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Grandma Moses vs. Philip K. Dick (2); Gandhi advances

Yesterday’s most relevant comment came from Ben:

Gandhi would have a far more interesting things to say about the current state of world politics, etc. The issues that Gandhi was known for (de-colonization, passive resistance) remain immensely relevant but with very different parameters than the 1920’s-1940’s. By contrast, Mother Teresa’s main mission (serving the poor) is basically unchanged and there is little chance of learning anything new.

Also, Jonathan did a pretty good Brooks imitation in Gandhi’s favor.

And, today we have a classic matchup of visual vs. literary art, of convention vs. rebellion, a battle between an artist who did her best work when elderly, and an author who wrote fast and died young.

P.S. As always, here’s the background, and here are the rules.


  1. Oliver says:

    I don’t have my copy of VALIS to hand, so can’t quote directly, but the collapse of linear time described therein might lead to problems in the definition of priors – one flash of pink laser light and the practice of Bayesian statistics would have to be reworked. Having said that, given the unstable realities of his work, it seems difficult to imagine PKD following a frequentist paradigm. His books alone can lead the reader to doubt their own sanity but, despite the risks, I think that Philip has the most to offer if the seminar is to be well attended by followers of this blog.

  2. Ethan Bolker says:

    PKD so I have an excuse and a reason to reread stuff of his that grabbed me once and read the rest for the first time.

  3. Jonathan (another one) says:

    Thanks, Andrew. My parody might have been better had I actually read anything by Brooks in the last five years. I thought about actually reading a few columns to make it better, but blog commenter is actually less well paid than blogger.

    As for today’s contest, I would be highly inclined to pick Dick; my only hesitation is that I have attended a speech in the past by a renowned science fiction writer: Harlan Ellison. He was a dick. Maybe Dick will be an Ellison.

  4. Slugger says:

    I accidentally swallowed a stelazine capsule and have seen that Grandma Moses is in fact a reptilian lifeform without the ability to vocalize. My vote goes to PKD.

  5. Dalton says:

    We already know what PKD will say, and it doesn’t matter, because it will be excellent. (

    “Science fiction writers, I am sorry to say, really do not know anything. We can’t talk about science, because our knowledge of it is limited and unofficial, and usually our fiction is dreadful. A few years ago, no college or university would ever have considered inviting one of us to speak. We were mercifully confined to lurid pulp magazines, impressing no one. In those days, friends would say me, “But are you writing anything serious?” meaning “Are you writing anything other than science fiction?” We longed to be accepted. We yearned to be noticed. Then, suddenly, the academic world noticed us, we were invited to give speeches and appear on panels—and immediately we made idiots of ourselves. The problem is simply this: What does a science fiction writer know about? On what topic is he an authority?

    It reminds me of a headline that appeared in a California newspaper just before I flew here. SCIENTISTS SAY THAT MICE CANNOT BE MADE TO LOOK LIKE HUMAN BEINGS. It was a federally funded research program, I suppose. Just think: Someone in this world is an authority on the topic of whether mice can or cannot put on two-tone shoes, derby hats, pinstriped shirts, and Dacron pants, and pass as humans.”

    So not only is he engaging and self-deprecating, but that joke in the second sentence can be easily modified to pick on the audiences pet peeve.

    “It reminds me of a headline that appeared in a California newspaper just before I flew here. SCIENTISTS SAY WOMEN THREE TIMES MORE LIKELY TO WEAR RED OR PINK WHEN THEY ARE MOST FERTILE. It was a federally funded research program, I suppose. Just think: Someone in this world is an authority on the topic of whether woman choose their pink blouse or red heels when they’re ovulating or whether they do an interesting sub-group analysis and pass the results off as ‘significant’.”

  6. Xi'an says:

    Philip K. Dick because I watched Blade Runner this weekend and thought the movie had aged much faster than the book.

    • mark says:

      For all the qualities I care about, I find the book so much better than the movie that the durable appeal of the movie among fandom drives me crazy. The book is quirkier, funnier, more imaginative, wittier, sadder and more hopeful. The movie could have been based on a ’50s era short story for the amount of respect it gives Dick’s idiosyncracies. Of course there is no way to communicate this to someone who doesn’t already agree with me.

      Anyway, I vote for Dick. I want to see if his seminar will still be there if I stop believing in it.

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