tag: To Scare the Dead

The Exegesis: Biblical ideas for To Scare the Dead, a critique of Childhood’s End & a visitation by Astraea

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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For the previous 15 months Dick thought that Paul was the author of “Acts” in the Bible but he finds out that it was actually written by Luke. This new knowledge matches up to recent dreams he has been having. He incorporates Luke into the plot for To Scare the Dead: St. Luke will visit the protagonist and teach him that the Holy Spirit can possess ordinary people. 

Dick compares what happened to him with Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End (a book about an alien invasion of Earth) which he just read, although he doesn’t find too many similarities to his experience. Dick rejects a sci-fi interpretation and embraces a theological one. 

He recounts a new experience. Some light entity which he calls The Moth visited him and then the following morning he spoke with Astraea, the Greek (Dick incorrectly calls her Roman) virgin goddess of innocence and justice. She told him they will judge those who destroy the Earth. Afterwards he went in for a scheduled blood pressure reading and found his b.p. was normal. 

He considers folding an older story about a man who remembers the future instead of the past (I believe he is referring to “Recall Mechanism”) into To Scare the Dead.

The Exegesis: Questions about the voice that spoke to him in Greek and more notes on To Scare the Dead

Dick attempts to describe the 2-3-74 entity and his description sounds identical to the Parakletos (or Holy Spirit). He is reminded of a time in high school when he was particularly agitated during a test and the same inner voice came to calm him. 

Instead of thinking about the past generating the future we could imagine the future pushing the present into the past. The past is a trick our minds play as we try to arrange events into a linear order. Another way to look at the future is something that already exists which displaces the present. 

Dick spends some time speculating on why the entity communicated to him in Greek. If God has the ability to speak to people why was he the only one chosen? He realizes the absurdity of assuming he is that special. He has a theory that all of this could be the next step in human evolution, but that doesn’t explain the voice speaking in Greek.

He wraps this up with some notes about the story he is working on called To Scare the Dead which is beginning to resemble his final novel The Transmigration of Timothy Archer

The Exegesis: Notes on entropy & plot ideas for To Scare the Dead

Entropy equals disorder which means the universe is moving toward disorder. Orthogonal time is moving the other way toward form we just aren’t always aware of it. Dick wonders if one intersecting arc of the Jesus fish represents linear time and the other arc orthogonal time. They intersected in the past (100 A.D.) and are about to meet again. The symbol was designed to show Christ’s First and Second Coming.

In an idea for the novel he is working on called To Scare the Dead his protagonist realizes the two hemispheres of his brain are traveling at right angles to each other in time. All the questions this raises will be answered by the Valisystem entity that has been contacting him. 

The Exegesis: Letter to Claudia Bush, February 25, 1975

Dick talks up his writing process in another letter to Claudia. He borrows from his own life experiences and often merges ideas from two novels into one. 

In a postscript he says he ‘commanded the entity to show itself’ to him the previous night. In a hypnogogic state he saw a dead man dressed in a fawn skin on the floor. He is convinced this is Dionysus (who is related to Zagreus in Greek mythology) and in the morning he finds confirmation, in his mind at least, when he comes across something about the followers of Dionysus wearing fawn skins. 

He attaches notes for his next novel which combines ideas from Valisystem A (which would go on to become Radio Free Ablemuth and later VALIS) and the previously mentioned To Scare the Dead. The protagonist is influenced by a telepathic signal from space to overthrow a government tyranny. In the remainder of his notes Dick brainstorms on the notion of retrograde time and how it can be worked into his story.

The Exegesis: Letter to Claudia Bush, February 16, 1975

Before Dick shows Claudia notes for a new novel he is working on about time dysfunction he tells her the true name of Jesus was revealed to him in a dream: Zeus Zagreus. 

The novel’s working title is To Scare the Dead. The sketch for the plot involves an LA man in the record business who is disinhibited by a girl with a Jesus fish necklace and suddenly has the spirit of a 2nd century A.D. Essene in his head. The man reads about Christ’s return in Revelation and later has his house ransacked and his file cabinet blown open by the government. I wonder where Dick is getting these ideas from.

Dick goes on to talk more about cubic time and the possibly retrograde horizontal time axis. Dick speculates he may have had false memories about his life in California implanted after being hypnotized (by who?), and wonders if whatever happened to him in March could have been due to Soviet experiments led by the astrophysicist Nikolai Kozyrev.