tag: Zebra

The Exegesis: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said as living information

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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August 1978

Dick tries to understand the connection between the book of Acts in the Bible and his novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. He sees Flow My Tears as something like an information-based eucharist which can replicate in people. This living information reprograms us and allows us to receive subliminal messages. 

Dick affirms Zebra is the Paraclete and thinks it should be studied scientifically, although he admits that would be futile since it is so advanced and nearly impossible to discern. It communicates through the “brain” network using pop culture artifacts like books and song lyrics. Once someone has Zebra in them they are part of the brain for good, but it can replicate itself in many different ways through “information plasma.”

One bit equals the entire information so once inside someone it will grow to the whole thing. He compares this to Jesus’s parable of the mustard seed. What Dick experienced in 3-74 was the entirety of the information expanding in his mind. Apparently (according to Dick) the authorities tried hard to prevent him from publishing Flow My Tears which proves how powerful it is. 

We are part of this living brain. He realizes the author of Ubik was Ubik itself and that Flow My Tears was the doorway that led to Rome 45 A.D.

The BIP represents entropy. Dick imagines a new big bang which will reset the cycle of the universe and it is all tied together with the Acts information encoded into Flow My Tears.

The Exegesis: The brain

August 1978

Dick marvels over the scope and originality of his exegesis. He wonders how to live his life day by day after an encounter with a superior life form. 

The Black Iron Prison which began in Rome 45 A.D. is stuck on repeat. Some sort of cosmic brain opposes it. It interfered with U.S. history during the Nixon/Vietnam era through an evolution toward individuality. The authorities tried to suppress it by killing the leaders but the “leaderless revolution” couldn’t be stopped. Zebra/God/Noös is the brain and we are the brain’s components.

The early Christians knew Zebra (the electrical impulses firing at us) as the Paraclete. The messages the brain communicates to us are subliminal, but the brain doesn’t control us since we are the brain. The book of Acts, when it describes the Pentecost, is the only written account of the brain.

Most people are still under the spell of the BIP. Without the brain the BIP would control all of us. Christ’s sacrifice created this distributed brain which forms a bridge between our world and the upper realm. Once the brain has achieved its goals it will reveal the true world of ancient Rome. If we could view the last 2000 years sped up we would see something like Yin and Yang: the brain (light) vs those still under control of the BIP (darkness) until eventually the light wins and takes over.

The Exegesis: Punishment for play vs work

June or July 1978

Dick is upset his pop culture sci-fi is being legitimized. It’s how the powers that be destroy something when they can’t control it. A Scanner Darkly depicted the outsized punishment that comes not from drugs but from choosing to continue to play when society wants you to toil away. We have all been taught to expect this form of punishment for the sinfulness of play instead of work. Christ’s punishment, in spite of being blameless, seems to prove this wrong, but the true message, that suffering is not tied to sin, was lost. 

Dick thinks the decoded message in Flow my Tears is that Zebra is in fact Christ and he is here / has returned.

In A Scanner Darkly the authorities want to enslave everyone and force them to be subservient to group approval. God is the sentient being who will free us from that real-life enslaved state.

Dick quotes from Act 3 of Wagner’s opera Parsifal when all of nature rejoices at God’s mercy on Good Friday. He reads Will Durant’s history of the Reformation and decides the true message has been misunderstood for 2000 years. Dick says tears, enslavement, and pain (the Black Iron Prison) were transformed to innocence, love and joy (the Palm Tree Garden world) through Christ’s sacrifice. 

He wonders where he fits in with the history of Christianity and sees the most similarities with the Quakers who believed they could communicate directly with the Holy Spirit.

The Exegesis: Dick’s relationship with Zebra

May 1978

Dick believes the true deity had a role in overthrowing the U.S. Government. It was able to sneak in unnoticed disguised as lowbrow trash just as in Ubik

He thinks the Black Iron Prison world has yielded to the PTG (Palm Tree Garden) world, but because the BIP world was a bogus copy of the real world, and the PTG world copied that, we are then living in a fake of a fake. He goes on to clarify there is no world. We are enclosed in the BIP which is firing signals at us and creating what we see as the world. He doesn’t believe it is evil though.

The information Dick received in 3-74 was meant for Zebra and not for him. Whatever it was means Zebra is a permanent part of him now and he is in a symbiotic state with it.

It sounds like he thinks the information hidden in his book Flow My Tears is a way for Zebra to replicate itself in the minds of its readers. He suggests the Book of Acts in the Bible is not a book but is actually a world which he entered into in 3-74. I’m not sure Dick really understands what he is talking about here.

Dick has hit on the idea that we built Zebra to help us remember because we knew the BIP would take over and enslave us. Zebra is metabolic information restoring elasticity to the rigid BIP of the universe. Each person must rebel in order to see the world for what it truly is. 

Because we each contain the totality of the holographic universe Zebra and Dick are the same, but he is still reckoning with this.

The Exegesis: The nature of the two hyperuniverses

April-May 1978

Dick suggests hyperuniverse II (the Black Iron Prison) is dead and exists only as a mechanical construct. The BIP world may be stuck in 70 A.D. because VALIS “dealt it a death blow.” Since then fake time continues on with no growth. Because its psyche is dead it just repeats the same thing over and over again. 

Dick said he once described reality “as that which, when you withdraw assent from it, it does not disappear.” Dick withdrew assent and during his 3-74 experience 1974 California disappeared.  

We used to be able to distinguish the two hyperuninverses before the Fall and that’s how we were able to speak with God. We are stuck between Zebra’s living hyperuniverse and the dead BIP hyperuniverse which wants to enslave us.

Dick doesn’t think what he believes can be explained in traditional terms. It’s not Christianity. It’s possible Satan and Christ are twins and that Christ/Zebra is a female (Hagia Sophia/Aphrodite) who is the projected hologram and can take any form she wants. 

All humans amplify the faint signal trying to break the hold our fake world has over us. The pursuit of power is the false god. 

Dick lists nine stages one must go through to reject the BIP world and expose it as an illusion. The true creator is the quiet voice not the loud, threatening one. 

After reading John Sladek’s PKD parody “Solar Shoe-Salesman” Dick feels the need to clarify his own point of view. His writing is not sophisticated. The low-brow and the trash are the keys to his work. He juxtaposes things randomly with the hope of exposing greater truths which may be hiding in plain sight. 

The Exegesis: Hyperuniverses and our world as a hologram

Early 1978

Our universe is a sort of hologram. VALIS/Zebra is trying to wake us up to this with illusions that demonstrate our phony world. Everything is flipped. What we expect to be grounded reality is fake and the nonsense is real. Dick’s writing has value in exposing this.

Dick is deep down the rabbit hole at this point. I often wonder what he would make of the conspiracy theories overwhelming our present time. He quotes a passage from Robert Anton Wilson’s 1977 Illuminati book Cosmic Trigger about Terence and Dennis McKenna’s book the Invisible Landscape. The McKenna’s, whose theories also borrowed from the I Ching, apparently believed two hyperuniverses interact to form the hologram of our universe. Every piece of a hologram contains information of the whole thing, so that concept would extend to our brains which would contain the whole of the universe. From their idea Dick extrapolates that the two hyperuniverses are the Black Iron Prison and the palm tree garden world which combine to create the hologram. One is signal and one is noise, and Christ is invading the Black Iron Prison world in order to destroy it. 

Dick wonders why the omniscient entity doesn’t do more to alleviate undeserved suffering. Does it have limited power or knowledge, or is it operating in stealth mode to hide from its adversary? Dick concludes Christ is supplanting each suffering creature.