Wednesday, April 4, 2007

"This is what my acosmic ten-volume unique meta-novel deals with."

I was browsing the collection of pages from the Exegesis posted over at and while I normally don't have much interest in these writings, I thought this one was remarkably focused and insightful as well as relevant to the last post on The Penultimate Truth. I think Dick is referring to ten of the fifteen novels he composed in quick succession between 1961 and 1966 (eight of which I believe Disch lists in the post below) as "acosmic [I cannot determine whether acosmic is a typo or intentional - perhaps functioning like "atypical"] ten-volume unique meta-novel." What Dick seems to be saying on this page is that the cumulative truth of these novels is that our reality is an illusion projected over a dead world. Dick is equating destiny (heimarmene is the term from Gnosticism Dick uses), with a kind of computer program, a reality projected over truth; our reality is stored on and generated from a tape recording -- If Dick were alive he would have loved "The Matrix" but would probably have several lawsuits filed against the Wachowski Brothers; they stole all of his ideas.

Of course he'd be wearing this!

Freud, who saw a deep connection between narcissism and paranoia, would certainly have taken note of the incredible self-importance displayed in Dick's perspective. Note how everyone but Dick is fooled by an illusory world that somehow he has recognized as false. Many authors, (Sutin, and Carrere to name just two) have noted the remarkable similarities between Dick's delusions and the psychosis of nineteenth century German Judge Daniel Paul Schreber who believed God wished to turn him into a woman so that God's rays could fertilize him with spore-like salvation maggots.

While many view the Exegesis, Dick's four thousand page chronicle of his "mystical experiences" and his subsequent efforts to understand what had happened to him, as prophetic, I read The Exegesis as evidence of the obsessional strength of Dick's desire to ultimately understand what happened to him -- An all consuming and, ultimately, futile fight to rationalize something irrational.

What do you think of the Exegesis?


MDK said...

Honestly David?

A lot of what is in the Exegesis is mental chatter. Phil was a writer. It's what he did. He had to write every possible theory he could think of. Personally, I believe a lot of it obfuscates what really needed to be said. What That is, however, I'll leave for You to decide.

Nicholas Musurca said...

I agree. One of the most affecting aspects of "VALIS," I think, is how an essentially sane person attempts to cope with insane circumstances by literally splitting his personality in two: making his skepticism and his mysticism compete as separate characters (and giving the narration to the skeptic for "much-needed perspective"). Of course, in the novel, VALIS makes the schismatic whole - not so in reality. When I flip through "The Exegesis," I imagine that Horselover Fat is writing it - not Philip K. Dick.

Anonymous said...

I can't cope with reading the exegesis for long - and I've only really come across it in VALIS. Not being particularly religious myself I find it quite insane and scary.

Anonymous said...

When "In Pursuit of VALIS" came out, a mid-list SF writer came into the bookstore where I worked. We started talking about recent releases and I mentioned the Exegesis to him.

"Do you believe it?" he asked.

"Well," I said, "I don't know. I believe that something happened to him."

"You do know that Phil Dick was a notorious liar, right?"


giospurs said...

Yeah, so Phil clearly wrote thousands of pages to fool his devoted readers. That would really confirm his insanity.

Anyway, what is the general consensus on the exegesis. Did Phil really believe it all? I can't believe that he did but then it wasn't a lie either so I just don't know what to think.

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Anonymous said...

I don't know how much this is of relative this is to the original thread, but I personally believe PKD was perhaps unknowingly referencing the ten dimensional nature of space and time, (space and time forming the walls of the black iron prison as indicated in Valis)