Sunday, September 19, 2010

Eye in the Sky

Philip Dick published "Eye in the Sky" in 1957, when paranoia about Communism was still running high. In the book, a set of random tourists at an atom smasher (like Fermilab!) is subject to a radiation beam after a nuclear accident at the laboratory. Instead of dying of radiation poisoning or burns, each one of them becomes the master of his or her own private universe, where reality bends to his/her will. The main character (the face in the center) is forced to travel through these private universes where hallucinations become real. One private universe is ruled by religious fundamentalism, another by paranoia about the Reds. Eventually the world of one censorious paranoid character just becomes empty, since she hates everything! That's why one corner of this picture has nothing in it but a dusty horizon. Also, by that time I was sick of drawing stuff for these illustrations so I left it empty rather than drawing in it. The character on the left, a loathsome suburban matron who is the one who hates everything, is based on me, though I am not as pudgy as she is. It's hard for someone who didn't live through the 1950s to feel a shudder of fear at the Communist hammer and sickle symbol (in this image, it's reversed). Nowadays, it's quaint. Back then, it was terrifying.

"Eye in the Sky" is ink on illustration board, 7" x 10", summer 1979. Published by Gregg Press.

Note to readers: I am having serious internet access problems and cannot predict whether I will have a connection or not. This was posted during a moment of functionality but if I don't post a By-Product, this Communist hacker attack against my connection would be the reason. The serviceman will visit on Thursday.

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