although I wish he went more in depth about the psychology (especially since he’s a psychologist by training). The late Hans Rosling explains this more fully in his excellent new book Factfulness, which I plan to review soon.

I agree with Pinker on most areas, but I think he’s a bit too optimistic about artificial intelligence. He’s quick to dismiss the idea of robots overthrowing their human creators. While I don’t think we’re in danger of a Terminator-style scenario, the question underlying that fear—who exactly controls the robots?—is a valid one. We’re not there yet, but at some point, who has AI and who controls it will be an important issue for global institutions to address.

The big questions surrounding automation are proof that progress can be a messy, sticky thing—but that doesn’t mean we’re headed in the wrong direction. At the end of Enlightenment Now, Pinker argues that “we will never have a perfect world, and it would be dangerous to seek one. But there is no limit to the betterments we can attain if we continue to apply knowledge to enhance human flourishing.”

The world is getting better, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. I’m glad we have brilliant thinkers like Steven Pinker to help us see the big picture. Enlightenment Now is not only the best book Pinker’s ever written. It’s my new favorite book of all time.

https://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Enlightenment-Now

5 books I loved in 2018

If you’re like me, you love giving—or getting!—books during the holidays. A great read is the perfect gift: thoughtful and easy to wrap (with no batteries or assembly required). Plus, I think everyone could use a few more books in their lives. I usually don’t consider whether something would make a good present when I’m putting together my end of year book list—but this year’s selections are highly giftable.

My list is pretty eclectic this year. From a how-to guide about meditation to a deep dive on autonomous weapons to a thriller about the fall of a once-promising company, there’s something for everyone. If you’re looking for a fool-proof gift for your friends and family, you can’t go wrong with one of these.

Educated, by Tara Westover. Tara never went to school or visited a doctor until she left home at 17. I never thought I’d relate to a story about growing up in a Mormon survivalist household, but she’s such a good writer that she got me to reflect on my own life while reading about her extreme childhood. Melinda and I loved this memoir of a young woman whose thirst for learning was so strong that she ended up getting a Ph.D. from Cambridge University.

Army of None, by Paul Scharre. Autonomous weapons aren’t exactly top of mind for most around the holidays, but this thought-provoking look at A.I. in warfare is hard to put down. It’s an immensely complicated topic, but Scharre offers clear explanations and presents both the pros and cons of machine-driven warfare. His fluency with the subject should come as no surprise: he’s a veteran who helped draft the U.S. government’s policy on autonomous weapons.

Bad Blood, by John Carreyrou. A bunch of my friends recommended this one to me. Carreyrou gives you the definitive insider’s look at the rise and fall of Theranos. The story is even crazier than I expected, and I found myself unable to put it down once I started. This book has everything: elaborate scams, corporate intrigue, magazine cover stories, ruined family relationships, and the demise of a company once valued at nearly $10 billion.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Yuval Noah Harari. I’m a big fan of everything Harari has written, and his latest is no exception. While Sapiens and Homo Deus covered the past and future respectively, this one is all about the present. If 2018 has left you overwhelmed by the state of the world, 21 Lessonsoffers a helpful framework for processing the news and thinking about the challenges we face.

The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness, by Andy Puddicombe. I’m sure 25-year-old me would scoff at this one, but Melinda and I have gotten really into meditation lately. The book starts with Puddicombe’s personal journey from a university student to a Buddhist monk and then becomes an entertaining explainer on how to meditate. If you’re thinking about trying mindfulness, this is the perfect introduction.

https://www.gatesnotes.com/About-Bill-Gates/Best-Books-2018

Wrapping up 2018

What I learned at work this year

Every Christmas when I was a kid, my parents would send out a card with an update on what the family was up to. Dad’s law firm is growing, Mom’s volunteer work is going strong, the girls are doing well in school, Bill is a handful.

Some people think it is corny, but I like the tradition. These days, at the end of each year, I still enjoy taking stock of my work and personal life. What was I excited about? What could I have done better?

I thought I would share a few of these thoughts as 2018 concludes.

One thing that occurs to me is that the questions I am asking myself at age 63 are very different from the ones I would have asked when I was in my 20s.

Back then, an end-of-year assessment would amount to just one question: Is Microsoft software making the personal-computing dream come true?

Today of course I still assess the quality of my work. But I also ask myself a whole other set of questions about my life. Did I devote enough time to my family? Did I learn enough new things? Did I develop new friendships and deepen old ones? These would have been laughable to me when I was 25, but as I get older, they are much more meaningful.

Melinda has helped broaden my thinking on this point. So has Warren Buffett, who says his measure of success is, “Do the people you care about love you back?” I think that is about as good a metric as you will find.

It may sound grand, but I think the world is slowly going through a similar transition to a broader understanding of well-being. For most of human history, we have been focused on living longer by fighting disease and trying to grow enough food for everyone. As a result, life spans have gone up dramatically. Technology has played a key role in that through vaccines, medicines, and improved sanitation.

We still need a lot of innovation to solve problems like malaria or obesity, but we are also going to be focusing more on improving the quality of life. I think this will be the thrust of many big breakthroughs of the future. For example, software will be able to notice when you’re feeling down, connect you with your friends, give you personalized tips for sleeping and eating better, and help you use your time more efficiently.

There are not the same clear measures of these things as there are for diseases, and there may never be. But there is nascent work in this field and I think it is going to accelerate.

As I look back on the year, I am also thinking about the specific areas I work on. Some of this is done through our foundation but a lot of it (such as my work on energy and Alzheimer’s work) is not. What connects it all is my belief that innovation can save lives and improve everyone’s well-being. A lot of people underestimate just how much innovation will make life better.

Here are a few updates on what’s going well and what isn’t with innovation in some areas where I work.

Alzheimer’s disease

 I saw two positive trends in Alzheimer’s research in 2018.

I saw two positive trends in Alzheimer’s research in 2018.

One is that researchers focused on a new set of ideas about how to stop Alzheimer’s.

The first generation of theories, which dominated the field for years, emphasized two proteins called amyloid and tau. These proteins cause plaques and tangles in the brain, clogging up and killing brain cells. The idea was to stop the plaques and tangles from forming. I hope these approaches pay off, but we have not seen much evidence that they will.

In the past year, researchers have doubled down on a second generation of hypotheses. One theory is that a patient’s brain cells break down because their energy producers (called mitochondria) wear out. Another is that brain cells break down because part of the immune system gets overactivated and attacks them.

This is a great example of how improving our understanding of biology will reduce both medical costs and human suffering.

The other trend this year is that the Alzheimer’s community focused on getting more and better access to data. We’re working with researchers to make it easier for them to share information from their studies broadly so that we can better understand questions like how the disease progresses.

Over the past few years, the U.S. government has dramatically stepped up funding for Alzheimer’s research, from $400 million a year to over $2 billion a year. There is also a big push to create better diagnostics.

The only problem where I don’t yet see a clear path forward yet is how to develop more efficient ways to recruit patients for clinical trials. Without a simple and reliable diagnostic for Alzheimer’s, it’s hard to find eligible people early enough in the disease’s progression who can participate in trials. It can take years to enroll enough patients. If we could find a way to pre-screen participants, we could start new trials more quickly.

But there is so much momentum in other areas—scientific tools, better diagnostics, improved access to data—that as long as we can solve the recruitment problem, I am confident that we will make substantial progress in the next decade or two.

Polio

 I thought we would be closer to eradicating polio today than we are.

I thought we would be closer to eradicating polio today than we are. Unfortunately, there were more cases in 2018 than in 2017 (29 versus 22).

I underestimated how hard it would be to vaccinate children in places where there’s political violence and war. Families move around to escape fighting, which makes it hard to keep track of children and make sure they get all the doses of the vaccine. Or sewage systems get destroyed, allowing the virus to spread as children come into contact with an infected person’s excrement.

This is a key reason why Afghanistan and Pakistan have never been free of polio—in fact they are the only two countries that have never been free of polio.

I spend a lot of time on polio, part of it talking to the funders to make sure they continue their commitment even though eradication is taking longer than any of us would like. I remind them of the huge benefits of success, and the risk that the disease will return in a big way if we don’t finish the job.

I also remind them what a difference innovation is making. We’re now able to test sewage samples to track the virus and find the source before an outbreak starts. And the global health community is finding creative ways to work in war zones, having stopped outbreaks in Syria and Somalia in recent years.

Finally, I am hopeful about a new oral vaccine being tested in Belgium and Panama. The results should be out in 2019, and if this one proves effective, it would overcome some of the problems with previous oral vaccines when they’re used in places where few children are immunized. The new vaccine could be in use as soon as 2020.

Despite all the challenges, I am still optimistic that we can eradicate polio soon.

Energy

Global emissions of greenhouse gases went up in 2018. For me, that just reinforces the fact that the only way to prevent the worst climate-change scenarios is to get some breakthroughs in clean energy.

Some people think we have all the tools we need, and that driving down the cost of renewables like solar and wind solves the problem. I am glad to see solar and wind getting cheaper and we should be deploying them wherever it makes sense.

But solar and wind are intermittent sources of energy, and we are unlikely to have super-cheap batteries anytime soon that would allow us to store sufficient energy for when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Besides, electricity accounts for only 25% of all emissions. We need to solve the other 75% too.

This year Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the clean-energy investment fund I’m involved with, announced the first companies we’re putting money into. You can see the list at http://www.b-t.energy/ventures/our-investment-portfolio/. We are looking at all the major drivers of climate change. The companies we chose are run by brilliant people and show a lot of promise for taking innovative clean-energy ideas out of the lab and getting them to market.

Next year I will speak out more about how the U.S. needs to regain its leading role in nuclear power research. (This is unrelated to my work with the foundation.)

Nuclear is ideal for dealing with climate change, because it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that’s available 24 hours a day. The problems with today’s reactors, such as the risk of accidents, can be solved through innovation.

The United States is uniquely suited to create these advances with its world-class scientists, entrepreneurs, and investment capital.

 Unfortunately, America is no longer the global leader on nuclear energy that it was 50 years ago.

Unfortunately, America is no longer the global leader on nuclear energy that it was 50 years ago. To regain this position, it will need to commit new funding, update regulations, and show investors that it’s serious.

There are several promising ideas in advanced nuclear that should be explored if we get over these obstacles. TerraPower, the company I started 10 years ago, uses an approach called a traveling wave reactor that is safe, prevents proliferation, and produces very little waste. We had hoped to build a pilot project in China, but recent policy changes here in the U.S. have made that unlikely. We may be able to build it in the United States if the funding and regulatory changes that I mentioned earlier happen.

The world needs to be working on lots of solutions to stop climate change. Advanced nuclear is one, and I hope to persuade U.S. leaders to get into the game.

The next epidemic

In 1918, the Spanish flu killed 50 million people worldwide. It still ranks as one of the deadliest natural disasters ever.

I had hoped that hitting the 100th anniversary of this epidemic would spark a lot of discussion about whether we’re ready for the next global epidemic. Unfortunately, it didn’t, and we still are not ready.

People rightly worry about dangers like terrorism and climate change (and, more remotely, an asteroid hitting the Earth). But if anything is going to kill tens of millions of people in a short time, it will probably be a global epidemic. And the disease would most likely be a form of the flu, because the flu virus spreads easily through the air. Today a flu as contagious and lethal as the 1918 one would kill nearly 33 million people in just six months.

I have been studying this for several years. To be prepared, we need a plan for national governments to work together. We need to think through how to handle quarantines, make sure supply chains will reach affected areas, decide how to involve the military, and so on. There was not much progress on these questions in 2018.

 There has been progress toward a vaccine that would protect you from every strain of the flu.

The good news is that there has been progress toward a vaccine that would protect you from every strain of the flu. This year I visited the U.S. National Institutes of Health in Maryland and got an update from some of the people leading this work.

The challenges of making a universal flu vaccine are fascinating. All strains of the virus have certain structures in common. If you’ve never been exposed to the flu, it’s possible to make a vaccine that teaches your immune system to look for those structures and attack them. But once you’ve had the flu, your body obsesses over the strain that got you sick. That makes it really hard to get your immune system to look for the common structures.

So it is clear how we could make a universal vaccine that would protect anyone (such as the very young) who has never been exposed to the flu before. But for anyone who has already had the virus, it is a lot harder. The problem is a long way from being solved, but new research money is coming in and more scientists are working on it.

To make the most of these scientific efforts (some of which our foundation is funding), the world needs to develop a global system for monitoring and responding to epidemics. That is a political matter that requires international cooperation among government leaders. This issue deserves a lot more focus.

Gene editing

Gene editing made the news in November when a Chinese scientist announced that he had altered the genes of two baby girls when they were embryos. What is unprecedented about his work is that he edited their germline cells, meaning the changes will be passed down to their children. (The other, less controversial type of gene editing involves somatic cells, which aren’t inherited by future generations.)

I agree with those who say this scientist went too far. But something good can come from his work if it encourages more people to learn and talk about gene editing. This might be the most important public debate we haven’t been having widely enough.

The ethical questions are enormous. Gene editing is generating a ton of optimism for treating and curing diseases, including some that our foundation works on (though we fund work on altering crops and insects, not humans). But the technology could make inequity worse, especially if it is available only for wealthy people.

I am surprised that these issues haven’t generated more attention from the general public. Today, artificial intelligence is the subject of vigorous debate. Gene editing deserves at least as much of the spotlight as AI.

I encourage you to read up on it whenever you have a chance. Keep an eye out for articles in your news feed. If you are willing to read a whole book, The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee is very well done. This story is one to follow, because big breakthroughs—some good, some worrisome—are coming.

Looking ahead

 I am making a resolution for 2019.

Although I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions, I have always been committed to setting clear goals and making plans to achieve them. As I get older, these two things look more and more like the same exercise. So I am making a resolution for 2019. I am committing to learn and think about two key areas where technology has the potential to make an enormous impact on the quality of our lives, but also raises complex ethical and social considerations.

One is the balance between privacy and innovation. How can we use data to gain insights into education (like which schools do the best job of teaching low-income students) or health (like which doctors provide the best care for a reasonable price) while protecting people’s privacy?

The other is the use of technology in education. How much can software improve students’ learning? For years we have been hearing overheated claims about the huge impact that technology would have on education. People have been right to be skeptical. But I think things are finally coming together in a way that will deliver on the promises.

I will be posting updates on these and other issues on the Gates Notes.

In the meantime, Melinda and I are working on our next Annual Letter. The theme is a surprise, though it is safe to say we’ll be sharing some positive trends that make us optimistic about the future. We’ll send the letter out in February.

I hope you have a happy and healthy start to 2019.

https://www.gatesnotes.com/About-Bill-Gates/Year-in-Review-2018

A Failed Quest for Meaning

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, by Steven Pinker (Viking, 576 pp., $35)Professor Steven Pinker of Harvard has written a 500-plus-page advertising pamphlet for the Enlightenment. He doesn’t quite make the sale, in spite of his having the good fortune to be pitching the best product . . . ever, really.

Good Steven Pinker argues that the Enlightenment represented an escape from dogma, one in which the emerging combination of the scientific method and political liberalism put every claim and creed to the test of reason. Bad Steven Pinker believes — and believes hard — that the Enlightenment is itself a dogma and a tribe and a scripture. Case in point: Countering the argument that Enlightenment ideals fail because people are not perfectly rational actors, Pinker writes, in emphatic italics: “No Enlightenment thinker ever claimed that humans were consistently rational.” Throughout his new book, Enlightenment Now, he offers that same observation repeatedly, as though it were not only dispositive but self-evidently so. From Spinoza to Laplace to Pinker: There is no escaping apostolic succession, after all.

Professor Pinker, like Saint Paul, has a great talent for making the good news sound positively dreadful — unbearable, even. Which is a shame, because there is so much good news in his book. And charts! Goodness, are there charts, charts and charts and charts charting the rise of human flourishing on every axis from educational attainment in India to female literacy in Pakistan to anti-black hate crimes in the United States. Hooray, and well done, humanity. If those are the charts, then bring on the charts!

But this isn’t a book about charts, really. This is a book about the Meaning of Life.

Professor Pinker begins with an anecdote about a student who, after a lecture, asked him, “Why should I live?” After satisfying himself that this was not a case of suicidal ideation or mere smart-assery, he answers:

As a sentient being, you have the potential to flourish. You can refine your faculty of reason itself by learning and debating. You can seek explanations of the natural world through science, and insight into the human condition through the arts and humanities. You can make the most of your capacity for pleasure and satisfaction, which allowed your ancestors to thrive and thereby allowed you to exist. You can appreciate the beauty and richness of the natural and cultural world. As the heir to billions of years of life perpetuating itself, you can perpetuate life in return.

He goes on in that mode for a while, and even the most casual reader will notice that he offers a great deal of “You can” but no “You should.” Which is to say: He does not answer the question. As it turns out, he answers the question neither in short nor at length. “Explaining the meaning of life is not in the usual job description of a professor of cognitive science,” he writes, “and I would not have had the gall to take up her question if the answer depended on my arcane technical knowledge or my dubious personal wisdom.” No, he appeals to a higher power: “But I knew I was channeling a body of beliefs and values that had taken shape more than two centuries before me and that are now more relevant than ever: the ideals of the Enlightenment.”

It was reason that led most of the Enlightenment thinkers to repudiate a belief in an anthropomorphic God who took an interest in human affairs. The application of reason revealed that reports of miracles were dubious, that the authors of holy books were all too human, that natural events unfolded with no regard to human welfare, and that different cultures believed in mutually incompatible deities, none of them less likely than the others to be products of the imagination.

That is fairly sloppy stuff: There is the fallacious appeal to authority (“most of the Enlightenment thinkers”), the failure to understand the claims of the other side (of course reports of miracles are dubious: miracles are unlikely — that is what makes them miracles), the ad hominem (it would hardly come as a shock to any Christian familiar with the biography of Saint Peter that he was “all too human” — accompanying the Prince of Peace in His last days, Peter got into a knife fight), the juvenile (as a matter of logic, it simply is not the case that if not all religious claims can be true simultaneously, then all of them must be false), etc. None of this stuff is very much germane to Professor Pinker’s argument; he simply cannot help himself. If you doubt that this is base, tribal, googly-eyed, us-vs.-them stuff, consider this bit: “Early governments pacified the people they ruled, reducing internecine violence, but imposed a reign of terror that included slavery, harems, human sacrifice, summary executions, and the torture and mutilation of dissidents and deviants. (The Bible has no shortage of examples.)” This appears a few sentences above mentions of the Chinese civil war and Idi Amin. Of course it is the case that accounts of violent episodes can be found in the Bible, but that is not why the Bible appears in that sentence. It appears as a tribal signifier. Us ain’t Them.

Better that Professor Pinker should have taken the advice of A. J. Ayer and eliminated the metaphysics altogether. It isn’t as though the real-world problems of fanaticism and primitivism would have left his volume too slender: The Islamic State exists, and, if it’s explicit anti-intellectualism you’re looking for, consider the etymology of “Boko Haram” — literally, “Books are forbidden.”

In metaphysics as in politics and poker, it is hard to beat something with nothing, and, as ethics go, “The universe is headed for heat death, eventually” isn’t exactly compelling. Marcus Aurelius advised his reader not to worry too much about life, death, or reputation, because, soon enough, we’ll be dead, everybody who knew us will be dead, everybody who might have remembered us will be dead, etc. “‘This man was the last of his house’ is not uncommon upon a monument,” the emperor-philosopher wrote. “How solicitous were the ancestors of these men about an heir! Yet someone must, of necessity, be the last.” Which is sunshine in a glass compared with maximum entropy.

The problem for Professor Pinker is that there isn’t any really good way to get from just the facts to an ethical creed, from the reason and science of his subtitle to the humanism. He tries to get around this with rarity: Humans and human institutions (along with sentient beings and life in general) are examples of low-entropy situations, which are very rare in the universe. Professor Pinker in fact follows the rhetoric of the creationists and intelligent-design cranks (he must shudder to do so) when he explains the Law of Entropy: “If you walk away from a sandcastle, it won’t be there tomorrow, because as the wind, waves, seagulls, and small children push the grains of sand around, they’re more likely to arrange them into one of the vast number of configurations that don’t look like a castle than into one of the tiny few that do.”

The echo of the Reverend William Paley’s Divine Watchmaker is unmistakable. Professor Pinker uses his story for a different purpose, of course: While those who would seek to discredit evolution argue that the fact of the universe argues for a creator in the same way that the existence of a watch implies the existence of a watchmaker, Professor Pinker argues that the rarity of the orderly bits of the universe makes them special, valuable, interesting. But: To whom? And: Says who? There isn’t anything about the Second Law of Thermodynamics that says, or even implies, that we should prefer thermodynamic disequilibrium over thermodynamic equilibrium. It’s only temporary, anyway. There isn’t any scientific reason to prefer a world with humans in it to one without, or a world with happy humans in it to one with unhappy humans in it. (“And what if God prefers your tears to your studying?” asked Rabbi Mendel, no relation to the Right Reverend Gregor Mendel, who laid the foundations of genetics when he wasn’t running the abbey in Brno.) If you want to get from thermodynamics to politics and ethics, there’s a bit more work involved than Professor Pinker has here done. “We’re the Enlightenment, we’re the good guys, follow us!” won’t do it.

This is unfortunate, because Professor Pinker believes that the ideals of the Enlightenment “are now more relevant than ever”: There are challenges to the Enlightenment, to liberalism, and to material progress. Tribalism is, at the moment, resurgent, no less here in the United States than abroad: President Trump is being joined at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference by Marion Maréchal–Le Pen. The new tribalists of the West are not very much impressed by the low prices at Walmart, the improving quality of life in urban China, or the rising literacy rate among Afghan girls. Neither is Boko Haram. Neither is the Islamic State.

And that is what makes the author’s failure here all the more dismaying. Professor Pinker, and many others like him, understand the Enlightenment as a force of oppositionto the civilization that produced it, the civilization we used to call “Christendom.” Professor Pinker’s account has the new gospel of Enlightenment arising from the muck of Christian civilization, with its witch hunts and inquisitions, protected by a few true believers toward whom we still look today for guidance. But the actual Enlightenment happened in the Christian world. They had gunpowder in ancient China, but the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution happened where they happened, and when they happened, for a reason. To properly defend the Enlightenment and its ideals requires grounding the Enlightenment in the culture that produced it, which offends Professor Pinker’s cosmopolitan instincts, to say nothing of his instinct for sneering at Christianity.

