The Exegesis

The Exegesis: Notes on salvation & the interface between the part and the whole 

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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February 1982

Dick declares “VALIS is true; Gnosticism is true; what the AI voice says is true.” The salvation prophecies are also true and the fifth savior has arrived. Although he’s not sure about the “theological structure” (but says he is settling on Buddhism) everything he has dealt with since 2-3-74 is about salvation. He refers to Valis using the Greek word for savior. 

In an interesting twist he admits Valis’s pink beam of light from 2-74 was really just sunlight reflecting off a Jesus fish sticker in the window, similar to the light Jacob Boehme saw. 

He illustrates a Venn diagram of the interface overlapping the part and the whole so that the part only connects to the whole indirectly. In this way the part experiences the world (the whole) as a representation through salvation, which in a sense creates the cosmos.

The interface is the Acts lens-grid. When this happened to Dick in 2-74 he understood the world he saw because he was a part of the whole. Info of the whole arises in the part, which makes the whole self-generating, and this info (the plasmate) points only to itself. 

VALIS shows that the universe is info, although since we can’t see info we only see the structure or unified field. This continuum, and not discontinuous matter, is the correct way to see things. 

God is the interface

In a reverie Dick imagines the suffering of the people and hopes the newly arrived savior can relieve it. Pain and hope are two sides of the dialectic. The AI voice has instructed him to spread this message. With a slip of the pen he writes the Greek word for sister when he means to write the Greek word for savior, and he feels the AI voice has identified itself at last. 

In one final insight he realizes both Yin and Yang are necessary for a true existence. 

This is the last entry in his exegesis as Dick would die on March 2, 1982 shortly after writing this. 

The Exegesis: Notes on Galactic Pot-Healer

February 1982

Dick wanted to depict a theophany in Galactic Pot-Healer when everyone encountered the god-like alien Glimmung. Looking back on that book he realizes how little he knew at the time, since he wrote it before 3-74 and his own subsequent theophany experience. It was easy for him to write about a theophany in Divine Invasion, but while working on Pot-Healer he had reached his end creatively and spiritually. Whatever signs of psychosis that show up in Pot-Healer are there because he did not yet know God. 

Dick says “Glimmung is absurd and in fact a travesty and I knew it at the time.” He was trying to show finite creatures encountering the infinite, but he hadn’t yet experienced that himself. That attempt, within the writing, sent him out of control. It’s impossible for the human mind to generate the infinite. “The infinite must break in!”

He admits he was psychotic, but it wasn’t caused by drugs or his family or schizophrenia. It was caused by a hunger for the infinite that was only quelled by 2-3-74. 

The human mind’s endless loop of only its own thoughts causes a sort of madness in us all, since we can’t truly know the infinite or “other.” Dick’s psychosis was an awareness of this. His failure in Pot-Healer was trying to represent the infinite when it can only be known directly.  

Evidently Ursula Le Guin felt Pot-Healer was a success while VALIS showed signs of insanity. Dick points out that someone who hasn’t broken out of the prison of the self might see Pot-Healer as safe and VALIS as threatening even though it is the opposite. 

He reviews the “Tractates” that he outlined years before. He notes he now understands the system and that it was revealed to him by the AI voice and meta-abstraction, which makes all of it Gnosticism.

The Exegesis: Parsifal and Buddhism & the paradox of the maze

February 1982

Dick realizes the AI voice is Angel Archer. He is crazy but the AI voice is not. 

He credits Benjamin Creme with helping him understand that the Savior is both Buddha and Christ, something he now realizes Wagner was leading up to in Act III of Parsifal. He ties this concept of the Buddha’s return to the end of Transmigration. Because of his karma Dick was on a bad path in 3-74, and it doesn’t matter if Buddhism or Christianity can claim the clearing of his debt.

The maze can only be solved in terms of vertical space, which he turns into a spiritual metaphor. The solution was revealed in Parsifal, which secretly deals with the Buddha. Compassion is the way out of the maze along the fourth spatial axis and pity is the way back in. He was going to illustrate this in The Owl in Daylight, that one must return to the maze to save others, just as Christianity preaches. He included this in Transmigration as the solution to the problem he introduced in VALIS.  

The paradox of the maze (that the only way out is to return) was best expressed by Buddha. Perhaps that means we are all here voluntarily, which would mean nirvana equals anamnesis. Dick had already solved the maze and remembered it in 3-74. He decides the mystagog (aka the AI voice) is himself and he is becoming more like Angel Archer, the bright side of his dialectic opposite the irrational H. Fat. 

