Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Nietzsche on "systematizers"

I mistrust all systematizers and avoid them. The will to a system is a lack of integrity.
Twilight of the Idols

Monday, October 22, 2012

Feuerbach, "man is virtually supposed to be the God of God"

"Man is occupied with himself in and through God. God is the means of human existence and happiness. This religious truth, embodied in a cultus, in a sensous form, is the Lord's Supper. In this sacrament man feeds upon God -- the Creator of heaven and earth -- as on material food; by the act of eating and drinking he declares God to be a mere means of life to man. Here man is virtually supposed to be the God of God: hence the Lord's Supper is the highest self-enjoyment of human subjectivity. Even the Protestant -- not indeed in words, but in truth -- transforms God into an external thing, since he subjects Him to himself as an object of sensational enjoyment." Feuerbach, in a footnote to The Essence of Christianity (Part II, Ch. XXV)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ubik Graffiti in El Cerrito

Thanks to Henri Wintz for the photos.

Kinney on the Exegesis -- comparison to Swedenborg+Artaud

"The Philip K. Dick I've discovered in the Exegesis reminds me of two other unique visionaries: Antonin Artaud and Emmanuel Swedenborg. All three delved into alternate realities with unique results. But Artaud was ultimately deemed mad, institutionalized, and subjected to massive electro-shock therapy. Swedenborg died peacefully, respected (and feared) for his elaborate visions of heaven and hell; and after his death his followers founded a new church centered around his revelations.

"Luckily, Phil didn't have to suffer Artaud's fate, but it remains to be seen whether the Exegesis lends itself to the creation of a new Dickian religion. The possibility is a little grotesque, but stranger things have happened—many of them in PKD's own writings."
PKD Society newsletter #3 (thanks to Frank Hollander for posting this)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Abstract on PKD, Bergson and Paul

I had lunch with James Burton at the conference and talked Exegesis, and enjoyed his talk. His work looks very promising. I couldn't agree more about the emphasis on Bergson and Paul, the political dimension of Dick's religious thought, and the central important of fictionalizing. Look forward to his book on SF and Salvation!


Machines Making Gods

Philip K. Dick, Henri Bergson and Saint Paul

  1. James Burton
    1. Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths (University of London)


This article addresses shared themes in the writing of Saint Paul and the work of the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. Much recent philosophical interest in Saint Paul focuses on his contemporary significance as a radical political thinker, following Jacob Taubes' influential late work, The Political Theology of Paul. Assessments of Paul's writing in this context (e.g. by Agamben, Badiou, Milbank) highlight the various ways in which he uses fictionalizing, for example in setting up the tension between the present world and a messianic future, in the role he assigns to faith, and in the importance he assigns to the counter-factuality of resurrection. Yet the common thread of fictionalizing running through these themes has not been explicitly discussed. Meanwhile, the supposed `religious turn' in Dick's late writing has often been taken to have less political significance than his earlier science fiction. Considering Paul alongside Philip K. Dick, this article will attempt to bring out this central role of fictionalizing in the religious experiences of both. Like Paul, Dick experienced a visionary encounter with a God-like entity that shaped his interests and writing for the remainder of his life, and developed his own soteriology in response to what he perceived as the continued existence of (the Roman) Empire in modernity. Bringing out the mutual complementarity of Dick and Paul is facilitated by a framework derived from Henri Bergson's Two Sources of Religion, which theorizes the relation between mechanization as a human tendency characterizing both imperialism and industrialization, and fabulation as a human faculty for using fiction for the jointly immanent-transcendent purposes of survival/salvation. In this context, the diverse modes of fictionalizing employed by both Dick and Paul, including their unconsciously produced visions, may be understood as part of an ongoing, continually renewed strategy of revolutionary transformation of both self and world.

