Based on thousands of pages of typed and handwritten notes, journal entries, letters, and story sketches, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is the magnificent and imaginative final work of an author who dedicated his life to questioning the nature of reality and perception, the malleability of space and time, and the relationship between the human and the divine. Edited and introduced by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem, this will be the definitive presentation of Dick’s brilliant, and epic, final work. In TheExegesis, Dick documents his eight-year attempt to fathom what he called "2-3-74," a postmodern visionary experience of the entire universe "transformed into information." In entries that sometimes ran to hundreds of pages, Dick tried to write his way into the heart of a cosmic mystery that tested his powers of imagination and invention to the limit, adding to, revising, and discarding theory after theory, mixing in dreams and visionary experiences as they occurred, and pulling it all together in three late novels known as the VALIS trilogy. In this abridgment, Jackson and Lethem serve as guides, taking the reader through the Exegesis and establishing connections with moments in Dick’s life and work.
Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. In 1952, he began writing professionally and proceeded to write numerous novels and short-story collections. He won the Hugo Award for the best novel in 1962 for The Man in the High Castle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year in 1974 for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. Philip K. Dick died on March 2, 1982, in Santa Ana, California, of heart failure following a stroke.
In addition to 44 published novels, Dick wrote approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime. Although Dick spent most of his career as a writer in near-poverty, ten of his stories have been adapted into popular films since his death, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, and The Adjustment Bureau. In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the one hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923. In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.
In other reviews about a PKD novel like Ubik or The Man in the High Castle I have invited new readers to come and try with the offer that this was a good introduction to Dick’s work. The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick will get no such invitation, this is advanced PKD study. But for a true fan, who has read much of his work and who will appreciate the references to many of his novels, this is a taxing but ultimately rewarding graduate level course.
Taken from a wealth of papers, essays, notes and letters written from 1974 until his death in 1982, this is an intimate glimpse of a brilliant American mind. This tracks Phil’s experiences with mystical hallucinations in early 1974 and his development of the VALIS trilogy and Radio Free Albemuth. What also makes this fascinating reading is the thoughtful and dedicated editing, with illuminating footnotes and commentary by PKD scholars. Amidst the sometimes meandering, but brilliantly erudite writing are also references to his friendships with other authors such as Ursula K. LeGuin, Theodore Sturgeon, Philip Jose Farmer, and Stanislaw Lem.
Perhaps the most compelling element of the Exegesis, and one whose theme runs throughout this work, is PKD’s learned fascination with Christianity. In most of Dick’s fiction, the reader will see a penchant for theological and philosophical undertones; the Exegesis reveals the depth and breadth of Dick’s knowledge and, more than that, his far-reaching curiosity and absorption on the subject. Of course Phil was not a Bible thumping, conservative right wing Christian, but rather a radical, first century, subversive Christ follower.
Not for the faint of heart, and probably only just for true fans, but for those who can demonstrate the fortitude to make it to the end, the Exegesis is well worth it.
One of the greatest conceits of the species Homo Sapiens is that each member of that species thinks independently. That is to say, every individual has a Mind which is unique and which defines the existence of a separate and distinct person.
This is of course nonsense, as any advertising executive or religious preacher or populist politician knows very well. And the error of this presumption is what Dick’s rambling, aphoristic Exegesis demonstrates so relentlessly. Mind certainly exists, but it is, as the psychologist Carl Jung suggested, a collective phenomenon. Mind is ‘out there’ not ‘’in here.’
This collectivity is something we participate in, not something that we contribute to. The distinction is crucial because Mind exists not inside our heads or other part of our bodies, but somewhere external to ourselves. This species-mind incorporates us into itself. We can neither control it nor understand it. In former times this species-mind was commonly referred to as God. Christianity uses the term Logos, the Word, which has existed eternally, as the creative force that drives our world.*
The writer of the Gospel of John used the term Logos metaphorically to refer to Christ before he became a human being. The metaphor is entirely apt. In fact it is unlikely that he could have found a better one. As human beings, we exist within language. We are trapped within it. We are totally dependent upon it to sustain us. And as semioticians have noted, it is not possible to determine when our language capability began. It is effectively eternal.
In Dick’s work, the Logos is never far away and it is a running theme throughout Exegesis and in most of his fiction. In his novel Ubik, for example, the Logos, the voice of God, addresses all living creatures. The voice gives all their prospective reason for being. And for Homo Sapiens it also provides Reason, the ability to understand prospective reasoning. In Ubik, the Logos as the end-point of all existence ‘leaks back’ in time becoming a force that doesn’t just attract but also drives the world toward its true destiny.
Dick knows that the Logos must never be confused with the language that we speak. This is what makes him a mystic. The Word can never be captured in words. The Logos is the source of our species-wordiness. It promotes the ever-increasing use of language as a sort of glorification of itself. But the words are necessarily incomplete, and consequently senseless. More words must be produced as therapy for the already failed words. The Logos is unremitting in its pressure.
As human beings, we cannot escape the Logos. We try constantly to do so by analysing it, explaining it, even begging it for guidance. None of this is effective since they all involve the very thing in which we are imprisoned, the gift of the Logos - language. The Logos demands not attention or adoration but submission, that is to say, the giving up of the struggle to escape. This means recognising that the gift of language is simply that, a gift. It is not, as we are prone to believe, a representation much less a replacement for reality. The Logos is reality and will not tolerate presumption on its turf.
Dick’s revelations about the Logos are not mere repetitions of previous mystics. They are... well, revelatory, an unhiding of the way things are. Arguably his greatest theological insight is that the Logos, in addition to being a guide and comforter and the essence of our being, is also a tormentor. It gives expressiveness to us only to reveal how little expression we have and how trivial it is. It tortures those to whom it is closest, humiliating them by forcing them to employ language that is inadequate. It teases constantly that the ‘next time’ we write or speak will bring us closer to itself. Of course it never does. For the Logos, this is a mode of play. So Dick respected, perhaps even loved, the Logos. But he never worshipped it. Dick was not a religious man in any sense other than that he recognised the importance of what lay beyond language.
By any definition, and for whatever reasons of genetics, psychological experience or 60’s pharmacology. Dick had spiritual revelations in the mid- 1970’s which he described quite matter-of-factly and cogently to his friends and used effectively and with considerable artistry in his novels. These experiences are, I think, correctly compared with those of Teresa of Avila and other great medieval mystics. And his descriptions of being ‘taken over’ by these experiences conform precisely to the conditions of true theological understanding of religion as laid out by, for example, Karl Barth during the 20th century.
Mystics from at least Isaiah onwards are never appreciated fully in their own time. This is largely due to their intimate relationship with the Logos, a relationship which is revealed in their hyper-attachment and simultaneous hyper-disrespect for the words of human language. And so it has been with Dick who was largely rejected as a great writer until he was dead. Like all mystics, Dick uses words in order to distort them, to show, among other things that they are not reality. Science fiction, therefore, is a natural genre in which to express our complicated dependence on that entity that exists neither objectively on its own, nor subjectively as entirely separated from us, but inter-subjectively, that is ‘God among us,’ another name for Mind.
