The Paris Review

Life After Empathy: On Philip K. Dick and Blade Runner 2049

Still from Blade Runner 2049.

Driving cross-country some years ago, I pulled off Interstate 76, among the arroyos and tumbleweed at Fort Morgan, Colorado. Philip K. Dick lay buried somewhere in the cemetery there. But where? At the public library, a sweet old lady volunteer flipped the pages of a bound burial record until she found the grave’s location. I wrote it down, thanked her, and wandered around until I found a double tombstone, about a foot high, bearing the names Philip and Jane, Dick’s twin sister, dead in infancy. (Before he died in 1982, Dick purchased the plot next to hers.) Standing only a few feet above his moldering corpse gave me the willies. His books produce in me a sort of psychotic break with everyday reality, revealing a hidden life behind

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from The Paris Review

The Paris Review8 min read
Books Won’t Die
Illustration by Albert Robida, for “The End of the Books,” by Octave Uzanne, published in Scribner’s Magazine, vol. 16, no 2, August 1894. Public domain. Increasingly, people of the book are also people of the cloud. At the Codex Hackathon, a convent
The Paris Review9 min read
Consider the Butt
François Boucher, L’Odalisque Brune (cropped), 1743 The elevator doors opened onto a loft-like space throbbing with music. Organizers in T-shirts that read ASK ME ANYTHING ABOUT MY BUTTHOLE were setting up booths by the entrance, helping a strange pa
The Paris Review16 min read
What Susan Sontag Saw
Susan Sontag. Photo: © Lynn Gilbert (CC BY-SA 4.0 ( In January 1919, in a dry riverbed north of Los Angeles, a cast of thousands gathered to re-create a contemporary horror. Based on a book published a