Lethem on PKD the conversationalist

"there were very few conversationalists who could fully contend with Dick's full obsessional outpouring of scholarship, imaginative leaps, and bullshit gambits"

Lethem on Dick's [ag-]Gnosticism

Library of America: Was Dick any more committed to Gnostic beliefs than he was to Taoism or Buddhism or Hinduism?
Lethem: ...no testimony has every persuaded me that his commitment to a given belief system was ever embracing or permanent


T.S. Eliot quote

"Every experience is a paradox in that it means to be absolute, and yet is relative; in that it somehow always goes beyond itself and yet never escapes itself."

Plotinus: Soul is Nowhere

"...the soul must have been in something if it reascends; and if it does not, it is still somewhere; it is in some other vegetal soul: but all this means merely that it is not crushed into some one spot; if a Soul-power reascends, it is within the Soul-power preceding it; that in turn can be only in the soul-power prior again, the phase reaching upwards to the Intellectual-Principle. Of course nothing here must be understood spatially: Soul never was in space; and the Divine Intellect, again, is distinguished from soul as being still more free.

Soul thus is nowhere but in the Principle which has that characteristic existence at once nowhere and everywhere."

Ennead 5.2.2

Plotinus on mystical experience

It is now time, leaving every object of sense far behind, to contemplate, by a certain ascent, a beauty of a much higher order; a beauty not visible to the corporeal eye, but alone manifest to the brighter eye of the soul, independent of all corporeal aid.
 What measures, then, shall we adopt? What machine employ, or what reason consult by means of which we may contemplate this ineffable beauty; a beauty abiding in the most divine sanctuary without ever proceeding from its sacred retreats lest it should be beheld by the profane and vulgar eye? We must enter deep into ourselves, and, leaving behind the objects of corporeal sight, no longer look back after any of the accustomed spectacles of sense.
The sensitive eye can never be able to survey, the orb of the sun, unless strongly endued with solar fire, and participating largely of the vivid ray. Everyone therefore must become divine, and of godlike beauty, before he can gaze upon a god and the beautiful itself.

"Essay on the Beautiful" (Thomas Taylor translation)  

Me and Erik Davis at the PKD Fest

Thanks are due to Umberto Rossi who took and posted the photos.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Photos of the PKD Fest panels that I moderated

Thanks to Chris Mays and Frank Hollander for posting these.

Biographical Panel

Exegesis Panel

Sunday, September 2, 2012

PKD on Plotinus in The Exegesis

[4:103] The Other is not any one thing found in any particular place. It is a quality of (or rather visible in) all things, like a specific color. It shines through them at us. We see it and it sees back, as in a dialog.... Like Plotinus' concept of concentric rings of emanation, we encounter our Others in gradually increasing intensity and clarity; they become clearer to us continually.

The article said that it remains speculation, this orthogonal time, not for me is it, nor was it for Plotinus.

(I think what I experienced was the Neoplatonistic anamnesis which Plotinus mentions, but ... well, I hope so.)

The former is the present; the latter is our future, sort of rising up from within, from potent to actual. This can be represented spatially in terms of rings, concentric, of actualization, à la Plotinus.

And then you are rewarded (cf. Plotinus) with a vision of the one behind the multiplicity, from which both realms—and hence the mid-realm too—emanate.

" if the past is within what we see (smaller concentric rings, constricted) perhaps one can reason that the future consists of larger rings than that which makes up our perceptual present; vide Plotinus."

By viewing it as a non- spatial journey, Plotinus made it available to this lifetime. (I mean, if you're alive and in your body, how are you going to travel up past the planets one by one?) I see: Ubik stipulates that they are dead and so—so-to-speak inadvertently—has the divine—Ubik—available in the trash level: close at hand. So I'm not dead (v. supra). It's just that Plotinus is right.

...the other basic error in Western philosophy (held by, e.g., Pythagoras and the Orphics), corrected by Plotinus, was the error that the journey of the soul was spatial: first down from the cylum past the planets and then back up again (an error held, again, by Plato!). In this ontological view of the journey, rather than spatial, Plotinus anticipates Heidegger. The upper realm is spatially here, not there. I should know; I entered it, in 3-74. And if here, it can be entered in this life, not just after death!

