A San Francisco author’s paper was quietly pulled from Friday and Saturday’s Philip K. Dick Conference at Cal State Fullerton over alarm about his view that the late sci-fi master’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was based on Christ’s Passion—with an extra heavy emphasis on Jews persecuting Jesus.
Greg Johnson is editor-in-chief of Counter-Currents Publishing, which bills itself as a resource for the North American New Right (or Alternative Right) movement. The Southern Poverty Law Center brands Johnson a white nationalist.
Joel Bellman, who labels Johnson a “white separatist” and Counter-Currents as “a San Francisco-based publisher of racist and far-right extremist literature,” has the scoop in the Jewish Journal on the spiked inclusion in the Philip K. Dick Conference 2016.
The basis for the classic sci-fi movie Blade Runner, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was actually a coded allegory in which adherents of a cult called Mercerism represented early Gnostic Christians, while a rival group of malevolent robots, “the Killers,” represented Jews, according to Johnson’s paper, as reported by Bellman.
It is laced with anti-Semitic references to Jews’ alleged intellectual arrogance, lack of empathy, and eagerness to follow the dictates of the Old Testament to exploit animals and other human beings for their own selfish and subversive ends. Johnson notes approvingly that “Philip K. Dick had a good deal of wisdom about Jews and the Jewish question.”
Bellman seeks an explanation about how Johnson’s work was included from David Sandner, a Cal State Fullerton English professor who confided knowing nothing of Johnson or Counter-Currents. Sander also admitted Dick conference speakers are not closely vetted.
Minutes after concluding his interview with the Jewish Journal, Sandner emailed to say, “Greg Johnson’s paper has been removed because it was already published. Conferences are not a venue for already published work.”
Johnson’s paper had been posted on his website with this comment in April 2014: “Aside from two readings of the book, I did NO research to write this article, for fear of losing my amateur status.”
Bellman goes on to write about how easy it is to check the backgrounds of Johnson and Counter-Currents, and the notion that Dick was anti-Semitic is quickly shot down by Marc Haefele, a Santa Monica-based arts critic, former journalist and book editor who personally knew the novelist and edited four of his books for Doubleday in the late 1960s, including Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
There’s also this: Dick’s third wife Anne Rubinstein was Jewish.
With the theme “Philip K. Dick, Here and Now, ” the conference explores the prolific author’s influence on science fiction literature and film “and the continued value of his work in helping us understand our science fictional world,” according to organizers. It is held at Cal State Fullerton because Dick’s papers are part of the university’s Special Collections, and it is sponsored by the English Department, the student social writing club Acacia and The Creative Writing Club.
The keynote speaker is UCLA English professor Ursula K. Heise, whose 3 p.m. address Saturday in Titan Student Union is titled “Dick’s New Nature.” There is also a plenary talk by New York-based essayist and science-fiction novelist Jonathan Lethem. Tim Powers and James Blaylock, who are Titan alums and sci-fi writers, share their reflections on Dick.
Rounding out the conference is an exhibit in the Pollak Library Atrium Gallery, co-sponsored by the Art Department, that features key works from Special Collections and new art inspired by Dick.