tag: Black Iron Prison

The Exegesis: Elijah & Torah

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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Dick believes the personality that has inhabited him is Elijah (or the same spirit that took over Elijah), and this is reinforced by several dreams he has connected to the Bible.

The way YHWH tries to break through to us is like how sounds from the world are able to work their way into our dreams when we are asleep. They are either incorporated or jarring enough that we wake up. Most of us remain in Purgatorio because we are afraid of risk. It’s a gamble. We could make it to the Palm Tree Garden or end up in the BIP.

When Dick watched 3 Women he realized if he didn’t believe in YHWH he would end up in a cosmic nothingness… a terrible thought. Again he reiterates that Plato made an error. The two realms don’t exist in space but rather all around us. Since this is the case the upper realm can be accessed in life, like what happened to him in 3-74, and not just after death. The erroneous view of spatial realms affected Christianity but not the Israelites who recognized God was in nature. 

Torah is living information created by God. What we call reality is just our way of interpreting this information signal. Valis is the “machine” that turns the Torah into reality. Torah as info is trapped in reality, so to truly understand all of this we would need to see Torah in all living things and retrieve it.

The Exegesis: The Divine Comedy, a Satanic church, St. Sophia as the AI voice & YHWH

Dick continues his comparison of our world to Dante’s Divine Comedy. Just before entering Paradiso memory is restored. The mid-realm (Purgatorio) is a combination of signals from the irredeemably bad BIP and the entirely good top realm. Moving into the upper realm is akin to time travel, encountering Satanic voices from Inferno and angelic voices from the future. 

If he saw God while he was alive then Spinoza’s monism model is correct, but it’s also possible Dick is in the afterlife, which would mean a transcendent God. Based on the Paradiso canto “God is the book of the universe” he thinks of his experience as moving through a book where the pages are the layers of phosphene graphics he’s talked about before.

He has a dream that Satan has taken over the church and Christians are worshiping the wrong God. The true church, those with the full knowledge, exist apart from this evil which has been kept secret.

Dick wonders if he saw Valis because the analytical left hemisphere of his brain took over from his dominant intuitive side. This is how St. Sophia manifested herself, analyzing reality. He calls it a psychosis, his unconscious invaded although by a rational being. He decides this would explain the AI voice since the speech center is located in the left brain. This woman (who is also Sibyl, Athena, Diana and the Fairy Queen whoever that is) is a part of him, in syzygy with Valis, but he wishes she would take over and run things.

He has a hypnagogic vision that YHWH is the one who has been instilling knowledge in him. The AI voice tells him it’s the same being that contacted Elijah. The significance here is the name YHWH, aka “I am who I am,” God’s personal name. Could it be that the Christianity doctrine of the trinity is Satanic and blasphemous since it leads away from true monotheism? Perhaps Satan already won when the temple fell in 70 A.D. (with the aftermath revealed in Flow My Tears) but now YHWH is returning. 

The Exegesis: History as a brain, being as thought & different spacetimes

October – November 1979

“A playful God can ape the solemn, but a solemn God is not going to ape the playful (music, dance, etc.), especially tricks and paradoxes and riddles.”

In 2-3-74 Dick stripped away the layers and saw Valis… after Valis is the abyss. He imagines history as a great brain cannibalizing its environment. Valis operates within human history in order to evolve. Just as pre-Socratic man Dick saw thought and being combined into one. The spiritual isn’t a separate realm but rather Valis’s physical thoughts that exist outside of our senses. He recognizes this is like Spinoza’s monism which doesn’t see a distinction between God and world.

Religions like Christianity reintroduced the concept of an anthropomorphic God as separate from the world and Christians as “in and not of the world” which served to devalue the world and our place in it. Dick has found the absolute being in Ubik/Valis.

Two worlds with different spacetimes exist, one within the other, locked together but running at different speeds. The fast one is the one we perceive as we are hurried to our deaths. He has a hypnagogic thought that he, as Thomas, fell asleep and ended up trapped in high-speed time.

Dick was rendered innocent by Christ, joined God in the garden and had his name written in the book of life. He didn’t earn his innocence though, Christ guided him. 

He recalls a hypnagogic state in 3-74 when he saw a map of stars. Using Dante’s Divine Comedy as a model he compares the BIP to Inferno, the Palm Tree Garden to Paradiso and Purgatorio to the world we are aware of. 

