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Dian Fossey — When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future — Videos

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The Lost Film of Dian Fossey DOCUMENTARY (2002)

Dian’s Active Conservation | Dian Fossey: Secrets in the Mist

Dian Fossey Narrates Her Life With Gorillas in This Vintage Footage | National Geographic

Dian Fossey, Digit’s death

Mountain Gorillas’ Survival: Dian Fossey’s Legacy Lives On | Short Film Showcase

Who Killed Dian Fossey? | Dian Fossey: Secrets in the Mist

Gorillas In The Mountain Mist [Gorilla Survival Documentary] | Real Wild

Dian Fossey: Secrets in the Mist | National Geographic

Mountain Gorillas’ Survival: Dian Fossey’s Legacy Lives On | Short Film Showcase

Dina Fossey Exibit Board Project

Dian Fossey: No One Loved Gorillas More

Dian Fossey Biography and Tribute by Grace Stevens

Maybe It Wasn’t Poachers? | Dian Fossey: Secrets in the Mist

Dian Fossey’s death

New documentary reveals who they believe killed gorilla campaigner dian fossey

In loving memory of Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey’s Grave Visited by Friends in Rwanda September 4, 2017

Mountain gorilla researcher Dian Fossey died in 1985, yet nearly two years later her grave at her Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda had no headstone. Evelyn Gallardo and David Root held fundraisers in Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach California where their friends and neighbors raised $10,000 to send a bronze grave marker and to hire a anti-poaching patrol to protect the mountain gorillas Dian had devoted her life to

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International 50th Anniversary Video

The Diana Fossey Gorilla Fund

 

Dian Fossey’s Early Days

dianhistoric3244Dian Fossey was born in San Francisco, Calif., in 1932. Her parents divorced when she was young, so Dian grew up with her mother and stepfather. By all accounts, she was an excellent student and was extremely interested in animals from a very young age. At age 6, she began horseback riding lessons and in high school earned a letter on the riding team.

When Dian enrolled in college courses at Marin Junior College, she chose to focus on business, following the encouragement of her stepfather, a wealthy businessman. She worked while in school, and at age 19, on the summer break following her freshman year of college, she went to work on a ranch in Montana. At the ranch, she fell in love with and developed an attachment to the animals, but she was forced to leave early when she contracted chicken pox.

Even so, the experience convinced Dian to follow her heart and return to school as a pre-veterinary student at the University of California. She found some of the chemistry and physics courses quite challenging, and ultimately, she turned her focus to a degree in occupational therapy at San Jose State College, from which she graduated in 1954.

1948Following graduation, Dian interned at various hospitals in California, working with tuberculosis patients. After less than a year she moved to Louisville, Ky., where she was hired as director of the occupational therapy department at Kosair Crippled Children Hospital. She enjoyed working with the people of Kentucky and lived outside the city limits in a cottage on a farm where the owners encouraged her to help work with the animals.

Dian enjoyed her experience on the farm, but she dreamed of seeing more of the world and its abundant wildlife. A friend traveled to Africa and brought home pictures and stories of her exciting vacation. Once Dian saw the photos and heard the stories, she decided that she must travel there herself.

She spent many years longing to visit Africa and realized that if her dream were to be realized, she would have to take matters into her own hands. Therefore, in 1963, Dian took out a bank loan and began planning her first trip to Africa. She hired a driver by mail and prepared to set off to the land of her dreams.

Dian Fossey Tours Africa (1963)

It took Dian Fossey’s entire life savings, in addition a bank loan, to make her dream a reality. In September 1963, she arrived in Kenya. Her trip included visits to Kenya, Tanzania (then Tanganyika), Congo (then Zaire), and Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). John Alexander, a British hunter, served as her guide. The route he planned included Tsavo, Africa’s largest national park; the saline lake of Manyara, famous for attracting giant flocks of flamingos; and the Ngorongoro Crater, well-known for its abundant wildlife.

The final two sites on her tour were Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania — the archaeological site of Louis and Mary Leakey — and Mt. Mikeno in Congo, where in 1959 American zoologist Dr. George Schaller carried out a pioneering study of the mountain gorilla. Schaller was the first person to conduct a reliable field study of the mountain gorillas, and his efforts paved the way for the research that would become Dian Fossey’s life work.

A Turning Point: Dian Fossey Visits Dr. Louis Leakey

“I believe it was at this time the seed was planted in my head, even if unconsciously, that I would someday return to Africa to study the gorillas of the mountains.”  — “Gorillas in the Mist”

Dr. Louis B. LeakeyVisiting with Dr. Louis Leakey at Olduvai Gorge was an experience that Dian would later point to as a pivotal moment in her life. During their visit, Leakey talked to Dian about Jane Goodall’s work with chimpanzees in Tanzania, which at the time was only in its third year. He also shared with her his belief in the importance of long-term field studies with the great apes.

Leakey gave Dian permission to have a look around some newly excavated sites while she was at Olduvai. Unfortunately, in her excitement, she slipped down a steep slope, fell onto a recently excavated dig and broke her ankle. The impending climb that would take Dian to the mountain gorillas was at risk, but she would not be discouraged so easily. By her own account, after her fall, she was more resolved than ever to get to the gorillas.

Dian Fossey’s First Encounter with Gorillas

On Oct. 16, Dian visited the Travellers Rest, a small hotel in Uganda, close to the Virunga Mountains and their mountain gorillas. The hotel was owned by Walter Baumgartel, an advocate for gorilla conservation and among the first to see the benefits that tourism could bring to the area.

Baumgartel recommended that Dian meet with Joan and Alan Root, wildlife photographers from Kenya, who were collecting footage of the mountain gorillas for a photographic documentary. The Roots allowed Dian to camp behind their cabin and, after a few days, took her into the forest to search for gorillas. When they did come upon a group of gorillas and Dian was able to observe and photograph them, she developed a firm resolve to come back and study these beautiful creatures, As she describes in “Gorillas in the Mist”:

“It was their individuality combined with the shyness of their behavior that remained the most captivating impression of this first encounter with the greatest of the great apes. I left Kabara with reluctance but with never a doubt that I would, somehow, return to learn more about the gorillas of the misted mountains.”

Following her visit to the Virungas, Dian remained in Africa a while longer, staying with friends in Rhodesia. Upon arriving home in Kentucky, she resumed her work at Kosair Children’s Hospital, in order to repay the loan she had taken out for her trip to Africa – all the while dreaming of the day she would return.

Dian Fossey Sets Off to Study the Mountain Gorillas

As Dian Fossey continued her work in Kentucky at Kosair Children’s Hospital, she also found time to publish a number of articles and photographs from her Africa trip. These would serve her well in the spring of 1966, when a lecture tour brought Dr. Louis Leakey to Louisville. Dian joined the crowd and waited in line to speak with Leakey. When her turn came, she showed him some of the published articles.

This got his attention and during the conversation that followed, Leakey spoke to Dian about heading a long-term field project to study the gorillas in Africa. Leakey informed Dian that if she were to follow through, she would first have to have her appendix removed. Perhaps it was a sign of her strong will that she proceeded to do exactly that, only to later hear from Leakey that his suggestion was mainly his way of gauging her determination!

It was eight months before Leakey was able to secure the funding for the study. Dian used that time to finish paying off her initial trip to Africa and to study. She focused on a “Teach Yourself Swahili” grammar book and George Schaller’s books about his own field studies with the mountain gorillas. Saying goodbye to family, friends, and her beloved dogs proved difficult:

“There was no way that I could explain to dogs, friends, or parents my compelling need to return to Africa to launch a long-term study of the gorillas. Some may call it destiny and others may call it dismaying. I call the sudden turn of events in my life fortuitous.” — “Gorillas in the Mist”

Jane Goodall, Birute GaldikasIn December 1966, Dian was again on her way to Africa. She arrived in Nairobi, and with the help of Joan Root, she acquired the necessary provisions. She set off for the Congo in an old canvas-topped Land Rover named “Lily,” that Dr. Leakey had purchased for her. On the way, Dian made a stop to visit the Gombe Stream Research Centre to meet Jane Goodall and observe her research methods with chimpanzees.

Kabara: Beginnings (1966/1967)

Alan Root accompanied Dian Fossey from Kenya to the Congo and was instrumental in helping her obtain the permits she needed to work in the Virungas. He helped her recruit two African men who would stay and work with her at camp, as well as porters to carry her belongings and gear to the Kabara meadow. Root also helped her set up camp and gave her a brief introduction to gorilla tracking. It was only when he left, and after two days at Kabara that Dian realized just how alone she was. Soon, however, tracking the mountain gorillas would become her single focus, to the exclusion even of simple camp chores.

On her first day of trekking, after only a 10-minute walk, Dian was rewarded with the sight of a lone male gorilla sunning himself. The startled gorilla retreated into the vegetation as she approached, but Dian was encouraged by the encounter. Shortly thereafter, Senwekwe, an experienced gorilla tracker, who had worked with Joan and Alan Root in 1963, joined Dian, and the prospects for more sightings improved.

Slowly, Dian settled into life at Kabara. Space was limited; her 7-by-10-foot tent served as bedroom, bath, office and clothes-drying area (an effort that often seemed futile in the wet climate of the rainforest). Meals were prepared in a run-down wooden building and rarely included local fruits and vegetables, other than potatoes. Dian’s mainstay was tinned food and potatoes cooked in every way imaginable. Once a month, she would hike down the mountain to her Land Rover, “Lily,” and make the two-hour drive to the village of Kikumba to restock the pantry.

Senwekwe proved invaluable as a tracker and taught Dian much of what she came to know about tracking. With his help and considerable patience, she eventually identified three gorilla groups in her area of study along the slopes of Mt. Mikeno.

Dian Fossey Learns to Habituate the Gorillas

“The Kabara groups taught me much regarding gorilla behavior. From them I learned to accept the animals on their own terms and never to push them beyond the varying levels of tolerance they were willing to give. Any observer is an intruder in the domain of a wild animal and must remember that the rights of that animal supersede human interests.” — “Gorillas in the Mist”

highres_dianfosseyhistoric0014Initially, the gorillas would flee into the vegetation as soon as Dian approached. Observing them openly and from a distance, over time, she gained their acceptance. She put the gorillas at ease by imitating regular activities like scratching and feeding, and copying their contentment vocalizations.

Through her observations, she began to identify the individuals that made up each group. Like George Schaller before her, Dian relied heavily on the gorillas’ individual “noseprints” for purposes of identification. She sketched the gorillas and their noseprints from a distance and slowly came to recognize individuals within the three distinct groups in her study area. She learned much from their behavior and kept detailed records of their daily encounters.

Escape from Zaire

Dian Fossey worked tirelessly, every day carrying a pack weighing nearly 20 pounds (some days nearly double that) until the day she was driven from camp by the worsening political situation in Congo. On July 9, 1967, she and Senwekwe returned to camp to find armed soldiers waiting for them. There was a rebellion in the Kivu Province of Zaire and the soldiers had come to “escort” her down the mountain to safety.

She spent two weeks in Rumangabo under military guard until, on July 26, she was able to orchestrate her escape. She offered the guards cash if they would simply take her to Kisoro, Uganda, to register “Lily” properly and then bring her back. The guards could not resist and agreed to provide an escort. Once in Kisoro, Dian went straight to the Travellers Rest Hotel, where Walter Baumgärtel immediately called the Ugandan military. The soldiers from Zaire were arrested, and Dian was safe.

In Kisoro, Dian was interrogated and warned not to return to Zaire. After more questioning in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, she finally flew back to Nairobi where she met with Dr. Leakey for the first time in seven months. There they decided, against the advice of the U.S. Embassy, that Dian would continue her work on the Rwandan side of the Virungas.

Dian Fossey founds Karisoke (1967)

“More than a decade later as I now sit writing these words at camp, the same stretch of alpine meadow is visible from my desk window. The sense of exhilaration I felt when viewing the heartland of the Virungas for the first time from those distant heights is as vivid now as though it had occurred only a short time ago. I have made my home among the mountain gorillas.” — “Gorillas in the Mist”

Much of Dian Fossey’s success in the study of mountain gorillas came from the help of people she met along the way. This would prove true once again as she moved her focus to Volcanoes National Park on the Rwandan side of the Virungas. In Rwanda, Dian met a woman named Rosamond Carr, who had lived in Rwanda for some years and was familiar with the country.

Carr introduced Dian to a Belgian woman, Alyette DeMunck, who was born in the Kivu Province of Zaire and lived in the Congo from an early age, remaining there with her husband until the political situation forced them to move to Rwanda. Alyette and Dian became fast friends, and Alyette became one of Dian’s staunchest supporters in the years to come.

Alyette DeMunck knew a great deal about Rwanda, its people, and their ways. She offered to help Dian find an appropriate site for her new camp and renewed study of the mountain gorillas of the Virungas. At first, Dian was disappointed to find the slopes of Mt. Karisimbi crowded with herds of cattle and frequent signs of poachers. She was rewarded, however, after nearly two weeks, when Dian reached the alpine meadow of Karisimbi, where she had a view of the entire Virunga chain of extinct volcanoes.

KarisokeSo it was, on Sept. 24, 1967, that Dian Fossey established the Karisoke Research Center — “Kari” for the first four letters of Mt. Karisimbi that overlooked her camp from the south and “soke” for the last four letters of Mt. Visoke, the slopes of which rose to the north, directly behind camp.

