Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

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StalinSays
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Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby StalinSays » Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:45 pm

Feature: The Electric Ant by Philip K. Dick

Image

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
At four-fifteen in the afternoon, T.S.T., Garson Poole woke up in his hospital bed, knew that he lay in a hospital bed in a three-bed ward and realized in addition two things: that he no longer had a right hand and that he felt no pain.

They had given me a strong analgesic, he said to himself as he stared at the far wall with its window showing downtown New York. Webs in which vehicles and peds darted and wheeled glimmered in the late afternoon sun, and the brilliance of the aging light pleased him. It’s not yet out, he thought. And neither am I…


Art by Skeet Scienski

Twabble: “ I pull the paper slip out. It reads, "You will choke to death on a fortune cookie." If I could breathe, it would be amusing. ” by Algernon Sydney is Dead
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ROU Killing Time
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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby ROU Killing Time » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:48 am

Hmm, first I campaign for a Philip K. Dick story, then you guys get all synchronistic on me and choose the very first PKD story I ever read, (and still my favorite.)

It's always been my favorite take on solipsism.

Well, ask and you shall receive, I guess.

Thanks Norm and your stellar editorial crew for making this one happen.

Listening to Norm, it was a Pink Light, not a golden one. ;-)
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Sublime In Peace Iain M. Banks.

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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby chemistryguy » Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:42 pm

I've not read much from Phillip K. Dick, and as you said, I do tend to associate his name with some of my favorite movies first. Thanks for expanding my PKD repertoire.

Putting aside the obvious criticisms to the sheer dated-ness of the piece and how reality could be simulated by such an arcane technology, I'll address the question of what is real.

I do think PKD hits the nail solid on the head regarding how alone we all really are. There is only one reality, and that resides within us (or should I say, me?) Like an analog to the Turing Test, we can question the hell out what other "people" observe and believe, but in the end we can't confirm or deny that anyone else has existence outside of ourselves. To make like simple, we just say "fuck it", and assume that person sleeping next to us is real.

Time to take my blue pill now.

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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby strawman » Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:14 pm

Is February DC Solipsism Month?
Maybe the Motto needs to be amended to "for strange listeners, such as yourself, assuming we aren't a figment of your imagination."
Never judge anyone until you have biopsied their brain.

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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby Richmazzer » Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:06 pm

Wow. I had never read this PKD story before and it just became one of my favorites.
Thanks Drabblecast, off to donate!

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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby ROU Killing Time » Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:32 pm

I ran into PKD on a psych ward when I was receiving transmissions from VALIS. (Odd, considering he had been dead 11 years. I was worried that he had embedded a memetic virus in his works to cause schizophrenic symptoms. In the Exegesis that Norm mentioned he explicitly outlined that he and other members of the SFWA were attempting to do just that. Just because you're paranoid, I guess.
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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby El Barto » Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:48 pm

I very much enjoyed the story but am not sure I understood parts of the main concept. Maybe the big juicy brains here can help me?

Unless the entire world was in Poole's mind, he was existing and interacting with our world, right? When he monkeyed with the tape and could not see the skyline it was because he was interfering with his own perception, right? The hospital scene was "real" and he was treated and released?

If he really was an electric ant, why did the woman fade away at the end? Was that a suggestion that it was all in his mind after all? If so, wouldn't everything stop the second he died? Or was the point that she was an ant too?

Everything seems to point to the whole world being in his mind but if that was the case wouldn't everyone have noticed the skyline disappearing and the ducks and the old man? And why did the other guy ask if they were finally free of him?

I took that to mean that he was a robot manifestation of his former human self, programmed to continue running his empire.

I need a drink.

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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby chemistryguy » Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:00 pm

El Barto wrote:I very much enjoyed the story but am not sure I understood parts of the main concept. Maybe the big juicy brains here can help me?



My brain is neither big nor juicy, and I too felt confused in many most cases

Who's to say that when Poole is rendered unconscious and awakes to find technicians working on him that they aren't part of the sensory experience? Hell, perhaps he only thought he was fuddling with his inner workings but he was really making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That is, of course, assuming that PBJs really exist...which they don't.