I have come to Christian Platonism and am very close (if not congruent to) Plotinus' Neoplatonism and the possibility, expressed by Plotinus, of experiencing the Form world and the Mind of the One, Valis being the One; have I not said that the essence of Valis is unity, that Valis above all is, through structure, unitary? This, then, is Plotinus' One or God. And unity is what I saw that made me realize I had seen Valis (as I call it). I know how the One can be the One; it is via Pythagoras' structure which is to say kosmos in the sense that Pythagoras meant that term to be used: "The harmonious fitting-together of the beautiful." I am, then, identifying Plotinus' One with Pythagoras' kosmos, with a hint of Sankara's doctrine about Brahman and the Atman.

...this did not have to do with Christianity per se but with the abstracting of essentials at the expense of accidents hence of Neoplatonism—which makes Valis Plotinus's One.*

Since creation is a hypostasis of God, as the Sufis say, one should look for beauty in it, as manifestations of the divine. There is no sharp disjunction between God and creation, because of the intermediary Word and the Forms. Plotinus' concept of "concentric rings of emanation" sums it up.

My 5-D realm is precisely what Plotinus was speaking of: concentric rings, not a fall in space and time. It is the realm of the sacred, of Act III of Parsifal; hence, "Here, my son, time turns into space." It is the realm of Kosmos Noetos, hence logos, hence the realm of Christ.

[53:E-8] Will Durant points out that the ascent in Dante's Commedia resembles Plotinus' ascent through the successive concentric rings. Absolutely; and I say, the passage over from the 4-D world to the 5-D—which are concentric or coaxial—is the crucial one—this line of thought leading back to my durable conviction that we (in our normal 4-D realm) are in Purgatorio; in which case passage to the 5-D realm is a fortiori a pas sage—truly and literally—from Purgatorio to Paradiso (not als ob but literally); this is what Dante is talking about, what happened to me.

also, here is what PKD said late in life about Plotinus in an interview with Frank Bertrand

FCB: Once your interest in Philosophy was sparked, how did you then pursue this interest? What books did you at first read? What courses if any did you take in philosophy?
PKD: I dropped out of college very early and began to write, pursuing my interest in philosophy on my own. My main sources were poets, not philosophers: Yeats and Wordsworth and the seventeenth century English metaphysical poets, Goethe, and then overt philosophers such as Spinoza and Leibnitz and Plotinus -- the last influencing me greatly.

HOWEVER, in another late interview with Gregg Rickman (book 2) he says this

"But I just went to the library and tracked these things down. Where I met my downfall was when I tried to read Plotinus. And I couldn't fathom what he was saying at all. Plotinus was not in print. There were no books then of his actual writing. There was a syllabus published by the University of Chicago--or Columbia, some goddamned university--and I couldn't make any sense of it. So I dropped philosophy at that point, and got interested in Jung, psychology, and veered off into that. So philosophy doesn't show up as much in my early writing as psychology does. Then philosophy starts coming back later on."

Letters February 13, 1975

"The basic scientific discovery of my vast metaphysic, which I had written you about, was my postulation of two times ar right angles to each other, which I called vertical (which we normally perceive) and horizontal, which is the axis along which the objects in Ubik regress. Now I have the new Britannica, and in looking up the article on time, I find that, yes indeed, it is speculated now that besides the regular time there may be a hypertime which would be orthoginal, a word I didn't know; I looked it up and sure enough, it means at right angles. Also, someone (Kurt Godel, I think the Britannica article said) speculated that the orthoginal time might be curved, since time and space are regarded now as intergral, and space does curve; this hypertime would curve back onto itself...and hello, Gracie Slick and "Hyperdrive." The world of trash (e.g. s-f and rock) have done did it. The article said that it remains speculation, this orthoginal time; not for me, nor was it for Plotinus. So although I have discovered and invented nothing (which is "wu" in Chinese, and considered priceless) I have at least found something. The trash (to fuse Lem and Jesus as coiners of metaphor) of great price, for which a man sells all he has that he may acquire it."

