From Here to California:
Philip K. Dick, The Simulacra & the Integration of “Germany”
6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 24th, in Lecture Hall 102
at 19 University Place of New York University
For this year’s Undergraduate Major’s Choice Lecture, the students of Comparative Literature have selected Laurence Rickels to present on his thorough and exhaustive work, I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick (2010).
Laurence Rickels is professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of California in Santa Barbara, professor at Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Karlsruhe, and Sigmund Freud Professor of Media and Philosophy at the European Graduate School. Professor Rickels has published seven books and edited four collections of critical essays, including Looking After Nietzsche (1990), one of the most thoughtful and necessary collaborative works on Nietzsche to date.
With the book launch of I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick, Laurence Rickels takes off for the outer spaces of critical, psychoanalytic and philosophical texts in order to land Philip K. Dick’s trek out of Faust’s Germany and onto P.P. Layout’s pad in Californian dreaming.
Of the hundreds of students who flocked to such well-designed courses as The Vampire Lectures (1999) and The Devil Notebooks (2008), many claimed to recognize the precognitive scientist of fiction, PKD, as an influence to Laurence Rickels’ teaching and writing. One crucial feature of textually encountering Professor Rickels is that you can never take for granted literal and literary appearances: Through a relentless irony, he will explain and exemplify at one and the same time — a talent in the profession of professing something like truth or knowledge.
For this presentation, Professor Rickels plans to shift his focus onto the postwar predicament of the integration of Germany as “Our Problem.” The poster boy of Rickels' The Case of California (1991), Philip K. Dick projected the future as fitting the Coast while carrying forward “Germany” as its ambivalent introject, our problem. This includes the ethical-clinical problem of the violent psychopath as failure of interpretation and treatment that can at best be contained. In and around The Simulacra, Dick and his intertexts connect denial of mourning to a notion of productivity based on restitution and reparation without responsibility for the specified dead. That the policy of restitution, which became the quintessential foreign policy of the Federal Republic of Germany, has come to be identified as the enabling context for the postwar German “economic miracle” is one more piece of this puzzle of integration.