The Exegesis

The Exegesis: God’s dark side, escaping the cycle of life along a right angle axis & notes on the fifth dimension

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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January 1982

Dick points out the darkness in VALIS as it deals with the upcoming judgment, war and death. He has a very Old Testament view of things here describing the dialectic, insane, demonic side of God (something Jacob Boehme wrote about), which is usually contained by the opposite bright or rational side. 

He had a hypnopompic vision about the cycle of reincarnation that we can only break out of through anamnesis when we remember our past lives and can finally be saved. Anamnesis happened to Dick at age 21 when he read the Jewish philosopher’s Maimonides 12th-century book Guide to the Perplexed, which caused him to see through the illusion of time as he became aware of multiple timelines. The other half of his salvation came from God’s grace. 

He compares this to the Hindu and Buddhist idea of moska when someone escapes the “weary wheel” cycle. 3-74 might have been his Nirvana. All of this involves being liberated along a right angle axis, which he says is the 5th dimension revealed to him through Dibba Cakkhu

In the 5th dimension everything exists “now” simultaneously. He calls it hypertime where Valis and others live. They can see us but we can’t see them. All we are aware of is their influence (aka the perturbation in the reality field) on our 4D world. He claims to have received a signal burst (which he describes as a musical, mathematical color sequence) from them the previous night that proved to him they were external and didn’t just exist in his mind. 

Either the 5D world intersects with our world or it exists outside of it. An object like Flow My Tears can have a different meaning in the 5D world than in the 4D world even though the text is the same. 

The Exegesis: Notes on The Owl in Daylight

December 1981

Dick sketches out ideas for what he intends to be his next novel The Owl in Daylight. He refers to the main character as Owl and imagines the book as a parody of the gnostic search for salvation through knowledge depicted in VALIS

Owl, a holy fool archetype, exists in a “construct” governed by some kind of plasma, and only Owl seems to have figured out the maze everyone is trapped in. Dick clarifies the entire book won’t be a parody. It will be “tragicomic”. It will parody Jorge Luis Borges and Kafka but not Beethoven or Dante. 

Owl interacts with the controlling plasma/computer in four stages. In the fourth stage it introduces the Ditheon psyche and Owl realizes the pointless Faustian nature of his endless quest for knowledge. By that time Owl has isolated himself and become a pathetic antiwar protestor. A subplot involves a “crippled dwarf” and a governmental eugenics program. 

Dick wonders about including a possible government agent based on Ursula Le Guin who is worried about Owl’s increasingly deranged mental health. It’s interesting he brought up Le Guin, since she had already written this type of PKD parody novel in Lathe of Heaven published ten years earlier. 

He has further insights about the war between the Empire and Christianity (except Christianity is the true Empire and the true Christians are a Celtic-Orphic mystery religion) before he ultimately decides all of it is ridiculous. 

The Exegesis: Committing to the fight against the Empire

December 1981 

Dick was asked to join in political activity against the government and he immediately accepted without any qualms. He claims this shows he is finally healed from the schism in him that was created when he was approached by the FBI back in the 50s. He is choosing what God wants over the “secular authority” that has been competing for his allegiance his whole life. 

The war against nuclear reactors, waste and weapons is the Armageddon he had anticipated since 3-74 which his Tagore vision further revealed to him. He has committed to fighting along side the other Christian revolutionaries against the Empire. After Reagan took office the 2-3-74 prophecy came true. 

He has a new attitude now. He says he has earned self-respect and is rejecting the shame and guilt that has accompanied Christianity in the past. 

The Exegesis: Moral laws & sacraments as signs pointing to infinity

December 1981 

Through an encounter with YHWH Dick is given the complete understanding that to continue a relationship with a woman named Denise rather than stay in Fullerton near Tessa and his son Christopher would destroy him. He didn’t realize how close he was to making the wrong choice that would have cost him his soul. Through this he sees that moral laws underpin reality and are inseparable from the physical laws. He attributes this to Hagia Sophia’s influence on God. 

