American Writers (One Hundred Pages at a Time)

Episode 319: Dark Days of Defeat and the Slavery Question (Writing of Abraham Lincoln, 1862)

1862 was a bad year for the Union army and Abraham Lincoln with numerous defeats and military frustrations along with some Democratic gains in the mid-term elections. But it was also the year in which runaway slaves forced Lincoln to rethink the meaning of the war.

Episode 318: The First Year of the Civil War (Writings of Abraham Lincoln 1861)

In this episode, I look at the writings of Abraham Lincoln during his trip to Washington and the first year of the Civil War. Here the major issues include his policy toward the border states and the early wartime questions about slavery.

Episode 317: Election of 1860 and Secession: (Writings of Abraham Lincoln 1860)

In this episode I look at the writings of Abraham Lincoln from 1860. This was the year of the election that won Lincoln the presidency and saw the first state secede from the Union.

Episode 316: Cooper Union Speech and More: Abraham Lincoln’s 1859 Writings

In this episode, I look at the writings and speeches of Abraham Lincoln from 1859. The most notable document is the "Cooper Union" speech Lincoln gave in New York City, but there are some other interesting texts, including a speech he gave in Milwaukee on technology and labor.

Episode 315: The Moral Argument (Lincoln-Douglas Debates 5-6-7)

In this episode, we see how Abraham Lincoln lifted his 1858 debates with Stephen Douglas to a new level by pursuing the moral argument against slavery and against its expansion.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Future Plans

The Philip K. Dick Book Club will be on hiatus for a while, but here are my future plans. Let me know if you have any additional ideas.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 150: When the Rough Draft is Better than the Final Product: Radio Free Albemuth

In this "finale" of the Philip K. Dick Book Club, I look at RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH. This novel is far superior to the re-write (VALIS). I love the look at a slowly creeping dystopia and the necessity of futile but inevitably victorious resistance.

Episode 314: Lincoln Douglas Debates 3 & 4

In this episode, I look at the third and fourth of the great Lincoln-Douglas debates. It seems to me that Lincoln was on the defensive in these two debates. He has yet to lift the subject of the debate to issue of the morality of slavery.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 149: The Transmigration of Timothy Archer

The best of Philip K. Dick's later novels is THE TRANSMIGRATION OF TIMOTHY ARCHER. It explores the religious culture of California during Dick's own life. We get some Bishop Pike, some John Allegro and the Dead Sea Scrolls, and some Alan Watts.

Episode 313: Lincoln-Douglas Debates 1 and 2

This podcast is the first of three episodes exploring the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.

In addition to reading them I watched the reenactments aired by C-SPAN in the 1990s. I recommend them.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 148: God Help Me!: The Divine Invasion

We have come all this way in order to read Philip K. Dick's most disappointing book. It is an opaque novel that betrays much of what Dick established in his earlier career on what it means to be human and how to respond to power. But share your thoughts.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 147: VALIS

Philip K. Dick's "VALIS Trilogy" begins with a little novel called VALIS. A fan favorite, but not one I care for very much. Let me know what you think.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 146: Dick’s Last Story (The Alien Mind)

"The Alien Mind" was Philip K. Dick's last published story, appearing in The Yuba City High Times in February 1981.
Next up, we will look at the VALIS novels.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 145: I Will Just Never Understand You (Rautavaara’s Case)

"Rautavaara's Case" by Philip K. Dick is one of his last stories. It uses an interstellar dispute over a man's remains to explore the limits of understanding between cultures and what a truly religious system could look like. This story also asks some nice bio-medical ethics questions.