“Little did I know then that by setting up two small tents in the wilderness of the Virungas I had launched the beginnings of what was to become an internationally renowned research station eventually to be utilized by students and scientists from many countries.” — “Gorillas in the Mist”

Dian Fossey’s Work at Karisoke Gets Underway

Dian faced a number of challenges while setting up camp at Karisoke. Upon the departure of her friend Alyette, she was left with no interpreter. Dian spoke Swahili and the Rwandan men she had hired spoke only Kinyarwanda. Slowly, and with the aid of hand gestures and facial expressions, they learned to communicate. A second and very significant challenge was that of gaining “acceptance” among the gorillas in the area so that meaningful research could be done in close proximity to them. This would require that the gorillas overcome their shy nature and natural fear of humans.

dianhistoric3259George Schaller’s earlier work served as a basis for the techniques Dian would use to habituate the gorillas to her presence. Schaller laid out suggestions in his book, The Mountain Gorilla, which Fossey used to guide herself through the process of successfully habituating six groups of gorillas in the Kabara region.

At Karisoke, Dian continued to rely on Schaller’s work and the guidelines he set forth. She also came to depend on the gorillas’ natural curiosity in the habituation process. While walking or standing upright increased their apprehension, she was able to get quite close when she “knuckle-walked.” She would also chew on celery when she was near the groups, to draw them even closer to her. Through this process, she partially habituated four groups of gorillas in 1968.

It was also in 1968 that the National Geographic Society sent photographer Bob Campbell to photograph her work. Initially, Dian saw his presence as an intrusion, but they would eventually become close friends. His photographs of Fossey among the mountain gorillas launched her into instant celebrity, forever changing the image of the gorillas from dangerous beasts to gentle beings and drawing attention to their plight.

Gaining Scientific Credentials

Dian Fossey never felt entirely up to the scientific aspects of studying the mountain gorillas because she did not have, in her view, adequate academic qualifications.

To rectify this, she enrolled in the department of animal behavior at Darwin College, Cambridge, in 1970. There, she studied under Dr. Robert Hinde, who had also been Jane Goodall’s supervisor. She traveled between Cambridge and Africa until 1974, when she completed her Ph.D.

Armed with the degree, she believed that she could be taken more seriously. It also enhanced her ability to continue her work, command respect, and most importantly, secure more funding.

Protecting the Gorillas

Even as Dian celebrated her daily achievements in collecting data and gaining acceptance among both the mountain gorillas and the world at large, she became increasingly aware of the threats the gorillas faced from poachers and cattle herders. Although gorillas were not usually the targets, they became ensnared in traps intended for other animals, particularly antelope or buffalo.

Dian fought both poachers and encroachment by herds of cattle through unorthodox methods: wearing masks to scare poachers, burning snares, spray-painting cattle to discourage herders from bringing them into the park, and, on occasion, taking on poachers directly, forcing confrontation.

She referred to her tactics as “active conservation,” convinced that without immediate and decisive action, other long-term conservation goals would be useless as there would eventually be nothing left to save.

These tactics were not popular among locals who were struggling to get by. Additionally, the park guards were not equipped to enforce the laws protecting the forest and its inhabitants.

As a last resort, Dian used her own funds to help purchase boots, uniforms, food and provide additional wages to encourage park wardens to be more active in enforcing anti-poaching laws. These efforts spawned the first Karisoke anti-poaching patrols, whose job was to protect the gorillas in the research area.

Dian Fossey and Digit

Digit - 1st proximal contactIn the course of her years of research, Dian established herself as a true friend of the mountain gorilla.  However, there was one gorilla with whom she formed a particularly close bond. Named Digit, he was roughly 5 years old and living in Group 4 when she encountered him in 1967. He had a damaged finger on his right hand (hence, the name) and no playmates his age in his group. He was drawn to her and her to him. Over time, a true friendship would form.

Tragically, on Dec. 31, 1977, Digit was killed by poachers. He died helping to defend his group, allowing them to escape safely. He was stabbed multiple times and his head and hands were severed. Eventually, there would be more deaths, including that of the dominant silverback Uncle Bert, and Group 4 would disband. It was then that Dian Fossey declared war on the poachers.

Digit had been part of a famous photo shoot with Bob Campbell and, as a result, had served as the official representative of the park’s mountain gorillas, appearing on posters and in travel bureaus throughout the world. After much internal debate, Dian used his celebrity and his tragic death to gain attention and support for gorilla conservation. She established the Digit Fund to raise money for her “active conservation” and anti-poaching initiatives. The Digit Fund would later be renamed the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (Fossey Fund).

Dian and DIgit

In 1980, Dian moved to Ithaca, New York, as a visiting associate professor at Cornell University. She used the time away from Karisoke to focus on the manuscript for her book, “Gorillas in the Mist.” Published in 1983, the book is an account of her years in the rainforest with the mountain gorillas. Most importantly, it underscores the need for concerted conservation efforts. The book was well received and, like the movie of the same name, remains popular to this day.

Field Museum, Chicago

Dian Fossey’s Death (1985)

Dian had not been back in Rwanda long when, a few weeks before her 54th birthday, she was murdered. Her body was found in her cabin on the morning of Dec. 27, 1985. She was struck twice on the head and face with a machete. There was evidence of forced entry but no signs that robbery had been the motive.

Dian Fossey's graveTheories about Dian Fossey’s murder are varied but have never been fully resolved. She was laid to rest in the graveyard behind her cabin at Karisoke, among her gorilla friends and next to her beloved Digit.

“When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate on the preservation of the future.” — “Gorillas in the Mist”

 

 

Continue Dian Fossey’s legacy by supporting the Fossey Fund’s gorilla protection work.

Dian Fossey Biography

The Gorilla KingMore on Dian Fossey and Her Research

It was from a small hut in Rwanda that researcher and conservationist Dian Fossey observed that while gorillas may sometimes act tough, they are really gentle giants.

Fossey is one of the most famous scientists in the world, but her path to greatness was a meandering one. While she had always been interested in animals, her bachelor’s degree was in occupational therapy. One year, after hearing stories and seeing pictures from a friend’s vacation in Africa, Fossey decided that she would visit there herself. In 1963, she gathered all of her savings and took out a three-year loan. She set a course for Africa, planning stops in Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, and Zimbabwe. She didn’t know it yet, but this trip would change her life forever.

At Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, one of the final stops on her journey, Fossey met archaeologist Louis Leakey. During the visit, Dr. Leakey told Fossey of Jane Goodall’s research with chimps, which at that point had just barely begun. They also discussed the importance of long-term research on the great apes. Fossey later said that this meeting planted the idea in her head that she would one day return to study the gorillas of Africa.

Early Research

Fossey began her long-term study of mountain gorillas in 1966, eventually establishing her “Karisoke” Research Center camp on Sept. 24, 1967, in an area between Mt. Visoke and Mt. Karisimbi, merging the names of the two volcanoes to create the name “Karisoke.”

She lived among the mountain gorillas for nearly 20 years keeping detailed journals to record everything she observed, and forging close relationships with individual gorillas as she gained their trust. She shared her thoughts and the results of her findings with the world, teaching us that gorillas are not monsters but social beings full of curiosity and affection. Her work paved the way for international support of mountain gorilla conservation and research, but her life was tragically cut short as a result of her efforts. She was found murdered in her cabin in Karisoke on December 26, 1985.

In 1988, the life and work of Fossey were portrayed in a movie based on her book. In the film Gorillas in the Mist, Sigourney Weaver starred as Fossey and later became the honorary chairperson of what is now the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

The film started a wave of curiosity about mountain gorillas and started a whole new industry of “gorilla tourism,” which has been a financial boon for conservation efforts, as well as a deterrent against poachers fearful of being discovered.

Fossey and Other Close Encounters

Dian Fossey with a gorillaDian Fossey started a process of ‘habituation’ that enabled her to work closely with the gorillas.

Just last year, in the Bwindi National Park in Uganda, a group of eight tourists quietly observed a family of mountain gorillas just a few yards away. After fifty-five minutes, a large male approached one of the tourists and gave him a big “high-five.”

“The gorilla probably approached him because he had a lot of body hair,” said Chuck Nichols, who ran the two-week gorilla tour in Uganda. Nichols owns a tour company based in Moab, Utah that specializes in small-group adventure tours around the world.

“The gorillas are not scary,” Nichols said, explaining that, actually, he has to make sure the gorillas are not the ones running scared. “A tracker must accompany the group, and people are only allowed to observe the gorillas for one hour,” he said. He also makes sure the groups are healthy since he does not want to stand the chance of passing on infectious diseases to the animals.

Sadly, these peaceful animals may not survive into the next century. Ape conservationists say time is running out, as there are only about 720 mountain gorillas left in the world, and the majority of gorilla populations are plummeting.

From the beginning, Fossey focused attention on the gorillas’ plight and saw clearly that they were doomed unless people could learn how to share forest resources with these great apes. She understood that they needed our protection if they were to survive, and gave her life in the struggle to protect them from poachers.

Like Fossey, biologists are becoming activists by necessity and are putting their lives on the line to save these great apes. In fact, conservation professionals and many national park staff have lost their lives in the course of duty because until now, their efforts have been poorly enforced. Today, ape conservation organizations, like the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) have come together to partner with Fossey’s Gorilla Fund in a last-ditch effort to unify existing conservation efforts.

In the mountains east of the Congo River Basin, human-transmitted pathogens have taken a heavy toll, and the hope is that GRASP will succeed in protecting the gorillas. Gorillas are closely related to humans and susceptible to the same diseases that we are; however, they have not developed the immunities to resist human diseases, making them vulnerable to infections that could spread and severely deplete an entire population.

Habituated gorilla groups (those that are visited by tourists) have the greatest risk, which is why tourists are not permitted to go near the gorillas if they feel sick. But, according to Melanie Virtue, a team leader for GRASP, this is hard to enforce, especially due to the amount of money that is spent to view these animals.

“You can imagine that a tourist traveling a great distance to see these animals, of which they have probably dreamed their entire lives, is going to be quite hesitant to say, ‘No, I am not feeling well and don’t want to endanger them,’” Virtue explains.

Today, the Karisoke Research Center that Fossey established is conducting a Tourism Impact Study, using both behavioral and physiological data (urine and fecal samples) to assess the impact of tourism on the Virunga mountain gorilla population.

“Almost certainly the biggest factor in the conservation success with this species has been the income they generate from gorilla tourism, so if you can afford it, going to see these amazing animals in the wild really is helping to ensure their survival,” said David Jay, senior officer of Born Free, an ape conservation organization that works with GRASP.

The future of these great apes will certainly depend on tourists’ interest in seeing these apes first-hand and that people show continued concern for their safety, according to Jay.

Fossey had the courage to follow gorillas among the steep ravines of a 14,000-foot volcano over 40 years ago, and so made it possible for all of us to follow in her footsteps.

More on Dian Fossey and Her Research

Gorillas in the Mist The Story of Dian Fossey (1988)

See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

Gorillas in the Mist • Behind the Scenes Featurette

Baby Mountain Gorilla | Gorillas Revisited with Sigourney Weaver | BBC

Destroying Snares | Gorillas Revisited with Sigourney Weaver | BBC

youtube=[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EK2yP1O2p-0]

Gorilla Manners | Gorillas Revisited with Sigourney Weaver | BBC

Sigourney Weaver Teaches Ellen How to Interact with Gorillas

Among Mountain Gorillas

Touched by a Wild Mountain Gorilla (short)

NEW – (short version) – An incredible chance encounter with a family of wild Mountain Gorillas in Uganda. Check blog.commonflat.com for more photos and background on this once in a lifetime experience.

Mountain Gorilla: A Shattered Kingdom! | Real Wild

Titus Gorilla King documentary english in HD part 1

Titus Gorilla King documentary english in HD part 2

Titus Gorilla King documentary english in HD part 3

Gorillas and Wildlife of Uganda HD

Saving Mountain Gorillas, for NTV Kenya

When Mountain Gorillas Attack

Gorillas – Kings of the jungle

Goodall, Fossey & Galdikas: Great Minds

One of “Leakey’s Angels”: Galdikas’ Quest to Save the Red Ape (Birute Galdikas)

Orangutan – Man Of The Forest HD

Orangutan National Geographic Documentary HD

Saving Baby Orangutans From Smuggling | Foreign Correspondent

Dr. Birute’ Mary Galdikas speaks at CWU

Gorilla Documentary – Gorillas: 98.6% Human | Explore Films

Heart-warming moment Damian Aspinall’s wife Victoria is accepted by wild gorillas OFFICIAL VIDEO

Dian Fossey

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Dian Fossey
Dian Fossey.jpg

Dian Fossey in November 1984
Born January 16, 1932

Died c. December 26, 1985 (aged 53)

Cause of death Murder
Resting place Karisoke Research Center
Citizenship United States
Alma mater
Known for Study and conservation of the mountain gorilla
Scientific career
Fields
Institutions
Thesis The behaviour of the mountain gorilla (1976)
Doctoral advisor Robert Hinde
Influences

Dian Fossey (/dˈæn/; January 16, 1932 – c. December 26, 1985) was an American primatologist and conservationist known for undertaking an extensive study of mountain gorilla groups from 1966 until her 1985 murder.[1] She studied them daily in the mountain forests of Rwanda, initially encouraged to work there by paleoanthropologist Louis LeakeyGorillas in the Mist, a book published two years before her death, is Fossey’s account of her scientific study of the gorillas at Karisoke Research Center and prior career. It was adapted into a 1988 film of the same name.[2]

Fossey was one of the foremost primatologists in the world, a member of the so-called “Trimates”, a group formed of prominent female scientists originally sent by Leakey to study great apes in their natural environments, along with Jane Goodall who studied chimpanzees, and Birutė Galdikas, who studied orangutans[3][4]

During her time in Rwanda, she actively supported conservation efforts, strongly opposed poaching and tourism in wildlife habitats, and made more people acknowledge sapient gorillas. Fossey and her gorillas were victims of mobbing; she was brutally murdered in her cabin at a remote camp in Rwanda in December 1985. It has been theorized that her murder was linked to her conservation efforts, probably by a poacher.