*AKA Virgil’s universal immanent mind, the Greek god Apollo, the Platonic Nous, the Zoroastrian Mazda, the Judaic Shekinah, the Hindu Brahmin and Dick’s own Ubik among so many others
Postscript: I find it eerie as well as interesting that in my news feed I discovered this article about cosmic particles detected in Antarctica suspiciously like the tachyons that Dick thought gave him his visions: https://apple.news/AP500ID96RjeOqVdYB...
This wasn’t an easy book to read. Lacking in structure, consistency, or even payoff, one has to wonder what could be the point in reading it. And yet, I’ve read it twice and now I’ve changed my rating to 5 stars. What gives?
“So,” I asked myself, “How did you like the book?” I needed to look at myself for several minutes to let the meaning of my statement sink in. A pink beam of light streamed into my skull and gave me visions of post-modern paintings at the rate of three-million per second, only stop in mid-blurp to tell me that the pink light is actually the Godhead, that the Empire Never Ended, that I’m still cribbing Valis, and you haven’t fucking seen anything, yet, motherfucker. The pink beam then just chuckled to herself for eight years and forced me to write about her the meaning of her to the tune of over one million words. I said to myself, “Thank God you’ve got a sense of humor, or this would have been completely unbearable.” I continued back at myself, “Thank God that we’ve got a team of dedicated editors and/or hidden gnostic survivors from the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD who are able and willing to sort THAT mess out. I don’t care that Farris F. Freemont (666) got ousted from office in 1974. The fact that I’m here is proof that the Demiurge is still under the waters, dead but dreaming, and all of my admittedly mad ramblings are a call to arms for all true believers and we need to rise up and perform Anamnesis on ourselves. I mean, now. You know, 70 AD.” I said, “We’re under the gun, here.” I asked, “You mean sword? Hmmm.” So I asked myself one last time, “Am I bat-shit crazy?” I answered myself, “Hell no. I’m saner than I’ve ever been. Besides, after seeing an infinity of punch cards put before me by God is an example that no amount of words can express the Infinity That I Am (Binary); that I no longer think that I work for God, I’m just a dupe of Satan/Demiurge/Dross Matter of the Universe; and I’ve just woken up for the four-hundredth time to the immense realization that reality is nothing that we see, that Ubik is Jesus, and pot really opens up my mind.” I said, “But you really love that David Bowie movie, (The Man Who Fell To Earth) enough to see the opening up of all possible realities and that Spinoza is actually right, after all.” I really had to reply to this jab: “At least I’m enlightened. P.S. don’t tell anyone, and make sure you burn this Exegesis, ok?”
(And now, for the The Really Strange Part: I honestly don’t think PKD is crazy. His working notes are information-rich and dense, philosophically diverse and deep. Like anyone, his views change over time, but he is almost excessively intense about his inner life. He just sounds like a sci-fi author who thinks deeply about all of the things he wants to understand. The only difference is the sheer volume of words he’s devoted to it; and after all, phylogeny recapitulates Philagony. Viva la PKD.)
This book will not be for everyone, not even PKD fans. The book is tasking and frustrating and at times mind boggling. This is not one of Mr. Dick's novels, though I believe he poured out ideas for his novels in this context. He expounded on these ideas, he contradicts these ideas, rejected these ideas and kept on documenting more ideas and thoughts than one would believe would be humanly and sanely possible.
The man was brilliant, fascinating, engaging, creative and perhaps the most insightful person one could ever hope to encounter. An analogy may perhaps be a ballet / jazz dancer moving to cosmic symphonies only with words.
I had to read this book in small chunks in order to try and just to use Heinlein's word "grok" what was going on. A complexly non linear reading experience well worth the time if your willing to invest that much into someone's thought process.
7. A Complex Confusion of Fiction, Nonfiction, and Revelation
I'm studying this as part of my project of reading long, complex texts (see notes on Burton's "Anatomy of Melancholy," Szentkuthy's "Prae," Nabokov's notes on "Eugene Onegin"). Dick's "exegesis" of several irrational, mystical or revelatory experiences he had in February and March 1974 occupied him for the remainder of his life; this is a 940-page excerpt from 8,000 pages of notes.
The book has received some simplistic reviews. Charles Platt said it wasn't as important as Dick's writing, that Dick was often drunk when he was writing, and that he had a sense of humor about it -- a reckless summary judgment about a project that occupied its author for eight years. (Platt, "The Voices in Philip K. Dick's Head," New York Times, December 16, 2011.)
For me the remarkable property of this archive is the way Dick, the fiction writer, came to think of his own texts as sources to help explain his experiences. At various points between 1974 and his death (when he was still at work on the "Exegesis"), novels like A Scanner Darkly went from science fiction to documentation, and the way they did so is not clear in the "Exegesis" itself -- it seems to have been tenuous and often invisible to the writer himself.
1. How fiction becomes archive
At one point, Dick says "my writing casts doubt on the fact of... knowing actual reality because our minds have been fucked over." He doesn't mean this as a literary critic: he means it literally, as if his fiction had become science or serious theology. A line later, he says that "Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said" provides "some evidence" that "the real situation" (of people) is "prison-like," while other novels "point to" a "supernatural salvific interventive power." This is all consistent, but then he says "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" "seems to say" that an "evil magician deity is in control of our worlds and heads." (p. 406). That "seems to say" is uncanny: it might mean the novel's narrative "could be read as implying" such a deity, or it might mean the novel may be evidence of such a deity in the world. A few lines later there's the one-word sentence "Strange," and then then there's this:
"Does this book [A Scanner Darkly], then, seem to say, 'Maybe portions of the others are literally real, too?' The author does not now pretend to be writing fiction..." [p. 407]
It's an astounding conflation of fiction with documentation, and of the published fiction author with "the author" of the "Exegesis." Much of the book proceeds this way. At one point Dick writes that the indications are that his "novels are literally true," but at the same time, he thinks, they may be more autobiographies than fiction, and in fact they may even be "appeals for help" (p. 412). Readers of "Exegesis" have naturally stressed the otherworldly nature of Dick's experiences in 1974, but if I subtract the strangeness of those experiences, his seriousness about his own output, and his investment in understanding its truths, would be strikingly similar to many other authors, from Freud to Proust.
The theology, ontology, and eschatology Dick works out make an almost perfect match with the commonest elements of his novels: a higher power has descended into creation, disguised itself, and then forgotten its own action and its disguise, but it has left a clue or a sign for itself that will remind it, sometimes imperfectly and with consequences, of its origins. Sometimes that plot is repeated, Russian-doll fashion; sometimes the power is alien, sometimes corporate. But the fundamental strategy that puts the plots in motion is the immersion, or appearance, of the hero in a world where he does not belong, where he is shielded, for a time, from his real nature. Weirdly -- but what isn't weird here? -- Dick never seems to realize the outlines of this story are the Christian story of the incarnation (for example, p. 413).
One of the folders of the manuscript suddenly presents portions of the novel "VALIS." Pamela Jackson says the surprise cuts "like a knife." "Where did this voice come from?" she asks. "The novel gives us... a self-reflection by the author on his own hyperbolic... imagination," and after some pages Dick regains his voice and continues his exegesis (p. 451). This is doubly odd given that readers of the novel "VALIS" have remarked on the entanglement of the implied author (Dick) and the principal character (Fat).