“Cult” is the first syllable in “culture,” and Professor Pinker’s professed humanism is a creed, not a scientific deduction. A creed grounded in what? Being nice? The scientific method? Please. It’s grounded in a tribal identity, a little tribe comprising Professor Pinker, Sam Harris, and the ghost of Christopher Hitchens. That sounds like a fun dinner party, but it’s hardly the basis for a civilization. Pinker is dead-on about much — and much that is important — but he remains limited by what must be described as intellectual pettiness, which isn’t what you want in a book professing to lay out the meaning of life.

https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2018/03/19/steven-pinker-enlightenment-now-review-failed-quest-meaning/

Books by Steven Pinker

https://www.thriftbooks.com/a/steven-pinker/202210/?mkwid=s|dc&pcrid=301999411142&pkw=&pmt=b&plc=&pgrid=34947186125&ptaid=dsa-266516562683&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIh_6j9OXS3wIVy7fACh0oCAC1EAMYASAAEgLbO_D_BwE

 

Steven Pinker

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Steven Pinker
102111 Pinker 344.jpg
Born
Steven Arthur Pinker

September 18, 1954 (age 64)

MontrealQuebec, Canada
Nationality Canadian
American
Notable work
Spouse(s)
  • Nancy Etcoff
    (m. 1980; div. 1992)
  • Ilavenil Subbiah
    (m. 1995; div. 2006)
  • Rebecca Goldstein (m. 2007)
Alma mater
Awards Troland Award (1993, National Academy of Sciences),
Henry Dale Prize (2004, Royal Institution),
Walter P. Kistler Book Award (2005),
Humanist of the Year award (2006, issued by the AHA),
George Miller Prize (2010, Cognitive Neuroscience Society), Richard Dawkins Award (2013)
Scientific career
Fields Evolutionary psychologyexperimental psychologycognitive sciencepsycholinguisticsvisual cognition
Thesis The Representation of Three-dimensional Space in Mental Images (1979)
Doctoral advisor Stephen Kosslyn
Influences Noam Chomsky[1]
Website www.stevenpinker.com

Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954) is a Canadian-American cognitive psychologistlinguist, and popular science author. He is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.

Pinker’s academic specializations are visual cognition and psycholinguistics. His experimental subjects include mental imagery, shape recognition, visual attention, children’s language development, regular and irregular phenomena in language, the neural bases of words and grammar, and the psychology of cooperation and communication, including euphemisminnuendo, emotional expression, and common knowledge. He has written two technical books that proposed a general theory of language acquisition and applied it to children’s learning of verbs. In particular, his work with Alan Prince published in 1989 critiqued the connectionist model of how children acquire the past tense of English verbs, arguing instead that children use default rules such as adding “-ed” to make regular forms, sometimes in error, but are obliged to learn irregular forms one by one.

In his popular books, he has argued that the human faculty for language is an instinct, an innate behavior shaped by natural selection and adapted to our communication needs. He is the author of eight books for a general audience. Five of these, The Language Instinct (1994), How the Mind Works (1997), Words and Rules (2000), The Blank Slate (2002), and The Stuff of Thought (2007), describe aspects of the field of psycholinguistics and cognitive science, and include accounts of his own research. In the sixth book, The Better Angels of Our Nature (2011), Pinker makes the case that violence in human societies has, in general, steadily declined with time, and identifies six major causes of this decline.

His seventh book, The Sense of Style (2014), is intended as a general style guide that is informed by modern science and psychology, offering advice on how to produce more comprehensible and unambiguous writing in nonfiction contexts and explaining why so much of today’s academic and popular writing is difficult for readers to understand. His eighth book, Enlightenment Now (2018), continues the optimistic thesis of The Better Angels of Our Nature by using social science data from various sources to argue for a general improvement of the human condition over recent history.

Pinker has been named as one of the world’s most influential intellectuals by various magazines. He has won awards from the American Psychological Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society and the American Humanist Association. He delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 2013. He has served on the editorial boards of a variety of journals, and on the advisory boards of several institutions. He has frequently participated in public debates on science and society.

Biography[edit]

Pinker was born in MontrealQuebec, in 1954, to a middle-class Jewish family. His parents were Roslyn (Wiesenfeld) and Harry Pinker.[3][4] His grandparents emigrated to Canada from Poland and Romania in 1926,[5][6] and owned a small necktie factory in Montreal.[7] His father, a lawyer, first worked as a manufacturer’s representative, while his mother was first a home-maker then a guidance counselor and high-school vice-principal. He has two younger siblings. His brother Robert is a policy analyst for the Canadian government, while his sister, Susan Pinker, is a psychologist and writer who authored The Sexual Paradox and The Village Effect.[8][9]

Pinker married Nancy Etcoff in 1980 and they divorced in 1992; he married Ilavenil Subbiah in 1995 and they too divorced.[10] His third wife, whom he married in 2007, is the novelist and philosopher Rebecca Goldstein.[11] He has two stepdaughters: the novelist Yael Goldstein Love and the poet Danielle Blau.

Pinker graduated from Dawson College in 1973. He received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from McGill University in 1976, and earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in experimental psychology at Harvard University in 1979 under Stephen Kosslyn. He did research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for a year, after which he became an assistant professor at Harvard and then Stanford University.

From 1982 until 2003, Pinker taught at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, was the co-director of the Center for Cognitive science (1985–1994), and eventually became the director of the Center for Cognitive neuroscience (1994–1999),[12] taking a one-year sabbatical at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1995–96. As of 2003, he is the Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard; from 2008 to 2013 he also held the title of Harvard College Professor in recognition of his dedication to teaching.[13] He currently gives lectures as a visiting professor at the New College of the Humanities, a private college in London.[14][15]

About his Jewish background Pinker has said, “I was never religious in the theological sense … I never outgrew my conversion to atheism at 13, but at various times was a serious cultural Jew.”[16] As a teenager, he says he considered himself an anarchist until he witnessed civil unrest following a police strike in 1969, when:

As a young teenager in proudly peaceable Canada during the romantic 1960s, I was a true believer in Bakunin’s anarchism. I laughed off my parents’ argument that if the government ever laid down its arms all hell would break loose. Our competing predictions were put to the test at 8:00 A.M. on October 17, 1969, when the Montreal police went on strike … This decisive empirical test left my politics in tatters (and offered a foretaste of life as a scientist).[17]

Pinker identifies himself as an equity feminist, which he defines as “a moral doctrine about equal treatment that makes no commitments regarding open empirical issues in psychology or biology”.[18] He reported the result of a test of his political orientation that characterized him as “neither leftist nor rightist, more libertarian than authoritarian.”[19] He describes himself as having “experienced a primitive tribal stirring” after his genes were shown to trace back to the Middle East, noting that he “found it just as thrilling to zoom outward in the diagrams of my genetic lineage and see my place in a family tree that embraces all of humanity”.[20]

Pinker also identifies himself as an atheist. In the 2007 interview with the Point of Inquiry podcast, Pinker states that he would “defend atheism as an empirically supported view.” He sees theism and atheism as competing empirical hypotheses, and states that “we’re learning more and more about what makes us tick, including our moral sense, without needing the assumption of a deity or a soul. It’s naturally getting crowded out by the successive naturalistic explanations.”[21]

Research and theory[edit]

Pinker in 2007.

Pinker’s research on visual cognition, begun in collaboration with his thesis adviser, Stephen Kosslyn, showed that mental images represent scenes and objects as they appear from a specific vantage point (rather than capturing their intrinsic three-dimensional structure), and thus correspond to the neuroscientist David Marr‘s theory of a “two-and-a-half-dimensional sketch.”[22] He also showed that this level of representation is used in visual attention, and in object recognition (at least for asymmetrical shapes), contrary to Marr’s theory that recognition uses viewpoint-independent representations.

In psycholinguistics, Pinker became known early in his career for promoting computational learning theory as a way to understand language acquisition in children. He wrote a tutorial review of the field followed by two books that advanced his own theory of language acquisition, and a series of experiments on how children acquire the passive, dative, and locative constructions. These books were Language Learnability and Language Development (1984), in Pinker’s words “outlin[ing] a theory of how children acquire the words and grammatical structures of their mother tongue”,[23] and Learnability and Cognition: The Acquisition of Argument Structure (1989), in Pinker’s words “focus[ing] on one aspect of this process, the ability to use different kinds of verbs in appropriate sentences, such as intransitive verbs, transitive verbs, and verbs taking different combinations of complements and indirect objects”.[23] He then focused on verbs of two kinds that illustrate what he considers to be the processes required for human language: retrieving whole words from memory, like the past form of the irregular verb[24] “bring”, namely “brought”; and using rules to combine (parts of) words, like the past form of the regular verb “walk”, namely “walked”.[23]

In 1988 Pinker and Alan Prince published an influential critique of a connectionist model of the acquisition of the past tense (a textbook problem in language acquisition), followed by a series of studies of how people use and acquire the past tense. This included a monograph on children’s regularization of irregular forms and his popular 1999 book, Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language. Pinker argued that language depends on two things, the associative remembering of sounds and their meanings in words, and the use of rules to manipulate symbols for grammar. He presented evidence against connectionism, where a child would have to learn all forms of all words and would simply retrieve each needed form from memory, in favour of the older alternative theory, the use of words and rules combined by generative phonology. He showed that mistakes made by children indicate the use of default rules to add suffixes such as “-ed”: for instance ‘breaked’ and ‘comed’ for ‘broke’ and ‘came’. He argued that this shows that irregular verb-forms in English have to be learnt and retrieved from memory individually, and that the children making these errors were predicting the regular “-ed” ending in an open-ended way by applying a mental rule. This rule for combining verb stems and the usual suffix can be expressed as[25]

Vpast → Vstem + d

where V is a verb and d is the regular ending. Pinker further argued that since the ten most frequently occurring English verbs (be, have, do, say, make … ) are all irregular, while 98.2% of the thousand least common verbs are regular, there is a “massive correlation” of frequency and irregularity. He explains this by arguing that every irregular form, such as ‘took’, ‘came’ and ‘got’, has to be committed to memory by the children in each generation, or else lost, and that the common forms are the most easily memorized. Any irregular verb that falls in popularity past a certain point is lost, and all future generations will treat it as a regular verb instead.[25]

In 1990, Pinker, with Paul Bloom, published the paper “Natural Language and Natural Selection”, arguing that the human language faculty must have evolved through natural selection.[26] The article provided arguments for a continuity based view of language evolution, contrary to then current discontinuity based theories that see language as suddenly appearing with the advent of Homo sapiens as a kind of evolutionary accident. This discontinuity based view was prominently argued by two of the main authorities, linguist Noam Chomsky and Stephen Jay Gould.[27] The paper became widely cited and created renewed interest in the evolutionary prehistory of language, and has been credited with shifting the central question of the debate from “did language evolve?” to “how did language evolve”.[27][28] The article also presaged Pinker’s argument in The Language Instinct.

Pinker’s research includes delving into human nature and what science says about it. In his interview on the Point of Inquiry podcast in 2007, he provides the following examples of what he considers defensible conclusions of what science says human nature is:

  • The sexes are not statistically identical; “their interests and talents form two overlapping distributions”. Any policy that wants to provide equal outcomes for both men and women will have to discriminate against one or the other.
  • “Individuals differ in personality and intelligence.”
  • “People favor themselves and their families over an abstraction called society.”
  • Humans are “systematically self deceived. Each one of us thinks of ourselves as more competent and benevolent than we are.”
  • “People crave status and power”

He informs the listeners that one can read more about human nature in his book, Blank Slate.

Pinker also speaks about evolutionary psychology in the podcast and believes that this area of science is going to pay off. He cites the fact that there are many areas of study, such as beauty, religion, play, and sexuality, that were not studied 15 years ago. It is thanks to evolutionary psychology that these areas are being studied.[21]

Popularization of science[edit]

Pinker in 2011.

Human cognition and natural language[edit]

Pinker’s 1994 The Language Instinct was the first of several books to combine cognitive science with behavioral genetics and evolutionary psychology. It introduces the science of language and popularizes Noam Chomsky‘s theory that language is an innate faculty of mind, with the controversial twist that the faculty for language evolved by natural selection as an adaptation for communication. Pinker criticizes several widely held ideas about language – that it needs to be taught, that people’s grammar is poor and getting worse with new ways of speaking, the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis that language limits the kinds of thoughts a person can have, and that other great apes can learn languages. Pinker sees language as unique to humans, evolved to solve the specific problem of communication among social hunter-gatherers. He argues that it is as much an instinct as specialized adaptative behavior in other species, such as a spider‘s web-weaving or a beaver‘s dam-building.

Pinker states in his introduction that his ideas are “deeply influenced”[29] by Chomsky; he also lists scientists whom Chomsky influenced to “open up whole new areas of language study, from child development and speech perception to neurology and genetics”[29] — Eric LennebergGeorge MillerRoger BrownMorris Halle and Alvin Liberman.[29] Brown mentored Pinker through his thesis; Pinker stated that Brown’s “funny and instructive”[30] book Words and Things (1958) was one of the inspirations for The Language Instinct.[30][31]

The reality of Pinker’s proposed language instinct, and the related claim that grammar is innate and genetically based, has been contested by many linguists. One prominent opponent of Pinker’s view is Geoffrey Sampson whose 1997 book, Educating Eve: The ‘Language Instinct’ Debate has been described as the “definitive response” to Pinker’s book.[32][33] Sampson argues that while it may seem attractive to argue the nature side of the ‘nature versus nurture’ debate, the nurture side may better support the creativity and nobility of the human mind. Sampson denies there is a language instinct, and argues that children can learn language because people can learn anything.[33] Others have sought a middle ground between Pinker’s nativism and Sampson’s culturalism.[34]

The assumptions underlying the nativist view have also been criticised in Jeffrey Elman‘s Rethinking Innateness: A Connectionist Perspective on Development, which defends the connectionist approach that Pinker attacked. In his 1996 book Impossible Minds, the machine intelligence researcher Igor Aleksander calls The Language Instinct excellent, and argues that Pinker presents a relatively soft claim for innatism, accompanied by a strong dislike of the ‘Standard Social Sciences Model’ or SSSM (Pinker’s term), which supposes that development is purely dependent on culture. Further, Aleksander writes that while Pinker criticises some attempts to explain language processing with neural nets, Pinker later makes use of a neural net to create past tense verb forms correctly. Aleksander concludes that while he doesn’t support the SSSM, “a cultural repository of language just seems the easy trick for an efficient evolutionary system armed with an iconic state machine to play.”[35]

Two other books, How the Mind Works (1997) and The Blank Slate (2002), broadly surveyed the mind and defended the idea of a complex human nature with many mental faculties that are adaptive (Pinker is an ally of Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins in many disputes surrounding adaptationism). Another major theme in Pinker’s theories is that human cognition works, in part, by combinatorial symbol-manipulation, not just associations among sensory features, as in many connectionist models. On the debate around The Blank Slate, Pinker called Thomas Sowell‘s book A Conflict of Visions “wonderful”,[36] and explained that “The Tragic Vision” and the “Utopian Vision” are the views of human nature behind right- and left-wing ideologies.[36]

In Words and Rules: the Ingredients of Language (1999), Pinker argues from his own research that regular and irregular phenomena are products of computation and memory lookup, respectively, and that language can be understood as an interaction between the two.[37] “Words and Rules” is also the title of an essay by Pinker outlining many of the topics discussed in the book.[25] Critiqueing the book from the perspective of generative linguistics Charles Yang, in the London Review of Books, writes that “this book never runs low on hubris or hyperbole“.[38] The book’s topic, the English past tense, is in Yang’s view unglamorous, and Pinker’s attempts at compromise risk being in no man’s land between rival theories. Giving the example of German, Yang argues that irregular nouns in that language at least all belong to classes, governed by rules, and that things get even worse in languages that attach prefixes and suffixes to make up long ‘words’: they can’t be learnt individually, as there are untold numbers of combinations. “All Pinker (and the connectionists) are doing is turning over the rocks at the base of the intellectual landslide caused by the Chomskian revolution.”[38]

In The Stuff of Thought (2007), Pinker looks at a wide range of issues around the way words related to thoughts on the one hand, and to the world outside ourselves on the other. Given his evolutionary perspective, a central question is how an intelligent mind capable of abstract thought evolved: how a mind adapted to Stone Age life could work in the modern world. Many quirks of language are the result.[39]

Pinker is critical of theories about the evolutionary origins of language that argue that linguistic cognition might have evolved from earlier musical cognition. He sees language as being tied primarily to the capacity for logical reasoning, and speculates that human proclivity for music may be a spandrel — a feature not adaptive in its own right, but that has persisted through other traits that are more broadly practical, and thus selected for. In How the Mind Works, Pinker reiterates Immanuel Kant‘s view that music is not in itself an important cognitive phenomenon, but that it happens to stimulate important auditory and spatio-motor cognitive functions. Pinker compares music to “auditory cheesecake”, stating that “As far as biological cause and effect is concerned, music is useless”. This argument has been rejected by Daniel Levitin and Joseph Carroll, experts in music cognition, who argue that music has had an important role in the evolution of human cognition.[40][41][42][43][44][45] In his book This Is Your Brain On Music, Levitin argues that music could provide adaptive advantage through sexual selectionsocial bonding, and cognitive development; he questions the assumption that music is the antecedent to language, as opposed to its progenitor, noting that many species display music-like habits that could be seen as precursors to human music.[46]

Pinker has also been critical of “whole language” reading instruction techniques, stating in How the Mind Works, “… the dominant technique, called ‘whole language,’ the insight that [spoken] language is a naturally developing human instinct has been garbled into the evolutionarily improbable claim that reading is a naturally developing human instinct.”[47] In the appendix to the 2007 reprinted edition of The Language Instinct, Pinker cited Why Our Children Can’t Read by cognitive psychologist Diane McGuinness as his favorite book on the subject and noted:

One raging public debate involving language went unmentioned in The Language Instinct: the “reading wars,” or dispute over whether children should be explicitly taught to read by decoding the sounds of words from their spelling (loosely known as “phonics“) or whether they can develop it instinctively by being immersed in a text-rich environment (often called “whole language”). I tipped my hand in the paragraph in [the sixth chapter of the book] which said that language is an instinct but reading is not.[48] Like most psycholinguists (but apparently unlike many school boards), I think it’s essential for children to be taught to become aware of speech sounds and how they are coded in strings of letters.[49]

The Better Angels of Our Nature[edit]

Violence in the middle ages: detail from “Mars” in Das Mittelalterliche Hausbuch, c. 1475 – 1480. The image is used by Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature, with the comment “as the Housebook illustrations suggest, [the knights] did not restrict their killing to other knights”.[50]

In The Better Angels of Our Nature, published in 2011, Pinker argues that violence, including tribal warfare, homicide, cruel punishments, child abuse, animal cruelty, domestic violence, lynching, pogroms, and international and civil wars, has decreased over multiple scales of time and magnitude. Pinker considers it unlikely that human nature has changed. In his view, it is more likely that human nature comprises inclinations toward violence and those that counteract them, the “better angels of our nature”. He outlines six ‘major historical declines of violence’ that all have their own socio/cultural/economic causes:[51]

  1. “The Pacification Process” – The rise of organized systems of government has a correlative relationship with the decline in violent deaths. As states expand they prevent tribal feuding, reducing losses.
  2. “The Civilizing Process” – Consolidation of centralized states and kingdoms throughout Europe results in the rise of criminal justice and commercial infrastructure, organizing previously chaotic systems that could lead to raiding and mass violence.
  3. “The Humanitarian Revolution” – The 18th – 20th century abandonment of institutionalized violence by the state (breaking on the wheel, burning at the stake). Suggests this is likely due to the spike in literacy after the invention of the printing press thereby allowing the proletariat to question conventional wisdom.
  4. “The Long Peace” – The powers of 20th Century believed that period of time to be the bloodiest in history. This to a largely peaceful 65-year period post World War I and World War II. Developed countries have stopped warring (against each other and colonially), adopted democracy, and this has led a massive decline (on average) of deaths.
  5. “The New Peace” – The decline in organized conflicts of all kinds since the end of the Cold War.
  6. “The Rights Revolutions” – The reduction of systemic violence at smaller scales against vulnerable populations (racial minorities, women, children, homosexuals, animals).

The book was welcomed by many critics and reviewers, who found its arguments convincing and its synthesis of a large volume of historical evidence compelling.[52][53][54][55][56] It also aroused criticism on a variety of grounds, such as whether deaths per capita was an appropriate metric, Pinker’s atheism, lack of moral leadership, excessive focus on Europe (though the book covers other areas), the interpretation of historical data, and its image of indigenous people.[57][58][59][60][61][62][63][64][65][66][67]

English writing style in the 21st century[edit]

In his seventh popular book, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century (2014), Pinker attempts to provide a writing style guide that is informed by modern science and psychology, offering advice on how to produce more comprehensible and unambiguous writing in nonfiction contexts and explaining why so much of today’s academic and popular writing is difficult for readers to understand.

