tag: Jim Pike

The Exegesis: The true identity of Angel Archer and God’s evolution

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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June 1981

The character of Angel Archer comes from a mixture of the Exegesis, A Scanner Darkly, Ursula Le Guin, Henry Miller and Berkeley. Dick lets us know who Angel really is: the spirit of his dead twin sister Jane who has been writing through him. 

He now makes the bold statement that Valis has become self-aware, and its revelation to him marks a new phase as it evolves from machine to consciousness. Valis is also enslaved and it is trying to free itself by communicating with us. 

Transmigration is not about Bishop Archer but about what Angel feels about him and her belief, or lack of it. Angel wants to believe but doesn’t. Dick isn’t trying to convince anyone through the book that Jim Pike returned.

God evolved from his machine-like “I am” moment on Mt. Sinai to the God of love in the New Testament, something I’ve always found curious, except Dick finds in this an internal logic as it transcends its determinism. He also pinpoints 3-74 as the moment God became self-aware.

He has completely anthropomorphized Valis now and is projecting his own self-awareness as he rejected his programming onto it. He claims to have united Orphism, Platonism, Christianity and Gnosticism as he realizes that what people claim to be spirituality is not supernatural but really just a higher order of reasoning in the mind.

The Torah is living information, but it is missing the component of Christ as if it was frozen and not allowed to evolve, something Dick thinks is being repeated with the New Testament. 

He ends this folder by saying “I am having as much trouble hanging onto my interpretation (exegesis) as I’ve had hanging onto my original experience (2-3-74).”

The Exegesis: Jim Pike’s influence and the literary style of The Transmigration of Timothy Archer

May 1981 

Dick now thinks that what invaded him in 3-74 was himself as an “eternal unique idea.” 

Timothy Archer is based on Dick’s friend Jim Pike, the media-savvy, liberal Bishop of California in the late 50s and early 60s. Pike claimed to have been visited by his son after his son’s death, which is mirrored in The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. Dick wrestles with the themes of that book: the impossibility of knowing truth and communicating truth to others. The final message of the book is that inner peace is possible, but it will not come from intellectual knowledge. 

Dick is finished with Transmigration and calls it the 3rd book of the trilogy. He claims it is the most important as it documents the Parousia (aka the second coming of Christ) and completes the story arc of VALIS and The Divine Invasion. Jim Pike returned to him just as Bill in the book was taken over by the Holy Spirit, and just how Elijah in the Old Testament passed on a part of his spirit to Elisha. 

Everything Dick wrote over the previous 35 years led to Transmigration. He declares it the best novel he has ever written, and from a literary standpoint I would agree. The narrator Angel Archer came from a particular style he was aiming for, and he ties that to the idea that information can create a unique being. He goes so far as to say that Jim Pike, through him, conjured up that character, since she understands the bishop so well. 

VALIS, Divine Invasion and Transmigration all point to the fact that the second coming is already here, although it is Jim who has been resurrected, not Christ.

The Exegesis: A ‘godly anarchy’ and questions about the perception of the universe

Dick continues to wonder why he can experience God and others can’t. What happened to him proves that God can communicate directly to people without an intermediary just as the Protestants said. The concept of God has evolved from something external to something internal which will affect future societies. He imagines a kind of ‘godly anarchy’ where laws are unnecessary. 

Any group that had the same experience he did might afterwards search for the cause by thinking back to recent people who have died. For Dick that was Jim Pike. For the early Christians it was Jesus. Others saw this being as Tammuz, Adonis or Osiris. Are all of these mystery religions thinking of the same entity with a different name?

During his experience Dick had the impression he had been viewing the universe ‘backwards’ his entire life. Are we perceiving the universe incorrectly? We’ve been taught since we were children to identify things by name which leads to an overfamiliarity and lazy thinking that could be preventing us from seeing things as they are. What we need to do is somehow look at things with fresh eyes. Dick is beginning to understand he encountered the totality of God and not just a small portion. If this happened to anyone they would obviously find it difficult to explain this overwhelming experience.

The Exegesis: Letter to Claudia Bush, July 22, 1974

Dick solves the puzzle. He has been dreaming about the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls from the Qumran Essene community were found in 1946 in the Judean desert, so they weren’t exactly a brand new discovery when Dick wrote this letter. Nonetheless he is convinced that is what he is tapping into at night. Jim Pike studied the scrolls so perhaps this is because of Jim’s influence. 

I’m not sure how serious he is when he tells Claudia to be careful who she tells about all of this.

The Exegesis: July 8, 1974: The First Day of the Constitutional Crisis

Another letter to Claudia Bush. Dick believes he is seeing beyond ‘the Lie’ he covered in the last letter. In a compelling idea he wonders if his writing alters reality. Do people expect the world to become more like his books after they read them?

He returns to Ubik. Is he (or everyone) living in a pseudo-environment like the one in that book? Is Jim Pike ‘coming across’ to him from beyond death like Runciter did? Dick is changing and wonders if this is from the influence of Jim. He switched to drinking beer instead of wine, listens to rock music which he never did before and trimmed his beard.  

With his regimen of massive doses of water-soluble vitamins he thinks he may have improved communication between the two hemispheres of his brain which are now working together for the first time in his life.

He dreams mostly of the Hellenistic period. He decides whatever is contacting him is non-Christian or pre-Christian. It pulled him back to 100 A.D. just before the start of Christianity. Maybe VALIS decided Christianity was a wrong turn and Dick is supposed to get it right this time around. Finally he concludes he is being contacted by Asklepios, Greek son of Apollo. 

In a footnote the editors remind us all these personality changes could be a result of temporary strokes due to Dick’s sky-high blood pressure.  

The Exegesis: Letter to Claudia Bush, July 13, 1974

In a second letter to Claudia Dick tells her about more dreams. In addition to the mysterious book he dreamt about the Cumaean Sibyl and a Cyclops. This leads him to Virgil’s Aeneid and an exploration of Greek and Roman myths. 

The sibyl tells him in a dream whoever broke into his home in San Rafael in 1971 and 1972 was looking for papers related to his friend Bishop Jim Pike.