Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick

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The third Philip K Dick book I’ve read and my favourite yet, from 1974. The protagonist, a wealthy celebrity, loses his fame and his ID cards overnight in a heavy-handed police surveillance state. There’s a lot in here about perception/reality, fear and paranoia, but the author’s main concern seems to be grief.

Here, grief is viewed positively as part of the cycle of love (for there is no grief without love.) Moreover, grief allows us to leave ourselves, in an overpowering emotional experience which reunites us with the lost, and then allows us to phase back into life. For PKD, then, grief is a healthy, transcendental, and necessary process. The novel is populated by characters who are dealing with loss (of fame, love, perception) and we see how their ways of dealing with loss shapes their wellbeing.

Such matters are played out, largely, in dialogues between the ex-celebrity and the variously deranged women he seeks help from. By this manner, the book is a fast-paced read, and not as philosophically dense as I may have suggested previously; because there is no preaching or interminable lecturing to be found. Nevertheless, among these dysfunctional interactions PKD relates to us profound emotional truths; thereby lies the Flow My Tears’ appeal.

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