The Info List - Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said

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Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
is a 1974 science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. The story follows a genetically enhanced pop singer and television star who wakes up in a world where he has never existed. The novel is set in a futuristic dystopia, where the United States has become a police state in the aftermath of a Second Civil War. It was nominated for a Nebula Award
Nebula Award
in 1974[1] and a Hugo Award
Hugo Award
in 1975,[2] and was awarded the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1975.[2][3]


1 Plot summary 2 Reception 3 Title 4 Author's interpretation 5 Adaptations

5.1 Stage 5.2 Film

6 References 7 External links

Plot summary[edit] The novel is set in a dystopian version of 1988, following a Second Civil War which led to the collapse of the United States' democratic institutions. The National Guard ("nats") and US police force ("pols") reestablished social order through instituting a dictatorship, with a "Director" at the apex, and police marshals and generals as operational commanders in the field. Resistance to the regime is largely confined to university campuses, where radicalized former university students eke out a desperate existence in subterranean kibbutzim. Recreational drug use
Recreational drug use
is widespread, and the age of consent has been lowered to twelve. The black population has almost been rendered extinct. Most commuting is undertaken by personal aircraft, allowing great distances to be covered in little time. The novel begins with the protagonist, Jason Taverner, a singer, hosting his weekly TV show which has an audience of 30 million viewers. His special guest is his girlfriend Heather Hart, also a singer. Both Hart and Taverner are "Sixes", members of an elite class of genetically engineered humans. While leaving the studio, Taverner is telephoned by a former lover, who asks him to pay her a visit. When Taverner arrives at her apartment, the former lover attacks him by throwing a parasitic life-form at him. Although he manages to remove most of the life-form, parts of it are left inside him. After being rescued by Hart, he is taken to a medical facility. Waking up the following day in a seedy hotel with no identification, Taverner becomes worried, as failure to produce identification at one of the numerous police checkpoints would lead to imprisonment in a forced labor camp. Through a succession of phone calls made from the hotel to colleagues and friends who now claim not to know him, Taverner establishes that he is no longer recognized by the outside world. He soon manages to bribe the hotel's clerk into taking him to Kathy Nelson, a forger of government documents. However, Kathy reveals that both she and the clerk are police informants, and that the lobby clerk has placed a microscopic tracking device on him. She promises not to turn Taverner over to the police on the condition that he spend the night with her. Although he attempts to escape, Kathy confronts him again after he has successfully passed a police checkpoint using the forged identity cards. Feeling in her debt, he accompanies Kathy to her apartment block, where Inspector McNulty, Kathy's police handler, is waiting. McNulty has located Taverner via the tracking device the hotel lobby clerk placed on him, and instructs Taverner to come with him to the 469th Precinct police station so that further biometric identity checks can be performed. At the station, McNulty erroneously reports the man's name as Jason Tavern, revealing the identity of a Wyoming diesel engine mechanic. During questioning, Taverner goes along with McNulty's mistake, explaining that he no longer resembles Tavern due to extensive plastic surgery. McNulty accepts this explanation and decides to release Taverner whilst lab checks are run on the rest of the documents. He issues Taverner a seven-day police pass to ensure he can pass police checkpoints in the interim period. Deciding to lie low, Taverner heads to a Las Vegas bar in the hopes of meeting a woman with whom he can stay. Instead, he encounters a former lover, Ruth Gomen; although she no longer recognizes him, he succeeds in his bid to seduce her and is taken back to her apartment. On the orders of Police
General Felix Buckman, Gomen's apartment is raided and Taverner is taken into custody, being transported immediately to the Police
Academy in Los Angeles. Buckman personally interrogates Taverner, soon reaching the conclusion that Taverner genuinely does not know why he no longer appears to exist. However, he suspects that Taverner may be part of a larger plot involving the Sixes. He orders Taverner released, although ensuring that tracking devices are again placed on him. Outside the police academy, Taverner is approached by Alys Buckman, Felix's hypersexual sister and lover. Alys removes the tracking devices from Taverner and invites him to the home she shares with her brother. On the way there, she tells Taverner that she knows he is a TV star and reveals copies of his records. At the Buckmans' home, Taverner takes Alys up on an offer of mescaline. When he has a bad reaction to the drug, Alys goes to find him a medicine to counteract it. When she does not return, Taverner goes to search for her, only to find her skeletal remains on the bathroom floor. Frightened and confused, he flees, unsuccessfully pursued by a private security guard. To aid in his escape, he asks for the help of Mary Anne Dominic, a potter. Heading to a cafe with her, they find that one of his records is on the jukebox. When his song plays, people begin to recognize him as a celebrity. After parting with Dominic, Taverner goes to the apartment of his celebrity girlfriend Heather Hart. She returns home, horrified, and shows Taverner a newspaper mentioning that he is wanted in connection with Alys Buckman's death, the motive believed to have been his jealousy over Alys' purported relationship with Hart. An autopsy reveals that Alys' death was caused by an experimental reality-warping drug called KR-3. The coroner explains to Felix that, as Alys was a fan of Taverner, her use of the drug caused Taverner to be transported to a parallel universe where he no longer existed. Her death then caused his return to his own universe. The Police
General decides to implicate Taverner in Alys' death to distract attention from his incest. The press are informed that Taverner is a suspect in the case and, wishing to clear his name, Taverner surrenders himself to the police. Heartbroken over the death of his sister, Felix returns home, suffering a nervous breakdown on the way. In an epilogue, the final fates of the main characters are disclosed. Buckman retires to Borneo
where he is assassinated soon after writing an exposé of the global police apparatus. Taverner is cleared of all charges and dies of old age, while Heather Hart abandons her celebrity career and becomes a recluse. Dominic's pottery wins an international award and her works become of great value while she lives into her eighties. KR-3 test trials are deemed too destructive and the project is abandoned. Ultimately, the revolutionary students give up and voluntarily enter forced-labor camps. The detention camps later dwindle away and close down, the government no longer posing a threat. Though it is seemingly incidental, the epilogue ends with the word "loved", suddenly and cathartically closing all of the novel's thematic threads. Reception[edit] New York Times
New York Times
reviewer Gerald Jonas praised the novel, saying that "Dick skillfully explores the psychological ramifications of this nightmare," but concludes that the story's concluding rationalization of its events is "an artistic miscalculation [and] a major flaw in an otherwise superb novel."[4] Title[edit] The title is a reference to Flow My Tears, an ayre by the 16th century composer John Dowland, setting to music a poem by an anonymous author (possibly Dowland himself).[5] Quotations from the piece begin every major section of the novel, and Dowland's work is referenced in several of Dick's works. The poem begins:

Flow, my tears, fall from your springs, Exiled for ever, let me mourn Where night's black bird her sad infamy sings, There let me live forlorn.

The novel is parodied as The Android Cried Me a River in VALIS.[6] Author's interpretation[edit] In his undelivered speech "How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later," Dick recounts how in describing an incident at the end of the book (end of chapter 27) to an Episcopalian priest, the priest noted its striking similarity to a scene in the Books of Acts in the Bible. In Dick's book, the police chief, Felix Buckman, meets a black stranger at an all-night gas station, with whom he uncharacteristically makes an emotional connection. After handing the stranger a drawing of a heart pierced by an arrow, Buckman flies away, but he quickly returns and hugs the stranger, after which they strike up a friendly conversation. In the Book of Acts (chapter 8), the disciple Philip meets an Ethiopian eunuch
Ethiopian eunuch
(i.e. a black man) sitting in a chariot to whom he explains a passage from the Book of Isaiah, and then converts him to Christianity.[7] Dick further notes that eight years after writing the book, he himself uncharacteristically came to the aid of a black stranger who had run out of gas. After giving the man some money and then driving away, he returned to help the man reach a gas station. Dick was then struck by the similarity between this incident and that described in his book (approaching a black stranger, and returning again).[7] Dick also recounts an unusual dream experience he had in the writing of the book, and how he felt compelled to get into the text of the novel.[7][8] Years later, in retrospect of the Biblical coincidences he experienced following the publication of the novel, he came to interpret this dream as the key to understanding the real meaning of the story, stating:

Deciphered, my novel tells a quite different story from the surface story (…). The real story is simply this: the return of Christ, now king rather than suffering servant. Judge rather than victim of unfair judgment. Everything is reversed. The core message of my novel, without my knowing it, was a warning to the powerful: You will shortly be judged and condemned.[7][8]

Adaptations[edit] Stage[edit] Mabou Mines presented the world premiere of a theatrical adaptation of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
at the Boston
Shakespeare Theatre from June 18–30, 1985. The play received mixed reviews but was widely covered by the Boston
media. Linda Hartinian, a personal friend of Dick, adapted the novel to the stage and designed the set, in addition to portraying Mary Ann Dominic and reading Dick's 1981 "Tagore Letter" at the end of the play. The Boston
Phoenix quotes Hartinian on the subject in an interview before the play opened: "[Dick] was someone I admired and looked up to, and I knew he had always wanted one of his works to be adapted. One day when I came to visit him he jumped up and grabbed this manuscript and said 'I want to give you something, but I don't have anything, so I'm going to give you this manuscript, and someday its gonna be worth a lot of money.'" The Phoenix continues, "It was a draft of Flow My Tears, and as Hartinian discovered when she sat down to adapt the book, it contained many passages that had been cut from the published text, including a discussion of ways to remember deceased writers that was to prove prescient. Naturally Hartinian based her script on her private edition." The play was directed by Bill Raymond, Hartinian's husband. "It was in response to Linda's loss that we chose Tears," he told the Phoenix, "because Flow My Tears is in fact a novel about grief, and not necessarily just about loss of identity." The play has been performed by Mabou Mines in Boston
and New York City, and by the Prop Theatre in Chicago, and the Evidence Room in Los Angeles. The Evidence Room production received positive reviews including one from the Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Times which stated that "the piece is vintage Dick, fluctuating between the inventive and the paranoiac."[9] Film[edit] On February 1, 2004, Variety announced that Utopia Pictures & Television
had acquired the rights to produce adaptations of three of Dick's novels: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, VALIS
and Radio Free Albemuth.[10] In 2007, The Halcyon Company acquired the first-look rights to Dick's works, and in May 2009 they announced that after Terminator Salvation
Terminator Salvation
(2009), they would next adapt Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said.[11] The book is referenced in Richard Kelly's 2006 film Southland Tales, in which an underground revolutionary dressed as a police officer (played by Jon Lovitz) says, "Flow my tears" as he shoots two rivals. Also, two of the main characters are Roland and Ronald Taverner. Gary Numan
Gary Numan
referenced the novel in the start of the song "Listen to the Sirens" where he says " Flow My Tears the new Police
song." References[edit]

^ "1974 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-09-27.  ^ a b "1975 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-09-27.  ^ "Philip K. Dick, Won Awards For Science-Fiction Works". The New York Times. March 3, 1982. Retrieved March 30, 2010. Mr. Dick, author of 35 novels and 6 collections of short stories, received the Hugo Award
Hugo Award
in 1963 for The Man in the High Castle
The Man in the High Castle
and, in 1974, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said.  ^ "Of Things to Come," New York Times
New York Times
Book Review, July 20, 1975 ^ Jackson, Kevin (2000), Invisible Forms: A Guide to Literary Curiosities, Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin's Press), p. 13, ISBN 9780312266066 . ^ Rydeen, Paul. "Philip K. Dick: The Other Side". Retrieved 17 May 2016.  ^ a b c d Dick, Philip K. (1978). "How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later". Archived from the original on 2008-01-25.  ^ a b "Creative Dreams - " Flow My Tears The Policeman Said" by Philip K". Retrieved 2015-04-17.  ^ Foley, Kathleen (22 April 1999). "'Flow My Tears' Has Hallucinatory Style". Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Times. Retrieved 28 May 2012.  ^ Harris, Dana (2004-02-01). "Utopia picks Dick works". Variety. Retrieved 2006-08-14.  ^ Philip K. Dick's 'Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said' Being Adapted Alex Billington, FirstShowing.net, 12 May 2009

