An Alien God

May 14, 22:13 by IROSF
A thread to discuss Philip K. Dick's The Galactic Pot Healer -- or Robert Bee's analysis.

The article can be found here.
May 22, 09:08 by Adrian Simmons
A good article. I've got to get me some Dick. I mean, uh, that I should probably read some PK Dick.

However, although I've not read the story itself, the last four words of the novel are about the pot, not Joe.

I suppose there could be hints in the story about how this would affect Joe, if it would crush his spirit or if he would take it in stride and move on to the next one. It seems that even Glimmung and his minions were not free from the occasional failure- perhaps a lesson Joe took to heart.
May 23, 16:19 by Ryder W. Miller
Finding "The Chrysanthemums" in Philip K. Dickís Galactic Pot-Healer

By Ryder W. Miller

Early in Philip K. Dickís book Galactic Pot-Healer (1969), the protagonist, Joe Fernwright, a ceramics repairman, plays an international on-line guessing game of which the clues to the first round are "Book Title" and "The Lattice-work Gun-stinging Insect". With more clues Fernwright gathers that the book in question is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Later in the game he gives the clues to his international playmate "The Male Offspring in Addition Gets Out of Bed" by which Fernwright means The Sun Also Rises. Next question: "Those for Which the Male Homosexual Exacts Transit Tax," by which he means For Whom the Bell Tolls. But after the end of the guessing game, one is still left with the question of how Dick got the odd title for the book Galactic Pot-Healer?

Fernwright, a pot-healer or ceramics repairmen like his father, lives in a strange future where tobacco is illegal, intergalactic travel is possible, charity can be a crime, and talking gastropods invite you to their planet. Fernwright is summoned to Plowmanís Planet to help raise an underwater cathedral by the Glimmerung, a godlike entity. Glimmerung is in conflict with the Kalends and hopes to raise the cathedral Heldscalla to undermine his antagonistís. Heldscalla will allow the community of Glimmerung followers to merge telepathically.

Steinbeck readers can be intrigued by this book because Galactic Pot-Healer and the story "The Chrysanthemums" by John Steinbeck can remind a reader of each other. It is easy to think of possible connections to Dickís title after reading "The Chrysanthemums." The first name Joe is not very different from the first name John. Fernwright sounds "farmsy" and he is off to a different world to raise Heldscalla out of the sea. Steinbeck wrote about farmers and people who lived by the sea. Galactic Pot-Healer, also by a California writer, like some of Steinbeckís work, is also about theological issues.

The most direct connection (and probable inspiration) is probably from the passages which describe when housewife Elisa Allen encounters a travelling repairman. He leans over the fence and explains: "Maybe you noticed the writing on my wagon. I mend pots and sharpen knives and scissors. You got any of those things to do?" The sign on his wagon reads: "Pots, pans, knives, sisors, lawn mores, Fixed." The un-named man asks for directions. He travels north and south each year between Seattle and San Diego, following the good weather. The prose style used in "The Chrysanthemums" gives the reader a sense of how alien and imposing he seems to her. But he also represents a possible escape from her normal life. She wonders what his life would be like.

Elisa at the start does not have work for him, but she does give him Chrysanthemum sprouts to deliver to a woman down the road who wants them for her garden. Elisa explains "Oh, those are chrysanthemums, giant whites and yellows. I raise them every year, bigger than anybody around here."

The pot and scissors repairman says: "Kind of a long-stemmed flower? Looks like a quick puff of colored smoke?"

After he is insistent, Elisa finds some pots for him to fix, but the experience for her is wondrous, and galactic. Steinbeck wrote:

"Elisaís voice grew husky. She broke in on him, "Iíve never lived as you do, but I know what you mean. When the night is dark-why, the stars are sharp-pointed, and thereís quiet. Why, you rise up and up! Every pointed star gets driven into your body. Itís like that. Hot and sharp and-lovely."

Kneeling there, her hand went out toward his legs in the greasy black trousers. Her hesitant fingers almost touched the cloth. Then her hand dropped to the ground. She crouched low like a fawning dog."" (Long Valley, p. 12)

I think Philip K. Dick noticed this passage, and maybe Galactic Pot-Healer was a tribute or reaction to Steinbeck who died the year (1968) before Dickís book was published. Such connections in science fiction are not unusual. One can find references to the famous literary American authors while reading science fiction.

Fernwright decides not to stick with the crowd on the artistic Plowmanís Planet, and the final passages may help one also remember Steinbeckís Sweet Thursday. Joe Fernwright got tired and didnít play the guessing game for very many titles. Maybe the next clue would have been "Large Farming Area Between Mountains, Flowers There"? Along the way Fernwright learns to make pots, his first being "tall, now blue-and-white".

Sep 28, 18:55 by
Thank you for good communication.

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