The Exegesis

The Exegesis: An occlusion & a combined narrative

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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September-October 1978

This is how the BIP occludes us: “it is the damaged mind trying (unsuccessfully) to monitor its own damage.” Dick finds that eerily similar to the ideas in A Scanner Darkly. It is impossible for us to assess this damage which makes it self-perpetuating, and the only way to clear the occlusion is through Christ. The fake world will need to be destroyed in order to save us just as the Gnostics believed.

Dick seeks comfort from his pain and feels he is running out of time. Again he thinks he has “solved it.” Zebra is trying to reach into the BIP and make us aware of it just as in Ubik.

This is the combined narrative of his books:

As Dick has just reread A Scanner Darkly he now sees that as the key book in the sequence. It is the interior side of Flow My Tears and it explains why we don’t see the world portrayed in that book. He extends his narrative list to include a dozen other short stories and novels (see related) that seem to just tangentially touch on his overall theme.

He’s really stretching trying to cram everything he’s ever written into his overarching concept and goes back to the idea that A Scanner Darkly and Flow My Tears are the two most crucial books. 

The Exegesis: The Man Who Fell to Earth, “beyond lies the Wug” & Dick’s own system

Dick repeatedly dreams of the phrase “the only living reality we have now is Philip the first” and tries to figure out what that means.

He thinks our savior will arrive unnoticed just as the little boy in Nicholas Roeg’s 1976 movie The Man Who Fell to Earth starring David Bowie (a movie that inspired the film in VALIS). This fills him with dread since the time of judgment is so close, but he reassures himself that his faith will protect him.

He dreams about a story called “beyond lies the Wug” (published in Planet Stories in his dream). This is a combination of the Wub from his story “Beyond Lies the Wub” and the Vug from his novel The Game-Players of Titan, both of which are aliens who can take on the form of humans. From this Dick decides Earth will be invaded by aliens disguised as us.

Perhaps Paracelsus’s inner firmament means we are on the outside of the universe, like on the surface of a balloon, looking in.

Anamnesis is more than just remembering a past life. It is coming to terms with and understanding the phony world and time we are a part of. He recalls a passage from Virgil about the return of Apollo and reiterates that Christ will soon be victorious.

Dick lists everything he has studied thus far (Buddhism, Brahmanism, Paracelsus, etc.) and decides he is all of those things but has come up with his own system as well. 

We entered into a pact with the BIP to remain blind to it in a comfortable fugue state, as depicted in Time Out of Joint, Eye in the Sky, etc. We need to have the courage to stand up to the BIP and regain the freedom we lost. 

The Exegesis: Bruno’s hylozoism & Paracelsus’s inner firmament

September 1978

Using concepts like hylozoism (the doctrine that all matter has life) Dick tries to explain how the universe is a living creature with a soul, which is what he depicted in Ubik.

He quotes a passage about the sixteenth century Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno from Will Durant’s book The Age of Reason Begins. Bruno wrote about the idea of a living God which is the universe. Dick wasn’t aware of this model of the world even though he based Ubik on it. Once again he feels he has “cracked the case” and achieved fulfillment. 

Dick has decided definitively that the space he occupied in his recent dreams is the inner firmament spoken of by Paracelsus whose teachings were introduced to him by Thomas even though Paracelsus was a German Renaissance philosopher. My simple understanding of this is that the inner microcosm of one man’s mind is a mirror of the macrocosm of the universe. The micro mind can experience the totality of the macro mind.

Dick begins to wonder if USA 1974 is real but maybe he is not. But then where does he exist? Perhaps it is belief in the world around us that makes it real and it is our psyche which creates the universe. 

Through Ubik Dick has attracted the attention of the Soviets, because by dismantling time and space through his line of thinking he is also tearing down the ideas capitalism is based on. 

The Exegesis: Two forms & a journey toward enlightenment

September 1978

Dick clarifies that Thomas is not himself or the Holy Spirit but a distinct human being in his head from the time of “Acts.” He contemplates destroying the exegesis, because he feels he is bound by some kind of code of silence and is not allowed to spill the cosmic secret that Christians from the past are operating within us. 

He points out that he has rewritten the same type of story over and over where a phony world hides the real one, which is exactly what was revealed to him in 3-74.

He touches on the idea of an infinite number of worlds and selves, and thinks he is a factory defect where the Thomas personality was stuck in his brain by mistake. He says we have two choices to make sense of everything. Either it is Rome 45 A.D. or else all time is a simulated illusion. He is leaning towards the latter.

In a moment of self-realization he admits “I have been governed too much by my own fictional models…” 

His writing, in the gutter of science fiction of the time, is a very unlikely place to encounter the holy message he found. He lists the two sides of what we see now that the illusion is breaking down: illusion – real, sleep – wakefulness, etc. Movement from one side to the other requires death of the psyche. Someone must experience their own irreality and the phony world.

Christ, after he died, distributed himself as living information with the goal of waking us up. Dick’s entire writing journey has been a search for enlightenment. In 3-74 he became a Buddha and since then has been able to understand intellectually what happened to him.

Why did we forget this wisdom and why do we need to earn it?

The Exegesis: Brahman’s games, information as light, and who is Thomas?

August 1978 or later

Dick is convinced the universe must be a hologram and then he decides once again that Brahman is behind it all. He addresses a short note to Brahman letting him know he is aware of Brahman’s games. For some reason Dick is concerned about the physicality of this unreal world. Where exactly is it? He imagines it projected as a hologram on some sort of matrix. This is a joint effort between Brahman and Atman (the Hindu concept of an individual spiritual essence), and so when Dick saw the Jesus fish necklace in 2-74 his own personal Atman projected Rome 45 A.D. and Brahman filled in the details in a kind of feedback loop. 

The brain is disassembling and absorbing the BIP, and Dick examines the closed system and the push-pull between the brain and its cells or parts. He stumbles onto the idea that the matrix resembles the double helix of a DNA strand. Information might travel on this conduit using light, with Zebra on the red frequency, which means Dick was able to see this infrared light. 

He tries to figure out who “Thomas” is: himself in a previous life in Rome 45 A.D. or someone else from a previous time inside his head. He leans toward the idea that he has multiple personalities, but does that mean he is in Thomas’s head? Everything since “Acts” is a false time created by the BIP, so Thomas wrote Flow My Tears to show what really exists. Thomas has masterminded all of the themes of Dick’s writing from the beginning, but Thomas, like other possible Christians from that era, wants to remain a secret. It’s fascinating to me how Dick is all over the place from Brahman to the certainty of Thomas in only a few pages.

The Exegesis: Is the fake fake real?, information degradation, schizophrenia & St. Sophia

August 1978 or later

Based on situations in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, A Maze of Death and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Dick tries to decide if hallucination is reality or reality is hallucination. He settles on the latter. He follows that with some circular reasoning about the real becoming fake becoming real. 

I struggle to understand his notes on entropy within the brain, but I think he concludes that because of information degradation the hologram weakened and allowed the Acts material to show up in his book Flow My Tears. Because of entropy the Acts message itself that made it through was degraded.

Dick admits he probably had a schizophrenic episode in 3-74 and the stress and the breakdown of his relationships that led to it began as early as 1970. The psychosis he encountered is gone at the time of writing due to financial security and a new relationship. A bright spot of the whole ordeal was that it put him in touch with Holy Wisdom / St. Sophia which is now part of his soul.

In a third-person passage he recounts what happened to him and the intervention of St. Sophia communicating her message of love, wisdom and harmony.