Contents

Life and career

Fossey was born in San FranciscoCalifornia, the daughter of Kathryn “Kitty” (née Kidd), a fashion model, and George E. Fossey III, an insurance agent.[2] Her parents divorced when she was six.[5] Her mother remarried the following year, to businessman Richard Price. Her father tried to keep in full contact, but her mother discouraged it, and all contact was subsequently lost.[6] Fossey’s stepfather, Richard Price, never treated her as his own child. He would not allow Fossey to sit at the dining room table with him or her mother during dinner meals.[7] A man adhering to strict discipline, Richard Price offered Fossey little to no emotional support.[8] Struggling with personal insecurity, Fossey turned to animals as a way to gain acceptance.[9] Her love for animals began with her first pet goldfish and continued throughout her entire life.[7] At age six, she began riding horses, earning a letter from her school; by her graduation in 1954, Fossey had established herself as an equestrienne.

Education

Educated at Lowell High School, following the guidance of her stepfather she enrolled in a business course at the College of Marin. However, spending her summer on a ranch in Montana at age 19 rekindled her love of animals, and she enrolled in a pre-veterinary course in biology at the University of California, Davis. In defiance to her stepfather’s wishes that she attend a business school, Dian wanted to spend her professional life working with animals. As a consequence, Dian’s parents failed to give her any substantial amount of financial support throughout her adult life.[7] She supported herself by working as a clerk at White Front (a department store), doing other clerking and laboratory work, and laboring as a machinist in a factory.

Although Fossey had always been an exemplary student, she had difficulties with basic sciences including chemistry and physics, and failed her second year of the program. She transferred to San Jose State College, where she became a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, to study occupational therapy, receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1954.[10] Initially following her college major, Fossey began a career in occupational therapy. She interned at various hospitals in California and worked with tuberculosis patients.[11] Fossey was originally a prizewinning equestrian, which drew her to Kentucky in 1955, and a year later took a job as an occupational therapist at the Kosair Crippled Children’s Hospital in Louisville.[12]

Her shy and reserved personality allowed her to work well with the children at the hospital.[13] Fossey became close with her coworker Mary White “Gaynee” Henry, secretary to the hospital’s chief administrator and the wife of one of the doctors, Michael J. Henry. The Henrys invited Fossey to join them on their family farm, where she worked with livestock on a daily basis and also experienced an inclusive family atmosphere that had been missing for most of her life.[6][14] During her free time she would pursue her love of horses.[15]

Interest in Africa

Fossey turned down an offer to join the Henrys on an African tour due to lack of finances,[6] but in 1963 she borrowed $8,000 (one year’s salary), took out her life savings[16] and went on a seven-week visit to Africa.[5] In September 1963, she arrived in NairobiKenya.[11] While there, she met actor William Holden, owner of Treetops Hotel,[5] who introduced her to her safari guide, John Alexander.[5] Alexander became her guide for the next seven weeks through Kenya, TanzaniaDemocratic Republic of Congo, and Rhodesia. Alexander’s route included visits to Tsavo, Africa’s largest national park; the saline lake of Manyara, famous for attracting giant flocks of flamingos; and the Ngorongoro Crater, well known for its abundant wildlife.[11] The final two sites for her visit were Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania (the archeological site of Louis and Mary Leakey); and Mt. Mikeno in Congo, where in 1959, American zoologist George Schaller had carried out a yearlong pioneering study of the mountain gorilla. At Olduvai Gorge, Fossey met the Leakeys while they were examining the area for hominid fossils. Leakey talked to Fossey about the work of Jane Goodall and the importance of long-term research of the great apes.[11]

Although Fossey had broken her ankle while visiting the Leakeys,[11] by October 16, she was staying in Walter Baumgartel’s small hotel in Uganda, the Travellers Rest. Baumgartel, an advocate of gorilla conservation, was among the first to see the benefits that tourism could bring to the area, and he introduced Fossey to Kenyan wildlife photographers Joan and Alan Root. The couple agreed to allow Fossey and Alexander to camp behind their own camp, and it was during these few days that Fossey first encountered wild mountain gorillas.[11] After staying with friends in Rhodesia, Fossey returned home to Louisville to repay her loans. She published three articles in The Courier-Journal newspaper, detailing her visit to Africa.[5][11]

Research in the Congo

Gorilla mother with cub in Virunga National Park in the Congo

When Leakey made an appearance in Louisville while on a nationwide lecture tour, Fossey took the color supplements that had appeared about her African trip in The Courier-Journal to show to Leakey, who remembered her and her interest in mountain gorillas. Three years after the original safari, Leakey suggested that Fossey could undertake a long-term study of the gorillas in the same manner as Jane Goodall had with chimpanzees in Tanzania.[7] Leakey lined up funding for Fossey to research mountain gorillas, and Fossey left her job to relocate to Africa.[17]

After studying Swahili and auditing a class on primatology during the eight months it took to get her visa and funding, Fossey arrived in Nairobi in December 1966. With the help of Joan Root and Leakey, Fossey acquired the necessary provisions and an old canvas-topped Land Rover which she named “Lily”. On the way to the Congo, Fossey visited the Gombe Stream Research Centre to meet Goodall and observe her research methods with chimpanzees.[11] Accompanied by photographer Alan Root, who helped her obtain work permits for the Virunga Mountains, Fossey began her field study at Kabara, in the Congo in early 1967, in the same meadow where Schaller had made his camp seven years earlier.[18] Root taught her basic gorilla tracking, and his tracker Sanwekwe later helped in Fossey’s camp. Living in tents on mainly tinned produce, once a month Fossey would hike down the mountain to “Lily” and make the two-hour drive to the village of Kikumba to restock.[11]

Fossey identified three distinct groups in her study area, but could not get close to them. She eventually found that mimicking their actions and making grunting sounds assured them, together with submissive behavior and eating of the local celery plant.[18] She later attributed her success with habituating gorillas to her experience working as an occupational therapist with autistic children.[7] Like George Schaller, Fossey relied greatly on individual “noseprints” for identification, initially via sketching and later by camera.[11]

Fossey had arrived in the Congo in locally turbulent times. Known as the Belgian Congo until its independence in June 1960, unrest and rebellion plagued the new government until 1965, when Lieutenant General Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, by then commander-in-chief of the national army, seized control of the country and declared himself president for five years during what is now called the Congo Crisis. During the political upheaval, a rebellion and battles took place in the Kivu Province. On July 9, 1967, soldiers arrived at the camp to escort Fossey and her research workers down, and she was interred at Rumangabo for two weeks. Fossey eventually escaped through bribery to Walter Baumgärtel’s Travellers Rest Hotel in Kisoro, where her escort was arrested by the Ugandan military.[11][19] Advised by the Ugandan authorities not to return to Congo, after meeting Leakey in Nairobi, Fossey agreed with him against US Embassy advice to restart her study on the Rwandan side of the Virungas.[11] In Rwanda, Fossey had met local American expatriate Rosamond Carr, who introduced her to Belgian local Alyette DeMunck; DeMunck had a local’s knowledge of Rwanda and offered to find Fossey a suitable site for study.[11]

Conservation work in Rwanda

Fossey established her research camp on the foothills of Mount Bisoke.

On September 24, 1967, Fossey founded the Karisoke Research Center, a remote rainforest camp nestled in Ruhengeri province in the saddle of two volcanoes. For the research center’s name, Fossey used “Kari” for the first four letters of Mount Karisimbi that overlooked her camp from the south, and “soke” for the last four letters of Mount Bisoke, the slopes of which rose to the north, directly behind camp.[11] Established 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) up Mount Bisoke, the defined study area covered 25 square kilometres (9.7 sq mi).[20] She became known by locals as Nyirmachabelli, or Nyiramacibiri, roughly translated as “The woman who lives alone on the mountain.”[21]

Unlike the gorillas from the Congo side of the Virungas, the Karisoke area gorillas had never been partially habituated by Schaller’s study; they knew humans only as poachers, and it took longer for Fossey to be able to study the Karisoke gorillas at a close distance.[22]

Many research students left after not being able to handle the cold, dark, and extremely muddy conditions around Karisoke on the slopes of the Virunga Volcanoes, where paths usually had to be cut through six-foot-tall grass with a machete.[23]

Opposition to poaching

While hunting had been illegal in the national park of the Virunga Volcanoes in Rwanda since the 1920s, the law was rarely enforced by park conservators, who were often bribed by poachers and paid a salary less than Fossey’s own African staff.[7] On three occasions, Fossey wrote that she witnessed the aftermath of the capture of infant gorillas at the behest of the park conservators for zoos; since gorillas will fight to the death to protect their young, the kidnappings would often result in up to 10 adult gorillas’ deaths.[7] Through the Digit Fund, Fossey financed patrols to destroy poachers’ traps in the Karisoke study area. In four months in 1979, the Fossey patrol consisting of four African staffers destroyed 987 poachers’ traps in the research area’s vicinity.[24] The official Rwandan national park guards, consisting of 24 staffers, did not eradicate any poachers’ traps during the same period.[24] In the eastern portion of the park not patrolled by Fossey, poachers virtually eradicated all the park’s elephants for ivory and killed more than a dozen gorillas.[24]

Fossey helped in the arrest of several poachers, some of whom served or are serving long prison sentences.[25]

In 1978, Fossey attempted to prevent the export of two young gorillas, Coco and Pucker, from Rwanda to the zoo in Cologne, Germany. During the capture of the infants at the behest of the Cologne Zoo and Rwandan park conservator, 20 adult gorillas had been killed.[26] The infant gorillas were given to Fossey by the park conservator of the Virunga Volcanoes for treatment of injuries suffered during their capture and captivity. With considerable effort, she restored them to some approximation of health. Over Fossey’s objections, the gorillas were shipped to Cologne, where they lived nine years in captivity, both dying in the same month.[7] She viewed the holding of animals in “prison” (zoos) for the entertainment of people as unethical.[27]

While gorillas from rival gang groups on the mountains that were not part of Fossey’s study had often been found poached five to ten at a time, and had spurred Fossey to conduct her own anti-poaching patrols, Fossey’s study groups had not been direct victims of poaching until Fossey’s favorite gorilla Digit was killed in 1978. Later that year, the silverback of Digit’s Group 4, named for Fossey’s Uncle Bert, was shot in the heart while trying to save his son, Kweli, from being seized by poachers cooperating with the Rwandan park conservator.[28] Kweli’s mother, Macho, was also killed in the raid, but Kweli was not captured due to Uncle Bert’s intervention; however, three-year-old Kweli died slowly and painfully of gangrene, from being brushed by a poacher’s bullet.[27][28]

According to Fossey’s letters, ORTPN (the Rwandan national park system), the World Wildlife FundAfrican Wildlife Foundation, Fauna Preservation Society, the Mountain Gorilla Project and some of her former students tried to wrest control of the Karisoke research center from her for the purpose of tourism, by portraying her as unstable. In her last two years, Fossey claims not to have lost any gorillas to poachers; however, the Mountain Gorilla Project, which was supposed to patrol the Mount Sabyinyo area, tried to cover up gorilla deaths caused by poaching and diseases transmitted through tourists. Nevertheless, these organizations received most of the public donations directed toward gorilla conservation.[7] The public often believed their money would go to Fossey, who was struggling to finance her anti-poaching and bushmeat hunting patrols, while organizations collecting in her name put it into tourism projects and as she put it “to pay the airfare of so-called conservationists who will never go on anti-poaching patrols in their life.” Fossey described the differing two philosophies as her own “active conservation” or the international conservation groups’ “theoretical conservation.”[25]

Opposition to tourism

Fossey strongly opposed wildlife tourism, as gorillas are very susceptible to human anthroponotic diseases like influenza for which they have no immunity. Fossey reported several cases in which gorillas died because of diseases spread by tourists. She also viewed tourism as an interference into their natural wild behavior.[7] Fossey also criticized tourist programs, often paid for by international conservation organizations, for interfering with both her research and the peace of the mountain gorillas’ habitat, and was concerned Jane Goodall, who actually joined a chimpanzee society as a member, was inappropriately changing her study subjects’ behavior.[25]

Today, however, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International promotes tourism, which they say helps to create a stable and sustainable local community dedicated to protecting the gorillas and their habitat.[29]

Preservation of habitat

Fossey is responsible for the revision of a European Community project that converted parkland into pyrethrum farms. Thanks to her efforts, the park boundary was lowered from the 3,000-meter line to the 2,500-meter line.[7]

Digit Fund

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International in Rwanda

Sometime during the day on New Year’s Eve 1977, Fossey’s favorite gorilla, Digit, was killed by poachers. As the sentry of study group 4, he defended the group against six poachers and their dogs, who ran across the gorilla study group while checking antelope traplines. Digit took five spear wounds in ferocious self-defence and managed to kill one of the poachers’ dogs, allowing the other 13 members of his group to escape.[30] Poachers sell gorilla hands as delicacies, magic charms or to make ash trays.[31] Digit was decapitated, and his hands cut off for ashtrays, for the price of $20.[citation needed] After his mutilated body was discovered by research assistant Ian Redmond, Fossey’s group captured one of the killers. He revealed the names of his five accomplices, three of whom were later imprisoned.[32]

Fossey subsequently created the Digit Fund (now the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International in the US)[33] to raise money for anti-poaching patrols.[27] In addition, a consortium of international gorilla funds arose to accept donations in light of Digit’s death and increased attention on poaching.[28] Fossey mostly opposed the efforts of the international organizations, which she felt inefficiently directed their funds towards more equipment for Rwandan park officials, some of whom were alleged to have ordered some of the gorilla poachings in the first place.[28]

