LETTER FROM PHILIP JOSÉ FARMER

March 2, 1978

  'Philip K. Dick's letter (SFR page 61) flabbergasted me. This was the first that I knew that he'd written a letter to Pamela Sargent and to the SFWA Forum that he'd broken "radically with Phil Farmer as to the admission of Lem into SFWA on a normal, dues-paying basis". Or that it had been published in the Forum. Or that he'd disclaimed "the reactionary position which Phil Farmer had taken". (Italics are mine.)

  'I'd resigned from the SFWA a long time ago and so been getting the Forum or Bulletin. Originally, I'd stated in my letter of resignation that I was dropping out for a year for personal reasons. But so far I haven't seen any reason why I should rejoin. So my absence will be more than a year.

  'Before I sent in the letter which caused all the uproar (SFWA Forum, April, 1976), I'd talked to Phil Dick on the phone. I offered, if my memory serves me right, to send a copy so he could authorize my statements or remove certain phrases. He refused and then gave me permission to write what I pleased. Or words to that effect.

  'He had my home address and phone number. Why, when he read the letter in the Forum, didn't he call or write me? But I've heard not a mumbling word from him about the matter. Certainly, if I'd been him, I would have communicated.

  'The pejorative "reactionary" puzzles me. Neither Dick nor I considered the matter to be political or ideological. At least, I didn't. Dick's complaint was mainly that Lem was ripping him off, though he had some others. (See his "Open Letter to Philip José Farmer in the Forum, Oct., 1975, in which he thanked me for mentioning his beef against Lem and for zapping Lem for his arrogant sneering putdown of all American s-f writers except for a few whom he damned with faint praise.)

  '"Reactionary" is an item of duckspeak used by members of the ultraleft. It's meaningless, automatic, a conditioned verbal reflex, mindless.

  'When I wrote to Andy Offutt that Dick and I were resigning because of Lem, I had no idea that Lem would be kicked out because of the letter. I didn't intend or even think that that would happen. Neither did Dick, according to a letter of his in the Forum.

  'I still believe that Lem should never have been invited to be an honorary member. Nor that he should have "accepted with thanks" an honor from an organization whom he considered to be a bunch of relentless jerks. But, once he'd been made a member, he shouldn't have been kicked out. Even if his membership was invalid because of a technicality. I said, "Fuck it!" and withdrew. I felt a little guilty, And I was upset by those who insisted that the right of free speech was involved when this had nothing to do with the matter. They were the ones who were intruding an ideological issue into the affair. So I extruded and kept on going.

  'The whole business was unfortunate and badly done, and I include myself in the criticism. If I'd known what was going to happen, that is, that Lem would be hurled head long from SFWA heaven with furious combustion and a lot of bullshit, I would not have written that letter. I'd have quietly dropped out. If Lem had joined again as a dues-paying member, I would have resigned. He has a right to say what he pleases, where he pleases. Anybody does. But I have a right not to belong to a society of which he is a member.

  'I have a high admiration for Dick as a writer and as a human being. I'd hate to think he regarded me as a warmongering capitalist, an exploiter of the working class and a running dog.'

  ((Appropos of duckspeak: I'd rather be a warmonger, a capitalist, and a running dog exploiter of the working class than a peacemongering socialist chained dog being exploited by the working class.

  ((Some people prefer heat to light; preconceptions and dogma are so nice to come home to after a hard day in the real world.))