The Exegesis

The Exegesis: Letter to Ursula Le Guin, September 23, 1974

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
Buy it on Amazon

Dick and Ursula Le Guin both attended Berkeley High School and graduated in 1947. Although they didn’t know each other at the time, and I don’t believe they ever met face to face, they did correspond in the 70s. 

Dick tells Le Guin that when he explained everything that has been happening to him to fellow sci-fi author Thomas Disch, Disch suggested Dick might have been possessed by Elijah. Dick is excited at the idea that it might very well have been the same spirit that filled Elijah, Elisha and reappeared as John the Baptist.

The Exegesis: Letter to Claudia Bush, July 24, 1974

Dick tells Claudia about a dream involving an elevator, a policeman and a pile of spaghetti. He decides the cop represents the guide who leads souls across to the ‘Other Side.’

In another dream he sees some men with egg-shaped heads who he is convinced are the superior race of Immortals. 

In an addendum to this letter Dick expands on his concept of these aliens who he refers to as ‘the Other.’ Dick believes ‘the Great Builder’ is orchestrating everything to get us to merge with this other race. 

The Exegesis: Letter to Claudia Bush, July 22, 1974

Dick solves the puzzle. He has been dreaming about the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls from the Qumran Essene community were found in 1946 in the Judean desert, so they weren’t exactly a brand new discovery when Dick wrote this letter. Nonetheless he is convinced that is what he is tapping into at night. Jim Pike studied the scrolls so perhaps this is because of Jim’s influence. 

I’m not sure how serious he is when he tells Claudia to be careful who she tells about all of this.

The Exegesis: July 8, 1974: The First Day of the Constitutional Crisis

Another letter to Claudia Bush. Dick believes he is seeing beyond ‘the Lie’ he covered in the last letter. In a compelling idea he wonders if his writing alters reality. Do people expect the world to become more like his books after they read them?

He returns to Ubik. Is he (or everyone) living in a pseudo-environment like the one in that book? Is Jim Pike ‘coming across’ to him from beyond death like Runciter did? Dick is changing and wonders if this is from the influence of Jim. He switched to drinking beer instead of wine, listens to rock music which he never did before and trimmed his beard.  

With his regimen of massive doses of water-soluble vitamins he thinks he may have improved communication between the two hemispheres of his brain which are now working together for the first time in his life.

He dreams mostly of the Hellenistic period. He decides whatever is contacting him is non-Christian or pre-Christian. It pulled him back to 100 A.D. just before the start of Christianity. Maybe VALIS decided Christianity was a wrong turn and Dick is supposed to get it right this time around. Finally he concludes he is being contacted by Asklepios, Greek son of Apollo. 

In a footnote the editors remind us all these personality changes could be a result of temporary strokes due to Dick’s sky-high blood pressure.  

The Exegesis: Letter to Claudia Bush, July 13, 1974

A third letter to Claudia is about Zoroastrianism and the battle between honesty and lies in that belief system. The Persians believed in the value and power of this life as opposed to other religions like Christianity which preach acceptance of this miserable world in hopes of a better life after death. Dick wants to bring back this affirmative view of life. 

I expect he’s not done writing to her, since the glossary also notes Dick referred to his early Exegesis as mostly letters to Claudia.