The deaths of some of her most studied gorillas caused Fossey to devote more of her attention to preventing poaching and less on scientific publishing and research.[28] Fossey became more intense in protecting the gorillas and began to employ more direct tactics: she and her staff cut animal traps almost as soon as they were set; frightened, captured and humiliated the poachers; held their cattle for ransom; burned their hunting camps and even mats from their houses.[5][better source needed]

Personal life

During her African safari, Fossey met Alexie Forrester, the brother of a Rhodesian she had been dating in Louisville; Fossey and Forrester later became engaged. In her later years, Fossey became involved with National Geographic photographer Bob Campbell after a year of working together at Karisoke, with Campbell promising to leave his wife.[5] Eventually the pair grew apart through her dedication to the gorillas and Karisoke, along with his need to work further afield and on his marriage. In 1970, studying for her Ph.D. at Darwin CollegeUniversity of Cambridge, she discovered she was pregnant and had an abortion, later commenting that “you can’t be a cover girl for National Geographic magazine and be pregnant.” She graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology in 1976.[5][failed verification] Fossey had other relationships throughout the years and always had a love for children.[4] Since Fossey would rescue any abused or abandoned animal she saw in Africa or near Karisoke, she acquired a menagerie in the camp, including a monkey who lived in her cabin, Kima, and a dog, Cindy. Fossey held Christmas parties every year for her researchers, staffers, and their families, and she developed a genuine friendship with Jane Goodall.[34]

Fossey had been plagued by lung problems from an early age and, later in her life, suffered from advanced emphysema brought on by years of heavy cigarette smoking.[35][36] As the debilitating disease progressed—further aggravated by the high mountain altitude and damp climate—Fossey found it increasingly difficult to conduct field research, frequently suffering from shortness of breath and requiring the help of an oxygen tank when climbing or hiking long distances.[37]

Death

In the early morning of December 27, 1985, Fossey was discovered murdered in the bedroom of her cabin located at the far edge of the camp in the Virunga MountainsRwanda.[38] Her body was found face-up near the two beds where she slept, roughly 7 feet (2 m) away from a hole that her assailant(s) had apparently cut in the wall of the cabin. Wayne Richard McGuire, Fossey’s last research assistant at Karisoke, was summoned to the scene by Fossey’s house servant and found her bludgeoned to death, reporting that “when I reached down to check her vital signs, I saw her face had been split, diagonally, with one machete blow.”[38] The cabin was littered with broken glass and overturned furniture, with a 9-mm handgun and ammunition beside her on the floor.[38] Robbery was not believed to be the motive for the crime, as Fossey’s valuables were still in the cabin, including her passport, handguns, and thousands of dollars in U.S. bills and traveler’s checks.[38][39]

The last entry in her diary read:[40]

When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future.

Fossey’s grave at Karisoke, alongside those of her gorilla friends

Fossey is buried at Karisoke,[41][42] in a site that she herself had constructed for her deceased gorilla friends. She was buried in the gorilla graveyard next to Digit, and near many gorillas killed by poachers. Memorial services were also held in New York, Washington, and California.[43]

A will purporting to be Fossey’s bequeathed all of her estate (including the proceeds from the film Gorillas in the Mist) to the Digit Fund to underwrite anti-poaching patrols. Fossey did not mention her family in the will, which was unsigned. Her mother, Hazel Fossey Price, challenged the will and was successful.[7] Supreme Court Justice Swartwood threw out the will and awarded the estate to her mother, including about $4.9 million in royalties from a recent book and upcoming movie, stating that the document “was simply a draft of her purported will and not a will at all.” Price said she was working on a project to preserve the work her daughter had done for the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, located in eastern central Africa south of Uganda.[44]

Aftermath

After Fossey’s death, her entire staff were arrested. This included Rwandan Emmanuel Rwelekana, a tracker who had been fired from his job after he allegedly tried to kill Fossey with a machete, according to the government’s account of McGuire’s trial. All were later released except Rwelekana, who was later found dead in prison, supposedly having hanged himself.[7][45]

Rwandan courts later tried and convicted Wayne McGuire in absentia for her murder. The alleged motive was that McGuire murdered Fossey in order to steal the manuscript of the sequel to her 1983 book, Gorillas in the Mist. At the trial investigators said McGuire was not happy with his own research and wanted to use “any dishonest means possible” to complete his work. McGuire had returned to the United States in July 1987,[45] and because no extradition treaty exists between the U.S. and Rwanda, McGuire, whose guilt is still widely questioned, has not served his sentence.[7]

Following his return to the U.S., McGuire gave a brief statement at a news conference in Century City, Los Angeles, saying Fossey had been his “friend and mentor”, calling her death “tragic” and the charges “outrageous”.[46] Thereafter, McGuire was largely absent from public notice until 2005, when news broke that he had been accepted for a job with the Health and Human Services division of the State of Nebraska. The job offer was revoked upon discovery of his relation to the Fossey case.[47]

Several subsequent books, including Farley Mowat‘s biography of Fossey, Woman in the Mists (New York, NY: Warner Books, 1987), have suggested alternative theories regarding her murder including intimations that she may have been killed by financial interests linked to tourism or illicit trade.

Controversy

Fossey was reported to have captured and held Rwandans whom she suspected of poaching. She allegedly beat a poacher’s testicles with stinging nettles.[48] She also kidnapped a local child for a time.[49] After her murder, Fossey’s National Geographic editor, Mary Smith, told Shlachter that on visits to the United States, Fossey would “load up on firecrackers, cheap toys and magic tricks as part of her method to mystify the (Africans) hold them at bay.”[50]

Writing in The Wall Street Journal in 2002, the journalist Tunku Varadarajan described Fossey at the end of her life as colorful, controversial, and “a racist alcoholic who regarded her gorillas as better than the African people who lived around them”.[5][51]

Scientific achievements 

Fossey made discoveries about gorillas including how females transfer from group to group over the decades, gorilla vocalization, hierarchies and social relationships among groups, rare infanticide, gorilla diet, and how gorillas recycle nutrients.[52] Fossey’s research was funded by the Wilkie Foundation and the Leakey Home, with primary funding from the National Geographic Society.[53]

By 1980, Fossey, who had obtained her PhD at Cambridge University in the UK, was recognized as the world’s leading authority on the physiology and behavior of mountain gorillas, defining gorillas as being “dignified, highly social, gentle giants, with individual personalities, and strong family relationships.”[6] Fossey lectured as professor at Cornell University in 1981–83. Her bestselling book Gorillas in the Mist was praised by Nikolaas Tinbergen, the Dutch ethologist and ornithologist who won the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Her book remains the best-selling book about gorillas.[7]

Legacy

After her death, Fossey’s Digit Fund in the US was renamed the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.[54] The Karisoke Research Center is operated by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, and continues the daily gorilla monitoring and protection that she started.

Shirley McGreal, a friend of Fossey,[55] continues to work for the protection of primates through the work of her International Primate Protection League (IPPL) one of the few wildlife organizations that according to Fossey effectively promotes “active conservation”.

Between Fossey’s death and the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Karisoke was directed by former students, some of whom had opposed her.[7] During the genocide and subsequent period of insecurity, the camp was completely looted and destroyed. Today only remnants are left of her cabin. During the civil war, the Virunga National Park was filled with refugees, and illegal logging destroyed vast areas.

In 2014, the 82nd anniversary of Fossey’s birth was marked by a Google Doodle appearing on its search homepage worldwide.[56] The doodle depicted a group of mountain gorillas, with one touching Dian Fossey’s hair while she made notes in a journal.[57]

Biographies

Mowat’s Virunga (1987), whose British and U.S. editions are called Woman in the Mists: The Story of Dian Fossey and the Mountain Gorillas of Africa, was the first book-length biography of Fossey, and it serves as an insightful counterweight to the many omissions in Fossey’s own story, being derived from Fossey’s actual letters and entries in her journals. Harold Hayes‘s book The Dark Romance of Dian Fossey was published in 1989 after extensive interviews with people who lived and worked with Fossey. Haye’s book shows Fossey in a less positive or romanticized light than previous accounts had done. The film Gorillas in the Mist was based on Hayes’ 1987 article in Life magazine, as cited in the film’s credits, instead of Fossey’s self-edited autobiography by that title.

No One Loved Gorillas More (2005) was written by Camilla de la Bedoyere and published by National Geographic in the United States and Palazzo Editions in the United KingdomGorilla Dreams: The Legacy of Dian Fossey was written by the investigative journalist Georgianne Nienaber and published in 2006. This account of Fossey’s story is told as if in her own words from beyond the grave. Fossey is also prominently featured in a book by Vanity Fair journalist Alex Shoumatoff called African Madness, in which the author expands on Fossey’s controversial behaviors, implying that Fossey provoked her own murder by way of her private and public inflammatory interactions with people. The author also wrote a lengthy article titled “The Fatal Obsession of Dian Fossey”.[58]

A Forest in the Clouds: My Year among the Mountain Gorillas in the Remote Enclave of Dian Fossey, by John Fowler, is a first-person account from inside Dian Fossey’s camp. The author gives a candid and vivid portrait of Fossey’s mercurial personality, her ill treatment of staff and research students, and her alcohol-fueled tirades. The book also shows the daily workings of camp, Fossey’s dependence on her students and the movement to remove her from Karisoke years before her brutal murder.[59]

In media

The Kentucky Opera Visions Program, in Louisville, has written an opera about Fossey, entitled Nyiramachabelli; it premiered on May 23, 2006.

Universal Studios bought the film rights to Gorillas in the Mist from Fossey in 1985, and Warner Bros. Studios bought the rights to the Hayes article, despite its having been severely criticized by Rosamond Carr. As a result of a legal battle between the two studios, a co-production was arranged. Portions of the story and the Hayes article were adapted for the film Gorillas in the Mist, starring Sigourney WeaverBryan Brown, and John Omirah Miluwi. The book covers Fossey’s scientific career in great detail and omits material on her personal life, such as her affair with photographer Bob Campbell. In the film, the affair with Campbell (played by Bryan Brown) forms a major subplot. The Hayes article preceding the movie portrayed Fossey as a woman obsessed with gorillas, who would stop at nothing to protect them. The film includes scenes of Fossey’s ruthless dealings with poachers, including a scene in which she sets fire to a poacher’s home.

In the 2011 BBC documentary All Watched Over by Machines of Loving GraceAdam Curtis uses Fossey as a symbol of the ideology of ecology, a balance of nature and western post-colonial political exploits in Africa.

In December 2017, Dian Fossey: Secrets in the Mist, a three-hour series, aired on the National Geographic Channel, The series tells the story of Fossey’s life, work, murder and legacy, using archive footage and still images, interviews with people who knew and worked with her, specially shot footage and reconstruction.[60]

Selected bibliography

Books

Scholarly articles

  • —— (Summer 1982). “An amiable giant: Fuertes’s gorilla”. The Living Bird: 21–22. ISSN0459-6137OCLC1783015.
  • —— (1982). “Mountain gorilla research, 1974”. Research Reports – National Geographic Society. Washington, DC. 14: 243–258. ISSN0077-4626OCLC1586425.
  • —— (1980). “Mountain gorilla research, 1971–1972”. Projects. Research Reports – National Geographic Society 1971. Washington, DC. 12: 237–255. ISSN0077-4626OCLC1586425.
  • —— (1978). “Mountain gorilla research, 1969–1970”. Projects. Research Reports – National Geographic Society 1969. Washington, DC. 11: 173–176. ISSN0077-4626OCLC1586425.
  • —— (1976). The Behaviour of the Mountain Gorilla (Thesis). University of Cambridge. OCLC60364345500444186.
  • closed access —— (August 1974). “Observations on the home range of one group of mountain gorillas (Gorilla gorilla beringel)”. Animal Behaviour22 (3): 568–581. doi:10.1016/S0003-3472(74)80002-3ISSN0003-3472OCLC191252756.
  • closed access —— (March 1972). “Vocalizations of the mountain Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla beringei)”. Animal Behaviour20 (1): 36–53. doi:10.1016/S0003-3472(72)80171-4ISSN0003-3472OCLC191252756.

References …

Sources

External links

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

Gorilla

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Gorillas[1]
Male gorilla in SF zoo.jpg
Western gorilla
(Gorilla gorilla)
Scientific classificatione
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Family: Hominidae
Subfamily: Homininae
Tribe: Gorillini
Genus: Gorilla
I. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1852
Type species
Troglodytes gorilla

Savage, 1847
Species
Gorilla gorilla
Gorilla beringei
Distibución gorilla.png
Distribution of gorillas
Synonyms
  • Pseudogorilla Elliot, 1913

Gorillas are ground-dwelling, predominantly herbivorous apes that inhabit the forests of central Sub-Saharan Africa. The genus Gorilla is divided into two species: the eastern gorillas and the western gorillas (both critically endangered), and either four or five subspecies. They are the largest living primates. The DNA of gorillas is highly similar to that of humans, from 95 to 99% depending on what is included, and they are the next closest living relatives to humans after the chimpanzees and bonobos.

Gorillas’ natural habitats cover tropical or subtropical forests in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although their range covers a small percentage of Sub-Saharan Africa, gorillas cover a wide range of elevations. The mountain gorilla inhabits the Albertine Rift montane cloud forests of the Virunga Volcanoes, ranging in altitude from 2,200 to 4,300 metres (7,200 to 14,100 ft). Lowland gorillas live in dense forests and lowland swamps and marshes as low as sea level, with western lowland gorillas living in Central West African countries and eastern lowland gorillas living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo near its border with Rwanda.[2]

Contents

Etymology

The word “gorilla” comes from the history of Hanno the Navigator, (c. 500 BC) a Carthaginian explorer on an expedition on the west African coast to the area that later became Sierra Leone.[3][4] Members of the expedition encountered “savage people, the greater part of whom were women, whose bodies were hairy, and whom our interpreters called Gorillae”.[5][6] The word was then later used as the species name, though it is unknown whether what these ancient Carthaginians encountered were truly gorillas, another species of ape or monkeys, or humans.[7]

The American physician and missionary Thomas Staughton Savage and naturalist Jeffries Wyman first described the western gorilla (they called it Troglodytes gorilla) in 1847 from specimens obtained in Liberia.[8] The name was derived from Ancient Greek Γόριλλαι (gorillai), meaning ‘tribe of hairy women’,[9] described by Hanno.

