ubikcan

August 8, 2008

Tessa Dick objects to Linda Levy’s claim to be “Dark haired girl”

Filed under: philip k. dick — ubikcan @ 7:08 pm

Updated below. Update II.

In other PKD news, Philip K. Dick’s former wife, Tessa Dick, has posted a strongly worded complaint about Linda Levy, who corresponded with Dick in the early 1970s and has been trying to sell this correspondence via eBay (see story in Total Dick-head).

The eBay auction, which never met its reserve, ended on July 2, 2008. A catalog describing the contents has since been removed. (See update below.)

Tessa Dick wrote in an entry dated July 1, 2008:

A certain Linda Levy is selling letters on eBay, letters written to her by my husband Philip K. Dick, who passed away in 1982. She wants at least $50 thousand for those letters, and some of them look phony to me. On top of that, she is making many false claims to boost the value of those letters. She claims that Phil beat me up and I came crying to her. Not true. She claims that Phil was always running to her, when the fact is that she was always crying to him to come over and help her with stupid things, such as when she saw a spider in her shower.

(In eBay auctions the reserve is not disclosed; but a bid of $24k was apparently below it.) Levy’s account of how Tessa was beaten up by Dick is recounted in her own words on p. 199 of Sutin’s biography, Divine Invasions, which draws on a letter Levy wrote in the PKDS Newsletter #20, April 1989 (p. 9).

In the eBay listing Levy calls herself “one of” the dark haired girls:

It is also the first collection of its kind offered by one of Phil’s own dark-haired girls.

But TD rejected Levy’s claims to be the famous “dark haired girl” of PKD’s book of the same name:

She claims to be the “dark-haired girl” that Phil was obsessed with, even though is published book The Dark-Haired Girl is about ME!

Yet Levy is hardly an unknown. She undoubtedly had a personal and epistolary relationship with PKD as this letter he wrote May 20, 1972 indicates (full-text here):

Letter from Philip K. Dick to Bev Davies

May 20th, 1972

I’ve become
involved with a black-haired groovy spaced-out foxy chick (as we say here),
a wild, self-destructive, beautiful girl named Linda whom I love very much,
but who is hurting me and whom, I’m afraid, I’m hurting too. It’s a
love-suffering-grief-sorrow-laughter relationship, a great life-death
struggle between us and between our separate heads; there is a sort of
perpetual misunderstanding between us, and yet a continual attempt on both
our parts to keep going, keep trying to figure each other out. It is
melancholy, but punctuated with flashes of keen black humor by both of us.
Linda had written me while I was in Canada, and, when I got off the plane
at L.A. International, there she was waiting, with the others, to meet me.
Destiny in a miniskirt.

Linda Levy is a well known person in Dick’s biography, despite Tessa’s description of her as a “a certain Linda Levy.” She was introduced to PKD via Prof. Willis (“Will”) McNelly of Cal. State Fullerton while PKD was checked in at X-Kalay in Canada. (McNelly died in 2003, cf. Wikipedia.)

PKD’s letters to Levy appear in the relevant volumes of his Selected Letters (eg., April 21, August 30, 1972, Sept “0” 1973). The May 20th letter referred to in the excerpt above has even been reproduced here.


Exactly what PKD meant by “I’ve become involved” isn’t clear. Dick’s biographer says that Dick “promptly fell in love” with her (p. 194) on his return from the clinic in Canada, but simultaneously he was attracted to a girl who lived next door and “even asked her to marry him” (p. 195). Sutin says that while Dick was infatuated with Levy they did not become lovers.

Funnily enough, Tessa Dick refers to the book The Dark Haired Girl as being about her, but it also contains love letters to Linda (pp. 57-69) along with the “destiny in a miniskirt” letter. In one of them, PKD asks Linda if he will marry her. But it seems it was a very emotional relationship and in mid July 1972 PKD met Tessa Dick who also gets love letters in the Dark Haired Girl.

Obviously you can draw your own conclusions. Without being there I would only note that Dick and Tessa did marry and have a son, that the Dark Haired Girl (and the Selected Letters) contain “love” letters to many different women, and that Linda Levy knew Dick for a period of some months before and while he was seeing Tessa. According to the September “0” letter, their relationship had broken off about “ten months” previously, ie around November-December 1972.

Perhaps most interesting is the direct contradiction between Levy’s PKDS letter in April 1989 of PKD violence on Tessa, and Tessa’s complete denial today.

Finally, a much more interesting correspondence (imho) was carried out between Dick and Claudia Bush. Many of these are reproduced in the Selected Letters for 1974, were once offered for sale at $1,100 per letter (see listing).

Here’s a scan of one of them:

Update Nov 27, 2008. The Linda Levy (Castellani) catalog description of her letters is here (.pdf) or here (.pdf).

Update II. Tessa Dick, PKD’s wife, responds below.

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5 Comments »

  1. Thanx for posting this and giving me the opportunity to comment.
    The “beating” that was described NEVER happened.
    Phil fellin love two or three times a day, but he married me, so that does say something.

    ~~~~

    Comment by Tessa Dick — November 27, 2008 @ 2:17 am

  2. Tessa thanks for stopping by!

    I guess all I was pointing out is that Linda Levy (Castellani) was one of the dark haired girls, just as you were (and others) and has a right to her memories and memorabilia. In the collection of his letters (both the actual Selected Letters and The Dark Haired Girl (originally called Kathy-Jamis-Linda, then after he met you Kathy-Jamis-Linda-Tessa) and in Sutin’s biography we see this group of girls over and over again. But as you say he married you.

    But really I’m not interested in PKD’s personal life, and it makes me uncomfortable to talk about it to someone who, unlike me, was there (I was just a lowly undergrad when he died, thousands of miles away) except insofar as it casts light on his worldview (I admit the two aren’t ultimately separable).

    On this point perhaps you can say whether to your knowledge PKD read the German philosopher Martin Heidegger? I posted about this yesterday.

    Comment by ubikcan — November 27, 2008 @ 11:10 am

  3. Thanx for getting back to me, and so soon.

    I think that Phil’s romantic dabbling was a partly conscious and partly unconscious search for his lost twin sister, who died as an infant.

    Yes, Phil studied philosophy, first at UC Berkeley, and then on his own. He had an affinity for Schopenhauer, and he used to discuss Schrodinger’s cat with anybody who cared to listen and join in.

    Another one of Phil’s favorite topics was Heidegger’s concept of Ereignis, that is, that existence creates of gives birth to space and time. I guess you could say that Phil’s writing focuses on phenomenology.

    ~~~

    Comment by Tessa Dick — November 27, 2008 @ 11:28 pm

  4. Thanx for getting back to me, and so soon.

    I think that Phil’s romantic dabbling was a partly conscious and partly unconscious search for his lost twin sister, who died as an infant.

    Yes, Phil studied philosophy, first at UC Berkeley, and then on his own. He had an affinity for Schopenhauer, and he used to discuss Schrodinger’s cat with anybody who cared to listen and join in.

    Another one of Phil’s favorite topics was Heidegger’s concept of Ereignis, that is, that existence creates of gives birth to space and time. I guess you could say that Phil’s writing focuses on phenomenology.

    Comment by busby777 — November 28, 2008 @ 12:50 am

  5. […] public links >> pkd Tessa Dick objects to Linda Levy’s claim to be “Dark haired girl” Saved by fozz2k on Sun 16-11-2008 Dr. Bloodmoney – Philip K. Dick Saved by sleepychameleon on Fri […]

    Pingback by Recent Links Tagged With "pkd" - JabberTags — December 7, 2008 @ 12:49 pm


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