As with any book by the inimitable Philip K. Dick, Flow My Tears, The Policemen Said, is meant to raise questions, and not really to provide answers. It is not meant to be an insult to the writing of Dick to say that themes are much more important to his works than either character or plot; and this work is certainly no exception to that rule.

Thematically, the book is similar to other works of Dick's: it deals with issues of the nature of reality, and the political and social descent of society into a dystopia. However, how these issues are interleaved leave some question about how they are related, and which one is the primary one.

  • The book takes place in a dystopian near future, where the social changes of the 1960s have turned into a civil war and a military and police dictatorship. Life amongst the middle classes is tolerable, but for those without connection, life can be a constant process of security checks and the threat of labor camp. Even more demoralizing than this is the fact that there is a type of synopticon, with everyone spying on everyone else.
  • As startling as all that may be, it is simply background to the book's main plot point: a lounge singer, Jason Taverner, wakes up in a world where he is no longer a celebrity singer, but is instead a total nobody. Not only is he invisible to the nation's gigantic security databanks, none of his friends seem to remember him. Therefore, above the already major paranoia of existence in a police state, there is the even more unnerving paranoia that existence itself might be contingent.
  • Although I said earlier that characterization is secondary in this work, the character of Jason Taverner...a self-centered, complacent and politically apathetic man, is I think important to the book. Through his loss of his position in the world, and even of his sense of reality, Taverner is forced to live the life of the underclass and develop some compassion for others. This personal development of Taverner is, I feel, not separate from the other two themes of the book.

That is what I consider to be the thematic nexus of the book, although of course others might add more to that. I actually found the book's conclusion, both in terms of the plot and in terms of how it resolves these themes, to be somewhat disappointing. However, I thought the book was still excellent at raising questions, even if it did not answer them to my satisfaction.