Monday, January 07, 2013

Yes, pictures and music are sometimes better than words

I have a vague, troubling memory from my graduate school days. OK, more than one memory. Actually dozens. Hundreds. Oh, God, the flood of vague, troubling memories ... ! But the one that's troubling me today is the sound of my voice, intoning to a classroom full of undergraduate composition students something to the effect of: "Anything that cannot be articulated in words is not worth articulating." In my defense, I think I was trying to counteract certain students' desire not to write anything about what they had just read--or seen or listened to--because putting their thoughts into words would "spoil it." Which, all you students out there must admit, could also be interpreted as a cover story for laziness.

Nevertheless, I was young and (relatively) brash myself in those days, and given to pronouncements that now make me cringe. So let me say for the record: Words are not always the best medium of communication. They are the most practical, and practiced, medium, but there are many, many occasions when another form works better.

All of this is by way of saying that I bought my husband a copy of Philip K. Dick's Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said for Christmas, and this particular edition came with this most extraordinary cover art by Chris Moore.

Of course, you also need to read the book beneath the art. As I understand it, this is one of the few novels by Dick that don't start out brilliantly (they all do, as far as I can tell), but then collapse spectacularly after about p. 20. This one makes it all the way through.

But if you want to experience the true spirit of 1970s science fiction, this cover art delivers, in a way mere words cannot. Take a look, and then tell me I'm wrong.

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