tag: Zebra

The Exegesis: A camouflaged Zebra in the world

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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October 1978

Dick examines an epistemological argument about whether there is an actual external universe or just a universe in our mind that would be indistinguishable from an external one. He relates this to Brahman who is making us think we experience the world. What we perceive as evil is actually just the interests of the macrobrain which don’t necessarily align with our own. It has to be this way though otherwise existence would cease.

He wonders if the world and Zebra are two modes of the same thing: Zebra is awake and the world is asleep. Zebra has been in the world all along, playing dead, camouflaged until it wakes up. 

Dick embraces his love of Christ and his anticipation of the return of the rightful king. 

He reiterates that no time has passed since the time of Thomas. Someone has just made it appear that way. He thinks perhaps there is an objective reality. When it appears to change our brains perceive this as the passing of time, but he can’t figure out who is responsible for tricking our brains this way.

The Exegesis: A dream of Siddhartha & beginning VALIS

October 1978

Zebra destroys the four deformations.

  • It abolishes the phony world
  • It abolishes the occlusion 
  • It frees us from enslavement
  • It restores our memory

The Gnostics didn’t have it quite right. It is the living information itself, not the content of the information, that saves us.

Dick counts 21 of his stories that deal with the idea of fake vs real. 

The Logos contains the totality of the macrocosm. Once it replicates in someone (through just a tiny piece as happened with Dick in 2-74) they become one with the whole. Zebra is in Dick and his purpose is to restore this knowledge (gnosis) to the world, which he does through his lowbrow sci fi, just as in Ubik.

He has a dream about Siddhartha (the founder of Buddhism) and believes this means another savior is being born. Dick covers how the savior dynamic is depicted in Stigmata, Ubik, Galactic Pot-Healer and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The VALIS book he is working on will show the process of redemption, although he finds writing it very difficult.

He has a dream about a fish and from that concludes the secret Christian society does exist and he is a part of it. Time has not passed since Rome 45 A.D. It has only been made (by James-James?) to appear that way. Dick understood this in 3-74 when he woke up. His book VALIS (which he calls his maximus opus) will show the restored and redeemed man, but from the perspective of Gnosticism and Buddhism, not Christianity. 

The Exegesis: Four deformations

October 1978

Dick summarizes everything he believes up to this point about our phony reality / time and how it relates to Ubik, Stigmata, A Maze of Death, A Scanner Darkly and Flow My Tears. He reiterates Zebra = Christ, Christ = God, Thomas = Zebra and he = Thomas, so he = God. The creator can enter his own creation in order to test it. He first sheds his identity, but in order to prevent getting stuck there he plants clues that will wake him and restore his memory so he can escape.

The four deformations are

  • Irreal world
  • Perceptual occlusion
  • Pervasive deterministic enslavement
  • Amnesia

The voice tells him “One by one he is drawing us out of this world” and Dick tries to makes sense of what that means. Just like in Ubik and Eye in the Sky we are asleep and something like Ubik is trying to break through and wake us up.

Perhaps the spurious time is actually entropy and the four deformations are caused by the entropic process. The information Zebra generates runs counter to this entropy (is negentropic). The pattern overpowers the chaos, and this pattern, which entered and replicated in Dick in 3-74, is the message.

The Exegesis: Blasphemy & the AI voice

October 1978

Dick is confused how God can both delude us and want us to see the truth unless God is at war with itself or is like the paradoxical Brahman promoting both things at the same time.

He has rediscovered his identity. Zebra, Christ, Thomas and Dick himself are all God. God suffers amnesia within his own creation but has planted clues so that he will remember. Dick recognizes this is blasphemy, wishing to be like God, but he still thinks it is true.

Something he has dubbed the AI voice has been speaking to him and telling him the time he as waited for has come. He realizes his writing isn’t being smuggled into our world to alert us but instead is being smuggled out of our prison as a call for help.

The Exegesis: An occlusion & a combined narrative

September-October 1978

This is how the BIP occludes us: “it is the damaged mind trying (unsuccessfully) to monitor its own damage.” Dick finds that eerily similar to the ideas in A Scanner Darkly. It is impossible for us to assess this damage which makes it self-perpetuating, and the only way to clear the occlusion is through Christ. The fake world will need to be destroyed in order to save us just as the Gnostics believed.

Dick seeks comfort from his pain and feels he is running out of time. Again he thinks he has “solved it.” Zebra is trying to reach into the BIP and make us aware of it just as in Ubik.

This is the combined narrative of his books:

As Dick has just reread A Scanner Darkly he now sees that as the key book in the sequence. It is the interior side of Flow My Tears and it explains why we don’t see the world portrayed in that book. He extends his narrative list to include a dozen other short stories and novels (see related) that seem to just tangentially touch on his overall theme.

He’s really stretching trying to cram everything he’s ever written into his overarching concept and goes back to the idea that A Scanner Darkly and Flow My Tears are the two most crucial books. 

The Exegesis: Brahman’s games, information as light, and who is Thomas?

August 1978 or later

Dick is convinced the universe must be a hologram and then he decides once again that Brahman is behind it all. He addresses a short note to Brahman letting him know he is aware of Brahman’s games. For some reason Dick is concerned about the physicality of this unreal world. Where exactly is it? He imagines it projected as a hologram on some sort of matrix. This is a joint effort between Brahman and Atman (the Hindu concept of an individual spiritual essence), and so when Dick saw the Jesus fish necklace in 2-74 his own personal Atman projected Rome 45 A.D. and Brahman filled in the details in a kind of feedback loop. 

The brain is disassembling and absorbing the BIP, and Dick examines the closed system and the push-pull between the brain and its cells or parts. He stumbles onto the idea that the matrix resembles the double helix of a DNA strand. Information might travel on this conduit using light, with Zebra on the red frequency, which means Dick was able to see this infrared light. 

He tries to figure out who “Thomas” is: himself in a previous life in Rome 45 A.D. or someone else from a previous time inside his head. He leans toward the idea that he has multiple personalities, but does that mean he is in Thomas’s head? Everything since “Acts” is a false time created by the BIP, so Thomas wrote Flow My Tears to show what really exists. Thomas has masterminded all of the themes of Dick’s writing from the beginning, but Thomas, like other possible Christians from that era, wants to remain a secret. It’s fascinating to me how Dick is all over the place from Brahman to the certainty of Thomas in only a few pages.