Faith of Our Fathers - Afterward

This text provides an interestingly boiled down version of Dick's approach to religious studies. The part about Erigena at the end is one of the fullest treatments we have of that Erigena quote, which he usually only mentions briefly in The Exegesis.

"I don’t advocate any of the ideas in "Faith Of Our Fathers"; I don’t, for example, claim that the Iron Curtain countries will win the cold war – or morally ought to. One theme in the story, however, seems compelling to me, in view of recent experiments with hallucinogenic drugs: the theological experience, which so many who have taken LSD have reported. This appears to me to be a true new frontier; to a certain extent the religious experience can now be scientifically studied … and, what is more, may be viewed as part hallucination but containing other, real components. God, as a topic in science fiction, when it appeared at all, used to be treated polemically, as in "Out Of The Silent Planet." But I prefer to treat it as intellectually exciting. What if, through psychedelic drugs, the religious experience becomes commonplace in the life of intellectuals? The old atheism, which seemed to many of us – including me – valid in terms of our experiences, or rather lack of experiences, would have to step momentarily aside. Science fiction, always probing what is about to be thought, become, must eventually tackle without preconceptions a future neo-mystical society in which theology constitutes a major force as in the medieval period. This is not necessarily a backward step, because now these beliefs can be tested – forced to put up or shut up. I, myself, have no real beliefs about God; only my experience that He is present … subjectively, of course; but the inner realm is real too. And in a science fiction story one projects what has been a personal inner experience into a milieu; it becomes socially shared, hence discussible. The last word, however, on the subject of God may have already been said: in AD 840 by John Scotus Erigena at the court of the Frankish king Charles the Bald. "We do not know what God is. God himself does not know what He is because He is not anything. Literally God is not, because He transcends being." Such a penetrating – and Zen – mystical view, arrived at so long ago, will be hard to top; in my own experiences with psychedelic drugs I have had precious tiny illumination compared with Erigena."


Robert Anton Wilson on meeting PKD / Phil Dick on RAW?

Phil Dick and I had a long conversation one afternoon at Santa Rosa, and it was only a year later that I found out that he and I had exactly similar experiences at approximately the same time, which left both of us wondering if we'd been contacted by god, by the devil, by an extra-terrestrial from Sirius or by some evil parapsychologist working for either the CIA or the KGB, or if we had just gone temporarily crazy. Then I realized this whole long conversation was Phil's attempt to find out how crazy I was. If I was sane, there was a chance that he was sane too. But if I was crazy, that increased the probability that he was crazy. He apparently decided that I was sane enough that he could trust that he was possibly sane too, so he started publishing some of his experiences, which now are in several books: Valis, The Divine Invasion, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, Radio Free Albemuth and the Exegesis. My accounts of similar experiences are in Cosmic Trigger Vol. 1." "Memories of Phil" 
Source: PKD Otaku #11

Here is a post about the meeting between RAW and PKD that Tom Jackson shared, which includes n amusing quote from SF author David Hartwell:

It got down to Robert Anton Wilson and Philip K. Dick talking. And at a certain point, I could not follow what they were saying, and so I just left and went out and got a beer and came back later. They were still talking.

