Radical Detours: A Situationist Reading of Philip K. Dick
In this project I read four Philip K. Dick novels against the writing of the Situationist International (SI). In doing so, I seek to disrupt two critical trends that arguably impede Dick criticism: the depoliticization of Dick and the lack of focus on his style. Through reading his work against the politics of the SI, Dick’s own radical politics can be defined and reaffirmed. I make the case that Dick is a writer predominantly concerned with politics and ideology over and above philosophy and ontology. Secondly, I argue that the political power of Dick’s work is inseparable from his avant-garde style; in particular, his frequent use of what the Situationists termed détournement. With revolutionary politics and avant-garde aesthetics in mind, I re-examine the canonical novels Martian Time-Slip and Ubik, and redeem two of Dick’s neglected novels, The Game-Players of Titan and Galactic Pot-Healer.