Transcript for Anne Dick on "The Search for Philip K. Dick"

Jim Fleming: Philip K. Dick was married five times. His third wife was Anne Williams Rubenstien. She now goes by the name Anne Dick. They were married for six years from 1959 to 1965 and she has written a book that chronicles their relationship. Its called, "The Search for Philip K. Dick."   Anne Dick tells Steve Paulson about the first time she met Dick in October 1958.

Anne Dick: My first husband was a poet and he had died several weeks before. Here I am living way up in the country. We had been in the city, interacting with writers and painters, so I was always interested in people and in the arts and I heard this writer had moved to town, so I decided to go down and call on him one afternoon and I had to climb their fence because I could make the gate work.

Steve Paulson: This was Philip Dick and his wife at that time

Dick: Yes, he was married at the time. He left his wife for me which I still feel a little guilty about when I think about it. But we had a very intense relationship so maybe it was ok.

Paulson: So, what was it like the first time you met him?

Dick: You know, I looked at him and I thought I have known this person forever. Like you know you felt like previous lifetimes although I don't really believe in previous lifetimes but that's what it felt like. He had these great green eyes and they were rather deeply set in his head and they sort of had a light in them, seemed like a flickering light or something, quite brilliant. So that was my first impression. Nice looking man, about, he was 29 years old then

Paulson: And you were 30 at the time.

Dick: I was a year and 11 months older. Later on he kept referring to his older wife, made me so mad.

Paulson: And also you had three young daughters

Dick: Oh yeah, and he just loved my daughters. He was a wonderful father.

Paulson: ah ha

Dick: He played games with them. He made up stories for them. He took them on excursions. We went to the beach. He baked birthday cakes for them. You know he was just about the perfect husband and perfect father. I mean if you can imagine the best husband you can imagine then Philip Dick was better than you can imagine.

Paulson: Wow

Dick: I think it was very stressful for him

Paulson: Stressful in what way?

Dick: You know, when we were getting divorced which I never quite understood because he always claimed I was the great love of his life. He wrote a story  after we separated and it was about this man who was just exhausted and he goes to meet his wife and children at the airport. Meanwhile, there is this invasion of proxers who look like human beings who were taking over the earth, some kind of unpleasant aliens and he gets to the airport and sees his wife and children and realizes they are proxers. But that's the way he felt I think. I think he put all this effort into this marriage and he was writing and being a father,

He was just burned out. It wasn't the real him maybe, I don't know, he is a mystery, you cant figure him out

Paulson: And you and Philip Dick were together for 5 years, from 1958 to 64 and this was a very prolific time in his writing career and it was when he wrote some of his most acclaimed novels including "The Man in the  High Castle."

Dick: Yes, it made him world famous.

Paulson: So, was it just an accident that he had such a productive period or do you think that had something to do with you two being together

Dick: Yes, I think it was love. love is a very creative force. I think there was a lot of real love between us despite the fact that he had some problems. And I am sure I wasnt the easiest wife on earth either.

Paulson: When you say he had some problems, what do you mean?

Dick: Like when we would go on an excursion he would unplug all the electric cords and he would say i am afraid there would be a fire, that rats will knot them and there will be a fire, the house will burn down when we are gone. then he seemed to think i would run him over in a car on one occasion.

Paulson: Do you think there was some connection between those strange habits and what he wrote about which was kind of strange in itself.

Dick: Oh, I think those books were an autobiography of a strange sort. You know,
like a postmodern surreal autobiography with touches of Jungian dream therapy.

Paulson: So what do you, if you don't mind my asking, what caused you to split up with him. Why did he leave?

Dick: He left about 17 times, and came back and left and came back. He was very tormented
He writes of that period as he was having a psychotic  break but I don't know what that means but something was happening to him. i really don't know what it was. That's why I wrote the book, to try to figure out what happened. I never did though.

Paulson: You must have wondered about this all these years. I mean, you sort of didn't know why he left in the end.

Dick: No, in fact one day he was packing his suitcase to leave and he sat down in his bed heavily and said "You are the greatest love of my life." and I said "Then why are you leaving, why are you leaving?" and he got up, packed his suitcase and left. I mean, it was very strange. I have to laugh, what else can you do except cry and I don't feel like doing that.

Paulson: Well, various people have talked about his inner demons and you know you just mentioned it that there might be something psychotic going on there

Dick: Well, those are just words. I don't believe in those words even. He was a very unusual man and he was a very great genius I think and his circuits weren't  wired the same as many other people but on the other end we have a culture of extreme conformity in this country so maybe he wasn't that far out. You know the English cherish their eccentrics.

Paulson: Well its interesting because lot of people have said, "Oh you know Philip K. Dick kind of you know, has descended into madness."   It sounds like thats been overplayed that whole thing.

Dick: I would say so. But he liked playing roles and if somebody around him wanted him to descend into madness, he would descend into madness, try out that role. But I think he had some inner problems also.

Paulson: When was the last time you talked with Philip Dick?

Dick: Oh, about a month before he died.. Oh, he came back to me over the years, and he has called me over the years, not very often. We weren’t exactly in touch because he never really did explain why he left and i was afraid to ask him for fear he wouldn’t call again. I don't know why. something like that.

Paulson: So what did you talk about that last time the two of you did talk

Dick: Maybe i had a premonition at some level that he wasn't going to live much longer and I thought, well if you don't tell people you love them while they are alive thats really a shame, so I said, you know i always loved to you and there was dead silence, he didn't say anything and the next time i talked to him I guess I talked to him a couple of times the couple of months before his death. He was telling me all about his new girlfriend, you know with great vigour.

Paulson: So, did writing the book about him cause you to change the way you have come to think about Philip Dick?

Dick: Oh yes, I don't think you can get into something that involved and do that much research and talk to that many people without without your ideas evolving but I think the basic feeling I have about him is still kicking around  somewhere and I admire him more. The more years go on, the more I see in his writing, I am not sure i understood it way back then.  I enjoyed it but when you read the entire i talked verve as they say in the order in which it was written, it really is quite fantastic. And the stories of the 50s before I even met him are wonderful too.

Paulson: Sounds like also you, not only  you have come to appreciate his writing more, maybe you, I don't know, learn to maybe forgive him is the right word.

Dick: Yes, I forgive him. I do forgive him

Paulson: What do you think people still don't understand about Philip Dick.

Dick: Oh he is such a complicated man. I think people are very mysterious anyway and he had more dials and circuits and gears then anybody that ever lived. I think someone like Philip comes along every thousand years or so. He is so unique, so unusual.

Fleming: Anne Dick is Dick's third wife and author of  "The Search for Philip K. Dick." She spoke with Steve Paulson.

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