In a November 2014 episode of the Point of Inquiry podcast, host Lindsay Beyerstein, asked Pinker how his style guide was different from the many guides that already exist. His answer,

The Thinking Person’s Guide because I don’t issue dictates from on high as most manuals do but explain why the various guidelines will improve writing, what they do for language, what they do for the reader’s experience, in the hope that the users will apply the rules judiciously knowing what they are designed to accomplish, rather than robotically.[68]

He also indicated that the 21st century was applicable because language and usage change over time and it has been a long time since William Strunk wrote Elements of Style.[68]

Public debate[edit]

Pinker is a frequent participant in public debates surrounding the contributions of science to contemporary society. Social commentators such as Ed West, author of The Diversity Illusion, consider Pinker important and daring in his willingness to confront taboos, as in The Blank Slate. This doctrine (the tabula rasa), writes West, remained accepted “as fact, rather than fantasy”[69] a decade after the book’s publication. West describes Pinker as “no polemicist, and he leaves readers to draw their own conclusions”.[69]

In January 2005, Pinker defended Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard University, whose comments about a gender gap in mathematics and science angered much of the faculty. Pinker noted that Summers’s remarks, properly understood, were hypotheses about overlapping statistical distributions of men’s and women’s talents and tastes, and that in a university such hypotheses ought to be the subject of empirical testing rather than dogma and outrage.[70] Edge.org ran a debate between Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke on gender and science.[71]

In 2009, Pinker wrote a mixed review of Malcolm Gladwell‘s essays in The New York Times criticizing his analytical methods.[72] Gladwell replied, disputing Pinker’s comments about the importance of IQ on teaching performance and by analogy, the effect, if any, of draft order on quarterback performance in the National Football League.[73] Advanced NFL Stats addressed the issue statistically, siding with Pinker and showing that differences in methodology could explain the two men’s differing opinions.[74]

In 2009, David Shenk criticized Pinker for siding with the “nature” argument and for “never once acknowledg[ing] gene-environment interaction or epigenetics” in an article on nature versus nurture in The New York Times.[75] Pinker responded to a question about epigenetics as a possibility for the decline in violence in a lecture for the BBC World Service. Pinker said it was unlikely since the decline in violence happened too rapidly to be explained by genetic changes.[76] Helga Vierich and Cathryn Townsend wrote a critical review of Pinker’s sweeping “Civilizational” explanations for patterns of human violence and warfare in response to a lecture he gave at Cambridge University in September 2015.[77]

Steven Pinker is also noted for having identified the rename of Phillip Morris to Altria as an “egregious example” of phonesthesia, with the company attempting to “switch its image from bad people who sell addictive carcinogens to a place or state marked by altruism and other lofty values”.[78]

Pinker continued to court controversy through his 2018 book Enlightenment Now, in which he argues that enlightenment rationality has driven tremendous progress and should be defended against attacks from both the left and right. The Guardian criticized the book as a “triumphalist” work that has a “curious relationship to intellectual history” and overestimates the role of campus activists in mainstream discourse.[79] While promoting the book on the NPR show 1A, Pinker caused a minor social media backlash when he said that “I don’t think Malcolm X did the world much good.”[80][81][82]

In a debate with Pinker, post-colonial theorist Homi Bhabha argued that Enlightenment Now sees the perils of the modern age such as slavery, imperialism, world wars, genocide, inequality etc as glitches rather than costs for enlightenment’s gifts. But Pinker responded that the natural state of humanity has been poverty and disease, and knowledge has improved human welfare.[83]

Awards and distinctions[edit]

Pinker in Göttingen, 2010

Pinker was named one of Time‘s 100 most influential people in the world in 2004[84] and one of Prospect and Foreign Policy100 top public intellectuals in both years the poll was carried out, 2005[85] and 2008;[86] in 2010 and 2011 he was named by Foreign Policy to its list of top global thinkers.[87][88] In 2016, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.[89]

His research in cognitive psychology has won the Early Career Award (1984) and Boyd McCandless Award (1986) from the American Psychological Association, the Troland Research Award (1993) from the National Academy of Sciences, the Henry Dale Prize (2004) from the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and the George Miller Prize (2010) from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. He has also received honorary doctorates from the universities of NewcastleSurreyTel AvivMcGillSimon Fraser University and the University of Tromsø. He was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, in 1998 and in 2003. On May 13, 2006, he received the American Humanist Association‘s Humanist of the Year award for his contributions to public understanding of human evolution.[90]

Pinker has served on the editorial boards of journals such as Cognition, Daedalus, and PLOS One, and on the advisory boards of institutions for scientific research (e.g., the Allen Institute for Brain Science), free speech (e.g., the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), the popularization of science (e.g., the World Science Festival and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry), peace (e.g., the Peace Research Endowment), and secular humanism (e.g., the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Secular Coalition for America).

Since 2008, he has chaired the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and wrote the essay on usage for the fifth edition of the Dictionary, which was published in 2011.

In February 2001 Steven Pinker, “whose hair has long been the object of admiration, and envy, and intense study”,[91] was nominated by acclamation as the first member of the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS) organized by the Annals of Improbable Research.

Bibliography[edit]

Books[edit]

Articles and essays[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ C-SPAN | BookTV “In Depth with Steven Pinker” November 2nd 2008
  2. ^ “Steven Pinker”Desert Island Discs. 30 June 2013. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  3. ^ Pinker, S. (2009). Language Learnability and Language Development, With New Commentary by the Author. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674042179. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  4. ^ https://mobile.twitter.com/sapinker/status/990944371578109952
  5. ^ Annie Maccoby Berglof «At home: Steven Pinker»
  6. ^ Curious Minds: How a Child Becomes a Scientist
  7. ^ Pinker, Steven (June 26, 2006). “Groups and Genes”The New Republic. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  8. ^ Shermer, Michael (2001-03-01). The Pinker Instinct. Altadena, CA: Skeptics Society & Skeptic Magazine. Retrieved 11 September 2007.
  9. ^ Steven Pinker: the mind reader The Guardian Accessed 25 November 2006.
  10. ^ Biography for Steven Pinker at imdb. Retrieved 12 September 2007.
  11. ^ “How Steven Pinker Works” by Kristin E. Blagg Archived 2014-10-17 at the Wayback MachineThe Harvard Crimson Accessed 3 February 2006.
  12. ^ Curriculum Vitae (PDF)Harvard University, retrieved June 23, 2017
  13. ^ Pinker, Steven. “Official Biography. Harvard University”. Pinker.wjh.harvard.edu. Archived from the original on 29 December 2005. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  14. ^ “The professoriate” Archived June 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., New College of the Humanities. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  15. ^ “Professor Stephen Pinker”, New College of the Humanities. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  16. ^ “Steven Pinker: the mind reader” by Ed Douglas The Guardian Accessed 3 February 2006.
  17. ^ Pinker, Steven (2002), The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human NaturePenguin PutnamISBN 0-670-03151-8.
  18. ^ Pinker, Steven, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (Viking, 2002), p. 341
  19. ^ “My Genome, My Self” by Steven Pinker The New York Times Sunday MagazineAccessed 10 April 2010.
  20. ^ “DNA and You – Personalized Genomics Goes Jewish”The Forward. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
  21. Jump up to:a b Grothe, D.J. (23 February 2007). “Podcast:Steven Pinker – Evolutionary Psychology and Human Nature”. Point of Inquiry with D.J. Grothe. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  22. ^ The nature of the language faculty and its implications for evolution of language
  23. Jump up to:a b c Pinker, Steven. “Steven Pinker: Long Biography”. Harvard University. Archived from the original on 29 December 2005. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  24. ^ Pinker has written a piece on The Irregular Verbs Archived 2014-06-06 at the Wayback Machine., stating that “I like the Irregular verbs of English, all 180 of them, because of what they tell us about the history of the language and the human minds that have perpetuated it.
  25. Jump up to:a b c Pinker, Steven. “Words and rules (essay)” (PDF). Harvard University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 August 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  26. ^ Pinker, S. & Bloom, P. (1990). Natural language and natural selection. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (4): 707‐784
  27. Jump up to:a b Christine Kenneally“Language Development:The First Word. The Search for the Origins of Language”. Archived from the original on 2014-07-14.
  28. ^ “The 20th Anniversary of Steven Pinker & Paul Bloom: Natural Language and Natural Selection (1990)”. Replicatedtypo.com.
  29. Jump up to:a b c Pinker, Steven (1994). The Language Instinct. Penguin. pp. 23–24.
  30. Jump up to:a b Pinker, Steven (1998). “Obituary: Roger Brown” (PDF)Cognition66: 199–213 (see page 205). doi:10.1016/s0010-0277(98)00027-4. Archived from the original(PDF) on 2015-05-18.
  31. ^ Kagan, Jerome (1999). “Roger William Brown 1925-1997” (PDF)Biographical Memoirs77: 7.
  32. ^ “The ‘Language Instinct’ Debate”. University of Sussex.
  33. Jump up to:a b “Empiricism v. Nativism: Nature or Nurture?”. GRSampson.net. Retrieved 8 June2014.. More at The ‘Language Instinct’ Debate
  34. ^ Cowley, S. J. (2001). The baby, the bathwater and the “language instinct” debate. Language Sciences, 23(1), 69-91.
  35. ^ Aleksander, Igor (1996). Impossible Minds. pp. 228–234. ISBN 1-86094-030-7.
  36. Jump up to:a b Sailer, Steve (30 October 2002). “Q&A: Steven Pinker of ‘Blank Slate. United Press International. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
  37. ^ Pinker, Steven. “Words and Rules (book)”. Harvard University. Archived from the original on March 30, 2014. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  38. Jump up to:a b Yang, Charles (24 August 2000). “Dig-dug, think-thunk (review of Words and Rules by Steven Pinker)”London Review of Books22 (6): 33.
  39. ^ Pinker, Steven. “The Stuff of Thought”. Harvard University. Archived from the originalon 9 May 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  40. ^ Levitin, D. J.; Tirovolas, A. K. (2009). “Current Advances in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Music”. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences1156: 211–231. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04417.xPMID 19338510.
  41. ^ Perlovsky L. Music. Cognitive Function, Origin, And Evolution Of Musical Emotions. WebmedCentral PSYCHOLOGY 2011;2(2):WMC001494
  42. ^ Abbott, Alison (2002). “Neurobiology: Music, maestro, please!”. Nature416: 12–14. doi:10.1038/416012a.
  43. ^ Cross, I. (1999). Is music the most important thing we ever did? Music, development and evolution. [preprint (html)] [preprint (pdf)] In Suk Won Yi (Ed.), Music, mind and science (pp 10–39), Seoul: Seoul National University Press.
  44. ^ “Interview with Daniel Levitin”. Pbs.org. May 20, 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  45. ^ Carroll, Joseph (1998). “Steven Pinker’s Cheesecake For The Mind”. Cogweb.ucla.edu. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  46. ^ Levitin, Daniel. 2006. This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, New York: Dutton/Penguin.
  47. ^ Pinker, Steven (1997), How the Mind Works, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, p. 342
  48. ^ Pinker, Steven (2007), The Language Instinct (3rd ed.), New York: Harper Perennial, p. 186
  49. ^ Pinker, Steven (2007), The Language Instinct (3rd ed.), New York: Harper Perennial, pp. PS14
  50. ^ Pinker, Steven (2011). The Better Angels of Our Nature. Allen Lane. p66
  51. ^ Pinker, Steven. “The Decline of Violence”. IAI. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  52. ^ Horgan, John (October 3, 2011). “Will War Ever End? Steven Pinker’s new book reveals an ever more peaceable species: humankind”Slate.
  53. ^ Boyd, Neil (January 4, 2012). “The Empirical Evidence for Declining Violence”HuffPost.
  54. ^ Brittan, Samuel (22 October 2011). “The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and its Causes by Stephen Pinker”The Spectator.
  55. ^ Coffman, Scott (28 September 2012). “Book Review: ‘The Better Angels of Our NatureCourier Journal. Archived from the original on 19 January 2013.
  56. ^ Kohn, Marek (7 October 2011). “Book Review: ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and its Causes’, By Steven Pinker”The Independent. UK.
  57. ^ Epstein, R. (October 2011). “Book Review”Scientific American.
  58. ^ Boyd, Neil (January 4, 2012). “The Empirical Evidence for Declining Violence”HuffPost.
  59. ^ Gray, John (21 September 2011). “Delusions of peace”Prospect Magazine. UK.
  60. ^ “Correspondence”. Claremont Review of Books. 2012-05-02. Archived from the original on 20 December 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  61. ^ Herman, Edward S.; Peterson, David. “Steven Pinker on the alleged decline of violence”International Socialist Review.
  62. ^ Edward S. Herman and David Peterson (2012-09-13). “Reality Denial: Steven Pinker’s Apologetics for Western-Imperial Volence”. Retrieved 2014-12-30.
  63. ^ Kolbert, Elizabeth (3 October 2011). “Peace In Our Time: Steven Pinker’s History of Violence in Decline”The New Yorker.
  64. ^ Pinker, Steven (November 2011). “Frequently Asked Questions about The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined”.
  65. ^ Laws, Ben (21 March 2012). “Against Pinker’s Violence”Ctheory.
  66. ^ “The Big Kill – By John Arquilla”Foreign Policy. 2012-12-03. Retrieved 22 January2013.
  67. ^ Corry, Stephen. “The case of the ‘Brutal Savage’: Poirot or Clouseau?: Why Steven Pinker, like Jared Diamond, is wrong” (PDF). Survival International. Retrieved 30 May2014. (Summary at The myth of the ‘Brutal Savage’)
  68. Jump up to:a b “Steven Pinker: Using Grammar as a Tool, Not as a Weapon”Point of InquiryCenter for Inquiry. 10 November 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  69. Jump up to:a b West, Ed (17 August 2012). “A decade after Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, why is human nature still taboo?”The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  70. ^ “PSYCHOANALYSIS Q-and-A: Steven Pinker” The Harvard Crimson Accessed 8 February 2006.
  71. ^ “The Science of Gender and Science: Pinker Vs. Spelke, A Debate”. Edge.org. 16 May 2005. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
  72. ^ Pinker, Steven (2009-11-15). “Malcolm Gladwell, Eclectic Detective”The New York Times.
  73. ^ “Let’s Go to the Tape”The New York Times. 2009-11-29.
  74. ^ Burke, Brian (2010-04-22). “Steven Pinker vs. Malcolm Gladwell and Drafting QBs”. Advanced NFL Stats. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  75. ^ Steven Pinker’s “probabilistic” genes, David Shenk
  76. ^ Exchanges At The Frontier 2011“, BBC.
  77. ^ Human violence and morality http://online.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/doi/pdf/10.3828/hgr.2015.7
  78. ^ Pinker, Steven (2007). The Stuff of Thought. Penguin Books. p. 304.
  79. ^ Davies, William (2018-02-14). “Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker review – life is getting better”The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  80. ^ “Steven Pinker Looks At The Bright Side”1A. Feb 14, 2018. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  81. ^ “Paloma Saenz on Twitter”Twitter. Retrieved 2018-05-12.[non-primary source needed]
  82. ^ “David on Twitter”Twitter. Retrieved 2018-05-12.[non-primary source needed]
  83. ^ “Does the Enlightenment Need Defending?”IAI TV – Philosophy for our times: cutting edge debates and talks from the world’s leading thinkers. 2018-09-13. Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  84. ^ “Steven Pinker: How Our Minds Evolved” by Robert Wright Archived 2005-12-30 at the Wayback MachineTime Accessed 8 February 2006.
  85. ^ “The Prospect/FP Top 100 Public Intellectuals” Archived 2009-12-01 at the Wayback MachineForeign Policy (free registration required) Accessed 2006-082-08
  86. ^ “Intellectuals”Prospect. 2009. Archived from the original on September 30, 2009.
  87. ^ “The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers (2010)”Foreign Policy. Foreignpolicy.com. 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-12-03. 69. Steven Pinker
  88. ^ “The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers (2011)”Foreign Policy. Foreignpolicy.com. 2011. Archived from the original on 2012-01-30. 48. Steven Pinker: For Looking on Bright Side
  89. ^ National Academy of Sciences Members and Foreign Associates Elected, News from the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Sciences, May 3, 2016, retrieved 2016-05-14.
  90. ^ “Steven Pinker Receives Humanist of the Year Award”American Humanist Association. May 12, 2006. Archived from the original on June 15, 2006.
  91. ^ “The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists”Annals of Improbable Research. Retrieved 2018-01-14.

External links[edit]

Interviews[edit]

Filmed talks[edit]

Debates[edit]

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Richard Condon — The Whisper of The Axe– The Manchurian Candidate — Prizzi’s Honor — Videos

Posted on December 29, 2018. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, Book, Books, Chinese, College, Communications, Congress, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Crisis, Cult, Culture, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Drug Cartels, Education, Entertainment, Ethic Cleansing, European History, Faith, Family, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Fiction, Films, Foreign Policy, Fraud, Freedom, Friends, Genocide, government, government spending, history, Homicide, Language, liberty, Life, Literacy, Mastery, media, Movies, Movies, Narcissism, National Security Agency (NSA), Newspapers, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Police, Political Correctness, Politics, Press, Psychology, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Reviews, Television, Wisdom, Work, World War II, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Manchurian Candidate – opening scene

The Manchurian Candidate Interviews(1962 film)

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) – Assassination Scene (12/12) | Movieclips

The Remaker: The Manchurian Candidate 1962 vs. 2004

The Manchurian Candidate (1962): Classical Film Review

The Manchurian Candidate – Film, Literature and the New World Order

Anjelica Huston-Prizzi’s Honor-“You wanna do it Charlie” scene

Prizzis Honor 1985

Prizzi’s Honor

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Prizzis Honor 1985

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Anjelica Huston – Prizzi’s Honor – last scene

About the Archive

This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them.

Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems. Please send reports of such problems to archive_feedback@nytimes.com.

Richard Condon, the fiendishly inventive novelist and political satirist who wrote “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Winter Kills” and “Prizzi’s Honor,” among other books, died yesterday at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. He was 81.

Novelist is too limited a word to encompass the world of Mr. Condon. He was also a visionary, a darkly comic conjurer, a student of American mythology and a master of conspiracy theories, as vividly demonstrated in “The Manchurian Candidate.” That novel, published in 1959, subsequently became a cult film classic, directed by John Frankenheimer. In this spellbinding story, Raymond Shaw, an American prisoner of war (played in the film by Laurence Harvey), is brainwashed and becomes a Communist agent and assassin.

When the 1962 film was re-released in 1988, Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times that it was “arguably the most chilling piece of cold war paranoia ever committed to film, yet by now it has developed a kind of innocence.”

Mr. Condon was a popular novelist who earned serious critical attention, although he did not always win favorable reviews. His response: “I’m a man of the marketplace as well as an artist.” And he added, “I’m a pawnbroker of myth.” Though others made claims that his novels were prophetic, he admitted only that they were “sometimes about five and a half minutes ahead of their time.”

In “Winter Kills,” a President, evidently modeled on John F. Kennedy, is assassinated in a conspiracy involving the Central Intelligence Agency and the underworld. Obsessed by politics, Mr. Condon once said: “Every book I’ve ever written has been about the abuse of power. I feel very strongly about that. I’d like people to know how deeply their politicians are wronging them.” That abuse could be in contemporary life or as long ago as the 15th century, as in his novel “A Trembling Upon Rome.”

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Politicians like Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and President Richard M. Nixon appeared in various guises in his work, Nixon as Walter Slurrie in “Death of a Politician.” Speaking about politics and political thrillers, Mr. Condon once said, “It’s the villains that make good literature, because they’re the only ones in the story who know what they want.”

He did not write his first novel until he was 42, but, once started, he never stopped. The first, “The Oldest Confession” (1958), was filmed as “The Happy Thieves,” starring Rex Harrison and Rita Hayworth. The novel was a success, but the film was a failure, whereas the second, “The Manchurian Candidate,” was popular in both forms. Eventually he wrote 26 novels and two works of nonfiction, “And Then We Moved to Rossenarra,” a memoir of the years he lived in Ireland, and “The Mexican Stove,” a cookbook he wrote with his daughter Wendy Jackson.

When asked how he knew so much about crime families, he said he first learned about the subject as a boy on the streets of Washington Heights. He was born in Manhattan and graduated from De Witt Clinton High School. Because his grades were so poor, he never went to college. He worked as an elevator operator, a hotel clerk and a waiter, then sold an article to Esquire magazine. While working as a copywriter for an advertising agency, he met a model named Evelyn Hunt, whom he married in 1938. Copywriting led him into movie publicity, with his first stop the Disney organization.

For 22 years, he was a movie publicist, working for almost every major Hollywood studio. With characteristic panache, he later described himself as “a drummer boy for the gnomes and elves of the silver screen.” During this period, he saturated himself with movies, watching eight a week. They were, he said, mostly bad films, but they taught him the art of storytelling and the need for the novelist to be entertaining.

In the late 1950’s, he left Hollywood and returned to New York to become a novelist. The idea for “The Oldest Confession” came while he was on location with “The Pride and the Passion” at El Escorial, outside Madrid. Fascinated by Old Master paintings, he wrote his book about art thievery. The consecutive success of “The Oldest Confession” and “The Manchurian Candidate” enabled him to devote himself to fiction.

In 1959, he began a series of migrations, first to Mexico, then to Switzerland, finally to Ireland. His travels added to his backlog of knowledge, but he continued to set most of his novels in the United States. Through the 1960’s and into the 70’s, his books received mixed reviews, with some of the more admiring notices going to “An Infinity of Mirrors” in 1964. “Winter Kills,” in 1974, drew favorable attention, with Christopher Lehmann-Haupt saying in his review in The Times that it was “a grand entertainment” and “the best book Mr. Condon has written since ‘The Manchurian Candidate.’ “

After writing a series of novels in Ireland, Mr. Condon moved back to the United States, settling in Dallas in 1980. In Texas, he had his next comeback, with “Prizzi’s Honor,” about the Prizzi family of mobsters in Brooklyn. John Huston turned the novel into a hit film, starring Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner and Anjelica Huston. The screenplay, by Mr. Condon and Janet Roach, was nominated for an Academy Award. Several years later, Mr. Condon completed the fictional cycle with “Prizzi’s Family,” “Prizzi’s Glory” and “Prizzi’s Money,” published in 1994.

Among his other novels are “Some Angry Angel,” “A Talent for Loving,” “Arigato” and “Emperor of America.”

Throughout his life, Mr. Condon displayed a wry, even diabolical streak. He often named his characters after real people. For example, the characters in Raymond Shaw’s infantry squad in “The Manchurian Candidate” were named for people associated with the Phil Silvers television show, “You’ll Never Get Rich.” His longest-running character, Dr. Weiler, was named after A. H. Weiler, a former film critic for The Times. In various Condon novels, Dr. Weiler turns up as an obstetrician, a cardiologist, a psychiatrist and the royal physician.

Mr. Condon is survived by his wife; two daughters, Ms. Jackson, of Dallas, and Deborah Condon, who lives near Salisbury in England, and three grandchildren.

Brainwashed

Where the “Manchurian Candidate” came from.

