tag: Dreams

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

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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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: Elijah & Torah

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: Robert Altman’s 3 Women, the danger of the truth & a non-spatial journey

The schizophrenic and dreamlike nature of Robert Altman’s 1977 film 3 Women (starring Sissy Spacek, Shelly Duval, and Janice Rule in roles with overlapping identities) attracts Dick’s comparison to his own life. He’s scared at the idea of decomposing the world only to be left with nothing, except he knows Valis is the being behind the world. A thing with no substance (Valis) created another thing with no substance (the world), and it is a shocking concept that he was also thought into being by Valis.

Dick stresses the potential danger of what happened to him in 3-74. This is not something casually revealed, since it involves exposing someone to non-being and possibly death. He compares it to a small dose of poison that can cure madness or kill if used incorrectly. 

Belial has been ruling the Earth under the guise of YHWH. The true YHWH is like Ubik, trying to warn us from outside. All of this was told by Dick in Three Stigmata and “Faith of our Fathers”. He decides Paul invented Christianity which led to the rise of the Satanic church. 

Like his characters in Ubik, Dick is dead and YHWH is attempting to break through to rescue him. He understands what those in the past like Plato and Aristotle didn’t: the realms are not spatially different (like heaven and earth) but rather exist outside space and time. God as immanent deity is all around us. Just like the Greek philosopher Plotinus Dick sees this as a non-spatial journey.

Through observation of reality and his memories he tries to determine what is true (or false). He has a dream about a place he used to live, but he is able to realize in the dream it isn’t reality. In the waking world we compare observations with our memories to draw conclusions about what is real. Dick sees this as a fool-proof simulation. He was able to break from the loop when he remembered being somewhere else (anamnesis) while simultaneously recognizing reality as simulated.

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: A doomsday device, paranoia & mental illness

Dick has a dream: the KGB contacts him and shows him the “doomsday device” the U.S. Army has created. He interprets the dream to mean Valis is this doomsday device. The U.S. put information about Valis into Flow My Tears as a trap in order to draw out the KGB and get them to contact him. 

He decides to take the dream literally, but realizes humans didn’t let the weapon loose. It escaped. It is an anti-Soviet weapon that worked as designed by promoting love of God and country. He calls it capitalist mind control. It creates a personality that seeks bourgeois comforts and fears the left wing. He is afraid of all authority as a result.

He had been desperate in 1974 but now he feels guilty about the comfortable life he is living, one of financial security that he achieved by cooperating with the state. In a moment of reflection he admits his belief that the Soviets would contact him was a paranoid, psychotic fantasy.  

He has a memory of a parallel world that phases in and out of reality. He tries to makes sense of what have probably been schizophrenic episodes. His writing has been an attempt to create some kind of philosophical framework to deal with all of this. This is one of his clearest views of what he has been going through where he admits the puzzle he has embraced solving for so long exists mostly in his mind.

The Exegesis: A dream of Siddhartha & beginning VALIS

October 1978

Zebra destroys the four deformations.

  • It abolishes the phony world
  • It abolishes the occlusion 
  • It frees us from enslavement
  • It restores our memory

The Gnostics didn’t have it quite right. It is the living information itself, not the content of the information, that saves us.

Dick counts 21 of his stories that deal with the idea of fake vs real. 

The Logos contains the totality of the macrocosm. Once it replicates in someone (through just a tiny piece as happened with Dick in 2-74) they become one with the whole. Zebra is in Dick and his purpose is to restore this knowledge (gnosis) to the world, which he does through his lowbrow sci fi, just as in Ubik.

He has a dream about Siddhartha (the founder of Buddhism) and believes this means another savior is being born. Dick covers how the savior dynamic is depicted in Stigmata, Ubik, Galactic Pot-Healer and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The VALIS book he is working on will show the process of redemption, although he finds writing it very difficult.

He has a dream about a fish and from that concludes the secret Christian society does exist and he is a part of it. Time has not passed since Rome 45 A.D. It has only been made (by James-James?) to appear that way. Dick understood this in 3-74 when he woke up. His book VALIS (which he calls his maximus opus) will show the restored and redeemed man, but from the perspective of Gnosticism and Buddhism, not Christianity.