Evolution and classification

The closest relatives of gorillas are the other two Homininae genera, chimpanzees and humans, all of them having diverged from a common ancestor about 7 million years ago.[10] Human gene sequences differ only 1.6% on average from the sequences of corresponding gorilla genes, but there is further difference in how many copies each gene has.[11] Until recently, gorillas were considered to be a single species, with three subspecies: the western lowland gorilla, the eastern lowland gorilla and the mountain gorilla.[7][12] There is now agreement that there are two species, each with two subspecies. More recently, a third subspecies has been claimed to exist in one of the species. The separate species and subspecies developed from a single type of gorilla during the Ice Age, when their forest habitats shrank and became isolated from each other.[2]

Primatologists continue to explore the relationships between various gorilla populations.[7] The species and subspecies listed here are the ones upon which most scientists agree.[citation needed]

Taxonomy of genus Gorilla[1] Phylogeny of superfamily Hominoidea[13](Fig. 4)
 Hominoidea
humans (genus Homo)
chimpanzees (genus Pan)
gorillas (genus Gorilla)
orangutans (genus Pongo)
gibbons (family Hylobatidae)

The proposed third subspecies of Gorilla beringei, which has not yet received a trinomen, is the Bwindi population of the mountain gorilla, sometimes called the Bwindi gorilla.

Some variations that distinguish the classifications of gorilla include varying density, size, hair colour, length, culture, and facial widths.[2] Population genetics of the lowland gorillas suggest that the western and eastern lowland populations diverged ~261 thousand years ago.[14]

Physical characteristics

Male gorilla skull

Gorillas move around by knuckle-walking, although they sometimes walk bipedally for short distances while carrying food or in defensive situations,[15] and some Mountain Gorillas use other parts of their hand to aid locomotion (studies of 77 Mountain Gorillas published in 2018 showed 61% only used knuckle walking, but the remainder used knuckle walking plus other parts of their hand—fist walking in ways that do not use the knuckles, using the backs of their hand, and using their palms).[16] Wild male gorillas weigh 136 to 195 kg (300 to 430 lb), while adult females usually weigh about half as much as adult males at 68–113 kg (150–250 lb).

Western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) and Eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei)

Adult males are 1.4 to 1.8 m (4 ft 7 in to 5 ft 11 in) tall, with an arm span that stretches from 2.3 to 2.6 m (7 ft 7 in to 8 ft 6 in). Female gorillas are shorter at 1.25 to 1.5 m (4 ft 1 in to 4 ft 11 in), with smaller arm spans.[17][18][19][20][21] Groves (1970) calculates that average weight of the 47 wild adult male gorillas is 143 kg, while Smith and Jungers(1997) found that the average weight of the 19 wild adult male gorillas is 169 kg.[22] Adult male gorillas are known as silverbacks due to the characteristic silver hair on their backs reaching to the hips. The tallest gorilla recorded was a 1.95 m (6 ft 5 in) silverback with an arm span of 2.7 m (8 ft 10 in), a chest of 1.98 m (6 ft 6 in), and a weight of 219 kg (483 lb), shot in Alimbongo, northern Kivu in May 1938.[21] The heaviest gorilla recorded was a 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in) silverback shot in AmbamCameroon, which weighed 267 kg (589 lb).[21] Males in captivity are noted to be capable of reaching weights up to 310 kg (683 lb).[21] Gorilla facial structure is described as mandibular prognathism, that is, the mandible protrudes farther out than the maxilla. Adult males also have a prominent sagittal crest.

The eastern gorilla is more darkly coloured than the western gorilla, with the mountain gorilla being the darkest of all. The mountain gorilla also has the thickest hair. The western lowland gorilla can be brown or grayish with a reddish forehead. In addition, gorillas that live in lowland forests are more slender and agile than the more bulky mountain gorillas. The eastern gorilla also has a longer face and broader chest than the western gorilla.[23]

Studies have shown gorilla blood is not reactive to anti-A and anti-B monoclonal antibodies, which would, in humans, indicate type O blood. Due to novel sequences, though, it is different enough to not conform with the human ABO blood group system, into which the other great apes fit.[24] Like humans, gorillas have individual fingerprints.[25][26] Their eye colour is dark brown, framed by a black ring around the iris.

Distribution and habitat

Young gorilla climbing

Gorillas have a patchy distribution. The range of the two species is separated by the Congo River and its tributaries. The western gorilla lives in west central Africa, while the eastern gorilla lives in east central Africa. Between the species, and even within the species, gorillas live in a variety of habitats and elevations. Gorilla habitat ranges from montane forests to swamps. Eastern gorillas inhabit montane and submontane forests between 650 and 4,000 m (2,130 and 13,120 ft) above sea level.[27] Mountain gorillas live in the montane forests at the higher ends of the elevation range, while eastern lowland gorillas live in submontane forests at the lower ends of the elevation range. In addition, eastern lowland gorillas live in montane bamboo forests, as well as lowland forests ranging from 600–3,308 m (1,969–10,853 ft) in elevation.[28] Western gorillas live in both lowland swamp forests and montane forests, and elevations ranging from sea level to 1,600 m (5,200 ft).[27] Western lowland gorillas live in swamp and lowland forests ranging up to 1,600 m (5,200 ft), and Cross River gorillas live in low-lying and submontane forests ranging from 150–1,600 m (490–5,250 ft).

Nesting

Gorilla night nest constructed in a tree

Gorillas construct nests for daytime and night use. Nests tend to be simple aggregations of branches and leaves about 2 to 5 ft (0.61 to 1.52 m) in diameter and are constructed by individuals. Gorillas, unlike chimpanzees or orangutans, tend to sleep in nests on the ground. The young nest with their mothers, but construct nests after three years of age, initially close to those of their mothers.[29] Gorilla nests are distributed arbitrarily and use of tree species for site and construction appears to be opportunistic.[30] Nest-building by great apes is now considered to be not just animal architecture, but as an important instance of tool use.[30]

Food and foraging

A gorilla’s day is divided between rest periods and travel or feeding periods. Diets differ between and within species. Mountain gorillas mostly eat foliage, such as leaves, stems, pith, and shoots, while fruit makes up a very small part of their diets.[31] Mountain gorilla food is widely distributed and neither individuals nor groups have to compete with one another. Their home ranges vary from 3 to 15 km2 (1.16 to 5.79 mi2), and their movements range around 500 m (0.31 mi) or less on an average day.[31] Despite eating a few species in each habitat, mountain gorillas have flexible diets and can live in a variety of habitats.[31]

Gorillas moving in habitat

Gorilla foraging

Eastern lowland gorillas have more diverse diets, which vary seasonally. Leaves and pith are commonly eaten, but fruits can make up as much as 25% of their diets. Since fruit is less available, lowland gorillas must travel farther each day, and their home ranges vary from 2.7–6.5 km2 (1.04 to 2.51 mi2), with day ranges 154–2,280 m (0.096–1.417 mi). Eastern lowland gorillas will also eat insects, preferably ants.[32] Western lowland gorillas depend on fruits more than the others and they are more dispersed across their range.[33] They travel even farther than the other gorilla subspecies, at 1,105 m (0.687 mi) per day on average, and have larger home ranges of 7–14 km2 (2.70–5.41 mi2).[33] Western lowland gorillas have less access to terrestrial herbs, although they can access aquatic herbs in some areas. Termites and ants are also eaten.

Gorillas rarely drink water “because they consume succulent vegetation that is comprised of almost half water as well as morning dew”,[34] although both mountain and lowland gorillas have been observed drinking.

Behaviour

Social structure

File:Mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) and his family.webm

Mountain gorilla family

Gorillas live in groups called troops. Troops tend to be made of one adult male or silverback, multiple adult females and their offspring.[35][36][37] However, multiple-male troops also exist.[36] A silverback is typically more than 12 years of age, and is named for the distinctive patch of silver hair on his back, which comes with maturity. Silverbacks also have large canine teeth that also come with maturity. Both males and females tend to emigrate from their natal groups. For mountain gorillas, females disperse from their natal troops more than males.[35][38] Mountain gorillas and western lowland gorillas also commonly transfer to second new groups.[35]

Mature males also tend to leave their groups and establish their own troops by attracting emigrating females. However, male mountain gorillas sometimes stay in their natal troops and become subordinate to the silverback. If the silverback dies, these males may be able to become dominant or mate with the females. This behaviour has not been observed in eastern lowland gorillas. In a single male group, when the silverback dies, the females and their offspring disperse and find a new troop.[38][39] Without a silverback to protect them, the infants will likely fall victim to infanticide. Joining a new group is likely to be a tactic against this.[38][40] However, while gorilla troops usually disband after the silverback dies, female eastern lowlands gorillas and their offspring have been recorded staying together until a new silverback transfers into the group. This likely serves as protection from leopards.[39]

Silverback gorilla

The silverback is the center of the troop’s attention, making all the decisions, mediating conflicts, determining the movements of the group, leading the others to feeding sites, and taking responsibility for the safety and well-being of the troop. Younger males subordinate to the silverback, known as blackbacks, may serve as backup protection. Blackbacks are aged between 8 and 12 years[37] and lack the silver back hair. The bond that a silverback has with his females forms the core of gorilla social life. Bonds between them are maintained by grooming and staying close together.[41] Females form strong relationships with males to gain mating opportunities and protection from predators and infanticidal outside males.[42] However, aggressive behaviours between males and females do occur, but rarely lead to serious injury. Relationships between females may vary. Maternally related females in a troop tend to be friendly towards each other and associate closely. Otherwise, females have few friendly encounters and commonly act aggressively towards each other.[35]

Females may fight for social access to males and a male may intervene.[41] Male gorillas have weak social bonds, particularly in multiple-male groups with apparent dominance hierarchies and strong competition for mates. Males in all-male groups, though, tend to have friendly interactions and socialise through play, grooming, and staying together,[37] and occasionally they even engage in homosexual interactions.[43] Severe aggression is rare in stable groups, but when two mountain gorilla groups meet, the two silverbacks can sometimes engage in a fight to the death, using their canines to cause deep, gaping injuries.[44]

Competition

One possible predator of gorillas is the leopard. Gorilla remains have been found in leopard scat, but this may be the result of scavenging.[45] When the group is attacked by humans, leopards, or other gorillas, an individual silverback will protect the group, even at the cost of his own life.[46]

Reproduction and parenting

Young gorilla riding on mother

Females mature at 10–12 years (earlier in captivity), and males at 11–13 years. A female’s first ovulatory cycle occurs when she is six years of age, and is followed by a two-year period of adolescent infertility.[47] The estrous cycle lasts 30–33 days, with outward ovulation signs subtle compared to those of chimpanzees. The gestation period lasts 8.5 months. Female mountain gorillas first give birth at 10 years of age and have four-year interbirth intervals.[47] Males can be fertile before reaching adulthood. Gorillas mate year round.[48]

Females will purse their lips and slowly approach a male while making eye contact. This serves to urge the male to mount her. If the male does not respond, then she will try to attract his attention by reaching towards him or slapping the ground.[49] In multiple-male groups, solicitation indicates female preference, but females can be forced to mate with multiple males.[49] Males incite copulation by approaching a female and displaying at her or touching her and giving a “train grunt”.[48] Recently, gorillas have been observed engaging in face-to-face sex, a trait once considered unique to humans and bonobos.[50]

Mother gorilla with 10-day-old infant

Gorilla infants are vulnerable and dependent, thus mothers, their primary caregivers, are important to their survival.[40] Male gorillas are not active in caring for the young, but they do play a role in socialising them to other youngsters.[51] The silverback has a largely supportive relationship with the infants in his troop and shields them from aggression within the group.[51] Infants remain in contact with their mothers for the first five months and mothers stay near the silverback for protection.[51] Infants suckle at least once per hour and sleep with their mothers in the same nest.[52]

Infants begin to break contact with their mothers after five months, but only for a brief period each time. By 12 months old, infants move up to five meters (16 feet) from their mothers. At around 18–21 months, the distance between mother and offspring increases and they regularly spend time away from each other.[53] In addition, nursing decreases to once every two hours.[52] Infants spend only half of their time with their mothers by 30 months. They enter their juvenile period at their third year, and this lasts until their sixth year. At this time, gorillas are weaned and they sleep in a separate nest from their mothers.[51] After their offspring are weaned, females begin to ovulate and soon become pregnant again.[51][52] The presence of play partners, including the silverback, minimizes conflicts in weaning between mother and offspring.[53]

Communication

Twenty-five distinct vocalisations are recognised, many of which are used primarily for group communication within dense vegetation. Sounds classified as grunts and barks are heard most frequently while traveling, and indicate the whereabouts of individual group members.[54] They may also be used during social interactions when discipline is required. Screams and roars signal alarm or warning, and are produced most often by silverbacks. Deep, rumbling belches suggest contentment and are heard frequently during feeding and resting periods. They are the most common form of intragroup communication.[44]

For this reason, conflicts are most often resolved by displays and other threat behaviours that are intended to intimidate without becoming physical. The ritualized charge display is unique to gorillas. The entire sequence has nine steps: (1) progressively quickening hooting, (2) symbolic feeding, (3) rising bipedally, (4) throwing vegetation, (5) chest-beating with cupped hands, (6) one leg kick, (7) sideways running, two-legged to four-legged, (8) slapping and tearing vegetation, and (9) thumping the ground with palms to end display.[55]

Lifespan

A gorilla’s lifespan is normally between 35 and 40 years, although zoo gorillas may live for 50 years or more. Colo, a female western gorilla at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was the oldest known gorilla, at 60 years of age when she died on January 17, 2017.[56]

Intelligence

A female gorilla exhibiting tool use by using a tree trunk as a support whilst fishing herbs

Gorillas are considered highly intelligent. A few individuals in captivity, such as Koko, have been taught a subset of sign language. Like the other great apes, gorillas can laugh, grieve, have “rich emotional lives”, develop strong family bonds, make and use tools, and think about the past and future.[57] Some researchers believe gorillas have spiritual feelings or religious sentiments.[2] They have been shown to have cultures in different areas revolving around different methods of food preparation, and will show individual colour preferences.[2]

Tool use

The following observations were made by a team led by Thomas Breuer of the Wildlife Conservation Society in September 2005. Gorillas are now known to use tools in the wild. A female gorilla in the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo was recorded using a stick as if to gauge the depth of water whilst crossing a swamp. A second female was seen using a tree stump as a bridge and also as a support whilst fishing in the swamp. This means all of the great apes are now known to use tools.[58]

In September 2005, a two-and-a-half-year-old gorilla in the Republic of Congo was discovered using rocks to smash open palm nuts inside a game sanctuary.[59] While this was the first such observation for a gorilla, over 40 years previously, chimpanzees had been seen using tools in the wild ‘fishing’ for termites. Great apes are endowed with semiprecision grips, and have been able to use both simple tools and even weapons, such as improvising a club from a convenient fallen branch.