Robert Antone Wilson wrote a few articles about PKD.
The Return of Philip K. Dick - A Review of Philip K. Dick:The Dream Connection
"The Black Iron Prison" in his Cosmic Trigger III: My Life After Death
Scattered mentions of PKD theories in Everything Is Under Control: Cults, Cover-Ups and Conspiracies

Here is what RAW says about PKD in a 1986 preface to Cosmic Trigger 1: The Final Secret of the Illuminati

"In this connection, I am often asked about two books by other authors which are strangely resonant with Cosmic Trigger -- namely VALIS by Philip K. Dick and The Sirian Experiment by Doris Lessing. VALIS is a novel which broadly hints that it is more than a novel -- that it is an actual account of Phil Dick's own experience with some form of "Higher Intelligence." In fact, VALIS is only slightly fictionalized; the actual events on which it is based are recounted in a long interview Phil gave shortly before his death (see Philip K. Dick: The Last Testament, by Gregg Rickman.) The parallels with my own experience are numerous -- but so are the differences. If the same source was beaming ideas to both Phil and me, the messages got our individual flavors mixed into them as we decoded the signals.

I met Phil Dick on two or three occasions and corresponded with him a bit. My impression was that he was worried that his experience was a temporary insanity and was trying to figure out if I was nutty, too. I'm not sure if he ever decided."

Dick read Wilson's Cosmic Trigger and mentions it in the Exegesis. He wrote a well known blurb about it:

"Wilson managed to reverse every mental polarity in me, as if I had been pulled through infinity. I was astonished and delighted." 

But I haven't been able to find much information about PKD on RAW. If anybody knows anything I don't know, please do chime in.

 a commenter on a post about RAW/PKD posted this:

"In _Philip K. Dick: In His Own Words_,ed. Greg Rickman, p.55, PKD talks about a little about his acquaintance with RAW and that both of them agreed on their fascination with conspiracy theories, that they tink about CTs in similar ways, including the "absurd" idea that there's something benevolent "behind it all."

In the book _To The High Castle_ by Rickman, on page X of the Foreword, Tim Powers wrote that some "critics" put forth the rumor that PKD's correspondence with RAW caused PKD to go over the edge. Something like that. I don't have that book on hand. Anyway, I've never gotten a good answer: WHO? What "critic" put forth that idea?"  http://www.rawillumination.net/2010/11/raw-on-philip-k.html

here are a few mentions of RAW in PKD's Exegesis

[30:15] ... Leary's work suggests that every atom contains the "brain" of the whole universe."... This is also the basic axiom of magic ... stated in the tale of Hermes in the famous sentence, "That which is above is in that which is below." ("The macrocosm is within the microcosm.")But the McKenna theory goes far beyond this....We are riding not one but 64 evolutionary waves all mounting toward a cosmic awakening something like the Omega point suggested by paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin.* [Editor's note: from Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger, 1977]  ...Thus I lived out this process the McKennas described, somehow cut loose from objective time.... All I had to do was turn to my grand theme (e.g., in Maze, in Stigmata and Eye, etc.) and perceive our composite (mixed universe) as irreal (i.e., hologrammatic). Tessa saw this at once.

 [1:121]  So if you push essence far enough in terms of ascending levels, you find you have gone a full circle, and you wind up encountering ultimate deity cooking and writing pop tunes on the radio and popular novels, and a breath of wind in the weeds in the alley. It's as if the ultimate mystery is that there is no mystery—it's like what Robert Anton Wilson says in the Cosmic Trigger about being outside the Castle when you think you're in, and inside when you think you're out. And in a way what is most paradoxical is that I said it all in Ubik years ago! So in a way my exegesis of 2-3-74 says only, "Ubik is true."

[30:11] The real conspiracy goes much deeper than conspiracy buffs (such as Bob Wilson) suspect, although he almost had it in the theory that our universe is a hologram created by the intersection of two hyperuniverses.

