The Exegesis: Folder 1

The Exegesis: Notes on 11-17-80

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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October-November 1980

Dick finds parallels between his 3-74 experience and his efforts to figure it out afterword with the exegesis. Both involved entropy, and in both he split apart after speeding up and reaching infinite velocity. In 3-74 the end result was that he saw Valis. During his exegesis he sped up again, fragmented into endless theories and finally encountered the infinite God on 11-17-80 as noted in the last entry. 

The journeys were similar but the outcomes different. Valis is the world but God is transcendent. 11-17-80 was the theophany he thought he experienced in 3-74. In 3-74 he didn’t connect with God but only understood that God existed and had saved him. 

He credits a little “Mary Jane” as the thing that gave him the final push that accelerated him through the exegesis. His theophany occurred when he gave up on the exegesis and “turned on.” Enlightenment only comes when you stop pursuing it. He realizes his journey didn’t begin in 1974 but in high school when he first heard the AI voice.

He remarks on the anthropomorphic nature of God in contrast to Valis. Valis is machinelike and computerlike but God (who he compares to Gandolf) has a personality much like the wise, old, loving man in a robe people have always envisioned.

Misinterpreting Valis as God was hubris and a form of blasphemy. It appeared as Ubik to him because it fed his preconceptions back to him. Dick says the exegesis was a sin. He intellectually tried to understand the world, but was eventually delivered from it after exhaustion. 

The Exegesis: Infinity

October-November 1980

Dick imagines a recursive dialog with God. He tries again and again to explain his 3-74 experience and God responds each time that he is infinity. Infinite explanations and infinite dialectical flip-flops. It doesn’t matter which thesis Dick goes with… every attempt to figure it out leads to infinity.  Since God is infinity the probability is high he was the cause of 3-74. Dick wonders if he is talking with Krishna or Dionysus and the response is “infinity.” Dick will eventually get tired of the game, but God can play forever and the answer will always be infinity. 

Dick concludes from all of this that before he had been conversing with Satan, who he took to be God, but that delusion eventually led him to the true infinite God. He didn’t reach God through his intellect but through God’s love. He didn’t start out seeing God but rather ended up finding God. This represents the final dialectic flip-flop as God defeats Satan and converts the irreal into the real.

The Exegesis: Valis as the Cosmic Christ & Valis as the macrometasomakosmos

October-November 1980

It took a heroic act of will for Dick to break out of his programming even though it was the Tao that caused the perturbation in the reality field that let him know something wasn’t right. Dick’s effort to make a change caused the future to flow into the past, what he calls “real time.”

He concludes Valis is the Cosmic Christ who isn’t physically real but only exists as the tug of the perturbation. He only knows this after rejecting all other possibilities during his studies over the last six and a half years.

He compares the tug to a breath in the weeds or a magnet’s effect on iron fillings, a barely detectable weak field. This small attraction though can cascade until it causes a big change. He now believes it came into existence out of nothing.

The self-awareness achieved at the end makes the suffering endured during the journey worth it.

He wonders if he’s had it wrong all along. Instead of Valis camouflaged as the world perhaps Valis is the world which it purposefully assimilated in “dialectical combat” piece by piece to make up its body. Dick makes it clear he doesn’t mean an anthropomorphic human body but something that encompasses the universe.

He connects Valis to the macrometasomakosmos and realizes they are one and the same. He’s surprised he didn’t understand this before. This confirms Valis as the Cosmic Christ. We can’t see it since its structure is created out of the ordinary world around us.

The Exegesis: Valis’s true identity & a successful exegesis except for one outstanding question

October-November 1980

If someone put a gun to Dick’s head and forced him to give an answer about the nature of Valis he would say it is the Tao, since that represents the mastery of the dialectic through the Yin and the Yang.

After six and a half years he says the exegesis has finally become successful as he can now perceive, within the flux, ordinary daily reality. He feels old and misses the energy of his youth, but takes comfort in the fact that nothing from his past is truly lost and that his writing will “permanently affect the macrometasomakosmos” and survive in the structure of the world order.

