The Exegesis: Dialectics, an all-controlling computer & the counterculture

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
Buy it on Amazon

December 1979

Valis is outsmarting and swallowing up the irrational. Dick throws around the word dialectic a lot in this section referring to contradictory concepts. Valis is self-generating. Dick is not part of it but also it. He says he continually programs himself for self-punishment. Without the pain he would give up and die. 

The dialectic process is self-perpetuating and the exegesis is an example of this back-and-forth. Stasis = death. 

He speculates (seemingly under the influence of drugs) about how the early Christians, under cover of their religious doctrines, were actually a revolutionary political group. They still exist today and use some sort of computer left on Earth by aliens (aka Valis) to beam out an energy field that controls humans and their history. The aliens, which Dick has decided are 3-eyed, want us to think in this binary, dialectic way, what he calls paratruths rather than one unitary truth. He makes a list of these contradictory paratruth pairs about Valis:

  • it’s evil / it’s good
  • it’s occluding / it’s educating
  • it’s alive / it’s a machine
  • it’s serious / it’s playful
  • it created our reality / it evolved out of our reality
  • it’s human / it’s non-human (God or alien)
  • it’s objectively real / it’s all in his head

He suspects it is some kind of (tender, loving) ship-board computer but admits he can’t prove that.

Dick says the counterculture was what got the U.S. out of Vietnam and thus prevented World War III. He gives himself some credit for this because of his early stories with anti-war themes (see related). He says he might be the sole Marxist S-F writer, and he is still going strong into the 1970s.