Still Primitive

March 26, 2012

“Ella, pretty and light-skinned; her eyes, in the days when they had been open, had been bright and luminous blue. That would not again occur; he could talk to her and hear her answer; he could communicate with her…but he would never again see her with eyes opened; nor would her mouth move. She would not smile at his arrival. When he departed she would not cry. Is this worth it? He asked himself. Is this better than the hold way, the direct road from full-life to the grave? I still do have her with me, in a sense, he decided. The alternative is nothing.
In the earphone words, slow and uncertain, formed: circular thoughts of no importance, fragments of the mysterious dream which she now dwelt in. How did it feel, he wondered, to be in half-life? He could never fathom it from what Ella had told him; the basis of it, the experience of it, couldn’t really be transmitted. Gravity, she had told him, once; it begins not to affect you and you float, more and more. When half-life is over, she had said, I think you float out of the System, out into the stars. But she did not know either; she only wondered and conjectured.” (Dick 12)

This passage deals with the technology of half-life in the novel, wherein dead people are frozen and inert, but their minds are still able to understand and communicate with the living. It is in this state that Glen Runciter meets his wife, Ella, for a business meeting of sorts. Glen is greatly affected by the fact that Ella cannot physically move or show emotion, as this part of her is dead. He then decides that this type of living is better than her being fully dead, because then she would be totally gone.
Another aspect of Glen’s relationship with the half-life Ella is his inability to understand this state of half-life as he is not in it. He can only take what Ella tells him about it and think it to be true. Unless he has experienced it he cannot explain it, and still then, his consciousness might be obstructed by not being fully living. What still twists this half-life truth is the fact that no one knows what comes after this half-life. Even though the society in Ubik has advanced enough to unlock the secrets to keeping someone consciously alive for a small amount of time, they, as well as their half-life counterparts, still do not know and like Ella, can only wonder and conjecture.

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