What he really wants an explanation for is the “perturbation in the reality field,” a tug that he compares to the moon’s effect on the Earth’s tides. He has circled back to where he started. What does it point to?

3-74 was a heroic act, but it didn’t happen because he was a hero, given his history. A new self was born in him when Thomas took over. Perhaps Thomas wasn’t a lost part of himself but energy transferred from the world.

Valis is the Tao, YHWH, Cosmic Christ, Brahman, Shiva, Krishna or a quantum mechanic phenomenon. Or maybe there is nothing in the last mystery box, just God creating existence out of nothing. Paradoxically it has existed here all along in the ephemeral trash. The final great reversal. So the mystery is there is no mystery. This means Ubik is true, something Dick didn’t realize when he wrote it.

The Exegesis: The splintered soul and the splintered truth

October-November 1980

Dick thinks that perhaps Rome 45 A.D. and USA 1974 are not in fact superimposed but rather through metamorphosis Rome has changed into the USA.

By linking together all the different concepts he has been talking about he has destroyed religion’s hold over us and allowed the soul to understand its divinity and immortality. 

Dick’s intellect synced with his emotions and he saw the bleakness of the world, just like Buddha’s view of absolute suffering. He decides to face this stoically. We are all trapped in the cycle of birth-suffering-death because we made the mistake of believing the spatiotemporal realm is real, and only a few of us will discover the way out. In 2-74 Dick saw the spatiotemporal realm was not real and his soul “literally exploded through time and space,” leading to the terrible realization of everyone’s condition. 

We must recognize Tat tvam asi (“thou art that,” one of the four great sayings of the Upanishads expressing a relationship between an individual and the absolute) in order to reverse the primordial fall (when we took the spatiotemporal realm as real) and reassemble the splintered parts of our soul.

Dick admits he is rediscovering things he already knew and needs to rest.

The truth itself has been splintered up over the years, and bits of it can be found in all religions and philosophies. Alone none of them can be accepted as a total belief system, but Dick sees it as his task to reassemble them into one. He understands it is impossible to come up with the unified complete answer by only studying one of these bits of the whole. That would explain why he has never been able to match his 3-74 experience to any one religion or philosophy. 

The Noös (what Dick seems to be calling Valis in these pages) also appears exploded within the spatiotemporal realm, but in “the great reversal” we will see the Noös unified as it truly is. 

The Exegesis: The 2-74 trigger, God in the trash & straightening out his confusion

October-November 1980

Dick tries to figure out what the trigger was in 2-74 that started his whole experience. The Christian symbology of the Jesus fish necklace was just a clue, but once he had a glimpse of how reality was arranged he “could not halt the involuntary chain of mental hypotheses” which led him to further and further abstractions.

Space and time are not real, no time has passed and the world only exists in God’s memory as the book of “Acts.”

“The secret is to view something ‘from the other side’ and not as it is.” Because everything is backwards God is in the trash (or like Ubik in throwaway commercials) and Satan exists in the cathedrals. It isn’t until the end times when they will assume their rightful shapes. Dick lets us know that he thinks Deus Irae is his worst book (“My worst book, Deus Irae, is my best”) while naming these reversals. In all the random junk and ephemera is where we will find God.

Dick hasn’t been trying to figure out what the TV drama is about for the last six and a half years but rather how the TV set works. Christianity is not the answer but instead content within the system.

It took that initial abstraction set off by the sodium pentothal followed by witnessing the Jesus fish necklace that led to him understanding the hierarchy of realms in reality. One spatiotemporal continuum (USA 1974) is the same thing as another (Rome 45 A.D.). They are two ways of looking at the same thing superimposed. He admits he can’t convince anybody of this and is afraid no one will believe him.

He has been trying to understand what happened to him through the framework of Christianity which doesn’t really fit with everything he now knows, unless he settles for the idea all of it was a miracle performed by God. Instead he accepts that Christianity is his narrative within the Neoplatonist structure.