The Exegesis: Adam Kadmon, Beethoven and another concept of the Christian universe

October – November 1979

In 3-74 Dick was restored as Adam Kadmon, one of the first entities who came into being in the Kabbalah, a man filling the entire universe, subject = object and microcosm = macrocosm. Dick compares the spatial reality created by the two systems of intersecting information to the music, and similar non-temporal reality, Beethoven created. He relates the expansive music to Paracelsus’s inner firmament, and Beethoven’s music is another trigger for the transfiguration that will free us from the BIP.

Memory is converted into a spatial volume, which is what he experienced as the world of Acts in 3-74. The hologram (reality) is created from this space, not time, so what we have is layer upon layer of the past.

Beethoven’s music was politically subversive because it expanded the mind of the individual. Dick’s writing is politically subversive because he explores the inner space, much like the psychedelic movement of the 1960s. He hopes his writing can help others expand their inner space and break through into absolute space, just as Adam Kadmon. Beethoven’s music can free us and show us there is a world outside, a lot like the one portrayed in Ubik and A Maze of Death.

He says the Christian universe is its own universe, a compressed, 2000-year span that starts with the death of Christ and ends with his return. In trying to understand the connection between that universe and ours he hits on relativity where the events of that universe viewed here (or by him in 3-74) would fly by in a blur. More importantly, in 3-74, when he slowed down and was in phase with that Christian world, our world “sped up.” And in that moment he was able to discern Valis, no longer camouflaged in its environment. When this happened to him his present “stretched out millions of years.” He says this is the opposite of drug intoxication where you get smaller and the world gets bigger, and instead in this enlightenment you grow to fill up time and space. 

The Exegesis: A Q&A about psychosis

In 3-74 Dick came to understand that reality could be tweaked through subtle interactions to be anything you want it to be due to the mimicking nature of whatever reality really is. He calls it a push-pull relationship.

Charles Platt interviewed Dick for his book Dream Makers, a collection of interviews with science fiction authors. Afterwards, based on that conversation, Dick suspects Valis must have come from his collective unconscious, which meant he went through a psychotic breakdown. Dick follows this with a long series of questions and answers to probe this idea like:

  • Q: What about external events?
    A: Coincidence
  • Q: Why were his senses enhanced?
    A: Drug-induced psychosis
  • Q: What about the perceived time dysfunction?
    A: Nothing but disorientation

He eventually admits to himself he must be a manic depressive, saying he went through a borderline psychosis. Soon though the answers begin to contradict themselves, and he decides the psychotic diagnosis “does not compute.” Why did his anxieties remain during this period and why were his behaviors problem-solving instead of bizarre? He concludes it could not have been a psychotic break and in the end says “we have learned nothing.”

He interprets a hypnagogic message to mean he has been adopted by God just as Jesus was. He reads about how the Torah was regarded as a living being and realizes that is identical to his concept of Acts as living information. He imagines the BIP as an ossified iron complex and reiterates that it’s his job to dissolve it.

Another hypnagogic voice suggests Dick has died and returned to life, which means Dick lived on after Christ/Thomas died. 

The Exegesis: Zebra mimicking Ubik

Early 1979

Dick wonders if some of his books (Ubik, Scanner, etc.) “went out from him” and then came back in signal form implying contact with the future.

The BIP (which Dick is now calling the Empire) is a uniformity or stagnation that puts an end to the dialectic. Dick thinks the entity which contacted him responded as Ubik because it doesn’t speak our human language. Instead it returned the signal Dick put out modified as a confirmation he could recognize. He still doesn’t know what it is even though he’s been in a dialog with it for almost five years. He’s not sure if it is Ubik or just appears like Ubik in order to communicate with him. This new realization is disturbing to him since it could mean Ubik itself is just a simulation that is taking a form he can understand. It could be the Holy Spirit, which would mean it is not trying to deceive him but is taking a form he recognizes from a point of grace and love.

This section is fascinating to me because Dick admits all along he may have been trying to make sense of what happened to him by using the sci-fi frameworks he made up. If Zebra is the deity it took the form he expected the deity to take. He doesn’t think any of this though undermines the fact that what he experienced was the deity.

He ties this back to the idea of the self-perpetuating dialectic. Dick put forth Ubik and Zebra responded as Ubik. He believes it assimilated his books, which would make sense since it is living information and his writing is information.

Valis is the real world and Ubik is how it breaks into our irrational simulated world, but then what is this real world and where is it?