On the one hand, fiction intrudes into nonfiction as evidence; on the other hand, autobiography intrudes into fiction as literary device: an amazing mirrored confusion and conflation, exactly the sort of plot device in Dick's other fictions.
2. The commentators' problems
This edition of "Exegesis" is a little like a Talmud in that it has footnotes by a number of scholars who are identified only by their initials. Among them are a philosopher, a scientist turned cultural critic, and three theologians. (Platt, "The Voices in Philip K. Dick's Head.")
Simon Critchley keeps Dick at a safe distance, commenting only on his indebtedness to Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and others (eg, notes on pp. 496, 547). Kate Hayles contributes a couple of acute footnotes on Dick's manner of reasoning, which reminded me of Ermanno Bencivenga's attempts to reconstruct what counted, for St. Anselm, as logic (see Hayles's notes on pp. 232, 475), but for the most part her notes propose links between Dick's ideas and late 20th century science (pp. 673, 683, 694, 708, 710).
The dozen or so scholars who contributed footnotes are all on the horns of the dilemma: how fully is it possible to read the "Exegesis"? Can it be read as anything more than an expressive diary? Can it be read as a theological inquiry? As a revelation about time and space (as Dick experienced it, at least when he wasn't doubting himself)? Literary criticism is especially helpless on this point, as the widely divergent footnotes suggest.
3. A possible parallel
Dick's persistence in decoding his mystical experiences has precedents, for example, in Jakob Boehme, who wrote a number of books to interpret visions he had in 1610 and afterward. (Dick only knew Boehme from an encyclopedia entry, which he read "by mistake"; p. 286.) In a very different sense, memoirists have used their own writings as documents; Proust's narrator uses some of his early attempts at prose fiction as evidence of his childhood -- but that's a wholly different matter than re-experiencing one's earlier prose as an "intricate and unconscious precursor" of one's visions. (Jonathan Lethem and Pamela Jackson, "Introduction," p. xiii.)
It is probably impossible for anyone who has read Dick's novels as fiction to re-read them as archives of revelation; but in another sense what Dick does in "Exegesis" is entirely comprehensible, because fictions are certainly commonly unconscious or inadvertent articulations of their authors' beliefs. In that sense "Exegesis" is a reading of fiction for real-world truths, no different in that regard than ordinary political, social, or economic reading of literature. (And there's even a tempting parallel to the weirdness of Dick's readings in Graham Harman's book on H.P. Lovecraft.) And yet Dick's book really is something different, because it does not read his fiction as evidence of real-world truths, but as documents of real-world truths: not as fiction from which we might learn about the world, but as archival material reporting directly on that world.
I wonder if the closest parallel to "Exegesis" is Schreber's Memoirs of My Mental Illness, in which a skilled judge argues that even though he is psychotic he deserves to be released from his asylum. But even there, the situation is simpler: Schreber was writing an autobiographical document, not a novel, and even though he recognized some of the things he said would not be taken as real by any of his readers, he did not present them as fictions; and he was not vexed by indecision over whether or not they might ever be taken that way.
For any reader who is unfamiliar with the author Philip K. Dick and his many published stories, I hope that after reading this article you realize what you are missing and you subsequently work to resolve the matter of this deficiency immediately. In other words, please find Dick's novels and read them as if you have been touched by madness. Be a voracious reader with an insatiable appetite for knowledge. You cannot miss the brilliance of this author. Philip K. Dick passed away a few decades ago but he left us with a remarkable and vast collection of novels and short stories, most of which would be classified as science fiction. Even if you are not a fan of this genre, Dick's writing goes well beyond this sometimes limited territory and deals with aspects of religion, philosophy, and pure science. In case you did not know, much of his writing has been adapted for film. Films such as Blade Runner and A Scanner Darkly come directly from Dick's collection, and even films like Minority Report were inspired by some of his shorter writings. He was a true genius who lived an unusual life complete with visions (of a spiritual nature) and ripe with complications. Some consider him a sort of precursor to or partial founder of post-modernism, especially with regard to his focus upon the sociological, political, and cultural experiences in our world. Now, his final (and extensive) work is about to be available for your pleasure and (perhaps if you keep an open mind) enlightenment. The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is the final collection of writing to be offered by Dick to the world. It serves as a means of better understanding his peculiar but powerful views on a wide range of topics but particularly religion and the true nature of the spiritual reality. As an author, he delved deeply and with great care into topics such as personal identity, perception, and the impossibility of a truly objective reality. The Exegesis is a journal-style collection of notes, entries, story sketches, and letters, all of which relate to Dick's remarkable and sometimes surreal experiences with faith and religion. The editors of the work, Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem, have taken great care in compiling and arranging this epic and potent piece. You will not be disappointed... ...If you wish to test yourself with a work that is far from ordinary and almost painfully provocative in its uncanny awareness, do not miss The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, the final novel from Philip Dick. If you are a lover of science fiction (then you should by this point be familiar with Philip Dick's work and you have this novel ordered or already in your collection), do not miss this release. Even if you have no interest in science fiction whatsoever, the importance of this piece cannot be lost. For anyone with an interest in spirituality, the true nature of perception and reality, or science, The Exegesis must at this point be considered a must-read. You will not regret this purchase. For more information about this ultimate work from author Philip K. Dick, look to the following website: http://www.philipkdick.com/new_exeges....
Ok, be prepared to be afraid.Phil Dick was never easy reading, was never an easy person to know and never had any easy answers. His close reading of the Gnostics and Jung and the Cosmologists lead to the writing of VALIS and this (shortened) version of his thoughts on God, The Gnostics and cosmology.It is not an easy read because Phil Dick is so distracted that thoughts come thick and fast and although overlaid with his undoubted scholarship they lack a lot of rigour, both in their theological statement and also their sense of an ongoing rationality. At times they resemble the blatherings of an alternative hippie writer and at others they seem to point towards a new form of rationality.It leads one to the conclusion that Phil was about to be consumed by all this before his untimely death and so, caveat dear reader, this is tough stuff but it is the outpourings of a mind that produced some of the finest writing of his era.
I don't feel it was meant to be published in this way, though the editors did a great job making something surprisingly readable out of the whole mess, and provided excellent notes to explain things, I felt perhaps, might have been obtuse.
There is definitely genius there: great research and remarkable associations made. This is perhaps PKD's primary talent, but it is in my opinion, more a study of one who may be falling into the depths of psychosis.
I read the Syd Barrett biography "An Irregular Head". After Barrett's death, due to complications with diabetes, files, papers and notes were found in his apartment all pertaining to the effects and causes of schizophrenia. Near the end of his life, Roger Keith Barrett was privately researching, trying to understand what had happened to him; what was obviously wrong; trying to wrap his "irregular head" around it.
PKD's Exegesis was very much the same type of activity.
It is a wonderful insight on what PKD was going through between the late sixties until his death in late 1982 (it notes the important date of 2-3-74, but it is clear that his odyssey had begun well before that). One who is fascinated with anything that PKD had ever put on paper will find this a sort of holy grail, but, for the average curious read, it could have been paired down even further. There are many redundancies and unnecessary repetition. I understand the point to be noted is PKD's perpetual reassessment of the meaning of his experience, but this seems to be an actual pen (or type) to paper of someone struggling to wake from a two decade long delusional dream state.
