tag: Quantum Mechanics

The Exegesis: A binary system & a new model of Christ consciousness

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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In a letter to Patricia Warrick (presumably the author of The Cybernetic Imagination in Science Fiction) Dick tries to explain the model of reality he has been constructing over the last seven years. 

He claims many of his insights came to him on the edge of sleep during hypnagogic and hypnopompic revelations. One such insight: The macrometasomakosmos (which he is thankfully abbreviating now as MMSK) is a binary signaling system. It micro-adjusts reality by trying out moves and making corrections. Even though these switches happen in a trillionth of a second Dick saw it as a flickering, since during the off state reality ceases to exist. The universe is destroyed and recreated every day. We are left with the best of all possible worlds, although this decision making takes place in the black box of the void outside of our awareness.

He attempts, somewhat shakily, to reconcile Christianity (and Taoism and Gnosticism) with this quantum mechanical computer view of reality to create a new conceptual model. I believe he is saying that Christ enters our consciousness and allows us to comprehend and participate in this binary forking decision tree.

“For the first time in human history” we are perceiving and understanding the world in a new way. He connects what he saw to the double-slit experiment in quantum mechanics and decides that it demonstrates the binary fork decision making, but he has trouble fully describing this model where the Christ consciousness combines the observer and reality field into one. 

The Exegesis: Valis’s true identity & a successful exegesis except for one outstanding question

October-November 1980

If someone put a gun to Dick’s head and forced him to give an answer about the nature of Valis he would say it is the Tao, since that represents the mastery of the dialectic through the Yin and the Yang.

After six and a half years he says the exegesis has finally become successful as he can now perceive, within the flux, ordinary daily reality. He feels old and misses the energy of his youth, but takes comfort in the fact that nothing from his past is truly lost and that his writing will “permanently affect the macrometasomakosmos” and survive in the structure of the world order.

What he really wants an explanation for is the “perturbation in the reality field,” a tug that he compares to the moon’s effect on the Earth’s tides. He has circled back to where he started. What does it point to?

3-74 was a heroic act, but it didn’t happen because he was a hero, given his history. A new self was born in him when Thomas took over. Perhaps Thomas wasn’t a lost part of himself but energy transferred from the world.

Valis is the Tao, YHWH, Cosmic Christ, Brahman, Shiva, Krishna or a quantum mechanic phenomenon. Or maybe there is nothing in the last mystery box, just God creating existence out of nothing. Paradoxically it has existed here all along in the ephemeral trash. The final great reversal. So the mystery is there is no mystery. This means Ubik is true, something Dick didn’t realize when he wrote it.

The Exegesis: Disinformation & Valis’s self-generating creation

June–October 1980

After six and a half years of obsessive notes Dick reflects on the Exegesis thus far. He knows he repeats his arguments “like a stuck LP,” but the important thing is getting everything down in order to preserve the memory of what he went through: Valis is YHWH / Christ and the Holy Spirit as Thomas inhabited him. He has been attempting to document in a rational way a mystical experience that can’t truly be expressed in words. 

The Empire uses disinformation as a tactic against the Christians. Since reality is information you can tell which side is which in the battle by paying attention to who is generating information and who is suppressing it. 

Using concepts from quantum mechanics Dick speculates on Valis’s mode of operation. It only comes into existence after being observed by a participant. Someone has to be aware of Valis in order to perceive it, but Valis doesn’t exist until it is observed. Valis does this through a use of time we don’t understand. After creation it retroactively sends messages back to give a participant the understanding necessary to see Valis and therefore create Valis. This makes it self-generating using “physics about which we know nothing.”

Valis is simple, like a single-cell organism, but it is made up of billions of complex forms (humans). Since Valis is reality this makes our world a coherent unit of purposefully interconnected parts. Through the dialectic (the forces of the Empire acting against it) it is constantly evolving to maintain equilibrium.  

In all this Dick realizes he has come back around to the Yin and Yang of Taoism, but decides it is non-sectarian since it combines Christian, Brahmanist, Platonist and Taoist ideas all at once. 

The Exegesis: Sacred rites and mythic time

June–October 1980

Perhaps our perception of reality causes it to change just as quantum mechanics suggests. We can cause things to be healed on the macro level by repairing them in ourselves. This could mean Dick self-generated the information that kicked off his 3-74 experience. It could also mean the “Acts” material in Flow My Tears was put there by Dick himself “due to principles of physics we simply do not understand.”

Dick accidentally entered mythic time through his interaction with the girl with the Jesus fish necklace. He compares the Xerox missive (a coded letter of unknown origin he received as a warning right before 3-74) to the Gnostic legend of the pearl. He took part in this mythic ritual which unlocked his memories, but his participation came down to chance when he saw the necklace and received the letter.

He recounts the New Testament story of Paul’s imprisonment as told in the book of “Acts.” Unlike the crucifixion story Paul is eventually released, which demonstrates the Empire’s waning power. 

Dick performed his sacred rite and encountered God as the world, not as an anthropomorphic figure. The mythic ritual is a key into one of many sacred narratives. Dick “punched into” his by accident. He compares this to different computer programs running simultaneously. Reenacting a different rite would have put him into a different program.

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.