Analysis of book:

Dick’s A Scanner Darkly focuses on both the drug culture of the 1970’s and of the government’s part in propelling the culture. Though he seems to in the end pardon the drug abusers and blame more of the government, saying that the abusers were punished far too harshly for their actions, both internally/physiologically and by the government’s laws, it’s still clear that the fault remains on the abuser’s part. However, what Dick uncovers is the government’s part in helping the system of drug abuse run on, by using undercover cops who inevitably get stuck in the trade and experience the neurophagia eventually, perpetuating the drug trade while attempting to stop it. the infiltration of the government seeded paranoia in the citizens, but Dick blends that paranoia caused by the government with the paranoia caused by the drugs itself,such as jerri’s fear and delusions of bugs constnatly crawling all over him.

Analysis of movie:

linklater’s film blurs a person’s identity both by the use of rotoscoping and the scramble suit, and enhances the visual experience of audiences by creating film that seems to be moving, as if the character’s themselves have crawling skin, almost like an effect some of the drugs might have had. The rotoscoping tool creates a graphic novel type of style, which engages the audience, but also takes away from reality. It’s an almost reality type of illustration, and with rotoscoping there is room to add in animations such as the bugs, people turning in to bugs, or the alien who visisted Charlie in his room, without being too distracting from the reality of the film. However, rotoscoping also confuses identity. It may be hard to immediately tell who is who, especialyl Bob Arctor. Instead of seeing what is the normal reality and identifying the man as Keanu Reeves and understanding that he’s both Bob and Fred, the blurring and fluidity of identity and shape of people plays in to the theme of losing identity. The scramble suit does the same thing in a much more literal way- it conceals the person behind tehs uit and shows a bunch of different identities and faces. The affect this has is the realization that the being is human, but could be anything. It is not the same as wearing simply a black suit. The many different faces that flash keep the viewer of the suit guessing who it is. it also represents the fact that the government is everywhere, like Bob Arctor.

Analysis of adaptation:

Though the script did not mirror the feel of the more realistic style of writing Dick originally wrote, LInklater’s graphic novel-esque approach to the film captured the main themes of identity and government and its espionage through the stylistic choices and characters. By combining Charlie and jerrie in to one Linklater interprets Charlie’s (or rather,Jerri) psychosis and paranoia to be so bad that he becomes two people. He shifts the focus from Jerri/Charlie to Bob /Fred in the film, whereas Dick had the first chapters focus on Charlie and Donna. The shift in focus also pulls out the theme of identity and espionage, since BOb  is the directly and heavily involved in both the drug and government operations.

Online research:


This website explores the effects and cause of splitting the corpus collosum, the surgical way of splitting teh two hemispheres of the brain, and how each hemisphere takes on a will so to speak of its own. The writer cites that they are unable to talk of emotions since they are unable to make the connection between the two hemispheres, each guarding different aspects of emotions and spatial recognition. Their reality becomes hard to control, and in some cases, as described in the writing, patients cannot simultaneously perform tasks that require synchonry with the hands, such as pulling up pants with both hands at the same time.


This article describes Dick’s discovery of Sperry’s discovery in the neuroscience field, that when the hemispheres are split the mind becomes independent and takes on a conscience of tis own, isolating the body it is in which was Dick’s fear for himself which propelled him to write A Scanner Darkly.

3.) This blog describes how A Scanner Darkly’s Bob Arctor is a refelction of Kant’s noumenal, or intelligble, non human experience, self, and how by using the idea of the phenomenal/noumenal self Dick and Linklater created Bob.

Critical analysis

In the film, the flower that is the main ingredient of Substance D, or “Death,” is called Mors ontologica, which translates as ontological death, or death of being. How does this flower represent the main philosophical concerns of the film?

The flower, though blue and captivating, does not have a consciousness, at least not as developed, as that of the human brain (since its brain might as well be the roots it grows from which is scientifically not as advanced, ie no neurotransmitters of firings across dendrites/etc). This represents the concerns of the film because though it is organically alive, nourishing its cells and going through kreb’s cycles and giving off Oxygen in place of cardbondioxide, it does not have its own consciousness to discern and truly understand its existence, or rather it cnanot perceive its existence relative to other living objects other than how it can live off of water, carbon dioxide, bees, etc. The effect of substance D creates this type of neuroligcal disorder in which the left and right hemispheres become separated, perhaps by destryoing the connecting corpus collosum, thereby creating independent hemispheres. What is shown in the film, book, and research is that when this happens the brain tkaes on its own reality, suchas the uncontrollable hallucinations that the characters experience. After a while, the consciousness and free thought and the ability to process information and digest it to become human experience disappears, as we see at the end at the farm. What happens then in the case of Bob/Fred is a slow progression in to this state of non-being, in which he cannot form thoughts that are truly analytical of the world around him. he eventually becomes what he “eats” (takes in, inhales etc), a vegetable, even though his two hemispheres may function ok independetly, he has lost control of his own consciousness and therefore his own identity.