The best and most interesting parts are the connections he attempts at making between his 2-3-74 experience and his published fiction as if he had been a subconscious profit at a Biblical scale? (I'm not quite sure as to how to properly express this idea). It seems that PKD was well aware that delusions of grander are a common symptom of schizophrenia.
Simultaneously fascinating and very disturbing read.
[review 3] There he said it, Valis is true. What else to do want? What else could you possible want?
[review 4] If the original document is 9,000 pages there had to be a lot more editors than just PJ and JL. And there were, and they are credited by only PJ and JL are on the jacket. I’m guessing PJ did most work and JL has the most name recognition.
2011. When time stops, "the substrate is revealed." So begins this edition of PKD's end-of-life compulsion to understand the revelation he experienced in February 1974 then again in March. He may have seen through to the underlying reality of, well, our perception of reality. Or he may have had a small stroke. Or he may have had an acid flashback. Or he may have been visited by a superior intelligence.
PKD explores every possible angle for his sudden insight by writing mostly by hand nearly every night for the remaining eight and a half years of his life. He analyzed himself and his own work especially ten novels he felt to be form a meta novel. He continued to produce novels and was working on still another when he died. He had reached a point in his career where money began to flow a bit more freely, a fan base had grown, international markets were bestowing more praise than his home country, and SF conventions were inviting him to keynote and paying for his trips. His overriding ambition throughout everything was to understand the above revelation. He wrote; he debated with himself; he called his friends in the middle of the night with further insights; he figured it all out only to dismiss his findings in the cold harsh light of the next morning when he'd start the process all over again.
It's not clear to me if PKD ever meant for any of this work to be published, but I'd guess from my layman's distance that he probably did. He wrote mostly by hand and didn't bother to keep the material in an orderly fashion, but he had enough faith in his reputation to expect future biographers to come in after his death and sort through the mess he left behind. Friends even spotted him carting stacks of handwritten material to the incinerator at times, meaning he did dispose of something, which meant he did allow the rest of his pages to survive.
I spent months reading The Exegesis. The material was too dense for me to read more than ten to twenty pages at a time. This edition runs to 900 pages. I didn't want to race through it. I wanted to think about it. Let the ideas linger, maybe fester, maybe germinate. And unusual for me, I expect to return to the book from time to time just to jump in for a blast of PKDickiana. I like how he challenges everything, every idea and solution he conjures, how he takes the BUT WHAT IF opposite side of every auto-debate.
It's his process of exploration that I find most intriguing. How he hammers unrelentingly at a problem to see just how malleable are the assumptions upon which we base our worldview.
If you like PKD, and if you like digging into a writer's journals for insight into how and why he wrote what he did, you'll like Exegesis. If you aren't familiar with PKD, this is still a violently good read. And if you stick with it, you'll end up reading his novels which is exactly what you should do after you finally make his intimate acquaintance.
I started reading this the day that Bowie died. It is pretty amazing, genius and very mad. PKD has an experience where he deliberately tries to get the different hemispheres of his brain in contact by taking a concoction of vitamins he found is given to schizophrenics. He hallucinates amazing visuals and then through a series of events he thinks he is being given a revelation, possessed first by his friend, then by different people of the past, and currently settled on Erasmus. He is fully aware that he is in one of his novels. That he might have hallucinated it all, but at the same time is very sincere that he has gotten a message from a god like being. It relates very much to his previous novel ubik. It is fascinating reading as it is an incredibly clever and unusual mind trying to make sense of something totally out of the ordinary. He tries and connects up the Greeks, Christianity, and ideas about the flow of time forward and backwards. There is one part where he talks about multiple realities, as he's had dreams of other lives. In one he is poor in Mexico, in one he is famous and travelling the world. He said both were perfect. That each was a full universe created by god to show him that whatever choices he made, that he would still be happy. It was a wonderful and comforting thing. He's also talked a lot about his process of writing novels. Because he is such a writer he incorporates these different experiences and tries to express them in his work. He lays out the ideas for novels, he talks about how in his stories he always tries and incorporates the plots of two different novels, cause he thinks one idea on its own isn't good enough. He says that's why they are so disjointed and often have unanswered questions. (And not cause he was up all night doing speed). The work is a series of letters to friends, his own musings on paper and plot ideas. Only 100 pages in and so much I had to write down before I lost it in the next 800. Next there was a wonderful bit where he remembered his friend who had died from cancer. Who had been reincarnated as his cat that only stayed with them for three years, before it too died of cancer. And another lovely bit where he talked about how prophets were people who remembered the previous reality when God changed it. That they weren't in fact saying how things would be, but how they were in an alternate reality. That was why prophecy never came true as it was something that had already happened. (after I finished) I was going to take notes as I went because there was SO much in this and it changed so much section to section. Every 50 pages or so he thought he'd figured out what the events were and what they meant to him and then it changed. It was fascinating to see how he pursued this and tried to understand the world around him. It was everything that's great about his novels but in a non-fiction form. Any other mind would probably have not given the "events" a second thought and put it down to a false hallucination but to PKD it was real and a mystery and an obsession. What is here is only a fraction of what he wrote but it does give an idea of all the different things and ideas he went through while trying to sort out what happened to him. He goes into a lot of philosophy and Christian theology, my two least favourite things but because it's PKD the approach is still fascinating, though I will admit I did loose interest in certain parts of 1979 when it all became Yahweh, thankfully that passed. One thing that really struck out was how PKD was coping with the loss of his twin sister when she was a baby. So many times he thought of her as the wise female spirit bringing him wisdom. How she was his soul in the last books he wrote. There's great insight into his novels as he interprets and reinterprets them based on his experiences, and how he tries and writes those experiences into new novels. It definitely made me want to go back and re-read Ubik, Vallis trilogy, and several others. I folded down so many pages to make notes from when reading this. There were so many interesting parts to his obsession. One thing I remember noting was how he was offered a huge sum of money to re-write Androids as a tie-in novel for the Bladerunner film, so it would more closely follow the plot of the film. But the original Androids story would never be printed again. Which I thought was particularly hideous (as much as I do love Bladerunner) and I'm very glad he didn't! This is just a fascinating look into one of the most interesting minds of the 20th century. I like to think there is an alternative universe out there where instead of scientology there is a big religious movement among celebrity based on PKD instead. It would be a much more interesting and confussing place. For people who love his books and want to understand or at least know more, I highly recommend this!