Scientific study

American physician and missionary Thomas Staughton Savage obtained the first specimens (the skull and other bones) during his time in Liberia.[8] The first scientific description of gorillas dates back to an article by Savage and the naturalist Jeffries Wyman in 1847 in Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural History,[60][61] where Troglodytes gorilla is described, now known as the western gorilla. Other species of gorilla were described in the next few years.[7]

Drawing of French explorer Paul Du Chaillu at close quarters with a gorilla

The explorer Paul Du Chaillu was the first westerner to see a live gorilla during his travel through western equatorial Africa from 1856 to 1859. He brought dead specimens to the UK in 1861.[62][63][64]

The first systematic study was not conducted until the 1920s, when Carl Akeley of the American Museum of Natural History traveled to Africa to hunt for an animal to be shot and stuffed. On his first trip, he was accompanied by his friends Mary Bradley, a mystery writer, her husband, and their young daughter Alice, who would later write science fiction under the pseudonym James Tiptree Jr. After their trip, Mary Bradley wrote On the Gorilla Trail. She later became an advocate for the conservation of gorillas, and wrote several more books (mainly for children). In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Robert Yerkes and his wife Ava helped further the study of gorillas when they sent Harold Bigham to Africa. Yerkes also wrote a book in 1929 about the great apes.

After World War IIGeorge Schaller was one of the first researchers to go into the field and study primates. In 1959, he conducted a systematic study of the mountain gorilla in the wild and published his work. Years later, at the behest of Louis Leakey and the National GeographicDian Fossey conducted a much longer and more comprehensive study of the mountain gorilla. When she published her work, many misconceptions and myths about gorillas were finally disproved, including the myth that gorillas are violent.

Western lowland gorillas (G. g. gorilla) are believed to be one of the zoonotic origins of HIV/AIDS. The SIVgor Simian immunodeficiency virus that infects them is similar to a certain strain of HIV-1.[65][66][67][68]

Genome sequencing

The gorilla became the next-to-last great ape genus to have its genome sequenced. The first gorilla genome was generated with short read and Sanger sequencing using DNA from a female western lowland gorilla named Kamilah. This gave scientists further insight into the evolution and origin of humans. Despite the chimpanzees being the closest extant relatives of humans, 15% of the human genome was found to be more like that of the gorilla.[69] In addition, 30% of the gorilla genome “is closer to human or chimpanzee than the latter are to each other; this is rarer around coding genes, indicating pervasive selection throughout great ape evolution, and has functional consequences in gene expression.”[70] Analysis of the gorilla genome has cast doubt on the idea that the rapid evolution of hearing genes gave rise to language in humans, as it also occurred in gorillas.[71]

Cultural references

Since coming to the attention of western society in the 1860s,[64] gorillas have been a recurring element of many aspects of popular culture and media. For example, gorillas have featured prominently in monstrous fantasy films such as King Kong. Additionally, pulp fiction stories such as Tarzan and Conan the Barbarian have featured gorillas as physical opponents of the titular protagonists.

Conservation status

All species (and sub-species) of gorilla are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.[72] Now, over 100,000 western lowland gorillas are thought to exist in the wild, with 4,000 in zoos; eastern lowland gorillas have a population of under 5,000 in the wild and 24 in zoos. Mountain gorillas are the most severely endangered, with an estimated population of about 880 left in the wild and none in zoos.[2][72] Threats to gorilla survival include habitat destruction and poaching for the bushmeat trade. In 2004, a population of several hundred gorillas in the Odzala National ParkRepublic of Congo was essentially wiped out by the Ebola virus.[73] A 2006 study published in Science concluded more than 5,000 gorillas may have died in recent outbreaks of the Ebola virus in central Africa. The researchers indicated in conjunction with commercial hunting of these apes, the virus creates “a recipe for rapid ecological extinction“.[74] Conservation efforts include the Great Apes Survival Project, a partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme and the UNESCO, and also an international treaty, the Agreement on the Conservation of Gorillas and Their Habitats, concluded under UNEP-administered Convention on Migratory Species. The Gorilla Agreement is the first legally binding instrument exclusively targeting gorilla conservation; it came into effect on 1 June 2008.

See also

References …

External links

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

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Victor E. Frankl –Man’s Search for Meaning — Videos

Posted on June 15, 2019. Filed under: Blogroll, Books, Chinese, Communications, Crisis, Culture, Environment, Essays, Faith, Family, Freedom, Friends, Genocide, government, history, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Literacy, Love, Mastery, media, Medicine, Non-Fiction, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Psychology, Raves, Religion, Religious, Religious, Sleep, Speech, Success, Terrorism, Torture, Uncategorized, Video, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

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Viktor Frankl

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.” Victor Emil Frankl (1905 – 1997), Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, devoted his life to studying, understanding and promoting “meaning.” His famous book,Man’s Search for Meaning, tells the story of how he survived the Holocaust by finding personal meaning in the experience, which gave him the will to live through it. He went on to later establish a new school of existential therapy called logotherapy, based in the premise that man’s underlying motivator in life is a “will to meaning,” even in the most difficult of circumstances. Frankl pointed to research indicating a strong relationship between “meaninglessness” and criminal behaviors, addictions and depression. Without meaning, people fill the void with hedonistic pleasures, power, materialism, hatred, boredom, or neurotic obsessions and compulsions. Some may also strive for Suprameaning, the ultimate meaning in life, a spiritual kind of meaning that depends solely on a greater power outside of personal or external control.

Striving to find meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man (Frankl 1992, p. 104).

While Frankl rarely touches on the topic of the pursuit of happiness, he is very concerned with satisfaction and fulfillment in life. We can see this in his preoccupation with addressing depression, anxiety and meaninglessness. Frankl points to research indicating a strong relationship between “meaninglessness” and criminal behavior, addiction and depression. He argues that in the absence of meaning, people fill the resultant void with hedonistic pleasures, power, materialism, hatred, boredom, or neurotic obsessions and compulsions (Frankl 1992, p. 143).

Frankl’s Background

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychologist who founded what he called the field of “Logotherapy”, which has been dubbed the “Third Viennese School of Psychology” (following Freud and Alder). Logotherapy developed in and through Frankl’s personal experience in the Theresienstadt Nazi concentration camp. The years spent there deeply affected his understanding of reality and the meaning of human life. His most popular book, Man’s Search for Meaning, chronicles his experience in the camp as well as the development of logotherapy. During his time there, he found that those around him who did not lose their sense of purpose and meaning in life were able to survive much longer than those who had lost their way.

Logotherapy

In The Will to Meaning, Frankl notes that “logotherapy aims to unlock the will to meaning in life.” More often than not, he found that people would ponder the meaning of life when for Frankl, it is very clear that, “it is life itself that asks questions of man.” Paradoxically, by abandoning the desire to have “freedom from” we take the “freedom to” make the “decision for” one’s unique and singular life task (Frankl 1988, p. 16).

Logotherapy developed in a context of extreme suffering, depression and sadness and so it is not surprising that Frankl focuses on a way out of these things. His experience showed him that life can be meaningful and fulfilling even in spite of the harshest circumstances. On the other hand, he also warns against the pursuit of hedonistic pleasures because of its tendency to distract people from their search for meaning in life.

Meaning

Only when the emotions work in terms of values can the individual feel pure joy (Frankl 1986, p. 40).

In the pursuit of meaning, Frankl recommends three different courses of action: through deeds, the experience of values through some kind of medium (beauty through art, love through a relationship, etc.) or suffering. While the third is not necessarily in the absence of the first two, within Frankl’s frame of thought, suffering became an option through which to find meaning and experience values in life in the absence of the other two opportunities (Frankl 1992, p. 118).

Though for Frankl, joy could never be an end to itself, it was an important byproduct of finding meaning in life. He points to studies where there is marked difference in life spans between “trained, tasked animals,” i.e., animals with a purpose, than “taskless, jobless animals.” And yet it is not enough simply to have something to do, rather what counts is the “manner in which one does the work” (Frankl 1986, p. 125)

Responsibility

Human freedom is not a freedom from but freedom to (Frankl 1988, p. 16).

As mentioned above, Frankl sees our ability to respond to life and to be responsible to life as a major factor in finding meaning and therefore, fulfillment in life. In fact, he viewed responsibility to be the “essence of existence” (Frankl 1992, 114). He believed that humans were not simply the product of heredity and environment and that they had the ability to make decisions and take responsibility for their own lives. This “third element” of decision is what Frankl believed made education so important; he felt that education must be education towards the ability to make decisions, take responsibility and then become free to be the person you decide to be (Frankl 1986, p. xxv).

Individuality

Frankl is careful to state that he does not have a one-size-fits all answer to the meaning of life. His respect for human individuality and each person’s unique identity, purpose and passions does not allow him to do otherwise. And so he encourages people to answer life and find one’s own unique meaning in life. When posed the question of how this might be done, he quotes from Goethe: “How can we learn to know ourselves? Never by reflection but by action. Try to do your duty and you will soon find out what you are. But what is your duty? The demands of each day.” In quoting this, he points to the importance attached to the individual doing the work and the manner in which the job is done rather than the job or task itself (Frankl 1986, p. 56).

Techniques

Frankl’s logotherapy utilizes several techniques to enhance the quality of one’s life. First is the concept of paradoxical Intention, wherethe therapist encourages the patient to intend or wish for, even if only for a second, precisely what they fear. This is especially useful for obsessive, compulsive and phobic conditions, as well as cases of underlying anticipatory anxiety.

The case of the sweating doctor

A young doctor had major hydrophobia. One day, meeting his chief on the street, as he extended his hand in greeting, he noticed that he was perspiring more than usual. The next time he was in a similar situation he expected to perspire again, and this anticipatory anxiety precipitated excessive sweating. It was a vicious circle … We advised our patient, in the event that his anticipatory anxiety should recur, to resolve deliberately to show the people whom he confronted at the time just how much he could really sweat.A week later he returned to report that whenever he met anyone who triggered his anxiety, he said to himself, “I only sweated out a little before, but now I’m going to pour out at least ten litres!” What was the result of this paradoxical resolution? After suffering from his phobia for four years, he was quickly able, after only one session, to free himself of it for good. (Frankl, 1967)

Dereflection

Another technique is that of dereflection, whereby the therapist diverts the patients away from their problems towards something else meaningful in the world. Perhaps the most commonly known use of this is for sexual dysfunction, since the more one thinks about potency during the sexual act, the less likely one is able to achieve it.

The following is a transcript from Frankl’s advice to Anna, 19-year old art student who displays severe symptoms of incipient schizophrenia. She considers herself as being confused and asks for help.

Patient: What is going on within me?

Frankl: Don’t brood over yourself. Don’t inquire into the source of your trouble. Leave this to us doctors. We will steer and pilot you through the crisis. Well, isn’t there a goal beckoning you – say, an artistic assignment?

Patient: But this inner turmoil ….

Frankl: Don’t watch your inner turmoil, but turn your gaze to what is waiting for you. What counts is not what lurks in the depths, but what waits in the future, waits to be actualized by you….

Patient: But what is the origin of my trouble?

Frankl: Don’t focus on questions like this. Whatever the pathological process underlying your psychological affliction may be, we will cure you. Therefore, don’t be concerned with the strange feelings haunting you. Ignore them until we make you get rid of them. Don’t watch them. Don’t fight them. Imagine, there are about a dozen great things, works which wait to be created by Anna, and there is no one who could achieve and accomplish it but Anna. No one could replace her in this assignment. They will be your creations, and if you don’t create them, they will remain uncreated forever…

Patient: Doctor, I believe in what you say. It is a message which makes me happy.

