tag: Torah

The Exegesis: Notes from Valis Regained, monotheism & the differences between YHWH and Brahman

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
Buy it on Amazon

January 1980

Dick speculates what it would be like for someone to inhabit the cosmos. This person, an “Adam Kadmon,” would be omniscient as they become one with the macro-mind. 

At this point he has an outline for what he calls VR (aka Valis Regained which would end up published as The Divine Invasion). He reads through his notes and has a moment of enlightenment about monotheism: illusion and evil are the same and reality and God are the same. This means when he witnessed Valis he saw God, since Valis/YHWH is reality or what remains when the illusion is broken. YHWH is not transcendent but all around us. Anything that is not Valis is part of the illusion. 

He equates being cut off from YHWH, as he was prior to 3-74, to an illness. He is convinced he saw God based on his studies of Spinoza and his understanding of the Old Testament. The living Torah is what surrounds us. He declares that Paul and Christianity are wrong, but then revisits his cybernetic model and says the messenger is Christ’s role. 

He comes to the conclusion that if monotheism is correct then Valis is God, since both Valis and God are reality. 

The differences between YHWH and Brahman are YHWH’s personal identity and the information YHWH uses to communicate. YHWH operates within human history and dynamically evolves as a part of it. Valis is a great mind which uses reality to think. It is not camouflaged in reality, as Dick previously thought, but rather is reality. Although since that would mean God is an organism that needs our physical reality and couldn’t exist independently of it before creation, he decides perhaps Valis doesn’t equal reality yet, but it will. 

The Exegesis: Christ’s role & Dick inside the universe

January 1980

If the world is made of information then it is completely deterministic with everything, including our death, unfolding according to plan. What we don’t see is that we are just one component in this world that extends back millennia. Without this understanding our existence doesn’t make any sense. Christ is the one who wakes us up and points this out to us. This consciousness he makes us aware of is a mirror of the macro-mind in the micro-mind of individuals. We remember our true identity when we wake up and experience anamnesis. When God sacrificed himself for man the whole became the part and the part became the whole.

Dick wonders if his 3-74 experience was Kabbalistic and perhaps he is in communication with the Torah itself.

In 3-74 he became Adam Kadmon and was able to change the world with his mind, since the world was his mind. Instead of seeing the universe from the outside he inhabited it and saw it from the inside. It protected him and spoke to him and comforted him. Everything that has been communicating with him (the hypnagogic visions, Thomas, the AI voice) come from this mind he is a part of.

The Exegesis: Elijah & Torah

Dick believes the personality that has inhabited him is Elijah (or the same spirit that took over Elijah), and this is reinforced by several dreams he has connected to the Bible.

The way YHWH tries to break through to us is like how sounds from the world are able to work their way into our dreams when we are asleep. They are either incorporated or jarring enough that we wake up. Most of us remain in Purgatorio because we are afraid of risk. It’s a gamble. We could make it to the Palm Tree Garden or end up in the BIP.

When Dick watched 3 Women he realized if he didn’t believe in YHWH he would end up in a cosmic nothingness… a terrible thought. Again he reiterates that Plato made an error. The two realms don’t exist in space but rather all around us. Since this is the case the upper realm can be accessed in life, like what happened to him in 3-74, and not just after death. The erroneous view of spatial realms affected Christianity but not the Israelites who recognized God was in nature. 

Torah is living information created by God. What we call reality is just our way of interpreting this information signal. Valis is the “machine” that turns the Torah into reality. Torah as info is trapped in reality, so to truly understand all of this we would need to see Torah in all living things and retrieve it.

The Exegesis: A Q&A about psychosis

In 3-74 Dick came to understand that reality could be tweaked through subtle interactions to be anything you want it to be due to the mimicking nature of whatever reality really is. He calls it a push-pull relationship.

Charles Platt interviewed Dick for his book Dream Makers, a collection of interviews with science fiction authors. Afterwards, based on that conversation, Dick suspects Valis must have come from his collective unconscious, which meant he went through a psychotic breakdown. Dick follows this with a long series of questions and answers to probe this idea like:

  • Q: What about external events?
    A: Coincidence
  • Q: Why were his senses enhanced?
    A: Drug-induced psychosis
  • Q: What about the perceived time dysfunction?
    A: Nothing but disorientation

He eventually admits to himself he must be a manic depressive, saying he went through a borderline psychosis. Soon though the answers begin to contradict themselves, and he decides the psychotic diagnosis “does not compute.” Why did his anxieties remain during this period and why were his behaviors problem-solving instead of bizarre? He concludes it could not have been a psychotic break and in the end says “we have learned nothing.”

He interprets a hypnagogic message to mean he has been adopted by God just as Jesus was. He reads about how the Torah was regarded as a living being and realizes that is identical to his concept of Acts as living information. He imagines the BIP as an ossified iron complex and reiterates that it’s his job to dissolve it.

Another hypnagogic voice suggests Dick has died and returned to life, which means Dick lived on after Christ/Thomas died.