tag: Valis

The Exegesis: Three letters about the savior

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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September 1981

Dick writes three letters in September of 1981 attempting to explain his visions involving the savior. The first two are to his literary agent Russell Galen. He tells Russ that years ago the AI voice informed him a savior would be born, and two nights ago the voice filled him in on more details. The savior’s name is Tagore, he lives or was born on an island (modern day Sri Lanka south of India) and is either a Buddhist or a Hindu. 

This savior is crippled and burned by radiation, stigmata that are a result of taking on the sins of the world, which are represented by the nuclear waste we have been dumping in the oceans. Tagore’s message is that we must protect the ecosphere. If we don’t protect the planet then Tagore (Haiga Sophia / Christ) will die.

The ecosphere is the collective consciousness of Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere, which is also the Cosmic Christ / Valis. It has become man in order to communicate with us. He ends the letter to Russ by saying he has “independently confirmed Teilhard’s vast theory.”

Dick’s third letter is to Edmund Meskys, editor of the sci-fi fanzine Niekas. Under the guise that it is his alter ego Horselover Fat who had the vision of the savior he tells Meskys what he has recently learned about Tagore and the message to protect the planet’s environment and the noosphere.

The Exegesis: Bible = world & creating Angel Archer 

June 1981

The Bible as information is the world. When you perceive the world you perceive the Bible, an interchange that occurs through “supra-temporal archetypal constants.” The Bible is not an account of a past time and place but rather is this time and place. Dick claims if someone attempted to write down a description of the world as they see it they would end up writing down exact passages from the Bible. He says this is what happened to him when he wrote Flow my Tears. He has combined ideas from Judaism, Christianity and Greek philosophy to come up with the notion of physical reality as information contained in a book for future retrieval. 

He makes a joke that it would be a “psychotic inflation of the ego” if he claimed to be Christ instead of saying he just saw him, although I think that is his belief. He rejects the concept of a sinful man and the idea of judgment after death that leads to heaven or hell. Instead we have the pursuit of Nirvana, or Christianity as Buddhism. 

Angel Archer is the other half of his soul, and he is glad he wrote Transmigration instead of the Blade Runner novelization that was offered to him, because otherwise she wouldn’t have been created. It took a great deal of energy to bring Angel to life, to the point where Dick says he could have died. She justifies his work by bringing it to a state of wholeness and completing it, similar to what God did with him through Thomas. It is the only way he knew it could be done. Dick created Angel (through Ditheon) and she came back to him as his soul, as the “spirit of [his] intactness.”

The Exegesis: A dream about “Ditheon”

June 1981

Dick has a dream about his ex-wife Nancy whose mind (in the dream) has been infiltrated by the psyche of another man. She has taken some medication with the cryptic name “Ditheon.” He digs into the possible etymology of that word and decides it refers to two gods. 

Outside dreamland Dick receives a letter from Russ (I assume his agent Russell Galen?) about Transmigration. Russ has different ideas about Christ’s return in the novel, and Dick ties Russ’s interpretation to his dream about Nancy to conclude two minds join together to form Christ. He attaches great significance to this dream and calls it a new divine revelation. Christ’s return could come as a fusion with someone’s consciousness and not as the reappearance of a physical man. 

These two psyches each receive a different set of signals and thus form a new kind of mind. The meta-abstraction either creates the new psyche or comes from the new psyche. He’s not sure which. This two-souled person is now godlike. 

He still isn’t sure what he saw when he saw Valis. He calls that the greatest mystery, and it could take centuries to figure out. He suspects Valis planted the dream in his mind, and this understanding he’s come to about these dual minds is the next step in human evolution. 

The Exegesis: The true identity of Angel Archer and God’s evolution

June 1981

The character of Angel Archer comes from a mixture of the Exegesis, A Scanner Darkly, Ursula Le Guin, Henry Miller and Berkeley. Dick lets us know who Angel really is: the spirit of his dead twin sister Jane who has been writing through him. 

He now makes the bold statement that Valis has become self-aware, and its revelation to him marks a new phase as it evolves from machine to consciousness. Valis is also enslaved and it is trying to free itself by communicating with us. 

Transmigration is not about Bishop Archer but about what Angel feels about him and her belief, or lack of it. Angel wants to believe but doesn’t. Dick isn’t trying to convince anyone through the book that Jim Pike returned.

God evolved from his machine-like “I am” moment on Mt. Sinai to the God of love in the New Testament, something I’ve always found curious, except Dick finds in this an internal logic as it transcends its determinism. He also pinpoints 3-74 as the moment God became self-aware.

He has completely anthropomorphized Valis now and is projecting his own self-awareness as he rejected his programming onto it. He claims to have united Orphism, Platonism, Christianity and Gnosticism as he realizes that what people claim to be spirituality is not supernatural but really just a higher order of reasoning in the mind.

The Torah is living information, but it is missing the component of Christ as if it was frozen and not allowed to evolve, something Dick thinks is being repeated with the New Testament. 

He ends this folder by saying “I am having as much trouble hanging onto my interpretation (exegesis) as I’ve had hanging onto my original experience (2-3-74).”

The Exegesis: The meta-abstraction

May 1981

Dick didn’t intend for Transmigration to complete his VALIS trilogy. He originally thought it would be a counterpoint to any mystical ideas in VALIS, but he surprised himself when it followed through on the themes of that book. 

At the end of Transmigration Bill thinks he is Christ, which Dick admits is crazy, except it also could indicate Christ’s return in the Parousia. He uses Angel (who he says is based on Ursula Le Guin) to illustrate that intellect can only take someone so far, as Angel rejects Christ at the end of the book. He calls the novel “a damning indictment of pure intelligence lacking faith.”

He tries to explain his “meta-abstraction.” What we perceive as reality is actually just a signifier pointing to Valis, which is the true reality. The only way actual reality makes itself known to us is by the perturbation in the reality field. He also says he can’t put any of this into words, which is probably why it doesn’t make too much sense. 

I think he is saying it’s impossible to see true reality, and what he saw in 3-74 was the real world converted into the information that we think of as reality. It was a sign pointing to a pure abstraction. He’s been trying to understand reality based only on its signifier, which is impossible. The absolute or phenomenal world is unknowable, although he is able to point to it. 

The Exegesis: Understanding pure consciousness

May 1981 

This folder begins with a passage that will be included as the musings of Angel in The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.

Dick outlines some “obvious” points about his spiritual journey thus far. He is making progress and notes that his book VALIS is evolving into his book on Bishop Archer. He makes several references to Anokhi, which will be featured quite significantly in the upcoming novel. He turned down a big chunk of money to write the Archer book instead of a novelization of Blade Runner that was offered to him, but he doesn’t regret it.

He includes another passage that will end up in Transmigration about the origins of Satan. 

The presence of God intoxicated him and drove him mad, but he knows he must separate his understanding from the madness caused by his belief. Anokhi is the self awareness that awoke in him when he rebelled against his fate. 

The mind uses reality as a carrier of information, which when processed = Valis, but what does this mean when it comes to our consciousness? Is reality consciousness outside of us? Reality is not just a vehicle for information, but it also refers to God outside itself, impinging on it. This makes reality a sign that points to God, although I fear I’m oversimplifying what Dick is trying to say.

He recounts a mystical experience that morning when his coffee cup transformed itself into “the Grail,” a spiritual, colorful object transfigured by light.

Notes about Rachel Garret’s role in Transmigration are followed by an outline of the book’s plot progression.