tag: Dreams

The Exegesis: Explaining Tagore through Eastern and Western thought & the magic trick of 2-74

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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September 1981

Dick realizes our spiritual lives are intertwined with the ecosphere, so rejecting the spiritual aspect of our existence means giving up on our physical lives. 

His vision of Tagore is based on a combination of Eastern and Western thought, beginning with the Western concept of man’s fall from the Garden of Eden and a need to return to that state, but with the Eastern solution of acknowledging suffering (which was caused by man in the Western view) and withdrawing from the world in order to repair it. 

He has a dream/hypnagogic vision of a stigmata on his own leg that represents Tagore’s wound. He identifies with Tagore who can only get relief from the self-inflicted pain when the injuries to the ecosphere have stopped. 

Dick admits he has a messiah complex and sees himself as one with the ecosphere. It is his body and mind which are being poisoned by humans who are not living in harmony with it. He understands that Tagore is a man, not a deity. Tagore is either the Buddha or a Buddha, and he represents the ideal we should all be striving toward.

In a “tremendous breakthrough” Dick realizes that his 2-74 experience was a “conjurer’s trick.” Because Dick believed in Christianity he attached the significance to the Jesus fish necklace, which led to the cascade of other events. It was all an illusion that pointed to the Buddhist truth about the nature of reality. For the following year he interpreted things through the lens of Christianity without seeing what was really there. 

With his vision of Tagore he seems to have anticipated the “no-nukes” protests going on in the 80s, turning his spiritual belief into a political one. 

The Exegesis: The sanctity of the ecosphere

September 1981

Dick summarizes what he stated in his letters. The ecosphere is Christ, which makes it holy and something we must protect. Christ suffers every time any creature in the ecosphere dies, and Christ will withdraw from the world if we don’t stop harming the planet. Dick’s vision of the savior is the only thing keeping him from going crazy when he hears about atrocities like Agent Orange and Soviet micro-toxins. He calls his belief his own private religion based on aspects of Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Gnosticism and modern science. 3-74 and his 9-81 vision are helping him accept his own eventual death and the context of his small part in the overall picture. 

He implies that Tagore, like Horselover Fat, may be another of his identities. He senses, like Tagore, that he is dying, somewhat eerily I would say, since he will die less than six months later. He finally has succeeded in his career, and instead of enjoying the money and recognition he is consumed with spreading the message of his vision. Collectively we are all responsible for protecting the ecosphere, and Dick sees it as a choice between spiritual life and physical death. 

He has a dream where he watches, on television, a white bird hunted for sport. He interprets the dream to mean all life needs to be sanctified and protected as part of the ecosphere. It is an interconnected system. If one part dies the rest cannot survive.

Dick says he had a hypnagogic vision where he mailed out Xeroxed copies of his Ed Meskys letter to 85 other people, and he imagines that could inspire a revolution. 

Trying to envision Tagore as someone or something else (Logos, Krishna, Buddha) misses the point. Tagore is Tagore.

The Exegesis: Negative entropy & VALIS as the key to the 10 volume meta-novel

June 1981

Someone who doesn’t “achieve the Ditheon state” of wholeness progresses toward entropy and death. Dick says the physicist Erwin Schrödinger has said that biological organisms can postpone death by maintaining order, and one way to do this is by absorbing “negative entropy” from their environment. This is a strategy an organism takes when it is approaching death and knows it. Dick frames this as a working relationship between an entity and its surroundings, as it is often a last ditch effort to incorporate the external as the internal. 

He realizes “the real purpose of this exegesis has not been to find the answer but to preserve the experience.” He has to let go of perfectionism in his quest. He accepts the Protestant idea of God’s grace saving him, because he is unable to save himself. To forget this is to endlessly worry his life away. 

Philip K. Dick’s ten volume meta-novel

I believe I said earlier that Dick never stated which books are in his ten volume meta-novel, but I am wrong if I understand this doodle to represent the ten books (technically nine and one short story) with VALIS in the center. They are: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Time Out of Joint, Ubik, The Game-Players of Titan, A Maze of Death, The Man in the High Castle, Eye in the Sky, Martian Time-Slip, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, and “Frozen Journey” (aka “I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon”). They surround VALIS, which he says is the key. “VALIS in itself means nothing! Its only significance is as the code book to the 10 volume meta-novel.” VALIS, written after the others, is necessary for decoding the meta-novel.

He has a dream in which a girl realizes the universe is made of our prior thoughts. Dick interprets it to mean he is frozen in his own mind, and the revelation is depressing.  

The Exegesis: A dream about “Ditheon”

June 1981

Dick has a dream about his ex-wife Nancy whose mind (in the dream) has been infiltrated by the psyche of another man. She has taken some medication with the cryptic name “Ditheon.” He digs into the possible etymology of that word and decides it refers to two gods. 

Outside dreamland Dick receives a letter from Russ (I assume his agent Russell Galen?) about Transmigration. Russ has different ideas about Christ’s return in the novel, and Dick ties Russ’s interpretation to his dream about Nancy to conclude two minds join together to form Christ. He attaches great significance to this dream and calls it a new divine revelation. Christ’s return could come as a fusion with someone’s consciousness and not as the reappearance of a physical man. 

These two psyches each receive a different set of signals and thus form a new kind of mind. The meta-abstraction either creates the new psyche or comes from the new psyche. He’s not sure which. This two-souled person is now godlike. 

He still isn’t sure what he saw when he saw Valis. He calls that the greatest mystery, and it could take centuries to figure out. He suspects Valis planted the dream in his mind, and this understanding he’s come to about these dual minds is the next step in human evolution. 

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: A return to the Palm Tree Garden

Dick’s model of reality (“a total system that perpetually chooses through a binary process of rejection that is cumulative”) is based only on his own experience. He’s not interested in any existing traditions or explanations about the nature of God. All he can concern himself with is whether it is true when it comes to what happened to him. He describes his scientific method of testing his experience against his model and iterating if it doesn’t fit. He wants and expects his experience to have changed him.

Christ is the necessary intruder that allows us to see the Palm Tree Garden, since reality never changes, only our perception of it. Perhaps because it was Easter Dick saw the garden the previous week but has lost his way back, even though he knows it exists. He felt burned out from exhaustion the night before he ended up in the spatial realm, similar to his feeling of running out of time, and then he woke in the garden world. He connects his spiritual rebirth to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. 

He wonders if his concept of binary branching creates endless new realities… if so what happens to them?

He has a dream about some children called “the Spinners” who are poisoned by heavy metals on a farm and are slowly going blind. In his interpretation the Spinners are immortals who came here, lost their third eye and are no longer able to see Christ.