Philip K Dick’s search for the fundamental truth behind a life-changing spiritual event that occurred in his life in February 1974. He explores, or exegetes, this event through the lenses of Christianity, Gnosticism, Brahmanism, Sufism, Taoism, quantum mechanics, recursive time travel, and a plethora of other philosophical, theosophical, and science-fictional ideals before concluding that maybe it is the search for meaning that is the real meaning of it all. Along the way we see the modern day become Rome circa 100 AD, a Black Iron Prison world, a simulation run by archonic overseers, and the battle ground for god-like AI moving in opposite directions through time, from the starting point of chaos to order and from order to entropy. The exegesis also serves as a hierarchal structuring of Dick’s oeuvre; he organizes 10 of his novels, stressing the plots of the first five in particular, in such a way as to reveal an overarching meta-novel built along the same framework as the exegesis itself; the world as a lie, a maze, a prison, our only salvation coming from divine inspiration and hidden knowledge. We also see fragments of plots develop for several of his final novels, including the Valis trilogy and at least one unpublished book that explored his fascinating conceptions of multiple souls inhabiting one body, or a sort-of experience grafting, and how the limits of perception could be obliterated through this psychic exchange of experience. A strange, illuminating, obscure, sometimes frustrating and consistently fascinating exploration of the mind of a prolific and probably visionary SF author.
Well, Google defines 'exegesis' as "critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture." I'll accept this definition, since my only alternative to Google seems to be Bing, and I'll be damned if I let Microsoft fuck me up again.
So what is a Philip K Dick?
This is a considerably more complex question. Philip K Dick was a writer whose work was often classified as science fiction during his lifetime. He wrote several great novels. One, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, was famously misadapted into a great movie, Blade Runner, back in the days when Duran Duran was a cultural touchstone. A Scanner Darkly is another successful adaptation, and in my opinion is more faithful to Dick's novel, especially in tone. Other Dick material has been thoroughly trashed by Hollywood (the Total Recalls and Minority Report). Another Dick novel, The Man in the High Castle, won literary science fiction's highest aware, the Hugo. An awesome short story, "Faith of our Fathers,' was originally anthologized in the late '60s seminal anthology of speculative fiction, Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison.
Dick's writing addressed questions such as ... what is reality? What is the nature of God? What does it mean to be human? So why did Dick apparently consider himself scripture?
In 1974, some six months before Nixon resigned, Dick had what some call a mystical experience. Others might say Dick went stark raving nuts. In one version of this paranormal experience, as told by Dick, a pretty young dark-haired woman delivered medicine to his apartment. She wore a golden Christian fish sign necklace. Dick says a beam of pink light appeared from the fish sign and struck him in the head. For a month after this, Dick experienced weird phenomena. He received pre-cognitive information on a potentially fatal birth defect suffered by his infant son, prompting Dick and his wife to rush the child to the hospital, where surgery resolved the issue. Dick spent evenings watching red-and-gold St. Elmo's fire permeate his apartment. He watched thousands of modern art paintings, displayed in a rectangle having the proportions of the Golden Ratio, appear on his wall. He heard voices and felt in his mind the presence of an alien personality. This personality, Dick claimed, fired his agent and his publisher, laying the groundwork for Dick's subsequent financial stability.
Before we go on, let's weigh the sanity question, which I'm sure is now pulsating in your head.
On one half of our balance, let's put what is conventionally termed insanity.
Philip K. Dick. A diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. Heard voices, as documented in the Exegesis. Visual hallucinations, as documented in the Exegesis. At least two suicides attempts. Copious evidence of mania and depression, as documented in the Exegesis. Long history of amphetamine use. Acid trips. Mescaline excursions. Unrepentant pot smoker. Did Dick ever kill anyone? No. What did he do? He wrote. He was kind to cats. The thought of dogs mangled after being run over by a car upset him terribly. He felt intense grief, perhaps guilt, over the one time in his life he had to kill a rat.
On the other side of the balance, let's put what's conventionally called sanity.
Start with the US Presidents. Riotous Ronnie Regan, a man who found himself unable to resist invading small Caribbean nations. Genial George H. W. Bush, who had no qualms about killing thousands of Panamanians in order to incarcerate their leader for "drug dealing." Bumbling Bill Clinton, who, when caught with his penis in a mouth that was not his wife's, fired missiles into foreign countries, and, not done yet, addressed Serbia's genocidal efforts in Kosovo with an American genocide in Serbia. Grinning George W. Bush, a man who launched an invasion against a bankrupt, starved, stone age Arab nation, killed 400,000, and still lost. And of course, the beatified Barack St. Obama, who when confronted by brutes who beheaded idiots who shouldn't have been in a fucking war zone, ordered bombers to fire missiles from 30,000 feet. And, to keep things in perspective, let's put alongside these exemplars of virtue the great American public, corn-fed, Disney-educated, and Oprah-doped, who in one form or another supported these men, decided that so long as the NSA was doing the spying they were OK with it, decried the brain damage inflicted by an NFL, and went to on a tailgate party.
Well, call me crazy but I have firmly come down on the side of insanity.
So what is Dick trying to do in his Exegesis? The full Exegesis is 8,000 - 10,000 mostly handwritten manuscript pages (I've heard varying statements). In these, Dick is desperately attempting to work out what the hell happened to him in February/March 1974. He deploys every concept he can lay his hands on during this attempt. And he doesn't shy from inventing concepts either.
A Christian, he brings Christian theology to bear. Dick is certain Christ visited him. Or God visited him. Or the Holy Spirit visited him. Or Thomas, a second-century CE Christian. Dick's Christianity is a constant theme and he constantly reaches for theological apparatus I've never even heard of.
Were his visions living information and, if so, were they the logos? With the publication of the Nag Hammadi library in 1977, Dick brings Gnosticism into the effort and finds, from time to time, its viewpoints to be in close accord with his experience. Interested in philosophy, Dick attacks 2-3-74 with Parmenides, Heraclitus, Plato, Plotinus, Spinoza, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and others. Philosophical and theological syncretism abounds. Spinozian pantheism? Sure. Platonic idealism? Come on, let's party with Parmenides.
Educated in non-Western religions, Dick brings in concepts from Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Judaism. Brahmanism? Seems like it'll fit. Dharma? It's a concept Dick can use. With yin comes the inevitable yang.
As a science fiction writer, Dick has no qualms with inventing non-orthodox views of time and space. In fact, he uses a concept he calls orthogonal time to explain one aspect of 2-3-74. Dick obsesses over the fact that during this time he saw, superimposed over the landscape of Orange County, California, an image of Roman Syria, circa 40 - 70 CE. For whatever reason, this time period obsesses him (amongst many other obsessions). At points, he seems to believe that 'real time' ceased around 70 CE; that all time since then is an illusion.
And when these theories don't quite fit the experience, syncretism is the way to go. Perhaps it was Yaldabaoth, the malignant deity of the Gnostics, who created the false view of time we humans have; that we really live in apostolic times; that only be striving to reach the form-world of Plato is the way we can break through this illusion; only the Holy Spirit can provide true answers; etc.
If this isn't enough, Wagner, Beethoven, Bach, David Bowie, and Linda Ronstadt guest star in certain episodes. Since there are pre-cognitive elements to 2-3-74, and hence a linear experience of time is meaningless, Dick combs his earlier novels for clues as to what may have happened. In particular he finds Ubik and "Flow my Tears,” the Policeman Said to have bearing on his experience.
