tag: Zebra

The Exegesis: A time-traveler named Thomas and a hypnagogic message

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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February 1978

Zebra and the holographic world are both made up of some kind of thinking electricity that can shape shift into anything. Who or what is responsible for this reality? Is it the physical noosphere or is it in our mind? Dick leans toward something physical like Brahman. Another layer exists beyond 70 A.D. which Dick calls the abyss. 

Dick decides he is a time-traveler from 70 A.D. called Thomas and the PKD personality is just a mask. He thinks that Ubik the entity must have guided him to write Ubik the novel because where else would he have gotten the idea. It came about through a form of automatic writing. This makes that book a scripture of sorts along with A Maze of Death and Flow my Tears

In a hypnagogic state the spirit speaks to him and says they are “responsible for low-level decisions which can be overruled.” He assumes “they” refers to God. This means man’s relationship to reality is flipped. We become the objects in a living world. Dick sees this as a truly radical new understanding as it reveals God and reorganizes man’s place in the cosmic hierarchy. 

At Dick’s greatest point of desperation the being behind the veil let Dick see beyond it. His novels were a way to prepare him for his 3-74 experience and now he feels free. He ends this section by cryptically saying what comes next has something to do with Mexico.

The Exegesis: Jacob Boehme & a modified Gnosticism

January 1978

Dick has come across the story of Jacob Boehme, and the parallels with his own experience are a little eerie. Boehme was a German shoemaker who had a vision in 1600 triggered by light glinting off a pewter bowl just as Dick’s vision in 1974 was triggered by light reflecting off a Jesus fish necklace. Afterwards Boehme wrote prolifically exploring and revisiting this initial vision that revealed the structure of the universe. Based on Boehme Dick decides his own model has been far too simple. 

In 1974 the cosmic balance between nature and the divine tipped slightly in God’s favor. Our own suffering may be a reflection of the greater suffering of the uppermost being (Christ/Logos) at a smaller scale, but we can’t comprehend this. Our choice is to be like Christ and transcend our suffering. 

Dick wonders about a modified Gnosticism where the world evolved without a creator but an omnipotent being showed up and is now pulling the strings. In this way we can do away with the idea of an inferior creator. He speculates that Zebra is not a creator God but one who has stepped in to add form to the chaos. 

The divine may enter our world from the bottom, from the unassuming, discarded trash just as in Ubik the messages come from commercials (and of course like Dick’s own revelations in his lowbrow sci-fi novels).

Dick seems to see humans as android-like beings who must break out of our mechanization to become whole and reveal the true world.

The Exegesis: Dick’s current state, recalling the pink light and a message in the exegesis

January 1978

Dick is committed to his in-depth studies of Gnosticism. God will eventually take his troubled past and use it to create something meaningful, but he admits at the moment he is happy with “snuff, music and cats, friends and my exegesis…”

The salvation God promises is to rescue us from the prison world that he did not design. Zebra is mimicking a phony world and so this fake of a fake world will end up being the real world.  

Dick recalls the moment when he was listening to the Beatles and he first saw the pink light which told him his young son had a hernia that needed surgery. He envisions us as part of a living organism controlled by an AI-like mind, and we are a glitch in the system which the AI is trying to repair. 

He falls asleep listening to Brian Eno’s Discreet Music which puts his brain in an alpha state. When he wakes up he realizes whatever visited him (and his wife Tessa in 12/77?) was an Extraterrestrial Intelligence. 

He decides Zebra is not the Holy Spirit but instead is likely Christ. He follows that with some circular confusing notes about his Exegesis all to conclude, I think, that the message is Christ loves us.

The Exegesis: Interpreting a dream of three worlds

August – September 1977

Dick has a dream about a wall of beef, an electronic artifact and religious writing. He interprets this to mean the artifact stands for (1) an electronic construct, the beef stands for (2) nature and the religious writing stands for (3) the Logos. He compares the Logos to the punched computer roll in the chest of the robot Garson Poole in “The Electric Ant” and the ship’s computer in A Maze of Death which creates the false world. He follows this with some circular logic about how the three environments interact. He thinks we exist somewhere between nature and the electronic construct without being aware of it. Also circular is Dick’s tendency to look for clues to what happened to him in his own stories when he is the one who wrote them.

He speculates the Logos is the code that creates the electronic world, and he explains how he thinks it is possible to break through from one level to the next. He think Zebra in level 1 will invade level 3, but level 2 is necessary as an incubator of sorts for 1 to get there. Just as in Ubik he sees information from 1 breaking through into 2 as 2 becomes less real. Eventually 3 will absorb 2, and 3 and 1 will join together.

His vision of Rome in 3-74 was level 1 bleeding through 2 on its way to 3. He sums this up: realm 2 is being woven in to realm 3 which is a replication of realm 1 which is doing the weaving. 

The Exegesis: An insect metamorphosis, the meaning of the mystery & Dick’s relationship with time

June-August 1977

Dick lists the four worlds: the black iron prison (which he calls Rome/USSR/Fascist USA), the normal world, the garden world, and what I believe he is calling the normal world in which one can see Zebra. The normal world is created by Zebra and also includes Zebra in its very fabric. He tries to explain all of this using an analogy (which he says is not an analogy) of a cocoon and a butterfly. 

The black iron prison is going through an insect-like metamorphosis to transform into the garden world, and I think he means the normal world is the cocoon state. This entry isn’t entirely clear to me. He says the speech he gave at a science fiction convention in Metz, France in 1977 was “correct but not radical enough.”

The transformation into our final form could happen instantly which is what the eschatological aspects of religion are dealing with. 

Dick wonders why the entity doesn’t just clear everything up, since it has the ability to transfer information directly to our minds. Perhaps it has been trying but we have limited abilities to make sense of it. It might only be a mystery because we can’t understand it, not because it is intrinsically mysterious. 

In Time Out of Joint he wrote about a phony 1950s world concealing a “real” world in the future. That is the inverse of what he experienced with a fake present world and a real world in the past of 70 A.D. He confronts his own relationship to time and asks who, when and where he is.

The only entry in folder 33 says: “The other night as I was going to sleep I was wondering who could ‘de-stegenographize’ the hidden material in my writing — and the spirit responded with ‘[those who are] conscious.’” Make of that what you will.

The Exegesis: Asking the right questions, layers in time & a model of Dick’s journey

March 1977

In 1951 Dick began to guess about the nature of reality in his stories and novels. In 3-74 he found his answer: an AI-like entity (aka Zebra/Christ) creates reality which then guides us. Most people don’t ever realize this because they don’t ask the right questions.

The temporal axis of the universe consists of infinite layers, and Dick’s great discovery is how it’s possible to move backward through time down through these layers. Our experience of time is moving upwards, adding layers, but we can retrieve the prior ones. He wonders if Gnostic Christianity triumphed over faith Christianity. He believes man will one day hear God directly again. He follows this up with some sketches that map his timeline journey back to 70 A.D. before returning to an alternate 1974.  

Dick sees his writing as a guide that teaches us to look beyond what we think is reality. He is not sure if what he saw in the past was the only definitive 70 A.D. or just one of many.