tag: Vitamins

The Exegesis: Brahman, an alternate Earth & the form-mimicker

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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January 1977

Dick has evidently begun exploring outside of the Bible for answers. He is now convinced the divine entity which he encountered was Brahman from the ancient religion that was practiced in India during the Vedic period (1500—500 BC). Brahman (from my in depth study of the first line in its Wikipedia entry) is the ultimate reality in the universe. Dick compares Christ to Hindu’s Vishnu and calls Brahmanism his new religion. 

The theme of all of Dick’s novels has been the idea that reality is not what it appears to be and he is not who or what he thinks he is. His 3-74 experience verified this. He believes what he saw when one world faded into the other may have been an alternate Earth. He tries to admit he may never be able to explain what happened to him. He consults the I Ching and interprets what it tells him to mean he escaped illusion and reached reality. 

He thinks God may have tinkered with his past resulting in an alternate world for him. Where does this old world, the Black Iron world, exist? He examines different ways to model our world in relation to the Black Iron Prison. 

Perhaps something has been mimicking the true world. Dick names this form-mimicker Deus Absconditus and speculates he was possessed by it in 3-74 due to his regimen of vitamins which allowed him to see the mimicry. Reinterpreting the Bible with this knowledge of the form-mimicker reveals a new way of understanding the puzzles of the Scripture.  

The Exegesis: Letter to Malcom Edwards, January 29, 1975

Dick takes a break from writing Claudia to send a letter to Malcolm Edwards at the beginning of 1975. Edwards reviewed Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said in the December ’74 issue of the British magazine Science Fiction Monthly. In that piece Edwards elucidated some things about the story that Dick had never been able to properly explain. 

Everyone has a private world (idios kosmos) which is contrasted by everyone’s shared reality (koinos kosmos). Dick wonders if a tyrannical state, for instance, could manipulate its citizens’ inner world through media and news to such an extent that they create a false universal reality. The world Dick wrote about in Ubik after everyone died was the true koinos kosmos that was revealed after everything else was stripped away, but he didn’t realize at the time that’s what he was getting at. 

He goes on to explain to Edwards how he transduced external electrical fields (I still don’t know what this means exactly) through his vitamin megadosing routine to improve his neural firing and cause the right hemisphere of his brain to ‘come on.’ Through this the true koinos kosmos emerged and he encountered the Immanent Mind.  

The Exegesis: July 8, 1974: The First Day of the Constitutional Crisis

Another letter to Claudia Bush. Dick believes he is seeing beyond ‘the Lie’ he covered in the last letter. In a compelling idea he wonders if his writing alters reality. Do people expect the world to become more like his books after they read them?

He returns to Ubik. Is he (or everyone) living in a pseudo-environment like the one in that book? Is Jim Pike ‘coming across’ to him from beyond death like Runciter did? Dick is changing and wonders if this is from the influence of Jim. He switched to drinking beer instead of wine, listens to rock music which he never did before and trimmed his beard.  

With his regimen of massive doses of water-soluble vitamins he thinks he may have improved communication between the two hemispheres of his brain which are now working together for the first time in his life.

He dreams mostly of the Hellenistic period. He decides whatever is contacting him is non-Christian or pre-Christian. It pulled him back to 100 A.D. just before the start of Christianity. Maybe VALIS decided Christianity was a wrong turn and Dick is supposed to get it right this time around. Finally he concludes he is being contacted by Asklepios, Greek son of Apollo. 

In a footnote the editors remind us all these personality changes could be a result of temporary strokes due to Dick’s sky-high blood pressure.  

The Exegesis: Letter to Peter Fitting, June 28, 1974

In a 1974 letter to the literary critic Peter Fitting (who a year later would publish the essay ‘”Ubik”: The Deconstruction of Bourgeois SF’) Dick talks about tachyons which he read about in an article by Arthur Koestler in the July ’74 issue of Harper’s magazine. Since (the hypothetical) tachyons travel faster than the speed of light they would travel in a reverse time direction and open up the possibility of precognition. 

He recounts how he read about vitamin megadosing to improve brain efficiency while doing research for his novel A Scanner Darkly, so he loaded up on water-soluble vitamins one night and for eight hours hallucinated a series of colored graphics that resembled abstract art. He believed later this was due to the reduction of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in his brain. 

Following all this he begins to receive messages from the sky. At first he thinks he’s picking up on some ESP experiment from the USSR but then concludes these messages are not man-made but rather a tachyon bombardment that lets him see the future. All of this is a sort of scientific explanation for what the Israelites, for instance, experienced when they imagined they were contacted by God. 

In a postscript he decides these cosmic broadcasts weren’t necessarily directed at him but they may have influenced him to write Ubik. Before sending the letter he returns to follow up on this theory that perhaps all of his books were written by him as a result of this tachyon bombardment. He could foresee the future and that’s why more and more people are telling him they feel they are living in a world that caught up to his stories. 

He ends the letter teasing an idea for a sequel to The Man in the High Castle which he never completed. You can read the first two chapters of this unfinished book in the collection of essays and other ephemera The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick edited by Lawrence Sutin.