Sunday, November 6, 2011
clippings from Erik Davis on Phil Dick's Gnosticism/Information
In its obsession with simulacra and coded messages, as well as its almost libertarian resistance to orthodox authority and a corresponding emphasis on spiritual autonomy, Gnosticism anticipates cyberculture.
no one has plunged into information Gnosticism with the such abandon as the brilliant SF writer Philip K. Dick.
In the essay "Man, Android and Machine," Dick suggests that Gnostic information is both a space and a being.
In The Divine Invasion, Dick creates an even richer theological image of living information space: a three-dimensional color-coded Biblical hologram.
In this image of hypertext heaven, Dick shows how a space of information density achieves an animate quality through the structure of an open-ended dialogue.
But "living information" was no mere metaphor within Dick's brilliant though decidedly unstable mind, for in 1974, sitting at home in Orange County, he apparently experienced such a force directly.
In our culture, we call individuals like Dick schizophrenic, but in the confines of his literary worlds, his schizophrenia achieves an unparalleled oracular glow.
In VALIS, the greatest and strangest of these late works, he fleshes out his information mysticism in the "Tractates Cryptica Scriptura," a twelve-page excerpt of his "Exegesis."
Just as the nameless hero of the "Hymn of the Pearl" found the Logos lying by the side of the road, VALIS penetrates the simulated world through the margins. The True God must mimic "sticks and trees and beer cans in gutters—he presumes to be trash discarded, debris no longer needed." Dick says at the end of VALIS that "the symbols of the divine show up in our world initially at the trash stratum."
from Magic, Memory, and the Angels of Information by Erik Davis