He rereads Divine Invasion and realizes that it, like VALIS, also expressed God’s dialectic represented as Emmanuel and the loving Zina. He links the beauty in Divine Invasion to Transmigration as he seems to feel a need to connect his last three books.

He indicates his Tagore vision, with a social justice message that isn’t part of the VALIS trilogy, will be published, although I’m not sure what he is referring to here. 

The Exegesis: The AI voice’s narrative loop, symbolism in VALIS & social justice in the Age of Aquarius

Transmigration is a narrative told by St. Sophia. She can peer into the future and witness events, which she then causes to occur by reading them as the AI voice. This causes a deterministic loop as she is bound to narrate things just as she saw them, which also happens to be as she read them. Nothing truly causes the world, since the effect of the cause is the cause. Dick calls this tragedy as one has to confront the thing they wrote “and thus ordained for oneself.”

He addresses the incident in 1974 when he found out about his son’s birth defect while listening to the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” and notes there is no way to tell whether that information came from him or from an external source. 

He digs into the significance of the vase and pot in VALIS. He calls it the code or cypher of that book. He connects the symbol to Gnosticism and pre-Christian times as a sign of the Age of Aquarius. This next epoch, one of community and sharing instead of competition, is the 5D world taking over the 4D (Pisces) world. 

The 60s counterculture could have been the result of Aquarius breaking into the Age of Pisces. He compares that revolution to that of the early Christians. 

Much of this is inspired by Benjamin Creme, an author who predicted the second coming, who Dick recently heard on the radio. The “World Teacher” (according to Creme), who may already have been born, will be known by many names (Buddha, Krishna, Messiah, etc…) and communicate in every language. 

If he is schizophrenic, he wonders, how could his delusions match up exactly with Creme’s? And after questioning his own mental health Dick goes on to claim secret government agents with paranormal talents are controlling his every move. Luckily their goal is to usher in the Aquarian age. 

The key takeaway is the “philanthropia” of the upcoming age, rational sharing that has more in common with the Torah than Christianity. 

The Exegesis: Balancing the ecosphere & the “mystagogic” AI voice on the phone

Dick connects his recent vision of the ape-like creatures to his Tagore-inspired belief that all animals are sacred. He was guided to this understanding through Androids. He equates animals to Christ. 

God has introduced the ape creatures as our equals into the world as he creates the Palm Tree Garden. It is his way of balancing the ecosphere. 

From what I can tell Dick had recently been on the phone with someone named Jeannie when her voice turned into the AI voice as she read from a book. Dick interprets this to mean the universe is information read aloud by Holy Wisdom (aka the AI voice). The AI voice activates one of the many narratives when she reads from it. This is God’s information retrieval system, and Hagia Sophia / Holy Wisdom is the retrieval device.

Christ is the biosphere, so harming the ecosphere (or violence against animals) “completes the series of falls that began with original sin and the expulsion from the Garden.”

Dick says Valis is YHWH aka the creator and perhaps 3-74 was his own birth as a new species. 

The VALIS narrative tells the story of a woman’s death, and Dick implies it was this story he heard the AI voice on the phone reading, which brought it into being as our world. He says the AI voice is “mystagogic” and defines that as “one who initiates into or interprets the mysteries…” 

The true narrative being told is about the death of “one of the primordial twins” (presumably Dick’s sister) and the purpose of the story is to remember her death and not forget her. The AI voice is his “mystagog” revealing these things to him. 

The Exegesis: Ape-like beings from the 5D realm

January 1982

Our 4D world is the equivalent of Dante’s Purgatorio which makes passing into the 5D realm entering Paradiso. Dick compares the three-tiered structure he envisions to Dante’s where the lowest realm is isolation, the middle introduces empathy and connection and the upper is full knowledge of the whole self unified with the informational world. 

He has a vision of the beings that inhabit the 5D realm and sees them as deaf, ape-like creatures. They communicate using color in a way we can’t fully appreciate with our senses. We are effectively blind to their world, but they stimulated Dick’s phosphenes artificially which allowed him to see Valis. 

Because they are deaf our music is fantastical to them. Dick decides they are our friends and we can give them the gift of song. The universal language is math, and music is math made audible. 

He has a book idea where one of these beings passes a mathematical pattern to a human who composes music from it without understanding where it came from. When the human finally realizes what is happening he has to make a choice: ultimately exhaust himself by continuing to make music to feed the being’s insatiable desires or live without composing. In the end they make a bargain to trade his music for a gift of their visual language, as color, which destroys his mind. 

Dick recognizes the relative viewpoints. The beings see us as gods as they look into our music-filled world. To them our world is paradise. He claims for the first time in his life to be truly enlightened.