tag: Ma'at

The Exegesis: The Groove Override and the New Free Merit-Deed

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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January – April 1980

Dick breaks down the process of his path to salvation into two parts: the groove override (GO) and new free merit-deed (NFMD). In the GO period the not-self self (Thomas in his case) freed him from his deterministic loop so he could perform his “good-karma” act in the NFMD period in order to escape from the afterlife cycle. Someone who follows GO with an evil act would gain bad karma and be judged again by Ma’at, although the ones working to help you (Christ, Buddha) have an omniscient view you will do good. Dick gets himself twisted up here trying to decide which is the cause and which is the effect, GO or NFMD, and decides it’s a paradox: in order to get out of the deterministic groove you already have to be out of it.

What needs to happen for GO is a psychological death which allows for rebirth, something illustrated by the crucifixion of Christ. Dick says this ability to escape from a preprogrammed groove is an evolutionary leap in mankind (which he dubs the meta-mind), since someone who achieved this would exist out of time and could create alternate worlds. Does Valis encourage this? Or are “angels” evolved humans who have already figured this out? He wonders if a future self outside of time could influence a past self (as the AI voice), becoming both cause and effect.

The Exegesis: The Tao of Physics and Dick’s own doctrine

January – April 1980

Dick reads The Tao of Physics, a 1975 book that deals with author Fritjof Capra’s notion of a relationship between subatomic physics and mystical religions, and it gives him some new insights into Valis other than the ones he “endlessly recirculates.” He has already talked about plenty of ideas that seem influenced by quantum mechanics, so I’m surprised it took him this long to discuss the connection, which he proceeds to do in his unique, confounding way.

In describing 3-74 he says the reality that surrounded him was a web-like structure in constant flux that could appear however it wanted. It was created by an interaction between his brain and Valis, so it required an active participation from him to exist. The entire experience was him merged with the entity. Since he was a part of it it was impossible to view it objectively, which is why he has had so much trouble making sense of it over the last six years. 

In order to understand 3-74 Dick studied all the mystical religions and “synthesized” them into a doctrine of his own. He says the world is an afterlife simulation controlled by Valis where we relive our lives in a loop (stuck in Purgatorio) until we wake up. We are constantly being judged by Ma’at (the Egyptian goddess of truth and justice), and it’s up to us to add new “good-karma” to break out of the cycle. Some secondary personality must exist who prods an individual to do good, and for him he recognizes that as Thomas (who he decides with finality is not “Pigspurt,” the first I’ve heard about the name he gave to Thomas when he thought Thomas might be some kind of government mind control). The introduction of this not-self self is what allows someone to break from determinism and shift to a path toward salvation.