The Exegesis

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

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.

The Exegesis: Letter to Henry Korman, February 2, 1975

Dick met Henry Korman when Tony Hiss interviewed Dick for the New Yorker and brought Henry along. Henry and Dick discussed Sufism and Dr. Robert Ornstein’s work involving the parity between the two hemispheres of the brain. 

In a letter to Henry Dick tells him that he fell asleep after reading a Sufi magazine and had dreams of parallel universes, one in which he was a famous jet setter and another where he lived as a migratory worker in Mexico.

I don’t entirely understand the concept of the noosphere, but it dates back to the 1920s and the writings of Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Soviet geochemist Vladimir Vernadsky. Dick tries to connect the idea of the noosphere (some kind of next phase of the biosphere created by human cognition) to Ubik but he seems to be spitballing about what that connection really is.

The Exegesis: Letter to Claudia Bush, February 16, 1975

I assumed Dick made up (sorry… saw in a vision) the name Zagreus, but it turns out Zagreus is a character in Greek mythology, although his lineage is convoluted. Dick is going with the idea that Zagreus is the son of Zeus. Zeus tried to hide Zagreus from Hera and the Titans, but eventually the Titans found Zagreus, tore him apart and ate him. Dick draws a parallel between this and Jesus who Dick imagines was hidden on Earth by God until we (the titans) killed him and later ate him in our communion ceremony. 

Dick goes on to talk about the “Hymn of the Soul” in the “Acts of Thomas.” In that parable a man retrieves a pearl from the mouth of a dragon before returning home. Dick relates that story to his experience with the girl with the Jesus fish necklace, although the comparison is kind of slippery to me. He says he tried to track down the delivery girl a month after she visited him, but the pharmacy had no idea who she was.

The Exegesis: Letter to Claudia Bush, February 16, 1975

Before Dick shows Claudia notes for a new novel he is working on about time dysfunction he tells her the true name of Jesus was revealed to him in a dream: Zeus Zagreus. 

The novel’s working title is To Scare the Dead. The sketch for the plot involves an LA man in the record business who is disinhibited by a girl with a Jesus fish necklace and suddenly has the spirit of a 2nd century A.D. Essene in his head. The man reads about Christ’s return in Revelation and later has his house ransacked and his file cabinet blown open by the government. I wonder where Dick is getting these ideas from.

Dick goes on to talk more about cubic time and the possibly retrograde horizontal time axis. Dick speculates he may have had false memories about his life in California implanted after being hypnotized (by who?), and wonders if whatever happened to him in March could have been due to Soviet experiments led by the astrophysicist Nikolai Kozyrev. 

The Exegesis: Letter to Claudia Bush, February 14, 1975

Dick proposes that the universe we perceive is a hologram. Time, at least how we understand it, is created when we move through this hologram rather than the hologram moving forward around us. Each of us interacts individually with this hologram based on how we are programed.

He returns to the idea of the right hemisphere of the brain acting as a transducer. We won’t fully make sense of how we exist in this hologram network until we have achieved better communication between the right and left brain.