Discernment of Meaning

Finally, the logotherapist tries to enlarge the patient’s discernment of meaning in at least three ways: creatively, experientially and attitudinally.

a) Meaning through creative values

Frankl writes that “The logotherapist’s role consists in widening and broadening the visual field of the patient so that the whole spectrum of meaning and values becomes conscious and visible to him”. A major source of meaning is through the value of all that we create, achieve and accomplish.

b) Meaning through experiential values

Frankl writes “Let us ask a mountain-climber who has beheld the alpine sunset and is so moved by the splendor of nature that he feels cold shudders running down his spine – let us ask him whether after such an experience his life can ever again seem wholly meaningless” (Frankl,1965).

c) Meaning through attitudinal values

Frankl argued that we always have the freedom to find meaning through meaningful attitudes even in apparently meaningless situations. For example, an elderly, depressed patient who could not overcome the loss of his wife was helped by the following conversation with Frankl:

Frankl asked “What would have happened if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you.”

“Oh,” replied the patient, “for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!”

Frankl continued, “You see such a suffering has been spared her; and it is you who have spared her this suffering; but now, you have to pay for it by surviving her and mourning her.” The man said no word, but shook Frankl’s hand and calmly left his office (Frankl, 1992).

Conclusion

Frankl’s surprising resilience amidst his experiences of extreme suffering and sadness speaks to how his theories may have helped him and those around him. As the alarming suicide and depression rates among young teenagers and adults in the United States continue, his call to answer life’s call through logotherapy may be a promising resource.

Bibliography

Frankl, Victor (1992). Man’s Search for Meaning. (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Frankl, Victor (1986). The Doctor and the Soul. (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Frankl, Victor (1967). Psychotherapy and Existentialism. New York, NY: Washington Square Press.

Frankl, Victor (1988). The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

Frankl, Victor (2000). Recollections: An Autobiography. New York, NY: Perseus Books.

Recommended reading:

The Unheard Cry for Meaning: Psychotherapy and Humanism (Touchstone Books)

The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy (Meridian)

Viktor Frankl

https://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/viktor-frankl/

 

An Overview of Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy

Meaning in life can help to improve resilience.

 

Getty / Ascent/PKS Media Inc.

 

A Brief History of Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl was born March 26, 1905 and died September 2, 1997, in Vienna, Austria. He was influenced during his early life by Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler, earned a medical degree from the University of Vienna Medical School in 1930. From 1940 to 1942, he was the director of the Neurological Department of the Rothschild Hospital, and from 1946 to 1970 was the director of the Vienna Polyclinic of Neurology.

In 1942, Frankl was deported to a Nazi concentration camp along with his wife, parents, and other family members. He spent time in four camps in total, including Auschwitz, from 1942 to 1945, and was the only member of his family to survive. In 1945, he returned to Vienna and published a book on his theories, based on his records of observations during his time in the camps. By the time of his death, his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” had been published in 24 languages.

During his career as a professor of neurology and psychiatry, Frankl wrote 30 books, lectured at 209 universities on five continents, and was the recipient of 29 honorary doctorates from universities around the world. He was a visiting professor at Harvard and Stanford, and his therapy, named “logotherapy,” was recognized as the third school of Viennese therapy after Freud’s psychoanalysis and Alfred Adler’s individual psychology. In addition, logotherapy was recognized as one of the scientifically-based schools of psychotherapy by the American Medical Society, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association.

 

Understanding Logotherapy

Frankl believed that humans are motivated by something called a “will to meaning,” which equates to a desire to find meaning in life. He argued that life can have meaning even in the most miserable of circumstances, and that the motivation for living comes from finding that meaning. Taking it a step further, Frankl wrote:

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.

This opinion was based on his experiences of suffering, and his attitude of finding meaning through the suffering. In this way, Frankl believed that when we can no longer change a situation, we are forced to change ourselves.

 

Fundamentals of Logotherapy

“Logos” is the Greek word for meaning, and logotherapy involves helping a patient find personal meaning in life. Frankl provided a brief overview of the theory in “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

Core Properties

Frankl believed in three core properties on which his theory and therapy were based:

  1. Each person has a healthy core.
  2. One’s primary focus is to enlighten others to their own internal resources and provide them tools to use their inner core.
  3. Life offers purpose and meaning but does not promise fulfillment or happiness.

Methods of Finding Meaning

Going a step further, logotherapy proposes that meaning in life can be discovered in three distinct ways:

  1. By creating a work or doing a deed.
  2. By experiencing something or encountering someone.
  3. By the attitude that we take toward unavoidable suffering.

An example that is often given to explain the basic tenets of logotherapy is the story of Frankl meeting with an elderly general practitioner who was struggling to overcome depression after the loss of his wife. Frankl helped the elderly man to see that his purpose had been to spare his wife the pain of losing him first.

Basic Assumptions

Logotherapy consists of six basic assumptions that overlap with the fundamental constructs and ways of seeking meaning listed above:

1. Body, Mind, and Spirit

The human being is an entity that consists of a body (soma), mind (psyche), and spirit (noos). Frankl argued that we have a body and mind, but the spirit is what we are, or our essence. Note that Frankl’s theory was not based on religion or theology, but often had parallels to these.

2. Life Has Meaning in All Circumstances

Frankl believed that life has meaning in all circumstances, even the most miserable ones. This means that even when situations seem objectively terrible, there is a higher level of order that involves meaning.

3. Humans Have a Will to Meaning

Logotherapy proposes that humans have a will to meaning, which means that meaning is our primary motivation for living and acting, and allows us to endure pain and suffering. This is viewed as differing from the will to achieve power and pleasure.

4. Freedom to Find Meaning

Frankl argues that in all circumstances, individuals have the freedom to access that will to find meaning. This is based on his experiences of pain and suffering and choosing his attitude in a situation that he could not change.

5. Meaning of the Moment

The fifth assumption argues that for decisions to be meaningful, individuals must respond to the demands of daily life in ways that match the values of society or their own conscience.

6. Individuals Are Unique

Frankl believed that every individual is unique and irreplaceable.

 

Logotherapy in Practice

Frankl believed that it was possible to turn suffering into achievement and accomplishment. He viewed guilt as an opportunity to change oneself for the better, and life transitions as the chance to take responsible action.

In this way, this psychotherapy was aimed at helping people to make better use of their “spiritual” resources to withstand adversity. In his books, he often used his own personal experiences to explain concepts to the reader.
Three techniques used in logotherapy include dereflection, paradoxical intention, and Socratic dialogue.
  1. Dereflection: Dereflection is aimed at helping someone focus away from themselves and toward other people so that they can become whole and spend less time being self-absorbed about a problem or how to reach a goal.
  2. Paradoxical intention: Paradoxical intention is a technique that has the patient wish for the thing that is feared most. This was suggested for use in the case of anxiety or phobias, in which humor and ridicule can be used when fear is paralyzing. For example, a person with a fear of looking foolish might be encouraged to try to look foolish on purpose. Paradoxically, the fear would be removed when the intention involved the thing that was feared most.
  3. Socratic dialogue: Socratic dialogue would be used in logotherapy as a tool to help a patient through the process of self-discovery through his or her own words. In this way, the therapist would point out patterns of words and help the client to see the meaning in them. This process is believed to help the client realize an answer that is waiting to be discovered.
It’s easy to see how some of the techniques of logotherapy overlap with newer forms of treatment such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). In this way, logotherapy may be a complementary approach for these behavior and thought-based treatments.

 

Criticisms

Frankl was not without his critics. Some felt he used his time in the Nazi camps as a way to promote his brand of psychotherapy, and others felt his support came only from religious leaders in the United States (indeed, he did recruit ministers and pastoral psychologists to work with him).

In 1961, his ideas were challenged by psychologist Rollo May, known as the founder of the existential movement in the United States, who argued that logotherapy was equivalent to authoritarianism, with the therapist dictating solutions to the patient. In this way, it was felt that the therapist diminished the patient’s responsibility in finding solutions to problems. It is not clear, however, whether this was a fundamental problem of logotherapy, or a failing of Frankl as a therapist himself, as he was said to be arrogant in his manner of speaking to patients.

In this way, it may be that logotherapy argues that there are always clear solutions to problems and that the therapist has the task of finding these for the client. However, Frankl argued that logotherapy actually educates the patient to take responsibility. Regardless, it is clear that in the application of Frankl’s theories, it is important to highlight that the patient must be a participant rather than a recipient in the process.

 

Evidence

More than 1700 empirical and theoretical papers have been published on logotherapy, and more than 59 measurement instruments developed on the topic. While Frank’s early work involved case studies, this eventually evolved to include operationalization of concepts and estimates of clinical effectiveness. In other words, Frankl believed in empirical research and encouraged it.

A systematic review of research evidence pertaining to logotherapy conducted in 2016 found correlations or effects pertaining to logotherapy in the following areas or for the following conditions:

  • Correlation between presence of meaning in life, search for meaning in life, and life satisfaction, happiness
  • Lower meaning in life among patients with mental disorders
  • Search for meaning and presence of meaning as a resilience factor
  • Correlation between meaning in life and suicidal thoughts in cancer patients
  • Effectiveness of a logotherapy program for early adolescents with cancer
  • Effectiveness of logotherapy on depression in children
  • Effectiveness of logotherapy in reducing job burnout, empty nest syndrome
  • Correlation with marital satisfaction

Overall, not surprisingly, there is evidence that meaning in life correlates with better mental health. It is suggested that this knowledge might be applied in areas such as phobias, pain and guilt, grief, as well as for disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, substance abusepost-traumatic stress, and anxiety.

Frankl believed that many illnesses or mental health issues are disguised existential angst and that people struggle with lack of meaning, which he referred to as the “existential vacuum.”

 

Logotherapy in Everyday Life

How might you apply the principles of logotherapy to improve your everyday life?

  • Create something. Just as Frankl suggested, creating something (e.g., art) gives you a sense of purpose, which can add meaning to your life.
  • Develop relationships. The supportive nature of spending time with others will help you to develop more of a sense of meaning in your life.
  • Find purpose in pain. If you are going through something bad, try to find a purpose in it. Even if this is a bit of mental trickery, it will help to see you through. For example, if a family member is going through medical treatments for a disease, view your purpose as being there to support that person.
  • Understand that life is not fair. There is nobody keeping score, and you will not necessarily be dealt a fair deck. However, life can always have meaning, even in the worst of situations.
  • Freedom to find meaning. Remember that you are always free to make meaning out of your life situation. Nobody can take that away from you.
  • Focus on others. Try to focus outside of yourself to get through feeling stuck about a situation.
  • Accept the worst. When you go out seeking the worse, it reduces the power that it has over you.

A Word From Verywell

While concepts of logotherapy continue to be studied to this day, you aren’t likely to hear of people receiving this type of treatment directly. Rather, the components of logotherapy are more likely to be intertwined with other therapies or treatments.

https://www.verywellmind.com/an-overview-of-victor-frankl-s-logotherapy-4159308

Viktor Frankl

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Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl2.jpg
Born
Viktor Emil Frankl

26 March 1905

Died 2 September 1997 (aged 92)

Vienna, Austria
Resting place Zentralfriedhof, Vienna, Austria, Old Jewish Section
Nationality Austrian
Education Doctorate in Medicine, 1925, Doctorate in Philosophy, 1948
Alma mater University of Vienna
Occupation Neurologist, psychiatrist
Known for Logotherapy
Existential analysis
Spouse(s) Tilly Grosser, m. 1941
Eleonore Katharina Schwindt, m. 1947
Children Gabriele Frankl-Vesely
Parent(s) Gabriel Frankl and Elsa Frankl

Viktor Emil Frankl (26 March 1905 – 2 September 1997)[1][2] was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. He survived TheresienstadtAuschwitzKaufering and Türkheim. Frankl was the founder of logotherapy, which is a form of existential analysis, the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy“. His best-selling book Man’s Search for Meaning (published under a different title in 1959: From Death-Camp to Existentialism, and originally published in 1946 as Trotzdem Ja Zum Leben Sagen: Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager, meaning Nevertheless, Say “Yes” to Life: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp) chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate, which led him to discover the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most brutal ones, and thus, a reason to continue living. Man’s Search for Meaning has sold over 12 million copies and has been translated into 24 different languages.[3] Frankl became one of the key figures in existential therapy and a prominent source of inspiration for humanistic psychologists.[4]

Frankl has been the subject of criticism from several holocaust analysts[5][6] who questioned the levels of Nazi accommodation that the ideology of logotherapy has and Frankl personally willingly pursued in the time periods before Frankl’s internment, when Frankl voluntarily requested to perform unskilled lobotomy experiments approved by the Nazis on Jews,[7] to the time period of his internment, in what is hinted upon in Frankl’s own autobiographical account and later under the investigative light of biographical research.[8][9]

Contents

Life before 1945

Frankl was born in Vienna into a Jewish family of civil servants (Beamtenfamilie). His interest in psychology surfaced early. For the final exam (Matura) in Gymnasium, he wrote a paper on the psychology of philosophical thinking. After graduation from Gymnasium in 1923, he studied medicine at the University of Vienna. In practice he specialized in neurology and psychiatry, concentrating on the topics of depression and suicide. His early development was influenced by his contacts with Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler, although he would diverge from their teachings.[3][4]

Physician, therapist

During part of 1924 he became the president of the Sozialistische Mittelschüler Österreich, a Social Democratic youth movement for high school students throughout Austria.[1]:59

Between 1928 and 1930, while still a medical student, he organized and offered a special program to counsel high school students free of charge. The program involved the participation of psychologists such as Charlotte Bühler, and it paid special attention to students at the time when they received their report cards. In 1931, not a single Viennese student committed suicide. The success of this program grabbed the attention of the likes of Wilhelm Reich who invited him to Berlin.[2][10][promotional source?][11][non-primary source needed]

From 1933 to 1937, Frankl completed his residency in neurology and psychiatry at the Steinhof Psychiatric Hospital in Vienna. He was responsible for the so-called Selbstmörderpavillon, or “suicide pavilion”. Here, he treated more than 3000 women who had suicidal tendencies.[2][unreliable medical source?] In 1937, he established an independent private practice in neurology and psychiatry at Alser Strasse 32/12 in Vienna.[2]

