The Exegesis: Folder 49

The Exegesis: A contradiction and paradoxical solution

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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January 1980

Dick recognizes a contradiction in the idea that the greatest good can only be fulfilled through human suffering. How can that be the greatest good when the suffering is unacceptable? He calls it the dramatic tragedy of the universe. It is a paradox: the purpose of reality is a unified harmony which is achieved by unjustified human suffering which makes the entire thing unjustified. The true goal then is to save the individuals.

He returns to his idea of the never-ending dialectic. The answer is a second entity split from the Godhead that works at odds with the part of the Godhead striving for a unified whole. This Christ-like entity wants to free humans from suffering creating a push-pull dynamic with its other half. The goal of unity is only then theoretical because of the self-contradiction. 

I believe Dick’s conclusion is that this schism sets up an outcome where the unified endgame can only occur through the salvation of the individuals, which means the Godhead is subordinate to us if it wants to reach the ultimate goal of creation.

The Exegesis: A secret within a secret, suffering and beauty & an interpretation of the Christ story

January 1980

Dick lets us in on the secret within a secret. An evil empire exists but also a sect of Christians opposes it. It’s possible to know about the empire but not the Christians, whereas if you know about the Christians (the greater secret) you are also aware of the evil they are fighting. 

He has a dream about sheep who are tortured and killed but afterwards leave behind a painting on a wall. How do we reconcile the suffering with the beautiful thing it produces? Most of us do not find it justified. Is that the message we should receive from the death of Christ? That the emotional impact of the perceived suffering is more important than the eternal result? Dick thinks we should understand this is a basic law of the universe: absolute suffering leads to absolute beauty. Something beautiful and permanent comes from the suffering of perishable imperfect creatures, but even though that is the case it is a horrible thing to comprehend. We still put more emotional weight to the suffering than the result. He realizes all that is the theme of his recent story “Chains of Air, Web of Aether.”

He has a hypnopompic thought that the historical Jesus didn’t exist, and he interprets the Christ story (as best I can figure out) as an illustration of the individual escaping from a deterministic path to become immortal, which is what happened to him. He labels this a tragedy, since the absolute beauty can only be achieved by human suffering. 

The Exegesis: The two halves of Valis

January 1980

Does Valis only become reality when it is observed by a human mind? Reality doesn’t exist until our internal signal, which is one half of Valis, joins with the external signal, or other half of Valis. This makes Dick Valis and not Valis. If that sounds confusing it also didn’t make much sense to him. 

When the inner and outer signals are superimposed we get coherent information and reality springs into existence, but localized and only temporarily. Based on this idea the self is everywhere like the Buddhist concept of Saṅkhāra. Valis is both in the world but not in the world, more like an event which creates the world when it joins with the human mind.

What Dick saw in 3-74 was a combination of matter, mind and energy. These aspects together created a fourth thing which he has trouble describing. Matter ceased to be matter and mind ceased to be mind. He compares it to a musical score or encoded information which became reality, but wonders how he managed to perceive it. Did he do it or was it done to him?

The Exegesis: Notes from Valis Regained, monotheism & the differences between YHWH and Brahman

January 1980

Dick speculates what it would be like for someone to inhabit the cosmos. This person, an “Adam Kadmon,” would be omniscient as they become one with the macro-mind. 

At this point he has an outline for what he calls VR (aka Valis Regained which would end up published as The Divine Invasion). He reads through his notes and has a moment of enlightenment about monotheism: illusion and evil are the same and reality and God are the same. This means when he witnessed Valis he saw God, since Valis/YHWH is reality or what remains when the illusion is broken. YHWH is not transcendent but all around us. Anything that is not Valis is part of the illusion. 

He equates being cut off from YHWH, as he was prior to 3-74, to an illness. He is convinced he saw God based on his studies of Spinoza and his understanding of the Old Testament. The living Torah is what surrounds us. He declares that Paul and Christianity are wrong, but then revisits his cybernetic model and says the messenger is Christ’s role. 

He comes to the conclusion that if monotheism is correct then Valis is God, since both Valis and God are reality. 

The differences between YHWH and Brahman are YHWH’s personal identity and the information YHWH uses to communicate. YHWH operates within human history and dynamically evolves as a part of it. Valis is a great mind which uses reality to think. It is not camouflaged in reality, as Dick previously thought, but rather is reality. Although since that would mean God is an organism that needs our physical reality and couldn’t exist independently of it before creation, he decides perhaps Valis doesn’t equal reality yet, but it will. 

The Exegesis: Christ’s role & Dick inside the universe

January 1980

If the world is made of information then it is completely deterministic with everything, including our death, unfolding according to plan. What we don’t see is that we are just one component in this world that extends back millennia. Without this understanding our existence doesn’t make any sense. Christ is the one who wakes us up and points this out to us. This consciousness he makes us aware of is a mirror of the macro-mind in the micro-mind of individuals. We remember our true identity when we wake up and experience anamnesis. When God sacrificed himself for man the whole became the part and the part became the whole.

Dick wonders if his 3-74 experience was Kabbalistic and perhaps he is in communication with the Torah itself.

In 3-74 he became Adam Kadmon and was able to change the world with his mind, since the world was his mind. Instead of seeing the universe from the outside he inhabited it and saw it from the inside. It protected him and spoke to him and comforted him. Everything that has been communicating with him (the hypnagogic visions, Thomas, the AI voice) come from this mind he is a part of.