And in VALIS: "I've read The Cosmic Trigger and Robert Anton Wilson says--" [Kevin gets cut off by Mini] (p. 204)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

PKD Cutups

Confessions of a Counter-Crap World Artist

A Scanner Time-Slip

The Wub Who Japed

Upon the Dull Mars

The Shifting Realities Whose
Teeth Were All Exactly Alike

The Dark-Haired Glimmung

Galactic Puppet Healer

Puttering About in a Small Eye in the Sky

We Can Build Simulacra You

Flow My Three Stigmata, The Eldritch Policeman Said

We Can Kipple It For You Wholesale

Humpty Dumpty in The Broken Bubble

The King of the Indefatigable Frog

Expendable Unchance

I Hope I Shall Arrive Not By Its Cover

The Short Happy Life of the Crystal Crypt

The Eye of the Meddler

A World of Fair Game

Psi-Man Heal My Clay Feet

Foster, You're Human.
A Maze of Ubik

Beyond Lies The Little Black Box

The Man In The High Darkly

Vulcan's Hammer Japed

Radio Free Crack In Space

Bloodmoney Lottery

Friday, August 31, 2012

Dreaming of Printed Matter

"In the last of the four dreams yesterday I caught sight of the copyright date on the book and another look at the typestyle. It was dated either 1966 or possibly 1968 (the latter proved to be the case). So I began studying all the books in my library which might fit these qualifications. I had the keen intuition that when I at last found it I would have in my hands a mystic or occult or religious book of wisdom which would be a doorway to the absolute reality behind the whole universe.

Of course the possibility existed that I didn't have the book in my library, that I would have to go out and buy it. In several dreams I was in a bookstore doing just that. One time the book was help open before me with its pages singed by fire on all sides. By that I took it to be an extremely sacred book, perhaps the one seen in the Book of Daniel"
P.S. This is on a level, and it goes to show you that you should never take your dreams too seriously. Or else it shows that the unconscious or the universe or God or whatever can put you on
From a "Dear Claudia" letter

PKD and the great historiographers of religion

In a classic article on "Upon the Dull Earth," Umland said something that I like a lot, about how we need to approach PKD through the great historiographers of religion. This little line in a big paper detailing the Dickian Dionysian has been a big inspiration for my project looking at Dick's religious influences. As Erik Davis put it in his recent podcast chat with David Gill, Dick was a comparativist, following and extending the project of Jung, Campbell, and the whole Eranos school. But I'd complicate Umland's argument by noting that we need to be very careful because Dick made his own use of the figures that he read, working from spotty memories of encyclopedia readings (as well as, it must be admitted, some legitimately deep reading for example in Jung). He's taking what he learns from the great comparativists and giving it a Dickian twist. This allows him to do some wild theorizing which we can learn a great deal from, but it must also be understood that while much of this theorizing was serious, at other times he was spinning out esoteric systems as a joke, or for fun. I've had some interesting conversations with Davis+Gill lately about the importance of PKD the bullshitter, in the context of the American tradition of weird conversation. Dick's theories shouldn't necessarily all be taken at face value. Gill has been doing some good ranting lately vs. the notion of Dick as doing "endless theorizing," which I agree isn't the right model. He looks a lot less crazy if you understand that he wasn't totally fooled by everything that he cooked up. There are some core beliefs that are important, and Christianity plays a huge role. There are the powerful religious experiences, which of course are a big deal and color things, but as Gill emphasizes there is a consistent and thoroughgoing skepticism as well. But none of this means that Dick totally lost it. If we keep his healthy sense of irony in mind we can learn a lot more from what he is doing. There's a certain rigor to be admired, and there's certain discomfort associated with understanding the pain that drove him to doing all this thinking. But what he produced is a wonderful theory resource. We see Dick engaging with the state of the art of comparativist study of religion, struggling with some heavy really heavy philosophy stuff, deeply affected by the Nag Hammadi discoveries and developing strange insights into gnosticism and early Christianity. I've been working lately on the early modern, renaissance, and medieval mystics and esoterics that Dick delved into, and we should understand him as engaging with (what he understood as) their theories of religion as well.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Jay Kinney on The Exegesis

"The Philip K. Dick I've discovered in the Exegesis reminds me of two other unique visionaries: Antonin Artaud and Emmanuel Swedenborg. All three delved into alternate realities with unique results. But Artaud was ultimately deemed mad, institutionalized, and subjected to massive electro-shock therapy. Swedenborg died peacefully, respected (and feared) for his elaborate visions of heaven and hell; and after his death his followers founded a new church centered around his revelations.