Most people know John Frankenheimer’s movie “The Manchurian Candidate,” which stars Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, and Angela Lansbury in the story of an American soldier who is captured in Korea and programmed by Chinese Communists to kill on command. And most people probably think of the movie as a classic of Cold War culture, like “On the Beach” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”—a popular work articulating the anxieties of an era. In fact, “The Manchurian Candidate” was a flop. It was released in the fall of 1962, failed to recover its costs, and was pulled from distribution two years later, after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It turned up a few times on television, but it was not shown in a movie theatre again until 1987, which—nearly the end of the Cold War—is the year its popularity dates from. The true artifact of Cold War culture is the novel, by Richard Condon, that the movie was based on.

Condon’s book came out in 1959 and was a best-seller. It was praised in the Times (“a wild, vigorous, curiously readable melange”) and The New Yorker (“a wild and exhilarating satire”); Time named it one of the Ten Best Bad Novels—which, from a publisher’s point of view, is far from the worst thing that might be said about a book. The novel’s success made Condon rich; he spent most of the rest of his life abroad, producing many more works in the genre that Timehad identified, including “Winter Kills,” in 1974, and, in 1982, “Prizzi’s Honor.” His adaptation of that novel for the John Huston movie received an Academy Award nomination in 1986. He died in 1996.

Condon was a cynic of the upbeat type, not unlike Tom Wolfe: his belief that everything is basically shit did not get in the way of his pleasure in making fun of it. He learned that attitude in the finest school for it on earth, Hollywood. Before he was a novelist, Condon was a movie publicist. He began, in 1936, at Walt Disney Productions, where he promoted “Fantasia” and “Dumbo,” among other animated masterpieces, and moved on to a succession of studios, finishing up at United Artists, which he left in 1957. He didn’t know what he wanted to do next; he just wanted out. “The only thing I knew how to do was spell,” he later explained, so he did the logical thing and became a writer. Condon claimed that his work in Hollywood had given him three ulcers. He also claimed that he had seen, during his years there, ten thousand movies, an experience that he believed gave him (his words) “an unconscious grounding in storytelling.”

Frankenheimer called “The Manchurian Candidate” “one of the best books I ever read,” but admirers of Frankenheimer’s movie have not been so gracious. Greil Marcus, in a characteristically overheated appreciation of the movie in the British Film Institute’s Film Classics series, calls the novel a “cheaply paranoid fantasy,” and he goes on, “That the story would lodge in the nation’s psyche and stay there was the work of other hands.” The film historian David Thomson describes it as “a book written so that an idiot could film it.” No doubt Condon wrote “The Manchurian Candidate” with a movie deal in mind. It was his second novel; his first, called “The Oldest Confession,” was also made into a movie—“The Happy Thieves,” starring Rex Harrison (a flop that stayed a flop). But the claim that Condon’s “Manchurian Candidate” is not much more than a draft for the screenplay (which was written by George Axelrod, the author of “The Seven Year Itch”) is peculiar. Michael Crichton writes books that any idiot can film; he practically supplies camera angles. But Condon’s is not an easy book to film, in part because its tone is not readily imitated cinematically, and in part because much of it is, or was in 1962, virtually unfilmable. Strange as the movie is—a thriller teetering on the edge of camp—the book is stranger.

Time, a magazine whose editors, after all, have daily experience with overcooked prose, was not wrong in seeing something splendid in the badness of Condon’s book. “The Manchurian Candidate” may be pulp, but it is very tony pulp. It is a man in a tartan tuxedo, chicken à la king with shaved truffles, a signed LeRoy Neiman. It’s Mickey Spillane with an M.F.A., and a kind of summa of the styles of paperback fiction circa 1959. The writing is sometimes hardboiled:

The slightest touchy thing he said to her could knock the old cat over sideways with an off-key moan. But what could he do? He had elected himself Head Chump when he stepped down from Valhalla and telephoned this sweaty little advantage-taker.

Sometimes it adopts a police-blotter, “degree-zero” mode:

“Thank you, Major. Dismiss,” the general said. Marco left the office at four twenty-one in the afternoon. General Jorgenson shot himself to death at four fifty-five.

Occasionally, and usually in an inconvenient place, it drops a mot recherché:

Raymond’s mother came out of her chair, spitting langrel. [“Langrel”: irregular pieces of iron loaded into shell casings for the purpose of ripping the enemy’s sails in naval battles; obsolete.]

VIDEO FROM THE NEW YORKER

A Hundred Years of American Protest, Then and Now

He clutched the telephone like an osculatorium and did not allow himself to think about what lay beyond that instant. [“Osculatorium”: medieval Latin, for a tablet that is kissed during the Mass. There appears to be no connotation involving clutching.]

It signals feeling by waxing poetic:

Such an instant ago he had paddled their wide canoe across that lake of purple wine toward a pin of light high in the sky which would widen and widen and widen while she slept until it had blanched the blackness.

It signals wisdom by waxing incomprehensible:

There is an immutable phrase at large in the languages of the world that places fabulous ransom on every word in it: The love of a good woman. It means what it says and no matter what the perspective or stains of the person who speaks it, the phrase defies devaluing. The bitter and the kind can chase each other around it, this mulberry bush of truth and consequence, and the kind may convert the bitter and the bitter may emasculate the kind but neither can change its meaning because the love of a good woman does not give way to arbitrage.

And, when appropriate, it salivates:

Her lithe, solid figure seemed even more superb because of her flawless carriage. She wore a Chinese dressing gown of a shade so light that it complemented the contrasting color of her eyes. Her long and extremely beautiful legs were stretched out before her on the chaise longue, and any man but her son or her husband, seeing what she had and yet knowing that this magnificent forty-nine-year-old body was only a wasted uniform covering blunted neural energy, might have wept over such a waste.

Some people like their bananas ripe to the point of blackness. “The Manchurian Candidate” is a very ripe banana, and, for those who have the taste for it, delectable.

The magnificent forty-nine-yearold body in the last passage belongs to the mother of Raymond, the assassin, who in Frankenheimer’s movie is played by Angela Lansbury as a proper and steely middle-aged matron. For Condon, though, Raymond’s mother is no matron. She is a sexually predatory heroin addict who commits double incest. She is the serpent in the suburban garden of Cold War domesticity, and, in imagining her and her history, Condon almost certainly had in the back of his mind the book that, three years earlier, had become the first blockbuster in American publishing, Grace Metalious’s “Peyton Place”—a story that also had to be sanitized for the movies. The plot of “Peyton Place” turns on incest (as, for that matter, does the plot of “Lolita,” a sensation when the American edition came out, in 1958). But the luridness of Condon’s novel did not make it to the screen. There is no equivalent in the movie, for example, of the proto-Pynchonesque sequence in which Raymond’s stepfather, Johnny Iselin, attempts to have sex with an Eskimo. Frankenheimer’s idea of satire was a lot more conventional than Condon’s. He was also a Hollywood filmmaker, of course, and obliged to observe a different decorum.

Counterintuitive as it sounds, the secret to making a successful thriller, as Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy have demonstrated, is to slow down the action occasionally with disquisitions on Stuff It Is Interesting to Know—how airplanes are made, how nuclear submarines work, how to build an atomic bomb. Ideally, this information is also topical, food for the national appetite of the day. In “The Manchurian Candidate,” the topic is brainwashing.

Fear of Communist brainwashing seems an example of Cold War hysteria, but in the nineteen-fifties the fear was not without basis. United Nations ground forces began military action in Korea on July 5, 1950. On July 9th, an American soldier who had been captured just two days earlier delivered a radio speech consisting of North Korean propaganda. Similar broadcasts by captured soldiers continued throughout the war. At the end of the war, the Army estimated that one out of every seven American prisoners of war had collaborated with the enemy. (The final, generally accepted estimate is one out of ten.) Twenty-one Americans refused to return to the United States; forty announced that they had become Communists; and fourteen were court-martialled, and eleven of those were convicted.

The term “brainwashing” was coined by a journalist named Edward Hunter, who had served in the Morale Operations section of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services during the Second World War, which he spent mostly in Asia, and who became an outspoken anti-Communist. Hunter’s book “Brainwashing in Red China: The Calculated Destruction of Men’s Minds” appeared in 1951. In it, he explained that “brainwashing” was his translation of the Chinese term hsi-nao, which means “cleansing of the mind,” and which he said he had heard frequently when speaking with Europeans who had been caught inside China in 1949, the year of Mao’s revolution.

In 1955, two years after the armistice ending the Korean War, the Army issued a huge report on the treatment of American prisoners called “POW: The Fight Continues After the Battle.” The Army had interviewed all surviving prisoners of war on the ships that brought them back across the Pacific—more than four thousand soldiers—and had learned that many of them underwent intensive indoctrination by Chinese Communists. The Chinese had carefully segregated the prisoners they had identified as incorrigibles, sometimes housing them in separate camps, and had subjected the prisoners they judged to be potential converts to five hours of indoctrination a day, in classes that combined propaganda by the instructors with “confessions” by the prisoners. In some cases, physical torture accompanied the indoctrination, but in general the Chinese used the traditional methods of psychological coercion: repetition and humiliation. The Army discovered that a shocking number of prisoners had, to one degree or another, succumbed. Some were persuaded to accuse the United States, in signed statements, of engaging in germ warfare—a charge that was untrue but was widely believed in many countries.

The Army report instigated a popular obsession with brainwashing that lasted well into 1957. Stories about the experiences of American prisoners appeared in The Saturday Evening PostLife, the Times Magazine, and The New Yorker. The term itself became a synonym for any sort of effective persuasion, and writers struggled with the question of whether aspects of contemporary American life, such as advertising and psychiatric therapy, might really be forms of brainwashing. Condon must have read much of this material; he did know Andrew Salter’s “Conditioned Reflex Therapy” (1949), a book he has the Chinese psychiatrist in his novel, Yen Lo, cite in the speech in which he announces his successful brainwashing of the American prisoners. Yen Lo names a number of other studies of hypnosis and conditioning, including “The Seduction of the Innocent,” by Frederic Wertham, an alarmist account of the way comic books corrupt the minds of American youth. (Yen Lo evidently has, in addition to his other exceptional powers, a crystal ball, since “Seduction of the Innocent” was not published until 1954, after the Korean War was over.) These books and articles apparently persuaded Condon that brainwashing, or psychological conditioning using a combination of hypnosis and Pavlovian methods, was a real possibility—as the recent experience of the Korean P.O.W.s had persuaded many other Americans that it was.

Condon’s book played on the fear that brainwashing could be permanent, that minds could be altered forever. By the time Frankenheimer’s movie came out, though, it had become clear that most conditioning is temporary. In 1961, in “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of ‘Brainwashing’ in China,” the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, who had conducted some of the shipboard interviews with returning P.O.W.s, concluded that the indoctrination of prisoners was a long-term failure. All of the “converts” eventually returned to the United States, and the former prisoners who had come home praising the good life to be had in North Korea soon reverted to American views.

Still, conditioning is the theme (if “theme” is not too grand a term) of Condon’s novel. Even before Raymond falls into the hands of Yen Lo, he is psychologically conditioned, by his mother’s behavior, to despise everyone. His mother is conditioned, by her early incest, to betray everyone. And the American people are conditioned, by political propaganda, to believe her McCarthy-like husband’s baseless charges about Communists in the government. It is not, in Condon’s vision, the Communist world on one side and the free world on the other. It is just the manipulators and the manipulated, the conditioners and the conditioned, the publicists and the public. In such a world, it’s probably better to be the publicist, if you can deal with the ulcers.

Frank Sinatra, who plays Marco, the only friend Raymond has, is supposed to have asked his friend Jack Kennedy for his approval before Frankenheimer’s movie was released. United Artists was apparently afraid that the assassination scene might give some nut an idea. Kennedy, as it happened, loved the movie; he was, after all, the world’s most famous Ian Fleming fan. He was killed a year after “The Manchurian Candidate” came out. Did Lee Harvey Oswald see it? The problem has been examined in depth by John Loken, in a book called “Oswald’s Trigger Films” (2000). Loken concludes that although the evidence is not definitive, Oswald almost certainly did see it. “The Manchurian Candidate” opened in Dallas in November, 1962, and played there for several months; Oswald, who was living in Dallas at the time, had a habit of going to the movies by himself (he was in a movie theatre when he was arrested on November 22, 1963); and Loken has determined that the bus Oswald probably took to work passed within ten yards of a theatre where the movie was playing. (Loken is much struck by the fact that references to “The Manchurian Candidate” are almost nonexistent in the literature, official and otherwise, on the Kennedy assassination. He concludes, in the spirit of all scholars of that assassination, that “the probable Oswald connection, so utterly obvious if one but thinks about it, has been suppressed for decades by a powerful conglomerate that might aptly be called the ‘media-entertainment complex.’ ”)

Immediately after Kennedy was shot, Condon got a call from a newspaper reporter asking if he felt responsible. Condon couldn’t see the relevance, and he was not being defensive. He had not introduced political assassination to popular American culture. Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men” was published in 1946 and was made into a movie in 1949; a version for television, directed by Sidney Lumet, was broadcast in 1958. Assassination is the subject of John Huston’s “We Were Strangers” (1949) and Lewis Allen’s “Suddenly” (1954), also starring Frank Sinatra. Oswald might easily have seen those movies as well. More to the point: “The Manchurian Candidate” is the story of a man programmed to kill at the command of other people. What self-respecting assassin would take such a character for his role model? Either Oswald acted according to his own wishes, in which case he wasn’t imitating Condon’s killer, or he really was programmed by the Communists, in which case the question isn’t whether Oswald saw Frankenheimer’s movie but whether his Communist masters did.

United Artists withdrew “The Manchurian Candidate” from theatres in 1964, although the movie could occasionally be seen on television and in art houses. In 1972, Sinatra bought the rights and, in 1975, removed it from circulation entirely. Whether or not he was motivated by guilt over Kennedy’s death is unclear. He did, however, give his daughter Tina permission to produce a remake, and it is being shot, this fall, by Jonathan Demme. (Demme’s previous movie, “The Truth About Charlie,” was also a remake, of Stanley Donen’s “Charade,” of 1963. His method, judging from that effort, is to update the story and then salt it with allusions to the period of the original. “Charade” was filmed in Paris at the time of the French New Wave, and so in Demme’s version there are appearances by Charles Aznavour, Agnès Varda, and the grave of François Truffaut—none of which have anything to do with the story. Demme has reportedly set “The Manchurian Candidate” in the time of the Gulf War; Liev Schreiber plays Raymond, Meryl Streep is his dragon mother, and Marco is played by Denzel Washington. We can be fairly confident that at some point Denzel Washington will be seen listening to a Frank Sinatra song.)

The Kennedy assassination does not fulfill Condon and Frankenheimer’s prophecy. On the contrary, it buries it. If any assassin might plausibly have been a Communist puppet, it was Oswald, a man who had lived in the Soviet Union for three years, who had a Russian wife, and who once handed out leaflets for an outfit called the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. These facts were widely known within hours of Oswald’s arrest, and yet the theory that he was an agent who was directed, wittingly or not, by Communist handlers has never been an important part of the folklore of the Kennedy assassination. Until the late nineteen-seventies, the official line (endorsed, incidentally, by Condon at the time) was that Oswald acted alone. Dissenters from that view have been drawn mainly to theories involving the Mafia and the Central Intelligence Agency, even though hooking Oswald up with those entities requires a far greater imaginative stretch than associating him with the Soviets. Almost no one thinks of Kennedy (except in some convoluted way) as a casualty of the Cold War, and his death does not represent the culmination of the national anxiety about Communist infiltration. It represents the end of that obsession, and of the panic that Condon’s novel and Frankenheimer’s movie both so happily exploit. ♦

  • Louis Menand, a staff writer since 2001, was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2016.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2003/09/15/brainwashed

RICHARD CONDON BOOKS IN ORDER

Publication Order of Prizzi Books

Prizzi’s Honor (1982) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Prizzi’s Family (1986) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Prizzi’s Glory (1988) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Prizzi’s Money (1994) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Oldest Confession (1958) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Manchurian Cadidate (1959) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Some Angry Angel (1960) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Talent for Loving aka The Great Cowboy Race (1961) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
An Infinity of Mirrors (1964) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Any God Will Do (1966) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Ecstasy Business (1967) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mile High (1969) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Vertical Smile (1971) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Arigato (1972) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Winter Kills (1974) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Star-spangled Crunch (1975) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Money is Love (1975) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Whisper of the Axe (1976) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Abandoned Woman (1977) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Bandicoot (1978) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Death of A Politician (1978) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Entwining (1980) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Trembling Upon Rome (1983) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Emperor of America (1990) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Final Addiction (1991) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Venerable Bead (1992) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

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Before he began writing fiction stories, Richard Thomas Condon worked for Walt Disney productions as a press agent in the movie business for 20 years where he spent most of his time in the major studios. Prior his moderate success in Hollywood, Condon also worked in the US Merchant Marine. He actually started writing in 1957 in his forties. He often complained of wasting a lot of time in Hollywood when he was employed as an ad writer by United Artists. His boss, Max Youngstein later fired him after deducting amounts from Condon’s salary without his knowledge. Youngstein also offered him a house overlooking a Mexican ocean and told him to write his book, The Manchurian Candidate (1959) which was his second novel. The book was used to make a movie in 1962, making Richard Condon famous. His other book, Prizzi’s Honor (1982) was also made into a successful movie.

Richard Condon was a thriller and satirical novelist, born and raised in New York City and best known for his conspiratorial books like The Oldest Confession (1958), Some Angry Angel (1960), A Talent of Loving (1961), An Infinity of Mirrors (1964) and many more novels. Condon’s writing was famous for its fascination with trivia, complex plotting, and hatred for those in power. For instance, his most popular novel The Manchurian Candidate was highly criticized because it seemed to disturbingly overshadow the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Furthermore, several books feature a thinly disguised version of Richard Nixon. His characters were driven by family loyalty, and with obsession, usually political and sexual. His plots had elements of a typical tragedy involving protagonists who are led by their pride to places where they destroy what they love. One of his most notable books, Mile High (1969) was best defined as secret history. In the novel, And Then We Moved to Rossenara, Richard Condon gives a humorous autobiography that recounts the various places he has lived in the world and his family’s move to Rossenarra, Ireland in the 1970s.

Apart from writing novels, Richard Condon also wrote some popular book series and bestsellers including; Prizzi’s Honor (1986), Prizzi’s Family (1986), Prizzi’s Glory (1988) and Prizzi’s Money (1994). He died in 1996.

Prizzi’s Honor was Richard Condon’s first book in the Prizzi’s series. This is not an ordinary story of a boy-meets-girl. Prizzis is the most influential Mafia family in New York. Their faithful lieutenant, Charley Partanna has affections for Irene Walker who works as a tax consultant in Los Angeles. She also does freelancing which pays her more. She is also a Mob’s hit woman. She cons the Prizzis an unforgivably huge amount of money. Indeed, this is a very dangerous moonlighting which eventually conflicts Charley’s oldest loyalties with his latest one. This book mixes character and caricature easily, making it one of his best books since The Manchurian Candidate.

The second book in the Prizzi’s series is the Prizzi’s Family. Here, Charley Partanna works for the Prizzi family as a hitman by day and studies for his high school exam by night. When he is not studying, he is juggling two beautiful women, probably more than he can handle. One, Maerose, is the granddaughter of Charley’s boss and is hungry for honor, power and Charley of course. The other, Mardell, is a sensational, one-third fantasy, two-thirds legs. This is a problem to Charley, but hormones seem to keep obstructing him. This book is funny and cheerful, and foams with perversity, obsessional religious mania, rascality, greed and lust, and assault and battery, making it a good read.

The next book in the series is Prizzi’s Glory. In this successful last volume in Prizzi trilogy series, the Prizzi family cleans up the environment, immersing huge benefits. They finally appear as a cruel, vivid and comic portrait of the America’s best-run Mafia institution. For the change, a tired, bored and depressed Charley Fontana weds Maerose, but this does not help because Don Corrado has thought of a bigger change, Prizzi’s respectability. Money flows to the Prizzi’s family through dubious activities like gambling, extortion, prostitution, loan-sharking, and narcotics. Don Corrado uses the money to control a new scam, a national political power which Charley heads. This book offers an accomplished and entertaining satire for a feat of joyful reading.

The last book in the Prizzi’s series is Prizzi’s Money. Richard Condon showcases the Prizzi family’s saga of organized crime. Here, Julia Asbury outwits the Prizzis, walking away with a huge amount of their money (a billion & a quarter) to start a new life. She does this after discovering that the Prizzis and her husband had double-crossed her.

Another noticeable writing style by Richard Condon was the use of real-life names in his books. Condon used names of real people as characters in his writings, but generally minor/peripheral ones. One of the most common names used in all of his novels includes F.M. Heller, Franz Heller, F. Marx Heller, and Frank Heller which are variations of Franklin M. Heller. In real life, Heller was, in fact, a television director based in New York City from the 1950s to 1970s and first lived on Long Island before moving to a house along Rockrimmon Road, Stamford, Connecticut. Starting with Mile High, Rockrimmon House and Rockrimmon Road have been frequently mentioned in the novels. All the fictional Hellers also shared a devotion for needlework and grew a thick-white beard similar to the real-life Heller who made a needlework depiction in Condon’s manor house in Ireland. Condon also had a great actor friend, Allan Melvin, who he wrote a nightclub act. Melvin also played Cpl. Henshaw in The Phil Servers Show which Condon was publicizing. Several Condon books particularly Prizzi’s Honor showcases Melvini as a prominent hit man.

Richard Condon’s legend is not only showcased in his wonderful writings but also some popular films that were adapted from his novels. The films include; The Manchurian Candidate (1962 and 2004), The Talent of Loving (1969), Winter Kills (1979), Prizzi’s Honor (1985), and The Happy Thieves from the novel The Oldest Confession (1962). The Manchurian Candidate is recognized as one of the best films of all time. The book combined several elements including; satire, nefarious conspiracies, black humor, outrage at financial and political corruption in America, as well as breath-taking elements from spy fiction and thrillers, and grotesque and horrific violence.

https://www.bookseriesinorder.com/richard-condon/

Condon, Richard 1915-1996 (Richard Thomas Condon)

Condon, Richard 1915-1996 (Richard Thomas Condon)
PERSONAL:
Born March 18, 1915, in New York, NY; died April 9, 1996, in Dallas, TX; son of Richard Aloysius and Martha Irene Condon; married Evelyn Rose Hunt, January 14, 1938; children: Deborah Weldon, Wendy Jackson. Education: Graduated from high school in New York, NY.