Dick is essentially using the scientific method here, strange as it is to say this. He's constructing a hypothesis from elements he knows, a model with which to explain 2-3-74. He tests it against his recollection of his experience. He fails. Every model fails but is never completely rejected. Often, when Dick seems to be examining an old, discarded concept, he's at the very least brought in a new concept. This self-dialectic Dick engages in is by nature circular. This leads to a route which isn't exactly circular. Call it more of a spiral. I couldn't tell you how many times he has a "Eureka!" moment. When he's sure he's explained it. That is latest theory encapsulates it all. Only to find him plugging away at it the next night.
This does tend to make the Exegesis tedious in parts. The Exegesis meanders. It is repetitive. (I almost bailed out at several points.) It is obscure. It is boring. It is exciting. It is banal. It is thrilling. It is confusing. It is illuminating.
The Exegesis is clearly a document written by a paranoid schizophrenic. That's not a slur, that's a diagnosis. It's been said that many mystics of the past would nowadays be called madmen and locked away in padded cells. The Exegesis is a record of an intelligent, compassionate human being who had a mystical experience.
So. Should you read the Exegesis?
If I've not been clear, the Exegesis is not light summer reading. This is the diary of a fascinating, inquisitive madman.
If you find the work of PKD fascinating, as I do, and have read, say Ubik, Flow My Tears, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, A Scanner Darkly, VALIS, and "Faith of our Fathers," and if you like peering into an author's mind, then you may like the Exegesis.
For me, reading the Exegesis has confirmed that my decision, made last spring in response to an ever-sickening world, to study Greek philosophy as my way of escape was correct. The Exegesis convinced me that I should continue reading the Nag Hammadi manuscripts and learn. That, perhaps, reading The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind back in high school was perhaps, just perhaps, prescient. That my fascination with William S. Burroughs' work is not an oddity but stems from something deeper. That it is not wrong to love thinking. And learning. And growth.
In the end, I think of the Exegesis, at least in this edited form, as the chronicle of a hero's journey. I rather like PKD as he appears in his own pages. Flawed, imperfect, highly intelligent, and deeply concerned with the great questions of existence.
There's no conclusion to the Exegesis. Dick died of a stroke in March 1982, still searching. You can't reduce the Exegesis to four bullet points in a PowerPoint presentation. It's a perfect example of why the journey is more important than the destination.
My takeaway? Four future years of future study on philosophy, which is a gift few books have ever given me. The courage to call the American people a pack of murderous madmen. A renewed sense of wonder towards the universe, both outer and inner. Who knows? Maybe I'll finally get to see a real, genuine UFO.
Many of us who have read PKD's visionary novels had been eagerly awaiting the release of this edited version of his magnum opus, The Exegesis.
We weren't disappointed.
The Exegesis is like no other work in the world's mystical literature of which I'm aware. A relentless, probing, moving - and often hilarious - attempt to clarify PKD's profound mystical experiences in February and March of 1974, he created an incredible, encyclopedic discussion of the existing mystical literature of the world - while never committing himself to any one position.
That's one of the things that's so incredible about The Exegesis. Phil never gives us answers - or, rather, he gives us every possible answer. He could easily have defined his system in existing terms - but he relentlessly sought his own truth - rather than committing to any one approach.
That took tremendous courage - I know of no other mystic - with the exception of William Blake - who followed his own vision so honestly - despite the challenges and the loneliness of that course.
And PKD's synthesis is profound. Thought provoking. Unique. While much of what he said resonates with earlier traditions, his own vision - especially of the hidden God he calls Zebra - is unique.
And changes the way I've looked at the universe and God.
"Let people call me crazy; fuck them." -The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
Whenever anyone used to ask me about Philip K. Dick, I would always say "He was a great science fiction author who was also kind of crazy". After reading The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, however, I can no longer say he was crazy. No crazy person can have so much evidence and introspection about what and why they believe as Dick did. In the end, his beliefs made about as much sense as any religion (and he put a loooooot more thought into it than most religious folks do as well. this thousand page brick is just a portion of his total Exegesis), and if we are comparing the invented religions of sci-fi authors, I would take Dick's brand of gnosticism over Hubbard's Scientology any day.
So who should read this? Anyone who wants to know more about Philip K. Dick, anyone who wants an interesting take on modern gnosticism, and anyone who wants a guide on how to read Dick's body of work (he goes deep into the meaning behind his work and even gives suggested reading orders).
I would especially recommend this book to anyone who thinks (like I did) that Dick was just crazy. He was troubled and brilliant, but light years away from crazy.
A great mind turning on itself and turning itself on. A man waiting for the beast in the jungle. This is not a journal or a notebook of ranting this is a novel of ecstatic experience barred from reaching its true potential as a great novel solely by the fact that it is factual and therefore not a novel. But your protagonist is compelling, his insights and running monkeys fascinating and his emotional life intensely sad and beautiful. Is he seeing God, is he seeing the end? You don't quite know. Ecstatic experience belongs to the one having it. How many times have you rolled your eyes when somebody tried to describe their dream or their trip to you?
To have to say Christian Apocalypse, as if there were any other, shows how far adrift the times, for apparently it is not common knowledge that Ezekiel and Daniel, Isaiah and David are its foundation. If you are under 50 say, or have never felt it possible to believe that any of this is so, you should know that unlike the Buddhist world, which has many pleasing insights, the Apocalypse posits a war from the beginning of time. Shall we say time begins when we know it? In this countdown of the war of greater and lesser forces arrayed against humankind Dick's doctrine of the urwelt, the world-skin, and his ur-grund, the ground of being, taken from Paul Tillich's ground of being, posit Dick's notion of two universes, but only one can be seen. His take on super-pot illustrates one way the digitalized see it.
"Super pot ...drugs take you away from enlightenment and consign absolute reality to epiphenomena, which increasingly entrance you, rather that losing their already too strong [a] hold over you; thus we call this intoxication: a deluded state, not enlightenment. ACID AND SUPER POT ARE LIKE THE MONSANTO EXHIBIT in Disneyland where you get smaller [and smaller], i.e., the world gets bigger: your perspective shrinks. In enlightenment your perspective grows and spreads out to fill vast spaces." 534
Of course, what enlightenment is is not, for it DOES NOT EXIST. Of these two universes, the actual is that of the Christian apocalypse, "spatially much vaster than ours, and in terms of time, the present extends back to encompass 2000 years" 532.
It's pointless to refute Dick's notions, as do his editors sometimes. They are embarrassed at his atavism. Especially when he says "Rome, is the prison and the enemy. The secret Christian underground attacks it over a period of 2000 years; and the DEITY ITSELF CAMOUFLAGED IN REALITY [did you hear that!]! A camouflage of Rome sounds absurd since nobody takes Rome as a present reality [which really means everybody does]. However the notions of Rome's emperor gods, tortures, embodiments of Babylon compare to Washington's system of indoctrination. That there is a system of indoctrination we should not doubt. Hence when Dick says inner space differs from person to person, part by corruption, part by camouflage, part by intention, the mind changing, "extending phylogenically," 532 is our blindness. In the end he sounds like Conrad Beissel, Boehme and all who have broken into the "absolute (hermetic) space where the self is Adam Kadmon, unfallen and unoccluded! 532. To professional scholars this is nonsense but only because it's how they make a living. Profs have no clue that the rest of us are satisfied to rest in the completion of ADAM THE SECOND.