External links[edit]

Summary at official PKD website Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
cover art gallery Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
reviewed at The SF Site Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
at Worlds Without End

v t e

Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick


Gather Yourselves Together
Gather Yourselves Together
(1950) Voices from the Street
Voices from the Street
(1952) Solar Lottery
Solar Lottery
(1954) Mary and the Giant
Mary and the Giant
(1954) The World Jones Made
The World Jones Made
(1954) Eye in the Sky (1955) The Man Who Japed
The Man Who Japed
(1955) A Time for George Stavros (1956) Pilgrim on the Hill (1956) The Broken Bubble (1956) The Cosmic Puppets
The Cosmic Puppets
(1957) Puttering About in a Small Land
Puttering About in a Small Land
(1957) Nicholas and the Higs (1958) Time Out of Joint
Time Out of Joint
(1958) In Milton Lumky Territory
In Milton Lumky Territory
(1958) Confessions of a Crap Artist
Confessions of a Crap Artist
(1959) The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike
The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike
(1960) Humpty Dumpty in Oakland
Humpty Dumpty in Oakland
(1960) Vulcan's Hammer
Vulcan's Hammer
(1960) Dr. Futurity
Dr. Futurity
(1960) The Man in the High Castle
The Man in the High Castle
(1961) We Can Build You
We Can Build You
(1962) Martian Time-Slip
Martian Time-Slip
(1962) Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb
Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb
(1963) The Game-Players of Titan
The Game-Players of Titan
(1963) The Simulacra
The Simulacra
(1963) The Crack in Space
The Crack in Space
(1963) Clans of the Alphane Moon (1964) The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
(1964) The Zap Gun (1964) The Penultimate Truth (1964) The Unteleported Man
The Unteleported Man
(1964) The Ganymede Takeover
The Ganymede Takeover
(1965) Counter-Clock World
Counter-Clock World
(1965) Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
(1966) Nick and the Glimmung
Nick and the Glimmung
(1966) Now Wait for Last Year
Now Wait for Last Year
(1966) Ubik
(1966) Galactic Pot-Healer
Galactic Pot-Healer
(1968) A Maze of Death
A Maze of Death
(1968) Our Friends from Frolix 8
Our Friends from Frolix 8
(1969) Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
(1974) Deus Irae
Deus Irae
(1976) Radio Free Albemuth
Radio Free Albemuth
(1976; published 1985) A Scanner Darkly
A Scanner Darkly
(1977) VALIS
(1981) The Divine Invasion
The Divine Invasion
(1981) The Transmigration of Timothy Archer
The Transmigration of Timothy Archer
(1982) The Owl in Daylight (unfinished)


A Handful of Darkness
A Handful of Darkness
(1955) The Variable Man (1956) The Preserving Machine
The Preserving Machine
(1969) The Book of Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
(1973) The Best of Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
(1977) The Golden Man
The Golden Man
(1980) Robots, Androids, and Mechanical Oddities
Robots, Androids, and Mechanical Oddities
(1984) I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon (1985) The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
(1987) Beyond Lies the Wub
Beyond Lies the Wub
(1988) The Dark Haired Girl
The Dark Haired Girl
(1989) The Father-Thing (1989) Second Variety (1989) The Days of Perky Pat
The Days of Perky Pat
(1990) The Little Black Box (1990) The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford (1990) We Can Remember It for You Wholesale (1990) The Minority Report
The Minority Report
(1991) Second Variety (1991) The Eye of the Sibyl (1992) The Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
Reader (1997) Minority Report (2002) Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick
(2002) Paycheck (2004) Vintage PKD
Vintage PKD
(2006) The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick

