I know I need to write about this, because I’ve got a bunch of short quotes and a hate review qeued up, but I haven’t been thinking about it that much. I mean, it was cool, I dunno. I guess one of the things I’m realizing as I finally get my PKD read is that he’s obsessed with very Christian concepts of god and redemption and stuff- there are stigmata in the title here, and not in an obnoxious punk way- and I am not. I don’t hate Christianity, and I don’t really feel stoked on it. I’m just not that interested in it; maybe it’s a defense mechanism against having to spend a lot of time thinking about the ways a hypocritical church has turned what was probably a good idea into what now in practice seems to be a very bad set of ideas, or maybe it’s just that anarchist and feminist frames of things like love and forgiveness are a lot more compelling to me than Christian ones. I don’t know. But I just kind of lose interest when PKD starts talking about god.
And this wasn’t only about god. I guess it is about conformity and drugs- remember Soma, in Brave New World? Three Stigmata is basically, like, what if Brave New World had been about Soma instead of fascism in the brave new world- and capitalism and, ok, yes, fine I will admit it, I don’t have an airtight case for not feeling super stoked on Three Stigmata because there is also abject Lovecraftian space horror. You know me and abject Lovecraftian space horror. I cannot resist.
There was also… I made a note to copy out a paragraph about a nerve agent dartgun that a character had had grafted into his tongue, at one point, because it was such a giddy piece of invention and so out of place. Maybe I will. Remind me.
It was obvious that PKD (I guess everybody calls him PKD ’cause it’s weird to say “Dick” all the time, or at least it is for me, because I am a child) was having fun while he was writing this. He was just making stuff up, and malevolently having the monster possess characters, and giving psychedelic trips unclear funhouse mirror non-endings, and giving us an answer to the question “what happens when people who can predict the future take acid,” which is a question I hadn’t ever even thought to ask, believe it or not. It is a good question.
But ultimately, I dunno, by the end I wasn’t that stoked. I was like, “that had cool stuff in it, and a pretty great downer ending, but maybe I am not as into PKD mindgame sci-fi as I thought I was?” I just wasn’t super compelled. The Jesus stuff wasn’t even all that prominent; I guess the reason I associate it with the rest of the novel is that by the end my attitude toward Mind-Blowing Interrogations Into Christian Dogma was pretty much my attitude toward the Mind-Blowing Head Trip WTF Is Going On plot of this novel, with its boring businessman characters and central theme of capitalist economics. Mostly I like my capitalist economics burnt-down or on fire.
So yeah. I understand that a lot of people really like this novel, and I wouldn’t recommend against it, but I was only sort-of-to-mostly into it, most of the time.