You can see a dozen environments on a neighborhood home tour in one day. That's like PKD, when he takes us over to his universe. Dick says there's no universal inner space, which seems likely or not, depending. Astronomers think there's a universal outer space, a universe. Dick's "space phobia" teaches "my conceptions of inner space differing from person to person is very radical and politically subversive" 531, which throws out all the universal archetypes of Jung, https://insightstatutes.blogspot.com/... or rather, part of the indoctrination. I started on Folder 48 and things devolved from there.
Images and thoughts that returned the next day questioned why editors apologize for Dick's theology in this garden of inconsistency, especially when "the true church is forming outside the church" 542, hence the true science outside science, but then he is the first perhaps to write a billion words. Bedrock in these billion is a statement about the gods generally, that of St. Sophia, Buddha, Siddhartha, Apollo, "none of these other names allude to God in the sense that YHWH does. It is as if the others are attributes or cultural (i.e., man-made) hypostases, and YHWH is YHWH; viz: there is no God but God, i.e., the God who "is what he is," the tetragrammaton. The others are names humans give to God; YHWH is the name by which God referred to himself..."He brings into existence what is."" 545
In the indoctrination in the extended Roman prison, he says, "Satan pretends YHWH won; YHWH will cause to exist what Satan pretends (i.e., occludes us into believing) exists. It is a sort of trick played on Satan, but in deadly earnest: to make Satan's "falsework" (pretense) real. A wise strategy." 546 He is preaching the corollary of opposites, that Satan is allowed to think he won, even to the extent of driving YHWH from the urwelt, in order to work some much greater, inconceivable act. Thus "God turns the lie ("God won") into the truth, and Satan is surprised; he didn't foresee this" 546
There are many fans of tricks and tricksters, but not so many that the facetious is the real, the defeated victorious, "those most duped are most right, paradoxically; YHWH takes advantage of the irony and ambiguity to cause to be what seems to be; this is his fundamental power/nature> [and of course it is right out of Romans 5, "calling that which is not as though it were"], so the Christian Apocalypse is in full swing. Thus "the fact is, this is a prison. Satan won in 70 A.D. and the Essenes are dead; but YHWH is instilling them in some of us in the present..."546 "The battle is going on, but Satan is at the center--of government, of church. Still, YHWH has the crucial advantage of a priori foresight. It was revealed to me that ultimately he wins every hand." 546
"For all the gods of the nations are idols - All the gods worshiped by the people of other lands are mere "idols." None of them can claim to have a real existence as gods. The word here rendered "idols" is translated by the Septuagint, δαιμόνια daimonia, "demons." So the Latin Vulgate "daemonia." The Hebrew word - אליל 'ĕlı̂yl - means properly "of nothing, nought, empty, vain." See Job 13:4. The meaning here is, that they were mere nothings; they had no real existence; they were the creations of the imagination; they could not in any sense be regarded as what it was pretended they were; they had no claim to reverence and worship as gods." Barnes' Notes, Psalm 96.5, taken from I Chron 16.26 http://bible.cc/psalms/96-5.htm
II. Holy Cow
Don't necessarily hold it true that a monkey in front of a machine could produce sentences. That said, Phil Dickian, as he calls himself, proves and disproves anything. He reads something and ten minutes later dreams it, not necessarily conclusive, but eidetic. Maybe he has a billion published, words and ten billion thought others, a little bit manic in Santa Ana, to paraphrase Le Guin. He believes in the sibyl, the fortunes, the gnostics and not. One year his best Claudia Bush letters sold for about a thousand bucks each, major statements of these things.
But he's no mentor for piety. When he complains the church and the world both reject him we like that, but not when he profanes the Name he believes in (39). His letters, life and fiction are like paranoids of the large scale chemtrail, mkultra, fema camp crowds, a lot to shake your head. I would have bought the letter where he follows his dream only to find it is a book of Warren G. Harding (14-15). A good joke from the author of a trillion thought words. Stats are greater on thought words than spoken, the number of words spoken in a lifetime is said to be only about 370 million.
Seeing into the other makes the unsanctified paranoid. Dick could never shut up about it. Did you hear about the latest vision I had? He's a little honest in this, not harboring secret pretenses of superiority, thinking he can read minds, influence behavior like a psychologist or government agent. Yet to say unsanctified breaks decorum, implying a greater than the self, a higher being who can topple kingdoms. To vision artists there seem to be many of these. Castenada found datura disorders, but why pretend that salvia freaks, coke freaks, pot, super pot freaks, acid freaks aren't, even to the divine ayahuasca, toppling themselves on the god drug to which pilgrims go to seek enlightenment, meeting in parlors and homes, like the mens' movement echoing, getting naked (psychologically) together in a medicated fog. As if were you only able to see yourself naked either in body and mind you would be whole. http://communities.washingtontimes.co... for in truth it is only when you are clothed that you are whole.
Why pick at spiritual practices, they are all corrupt. Pray without ceasing says the word, which doesn't leave room for eating, at least to the occluded mind. Sit zazen practice says. Clear the mind, focus, be naked, not thinking. Whether this is better than Dick freaking out about the ozone of time and space, well, that is what they do at the super collider, freak out about time and space, try to mash them, dash them to pieces. None of these are like a refiner's fire which purifies the silver word seven times, that when it has been tried, the spirit comes out like fine gold.
Taking meditation, drugs, government agents, hypnotists, doctors of the disordered mind for wisdom is like taking "anima" for Shekhinah 544, the Dickian problem heightened for us in letter after letter, raving about pseudo science of space and time. Is there a quantum being in two places at the same time? Surely! We sit together in heavenly places at the same time we are bound in the flesh we so dearly possess. Do we pray three, seven times a day and without ceasing? Surely yes. Our minds are a constant seeking for the good, the holy, the just. Business execs ask why we love Jesus. Do gooding parents, who thought maybe to teach high school, holy men who call for the good, don't take it to the bed. http://mankindproject.org/ if they take anima for Shekninah! Get naked with your wife where the unspeakable words are not heard because they are not said. Sure the middle of that hour, at its height, there is laughter, insight at the absolution of time, dissolution of space, the passing of the world at defeat of the temporal, of pain, sickness, disease, adversaries diminished into the below by the above. Born from above, a sharing of personhood like a river, sometimes shows the persons who they are. So David shares the personhood of Shekinah, a visitation that like an ephod brings succor, and in relation from Yahweh to spouse, and should you have both Yahweh Yeshua and Shekinah wife you laugh at the telling. Which is why they're laughing at the fire of forgetfulness. About seventy David got cold and they sent a girl to warm him in his bed. Shekinah. No need of telepathy in love, nor memory for love complete itself. The presence of Yahweh Yeshua is complete itself. Dick looks like he tasted, but the husbandman will prune, so the presence will flow. This baptism of the Holy Spirit, Phil calls the H. S., flows like a rushing wind. You hear the sound but don't know where it comes or goes. Born of the spirit is not channeling the divine. It's not practicing. It is being. And in one part of the mind Dick claims what at the same time he complains is not. But it is. In all moments of every day, flowing, nurturing, protecting, "because he loves me says Yahweh, I will rescue him." Some rescue for Noah, more for Jonah, and more for Jesus. See this and forget yourself if you want to be good.
