The Exegesis: Folder 79

The Exegesis: The meta-abstraction

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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May 1981

Dick didn’t intend for Transmigration to complete his VALIS trilogy. He originally thought it would be a counterpoint to any mystical ideas in VALIS, but he surprised himself when it followed through on the themes of that book. 

At the end of Transmigration Bill thinks he is Christ, which Dick admits is crazy, except it also could indicate Christ’s return in the Parousia. He uses Angel (who he says is based on Ursula Le Guin) to illustrate that intellect can only take someone so far, as Angel rejects Christ at the end of the book. He calls the novel “a damning indictment of pure intelligence lacking faith.”

He tries to explain his “meta-abstraction.” What we perceive as reality is actually just a signifier pointing to Valis, which is the true reality. The only way actual reality makes itself known to us is by the perturbation in the reality field. He also says he can’t put any of this into words, which is probably why it doesn’t make too much sense. 

I think he is saying it’s impossible to see true reality, and what he saw in 3-74 was the real world converted into the information that we think of as reality. It was a sign pointing to a pure abstraction. He’s been trying to understand reality based only on its signifier, which is impossible. The absolute or phenomenal world is unknowable, although he is able to point to it. 

The Exegesis: Jim Pike’s influence and the literary style of The Transmigration of Timothy Archer

May 1981 

Dick now thinks that what invaded him in 3-74 was himself as an “eternal unique idea.” 

Timothy Archer is based on Dick’s friend Jim Pike, the media-savvy, liberal Bishop of California in the late 50s and early 60s. Pike claimed to have been visited by his son after his son’s death, which is mirrored in The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. Dick wrestles with the themes of that book: the impossibility of knowing truth and communicating truth to others. The final message of the book is that inner peace is possible, but it will not come from intellectual knowledge. 

Dick is finished with Transmigration and calls it the 3rd book of the trilogy. He claims it is the most important as it documents the Parousia (aka the second coming of Christ) and completes the story arc of VALIS and The Divine Invasion. Jim Pike returned to him just as Bill in the book was taken over by the Holy Spirit, and just how Elijah in the Old Testament passed on a part of his spirit to Elisha. 

Everything Dick wrote over the previous 35 years led to Transmigration. He declares it the best novel he has ever written, and from a literary standpoint I would agree. The narrator Angel Archer came from a particular style he was aiming for, and he ties that to the idea that information can create a unique being. He goes so far as to say that Jim Pike, through him, conjured up that character, since she understands the bishop so well. 

VALIS, Divine Invasion and Transmigration all point to the fact that the second coming is already here, although it is Jim who has been resurrected, not Christ.

The Exegesis: Understanding pure consciousness

May 1981 

This folder begins with a passage that will be included as the musings of Angel in The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.

Dick outlines some “obvious” points about his spiritual journey thus far. He is making progress and notes that his book VALIS is evolving into his book on Bishop Archer. He makes several references to Anokhi, which will be featured quite significantly in the upcoming novel. He turned down a big chunk of money to write the Archer book instead of a novelization of Blade Runner that was offered to him, but he doesn’t regret it.

He includes another passage that will end up in Transmigration about the origins of Satan. 

The presence of God intoxicated him and drove him mad, but he knows he must separate his understanding from the madness caused by his belief. Anokhi is the self awareness that awoke in him when he rebelled against his fate. 

The mind uses reality as a carrier of information, which when processed = Valis, but what does this mean when it comes to our consciousness? Is reality consciousness outside of us? Reality is not just a vehicle for information, but it also refers to God outside itself, impinging on it. This makes reality a sign that points to God, although I fear I’m oversimplifying what Dick is trying to say.

He recounts a mystical experience that morning when his coffee cup transformed itself into “the Grail,” a spiritual, colorful object transfigured by light.

Notes about Rachel Garret’s role in Transmigration are followed by an outline of the book’s plot progression.