The Exegesis

The Exegesis: Punishment for play vs work

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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June or July 1978

Dick is upset his pop culture sci-fi is being legitimized. It’s how the powers that be destroy something when they can’t control it. A Scanner Darkly depicted the outsized punishment that comes not from drugs but from choosing to continue to play when society wants you to toil away. We have all been taught to expect this form of punishment for the sinfulness of play instead of work. Christ’s punishment, in spite of being blameless, seems to prove this wrong, but the true message, that suffering is not tied to sin, was lost. 

Dick thinks the decoded message in Flow my Tears is that Zebra is in fact Christ and he is here / has returned.

In A Scanner Darkly the authorities want to enslave everyone and force them to be subservient to group approval. God is the sentient being who will free us from that real-life enslaved state.

Dick quotes from Act 3 of Wagner’s opera Parsifal when all of nature rejoices at God’s mercy on Good Friday. He reads Will Durant’s history of the Reformation and decides the true message has been misunderstood for 2000 years. Dick says tears, enslavement, and pain (the Black Iron Prison) were transformed to innocence, love and joy (the Palm Tree Garden world) through Christ’s sacrifice. 

He wonders where he fits in with the history of Christianity and sees the most similarities with the Quakers who believed they could communicate directly with the Holy Spirit.

The Exegesis: Creator of fake worlds

June or July 1978

Dick continues to believe USA 1974 is a phony world covering up the real one, although now he has shifted further back to Rome 45 A.D. as the true reality. Again with his circular reasoning Dick imagines his own 3-74 experience as mirroring the plot of his novels where a fake world conceals the true one. The world is a mask put up by God to hide himself from man.

“Axiom: The best forgeries go undetected.”

He says that he is the mad God James-James, creator of fake worlds, and he seems to believe here that he wrote the story of his life (particularly everything after the 3-74 experience) and embodied it. If that isn’t true his books and stories mean nothing and the exegesis has been a waste of time.

He recounts what happened to him. He wrote Flow my Tears, which included Biblical elements, before he had his vision triggered by the Jesus fish necklace where he saw ancient Rome. He wasn’t aware of the messages he included in that book and wonders how it happened. 

The Exegesis: Perturbations in the reality field

May 1978

Dick tries to make sense of “perturbations” in the “reality field” but seems mostly concerned with what the terms mean. 

If the generated reality field isn’t real than we are not real and are inseparable from the space-time we are a part of. 

His novel Flow my Tears tells the story of what will come to be which is the restoration of the divine woman aka God’s holy wisdom. 

Dick read the 1960 French counterculture / conspiracy theory book The Morning of the Magician which reinforced his idea of pop culture trash as a perfect form of subversive underground communication. Pop culture has such wide exposure that nothing could be traced back to the receivers, only the sender. It would be best if the creator of the media was subliminally influenced and ignorant of the messages they were encoding in their work.

Dick recognizes that he told the same story over and over again in Eye in the Sky, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Ubik, Time Out of Joint, and A Maze of Death. A group of characters mass hallucinates a fake world just as he thinks people are mass hallucinating 1970s California on top of ancient Rome. 

Spurred on by The Morning of the Magician he revisits his idea that Flow My Tears is living information that will take root in the minds of its readers. He wonders what the narrative would be that would allow us to see all the layers of time. 

Dick’s balking was a moral choice. He saw it as wrong to engage with the phony world once he was aware of it, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still be punished. He suspects he was programmed to discover he was programmed. 

The Exegesis: Dick’s relationship with Zebra

May 1978

Dick believes the true deity had a role in overthrowing the U.S. Government. It was able to sneak in unnoticed disguised as lowbrow trash just as in Ubik

He thinks the Black Iron Prison world has yielded to the PTG (Palm Tree Garden) world, but because the BIP world was a bogus copy of the real world, and the PTG world copied that, we are then living in a fake of a fake. He goes on to clarify there is no world. We are enclosed in the BIP which is firing signals at us and creating what we see as the world. He doesn’t believe it is evil though.

The information Dick received in 3-74 was meant for Zebra and not for him. Whatever it was means Zebra is a permanent part of him now and he is in a symbiotic state with it.

It sounds like he thinks the information hidden in his book Flow My Tears is a way for Zebra to replicate itself in the minds of its readers. He suggests the Book of Acts in the Bible is not a book but is actually a world which he entered into in 3-74. I’m not sure Dick really understands what he is talking about here.

Dick has hit on the idea that we built Zebra to help us remember because we knew the BIP would take over and enslave us. Zebra is metabolic information restoring elasticity to the rigid BIP of the universe. Each person must rebel in order to see the world for what it truly is. 

Because we each contain the totality of the holographic universe Zebra and Dick are the same, but he is still reckoning with this.

The Exegesis: The nature of the two hyperuniverses

April-May 1978

Dick suggests hyperuniverse II (the Black Iron Prison) is dead and exists only as a mechanical construct. The BIP world may be stuck in 70 A.D. because VALIS “dealt it a death blow.” Since then fake time continues on with no growth. Because its psyche is dead it just repeats the same thing over and over again. 

Dick said he once described reality “as that which, when you withdraw assent from it, it does not disappear.” Dick withdrew assent and during his 3-74 experience 1974 California disappeared.  

We used to be able to distinguish the two hyperuninverses before the Fall and that’s how we were able to speak with God. We are stuck between Zebra’s living hyperuniverse and the dead BIP hyperuniverse which wants to enslave us.

Dick doesn’t think what he believes can be explained in traditional terms. It’s not Christianity. It’s possible Satan and Christ are twins and that Christ/Zebra is a female (Hagia Sophia/Aphrodite) who is the projected hologram and can take any form she wants. 

All humans amplify the faint signal trying to break the hold our fake world has over us. The pursuit of power is the false god. 

Dick lists nine stages one must go through to reject the BIP world and expose it as an illusion. The true creator is the quiet voice not the loud, threatening one. 

After reading John Sladek’s PKD parody “Solar Shoe-Salesman” Dick feels the need to clarify his own point of view. His writing is not sophisticated. The low-brow and the trash are the keys to his work. He juxtaposes things randomly with the hope of exposing greater truths which may be hiding in plain sight. 

The Exegesis: Hyperuniverses and our world as a hologram

Early 1978

Our universe is a sort of hologram. VALIS/Zebra is trying to wake us up to this with illusions that demonstrate our phony world. Everything is flipped. What we expect to be grounded reality is fake and the nonsense is real. Dick’s writing has value in exposing this.

Dick is deep down the rabbit hole at this point. I often wonder what he would make of the conspiracy theories overwhelming our present time. He quotes a passage from Robert Anton Wilson’s 1977 Illuminati book Cosmic Trigger about Terence and Dennis McKenna’s book the Invisible Landscape. The McKenna’s, whose theories also borrowed from the I Ching, apparently believed two hyperuniverses interact to form the hologram of our universe. Every piece of a hologram contains information of the whole thing, so that concept would extend to our brains which would contain the whole of the universe. From their idea Dick extrapolates that the two hyperuniverses are the Black Iron Prison and the palm tree garden world which combine to create the hologram. One is signal and one is noise, and Christ is invading the Black Iron Prison world in order to destroy it. 

Dick wonders why the omniscient entity doesn’t do more to alleviate undeserved suffering. Does it have limited power or knowledge, or is it operating in stealth mode to hide from its adversary? Dick concludes Christ is supplanting each suffering creature.