The Exegesis

The Exegesis: Notes on entropy & Plot ideas for To Scare the Dead

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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Entropy equals disorder which means the universe is moving toward disorder. Orthogonal time is moving the other way toward form we just aren’t always aware of it. Dick wonders if one intersecting arc of the Jesus fish represents linear time and the other arc orthogonal time. They intersected in the past (100 A.D.) and are about to meet again. The symbol was designed to show Christ’s First and Second Coming.

In an idea for the novel he is working on called To Scare the Dead his protagonist realizes the two hemispheres of his brain are traveling at right angles to each other in time. All the questions this raises will be answered by the Valisystem entity that has been contacting him. 

The Exegesis: Letter to Claudia Bush, March 21, 1975

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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Dick writes Claudia on the vernal equinox and tells her not only is it spring but it is also the Springtime the entity told him would eventually arrive. The tyranny, he thinks, has ended. 

His conception of the universe (at least for now) is a cube. We are all inside this cube and the patterns are fed to us. He uses Beethoven as an example of how signals are passed to humans for us to uniquely modify to produce an output. Another way to look at life is as a barrel that we roll up a hill until we eventually reach God… not the clearest metaphor here.

Dick ends the letter by briefly recounting what happened to him in 1974.

March 16, 1974: The entity appeared to him.

March 18, 1974: The entity looked out from inside him and denied the reality of the world.

March 20, 1974: The entity took over, showing him what was real.

March 20 until late July, 1974: The entity showed him how to defeat the world’s tyrannies. 

August 1974 and on: The entity (aka Elijah/the Holy Spirit/Dionysus/Zagreus) gradually went away leaving him mentally healed.  

The Exegesis: Letter to Tony Hiss, March 2, 1975

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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Dick writes a short letter to Tony Hiss and includes the piece he is submitting for Hiss’s magazine The Real World. Hiss has apparently accepted a poem by Dick’s wife Tessa for the next issue and so Dick assures Hiss about his own hard work on this essay about Tony Boucher.

Tony Boucher was the editor of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction before he died of cancer in 1968. Dick wonders what kind of a world would let a man like Tony die of cancer. Dick paints a picture of Tony as a generous man ultimately scared of the universe. Dick’s first sale (his story “Roog”) was to Tony. No one understood that story at the time, but it went on to be taught in a college-level science fiction course. 

In a digression Dick goes on to say that his cat Pinky, who also died of cancer, and Tony were one and the same.

The Exegesis: Letter to Claudia Bush, February 26, 1975

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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Dick writes Claudia this long letter the morning after an epic drug bender. He relates questions his wife Tessa had asked him while he was ‘ripped.’She wanted to know what entity took him over during his 2-3-74 experience and he decided it was the Greek scholar Erasmus. 

He tells Claudia we spend our whole lives seeing time in its secondary axis instead of the real axis which is orthogonal. He toys with the idea that orthogonal time is cyclical and not retrograde like he previously thought. Our linear time is probably warped (which makes sense based on what Einstein told us about spacetime) and so time will eventually loop back around just like an object in orbit around a star. 

Time doesn’t really move but rather we move along time, from signal to signal, based on the plan of the Logos. 

The Exegesis: Letter to Claudia Bush, February 25, 1975

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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Dick talks up his writing process in another letter to Claudia. He borrows from his own life experiences and often merges ideas from two novels into one. 

In a postscript he says he ‘commanded the entity to show itself’ to him the previous night. In a hypnogogic state he saw a dead man dressed in a fawn skin on the floor. He is convinced this is Dionysos (who is related to Zagreus in Greek mythology) and in the morning he finds confirmation, in his mind at least, when he comes across something about the followers of Dionysos wearing fawn skins. 

He attaches notes for his next novel which combines ideas from Valisystem A (which would go on to become Radio Free Ablemuth and later VALIS) and the previously mentioned To Scare the Dead. The protagonist is influenced by a telepathic signal from space to overthrow a government tyranny. In the remainder of his notes Dick brainstorms on the notion of retrograde time and how it can be worked into his story.