Yesterday I was thrilled to discover that the SF Public Library had Philip K. Dick’s exegesis on audio. It is 43 compact discs. If you don’t know who Philip K. Dick is I can’t help wondering why you are even reading this. But for those few uninformed souls, Philip K. Dick was a science fiction author, quite a prolific one given his short life. Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, and Minority Report are all based on his novels. In 1973 he had quite an extraordinary experience. A woman showed up at his door, wearing a Christian fish symbol around her neck. The sight of her and this symbol triggered something. The question is what. A beam of pink light, if in fact it was light, struck Philip in the forehead and he heard what seemed to be an artificially intelligent voice emanating from a satellite. This voice identified itself as VALIS, a vast active living intelligence system. It told Philip many things. It let Dick know that he in fact existed in the first century AD, at the same time as 1973 AD, and that in fact everything since the first century AD was an artificial construct. In fact, the Roman Empire never ended. There was a great deal of information which Philip K. Dick attempted to come to grips with in three novels, Valis, the Transmigration of Timothy Archer, and the Divine Invasion. He also kept a journal, or as he called it, an exegesis, which wasn’t meant for publication. It was his musings on everything and anything, sort of like my blog, come to think of it. Except his exegesis all ultimately came back to VALIS and it’s message. He thought he may be succumbing to schizophrenia, and then felt he was privy to a divine revelation, or perhaps some kind of download using a pink laser. He speculated that the message ultimately originated from Sirius. Sirius. It always comes back to Sirius. It is hard to take it Sirius. Sorry. I couldn’t resist. Sirius plays a role in the history of esoteric knowledge. Some insist that the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians were in direct contact with Sirius, or even that the human race was created by Sirians. They may be our ancestors. Sirius, for the uninformed reader, is a double star system many many light years away. We don’t know if it has planets. But interestingly, there are maps of Sirius created by ancient Africans who did not have the means to physically see the star system. I’m not sure what to think, but it certainly stimulates my imagination. One thing is for sure, the Sirians have been trying to tell us things for centuries. VALIS is one of the more interesting examples. It is hard to know if Philip Dick really thought the communication was from Sirius. He would argue with himself in novel form and in the exegesis. He tried out different scenarios, both as ideas for novels, and as serious philosophical speculation. To tell you the truth, I don’t think Phil knew quite what to think about his experience except to insist that it did indeed occur, and leave it at that.
But it is damn near impossible to leave it at that. I have only listened to a tiny tiny portion of the exegesis so far, and I listened to it on shuffle because it makes sense to listen to random portions. This is not a linear narrative to begin with. What is clear from the outset is that Dick is a brilliant man. He refers to religious sources, philosophical sources, and combines them in novel ways. He arrives at ideas that are sometimes obtuse and hopelessly obscure, or startlingly lucid and clear. Could we be software? Could we be virtual avatars? Is the universe part of a vast network of intelligence far beyond our ability to comprehend? That is certainly what the Hindus appear to have believed and their writings are among the Earth’s oldest. Could it be that the multiverses interact in a way quite similar to the internet? It may be that what we learn about cybernetics could provide insight into the very structure of reality. Maybe. Who knows? I try to stay grounded when I go off into wild speculations inspired by this exegesis. So did Philip K.Dick. He knew much of what he wrote seemed crazy to a lot of people, and in many ways, he didn’t care. He had lived his life on the fringes of society for so long it no longer mattered what the mainstream media thought. I applaud his courage. He could have kept his speculations and his bizarre experience veiled within his fiction, but instead he declared it to be true. As I get further along in my listening to his exegesis, I will likely post more about it. We are so limited by our senses and our feeble tools. There is undoubtedly a lot more going on than we have a clue about. Philip K. Dick may provide us a window into this vast unknown. Check your library, or check online for a way to purchase this amazing bit of writing. It is probably most suitable for Dickheads like myself, but you may get a lot out of it anyhow.