I’ve just discovered that Philip K. Dick once shared a house with Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan. The same source, an LRB article by Stephen Burt about Dick (3 July 2008), tells me that the SF author believed that radios talked to him. This is remarkably similar to claims made by Spicer that his role as poet was less creator than ‘conveyor of messages’ from outside; that his work was dictated to him from elsewhere. It seems he meant that quite specifically, not the outside as Zeitgeist but as something that could actually be tuned into and received, like a radio. I haven’t looked at Spicer for some time, though I used to love his work, and I’ve read very little Dick, despite enjoying most of the films his work has inspired. But it’s interesting, and slightly spooky, to think of the two men tuning in together when they were both so young. I wonder if what Spicer saw as poetic practice and Dick, in his later years at least, and on the basis of a cursory reading of Burt’s review, seemed to see as LSD-induced paranoia both had their origin in late night conversations about the nature of inspiration in the Bay Area, fuelled by whatever both men were using at the time.

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