“Ubik…Safe when taken as directed.”
― Philip K. Dick, “Ubik”
I wanted this post to not be a journal-thing but a comprehensive article on the subject…but I realize that’s going to take some time. So here are some of my notes:
Saw the Netflix show Bandersnatch for the first time a little over a week ago. Or rather, I “played” Bandersnatch, as it’s basically structured like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game. You are given choices throughout key (or even seemingly trivial) parts of the game as to what the protagonist’s next move is going to be, making the selection with your remote control.
The film is about a young game designer named Stefan who is obsessed with a book called Bandersnatch—also in a “Choose Your Own Adventure” format—written by a man named Jerome F. Davies who later went insane.
It’s the opinion of this writer that Jerome F. Davies is supposed to be…
What other evidence do I have to back up my claim about Davies/Dick? This shot from the film, showing a poster of Dick’s reality-splitting novel Ubik:
Now: I have not read Ubik; I’ve been mostly studying Dick’s VALIS trilogy & his Exegesis. But Ubik is a really key book in both the Dick canon and just this concept of time-loops, multiple realities, “fake” reality, and so on. And I think Ubik and Bandersnatch sort of interconnect thematically.
I’m not going to get into detail here about what transpires in Bandersnatch, but I will say that a fairly significant and meta Fourth Wall breaking does occur. Which then made me revisit the Adult Swim short film Too Many Cooks, as well as the web series Lasagna Cat.
Both Too Many Cooks and Lasagna Cat break the Fourth Wall and really mess with the heads of viewers—like the repeated scenes in Bandersnatch, they operate on a type of time loop. All three also operate on what is known as the Alienation Effect, per Bertolt Brecht: the artificiality of the presentation is highlighted, fucking with the audience’s emotional involvement. Certainly, one is also led to question the possible artificiality of reality.
And then you have to ask yourself…well, there is so much of this time-loop/mind-fuck/multiple reality trope lately in pop-culture. And it’s all over fringe theory too—there’s a whole school of thought that we all died during the Mayan Apocalypse in 2012 & we’ve been operating in a sort of “half-life” ever since (one of the—spoilers!—plot points to Ubik, by the way). And of course…the Mandela Effect.
Why is this such a popular topic at the moment? Is it because the world is changing so fast that it’s the only way the masses can wrap their heads around things? By attributing it all to actual multiple realities? To giving it all a “tangible,” literal explanation?
As I said…these are all just notes for a longer future inquiry, an inquiry I’m not inclined to pursue right at this very moment. But anyway: here you go, a few leads down the rabbit hole.
The ultimate, in my opinion, pop-culture mind-fuck shitpost video (I’ve watched/listened to it at least 50 times AND IT KEEPS GETTING BETTER EVERY TIME!!!):