CAREER:
Writer. Publicist in New York, NY, and Hollywood, CA, for Walt Disney Productions, 1936-41, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., 1941-45, Richard Condon, Inc., 1945-48, and Paramount Pictures Corp., 1948-53, and in Europe and Great Britain for United Artists Corp., 1953-57; novelist. Producer, with Jose Ferrer, of Broadway shows Twentieth Century and Stalag 17, 1951-52.

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MEMBER:
International Confederation of Book Actors (honorary life president), Dramatists Guild, Authors Guild, Authors League of America.

AWARDS, HONORS:
Writers Guild of America award, Bafta Award from British Academy of Film and Television Sciences, and Academy Award nomination, all 1986 for screen adaptation of Prizzi’s Honor,.

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WRITINGS:
And Then We Moved to Rossenarra; or, The Art of Emigrating, Dial (New York, NY), 1973.

(With daughter, Wendy Jackson) The Mexican Stove: What to Put on It and in It, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1973, reprinted, Taylor Publishing, 1988.

NOVELS
The Oldest Confession (Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection), Appleton-Century-Crofts (New York, NY), 1958.

The Manchurian Candidate, McGraw (New York, NY), 1959, reprinted, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 2003.

Some Angry Angel: A Mid-Century Faerie Tale, McGraw (New York, NY), 1960.

A Talent for Loving; or, The Great Cowboy Race, McGraw (New York, NY), 1961.

An Infinity of Mirrors, Random House (New York, NY), 1964.

Any God Will Do, Random House (New York, NY), 1965.

The Ecstasy Business, Dial (New York, NY), 1967.

Mile High (Literary Guild alternate selection), Dial (New York, NY), 1968.

The Vertical Smile (Literary Guild selection), Dial (New York, NY), 1971.

Arigato, Dial (New York, NY), 1972.

Winter Kills, Dial (New York, NY), 1974.

The Star Spangled Crunch, Bantam (New York, NY), 1974.

Money Is Love, Dial (New York, NY), 1975.

The Whisper of the Axe, Dial (New York, NY), 1976.

The Abandoned Woman: A Tragedy of Manners, Dial (New York, NY), 1977.

Bandicoot, Dial (New York, NY), 1978.

Death of a Politician, Richard Marek (New York, NY), 1978.

The Entwining, Richard Marek (New York, NY), 1980.

Prizzi’s Honor (second novel in trilogy; Book-of-the-Month Club joint main selection; also see below), Coward, McCann & Geoghegan (New York, NY), 1982.

A Trembling upon Rome, Putnam (New York, NY), 1983.

Prizzi’s Family (first novel in trilogy; Literary Guild joint main selection), Putnam, 1986.

Prizzi’s Glory (third novel in trilogy), Dutton (New York, NY), 1988.

The Final Addiction, Saint Martin’s Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Prizzi’s Money, Crown Publishing (New York, NY), 1994.

SCREENPLAYS
(With Janet Roach) Prizzi’s Honor (adaptation; see above), Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., 1985.

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Also author screenplay for A Talent for Loving, 1969, and The Summer Music; author of the play Men of Distinction, produced on Broadway, 1953. Contributor to periodicals, including Holiday, Nation, Vogue, Harper’s, Gourmet, Esquire, Travel and Leisure, and Sunday Times magazine. Novels have been published in twenty-two languages and in braille.

ADAPTATIONS:
Books have been adapted for film, including The Oldest Confession released as the film The Happy Thieves, 1962; Winter Kill, 1979; and The Manchurian Candidate, 1962, and adapted remake, Paramount Pictures, 2004.

SIDELIGHTS:
Novelist Richard Condon began writing at age forty-two following a successful career as a movie publicist. Condon’s reputation as a writer of political thrillers was secured with his first two novels, The Oldest Confession and The Manchurian Candidate. Condon’s body of work included over twenty novels, two nonfiction books, a handful of plays and screenplays, and numerous articles on his twin passions, food and travel. This output netted him an income of about two and a half million dollars.

Condon took full advantage of his freedom as a writer. Although he resided in the United States later in life, for nineteen years Condon and his family lived in countries such as France, Spain, Switzerland, and Ireland. Condon’s focus in his novels, however, usually reflected his concerns about American society, particularly the United States government. Condon’s preoccupation with examining abuses of power made him into a cult figure of sorts to readers who shared his convictions. Condon’s novels are entertaining, despite their underlying seriousness. This assessment is compatible with Condon’s personal goals as a writer, which he discussed in a People magazine interview with Anne Maier. “I have never written for any other reason than to earn a living. This is certainly true of other writers, but some poor souls get mightily confused with art. I am a public entertainer who sees his first duty as the need to entertain himself.”

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Most of the material for Condon’s blend of reality and bizarre invention came from “the dirty linen closets of politics and money,” according to a New York Review of Books contributor Thomas R. Edwards. “His view—it might be called Condon’s Law—is that when you don’t know the whole truth, the worst you can imagine is bound to be close.” Edwards added: “[He] isn’t an analyst but an exploiter of our need to believe the worst. He does it skillfully, but his books would be less fun than they are if one didn’t suspect that he believes the worst too, that his pictures of a world of fools eternally at the mercy of knaves are also pictures of what, with anger and disgust, he takes to be the case.”

Condon’s second novel, The Manchurian Candidate, was published in 1959 and remains Condon’s most highly acclaimed novel, one that critics frequently cite as a standard of comparison for his later works. The title of the book refers to the main character, Raymond Shaw, a soldier who becomes a prisoner of war in Korea and is unknowingly brainwashed into committing crimes for his former captors after he returns to the United States. Commenting on this novel, reviewers distinguished carefully between Condon’s writing and literature. Most reviewers noted the novel’s many appeals. Michael Rogers, writing a Library Journal review of a 2003 reprint of the novel, commented that “any fan of political thrillers will enjoy this one.”

Condon followed The Manchurian Candidate with several relatively successful novels. Nevertheless, several of Condon’s subsequent novels generally fell out of favor with critics. In 1974, however, his novel Winter Kills was enthusiastically received. Winter Kills closely parallels the lives of members of the Kennedy family. The main character, Nick Thirkield, is the half-brother of John F. Kennedy analogue Tim Kegan, a young, liberal Irish president who is assassinated by a lone maniac. The assassin is caught and charged with the murder, but when Thirkield learns that another man may also have been involved, he has the case reopened.

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Several reviewers found themselves pleasantly surprised by Winter Kills. New York Times Book Review contributor Leo Braudy, for example, commented that Winter Kills is “a triumph of satire and knowledge, with a delicacy of style and a command of tone that puts Condon once again into the first rank of American novelists.” Braudy explained: “Winter Kills succeeds so brilliantly because the Kennedy assassination furnished Condon with a familiar mythic landscape through which his Gulliver-like hero can wander, simultaneously prey to Lilliputian politics, Brobdingnagian physicality, Laputan science, and Houyhnhnm moralism.” Christopher Lehmann-Haupt expressed a like opinion in the New York Times: “By the time I reached the end of the novel’s incredibly complex plot and had followed Nick Thirkield through the many blind alleys and trapdoors that eventually bring him face to face with the person behind his brother’s assassination, I was a Richard Condon fan once more.”

Extrapolation contributor Joe Sanders observed: “In Condon’s novels, politics determines the shape of society, but politics is not a voluntary, cooperative activity, entered into for some common end; it is a device by which a few clever people manipulate many others to gain their selfish ends.” Lehmann-Haupt expressed disappointment with the ending because he “caught on too early what the ultimate outcome would be,” but he found the novel’s conclusion satisfying. He wrote: “It may not be true that America is run by a small, conspiring oligarchy. It may not be true that things happen in the White House at the whim of movie stars and labor leaders, of courtesans and generals. But the possibilities are no longer inconceivable.”

Winter Kills was made into a critically acclaimed but briefly run film of the same title. Although Condon was not directly involved in the making of Winter Kills, the film’s quality drew his attention and support. After two years of filming for which most of the cast and crew were never paid, Winter Kills opened in New York in 1979 to favorable reviews. The film’s three-week run in showcase theaters was followed by disappearance from theatres, raising Condon’s conspiracy suspicions. Condon’s paranoia was further incited by the murder of one of the producers shortly after the film’s opening; two years later the second producer was sentenced to forty years in prison on a drug charge. The movie was briefly re-released in 1982 and 1983.

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Condon’s novel Prizzi’s Honor dealt with a similarly sensitive milieu: organized crime. Although this setting has been exploited by several other authors, notably Mario Puzo, reviewers believed that Condon’s novel offered a fresh outlook. Charles Champlin observed in the Los Angeles Times Book Review: “Condon, once again accepting the perceived reality as police leaks, newspaper exposes and Puzo have given it to us—complete with Sicilian litany of consiglieri, caporegimes, sottocapos, soldati, and a godfather with a lethal wheeze and a mind Machiavelli might envy—steps over it to present an outrageous and original love story.” New York Times Book Review contributor Robert Asahina noted: “Richard Condon is not Mario Puzo; suspense, not the family saga, is his forte. And he winds the mainspring of the plot so tight that the surprise ending will knock your reading glasses off. Yet Prizzi’s Honor is also a sendup of the prevailing sentimental picture of the underworld. To Mr. Condon, there is honor among these thieves—but it is precisely in the name of omerta that the fratellanza has been willing to ‘cheat, corrupt, scam, and murder anybody who stands between them and a buck.’”

The novel’s love interest involves Charley Partanna, a gourmet cook, compulsive house cleaner, and hit man for the Prizzi family; and Irene Walker, a tax consultant and freelance killer for hire. “It is something of a challenge to a novelist to create a love interest in a story that pairs two ruthless murderers,” observed Times Literary Supplement contributor Alan Bold. “Irene is presented as a colder fish than Charley—she has risen to the top of her profession on account of her ability to murder without remorse. She is as sound a psychopath as Charley. Condon suggests, however, that such creatures are capable of a great passion and Charley, for one, is sure that his love is the real thing.” New York Times contributor Susan Bolotin likewise commented on the originality of this pairing: “If boy-meets-girl/boy-gets-girl love stories seem poisonously tiresome to you, Richard Condon’s boisterous new novel may prove the perfect antidote. It’s true that Prizzi’s Honor starts off with a familiar melody, … but the book soon turns into a fugue with variations so intricate that the genre may never recover.”

Despite opposition from Charley’s father, Charley and Irene are wed. Condon takes the couple through a convoluted plot that includes “a kidnapping, international financial intrigue, a gangland war, police on the take, the power struggle within the family, contract killings, [and] lots of jolly sex,” wrote Bolotin. According to several reviewers, Condon’s exploration of the seamier side of organized crime is distressing. Best Sellers contributor Tony Bednarczyk wrote: “There is solid storytelling, but the subject raises disturbing questions about morals, and/or the lack thereof. It is a fast-paced, very readable story, but one feels a bit guilty for being interested in what comes next.” While Time critic Michael Demarest also believed that Prizzi’s Honor, “like most of [Condon’s] books, comes sometimes too close to the truth for comfort,” he nevertheless concluded: “Condon’s stylish prose and rich comedic gift once again spice a moral sensibility that has animated sixteen novels since The Manchurian Candidate appeared in 1962. If wit and irony could somehow neutralize villainy, the novelist would make a fine FBI director.” Other reviewers expressed similarly laudatory views. Champlin wrote: “Condon is once again the storytelling satirist with a sharp eye and a high velocity typewriter. Prizzi’s Honor may not be his best work but it ranks well up in the canon.” Concluded Asahina: “Twenty years after The Manchurian Candidate, it’s nice to know that Mr. Condon is still up to his sly tricks. In his case, at least, it’s a pleasure that—as he tells us an old Sicilian proverb has it—‘The less things change, the more they remain the same.’”

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Prizzi’s Honor was also made into a successful film of the same title, with Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner playing the roles of Charley Partanna and Irene Walker. The film was nominated for several Academy Awards, and the screenplay, adapted by Condon and coauthor Janet Roach, received awards from the Writers Guild of America and the British Academy of Film and Television Sciences. The project was initiated and eventually directed by John Huston.

Huston and movie critics alike believed that Prizzi’s Honor was faithful to the novel, a feat they attribute to Condon and Roach’s skillfully adapted screenplay. Chi-cago Tribune contributor Gene Siskel described Prizzi’s Honor as “a classic piece of moviemaking,” and Los Angeles Times film critic Sheila Benson noted: “To say the film is the treasure of the year would be to badmouth it in this disastrous season. Prizzi’s Honor would be the vastly original centerpiece of a great year.” Benson also wrote: “In its dangerous mix of love and murder, Huston is traversing terrain that he (and certainly The Manchurian Candidate author Condon) blazed decades ago. This ’80s-version denouement may distress the squeamish, but it’s right in keeping with Prizzi honor.”

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
BOOKS
Bestsellers 90, Issue 3, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1990.

Condon, Richard, Death of a Politician, Richard Marek (New York, NY), 1978.

Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, Volume I, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1984.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume IV, 1975, Volume VI, 1976, Volume VIII, 1978, Volume X, 1979, Volume XLIV, 1987.

Newquist, Roy, Conversations, Volume I, Rand McNally (Chicago, IL), 1967.

PERIODICALS
Best Sellers, June, 1982, Tony Bednarczyk, review of Prizzi’s Honor; December, 1986.

Chicago Tribune, June 14, 1985, Gene Siskel, review of Prizzi’s Honor (film adaptation).

Daily Variety, March 8, 2002, Dana Harris and Sharon Swart, “‘Candidate’ for Redo: Paramount Plans Remake of 1962 Classic,” p. 1.

Extrapolation, summer, 1984, Joe Sanders, article about author.

Library Journal, November 1, 2003, Michael Rogers, review of The Manchurian Candidate, p. 129.

Los Angeles Times, June 14, 1985, Sheila Benson, review of Prizzi’s Honor (film adaptation).

Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 25, 1982, Charles Champlin, review of Prizzi’s Honor.

Modern Language Quarterly, September, 2006, Micahel Szalay, review of The Manchurian Candidate, p. 363.

New Statesman, September 5, 1975, review of Money is Love, p. 285; August 13, 1976, review of The Whisper of the Axe, p. 216.

Newsweek, September 14, 1964, review of Manchurian Candidate; June 9, 1975, review of Money Is Love, p. 81.

New Yorker August 25, 1975, review of Money Is Love, p. 87; December 11, 1978, review of Death of a Politician, p. 206; October 28, 1991, review of The Final Addiction, p. 119.

New York Review of Books, February 8, 1979, Thomas R. Edwards, review of Death of a Politician, p. 35.

New York Times, May 24, 1974, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of Winter Kills; May 21, 1976; April 20, 1982, Susan Bolotin, review of Prizzi’s Honor, p. 25.

New York Times Book Review, May 26, 1974, Leo Braudy, review of Winter Kills; May 25, 1975, review of Money Is Love, p. 12; May 23, 1976, review of The Whisper of the Axe, p. 4; April 18, 1982, Robert Asahina, review of Prizzi’s Honor, p. 12; September 4, 1983, John Jay Osborn, Jr., review of A Trembling upon Rome, p. 4; September 28, 1986, Jimmy Breslin, review of Prizzi’s Family, p. 13; October 9, 1988, Vincent Patrick, review of Prizzi’s Glory, p. 24; February 11, 1990, Roy Blount, Jr., review of Emperor of America, p. 14; November 17, 1991, Bill Kent, review of The Final Addiction, p. 20; December 13, 1992, Donald E. Westlake, review of The Venerable Bead, p. 9; February 6, 1994, Joe Queenan, review of Prizzi’s Money, p. 9.

People, December 8, 1986, Anne Maier, interview with author.

Spectator, September 21, 1974, review of Winter Kills, p. 372.

Texas Monthly, August, 1994, William Cobb, “The Don of Dallas,” interview with author, p. 42.

Time, June 2, 1975, review of Money Is Love, p. 72; May 17, 1982, Michael Demarest, review of Prizzi’s Honor, p. 82; September 22, 1986, John Skow, review of Prizzi’s Family, p. 95; September 19, 1988, review of Prizzi’s Glory, p. 95.

Times Literary Supplement, June 11, 1982, Alan Bold, review of Prizzi’s Honor.

ONLINE
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (December 4, 2006), information on author’s film work.

OBITUARIES
PERIODICALS
New York Times, April 10, 1996, Mel Gussow.

Time, April 22, 1996, p. 33.

U.S. News & World Report, April 22, 1996, p. 26.

https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/condon-richard-1915-1996-richard-thomas-condon

Books by Richard Condon
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Richard Condon

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Richard Condon
Born Richard Thomas Condon
March 18, 1915
New York CityNew York, U.S.
Died April 9, 1996 (aged 81)
DallasTexas, U.S.
Occupation Novelist
Genre Fiction

Richard Thomas Condon (March 18, 1915 in New York City – April 9, 1996 in Dallas, Texas) was a prolific and popular American political novelist. Though his works were satire, they were generally transformed into thrillers or semi-thrillers in other mediums, such as cinema. All 26 books were written in distinctive Condon style, which combined fast-pace, outrage, and frequent humor while focusing almost obsessively at monetary greed and political corruption. Condon himself once said: “Every book I’ve ever written has been about abuse of power. I feel very strongly about that. I’d like people to know how deeply their politicians wrong them.”[1] Condon’s books were occasionally bestsellers, and many of his books were made into films; he is primarily remembered for his 1959 The Manchurian Candidate and, many years later, a series of four novels about a family of New York gangsters named Prizzi.

Condon’s writing was known for its complex plotting, fascination with trivia, and loathing for those in power; at least two of his books featured thinly disguised versions of Richard Nixon.[citation needed] His characters tend to be driven by obsession, usually sexual or political, and family loyalty. His plots often have elements of classical tragedy, with protagonists whose pride leads them to destroy what they love. Some of his books, most notably Mile High (1969), are perhaps best described as secret history.[citation needed] And Then We Moved to Rossenarra is a humorous autobiographical recounting of various places in the world where he had lived and his family’s 1970s move to Rossenarra, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland.

Contents

Early life[edit]

Born in New York City, Condon attended DeWitt Clinton High School.[2]

After service in the United States Merchant Marine, Condon achieved moderate success as a Hollywood publicist, ad writer and Hollywood agent. Condon turned to writing in 1957. Employed by United Artists as an ad writer, he complained that he was wasting time in Hollywood and wanted to write a novel. Without Condon’s knowledge, his boss, Max E. Youngstein, deducted money from his salary, then fired him after a year, returning the amount of money he had deducted in the form of a Mexican bank account and the key to a house overlooking the ocean in Mexico. Youngstein told him to write his book.[3] His second novel, The Manchurian Candidate (1959), featured a dedication to Youngstein and was made into a successful film.

Basic theme throughout Condon’s books[edit]

In Mile High, his eighth novel, one primarily about how a single spectacularly ruthless gangster named Eddie West imposes Prohibition upon an unwary populace, Condon sums up the theme of all his books in a single angry cri de coeur:

“Prohibition fused the amateurism and catch-as-catch-can national tendencies of the early days of the republic with a more modern, highly organized lust for violence and the quick buck. It fused the need to massacre twelve hundred thousand American Indians and ten million American buffalo, the lynching bees, the draft riots, bread riots, gold riots and race riots, the constant wars, the largest rats in the biggest slums, boxing and football, the loudest music, the most strident and exploitative press with the entire wonderful promise of tomorrow and tomorrow, always dragging the great nation downward into greater violence and more unnecessary deaths, into newer and more positive celebration of nonlife, all so that the savage, simple-minded people might be educated into greater frenzies of understanding that power and money are the only desirable objects for this life.”[4]

“Manchurian Candidate”[edit]

Although not perhaps actually originated by Condon himself, his use of “the Manchurian Candidate” made that phrase a part of the English language. Frank Rich, for example, in his column in the “Sunday Opinion” of The New York Times of August 17, 2008, writes about Barack Obama with a reference to both a well-known actress and a well-known plot element in the first movie version of Condon’s 1959 book:

“[Obama’s] been done in by that ad with Britney [Spears] and Paris [Hilton] and a new international crisis that allows [John] McCain to again flex his Manchurian Candidate military cred. Let the neocons identify a new battleground for igniting World War III… and McCain gets with the program as if Angela Lansbury has just dealt him the Queen of Hearts“.[5]

“The fiction of information”[edit]

Condon’s works are difficult to categorize precisely: A 1971 Time magazine review declared that, “Condon was never a satirist: he was a riot in a satire factory. He raged at Western civilization and every last one of its works. He decorticated the Third Reich, cheese fanciers, gossip columnists and the Hollywood star system with equal and total frenzy.” [6] The headline of his obituary in The New York Times called him a “political novelist”,[7] but went on to say that, “Novelist is too limited a word to encompass the world of Mr. Condon. He was also a visionary, a darkly comic conjurer, a student of American mythology and a master of conspiracy theories, as vividly demonstrated in ‘The Manchurian Candidate.'”[7] Although his books combined many different elements, including occasional outright fantasy and science fiction, they were, above all, written to entertain the general public. He had, however, a genuine disdain, outrage, and even hatred for many of the mainstream political corruptions that he found so prevalent in American life. In a 1977 quotation, he said that:[8]

“…people are being manipulated, exploited, murdered by their servants, who have convinced these savage, simple-minded populations that they are their masters, and that it hurts the head, if one thinks. People accept servants as masters. My novels are merely entertaining persuasions to get the people to think in other categories.”

