Essay Philip K. Dick: the Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

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Philip K. Dick's The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is a deeply symbolic work. Centered largely on concepts of soft science fiction, Dick presents to the reader a work which is based essentially on themes of philosophy and theology; he leads the reader to ponder such concepts as the true nature of reality and the direction in which our current society is headed based on then-current social and cultural phenomena - specifically, the growing use of hallucinogenic drugs in the 1960s. These themes are presented by way of a dystopian future set in the year 2016. Due to the nature of the thematic material and the complexity of the work itself, the book is clearly intended to be read and understood by an adult audience.

The book opens …show more content…

The result of this draft is that the colonists find themselves with very little for which to live. As a result, they rely on a drug called Can-D - hallucinogenic in nature - to pass the time and provide them something to which they can look forward. What is unique about this drug is that its experience is shared among all the people who take it in presence of one another.

The religious themes are rampant throughout the text. Palmer Eldritch is seemingly a parody of a Jesus figure. The title references "three stigmata," these being his metal, disfigured jaw; artificial arm; and glowing, artificial eyes. It is no accident that the stigmata are all technological in nature. If Dick truly felt that technology would lead us to a dystopian future, then the use of the stigmata fits perfectly with that. Jesus's own stigmata were the wounds caused by his crucifixion on his feet, arms, and torso. The stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, then, can be seen as "wounds" which result from the actions of using technology to enhance the human body.

The use of the drug Can-D also has religious elements. The experience is shared among all those who eat the drug together and is similar to the Eucharist, a shared eating experience among Christians. The chewing of Can-D, much like the eating of Christ's body (the Eucharist) in Christian practices, is also symbolic of much more than simply

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