The Exegesis

The Exegesis: Undeserved suffering

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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March 1978

When the universe encounters ‘counterfeit interpolations’ it repairs and replaces them which result in changes in the timeline, although we aren’t aware of it.

The Great Mother was the one who revealed herself to Dick, a big deal since no one has believed in this female side of God for thousands of years.

Dick tries to understand suffering from a cosmic point of view. He doesn’t think Christianity does a good job explaining undeserved suffering. He thinks it all comes down to the element of chaos in the universe. When the benevolent God sees suffering it substitutes itself to take it on. Through this the memories of the suffering beings are restored and they know their true identity. Because the suffering is undeserved and unavoidable they are forced to search for not just an answer but the answer.

Dick envisions a more mechanical concept of the Noös where St. Sophia is reorganizing the chaos and Christ is sent in to restore broken sections of a “circuit board.” This isn’t a supernatural idea but can and will be explored in a scientific way. 

The only way to encounter Christ is to be broken. Is the purpose of religion to merely explain suffering or to avert it?

The collective consciousness fell asleep in 70 A.D. when Christ left. Everything since then is fake time or a dream. Some group sits outside of this phony 1974 California reality and can see things we don’t see. Dick thinks his book Eye in the Sky is the most accurate representation of this. 

He lists all of his novels that fit this theme of fake or hallucinatory worlds that hide the real one: Eye in the Sky, Time Out of Joint, The Man in the High Castle, Martian Time-Slip, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Ubik, A Maze of Death, Flow my Tears, A Scanner Darkly, Clans of the Alphane Moon, The Game-Players of Titan, The Cosmic Puppets

Dick wonders if the Noös might not be a little insane and deranged in the paradoxes and illusions it creates.

The Exegesis: Notes on Plato’s Timaeus and Burroughs’ The Ticket That Exploded

March 1978

Dick is reading Francis Cornford’s book on Plato’s Timaeus dialogue. Plato says the world is a living organism that includes a constant element of chaos that the Noös (Dick’s term) is trying to bring to order. The Judeo-Christian story does not account for this. Dick’s own experience matches Plato’s theories and not the Christian one. 

Dick has depicted this chaos in Ubik (as entropy) and in A Maze of Death. The universe, with this irrational element, is partly insane, and Christ’s return will finally eliminate this disorder and heal the world. 

Dick reads The Ticket That Exploded by William Burroughs and examines the parallels between that story and what happened to him. The virus in Burroughs’ book blocks the reception of information. Dick connects this to his earlier ideas when he was studying Julian Jaynes and the loss of divine voices in the past. Since divine wisdom can’t reach us through normal channels it has to break through somehow which is what briefly happened to him. What Dick saw was the vast living body of the universe.

The Exegesis: A time-traveler named Thomas and a hypnagogic message

February 1978

Zebra and the holographic world are both made up of some kind of thinking electricity that can shape shift into anything. Who or what is responsible for this reality? Is it the physical noosphere or is it in our mind? Dick leans toward something physical like Brahman. Another layer exists beyond 70 A.D. which Dick calls the abyss. 

Dick decides he is a time-traveler from 70 A.D. called Thomas and the PKD personality is just a mask. He thinks that Ubik the entity must have guided him to write Ubik the novel because where else would he have gotten the idea. It came about through a form of automatic writing. This makes that book a scripture of sorts along with A Maze of Death and Flow my Tears

In a hypnagogic state the spirit speaks to him and says they are “responsible for low-level decisions which can be overruled.” He assumes “they” refers to God. This means man’s relationship to reality is flipped. We become the objects in a living world. Dick sees this as a truly radical new understanding as it reveals God and reorganizes man’s place in the cosmic hierarchy. 

At Dick’s greatest point of desperation the being behind the veil let Dick see beyond it. His novels were a way to prepare him for his 3-74 experience and now he feels free. He ends this section by cryptically saying what comes next has something to do with Mexico.

The Exegesis: An ersatz Soviet Logos & memory as an organ of perception

February 1978

Dick has decided the Soviets, using Tesla’s ideas, have built a Logos-like information transfer grid in the ionosphere. The true Logos is made of words and information. This inferior Soviet copy is an anti-Christ. 

Dick was a victim but now that role has been flipped and he is the one impinging on the world. These types of dramatic reversals are a sign of the end times. 

He thinks he experienced a version of time that indicates immortality is possible. When Dick reached his lowest point in 3-74 Christ was there and the entire universe was revealed to him. 

Memory is an organ of perception. Since the entity exists in time, anamnesis (aka remembering) is the only way to perceive it. We have forgotten this because of pain which we experience because we are individual parts yearning to be incorporated into the whole. The only way to do this is through Christ which will unite us into the totality, and it is the only way to give our lives true meaning.

When Dick saw Rome he knew that Christ would one day return, and he compares this to how UFO watchers must feel anticipating first contact, something that could happen unexpectedly at any time.

The Exegesis: Jacob Boehme & a modified Gnosticism

January 1978

Dick has come across the story of Jacob Boehme, and the parallels with his own experience are a little eerie. Boehme was a German shoemaker who had a vision in 1600 triggered by light glinting off a pewter bowl just as Dick’s vision in 1974 was triggered by light reflecting off a Jesus fish necklace. Afterwards Boehme wrote prolifically exploring and revisiting this initial vision that revealed the structure of the universe. Based on Boehme Dick decides his own model has been far too simple. 

In 1974 the cosmic balance between nature and the divine tipped slightly in God’s favor. Our own suffering may be a reflection of the greater suffering of the uppermost being (Christ/Logos) at a smaller scale, but we can’t comprehend this. Our choice is to be like Christ and transcend our suffering. 

Dick wonders about a modified Gnosticism where the world evolved without a creator but an omnipotent being showed up and is now pulling the strings. In this way we can do away with the idea of an inferior creator. He speculates that Zebra is not a creator God but one who has stepped in to add form to the chaos. 

The divine may enter our world from the bottom, from the unassuming, discarded trash just as in Ubik the messages come from commercials (and of course like Dick’s own revelations in his lowbrow sci-fi novels).

Dick seems to see humans as android-like beings who must break out of our mechanization to become whole and reveal the true world.

The Exegesis: A fifth columnist & a dead end?

January 1978

Dick speculates the entity transcends all religions. It is Shiva/Cernunnos/Dionysus/Christ/St. Sophia. Whatever currently rules our world has usurped it from the rightful God and marginalized him, but now he is everywhere.

Dick sees himself as a subversive fifth columnist, although he wasn’t aware of this when he was writing his earlier novels. His later books and stories (Flow my Tears, “Faith of Our Fathers,” Ubik, A Maze of Death and Our Friends from Frolix 8) included encoded commands that he didn’t know about and people only think were added deliberately.

He reinterprets his earlier idea of retrograde time. Since we can’t remember the future we must have faith to see that “evil” events will be used ultimately for good purposes. 

We are caught in a web of illusory images just as the Brahmans believed the Divine Mother Kali spun the illusion of reality. 

Dick says he has reached a dead-end with his exegesis (doubtful since we have over 600 pages to go). It’s a little melodramatic here, but he says this has been a failure so far because he still doesn’t understand or remember why we are cut off from God. Every answer just turns up more questions.