The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch*

I just finished reading The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. It was both strange and confusing. As I mentioned in my last post, the presence of the Chew-Z drug made it nearly impossible to tell what was real and what was hallucination. Combine that with the fact that the characters believe at times that the drug actually propels them into the real future, a fact which could be true given the novel’s genre, and you get even more confusion.

I don’t think that Dick made a smart decision in the way that he handled this aspect of the story. Often I would think that a hallucination was ended, only to learn that it wasn’t, and that eventually lead me to distrust everything. “It could all be fake,” I thought by the end, and I found that very frustrating.

I also continually picked up on little religious motifs that were twisted so as to be very disturbing at times. Ideas about sacraments, God, eternal life… Particularly disturbing was the idea posited by Barney at the end of chapter twelve:
“[The presence that was in the hallucination with the people] has a name which you’d recognize if I told it to you. Although it would never call itself that. We’re the ones who’ve titled it. From experience, at a distance, over thousands of years. But sooner or later we were bound to be confronted by it. Without the distance. Or the years.” “You mean God,” another character says. He nods, and another character asks, “But—evil?” “An aspect. Our experience of it. Nothing more.”

It seemed to me repeatedly that the author was trying to get a message across, like the story was built specifically to deliver that message, but I can’t seem to get any grasp on what it might be.

So, yeah. There are two other novels included in this volume, but after reading that, I think I’m done. It can go right back to the library. As for me, I’ll probably do some research and see if I can’t dig something up about this author that will suddenly make everything more clear. And on to Great Expectations.

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