He knows now that the true secret of Christianity is ecstatic joy in contrast to the crucifixion. He arrived at this knowledge through empathy / agape. He followed the path of Christ’s suffering to get to the miracle of the resurrection when suffering is converted to ecstasy.  

A sacrament is designed to point to the infinity of reality. That was the function of the Jesus fish necklace in 2-74, except afterward Dick saw all reality as a sign that pointed to infinity. Seeing this without the sacrament shouldn’t be possible according to religious traditions. He claims viewing true reality without these signs and symbols is open to anyone, since the signs are actually pointing to the reality that they exist in.

The Exegesis: God as an interface between us and the world & a new post-Parousia theology

December 1981 

Dick realizes that God exists as a filter between us and the world controlling in a purposeful way how each person sees reality. It’s not something we ever notice (we assume everyone experiences the world in the same way), except he became aware of this filtering in 2-3-74. He began to deal with the interface itself (Valis/God) and he calls that theophany. Perhaps the world is unchanging but the interface alters our perception to make it appear however it wants. 

Knowledge can only come from the grace of God. It cannot come from internal reasoning but only from that external source. Usually knowledge arises in such a way that we assume it came about naturally, but occasionally (as in the case of Dick’s awareness of his son’s hernia) we arrive at knowledge that can only come from the outside. This leads Dick to conclude that all knowledge of reality comes from dealing with the interface and not from dealing directly with the world. 

Trying to truly understand this on our own is impossible. The interface actually encompasses both us and the world, and it can turn into an infinitely regressive loop of isolation. By studying the 18th century French philosopher Nicolas Malebranche Dick realizes salvation is knowledge of others and finally knowledge of God as the ultimate other.

He declares the Parousia is here and sketches out a new theology for the time after Christ’s arrival. He calls it Christian-Buddhist neo-pantheism, Teilhard’s Omega Point of unification that also involves ideas from Malebranche and physics and the ecosphere. In this new future the lowest of the low will be elevated to the suffering of Christ.

Attempting to figure all this out in the exegesis has exhausted him. The world has continued to draw him in as he seeks to regain what happened to him in 3-74.

The Exegesis: Usurpers and true kings, the secrecy theme of the Bible & an eight volume meta-novel

December 1981 

Dick draws parallels between characters in Euripides’ The Bacchae, Hamlet, the Bible and his own Flow My Tears to show the archetypal relationship between a usurper to the thrown (Pentheus, Claudius, Pilate and Felix Buckman) and the rightful king (Zagreus aka Dionysus, Hamlet, Jesus and Jason Taverner). Everything we initially see is the opposite of what it really is. The only ones who are granted the knowledge of the true kings are “the elect” who face their own moral choices about their personal true nature. 

Based on an anxiety attack he had earlier in the year he realizes that hell would be perpetual self-awareness and guilt over past transgressions. He claims to finally understand justification through Christ and God’s grace as the thing that will save someone from that fate. Thomas is/was his “justified, perfected self” that he evolved into.

He has a hypnagogic vision of a vast network of red threads that he interprets as Christ’s blood in the living information structure of the plasmate. 

He examines the secrecy theme of the Bible where Jesus routinely tells his disciples that only a few will understand his parables and the riddles of his teachings. Dick says it had to be that way in order to weed out those who would otherwise only follow out of self-interest rather than true belief. People are still waiting for Christ’s return, but the actual secret is that his prophecy was already fulfilled. His return is not a historical event but something that is revealed to those who believe. This ensures that moral conduct comes from knowledge of the truth and not from seeking a reward. 

Dick imagines a through-line connecting Confessions of a Crap Artist, Androids, Flow My Tears, A Scanner Darkly, Deus Irae, VALIS, Divine Invasion and Transmigration. They all involve multiple personalities linked together, and the endpoint comes when Christ is revealed in Transmigration. Androids is the lynchpin in this series of novels, but it only achieves its full significance in relation to Transmigration. Taken together they portray the evolution of a holy fool to his true identity as the Savior, although he doesn’t become Christ but rather is invaded by Christ. The other novels clarify VALIS, which he claims “is clearly autobiographical, and perhaps not a novel, not fiction, at all.”