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"I see only murk. Murk outside; murk inside."

February 20, 2008, Literature
Last edited on March 16, 2008

He paid the driver, got out his door key, and entered the house.

Immediately he felt something watching: the holo-scanners on him. As soon as he crossed his own threshold. Alone—no one but him in the house. Untrue! Him and the scanners, insidious and invisible, that watched him and recorded. Everything he did. Everything he uttered.

Like the scrawls on the wall when you're peeing in a public urinal, he thought. smile! you're on candid camera! I am, he thought, as soon as I enter this house. It's eerie. He did not like it. He felt self-conscious; the sensation had grown since the first day, when they'd arrived home—the "dog-shit day," as he thought of it, couldn't keep from thinking of it. Each day the experience of the scanners had grown.

"Nobody home, I guess," he stated aloud as usual, and was aware that the scanners had picked that up. But he had to take care always: he wasn't supposed to know they were there. Like an actor before a movie camera, he decided, you act like the camera doesn't exist or else you blow it. It's all over.

And for this shit there are no take-two's.

What you get instead is wipeout. I mean, what I get. Not the people behind the scanners but me.

What I ought to do, he thought, to get out of this, is sell the house; it's run down anyway. But . . . I love this house. No way!

It's my house.

Nobody can drive me out.

For whatever reasons they would or do want to.

Assuming there's a "they" at all.

Which may just be my imagination, the "they" watching me. Paranoia. Or rather the "it." The depersonalized it.

Whatever it is that's watching, it is not a human.

Not by my standards, anyhow. Not what I'd recognize.

As silly as this is, he thought, it's frightening. Something is being done to me and by a mere thing, here in my own house. Before my very eyes.

Within something's very eyes; within the sight of some blink. What does a scanner see? he asked himself. I mean, really see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does a passive infrared scanner like they used to use or a cube-type holo-scanner like they use these days, the latest thing, see into me—into us—clearly or darkly? I hope it does, he thought, see clearly, because I can't any longer these days see into myself. I see only murk. Murk outside; murk inside. I hope, for everyone's sake, the scanners do better. Because, he thought, if the scanner sees only darkly, the way I myself do, then we are cursed, cursed again and like we have been continually, and we'll wind up dead this way, knowing very little and getting that little fragment wrong too.

Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly, 1977, pp. 184/185.

(Wer gerade nichts mit dem Namen anfangen kann: Die Filme Blade Runner (1982), Total Recall (1990), Minority Report (2002), Imposter (2002), Paycheck (2003), Next (2007) — und A Scanner Darkly (2007) basieren allesamt auf Romanen beziehungsweise Kurzgeschichten von Philip K. Dick.)

A Scanner Darkly ist nicht gerade leicht zu verdauen, doch wer will schon nur Geplätscher lesen. In der englischen Wikipedia gibt es eine ziemlich brauchbare Kurzbeschreibung:

A Scanner Darkly (1977) is a bleak mixture of science fiction and police procedural novels; in its story, an undercover narcotics police detective begins to lose touch with reality after falling victim to the same permanently mind altering drug, Substance D, he was enlisted to help fight. Substance D is instantly addictive, beginning with a pleasant euphoria which is quickly replaced with increasing confusion, hallucinations and eventually total psychosis. In this novel, as with all Dick novels, there is an underlying thread of paranoia and dissociation with multiple realities perceived simultaneously.

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