My Life is a Novel

Del Debbio

I knew this sculptor, when looking for some money and posing for him, in the impasse Roncin, at the corner of rue de Vaugirard, in Paris. I remember hours of dream, respite and brackets of time.

Philip K. Dick

Norman Spinrad who was a great friend at that time, introduced me, in 1973, to Philip K. Dick, the author of Blade Runner and Minority Report, during my first trip to the States, when I was preparing my TV movie on science-fiction writers describing our future for the third millennium (“Escapees from the Future”). Surfing once on the Web, as the trendies used to say, I found the following extracts by Dick to friends, on … me, as a delightful « chick »:

"I'm supposed to be interviewed for French TV soon; Norman Spinrad is making the arrangements" [ltr., 7/9/73]

"I am willing to waive the usual compensation for an interview which will be part of a one hour TV program with several other science fiction authors, which, I understand, will be filmed in September" [ltr., 7/9/73]

"they are sending a French chick to interview me for Paris TV sometime in the next two months" [ltr., 7/30/73]

"next month a chick from Paris TV will be interviewing me, and when I found out that her previous interviews were with such as Buckminster Fuller and Arnold Toynbee I felt rather odd" [ltr., 8/31/73]

"some French chick, from Paris TV, will be out here at the end of the month to interview me; she's interviewed such people as Arthur Toynbee" [ltr., 9/3/73]

Two months after the shooting, Philip K. Dick wrote :

"Elizabeth Antebi from French TV came here with a camera crew and interviewed me and Norman Spinrad at Disneyland, 20th Century Fox and Forest Lawn Cemetery" [ltr., 12/7/73]

At the end of August, I fly to Toronto for filming the International Congress on Science Fiction, with the most well-known writers of the time. My dear Forrest Ackermann gives me a hug, he “talks” with an amazing Barbarella. I do interviews with Van Vogt, Fritz Leiber, Asimov, Silverberg, Zelasny. And, on the roof, with John Brunner.

During the Spring 1974, Phil Dick writes to Charles Platt, then to Patrice Duvic, two writer friends :

"French TV interviewed us, an amazing French chick named Elizabeth Antebi whom I'm sure you [Charles Platt] either know or know of. She did most of the shooting of us at Disneyland; there we were, she and Norman and I, whirling around in the Mad Hatter's Giant Plastic Teacups, while discussing whether fascism was going to reappear and take over once more" [ltr., 3/10/74]

"a rather bizarre recent event wherein a TV crew from Paris TV came and did a two-day interviewing and filming of me and then all at once I heard from the producer in charge from East Germany, not from France, that "the film is almost done and very good, and did you receive your money yet? And I will see you again soon very shortly, love, Elizabeth" [ltr., 4/13/74]

"if you [Patrice Duvic] see Elizabeth Antebi, tell her to write. Do you know if she ran the taped interview (filmed, I guess) she made of me and Norman Spinrad on Paris TV?" [ltr., 7/28/74]

[apparently a tape of this is available for viewing at the Institut National de l'Audiovisuel, in Paris]

We lived wonderful and incredible moments half dream, half reality, and it’s really moving today to see all that becoming virtual. Everybody warned me about the Dick’s chaotic nature, his dizziness and dazzlement due to all kinds of different drugs (among them LSD), his mood swings. I in fact dealt with the most sagacious, peaceful man, who dissected wonderfully for me the real and the unreal in a magic shot when he twists his pullover into a very convincing piece of rigging from the boat Tora Tora … which sank during the battle of Pacific, years before.

He wrote about this experience in a discourse he gave, in 1978, « How to build a universe that doesn’t fall apart two days later » :

« First, before I begin to bore you with the usual sort of things science fiction writers say in speeches, let me bring you official greetings from Disneyland. I consider myself a spokesperson for Disneyland because I live just a few miles from it – and, as if that were not enough, I once had the honor of being interviewed there by Paris TV. For several weeks after the interview, I was really ill and confined to bed. I think it was the whirling teacups that did it. Elizabeth Antébi, who was the producer of the film, wanted to have me whirling around on one of the giant teacups while discussing the rise of fascism with Norman Spinrad…. An old friend of mine who writes excellent science fiction. We also discussed Watergate, but we did that on the deck of Captain Hook’s pirate ship. Little children wearing Mickey Mouse hats – those black hats with the ears – kept running up and bumping against us as the cameras whirred away, and Elizabeth asked unexpected questions.”

Then, he wrote a very touching letter to me :

September 29, 1973

Dear Elizabeth,

I have finally decided what is real : the two days I spent with you and your crew. I miss you very much. Truly, it was the most real, the most exciting days of my life, it was what we call “a peak experience”. The world is grey and dull and empty for me now. My apologies to you for my saying this, but I never met anyone like you before, and I am having a lot of trouble adjusting to life as it is here and now, without you.

I could go on like this forever. To sum it up, it is like a bird with a broken wing that once could fly but now can only hop a little, and wonder what has happened : the world has changed and all the joy and magic are gone out of it.

It was a total and authentic experience to meet you and get to know you, even for only two days. Knowledge that someone like you exists opens new horizons while at the same time making me aware of my now earthbound existence. But there is no one else like you! And this is unfair!

I hope all goes well with you and your projects.


His Web Site :

“How to build” :

"A French Chick" :

A good French connection :
and :

Fahrid Diha

An accordionist who plays Bach wonderfully, airline pilot, born at Metz (East of France) in a Kabylian family where his father was a very good musician, Fahrid is really an exceptional character. Friend of Nathalie Geshir, he was my daughter’s accordian teacher.

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