tag: The Bardo

The Exegesis: A triumph over amnesia and the Bardo Thödol

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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Early 1979

Dick tries to explain his concept of memory. We all have the potential to have a 3-74 experience, but the new memories come too fast, wiping out what we learned, overwritten by the irrationality of Zebra… every nanosecond a new reality cancels out the previous one.

Zebra is toying with us. The dialectic flip-flops. Whatever is true in one second becomes the opposite in the next. We have the ability to influence future events, but we don’t remember this because we don’t have any memory of the previous “frame.”

He believes we are trapped in the bardo as described in the Bardo Thödol / The Tibetan Book of the Dead. This is what Dick depicted as the half-dead state in Ubik. He says that if we remain in this entropic state the irrationality could potentially infect Valis which could “snuff out the cosmos.” Valis is the only thing that can break us out of this deterministic path where the future flows from the past and change it into one where we control the future of our own volition.

Just as in the half-life in Ubik, those trapped in the bardo believe they are still alive, and what they believe is reality is just a projection of their past. The Tibetan Book of the Dead is secretly showing not what happens after death but our present condition. He sees this as a game of sorts that we must outsmart (as he did) in order to break free. 

He again tries to explain how our future is constantly flip-flopping between binary pairs and it is happening so fast we can’t form memories of the past. He speculates it is possible that supercharged energy in the form of an idea could jump many years into the future and suggests that’s what happened with Ubik: his idea of Ubik in 1968 leapt into 1974 and overpowered his reality as Valis.