Beginning with the Nazi takeover of Austria in 1938, he was prohibited from treating “Aryan” patients due to his Jewish identity. In 1940 he started working at the Rothschild Hospital, where he headed its neurological department. This hospital was the only one in Vienna to which Jews were still admitted. His medical opinions (including deliberately false diagnoses[12][better source needed]) saved several patients[example needed] from being euthanised via the Nazi euthanasia program.[citation needed] In December 1941 he married Tilly Grosser.[2][4]

Prisoner, therapist

On 25 September 1942, Frankl, his wife, and his parents were deported to the Nazi Theresienstadt Ghetto in Occupied Czechoslovakia. This Ghetto which housed many of the Jewish middle class, as a “model community” was set up by the Schutzstaffel (SS) with the expressed purpose of fooling Red Cross representatives about the ongoing slave labor, the Holocaust, and, later, the Nazi plan to murder all Jews.[13] There, within the Cultural life of the Theresienstadt ghetto, Frankl worked as a general practitioner in a clinic and wrote and gave lectures. When his skills in psychiatry were noticed by the Nazis, he was assigned to the psychiatric care ward in Block B IV, establishing a camp service of “psychohygiene” or mental health care. He organized a unit to help camp newcomers to overcome shockand grief. Later he set up a suicide watch, assisted by Regina Jonas.[2][14]

On 29 July 1943, Frankl organized a closed event for the Scientific Society in the Theresienstadt Ghetto, and with the help of the equally controversial Judenrat/Jewish collaborator Leo Baeck,[15][16] Frankl offered a series of lectures, including “Sleep and Sleep Disturbances”, “Body and Soul”, “Medical Care of the Soul”, “Psychology of Mountaineering”, “How to keep my nerves healthy?”, “Medical ministry”, “Existential Problems in Psychotherapy”, and “Social Psychotherapy”.[14] Biographers state that Frankl’s father Gabriel, starved to death at Theresienstadt,[17] by Frankl’s account he died of pulmonary edema and pneumonia.[2][4][14]

On 19 October 1944, Frankl, his wife Tilly, Regina Jonas and many others from the Theresienstadt Ghetto, were transported to the Auschwitz death camp in occupied Poland, where he was processed.[citation needed] On 25 October, Frankl is listed as arriving in the southern German Kaufering III, of XI labor camp,[17] which held up to 2,000 male prisoners in earthen huts, who upon its opening in June of that year, the prisoners were required to construct a transport route to connect underground aircraft factories, laying the infrastructure for the mass production of the world’s first jet-powered Messerschmitt Me 262 bomber destroyer, the Nazi response, to regain vital air supremacy, under the growingly unopposed effectiveness of Allied bombing upon the Nazi armament industry.[18][19][20]According to Frankl, his feats of physical initiative at this work camp were such that they did not go unnoticed and he was gifted “premium coupons” in late 1944.[17] According to Frankl’s autobiography, when infected with the ubiquitous typhoid,[2][4] he was allowed to leave the work camp and was offered a move to the so-called rest camp of Türkheim, prison records list his departure from Kaufering as 8 March 1945.[17] Frankl states that in Turkheim he was placed in charge of fifty men with typhus, it was here he rose to the position of “senior block warden” and began writing his book anew, until 27 April 1945, when the camp was liberated by American soldiers.[17]

Frankl’s mother Elsa and brother Walter were murdered at Auschwitz. Frankl’s wife was similarly transported out of Auschwitz and moved to Bergen-Belsen, a facility that housed a considerable number of women and minors, including Anne Frank, where they were forced to work in the shoe recycling labor camp; she would similarly be murdered, from the brutal conditions sometime close to the time of its liberation in 1945.[17] The only survivor of the Holocaust among Frankl’s immediate family was his sister, Stella, who had emigrated from Austria to Australia.[2][4]

Life after 1945

Liberated after several months in concentration camps, Frankl returned to Vienna, where he dictated to stenographer-typists his well known work, “the flood gates had opened”, completing the book, by 1946.[17] Frankl then published his world-famous book entitled, Trotzdem Ja Zum Leben Sagen: Ein Psychologe Erlebt das Konzentrationslager (“Saying Yes to Life in Spite of Everything: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp”), known in English by the title Man’s Search for Meaning (1959 title: From Death-Camp to Existentialism).[21] In this book, he described the life of an ordinary concentration camp inmate from the objective perspective of a psychiatrist.[4][22] Frankl believed that people are primarily driven by a “striving to find meaning in one’s life,” and that it is this sense of meaning that enables people to overcome painful experiences.

After enduring the suffering in these camps, Frankl concluded that even in the most absurd, painful, and dehumanized situation, life has potential meaning and that, therefore, even suffering is meaningful. This conclusion served as a basis for his logotherapy and existential analysis, which Frankl had described before World War II. He said, “What is to give light must endure burning.”[23]

Frankl’s concentration camp experiences shaped both his therapeutic approach and philosophical outlook, as reflected in his seminal publications.

He often said that even within the narrow boundaries of the concentration camps he found only two races of Men to exist: decent ones and unprincipled ones. These were to be found in all classes, ethnicities, and groups. “Under such conditions, who could blame them for trying to dope themselves?” “These were the men who were employed in the gas chambers and crematoriums, and who knew very well that one day they would have to leave their enforced role of executioner and become victims themselves.”[22]

In 1946, he was appointed to run the Vienna Polyclinic of Neurology. He remained there until 1971. In 1947 he married his second wife Eleonore Katharina Schwindt. She was a practicing Catholic and the couple respected each other’s religious backgrounds, going to both church and synagogue, and celebrating Christmas and Hanukah. They had one daughter, Gabriele, who went on to become a child psychologist.[2][4][24]

In 1948, Frankl earned a Ph.D. in philosophy. His dissertation, The Unconscious God, is an examination of the relation of psychology and religion.[25]

Grave of Viktor Frankl in Vienna

In 1955, he was awarded a professorship of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Vienna, and as visiting professor, he resided at Harvard University (1961), at Southern Methodist University, Dallas (1966), and at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh (1972). Frankl published 39 books, which were translated into as many as 49 languages.[26][promotional source?] He lectured and taught seminars all over the world and received 29 honorary doctoral degrees.[24]

The American Psychiatric Association awarded Frankl the 1985 Oskar Pfister Award for important contributions to religion and psychiatry.[27]

Frankl died of heart failure on 2 September 1997. He was survived by his wife Eleonore, one daughter, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.[28]

Controversy

In The Missing Pieces of the Puzzle: A Reflection on the Odd Career of Viktor Frankl, Timothy Pytell of California State University, San Bernardino,[29] conveys the numerous discrepancies and omissions in Frankl’s “Auschwitz survivor” account and later autobiography, which many of his contemporaries, such as Thomas Szasz, similarly have raised.[8] In Frankl’s Search for meaning the book devotes approximately half its contents to describing Auschwitz and the psychology of its prisoners, suggesting a long stay at the death camp, however his wording is contradictory and to Pytell, “profoundly deceptive”, when rather the impression of staying for months, Frankl was held close to the train, in the “depot prisoner” area of Auschwitz and for no more than a few days, he was neither registered there, nor assigned a number before being sent on to a subsidiary work camp of Dachau, known as Kaufering III, the true setting of much of what is described in his book.[30][20][31]

On Frankl’s doctrine that one must instill meaning in the events in one’s life that work and suffering to find meaning, will ultimately lead to fulfillment and happiness. In 1982 the highly cited scholar and holocaust analyst Lawrence L. Langer, who while also critical of Frankl’s distortions on the true experience of those at Auschwitz,[32] and Frankl’s amoral focus on “meaning” that could just as equally be applied to Nazis “finding meaning in making the world free from Jews”,[33] would go on to write “if this [logotherapy] doctrine had been more succinctly worded, the Nazis might have substituted it for the cruel mockery of Arbeit Macht Frei“[“work sets free”, read by those entering Auschwitz].[34] With, in professor Pytell’s view, Langer also penetrating through Frankl’s disturbed subtext that Holocaust “survival [was] a matter of mental health.” Noting Frankl’s tone as almost self-congratulatory and promotional throughout, that “it comes as no surprise to the reader, as he closes the volume, that the real hero of Man’s Search for Meaning is not man, but Viktor Frankl” by the continuation of the very same distortions of reality and the fantasy of world-view meaning-making, that were so disturbingly, precisely what had preturbed civilization into the holocaust-genocide of this era and others, to begin with.[35]

Pytell later would remark on the particularly sharp insight of Langer’s reading of Frankl’s holocaust testimony, noting that with Langer’s criticism published in 1982 before Pytell’s biography, the former had thus drawn the controversial parallels, or accommodations in ideology without the knowledge that Victor Frankl was an advocate/”embraced”[36] the key ideas of the Nazi psychotherapy movement (“will and responsibility”[37]) as a form of therapy in the late 1930s. When at that time Frankl would submit a paper and contributed to the Göring institute in Vienna 1937 and again in early 1938 connecting the logotherapy focus on “world-view” to the “work of some of the leading Nazi psychotherapists”,[38] both at a time before Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938.[39][40]

The origins of logotherapy, as described by Frankl, were therefore a major issue of continuity that Biographer Pytell argues were potentially problematic for Frankl because he had laid out the main elements of logotherapy while working for/contributing to the Nazi-affiliated Göring Institute. Principally Frankl’s 1937 paper, that was published by the institute.[40] This association, as a source of controversy, that logotherapy was palatable to National Socialism is the reason Pytell suggests, Frankl took two different stances on how the concentration-camp experience affected the course of his psychotherapy theory. Namely, that within the original English edition of Frankl’s most well known book, Man’s Search for Meaning, the suggestion is made and still largely held that logotherapy was itself derived from his camp experience, with the claim as it appears in the original edition, that this form of psychotherapy was “not concocted in the philosopher’s armchair nor at the analyst’s couch; it took shape in the hard school of air-raid shelters and bomb craters; in concentration camps and prisoner of war camps.” Frankl’s statements however to this effect would be deleted from later editions, though in the 1963 edition, a similar statement again appeared on the back of the book jacket of Man’s Search for Meaning.

Frankl over the years would with these widely read statements and others, switch between the claim that logotherapy took shape in the camps to the claim that the camps merely were a testing ground of his already preconceived theories. An uncovering of the matter would occur in 1977 with Frankl revealing on this controversy, though compounding another, stating “People think I came out of Auschwitz with a brand-new psychotherapy. This is not the case.”[17]

In the post war years, Frankl’s attitude towards not pursuing justice nor assigning collective guilt to the Austrian people for collaborating with or acquiescing in the face of Nazism, led to “frayed” relationships between Frankl, many Viennese and the larger American Jewish community, such that in 1978 when attempting to give a lecture at the institute of Adult Jewish Studies in New York, Frankl was confronted with an outburst of boos from the audience and was called a “nazi pig”.[39]

In 1988 Frankl would further “stir up sentiment against him” by being photographed next to and in accepting the Great Silver Medal with Star for Services to the Republic of Austria as a holocaust survivor, from President Waldheim, a controversial president of Austria who concurrent with the medal ceremony, was gripped by revelations that he had lied about his WWII military record and was under investigation for complicity in Nazi War crimes. Frankl’s acceptance of the medal was viewed by a large segment of the international Jewish community as a betrayal and by a disparate group of commentators, that its timing was politically motivated, an attempt to rehabilitate Waldheim’s reputation on the world stage.[41]

None of Frankl’s obituaries mention the unqualified and unskilled brain lobotomy and trepanation medical experiments approved by the Nazis that Frankl performed on Jews who had committed suicide with an overdose of sedatives, in resistance to their impending arrest, imprisonment and enforced labour in the concentration camp system. Operating without any training as a surgeon, Frankl would publish some of the details on his experiments, the methods of insertion of his chosen amphetamine drugs into the brains of these individuals, resulting in at times an alleged partial resuscitation, in 1942, prior to his own internment at Theresienstadt ghetto in September later in that year. Historian Günter Bischof of Harvard University, suggests Frankl’s voluntary request to perform lobotomy experiments could be seen as a way to “ingratiate” himself amongst the Nazis, as the latter were not appreciative of suicide being on arrest records.[17][9][32]

Legacy

Frankl’s logotherapy and existential analysis is considered the third Viennese School of Psychotherapy,[26][promotional source?] among the broad category that comprises existentialists.[42] For Irvin Yalom, Frankl, “who has devoted his career to a study of an existential approach to therapy, has apparently concluded that the lack of meaning is the paramount existential stress. To him, existential neurosis is synonymous with a crisis of meaninglessness”.[42]

He has coined the term noogenic neurosis, and illustrated it with the example of Sunday neurosis. It refers to a form of anxiety resulting from an awareness in some people of the emptiness of their lives once the working week is over.[43] Some complain of a void and a vague discontent.[42] This arises from an existential vacuum, or feeling of meaninglessness, which is a common phenomenon and is characterised by the subjective state of boredom, apathy, and emptiness. One feels cynical, lacks direction, and questions the point of most of life’s activities.[42]

People without a meaning in their life are exposed to aggression, depression and addiction.[22]

Viktor Frankl once recommended that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast of the United States be complemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast:

Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.[44][45]

Decorations and awards

Bibliography

His books in English are:

See also

References …

External links[edit]

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

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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]

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

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

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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

AVE MARIA

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.

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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.”

Continue reading the main story

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.]

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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
  • The Manchurian Candidate

    Richard Condon

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  • Prizzi’s Honor

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  • Prizzi’s Family

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  • Winter Kills

    Richard Condon

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  • Bandicoot

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  • Emperor of America

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  • The Final Addiction

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    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.