The Galactic Pot-Healer

Galactic Pot-Healer really is the title of a book. But it’s about a guy who … heals pots (nope, not making it up; although, Philip K. Dick did), not one who uses pot to heal.

It’s a good read. Eerie and wandering, discursive. It isn’t brilliant, and I don’t think it’ll stay with me in the way that some of his other writing has; but not a bad read. [Spoiler alert: I’m about to talk about the ending of the book]. 

There’s a lovely passage that he finishes the book with, though, that I found a little haunting. Perhaps I’m just reading too much into it; but reading about his description of his main character, Joe, looking at a pot that he’s created, I couldn’t help but imagine Philip K. Dick getting to the end of a book (maybe this one?):

In the new, gleaming workshop he stood, the overhead lights flooding down on him. He studied the major workbench, the three sets of waldoes, the self-focusing magnifying glasses, the ten separate heat-needles, and – every glaze: every tint, shade, and hue. The weightless area; he inspect that. The kiln. Jars of wet clay. And the potter’s wheel, electrically driven. 

Hope welled up within him. He had all he needed. Wheel, clay, glazes, kiln …

[makes a pot]

… At last it was done … An hour later the kiln’s timer pinged. The kiln had shut off; the pot was done. 

With an asbestos glove, he tremblingly reached into the still-hot kiln and brought out the tall, now blue-and-white pot. His first pot. Taking it to a table, under direct light, he set it down and took a good look at it. He professionally appraised its artistic worth. He appraised what he had done, and within it, what he would do, what later pots would be like, the future of them lying before him. And his justification, in a sense, for leaving Glimmung and all the others. Mali, the most of all. Mali whom he loved. 

The pot was awful. 

Alternatively, given that Joe is a pot healer, not a potter – perhaps he just really disliked editors?


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