Friday, 27 July 2012

The Zap Gun of the Culture-Industry

Philip K Dick imagined many worlds in his bewildering and brilliant fiction and in his scathing satire of The Cold War The Zap Gun (which set out exactly the same argument on the confrontation as Chomsky in Deterring Democracy i.e. that it was a joint system of government and not a war) PKD presented something particularly pertinent to his own posthumous role in the culture-industry.  
The Zap Gun presents a world were the super-power confrontation is displayed to the people of the world as deadly serious and focused on an astounding arms race in which, in reality, all of the weapons dreamt up by the specialists in the field are never made (at least not so that they function). This subterfuge is a key mechanism in the joint system of control that the two super-powers use on their own people. The spectacle of the unimaginable arm-race is used to ensure that flows of capital and governmental measures are directed as the governing elites wish without bringing these weapons of annihilation actually into existence and thus threatening the continued existence of the system of control.  Eventually there is a crisis (a devastating alien invasion of course) in which it is discovered that the source of all of the unbelievable weapons of total devastation that the psuedo-arm-race had spectacularly projected into the political discourses of the world system came from the imagination of one man; Oral Giacomini who is an insane Italian artist who writes and draws a 'motion comic' titled The Blue Cephalopod Man from Titan.
It is this role of the insane artist as source of imagination for an industrial system the PKD now holds. His character unwittingly, because his mind was plundered by telepaths without his knowledge,  provided a pseudo-military-industrial-complex with ideas, images, and projections of terror to be used in a non-existent but ideologically crucial arms-race. PKD unwittingly, because dead, provides a culture-industry with ideas, images, narrative forms, projections of terror and so forth to be used in the spectacle.  The non-existent super-weapon arms-race of The Zap Gun lives on in the spectacle.


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