With his long lists of absurd trivia and “mania for absolute details”, Condon was, along with Ian Fleming, one of the early exemplars of those called by Pete Hamill in a New York Times review, “the practitioners of what might be called the New Novelism… Condon applies a dense web of facts to fiction…. There might really be two kinds of fiction: the fiction of sensibility and the fiction of information… As a practitioner of the fiction of information, no one else comes close to him.”[9]

Quirks and characteristics[edit]

Condon attacked his targets wholeheartedly but with a uniquely original style and wit that made almost any paragraph from one of his books instantly recognizable. Reviewing one of his works in the International Herald Tribune, playwright George Axelrod (The Seven Year ItchWill Success Spoil Rock Hunter), who had collaborated with Condon on the screenplay for the film adaptation of The Manchurian Candidate, wrote:

“The arrival of a new novel by Richard Condon is like an invitation to a party…. the sheer gusto of the prose, the madness of his similes, the lunacy of his metaphors, his infectious, almost child-like joy in composing complex sentences that go bang at the end in the manner of exploding cigars is both exhilarating and as exhausting as any good party ought to be.”

Metaphors and similes[edit]

From his 1975 novel, Money Is Love, comes a fine example of the “lunacy of his metaphors”: “Mason took in enough cannabis smoke to allow a Lipan Apache manipulating a blanket over it to transmit the complete works of Tennyson.” [10]

The Manchurian Candidate offers:

“The effects of the narcotics, techniques, and suggestions… achieved a result that approximated the impact an entire twenty-five-cent jar of F. W. Woolworth vanishing cream might have on vanishing an aircraft carrier of the Forrestal class when rubbed into the armor plate.”[11]

Lists and trivia[edit]

Condon was also enamored of long lists of detailed trivia that, while at least marginally pertinent to the subject at hand, are almost always an exercise in gleeful exaggeration and joyful spirits. In An Infinity of Mirrors, for instance, those in attendance of the funeral of a famous French actor and notable lover are delineated as:

Seven ballerinas of an amazing spectrum of ages were at graveside. Actresses of films, opera, music halls, the theatre, radio, carnivals, circuses, pantomimes, and lewd exhibitions mourned in the front line. There were also society leaders, lady scientists, women politicians, mannequins, couturières, Salvation Army lassies, all but one of his wives, a lady wrestler, a lady matador, twenty-three lady painters, four lady sculptors, a car-wash attendant, shopgirls, shoplifters, shoppers, and the shopped; a zoo assistant, two choir girls, a Métro attendant from the terminal at the Bois de Vincennes, four beauty-contest winners, a chambermaid; the mothers of children, the mothers of men, the grandmothers of children and the grandmothers of men; and the general less specialized, female public-at-large which had come from eleven European countries, women perhaps whom he had only pinched or kissed absent-mindedly while passing through his busy life. They attended twenty-eight hundred and seventy strong, plus eleven male friends of the deceased.[12]

Writing about The Whisper of the Axe in the daily book review column of Friday, May 21, 1976, in the New York Times, Richard R. Lingeman praised the book in particular and Condon in general for his “extravagance of invention unique with him.” [13]

Not everyone was as exhilarated by Condon’s antics, however. In a long Times Sunday review just two days after Lingeman’s, Roger Sale excoriated Condon as a writer of “how-to books” in general, this book in particular, and Condon’s habit of using lists: “A lot of it is done with numbers arbitrarily chosen to falsely simulate precision.” [14]

Real-life names in his books[edit]

All of Condon’s books have, to an unknown degree, the names of real people in them as characters, generally very minor or peripheral. The most common, which appears in all of his books, is some variation of Franklin M. Heller. Among them are F.M. Heller, Frank Heller, Franz Heller, and F. Marx Heller. The real-life Heller was apparently a television director in New York City in the 1950s, ’60s, and 70s, who initially lived on Long Island and then moved to a house on Rockrimmon Road in Stamford, Connecticut.[15] Beginning with Mile High in 1969, mentions of a Rockrimmon Road or Rockrimmon House also began to appear regularly in the novels. Late in life Heller grew a thick white beard and became a devotee of needlework—both traits that the fictional Hellers shared, sometimes to ludicrous effect, as when a battle-hardened Admiral Heller is depicted issuing orders while absorbed in needlework. The real-life Heller made one needlework depiction of the manor house in Ireland in which Condon was living at the time.

Condon was a great friend of actor Allan Melvin, having written a nightclub act for him. Condon later became a publicist for The Phil Silvers Show (“Sgt. Bilko”), on which Melvin played Cpl. Henshaw. Melvin’s name shows up in several Condon books, most prominently as hitman Al (the Plumber) Melvini in “Prizzi’s Honor” (a play on Melvin’s “Al the Plumber” character in Liquid-Plumr commercials.) In The Manchurian Candidate, with the exception of Marco, Shaw and Mavole, all of Marco’s platoon members are named for the cast/crew of “Bilko”: (Nat) Hiken, (Maurice) Gosfield, (Jimmy) Little, (Phil) Silvers, (Allan) Melvin, (Mickey) Freeman and (Harvey) Lembeck.

Career in films[edit]

For many years a Hollywood publicity man for Walt Disney and other studios, Condon took up writing relatively late in life and his first novel, The Oldest Confession, was not published until he was 43. The demands of his career with United Artists—promoting dreadful movies such as The Pride and the Passion and A King and Four Queens—led to a series of bleeding ulcers and a determination to do something else.

His next book, The Manchurian Candidate, combined all the elements that defined his works for the next 30 years: nefarious conspiracies, satire, black humor, outrage at political and financial corruption in the American scene, breath-taking elements from thrillers and spy fiction, horrific and grotesque violence, and an obsession with the minutiae of food, drink, and fast living. It quickly made him, for a few years at least, the center of a cult devoted to his works. As he rapidly produced more and more books with the same central themes, however, this following fell away and his critical reputation diminished. Still, over the next three decades Condon produced works that returned him to favor, both with the critics and the book-buying public, such as Mile HighWinter Kills, and the first of the Prizzi books, Prizzi’s Honor.

Of his numerous books that were turned into Hollywood movies, The Manchurian Candidate was filmed twice. The first version, in 1962, which starred Frank SinatraLaurence HarveyJanet Leigh, and Angela Lansbury, followed the book with great fidelity, and is now highly regarded as a glimpse into the mindset of its era. Janet Maslin, writing already over two decades ago, said in The New York Times In 1996 that it was “arguably the most chilling piece of cold war paranoia ever committed to film, yet by now it has developed a kind of innocence.”[7]

The Keener’s Manual[edit]

Beginning with his first book, The Oldest Confession, Condon frequently prefaced his novels with excerpts of verse from a so-called Keener’s Manual; these epigraphs foreshadowed the theme of the book or, in several instances, gave the book its title. The Keener’s Manual, however, was a fictional invention by Condon and does not actually exist. A “keen” is a “lamentation for the dead uttered in a loud wailing voice or sometimes in a wordless cry” [16] and a “keener” is a professional mourner, usually a woman in Ireland, who “utters the keen… at a wake or funeral.” [17]

Five of Condon’s first six books derived their titles from the fictional manual, the only exception being his most famous book, The Manchurian Candidate. The epigraph in The Manchurian Candidate, however, “I am you and you are me /and what have we done to each other?” is a recurring theme in earlier Condon’s books: in various forms it also appears as dialog in both The Oldest Confession and Some Angry Angel. Among other epigraphs, the last line of “The riches I bring you /Crowding and shoving, /Are the envy of princes: /A talent for loving.” is the title of Condon’s fourth novel. His fifth and sixth novels, An Infinity of Mirrors and Any God Will Do, also derive their titles from excerpts of the manual.

Plagiarism charge[edit]

In 1998 a California software engineer noticed several paragraphs in The Manchurian Candidate that appeared nearly identical to portions of the celebrated 1934 novel I, Claudius by the English writer Robert Graves. She wrote about the apparent plagiarism on her website but her discovery went unnoticed by most of the world until Adair Lara, a longtime San Francisco Chronicle staff writer, wrote a lengthy article about the accusation in 2003.[18] Reprinting the paragraphs in question, she also solicited the opinion of a British forensic linguist, who concluded that Condon had unquestionably plagiarized at least two paragraphs of Graves’s work. By this time, however, more than seven years had passed since Condon’s death and Lara’s article also failed to generate any literary interest outside the Chronicle.

In Some Angry Angel, the book that followed The Manchurian Candidate, Condon makes a direct reference to Graves. In a long, convoluted passage on page 25 Condon reflects on “mistresses” and their relationship—a peripheral one, to the reader—to Graves’s writings about “Major Male” Deities and “Major Female” Deities. As Angel was published only a year after Candidate, there is no question, therefore, about Condon’s familiarity with the works of Robert Graves.[19]

Condon’s familiarity with Graves is also in evidence on p. 127 of his first novel, The Oldest Confession. One of the characters in the book purchases a copy of Graves’ Antigua, Penny, Puce!

Works[edit]

All novels except as noted:

Films adapted from Condon novels[edit]

Articles[edit]

  • “‘Manchurian Candidate’ in Dallas”. The Nation, December 28, 1963.

References[edit]

This article incorporates material from the Citizendium article “Richard Condon“, which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License but not under the GFDL.

  1. ^ Locus, The Magazine of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Field, from their May, 1996, issue #424, obituary of Condon, exact page unknown
  2. ^ Buckley, Tom. “THE LITERARY CONSPIRACIES OF RICHARD CONDON”The New York Times, September 2, 1979. Accessed September 14, 2009.
  3. ^ Max E. Youngstein – Biography
  4. ^ Mile High, The Dial Press, New York, 1969, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 77-80497, page 156
  5. ^ The New York Times, Sunday, August 17, 2008, Sunday Opinion, “The Candidate We Still Don’t Know” at [1]
  6. ^ Time magazine, “Cheese”, March 4, 1971, at
  7. Jump up to:a b c The New York Times, Wednesday, April 10, 1996, Obituaries, “Richard Condon, Political Novelist, Dies at 81; Wrote ‘Manchurian Candidate’ and ‘Prizzi'” at [2]
  8. ^ Who’s Who in Spy Fiction, Donald McCormick, Sphere Books Ltd., London, 1977, page 64
  9. ^ “For Eddie West, power was all that mattered,” by Pete Hamill, The New York Times, August 31, 1969, at
  10. ^ Time Magazine, “Liederkranz”, a book review by John Skow, June 2, 1975
  11. ^ The Manchurian Candidate, by Richard Condon, paperback edition, Signet, New York, November, 1962, fifth printing, page 261
  12. ^ An Infinity of Mirrors, by Richard Condon, paperback edition, Fawcett Crest, New York, September, 1965, page 36
  13. ^ “A Thriller of the Condon Class”, by Richard R. Lingeman, The New York Times, May 21, 1976, at [3]
  14. ^ Roger Sale, May 23, 1976, in The New York Times, at
  15. ^ Remembrance of Frank Heller,” by Ira Skutch, at
  16. ^ Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, Merriam-Webster, Inc., Springfield, Massachusetts, 2004, ISBN 0-87779-807-9
  17. ^ Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, Unabridged, G. & C. Merriam Co., Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1943
  18. ^ “Has a local software engineer unmasked ‘The Manchurian Candidate’? Menlo Park woman says author Richard Condon plagiarized”, by Adair Lara, in the San Francisco Chronicle,October 4, 2003; the entire article can be read at [4]
  19. ^ Some Angry Angel: A Mid-Century Faerie Tale, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1960, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 60-8826, page 25

 

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Philip K. Dick — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? — Ridley Scott — Blade Runner — Videos

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
DoAndroidsDream.png

Cover of first hardback edition
Author Philip K. Dick
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science fictionphilosophical fiction
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date
1968
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 210
61,237 words[1]
OCLC 34818133
Followed by Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (retitled Blade Runner: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? in some later printings) is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in 1968. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco, where Earth’s life has been greatly damaged by nuclear global war. Most animal species are endangered or extinct from extreme radiation poisoning, so that owning an animal is now a sign of status and empathy, an attitude encouraged towards animals. The book served as the primary basis for the 1982 film Blade Runner, and many elements and themes from it were used in its 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049.

The main plot follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who is tasked with “retiring” (i.e. killing) six escaped Nexus-6 model androids, while a secondary plot follows John Isidore, a man of sub-par IQ who aids the fugitive androids. In connection with Deckard’s mission, the novel explores the issue of what it is to be human and whether empathy is a purely human ability.

Synopsis

Background

In post-apocalyptic 1992 (2021 in later editions),[2] after “World War Terminus”, the Earth’s radioactively polluted atmosphere leads the United Nations to encourage mass emigrations to off-world colonies to preserve humanity’s genetic integrity. This comes with the incentive of free personal androids: robot servants identical to humans. On Earth, owning real live animals has become a fashionable status symbol, because of mass extinctions and the accompanying cultural push for greater empathy, which has coincidentally motivated a new technology-based religion called Mercerism. Mercerism uses “empathy boxes” to link users simultaneously to a virtual reality of collective suffering, centered on a martyr-like character, Wilbur Mercer, who eternally climbs up a hill while being hit with crashing stones. In terms of the owning of live animals, poor people can only afford realistic-looking electric imitations of animals. Rick Deckard, for example, owns a robotic black-faced sheep. The story also contains passing mention of “Penfield mood organs”, similar to mind-altering drugs in other Dick stories, and used as a technology for inducing any desired mood among people in its vicinity.

Plot summary

Bounty hunter Rick Deckard signs on to a new police mission in order to earn enough money to buy a live animal to replace his lone electric sheep, seeking greater existential fulfillment for himself and his depressed wife, Iran. The mission involves hunting down (“retiring”) six Nexus-6 androids that violently went rogue after their creation by the Rosen Association and fled Mars for Earth. Deckard visits the Rosen headquarters in Seattle to confirm the validity of a question-and-answer empathy test: the typical method for identifying any androids posing as humans. Deckard is greeted by Rachael Rosen, who quickly fails his test. Rachael herself attempts to bribe Deckard into silence, but he verifies that she is indeed a Nexus-6 model used by Rosen to attempt to discredit the test.

Deckard soon meets a Soviet police contact who turns out to be one of the Nexus-6 renegades in disguise. Deckard retires the android, then flies off to retire his next target: an opera singer android. However, he is suddenly arrested and detained at a police department he has never heard of by a police officer whom he is surprised never to have met. At this strange station, Deckard’s worldview is shaken when an official named Garland accuses Deckard himself of being an android. After a series of mysterious revelations at the station, Deckard ponders the ethical and philosophical questions his line of work raises regarding android intelligence, empathy, and what it means to be human. Phil Resch, the station’s resident bounty hunter, retrieves testing equipment to determine if his coworkers—including Deckard and Resch himself—are androids or humans. Garland subsequently reveals that the entire station is a sham, staffed entirely by androids, including Garland himself. Resch shoots Garland in the head, allowing him and Deckard to escape; together, they find the opera singer, whom Resch brutally retires in cold blood. Although Resch and Deckard are now collaborators, each still worries that he (or the other) might be an android. Deckard administers the empathy test to himself and to Resch, which confirms that Resch is a human being—simply a particularly ruthless one—and that Deckard is also human, but with a sense of empathy for the androids.

Only three of the Nexus-6 android fugitives remain, and one, Pris Stratton, moves into an apartment building whose only other inhabitant is John R. Isidore, a radioactively damaged, intellectually below-average human classified as a “special.” The lonely Isidore attempts to befriend her. Roy and Irmgard Baty, the final two rogue androids, visit the building, and together they all plan how to survive. Meanwhile, Deckard buys Iran an authentic Nubian goat with his reward money. After quitting, Deckard is pulled back in after being notified of a new lead and experiencing a vision of the prophet-like Mercer confusingly telling him to proceed, despite the immorality of the mission. Deckard calls on Rachael Rosen again, since her own knowledge as an android will aid his investigation. Rachael reveals that she and Pris are the same exact model, meaning that he will have to shoot down an android that looks just like her. Rachael coaxes Deckard into sex, after which they confess their love for one another. However, she reveals she has slept with many bounty hunters, having been programmed to do so in order to dissuade them from their missions. He threatens to kill her, but instead he abruptly leaves.

Isidore develops friendships with the three android fugitives, and they all watch a television program giving definitive evidence that Mercerism is a hoax. Roy Baty tells Isidore that the show was produced by androids to discredit Mercerism and blur the distinction with humans. Suddenly Deckard enters the building, with strange, supernatural premonitions of Mercer appearing to both him and Isidore. Since they attack him first, Deckard is legally justified as he shoots down all three androids without previously testing them. Isidore is devastated, and Deckard is soon rewarded for a record number of Nexus-6 kills in a single day. When Deckard returns home, he finds Iran grieving because Rachael Rosen recently showed up and killed their goat.

Deckard goes to an uninhabited, obliterated region of Oregon to reflect. He climbs a hill when he is hit by falling rocks and realizes this is an experience eerily similar to Mercer’s martyrdom. Rushing back to his car, he stumbles abruptly upon a toad, an animal previously thought to be extinct, and one of the animals sacred to Mercer. With newfound joy, Deckard brings the toad home, where Iran quickly discovers it is just a robot. While Deckard is unhappy, he decides that he at least prefers to know the truth, making the remark that “the electrical things have their lives too, paltry as those lives are”.

Adaptations

Film

In 1982, Hampton Fancher and David Peoples wrote a loose cinematic adaptation that became the film Blade Runner, featuring several of the novel’s characters. It was directed by Ridley Scott. Following the international success of the film,[3] the title Blade Runner was adopted for some later editions of the novel, although the term itself was not used in the original.

Radio

As part of their Dangerous Visions dystopia series in 2014, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a two-part adaptation of the novel. It was produced and directed by Sasha Yevtushenko from an adaption by Jonathan Holloway. It stars James Purefoy as Rick Deckard and Jessica Raine as Rachael Rosen.[4] The episodes were originally broadcast on Sunday 15 June and 22 June 2014.

Audiobook

The novel has been released in audiobook form at least twice. A version was released in 1994 that featured Matthew Modine and Calista Flockhart.

A new audiobook version was released in 2007 by Random House Audio to coincide with the release of Blade Runner: The Final Cut. This version, read by Scott Brick, is unabridged and runs approximately 9.5 hours over eight CDs. This version is a tie-in, using the Blade Runner: The Final Cut film poster and Blade Runner title.[5]

Theater

A stage adaptation of the book, written by Edward Einhorn, ran from November 18 to December 10, 2010 at the 3LD Art & Technology Center in New York[6] and made its West Coast Premiere on September 13, playing until October 10, 2013 at the Sacred Fools Theater Company in Los Angeles.[7]

Comic books

BOOM! Studios published a 24-issue comic book limited series based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? containing the full text of the novel illustrated by artist Tony Parker.[8] The comic garnered a nomination for “Best New Series” from the 2010 Eisner Awards.[9]In May 2010 BOOM! Studios began serializing an eight issue prequel subtitled Dust To Dust and written by Chris Roberson and drawn by Robert Adler.[10] The story took place in the days immediately after World War Terminus.[11]

Sequels

Three novels intended to serve as sequels to both Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Blade Runner have been published:

These official and authorized sequels were written by Dick’s friend K. W. Jeter.[12] They continue the story of Rick Deckard and attempt to reconcile many of the differences between the novel and the 1982 film.

Critical reception

Critical reception of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? has been overshadowed by the popularity of its 1982 film adaptation, Blade Runner. Of those critics who focus on the novel, several nest it predominantly in the history of Philip K. Dick‘s body of work. In particular, Dick’s 1972 speech “The Human and the Android” is cited in this connection. Jill Galvan[13] calls attention to the correspondence between Dick’s portrayal of the narrative’s dystopian, polluted, man-made setting and the description Dick gives in his speech of the increasingly artificial and potentially sentient or “quasi-alive” environment of his present. Summarizing the essential point of Dick’s speech, Galvan argues,”[o]nly by recognizing how [technology] has encroached upon our understanding of ‘life’ can we come to full terms with the technologies we have produced” (414). As a “bildungsroman of the cybernetic age,” Galvan maintains, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? follows one person’s gradual acceptance of the new reality. Christopher Palmer[14] emphasizes Dick’s speech to bring to attention the increasingly dangerous risk of humans becoming “mechanical”.[15] “Androids threaten reduction of what makes life valuable, yet promise expansion or redefinition of it, and so do aliens and gods”.[15] Gregg Rickman[16] cites another, earlier and lesser known Dick novel that also deals with androids, We Can Build You, asserting that Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? can be read as a sequel.

In a departure from the tendency among most critics to examine the novel in relation to Dick’s other texts, Klaus Benesch[17] examined Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? primarily in connection with Lacan’s essay on the mirror stage. There, Lacan claims that the formation and reassurance of the self depends on the construction of an Other through imagery, beginning with a double as seen in the mirror. The androids, Benesch argues, perform a doubling function similar to the mirror image of the self, but they do this on a social, not individual, scale. Therefore, human anxiety about androids expresses uncertainty about human identity and society. Benesch draws on Kathleen Woodward’s[18] emphasis on the body to illustrate the shape of human anxiety about an android Other. Woodward asserts that the debate over distinctions between human and machine usually fails to acknowledge the presence of the body. “If machines are invariably contrived as technological prostheses that are designed to amplify the physical faculties of the body, they are also built, according to this logic, to outdo, to surpass the human in the sphere of physicality altogether”.[19]

Awards and honors

See also

References

  1. Jump up^ “Text Stats”Amazon.com. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  2. Jump up^ Note: This change counteracts a problem common to near-future stories, where the passage of time overtakes the period in which the story is set; for a list of other works that have fallen prey to this phenomenon, see the List of stories set in a future now past.
  3. Jump up^ Sammon, Paul M (1996). Future Noir: the Making of Blade Runner. London: Orion Media. pp. 318–329. ISBN 0-06-105314-7.
  4. Jump up^ “BBC Radio 4 – Dangerous Visions, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Episode 2”bbc.co.ukBBC Radio 4. 28 Jun 2014. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  5. Jump up^ Blade Runner (Movie-Tie-In Edition) by Philip K. Dick – Unabridged Compact Disc Random House, November 27, 2007, ISBN 978-0-7393-4275-6 (0-7393-4275-4).
  6. Jump up^ “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”. Untitled Theater Company #61. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  7. Jump up^ “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”Sacred Fools Theater Company. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  8. Jump up^ Philip K. Dick Press Release – BOOM! ANNOUNCES DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? ArchivedSeptember 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. Jump up^ Heller, Jason (April 9, 2010). “Eisner Award nominees announced”. The A.V. Club. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  10. Jump up^ Langshaw, Mark. “BOOM! expands on ‘Blade Runner’ universe”. Digital Spy.
  11. Jump up^ “BOOM! Studios publishes ‘Electric Sheep’ prequel”. Tyrell-corporation.pp.se. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  12. Jump up^ Jeter, K. W. “Summary Bibliography: K. W. Jeter”.
  13. Jump up^ Galvan, Jill (1997). “Entering the Postman Collective: Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”. Science Fiction Studies24 (3): 413–429.
  14. Jump up^ Palmer, Christopher (2003). Philip K. Dick: Exhilaration and Terror of the Postmodern. Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press. p. 259.
  15. Jump up to:a b Palmer, Christopher (2003). Philip K. Dick: Exhilaration and Terror of the Postmodern. Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press. p. 225.
  16. Jump up^ Rickman, Gregg (1995). “What Is This Sickness?”: “Schizophrenia” and We Can Build You. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 143–157.
  17. Jump up^ Benesch, Klaus (1999). “Technology, Art, and the Cybernetic Body: The Cyborg as Cultural Other in Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” and Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?“. Amerikastudien/American Studies44 (3 Body/Art): 379–392.
  18. Jump up^ Woodward, Kathleen (1997). “Prosthetic Emotions”. In Hoffman, Gerhard. Emotions in the Postmodern. Heidelberg: Alfred Hornung. pp. 75–107.
  19. Jump up^ Woodward, Kathleen (1997). “Prosthetic Emotions”. In Hoffman, Gerhard. Emotions in the Postmodern. Heidelberg: Alfred Hornung. p. 391.
  20. Jump up^ “1968 Award Winners & Nominees”Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-09-27.