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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby ROU Killing Time » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:58 pm

I think all of those interesting questions are implied by the story. The very slipperiness of the question "what is reality?" is central to his works.
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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby strawman » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:46 pm

Good starting point for an exploration of the nature of reality. What does it mean, for example, when people tell you to "Keep it real, bro." Your first thought has got to be that they aren't REALLY your brother, and you never REALized before that it was your responsibility to be the Keeper of it.

From there, you are introduced to Big Bang, Black Holes, String Theory, and the relationship between matter, energy, and time. The truth, apparently devised by Norm Sherman on steroids, is that we experience only 3 of 11 dimensions, that time stops at the event horizon, and that matter is 99.99999% void, with a mass determined by the vibration of stringy loops that are actually one-dimensional points. If you listen really carefully, they sound like The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody".

How consciousness fits into this mad, hallucinatory scheme is thought to be a function of quantum energy, which is where coincidences and best guesses also come from.

Where the hell is Bell when you need him?
No wonder there are so many Dickheads in the world.
Never judge anyone until you have biopsied their brain.

"Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle."
Known Some Call Is Air Am
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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby swamp » Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:03 am

I don't know who Matthew and/or Norm had to kill, pleasure, bribe or who knows what to bring this story to us, but I definately appreciate it. I thought I was going to run a surreal story on my podcast this week, but once again Norm proves that he is the God of Podcasting!

Now's the time to donate folks!

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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby ROU Killing Time » Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:12 am

swamp wrote:I don't know who Matthew and/or Norm had to kill, pleasure, bribe or who knows what to bring this story to us, but I definately appreciate it. I thought I was going to run a surreal story on my podcast this week, but once again Norm proves that he is the God of Podcasting!

Now's the time to donate folks!

I am also intrigued by the story of how Norm managed to pull this off, as I note that it is not on the list of public domain PKD stories out there.

Pure premium Phil.

This was vintage Drabblecast of the finest quality.
"Never fuck with The Culture"
Sublime In Peace Iain M. Banks.

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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby tbaker2500 » Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:39 pm

I'm not smart enough to philosophize on these stories. Therefore a grand "Thank You" to Norm for providing a setting for the story in the intro, and a summary afterwords. It really helped poor souls like me.

The story was excellent. High kwality work here, peeps.
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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby Pat T Dyspenzer » Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:04 pm

Hello Figments Of Mine Brayne,

Not really a PKD fan. It must be the "philosopher before writer" thing that puts me off... But this was so beautifully done...

What's the music at the closing (& various points throughout)? I recog but can't place it, aargh!

T^H^X Yall!

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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby emily » Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:15 pm

After listening to this episode I am scared, and confused, and my head hurts.

In other words: I loved it. :)

REALLY top notch stuff.

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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby ROU Killing Time » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:37 am

emily wrote:After listening to this episode I am scared, and confused, and my head hurts.

In other words: I loved it. :)

REALLY top notch stuff.

PKD has that effect on a lot of people.
"Never fuck with The Culture"
Sublime In Peace Iain M. Banks.

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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby emily » Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:02 am

I've never actually read any Philip K. Dick before. *hangs head in shame*

I guess I ought to read more of his stuff sometime... when I'm feeling brave.

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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby Goldenrat » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:01 am

I've read a lot of PKD, short stories and novels but have never run across The Electric Ant. Great stuff. Would love to hear more PKD in the future.
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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby tbaker2500 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:23 am

Pat T Dyspenzer wrote:What's the music at the closing (& various points throughout)? I recog but can't place it, aargh!


Howdy!
During the closing credits, it sounded like Gringo Motel, a favorite of Norm's. (I like 'em too.)
You're my quasi-ichthian angel, you're my half-amphibian queen...

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Re: Drabblecast 273 - The Electric Ant

Postby kingolf » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:53 am

Excellent story, PKD is regarded as a classic master for a reason it would seem.

Enjoyed Norm's analysis of the storie's comment on solipsism too.
You can't refute solipsism but you also can't use it for anything. If you reject the existence of anything other than your own consciousness, well, why are you bothering talking about it?


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