Short stories

"Beyond Lies the Wub" (1952) "The Gun" (1952) "The Skull" (1952) "The Little Movement" (1952) "The Defenders" (1953) "Mr. Spaceship" (1953) "Piper in the Woods" (1953) "Roog" (1953) "The Infinites" (1953) "Second Variety" (1953) "Colony" (1953) "The Cookie Lady" (1953) "Impostor" (1953) "Paycheck" (1953) "The Preserving Machine" (1953) "Expendable" (1953) "The Indefatigable Frog" (1953) "The Commuter" (1953) "Out in the Garden" (1953) "The Great C" (1953) "The King of the Elves" (1953) "The Trouble with Bubbles" (1953) "The Variable Man" (1953) "The Impossible Planet" (1953) "Planet for Transients" (1953) "The Builder" (1953) "Tony and the Beetles" (1953) "The Hanging Stranger" (1953) "Prize Ship" (1954) "Beyond the Door" (1954) "The Crystal Crypt" (1954) "The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford" (1954) "The Golden Man" (1954) "Sales Pitch" (1954) "Breakfast at Twilight" (1954) "The Crawlers" (1954) "Exhibit Piece" (1954) "Adjustment Team" (1954) "Shell Game" (1954) "Meddler" (1954) "A World of Talent" (1954) "The Last of the Masters" (1954) "Upon the Dull Earth" (1954) "The Father-thing" (1954) "Strange Eden" (1954) "The Turning Wheel" (1954) "The Hood Maker" (1954) "Foster, You're Dead!" (1955) "Human Is" (1955) "War Veteran" (1955) "Captive Market" (1955) "Nanny" (1955) "The Chromium Fence" (1955) "Service Call" (1955) "The Mold of Yancy" (1955) "Autofac" (1955) "Psi-man Heal My Child!" (1955) "The Minority Report" (1956) "Pay for the Printer" (1956) "A Glass of Darkness" (1956) "The Unreconstructed M" (1957) "Null-O" (1958) "Explorers We" (1959) "Recall Mechanism" (1959) "Fair Game" (1959) "War Game" (1959) "All We Marsmen" (1963) "What'll We Do with Ragland Park?" (1963) "The Days of Perky Pat" (1963) "If There Were No Benny Cemoli" (1963) "Waterspider" (1964) "Novelty Act" (1964) "Oh, to Be a Blobel!" (1964) "The War with the Fnools" (1964) "What the Dead Men Say" (1964) "Orpheus with Clay Feet" (1964) "Cantata 140" (1964) "The Unteleported Man" (1964) "Retreat Syndrome" (1965) "Project Plowshare (later "The Zap Gun")" (1965) "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" (1966) "Faith of Our Fathers" (1967) "Not by Its Cover" (1968) "The Electric Ant" (1969) "A. Lincoln, Simulacrum" (1969) "The Pre-persons" (1974) "A Little Something for Us Tempunauts" (1974) "The Exit Door Leads In" (1979) "Rautavaara's Case" (1980) "I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon" (1980) "The Eye of the Sibyl" (1987) "Stability" (1987)



Blade Runner
Blade Runner
(1982) Total Recall (1990) Confessions d'un Barjo
Confessions d'un Barjo
(1992) Screamers (1995) Impostor (2002) Minority Report (2002) Paycheck (2003) A Scanner Darkly
A Scanner Darkly
(2006) Next (2007) Screamers: The Hunting (2009) Radio Free Albemuth
Radio Free Albemuth
(2010) The Adjustment Bureau
The Adjustment Bureau
(2011) Total Recall (2012) 2036: Nexus Dawn (2017) 2048: Nowhere to Run (2017) Blade Runner
Blade Runner
Black Out 2022 (2017) Blade Runner
Blade Runner
2049 (2017)

TV series

Total Recall 2070
Total Recall 2070
(1999) The Man in the High Castle
The Man in the High Castle
(2015–present) Minority Report (2015) Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams (2017)