tag: YHWH

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

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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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: Notes from Valis Regained, monotheism & the differences between YHWH and Brahman

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: Falling through the universe, Dick’s fugal personality & a cybernetic system

Dick’s biggest fear is that he will fall through the universe, but he trusts YHWH will protect him and keep his 3-74 dreamlike state from happening again. Partially blaming his amphetamine habit he says prior to 3-74 he had been speeding up relative to real time until he used time up completely and passed outside of time. He credits the lithium he was taking with slowing him down, except he came to rest in the upper realm. At that point he was far in the future. Christ entered him, he saw the world as the BIP, and Thomas (who he now says is a future, not past, self) took over.

Christ renewed him in 3-74, adding new energy into a closed system. This introduction of new information changed the script of reality. Dick points out a flaw in Spinoza’s deterministic view of the world. Spinoza doesn’t account for entropy. The only thing keeping a deterministic world from running down is new energy from Christ. 

Reality isn’t changed directly. It changes when the signal which creates reality is altered. That is Valis’s role. What Dick witnessed was a purposeful updating of the mechanistic universe which means the future no longer flowed from the past.

He wonders if he existed in a fugue state until 1970 when a mescaline trip caused a psychotic break. In 1974 his fugue state broke completely and Thomas took over showing him what is real.

He has a hypnagogic vision involving looming punishment for a list of his crimes while he waits for a messenger to arrive with a record that will save him. He interprets this as a model for a cybernetic system related to his 3-74 experience. Christ intervened and interrupted the flow of the signal with a blank slate that atoned for Dick’s full list of sins.

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.