Thursday, October 28, 2010

PKD, the Stigmata and De Imitatione Christi

A Christian manual of spiritual devotion attributed to Thomas à Kempis (ca. 1380 – 1471) and first published in Latin ca. 1418, De Imitatione Christi surfaces on Mars in Philip K. Dick’s classic science fiction novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965):
Barney said, “Maybe I have more of a purpose here than you.”

“I had plenty of purpose.” She removed her bulky suit and seated herself as he began fixing coffee for the two of them.

“The people in my hovel – it’s half a mile to the north of this one – are out, too, the same way. Did you know I was so close? Would you have looked me up?”

“Sure I would have.” He found plastic, insipidly styled cups and saucers, laid them on the foldaway table, and produced the equally foldaway chairs. “Maybe,” he said, “God doesn’t extend as far as Mars. Maybe when we left Terra –"

“Nonsense,” Anne said sharply, rousing herself.

“I thought that would succeed in getting you angry.”

“Of course it does. He’s everywhere. Even here.” She glanced at his partially unpacked possessions, the suitcases and sealed cartons. “You didn’t bring very much, did you? Most of mine’s still on the way, on an autonomic transport.” Strolling over, she stood studying a pile of paperback books. “De Imitatione Christi,” she said in amazement. “You’re reading Thomas à Kempis? This is a great and wonderful book.”

“I bought it,” he said, “but never read it."

“Did you try? I bet you didn’t.” She opened it at random and read to herself, her lips moving. “’Think the least gift that he giveth is great; and the most despisable things take as special gifts and as great tokens of love.’ That would include life here on Mars, wouldn’t it?...”
While Thomas à Kempis never received the precious imprint of the Stigmata, his De Imitatione Christi does mention it.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Paul,
    You can read Thomas à Kempis here:
    I prefer Dick.