"Luckily, Phil didn't have to suffer Artaud's fate, but it remains to be seen whether the Exegesis lends itself to the creation of a new Dickian religion. The possibility is a little grotesque, but stranger things have happened—many of them in PKD's own writings."

Friday, August 17, 2012

Revised schedule for the Philip K. Dick Festival

9:45-10:00 Opening Remarks - David Gill

10 - 10:30 Gregg Rickman - Dostoevsky and Dick
Independent scholar, author of three books about Dick, PKD biographer,

Track A
10:30 - 11 “Do Scientists Dream of Electric Thought Experiments”

Dr. Charles Reid

Scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory exploring how scientists can manufacture knowledge using computer simulations.

Track B

Picturing Neo-noir Consumerism in PKD Comics by Dore Ripley

The current crop of comic adaptors and artists has taken Electric Ants and Do Androids Dream of Electric Ship? as well as DADOES’ authorized prequel Dust to Dust and imagined worlds that are strangely familiar. By mixing 21st century culture (new to PKD) with what current artists/adaptors see as neo-noir sensibility, comics have created a dissonance between past, present, and future.

Doré Ripley is an instructor at California State University, East Bay and Diablo Valley College. She publishes on a wide variety of topics and genres from fairy tales, medieval literature and Shakespeare to science fiction and comics.

Track A
11 - 11:30 Philip K. Dick and Drugs

Chris Rudge

PhD student at University of Sydney writing a dissertation on PKD, Aldous Huxley, and drugs.

Track B

Brad Scheiber

PKD and Corporate/Political Paranoia:

A discussion of PKD works including A Scanner Darkly, Do Androids

Dream of Electric Sheep and the short story “Sales Pitch” and the

depiction of corporate and political subversion and malfeasance and

its parallels in American culture from the 1960s to today.

BRAD SCHREIBER has written for all media, is the author of six books

and adapted the PKD story “Sales Pitch” for National Public Radio.

Noon - 1 LUNCH

1-1:30 Neoplatonism and the Problem of Dick's Christianity

Ted Hand Webmaster, Philip K. Dick and Religion blog

ESL teacher. MA student in Religious Studies at Graduate Theological Union working on Renaissance Magic and Western Esotericism.

Religious Studies Approaches to Philip K Dick
Erik Davis

One of the editors of PKD’s Exegesis. Author of Techgnosis, The Visionary State, Nomad Codes, and many other books and articles dealing with myth, magic, technology, and contemporary culture. PhD student at Rice working in the gnosis department with Jeffrey Kripal.

2 - 2:30 Rudy Rucker - “Haunted by Phil Dick”

Science Fiction author, mathematician, computer scientist, badass

Track A
2:30 - 3 Doug Mackey Out of Time’s Joint Time is a central concern in Dick's work, and the question of the reality of time

underlies, I believe, his themes and variations on the nature of reality.

We apply the principles of orthogonal time as defined in Dick’s writings to key novels where Time is a theme, particularly Time Out of Joint, Dr. Futurity, Martian Time-Slip, Counter-Clock World, and Now Wait for Last Year.

Doug Mackey is author of a book on Philip K. Dick for Twayne; presented a paper on PKD at SFRA in the 80s; wrote the introduction and edited the book The Reality of Time by Janet Iris Sussman (2005); author of the Dickian novel Weird Scenes Inside the Godmind (2001).

Track B
David Duffy author How to Build an Android

A discussion of David Hanson’s PKD Android, its construction, development, and decapitation, as well as Duffy’s book How to Build an Android.

3 - 4 Precious Artifacts

Henri Wintz Webmaster of The Philip K. Dick Bookshelf

David Hyde, “Lord RC” author of Pink Beam: A Philip K Dick Companion

Authors will discuss their new PKD bibliography, Precious Artifacts. Discussion to be followed by “Antiques Road Show”-style show and tell of PKD Collectibles (fans encouraged to bring things for appraisal)

Track A
4 - 4:30 Self-induced Amnesia
James Burton

Currently finishing a book about PKD and Salvation in Science Fiction to be published in the UK in 2013.

