tag: AI Voice

The Exegesis: Three letters about the savior

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
Buy it on Amazon

September 1981

Dick writes three letters in September of 1981 attempting to explain his visions involving the savior. The first two are to his literary agent Russell Galen. He tells Russ that years ago the AI voice informed him a savior would be born, and two nights ago the voice filled him in on more details. The savior’s name is Tagore, he lives or was born on an island (modern day Sri Lanka south of India) and is either a Buddhist or a Hindu. 

This savior is crippled and burned by radiation, stigmata that are a result of taking on the sins of the world, which are represented by the nuclear waste we have been dumping in the oceans. Tagore’s message is that we must protect the ecosphere. If we don’t protect the planet then Tagore (Haiga Sophia / Christ) will die.

The ecosphere is the collective consciousness of Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere, which is also the Cosmic Christ / Valis. It has become man in order to communicate with us. He ends the letter to Russ by saying he has “independently confirmed Teilhard’s vast theory.”

Dick’s third letter is to Edmund Meskys, editor of the sci-fi fanzine Niekas. Under the guise that it is his alter ego Horselover Fat who had the vision of the savior he tells Meskys what he has recently learned about Tagore and the message to protect the planet’s environment and the noosphere.

The Exegesis: The mind as Valis & belief in God

Dick describes what sounds like a bipolar illness where he bounces back and forth between mania when he thinks he has figured things out and depression when he has lost his belief. 

He has been engaged in scientific research the last seven years trying to figure out what the perturbation in the reality field was in 3-74, but the whole time he’s been afraid he is insane, especially with regard to hearing the AI voice.

He has a dream about someone who lived in a void and whose mind created a world in order to keep him from going crazy. The more this person scrutinized the world the more real it appeared. The only thing letting him know the world wasn’t real was a preprogramed voice which failed to do its job due to the increasingly convincing nature of the false world.

Dick’s takeaway from the dream is that what he knows as Valis (and the binary computer) is actually his own mind creating this imprisoning world.

Now that he seems to know for sure what is going on and that he was right that the world presented to us is not the real world, he wonders what the “utility” of the delusion is. We can either see the phony world (understand it but not believe it is real) or see the world as it truly is and be unable to make sense of it. Both approaches look like mental dysfunctions to him. Is the false world a gift from God? God might be the only way out of the “solipsistic trap,” so does this whole thing lead to him? Dick is embracing belief. He can’t prove God exists (it may well be a hallucination), but he is choosing to believe that God exists beyond himself. 

The Exegesis: Notes on 11-17-80

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: A narrative archetype

June–October 1980

The wars we fight today between communism and capitalism mirror the wars fought throughout history between the middle-class and the elites, between Protestants and Catholics, between the early Christians and Rome, etc, back through time. Dick had been trying to see the true world and when he finally uncovered it what he found was that narrative archetype which he had correctly depicted in Flow My Tears. Valis is always on the side of freedom, and the only way for enslaved people to be victorious is by overthrowing the Empire, not merely escaping it.

The AI voice who addressed him is YHWH who he realizes is Valis. Dick recognizes he has declared “he has figured it out” too many times and is hesitant to say that again (since it seems to doom him to uncovering more questions), but he does feel that Valis = God / Christ and that he saw and experienced him in 3-74. 

The Exegesis: A Third Age & Valis as the One

June–October 1980

A new third, post-Christian age is beginning, progressing from, but disagreeing with, the New Testament, the same as the relationship between the New Testament and the Old. If the first age was justice, and the second was love then what is the basis of this Third Age where man has direct communication with God without churches or priests? In age three information occurs inside of us avoiding the signal loss that occurs with intermediaries like institutions or men. We will produce the scripture directly. Instead of a human savior, the savior of the Third Age will be everywhere. This Christ will be a meta-organism, God inside and out.

Dick compares this revolutionary thought opposing the church to the way early Christianity fought dogmatic Judaic law. New scriptures and prophets are needed. He recounts a message from the AI Voice that told him a new savior, either God or one with the power/approval of God, is coming soon.

He describes how Valis (which he now calls a macrometasoma) inhabits our world with its memory-structure and grows more complex as it evolves. Our world is its brain activity / metabolism. Valis is the One. This understanding unites everything (Plotinus, Pythagoras, Sankara) that he has been studying.

The Exegesis: The Groove Override and the New Free Merit-Deed

January – April 1980

Dick breaks down the process of his path to salvation into two parts: the groove override (GO) and new free merit-deed (NFMD). In the GO period the not-self self (Thomas in his case) freed him from his deterministic loop so he could perform his “good-karma” act in the NFMD period in order to escape from the afterlife cycle. Someone who follows GO with an evil act would gain bad karma and be judged again by Ma’at, although the ones working to help you (Christ, Buddha) have an omniscient view you will do good. Dick gets himself twisted up here trying to decide which is the cause and which is the effect, GO or NFMD, and decides it’s a paradox: in order to get out of the deterministic groove you already have to be out of it.

What needs to happen for GO is a psychological death which allows for rebirth, something illustrated by the crucifixion of Christ. Dick says this ability to escape from a preprogrammed groove is an evolutionary leap in mankind (which he dubs the meta-mind), since someone who achieved this would exist out of time and could create alternate worlds. Does Valis encourage this? Or are “angels” evolved humans who have already figured this out? He wonders if a future self outside of time could influence a past self (as the AI voice), becoming both cause and effect.