Hello all,

Not sure this is the right forum for this question, but...

I've always wondered what the title of Philip K. Dick's excellent novel "A Scanner Darkly" means: do you have an idea?

I thought it might read "a scanner[,] darkly", "a scanner darkly [sees]", or "[seen through] a scanner darkly", or perhaps it's a collage of words that happen to be relevant to the novel, arranged so as to make the title intriguing, but none of these explanations satisfy me. How do you understand it?

EDIT: the word dick seems to fall prey to an overzealous obscenity filter here. Silly, it's a word that exists in the english language and doesn't necessarily refer to you-know-what, as Richards the world over know. And even if it was the obscene sense, it's still english...
The correlation I thought of is a quote from the letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. Wiki also makes the connection in this article

"11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Here is an interpretation (citation)

When in 1 Corinthians 13:12 Paul tries to express the imperfection of mortal understanding, he compares our earthly vision to the dim and wavery view reflected by a typical Roman-era polished bronze mirror. Unfortunately, the classic King James translation rendered his metaphor rather confusingly as “For now we see through a glass, darkly.” By the time of the Renaissance, mirrors were made of glass and so it was natural for the translators to call the mirror a “glass,” though by so doing they obscured Paul’s point. Why they should have used “through” rather than the more logical “in” is unclear; but it has made many people think that the image is of looking through some kind of magical glass mirror like that in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.
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I see now. Indeed the book's title refers to a well-known passage in the scriptures, something a native english speaker would understand immediately. In the french translation of the letters, which I am more familiar with, the mirror metaphor is rendered much more directly - something like "Now we see in a mirror, in an obscure/confusing way" - which is why Dick's title didn't ring a bell.

How interesting, thank you for your answer.
if you read the book or watched the movie you would know.

Why wouldn't that make sense? Oh, the book/movie wouldn't tell me, so ask the internet.

it's a little harder to explain, but if you have an understanding for what is going on in the movie then you will simply know by the end of the movie that he was A Scanner Darkly.
I just recently watched the movie again recently. I have been a fan of many stories by Phil for quite some time. When Bob Arctor in the story is narrating and asks this, it has me thinking of the title. As it was meant to do. What does a Scanner see? Into the head, down into the heart? Does it see into me, Into to us? Clearly or Darkly? I hope it sees clearly because I can't any longer see into myself. This particular thought of his signifies that he is losing his grasp not only of reality. He is also losing touch with his concious sanity. Questioning whether or not a scanner, something that isn't human can see in him what he no longer can. The title is definitely a signal to the tone of one facet of the story. That the main character is unsure whether a scanner can see clearly into him or only darkly the way he can.
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