Dick et la pranoïa


Quel rapport, me diriez-vous? Il y en aurait un, si on en croit cette étude…


Strange Days Indeed: The Golden Age of Paranoia—Nixon’s Neurosis,
Philip K. Dick’s Delusions, and a World on the Edge of a Nervous
Breakdown Francis Wheen. Public Affairs, $26.95 (352p) ISBN

The 1970s is the most deranged of decades in this rollicking, lurid retrospective. Taking Richard Nixon’s paranoid persecution complex as the period’s zeitgeist, Private Eye deputy editor Wheen (How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World) finds it everywhere. Along with an amusing rehash of Watergate, his panorama of ’70s nuttiness encompasses conspiracy theories, Hollywood thrillers, the Baader-Meinhof gang, sci- fi novelist Philip K. Dick’s letters to the FBI denouncing his literary agent as a Communist, and tawdry political intrigues in a Britain beset by strikes, power outages, IRA bombings, Trotskyist dramaturgy, and coup whisperings. Anthropomorphized, Wheen writes, the decade would be “a meth-swilling vagrant waylaying passers-by to tell them that the Archbishop of Canterbury had planted electrodes in his brain.” Wheen thinks the period’s ravings were both laughably lunatic and on to something important in a world of covert ops and oil embargoes, but his paranoia diagnosis is too pat to fully capture the politico-cultural chaos. Still, writing like Hunter S. Thompson might have had he been English and sober, Wheen offers a vivid, entertaining guide to an era of fear and loathing. (Mar. 2)

Oncle Joe
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