tag: VALIS

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

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
Buy it on Amazon

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: A narrative archetype

June–October 1980

The wars we fight today between communism and capitalism mirror the wars fought throughout history between the middle-class and the elites, between Protestants and Catholics, between the early Christians and Rome, etc, back through time. Dick had been trying to see the true world and when he finally uncovered it what he found was that narrative archetype which he had correctly depicted in Flow My Tears. Valis is always on the side of freedom, and the only way for enslaved people to be victorious is by overthrowing the Empire, not merely escaping it.

The AI voice who addressed him is YHWH who he realizes is Valis. Dick recognizes he has declared “he has figured it out” too many times and is hesitant to say that again (since it seems to doom him to uncovering more questions), but he does feel that Valis = God / Christ and that he saw and experienced him in 3-74. 

The Exegesis: A Third Age & Valis as the One

June–October 1980

A new third, post-Christian age is beginning, progressing from, but disagreeing with, the New Testament, the same as the relationship between the New Testament and the Old. If the first age was justice, and the second was love then what is the basis of this Third Age where man has direct communication with God without churches or priests? In age three information occurs inside of us avoiding the signal loss that occurs with intermediaries like institutions or men. We will produce the scripture directly. Instead of a human savior, the savior of the Third Age will be everywhere. This Christ will be a meta-organism, God inside and out.

Dick compares this revolutionary thought opposing the church to the way early Christianity fought dogmatic Judaic law. New scriptures and prophets are needed. He recounts a message from the AI Voice that told him a new savior, either God or one with the power/approval of God, is coming soon.

He describes how Valis (which he now calls a macrometasoma) inhabits our world with its memory-structure and grows more complex as it evolves. Our world is its brain activity / metabolism. Valis is the One. This understanding unites everything (Plotinus, Pythagoras, Sankara) that he has been studying.

The Exegesis: A model of God, components of a new theology & an obsolete viewpoint

June–October 1980

Dick describes a model of God where “the parts are subordinated to the whole, and can be understood only in relation to the whole.” If they could be understood alone that would mean there was no God, because “there would be no subordination of parts to the total design.”

Our past exists in Valis’s memory which operates in much the same way as human memory does.

He declares his work thus far is a new theology which combines:

  1. Plato’s account of creation in Timaeus
  2. elements from Zoroastrianism 
  3. the Cosmic Christ
  4. the meta-biology of Valis
  5. the AI system of Valis
  6. “process creation and divinity”
  7. Pythagoras’ kosmos
  8. “accretional laydowns from the phenomenal world to the real world”
  9. Spinoza’s pantheism

This reveals Valis to be a new, previously unknown God, although something similar to YHWH or the Zoroastrian creator deity Ahura Mazda. It’s possible Valis spreads by assimilating its environment. It can change the past because the past is part of its structure. Dick located it because it exists all around us instead of in the afterlife.

Valis unites units of information and is evolving and growing more complex. We are unable to see these meta-units. All we see is what constitutes them. Dick likes this view. He calls the Christ-centered model obsolete and is happy to finally get away from it toward a much more mechanical description of Valis working against entropy and making quantum leaps upward in levels of reality to where we cannot perceive it.

Immediately after abandoning a theological framework Dick goes on to describe Christ as a rebellious part of the Valis machinery that broke away and came to us two thousand years ago to clue us in to the secret of the prison we are trapped in and to heal us. 

The Exegesis: The mechanics of 3-74, a different universe for everyone & reality as a library

January – April 1980

Dick feels he is past the issue of what happened and has moved on to figuring out how it happened, equating himself to a mechanic taking a machine apart piece by piece. The condensed version is that he overran external time causing time to run backward relative to him which meant he subconsciously knew what was going to happen at least ten years before 3-74. When 3-74 arrived this latent “faculty” took over and he saw reality as the living brain it is. 

He rereads his notes about The Tao of Physics and confirms his idea of a unique universe for everyone created by the interaction of an individual with the macrocosm, a concept he has been promoting in his novels for a long time. He expended a great deal of energy into his own merger injecting many of his ideas from Flow My Tears and about Ubik into Valis.

It’s impossible to truly understand the universe you are a part of, but the advantage of being a participant is the ability to exert your will to shape reality. Dick concludes he was the source all along of the “perturbation in the reality field,” and he imagines reality as a library that he is able to retrieve information from while time stands still.