Episode 312: Lincoln’s Return to Public Life (Writings 1855 to summer of 1858)

This episode examines Lincoln's writings from the aftermath of the Kansas-Nebraska Act to his nomination by the Illinois Republican Party to the Senate in 1858. The highlight of this period is his famous "House Divided" Speech.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 144: Memories if Nothing Else (I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon)

In "I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon" (published in PLAYBOY) Philip K. Dick wrote a nice story about change, how we do not trust memories, and how memories may fill in for what we have lost. One of his last stories.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 143: Philip K. Dick Writes about Crazy Neighbors (Strange Memories of Death)

Philip K. Dick wrote with brilliance about mental illness and institutionalization throughout his career. Check out this story (the first work of his from the 1980s, I look at), "Strange Memories of Death". It is a mainstream story about living next to the Lysol Lady.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 142: The Exit Door Leads In

What did Philip K. Dick think of Watergate and state secrets and the military-industrial complex? I think we know, but if you have any doubt read "The Exit Door Leads In" which was published in ROLLING STONES COLLEGE PAPERS. It is a very nice story Dick published in 1979

Episode 311: The Beginning of the Sectional Conflict (Abraham Lincoln’s Writings 1849-1854)

In this episode, I take a close look at the writings and speeches of Abraham Lincoln during the years after the Mexican War, as the sectional conflict began in the United States. Lincoln completes his only term in the House of Representatives and returns to Illinois and lawyering, but remained an observer of Whig politics during the last years of that party.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 141: The Day Mr. Computer Fell Out of Its Tree

Now we get to some of the strange late Philip K. Dick stories. The first of these is "The Day Mr. Computer Fell Out of Its Tree", in which Dick takes on once again the dangers of automation. One of his first themes was also one of his last.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 140.5: The Cycle of Death (A Scanner Darkly, Part 5)

In the finale of my review of A SCANNER DARKLY by Philip K. Dick we see the ultimate fate of Bob Arctor and his friends, as well as possibly the fate of all of us in the eternal struggle between the individual and the institution. And this conclusion is set in Dick's greatest depiction of an asylum.

Episode 310: An Illinois Lawyer Goes to Washington (Lincoln Writings 1845-1848)

The years 1845 to 1848 see Lincoln engaged in local Whig politics and then moving onto national politics by serving on the House of Representatives where he opposed the Mexican War. In this episode I look at his major speeches and writings from those years.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 140.4: This Is Your Brain on Death (A Scanner Darkly Part 4)

Bob Arctor learns that working undercover is not all it is cracked up to be as he hits rock bottom, loses his sense of identity, and ends up being put through the consuming machine of the state. All of this and more in part 4 (of 5) of my review of Philip K. Dick's A SCANNER DARKLY.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 140.3: I’ll Be Watching You….I Mean Me (A Scanner Darkly Part 3)

In part 3 of my review of Philip K. Dick's A SCANNER DARKLY we follow Bob Arctor as he descends into the ultimate of paranoia and addiction by investigating himself. Is this is metaphor for the ultimate fate of the surveillance state? Of course.

Episode 309: Young Politician Lincoln (to 1844)

A new series and a new phase in American political thought. In this episode we meet Abraham Lincoln as a young Whig politician in the 1830s and early 1840s.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 140.2: Paranoia and the Police State (A Scanner Darkly, Part 2)

As we get deeper into Philip K. Dick's A SCANNER DARKLY we see just how deeply paranoia runs in a world governed by the police state. But just how much of the paranoia is justified? And how paranoid is the state compared to the people it tries to control?

Episode 308: Tocqueville Finale (Democracy in America, Part 8)

The finale to my extended review of Alexis de Tocqueville's DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA.

Philip K. Dick Book Club: Episode 140.1: California Dreaming of Death (A Scanner Darkly, Part 1)

The first of five episodes covering Philip K. Dick's A SCANNER DARKLY. This novel has some of his most bleak and powerful images of life in late capitalist California and his prescience on failed war on drugs is astounding. One of his best novels.

Episode 307: Democratic Mores (Democracy in America, Part 7)

In part 7 of my review of Alexis de Tocqueville's DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA we get to the heart of the argument about social relations, gender, family, and other aspects of the mores of democratic culture. It is the most fascinating and perhaps relevant part of the book covering everything from how democracies fight wars to how they raise daughters.

Episode 306: Tocqueville on American Individualism (Democracy in America, Part 6)

In part 6 of my review of Alexis de Tocqueville's DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA we look at his views on egoism and individualism as well as their impact on American culture and intellect. Is individualism good? What will individualism coming through democracy mean to the aristocratic cultures of Europe?