Further reading

Criticism
  • Benesch, Klaus (1999). “Technology, Art, and the Cybernetic Body: The Cyborg As Cultural Other in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep“. Amerikastudien/American Studies44 (3): 379–392. JSTOR 41157479.
  • Butler, Andrew M. (1991). “Reality versus Transience: An Examination of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner“. In Merrifield, Jeff. Philip K. Dick: A Celebration (Programme Book). Epping Forest College, Loughton: Connections.
  • Gallo, Domenico (2002). “Avvampando gli angeli caddero: Blade Runner, Philip K. Dick e il cyberpunk”. In Bertetti; Scolari. Lo sguardo degli angeli: Intorno e oltre Blade Runner (in Italian). Torino: Testo & Immagine. pp. 206–218. ISBN 88-8382-075-4.
  • Galvan, Jill (1997). “Entering the Posthuman Collective in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?“. Science-Fiction Studies24 (3): 413–429. JSTOR 4240644.
  • McCarthy, Patrick A. (1999–2000). “Do Androids Dream of Magic Flutes?”. Paradoxa5 (13–14): 344–352.
  • Niv, Tal (2014). “The Return of a Terrifying and Wonderful Creation On Our Future and Our Present”Haaretz. (Hebrew) Critical analysis of the 2014 edition of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

External links

 

Philip K. Dick

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Philip K. Dick
PhilipDick.jpg
Born Philip Kindred Dick
December 16, 1928
ChicagoIllinois, United States
Died March 2, 1982 (aged 53)
Santa Ana, California, United States
Pen name
  • Richard Phillipps
  • Jack Dowland
Occupation Novelist, short story writer, essayist
Nationality US
Period 1952–1982
Genre Science fictionparanoid fictionphilosophical fiction
Literary movement Postmodernism
Notable works
Children 3

Signature

Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American writer known for his work in science fiction. His work explored philosophical, social, and political themes, with stories dominated by monopolisticcorporations, alternative universesauthoritarian governments, and altered states of consciousness. His writing also reflected his interest in metaphysics and theology, and often drew upon his life experiences in addressing the nature of realityidentitydrug abuseschizophrenia, and transcendental experiences.

Born in Illinois, he eventually moved to California and began publishing science fiction stories in the 1950s. His stories initially found little commercial success.[1] His 1962 alternative history novel The Man in the High Castleearned Dick early acclaim, including a Hugo Award for Best Novel.[2] He followed with science fiction novels such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) and Ubik (1969). His 1974 novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel.[3] Following a series of religious experiences in February 1974, Dick’s work engaged more explicitly with issues of theology, philosophy, and the nature of reality, as in such novels as A Scanner Darkly (1977) and VALIS (1981).[4] A collection of his non-fiction writing on these themes was published posthumously as The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick (2011). He died in 1982, at age 53, due to complications from a stroke.

Dick’s writing produced 44 published novels and approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime.[5]

A variety of popular films based on Dick’s works have been produced, including Blade Runner (1982), Total Recall (adapted twice: in 1990 and in 2012), Minority Report (2002), A Scanner Darkly (2006), The Adjustment Bureau (2011), and Blade Runner 2049 (2017).

In 2005, Time named Ubik one of the hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923.[6] In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.[7][8][9][10]

Early life

Philip Kindred Dick and his twin sister, Jane Charlotte Dick, were born six weeks prematurely on December 16, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois, to Dorothy (née Kindred; 1900–1978) and Joseph Edgar Dick (1899–1985), who worked for the United States Department of Agriculture.[11][12] His paternal grandparents were Irish.[13] The death of Jane six weeks later, on January 26, 1929, profoundly affected Philip’s life, leading to the recurrent motif of the “phantom twin” in his books.[11]

His family later moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. When Philip was five, his father was transferred to Reno, Nevada; when Dorothy refused to move, she and Joseph divorced. Both parents fought for custody of Philip, which was awarded to the mother. Dorothy, determined to raise Philip alone, took a job in Washington, D.C., and moved there with her son. Philip was enrolled at John Eaton Elementary School (1936–1938), completing the second through fourth grades. His lowest grade was a “C” in Written Composition, although a teacher remarked that he “shows interest and ability in story telling”. He was educated in Quaker schools.[14] In June 1938, Dorothy and Philip returned to California, and it was around this time that he became interested in science fiction.[15] Dick stated that he read his first science fiction magazine, Stirring Science Stories in 1940 at the age of 12.[15]

Dick attended Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California. He and fellow science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin were members of the same graduating class (1947) but did not know each other at the time. After graduation, he briefly attended the University of California, Berkeley, (September 1949 to November 11, 1949) with an honorable dismissal granted January 1, 1950. Dick did not declare a major and took classes in history, psychology, philosophy, and zoology. Through his studies in philosophy, he believed that existence is based on internal human perception, which does not necessarily correspond to external reality; he described himself as “an acosmic panentheist,” believing in the universe only as an extension of God.[16] After reading the works of Plato and pondering the possibilities of metaphysical realms, Dick came to the conclusion that, in a certain sense, the world is not entirely real and there is no way to confirm whether it is truly there. This question from his early studies persisted as a theme in many of his novels. Dick dropped out because of ongoing anxiety problems, according to his third wife Anne’s memoir. She also says he disliked the mandatory ROTC training. At Berkeley, Dick befriended poet Robert Duncan and poet and linguist Jack Spicer, who gave Dick ideas for a Martian language. Dick claimed to have hosted a classical music program on KSMO Radio in 1947.[17] From 1948 to 1952, Dick worked at Art Music Company, a record store on Telegraph Avenue.

Career

Early writing

Dick’s novelette “The Defenders” was the cover story for the January 1953 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction, illustrated by Ed Emshwiller

Dick’s short story “The World She Wanted” took the cover of the May 1953 issue of Science Fiction Quarterly

Dick’s novel The Cosmic Puppetsoriginally appeared in the December 1956 issue of Satellite Science Fictionas “A Glass of Darkness”

Dick sold his first story in 1951, and from then on wrote full-time. During 1952 his first speculative fiction publications appeared in July and September numbers of Planet Stories, edited by Jack O’Sullivan, and in If and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction that year.[18] His debut novel was Solar Lottery, published in 1955 as half of Ace Double #D-103 alongside The Big Jump by Leigh Brackett.[18] The 1950s were a difficult and impoverished time for Dick, who once lamented, “We couldn’t even pay the late fees on a library book.” He published almost exclusively within the science fiction genre, but dreamed of a career in mainstream fiction.[19] During the 1950s he produced a series of non-genre, relatively conventional novels. In 1960 he wrote that he was willing to “take twenty to thirty years to succeed as a literary writer”. The dream of mainstream success formally died in January 1963 when the Scott Meredith Literary Agency returned all of his unsold mainstream novels. Only one of these works, Confessions of a Crap Artist, was published during Dick’s lifetime.

In 1963, Dick won the Hugo Award for The Man in the High Castle.[2] Although he was hailed as a genius in the science fiction world, the mainstream literary world was unappreciative, and he could publish books only through low-paying science fiction publishers such as Ace. Even in his later years, he continued to have financial troubles. In the introduction to the 1980 short story collection The Golden Man, Dick wrote:

Several years ago, when I was ill, Heinlein offered his help, anything he could do, and we had never met; he would phone me to cheer me up and see how I was doing. He wanted to buy me an electric typewriter, God bless him—one of the few true gentlemen in this world. I don’t agree with any ideas he puts forth in his writing, but that is neither here nor there. One time when I owed the IRS a lot of money and couldn’t raise it, Heinlein loaned the money to me. I think a great deal of him and his wife; I dedicated a book to them in appreciation. Robert Heinlein is a fine-looking man, very impressive and very military in stance; you can tell he has a military background, even to the haircut. He knows I’m a flipped-out freak and still he helped me and my wife when we were in trouble. That is the best in humanity, there; that is who and what I love.

Flight to Canada and suicide attempt

In 1971, Dick’s marriage to Nancy Hackett broke down, and she moved out of their house in Santa Venetia, California. Having struggled with amphetamine abuse for much of the past decade (stemming in part from his need to maintain a prolific writing regimen due to the financial exigencies of the science fiction field), he allowed other drug users to move into the house. Following the release of 21 novels between 1960 and 1970, these developments were exacerbated by unprecedented periods of writer’s block, with Dick ultimately failing to publish new fiction until 1974.[20]

One day in November, Dick returned to his home to discover that it had been burglarized, with his safe blown open and personal papers missing. The police were unable to determine the culprit, and even suspected Dick of having done it himself.[21] Shortly afterwards, he was invited to be guest of honor at the Vancouver Science Fiction Convention in February 1972. Within a day of arriving at the conference and giving his speech The Android and the Human, he informed people that he had fallen in love with a woman named Janis whom he had met there and announced that he would be remaining in Vancouver.[21] An attendee of the conference, Michael Walsh, movie critic for local newspaper The Province, invited Dick to stay in his home, but asked him to leave two weeks later due to his erratic behavior. This was followed by Janis ending her and Dick’s relationship and moving away. On March 23, 1972, Dick attempted suicide by taking an overdose of the sedative potassium bromide.[21] Subsequently, after deciding to seek help, Dick became a participant in X-Kalay (a Canadian Synanon-type recovery program), and was well enough by April to return to California.[21]

Upon relocating to Orange County, California at the behest of California State University, Fullerton professor Willis McNelly (who initiated a correspondence with Dick during his X-Kalay stint), he donated manuscripts, papers and other materials to the University’s Special Collections Library, where they are archived in the Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Collection in the Pollak Library. During this period, Dick befriended a circle of Fullerton State students that encompassed several aspiring science fiction writers, including K. W. JeterJames Blaylock and Tim Powers.

Dick returned to the events of these months while writing his 1977 novel A Scanner Darkly,[22] which contains fictionalized depictions of the burglary of his home, his time using amphetamines and living with addicts, and his experiences of X-Kalay (portrayed in the novel as “New-Path”). A factual account of Dick’s recovery program participation was portrayed in his posthumously released book The Dark Haired Girl, a collection of letters and journals from the period.

Paranormal experiences

On February 20, 1974, while recovering from the effects of sodium pentothal administered for the extraction of an impacted wisdom tooth, Dick received a home delivery of Darvon from a young woman. When he opened the door, he was struck by the beauty of the dark-haired girl and was especially drawn to her golden necklace. He asked her about its curious fish-shaped design. “This is a sign used by the early Christians,” she said, and then left. Dick called the symbol the “vesicle pisces”. This name seems to have been based on his conflation of two related symbols, the Christian ichthys symbol (two intersecting arcs delineating a fish in profile) which the woman was wearing, and the vesica piscis.[23]

Dick recounted that as the sun glinted off the gold pendant, the reflection caused the generation of a “pink beam” of light that mesmerized him. He came to believe the beam imparted wisdom and clairvoyance, and also believed it to be intelligent. On one occasion, Dick was startled by a separate recurrence of the pink beam. It imparted the information to him that his infant son was ill. The Dicks rushed the child to the hospital, where his suspicion was confirmed by professional diagnosis.[24][verification needed]

After the woman’s departure, Dick began experiencing strange hallucinations. Although initially attributing them to side effects from medication, he considered this explanation implausible after weeks of continued hallucinations. “I experienced an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind, as if I had been insane all my life and suddenly I had become sane,” Dick told Charles Platt.[25]

Throughout February and March 1974, Dick experienced a series of hallucinations, which he referred to as “2-3-74”,[19] shorthand for February–March 1974. Aside from the “pink beam”, Dick described the initial hallucinations as geometric patterns, and, occasionally, brief pictures of Jesus and ancient Rome. As the hallucinations increased in length and frequency, Dick claimed he began to live two parallel lives, one as himself, “Philip K. Dick”, and one as “Thomas”, a Christian persecuted by Romans in the first century AD. He referred to the “transcendentally rational mind” as “Zebra”, “God” and “VALIS“. Dick wrote about the experiences, first in the semi-autobiographical novel Radio Free Albemuth and then in VALISThe Divine Invasion and the unfinished The Owl in Daylight (the VALIS trilogy).

In 1974, Dick wrote a letter to the FBI, accusing various people, including University of California, San Diego professor Frederic Jameson, of being foreign agents of Warsaw Pact powers.[26] He also wrote that Stanisław Lem was probably a false name used by a composite committee operating on orders of the Communist party to gain control over public opinion.[27]

At one point Dick felt that he had been taken over by the spirit of the prophet Elijah. He believed that an episode in his novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said was a detailed retelling of a biblical story from the Book of Acts, which he had never read.[28] Dick documented and discussed his experiences and faith in a private journal he called his “exegesis”, portions of which were later published as The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. The last novel Dick wrote was The Transmigration of Timothy Archer; it was published shortly after his death in 1982.

Personal life

Dick was married five times:

  • Jeanette Marlin (May to November 1948)
  • Kleo Apostolides (June 14, 1950 to 1959)
  • Anne Williams Rubinstein (April 1, 1959 to October 1965)
  • Nancy Hackett (July 6, 1966 to 1972)
  • Leslie (Tessa) Busby (April 18, 1973 to 1977)

Dick had three children, Laura Archer (February 25, 1960), Isolde Freya (now Isa Dick Hackett) (March 15, 1967), and Christopher Kenneth (July 25, 1973).

In 1955, he and his second wife, Kleo Apostolides, received a visit from the FBI, which they believed to be the result of Kleo’s socialist views and left-wing activities. The couple briefly befriended one of the FBI agents.[29]

He was physically abusive with his third wife; after one argument in 1963, he attempted to push her off a cliff in a car, then later claimed she was trying to kill him, and convinced a psychiatrist to commit her involuntarily. After filing for divorce in 1964, he moved to Oakland to live with a fan, Grania Davis. Shortly after, he attempted suicide by driving off the road while she was a passenger.[30]

Dick tried to stay out of the political scene because of high societal turmoil from the Vietnam War; however, he did show some anti-Vietnam War and anti-governmental sentiments. In 1968, he joined the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest“,[16][31] an anti-war pledge to pay no U.S. federal income tax, which resulted in the confiscation of his car by the IRS.

Death

On February 17, 1982, after completing an interview, Dick contacted his therapist, complaining of failing eyesight, and was advised to go to a hospital immediately, but did not. The following day, he was found unconscious on the floor of his Santa Ana, California home, having suffered a stroke. On February 25, 1982, Dick suffered another stroke in the hospital, which led to brain death. Five days later, on March 2, 1982, he was disconnected from life support and died. After his death, Dick’s father, Joseph, took his son’s ashes to Riverside Cemetery in Fort Morgan, Colorado, (section K, block 1, lot 56), where they were buried next to his twin sister Jane, who died in infancy. Her tombstone had been inscribed with both of their names at the time of her death, 53 years earlier.[32][33][34]

Style and works

Themes

Dick’s third major theme is his fascination with war and his fear and hatred of it. One hardly sees critical mention of it, yet it is as integral to his body of work as oxygen is to water.[35]

—Steven Owen Godersky

Dick’s stories typically focus on the fragile nature of what is real and the construction of personal identity. His stories often become surreal fantasies, as the main characters slowly discover that their everyday world is actually an illusion assembled by powerful external entities, such as the suspended animation in Ubik,[36] vast political conspiracies or the vicissitudes of an unreliable narrator. “All of his work starts with the basic assumption that there cannot be one, single, objective reality”, writes science fiction author Charles Platt. “Everything is a matter of perception. The ground is liable to shift under your feet. A protagonist may find himself living out another person’s dream, or he may enter a drug-induced state that actually makes better sense than the real world, or he may cross into a different universe completely.”[25]

Alternate universes and simulacra are common plot devices, with fictional worlds inhabited by common, working people, rather than galactic elites. “There are no heroes in Dick’s books”, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote, “but there are heroics. One is reminded of Dickens: what counts is the honesty, constancy, kindness and patience of ordinary people.”[36] Dick made no secret that much of his thinking and work was heavily influenced by the writings of Carl Jung.[32][37] The Jungian constructs and models that most concerned Dick seem to be the archetypes of the collective unconscious, group projection/hallucination, synchronicities, and personality theory.[32] Many of Dick’s protagonists overtly analyze reality and their perceptions in Jungian terms (see Lies Inc.). Dick’s self-named Exegesis also contained many notes on Jung in relation to theology and mysticism.[citation needed]

Dick identified one major theme of his work as the question, “What constitutes the authentic human being?”[38] In works such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, beings can appear totally human in every respect while lacking soul or compassion, while completely alien beings such as Glimmung in Galactic Pot-Healer may be more humane and complex than their human peers.

Mental illness was a constant interest of Dick’s, and themes of mental illness permeate his work. The character Jack Bohlen in the 1964 novel Martian Time-Slip is an “ex-schizophrenic”. The novel Clans of the Alphane Moon centers on an entire society made up of descendants of lunatic asylum inmates. In 1965 he wrote the essay titled “Schizophrenia and the Book of Changes”.[39]

Drug use (including religiousrecreational, and abuse) was also a theme in many of Dick’s works, such as A Scanner Darkly and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Dick himself was a drug user for much of his life. According to a 1975 interview in Rolling Stone,[40]Dick wrote all of his books published before 1970 while on amphetamines. “A Scanner Darkly (1977) was the first complete novel I had written without speed”, said Dick in the interview. He also experimented briefly with psychedelics, but wrote The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, which Rolling Stone dubs “the classic LSD novel of all time”, before he had ever tried them. Despite his heavy amphetamine use, however, Dick later said that doctors told him the amphetamines never actually affected him, that his liver had processed them before they reached his brain.[40]

Summing up all these themes in Understanding Philip K. Dick, Eric Carl Link discussed eight themes or ‘ideas and motifs’:[41] Epistemology and the Nature of Reality, Know Thyself, The Android and the Human, Entropy and Pot Healing, The Theodicy Problem, Warfare and Power Politics, The Evolved Human, and ‘Technology, Media, Drugs and Madness’.[42]

Pen names

Dick had two professional stories published under the pen names Richard Phillipps and Jack Dowland. “Some Kinds of Life” was published in October 1953 in Fantastic Universe under byline Richard Phillipps, apparently because the magazine had a policy against publishing multiple stories by the same author in the same issue; “Planet for Transients” was published in the same issue under his own name.[43]

The short story “Orpheus with Clay Feet” was published under the pen name Jack Dowland. The protagonist desires to be the muse for fictional author Jack Dowland, considered the greatest science fiction author of the 20th century. In the story, Dowland publishes a short story titled “Orpheus with Clay Feet” under the pen name Philip K. Dick.

The surname Dowland refers to Renaissance composer John Dowland, who is featured in several works. The title Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said directly refers to Dowland’s best-known composition, “Flow My Tears”. In the novel The Divine Invasion, the character Linda Fox, created specifically with Linda Ronstadt in mind, is an intergalactically famous singer whose entire body of work consists of recordings of John Dowland compositions.

Selected works

The Man in the High Castle (1962) is set in an alternate history in which the United States is ruled by the victorious Axis powers. It is the only Dick novel to win a Hugo Award. Most recently this has been adapted into a television series provided by Amazon and available through Amazon Prime video.

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965) utilizes an array of science fiction concepts and features several layers of reality and unreality. It is also one of Dick’s first works to explore religious themes. The novel takes place in the 21st century, when, under UN authority, mankind has colonized the Solar System‘s every habitable planet and moon. Life is physically daunting and psychologically monotonous for most colonists, so the UN must draft people to go to the colonies. Most entertain themselves using “Perky Pat” dolls and accessories manufactured by Earth-based “P.P. Layouts”. The company also secretly creates “Can-D”, an illegal but widely available hallucinogenic drug allowing the user to “translate” into Perky Pat (if the drug user is a woman) or Pat’s boyfriend, Walt (if the drug user is a man). This recreational use of Can-D allows colonists to experience a few minutes of an idealized life on Earth by participating in a collective hallucination.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) is the story of a bounty hunter policing the local android population. It occurs on a dying, poisoned Earth de-populated of almost all animals and all “successful” humans; the only remaining inhabitants of the planet are people with no prospects off-world. The 1968 novel is the literary source of the film Blade Runner (1982).[44] It is both a conflation and an intensification of the pivotally Dickian question: What is real, what is fake? What crucial factor defines humanity as distinctly “alive”, versus those merely alive only in their outward appearance?

