The Exegesis: VALIS as a political handbook

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
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January-April 1981

Flow My Tears contained two narratives: the political narrative and a “latent” religious one. These two parallel ideas were joined in 3-74 into a revolutionary whole that combined a sort of Marxism with Jewish millenarianism. Dick compares it to the conflict in the Old Testament book of Daniel. He poured this into VALIS, a novel he now views as political and a call to action to help usher in messianic rule. This line of thinking seems to come directly from the 1980 election and inauguration of Reagan who represents to him the Empire.

His political beliefs never changed but now they are bolstered by his religious and philosophical studies over the last seven years. All of this comes together in VALIS which gathers the politics of Flow My Tears, the theology of Deus Irae and the street view of A Scanner Darkly into a total vision.

The 60s revolution, post Nixon, failed after all the leaders in the counterculture had been killed. Dick expects a new savior that will lead the resistance against Reagan’s BIP regime. VALIS is a manifesto and the political playbook. Dick claims his vision of Christ gives him the authority to lead this political charge, and says he is coming out into the open as one of the secret true Christians who have been in hiding for so long.

Dick realizes something “obvious” after rereading Flow My Tears: it is a retelling of the Greek tragedy The Bacchae about the god Dionysus. He credits Dionysus’s “stoned magic” for enlightening him about what really happened in 3-74. He draws a line from Dionysus to Elijah to Jesus and imagines Dionysus as the Christians destroying the BIP. VALIS spells out this evolution from Dionysus to Christ and then further details Christ returning to the eleven grieving disciples. Dick didn’t understand any of this when writing the book and wonders if anyone else will figure it out.