The Exegesis: Kathy’s beauty and failure to overcome pain

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
Buy it on Amazon

Early 1981

Dick ruminates on the beauty of Kathy, a young woman he had a relationship with in the early 70s in between wife number four Nancy and wife number five Tessa. How is it possible Kathy is more beautiful than the beauty of God? It’s a question he doesn’t have an answer for. He told the story of losing Kathy in VALIS, as Horselover Fat loses Gloria but finds God. He realizes he’s been writing this autobiographical story of heartbreak again and again (in Flow my Tears, Scanner and now VALIS) but unlike his novels the substitution of God for the women in his life was not an adequate replacement.

One constant in his stories, at least going back to Flow my Tears, is pain, or specifically the comprehension of pain. He calls it the basis of his writing. Loss and suffering are unexplainable and attempts to makes sense of them through philosophy or religion are an irrational sign of madness. This makes him insane of course, but this insanity in an insane world is a paradoxical form of sanity. He confronts the pain head on, unlike everyone else who goes mad while avoiding and denying pain. This circular reasoning doesn’t offer him any answers, and his failure to solve the problem of pain indicates a greater failure of all mankind. 

Dick calls himself a fictionalizing philosopher, not a novelist, as he is trying to express truth not art. Like him, the people drawn to his stories want to understand the irrational world, but unfortunately no answer is coming. 

Dick has shown that our entire worldview is false and reiterates he is a failure because he doesn’t know what to replace it with. He needs a Plato to his Socrates to come along and figure it all out. Plato though had it all wrong. Instead of the particular becoming the universal we need to look for truth in the particular. In a drug-inspired reverie he hopes that the particular of Kathy will one day become permanently distributed in reality.