tag: Black Iron Prison

The Exegesis: An occlusion & a combined narrative

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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September-October 1978

This is how the BIP occludes us: “it is the damaged mind trying (unsuccessfully) to monitor its own damage.” Dick finds that eerily similar to the ideas in A Scanner Darkly. It is impossible for us to assess this damage which makes it self-perpetuating, and the only way to clear the occlusion is through Christ. The fake world will need to be destroyed in order to save us just as the Gnostics believed.

Dick seeks comfort from his pain and feels he is running out of time. Again he thinks he has “solved it.” Zebra is trying to reach into the BIP and make us aware of it just as in Ubik.

This is the combined narrative of his books:

As Dick has just reread A Scanner Darkly he now sees that as the key book in the sequence. It is the interior side of Flow My Tears and it explains why we don’t see the world portrayed in that book. He extends his narrative list to include a dozen other short stories and novels (see related) that seem to just tangentially touch on his overall theme.

He’s really stretching trying to cram everything he’s ever written into his overarching concept and goes back to the idea that A Scanner Darkly and Flow My Tears are the two most crucial books. 

The Exegesis: The Man Who Fell to Earth, “beyond lies the Wug” & Dick’s own system

Dick repeatedly dreams of the phrase “the only living reality we have now is Philip the first” and tries to figure out what that means.

He thinks our savior will arrive unnoticed just as the little boy in Nicholas Roeg’s 1976 movie The Man Who Fell to Earth starring David Bowie (a movie that inspired the film in VALIS). This fills him with dread since the time of judgment is so close, but he reassures himself that his faith will protect him.

He dreams about a story called “beyond lies the Wug” (published in Planet Stories in his dream). This is a combination of the Wub from his story “Beyond Lies the Wub” and the Vug from his novel The Game-Players of Titan, both of which are aliens who can take on the form of humans. From this Dick decides Earth will be invaded by aliens disguised as us.

Perhaps Paracelsus’s inner firmament means we are on the outside of the universe, like on the surface of a balloon, looking in.

Anamnesis is more than just remembering a past life. It is coming to terms with and understanding the phony world and time we are a part of. He recalls a passage from Virgil about the return of Apollo and reiterates that Christ will soon be victorious.

Dick lists everything he has studied thus far (Buddhism, Brahmanism, Paracelsus, etc.) and decides he is all of those things but has come up with his own system as well. 

We entered into a pact with the BIP to remain blind to it in a comfortable fugue state, as depicted in Time Out of Joint, Eye in the Sky, etc. We need to have the courage to stand up to the BIP and regain the freedom we lost. 

The Exegesis: Brahman’s games, information as light, and who is Thomas?

August 1978 or later

Dick is convinced the universe must be a hologram and then he decides once again that Brahman is behind it all. He addresses a short note to Brahman letting him know he is aware of Brahman’s games. For some reason Dick is concerned about the physicality of this unreal world. Where exactly is it? He imagines it projected as a hologram on some sort of matrix. This is a joint effort between Brahman and Atman (the Hindu concept of an individual spiritual essence), and so when Dick saw the Jesus fish necklace in 2-74 his own personal Atman projected Rome 45 A.D. and Brahman filled in the details in a kind of feedback loop. 

The brain is disassembling and absorbing the BIP, and Dick examines the closed system and the push-pull between the brain and its cells or parts. He stumbles onto the idea that the matrix resembles the double helix of a DNA strand. Information might travel on this conduit using light, with Zebra on the red frequency, which means Dick was able to see this infrared light. 

He tries to figure out who “Thomas” is: himself in a previous life in Rome 45 A.D. or someone else from a previous time inside his head. He leans toward the idea that he has multiple personalities, but does that mean he is in Thomas’s head? Everything since “Acts” is a false time created by the BIP, so Thomas wrote Flow My Tears to show what really exists. Thomas has masterminded all of the themes of Dick’s writing from the beginning, but Thomas, like other possible Christians from that era, wants to remain a secret. It’s fascinating to me how Dick is all over the place from Brahman to the certainty of Thomas in only a few pages.

The Exegesis: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said as living information

August 1978

Dick tries to understand the connection between the book of Acts in the Bible and his novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. He sees Flow My Tears as something like an information-based eucharist which can replicate in people. This living information reprograms us and allows us to receive subliminal messages. 

Dick affirms Zebra is the Paraclete and thinks it should be studied scientifically, although he admits that would be futile since it is so advanced and nearly impossible to discern. It communicates through the “brain” network using pop culture artifacts like books and song lyrics. Once someone has Zebra in them they are part of the brain for good, but it can replicate itself in many different ways through “information plasma.”

One bit equals the entire information so once inside someone it will grow to the whole thing. He compares this to Jesus’s parable of the mustard seed. What Dick experienced in 3-74 was the entirety of the information expanding in his mind. Apparently (according to Dick) the authorities tried hard to prevent him from publishing Flow My Tears which proves how powerful it is. 

We are part of this living brain. He realizes the author of Ubik was Ubik itself and that Flow My Tears was the doorway that led to Rome 45 A.D.

The BIP represents entropy. Dick imagines a new big bang which will reset the cycle of the universe and it is all tied together with the Acts information encoded into Flow My Tears.

The Exegesis: The brain

August 1978

Dick marvels over the scope and originality of his exegesis. He wonders how to live his life day by day after an encounter with a superior life form. 

The Black Iron Prison which began in Rome 45 A.D. is stuck on repeat. Some sort of cosmic brain opposes it. It interfered with U.S. history during the Nixon/Vietnam era through an evolution toward individuality. The authorities tried to suppress it by killing the leaders but the “leaderless revolution” couldn’t be stopped. Zebra/God/Noös is the brain and we are the brain’s components.

The early Christians knew Zebra (the electrical impulses firing at us) as the Paraclete. The messages the brain communicates to us are subliminal, but the brain doesn’t control us since we are the brain. The book of Acts, when it describes the Pentecost, is the only written account of the brain.

Most people are still under the spell of the BIP. Without the brain the BIP would control all of us. Christ’s sacrifice created this distributed brain which forms a bridge between our world and the upper realm. Once the brain has achieved its goals it will reveal the true world of ancient Rome. If we could view the last 2000 years sped up we would see something like Yin and Yang: the brain (light) vs those still under control of the BIP (darkness) until eventually the light wins and takes over.

The Exegesis: Dick’s relationship with Zebra

May 1978

Dick believes the true deity had a role in overthrowing the U.S. Government. It was able to sneak in unnoticed disguised as lowbrow trash just as in Ubik

He thinks the Black Iron Prison world has yielded to the PTG (Palm Tree Garden) world, but because the BIP world was a bogus copy of the real world, and the PTG world copied that, we are then living in a fake of a fake. He goes on to clarify there is no world. We are enclosed in the BIP which is firing signals at us and creating what we see as the world. He doesn’t believe it is evil though.

The information Dick received in 3-74 was meant for Zebra and not for him. Whatever it was means Zebra is a permanent part of him now and he is in a symbiotic state with it.

It sounds like he thinks the information hidden in his book Flow My Tears is a way for Zebra to replicate itself in the minds of its readers. He suggests the Book of Acts in the Bible is not a book but is actually a world which he entered into in 3-74. I’m not sure Dick really understands what he is talking about here.

Dick has hit on the idea that we built Zebra to help us remember because we knew the BIP would take over and enslave us. Zebra is metabolic information restoring elasticity to the rigid BIP of the universe. Each person must rebel in order to see the world for what it truly is. 

Because we each contain the totality of the holographic universe Zebra and Dick are the same, but he is still reckoning with this.