To codify it the Babylonian way, make a Talmud or a Book of the Dead, have priests organize the way to lead, but not like a child. Dick is the little child pastors warn about, call him foolish. Of course he is. The ways of the Holy Spirit have nothing to do with protocols and ordinary life. After you have lived it every day for fifty years you need to know life is lived in different ways simultaneously. To what purpose? To the purpose of living life. We are all living life together, not separately, and the thing we don't say is greater than the one we do say in the embrace of the true spouse, the picture of Shekinah in David's bed when old, the kiss with the kisses of my mouth of Solomon's Song sung over and over in the generations, but never aloud, the river whose streams make glad the city of God. Who is that city. Where is Jerusalem? Clean hands and a pure heart. There goes Dick, dope, practice where the jack of all trades has mastered the mind. Moses said, stop. Stand still. The armies are descending, the voices are roaring, the heart is erupt. Stop. The battle is not ours, won't need those horses or guns. Not a battle of flesh and blood. Not against flesh and blood...who dares say it? Instead, cast down every imagination and high thing that exalts itself against he glory of Yahweh. I bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. That's means give up, or just stop. As the three boys said to the king, "Either he will or he won't, but know O king that we will not bow before you or your idol of riches." Indeed David undid the crown of more than one of these idols, of Malkam, and Joshua put his foot on the neck of these kings. Idols were always being knocked off. "But know oh king that whether he delivers us from the fire or not we will not bow to your image." So it is really the image of the king, the idol, the world sickness, Big Babylon. Standing at the Red Sea winds, water rushing, with pillars of fire and angels all around. He is able to deliver from the fire of affliction. That is the picture. Nothing we can do Phil, except praise the name of our deliverer.
“A great and calamitous sequence of arguments with the universe: poignant, terrifying, ludicrous, and brilliant. The Exegesis is the sort of book associated with legends and madmen, but Dick wasn’t a legend and he wasn’t mad. He lived among us, and was a genius.”—Jonathan Lethem
Based on thousands of pages of typed and handwritten notes, journal entries, letters, and story sketches, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is the magnificent and imaginative final work of an author who dedicated his life to questioning the nature of reality and perception, the malleability of space and time, and the relationship between the human and the divine. Edited and introduced by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem, this is the definitive presentation of Dick’s brilliant, and epic, work.
In the Exegesis, Dick documents his eight-year attempt to fathom what he called “2-3-74,” a postmodern visionary experience of the entire universe “transformed into information.” In entries that sometimes ran to hundreds of pages, in a freewheeling voice that ranges through personal confession, esoteric scholarship, dream accounts, and fictional fugues, Dick tried to write his way into the heart of a cosmic mystery that tested his powers of imagination and invention to the limit. This volume, the culmination of many years of transcription and archival research, has been annotated by the editors and by a unique group of writers and scholars chosen to offer a range of views into one of the most improbable and mind-altering manuscripts ever brought to light.
I"m an enormous Phillip K. Dick fan. This compendium of Dick's philosophical/metaphysical investigations following a visionary experience in the 70's has been edited, impossibly, by novelist Jonathan Lethem, editor Pamela Jackson, plus a number of other of the Dick inner circles, including two or more of his many children (5 marriages.)
Heard it discussed last night on a podcast from the LA Library Aloud Series, a fascinating panel moderated by LA Times book reviewer David Ulin, between Lethem, his editing colleague Jackson, plus one of the Dick daughters and Dick enthusiast/novelist Steve Erickson (Rubicon Beach), the thrust of which followed the journey of bringing this enormous, insanely varied compendium of Dick's papers to a reading public.
Here my 35 year journey ends. I today have finished reading every published work by PKD. I read "The Unreconstructed M" in OMNI magazine in 1981 when I was a sophomore in high school, which led to THE COSMIC PUPPETS, which led to THE UNTELEPORTED MAN, which led to the rest. Today I've read his final words.
This book is PKD's analysis of his own fiction. I suggest you read it after reading everything else he wrote. It made me want to re-read UBIK and DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? and VALIS and many more. Instead of that, first I'll read ONLY APPARENTLY REAL and DIVINE INVASIONS, then I'll re-read the PKD canon and see how far I get before I can't read anymore.
For hardcore Philip K. Dick fans only - Phil tries in various ways to explain his strange "74/3" experience, but fails to convince himself or the reader no matter how outlandish each succcessive theory is. In the end, it's a dispiriting read as ideas are picked up, examined in great detail and then discarded for another unlikely explanation. This is real 1970s California philosophy at its worst.
Sometimes an artist's work should speak for itself. This is one of those times. I'm a hardcore PKD fan. Reading this book is excruciating, hence why it took me almost a whole year to finish it. Dick was everything people said about him, paranoid, delusional and megalomaniacal. He had an original and brilliant mind, which was kept from reaching its true potential because of huge holes in his education. His novels are essential. These notes and letters are mostly garbage.
Such a fascinating book, and I think the editors did a really good job. I wonder if PKD didn't die when he did, how long he would have continued to write The Exegesis. And I also wonder what The Owl in Daylight would be like, if he had of completed it.
I was conflicted by the book as I really wanted to find the magic so many readers articulated in their reviews. I have read a number of biographies and most of Phil's works, so I felt it was time to take the Exegesis and give it a go. I highly recommend the same for anyone who feels strongly about his work as being categorically in a league of it's own. The preparation became a benchmark to take on the Exegesis and ironically led to the lesser number of stars . While the book provides a unique window into his life and mind as well his esoteric view of reality and our world I felt a more satisfying means of getting to know the man was my preparation for the Exegesis. The opportunity to have read some gnostic historical works as well as owning the Gnostic Gospels provided a basis for references that would have otherwise totally perplexed me and aided in deciphering the man's worldview. I still was left puzzled and out of my depth with many of his historical references and it reminded me of Umberto Eco's, Foucault's Pendulum, and the problems posed by the depth of his historical and esoteric knowledge given my corresponding paucity. In conclusion give this a try, but by no means without the benefit of having some biographical history from which to better educate yourself as to the man and his motivations.
I read this some years ago. Well, I read parts of it. It's long. I remember dedicating all of my "reading time" to this book. And I did this for about 2 months. Everything I read here made me think. And it made me think in the way thinking sometimes leads to amazingly creative thoughts. I wrote notes and came up with ideas for stories. These have been the best ideas for stories I have ever had. I still have those notes from all those years ago. I have not even scratched the surface of my ideas. And it's texts like these that excite me. I know I will come back to this book again in the future. And then again. And again, again. It's like the best poetry. You know you will never 100% grasp all that is happening, but the little bits and pieces you are able to decipher and enjoy for yourself? Oh my gawd. So. Worth. It. MIND EXPANSION to the max. Pink rays from outer-space. Truly being ahead of your time. This is better than the best documentary I have ever seen. It's a silent film for the head told in the style of a documentary presented as a thesis/research paper told to you by the most eloquent voice you've ever had the pleasure of reading/hearing/experiencing. You'd swear Philip K. Dick was a being visiting Earth from a(n at least) Type III Civilization...