Ubik (1969) employs extensive psychic telepathy and a suspended state after death in creating a state of eroding reality. A group of psychics is sent to investigate a rival organisation, but several of them are apparently killed by a saboteur’s bomb. Much of the following novel flicks between different equally plausible realities; the “real” reality, a state of half-life and psychically manipulated realities. In 2005, Time magazine listed it among the “All-TIME 100 Greatest Novels” published since 1923.[6]

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974) concerns Jason Taverner, a television star living in a dystopian near-future police state. After being attacked by an angry ex-girlfriend, Taverner awakens in a dingy Los Angeles hotel room. He still has his money in his wallet, but his identification cards are missing. This is no minor inconvenience, as security checkpoints (manned by “pols” and “nats”, the police and National Guard) are set up throughout the city to stop and arrest anyone without valid ID. Jason at first thinks that he was robbed, but soon discovers that his entire identity has been erased. There is no record of him in any official database, and even his closest associates do not recognize or remember him. For the first time in many years, Jason has no fame or reputation to rely on. He has only his innate charm and social graces to help him as he tries to find out what happened to his past while avoiding the attention of the pols. The novel was Dick’s first published novel after years of silence, during which time his critical reputation had grown, and this novel was awarded the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.[3] It is the only Philip K. Dick novel nominated for both a Hugo and a Nebula Award.

In an essay written two years before his death, Dick described how he learned from his Episcopal priest that an important scene in Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said – involving its other main character, the eponymous Police General Felix Buckman, was very similar to a scene in Acts of the Apostles,[28] a book of the New Testament. Film director Richard Linklater discusses this novel in his film Waking Life, which begins with a scene reminiscent of another Dick novel, Time Out of Joint.

A Scanner Darkly (1977) is a bleak mixture of science fiction and police procedural novels; in its story, an undercover narcotics police detective begins to lose touch with reality after falling victim to the same permanently mind-altering drug, Substance D, he was enlisted to help fight. Substance D is instantly addictive, beginning with a pleasant euphoria which is quickly replaced with increasing confusion, hallucinations and eventually total psychosis. In this novel, as with all Dick novels, there is an underlying thread of paranoia and dissociation with multiple realities perceived simultaneously. It was adapted to film by Richard Linklater.

The Philip K. Dick Reader[45] is an introduction to the variety of Dick’s short fiction.

VALIS (1980) is perhaps Dick’s most postmodern and autobiographical novel, examining his own unexplained experiences. It may also be his most academically studied work, and was adapted as an opera by Tod Machover.[46] Later works like the VALIS trilogy were heavily autobiographical, many with “two-three-seventy-four” (2-3-74) references and influences. The word VALIS is the acronym for Vast Active Living Intelligence System. Later, Dick theorized that VALIS was both a “reality generator” and a means of extraterrestrial communication. A fourth VALIS manuscript, Radio Free Albemuth, although composed in 1976, was posthumously published in 1985. This work is described by the publisher (Arbor House) as “an introduction and key to his magnificent VALIS trilogy”.

Regardless of the feeling that he was somehow experiencing a divine communication, Dick was never fully able to rationalize the events. For the rest of his life, he struggled to comprehend what was occurring, questioning his own sanity and perception of reality. He transcribed what thoughts he could into an eight-thousand-page, one-million-word journal dubbed the Exegesis. From 1974 until his death in 1982, Dick spent many nights writing in this journal. A recurring theme in Exegesis is Dick’s hypothesis that history had been stopped in the first century AD, and that “the Empire never ended”. He saw Rome as the pinnacle of materialism and despotism, which, after forcing the Gnostics underground, had kept the population of Earth enslaved to worldly possessions. Dick believed that VALIS had communicated with him, and anonymous others, to induce the impeachment of U.S. President Richard Nixon, whom Dick believed to be the current Emperor of Rome incarnate.

In a 1968 essay titled “Self Portrait”, collected in the 1995 book The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick, Dick reflects on his work and lists which books he feels “might escape World War Three”: Eye in the SkyThe Man in the High CastleMartian Time-SlipDr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the BombThe Zap GunThe Penultimate TruthThe SimulacraThe Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (which he refers to as “the most vital of them all”), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and Ubik.[47] In a 1976 interview, Dick cited A Scanner Darkly as his best work, feeling that he “had finally written a true masterpiece, after 25 years of writing”.[48]

Adaptations

Films

Several of Dick’s stories have been made into films. Dick himself wrote a screenplay for an intended film adaptation of Ubik in 1974, but the film was never made. Many film adaptations have not used Dick’s original titles. When asked why this was, Dick’s ex-wife Tessa said, “Actually, the books rarely carry Phil’s original titles, as the editors usually wrote new titles after reading his manuscripts. Phil often commented that he couldn’t write good titles. If he could, he would have been an advertising writer instead of a novelist.”[49] Films based on Dick’s writing had accumulated a total revenue of over US $1 billion by 2009.[50]

Future films based on Dick’s writing include an animated adaptation of The King of the Elves from Walt Disney Animation Studios, which was set to be released in the spring of 2016 but is currently still in preproduction; and a film adaptation of Ubik which, according to Dick’s daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, is in advanced negotiation.[53] Ubik was set to be made into a film by Michel Gondry.[54] In 2014, however, Gondry told French outlet Telerama (via Jeux Actu), that he was no longer working on the project.

The Terminator series prominently features the theme of humanoid assassination machines first portrayed in Second VarietyThe Halcyon Company, known for developing the Terminator franchise, acquired right of first refusal to film adaptations of the works of Philip K. Dick in 2007. In May 2009, they announced plans for an adaptation of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said.[55]

Television

It was reported in 2010 that Ridley Scott would produce an adaptation of The Man in the High Castle for the BBC, in the form of a mini-series.[56] A pilot episode was released on Amazon Prime in January 2015 and Season 1 was fully released in ten episodes of about 60 minutes each on November 20, 2015.[57] Premiering in January 2015, the pilot was Amazon’s “most-watched since the original series development program began.” The next month Amazon ordered episodes to fill out a ten-episode season, which was released in November, to positive reviews. A second season of ten episodes premiered in December 2016, with a third season announced a few weeks later to be released in 2018.

In late 2015, Fox aired Minority Report, a television series sequel adaptation to the 2002 film of the same name based on Dick’s 1956 short story “The Minority Report“. The show was cancelled after one 10 episode season.

In May 2016, it was announced that a 10-part anthology series was in the works. Titled Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, the series will be distributed by Sony Pictures Television and premiered on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom and Amazon Video in the United States.[58] It was written by executive producers Ronald D. Moore and Michael Dinner, with executive input from Dick’s daughter Isa Dick Hackett, and stars Bryan Cranston, also an executive producer.[59]

Stage and radio

Four of Dick’s works have been adapted for the stage.

One was the opera VALIS, composed and with libretto by Tod Machover, which premiered at the Pompidou Center in Paris on December 1, 1987, with a French libretto. It was subsequently revised and readapted into English, and was recorded and released on CD (Bridge Records BCD9007) in 1988.

Another was Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, adapted by Linda Hartinian and produced by the New York-based avant-garde company Mabou Mines. It premiered in Boston at the Boston Shakespeare Theatre (June 18–30, 1985) and was subsequently staged in New York and Chicago. Productions of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said were also staged by the Evidence Room [60] in Los Angeles in 1999[61] and by the Fifth Column Theatre Company at the Oval House Theatre in London in the same year.[62]

A play based on Radio Free Albemuth also had a brief run in the 1980s.

In November 2010, a production of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, adapted by Edward Einhorn, premiered at the 3LD Art and Technology Center in Manhattan.[63]

A radio drama adaptation of Dick’s short story “Mr. Spaceship” was aired by the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yleisradio) in 1996 under the name Menolippu Paratiisiin. Radio dramatizations of Dick’s short stories Colony and The Defenders[64] were aired by NBC in 1956 as part of the series X Minus One.

In January 2006, a The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (English for Trzy stygmaty Palmera Eldritcha) theatre adaptation premiered in Stary Teatr in Cracov, with an extensive use of lights and laser choreography.[65][66]

In June 2014 the BBC broadcast a two part adaptation of ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?’ on Radio 4, starring James Purefoy as Rick Deckard.[67]

Comics

Marvel Comics adapted Dick’s short story “The Electric Ant” as a limited series which was released in 2009. The comic was produced by writer David Mack (Daredevil) and artist Pascal Alixe (Ultimate X-Men), with covers provided by artist Paul Pope.[68] “The Electric Ant” had earlier been loosely adapted by Frank Miller and Geof Darrow in their 3-issue mini-series Hard Boiled published by Dark Horse Comics in 1990-1992.[69]

In 2009, BOOM! Studios started publishing a 24-issue miniseries comic book adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?[70] Blade Runner, the 1982 film adapted from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, had previously been adapted to comics as A Marvel Comics Super Special: Blade Runner.

In 2011, Dynamite Entertainment published a 4-issue miniseries “Total Recall,” a sequel to the 1990 film Total Recall, inspired by Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale“.[71] In 1990, DC Comics published the official adaptation of the original film as a DC Movie Special: Total Recall.[72]

Alternative formats

In response to a 1975 request from the National Library for the Blind for permission to make use of The Man in the High Castle, Dick responded, “I also grant you a general permission to transcribe any of my former, present or future work, so indeed you can add my name to your ‘general permission’ list.”[73] Some of his books and stories are available in braille and other specialized formats through the NLS.[74]

As of December 2012, thirteen of Philip K. Dick’s early works in the public domain in the United States are available in ebook form from Project Gutenberg. As of April 4, 2012, Wikisource has one of Philip K. Dick’s early works in the public domain in the United States available in ebook form which is not from Project Gutenberg.

Influence and legacy

Lawrence Sutin‘s 1989 biography of Dick, Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick, is considered the standard biographical treatment of Dick’s life.[39]

In 1993, French writer Emmanuel Carrère published Je suis vivant et vous êtes morts which was first translated and published in English in 2004 as I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey Into the Mind of Philip K. Dick, which the author describes in his preface in this way:

The book you hold in your hands is a very peculiar book. I have tried to depict the life of Philip K. Dick from the inside, in other words, with the same freedom and empathy – indeed with the same truth – with which he depicted his own characters.[32]

Critics of the book have complained about the lack of fact checking, sourcing, notes and index, “the usual evidence of deep research that gives a biography the solid stamp of authority.”[75][76][77] It can be considered a non-fiction novel about his life.

Dick has influenced many writers, including Jonathan Lethem[78] and Ursula K. Le Guin.[79] The prominent literary critic Fredric Jameson proclaimed Dick the “Shakespeare of Science Fiction”, and praised his work as “one of the most powerful expressions of the society of spectacle and pseudo-event”.[80] The author Roberto Bolaño also praised Dick, describing him as “Thoreau plus the death of the American dream”.[81] Dick has also influenced filmmakers, his work being compared to films such as the Wachowskis‘ The Matrix,[82] David Cronenberg‘s Videodrome,[83] eXistenZ,[82] and Spider,[83] Spike Jonze‘s Being John Malkovich,[83] Adaptation,[83] Michel Gondry‘s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,[84][85] Alex Proyas‘s Dark City,[82] Peter Weir‘s The Truman Show,[82] Andrew Niccol‘s Gattaca,[83]In Time,[86] Terry Gilliam‘s 12 Monkeys,[83] Alejandro Amenábar‘s Open Your Eyes,[87] David Fincher‘s Fight Club,[83] Cameron Crowe‘s Vanilla Sky,[82] Darren Aronofsky‘s Pi,[88] Richard Kelly‘s Donnie Darko[89] and Southland Tales,[90] Rian Johnson‘s Looper,[91] Duncan Jones‘ Source Code, and Christopher Nolan‘s Memento[92] and Inception.[93]

The Philip K. Dick Society was an organization dedicated to promoting the literary works of Dick and was led by Dick’s longtime friend and music journalist Paul Williams. Williams also served as Dick’s literary executor for several years after Dick’s death and wrote one of the first biographies of Dick, entitled Only Apparently Real: The World of Philip K. Dick.

The Philip K. Dick estate owns and operates the production company Electric Shepherd Productions,[94] which has produced the films Adjustment Bureau (2011) and the upcoming Walt Disney Company film King of the Elves, the TV series The Man in the High Castle[95]and also a Marvel Comics 5-issue adaptation of Electric Ant.[96]

Dick was recreated by his fans in the form of a simulacrum or remote-controlled android designed in his likeness.[97][98][99] Such simulacra had been themes of many of Dick’s works. The Philip K. Dick simulacrum was included on a discussion panel in a San Diego Comic Con presentation about the film adaptation of the novel, A Scanner Darkly. In February 2006, an America West Airlines employee misplaced the android’s head, and it has not yet been found.[100] In January 2011, it was announced that Hanson Robotics had built a replacement.[101]

Film

In fiction

  • Michael Bishop‘s The Secret Ascension (1987; currently published as Philip K. Dick Is Dead, Alas), which is set in an alternative universe where his non-genre work is published but his science fiction is banned by a totalitarian United States in thrall to a demonically possessed Richard Nixon.
  • The Faction Paradox novel Of the City of the Saved… (2004) by Philip Purser-Hallard
  • The short story “The Transmigration of Philip K” (1984) by Michael Swanwick (to be found in the 1991 collection Gravity’s Angels)
  • In Ursula K. Le Guin‘s 1971 novel The Lathe of Heaven, whose characters alter reality through their dreams. Two made-for-TV films based on the novel have been made: The Lathe of Heaven (1980) and Lathe of Heaven (2002)
  • In Thomas M. Disch‘s The Word of God (2008)[113]
  • The comics magazine Weirdo published “The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick” by artist R. Crumb in 1986. Though this is not an adaptation of a specific book or story by Dick, it incorporates elements of Dick’s experience which he related in short stories, novels, essays, and the Exegesis. The story parodies the form of a Chick tract, a type of evangelical comic, many of which relate the story of an epiphany leading to a conversion to fundamentalist Christianity.
  • In the Batman Beyond episode “Sentries of the Last Cosmos”, the character Eldon Michaels claims a typewriter on his desk to have belonged to Philip K. Dick.
  • In the 1976 alternate history novel The Alteration by Kingsley Amis, one of the novels-within-a-novel depicted is The Man in the High Castle (mirroring The Grasshopper Lies Heavy in the real-life novel), still written by Philip K. Dick.[114] Instead of the novel being set in 1962 in an alternate universe where the Axis Powers won the Second World War and named for Hawthorne Abendsen, the author of its novel-within-a-novel, it depicts an alternate universe where the Protestant Reformation occurred (events including the continuation of Henry VIII’s Schismatic policies by his son, Henry IX, and the creation of an independent North America in 1848), with one character speculating that the titular character was a wizard.
  • In the Japanese science fiction anime Psycho-Pass, Dick’s works are referred to as recommended reading material to help reflect on the current state of affairs of those characters world.
  • The 2016 video game Californium was developed as a tribute to Philip K. Dick and his writings to coincide with an Arte‘s documentary series.[115]
  • The short film trilogy Code 7 written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo starts with the line “Philip K. Dick presents”. The story also contains some other references to Philip K. Dick’s body of work.[116]

Music

  • “Flow My Tears” is the name of an instrumental by bassist Stuart Hamm, inspired by Dick’s novel of the same name. The track is found on his album Radio Free Albemuth, also named after a Dick novel.[117]
  • “Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said” and other seminal Ph. K. Dick novels inspired the electronic music concept album “The Dowland Shores of Philip K. Dick’s Universe[118] by Levente
  • “Flow My Tears the Spider Said” is the final song on They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, the second album by experimental Los Angeles punk-rock outfit Liars.
  • “Listen to the Sirens”, the first song on Tubeway Army‘s 1978 debut album has as its first line “flow my tears, the new police song”.
  • American rapper and producer El-P is a noted fan of Dick and other science fiction, as many of Dick’s themes, such as paranoia and questions about the nature of reality, feature in El-P’s work.[119] A song on the 2002 album Fantastic Damage is titled “T.O.J.” and the chorus makes reference to the Dick work Time Out of Joint.
  • English singer Hugh Cornwell included an instrumental called “Philip K. Ridiculous” on his 2008 album “Hooverdam”.[120]
  • The World/Inferno Friendship Society‘s 2011 album The Anarchy and the Ecstasy includes a song entitled “Canonize Philip K. Dick, OK”.
  • Bloc Party‘s 2012 album Four contains several references to Dick’s work, including a song entitled “V.A.L.I.S.”.
  • German singer Pohlmann included a song called “Roy Batty (In Tribute to Philip K. Dick)” on his 2013 album Nix ohne Grund.
  • Sister, a Sonic Youth album, “was in part inspired by the life and works of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick”.[121]
  • “What You See” is a song by Faded Paper Figures that pays homage to the literary work of Dick.
  • The first song on Japancakes‘ debut album If I Could See Dallas is titled ‘Now Wait For Last Year’.
  • Janelle Monáe‘s song “Make the Bus” in her album The ArchAndroid has the lyrics “You’ve got ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ under your pillow” at the end of the first stanza.
  • Blind Guardian‘s song “Time What is Time” from the 1992 album “Somewhere Far Beyond” is loosely based on the book “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”.[122]

Radio

  • In June 2014, BBC Radio 4 broadcast The Two Georges by Stephen Keyworth, inspired by the FBI’s investigation of Phil and his wife Kleo in 1955, and the subsequent friendship that developed between Phil and FBI Agent Scruggs.[123]

Theater

  • The short play Kindred Blood in Kensington Gore (1992) by Brian W. Aldiss
  • A 2005 play, 800 Words: the Transmigration of Philip K. Dick by Victoria Stewart, which re-imagines Dick’s final days.[124]

Contemporary philosophy

Postmodernists such as Jean BaudrillardFredric JamesonLaurence Rickels and Slavoj Žižek have commented on Dick’s writing’s foreshadowing of postmodernity.[125] Jean Baudrillard offers this interpretation:

It is hyperreal. It is a universe of simulation, which is something altogether different. And this is so not because Dick speaks specifically of simulacra. SF has always done so, but it has always played upon the double, on artificial replication or imaginary duplication, whereas here the double has disappeared. There is no more double; one is always already in the other world, an other world which is not another, without mirrors or projection or utopias as means for reflection. The simulation is impassable, unsurpassable, checkmated, without exteriority. We can no longer move “through the mirror” to the other side, as we could during the golden age of transcendence.[126]

For his anti-government skepticism, Philip K. Dick was afforded minor mention in Mythmakers and Lawbreakers, a collection of interviews about fiction by anarchist authors. Noting his early authorship of The Last of the Masters, an anarchist-themed novelette, author Margaret Killjoy expressed that while Dick never fully sided with anarchism, his opposition to government centralization and organized religion has influenced anarchist interpretations of gnosticism.[127]

Awards and honors

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted Dick in 2005.[128]

During his lifetime he received numerous annual literary awards and nominations for particular works.[129]

Philip K. Dick Award

The Philip K. Dick Award is a science fiction award that annually recognizes the previous year’s best SF paperback original published in the U.S.[135] It is conferred at Norwescon, sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, and since 2005 supported by the Philip K. Dick Trust. Winning works are identified on their covers as Best Original SF Paperback. It is currently administered by David G. Hartwell and Gordon Van Gelder.[135]

The award was inaugurated in 1983, the year after Dick’s death. It was founded by Thomas Disch with assistance from David G. Hartwell, Paul S. Williams, and Charles N. Brown. Past administrators include Algis J. Budrys and David Alexander Smith.[citation needed]

See also

References

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  2. Jump up to:abc “1963 Award Winners & Nominees”Worlds Without End. Retrieved June 26, 2009.
  3. Jump up to:abcd “1975 Award Winners & Nominees”Worlds Without End. Retrieved June 26, 2009.
  4. Jump up^ Behrens, Richard; Allen B. Ruch (March 21, 2003). “Philip K. Dick”The Scriptorium. The Modern Word. Archived from the original on April 12, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2008.
  5. Jump up^ Kimbell, Keith. “Ranked: Movies Based on Philip K. Dick Stories”. Metacritic. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
  6. Jump up to:ab Grossman, Lev (October 16, 2005). “Ubik – ALL-TIME 100 Novels”Time. Retrieved April 14, 2008.
  7. Jump up^ Stoffman, Judy “A milestone in literary heritage”Toronto Star(February 10, 2007) Archived October 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. Jump up^ Library of America Philip K. Dick: Four Novels of the 1960s
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  10. Jump up^ Associated Press “Library of America to issue volume of Philip K. Dick”USA Today (November 28, 2006)
  11. Jump up to:ab Kucukalic, Lejla (2008). Philip K. Dick: canonical writer of the digital age. Taylor and Francis. p. 27. ISBN0-415-96242-0.
  12. Jump up^ Sutin, Lawrence (2003). “Philip K. Dick”Author – Official Biography. Philip K. Dick Trust. Archived from the original on April 10, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2008.
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Further reading

Primary bibliography
  • Precious Artifacts : A Philip K. Dick Bibliography, United States of America and United Kingdom Editions, 1955 – 2012. Compiled by Henri Wintz and David Hyde. (Wide Books 2012). http://www.wide-books.com
  • Precious Artifacts 2: A Philip K. Dick Bibliography, The Short Stories, United States, United Kingdom and Oceania, 1952 – 2014. Compiled by Henri Wintz and David Hyde (Wide Books 2014). http://www.wide-books.com
Secondary bibliography

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_K._Dick

 

Ridley Scott

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Sir
Ridley Scott
NASA Journey to Mars and “The Martian" (201508180030HQ).jpg

Scott in 2015
Born 30 November 1937 (age 80)
South ShieldsCounty DurhamEngland
Residence LondonEnglandUnited Kingdom
Paris, France
Los Angeles, CaliforniaUnited States
Alma mater West Hartlepool College of Art
Royal College of Art
Occupation
  • Film director
  • film producer
Years active 1965–present
Spouse(s)
Felicity Heywood
(m. 1964; div. 1975)
Sandy Watson
(m. 1979; div. 1989)
Giannina Facio
(m. 2015)
Children Jake Scott
Luke Scott
Jordan Scott
Family Tony Scott (brother; deceased)

Sir Ridley Scott (born 30 November 1937) is an English film director and producer. Following his commercial breakthrough with the science-fiction horror film Alien (1979), further works include the neo-noir dystopian science fiction film Blade Runner, historical drama Gladiator (which won the Academy Award for Best Picture), and science fiction film The Martian.

Scott’s work has an atmospheric, highly concentrated visual style.[1][2] Though his films range widely in setting and period, they frequently showca