Track B

Stefan Schlensag, organizer of the 2012 PKD Conference in Dortmund will tell us about PKD Studies across the pond.

5 - 6 PANEL DISCUSSION: PKD And The Next 30 Years: Lethem, Rucker, Rickels,
John Alan-Simon (director, Radio Free Albemuth)
Moderator: David Gill

6:15 - 8 Dinner, Awards Ceremony

8 SCREENING: Radio Free Albemuth with Director John Alan Simon Thoral

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Philip K. Dick on Paracelsus (from The Exegesis)

Okay. I have no doubt that the sort of space I experienced in the "Alto Carmel"
dream and the Voice dreams is Paracelsus' inner firmament. Thomas brought it with him,
along with the huge open books. That was the mind of Paracelsus, and it was infinitely
older and wiser than mine—and it embraced vast vistas, in terms of its "philosopher's
stone" comprehension of the mysteries of the universe. It acted as a micro-mirror of the
macrocosm. This is what generates the vast inner space: one man's little mind becomes this
magic mirror of the macrocosm. According to my push-pull psyche-world model, this is
readily susceptible to explanation: world is locked into the given psyche anyhow. They

So psyche and world are 2 mirrors facing each other:
enriching capacity at both ends. This is the 3rd secret, this binary, mutual synchronized
enriching capacity. Could this be what Paracelsus meant by inner vast reaches of space,
mirror and imagination? A (the) world-generating power? That's

Inner space (of Paracelsus) is perhaps the key as to how the immortal man can be
transtemporal and transpersonal. This places world inside us—did I not, in 3-74, when I
regained my true vision, say I'd been seeing the universe backward? Perhaps I meant inside
out—yes, I felt we were on the outside, like the skin or surface of the balloon, and the
actual world was inside, with us outside. We are not at the center of the world looking up
and around, but outside looking in.

This kind of experience and wisdom goes back all the way to Pythagoras, to the
Orphics, and to Dionysus himself. It is the great core wisdom of all mankind, including the
Dibba Cakkhu enlightenment of Siddhartha the Buddha. I can say I am a Buddhist or even the
Buddha, that in Brahmanist terms I have an avatar in me; I am an Orphic, a Neoplatonist, a
Christian, a hermetic—all these statements are true; and also I have to some extent
formulated my own system (as Bruno did). I have seen God but it was not
God; it was more (and I have a cybernetics-biological model). I am with Boehme perhaps most
of all—and with his teacher, Paracelsus, most of all. And even with Heraclitus in his maxim
that "latent form is the master of obvious form"85 in my inner-outer, upper-lower Christ
versus Caesar system, and with Empedocles in his dialectic, and with Xenophanes in his
concept of God, or noös, and especially with Parmenides in his Forms I and II, of which
Form II (lower, outer, obvious) is not really real. Thus, as with the Gnostics, I am
acosmic, but with Spinoza in his monism—and a little Taoistic, too.   [3:74] Man as magic
micro mirror of the macrocosm, reflects (and hence contains) the map (or logos) of the
macrocosm replicated in miniature (cf. Bruno and Hussey on Heraclitus). He contains the
cosmos by containing this map or plan or logos of it; that's how it works! And since the
cosmos is alive and thinks the map is alive and thinks.

This transcends any given religion—transcends any partial, culturally-determined view, or
way of knowing. The hermetic cosmology serves best inner space, mirror, memory—Bruno and
Paracelsus. This was absolute knowledge and absolute wisdom. And, like an alchemical
transmutation, Zebra turning the irreal into the real. The totality of reality, micro- and
macrocosms seen in alchemical terms, in alchemical process from lower (base) to higher
(noble). Hence the info about mercury. If a human mind was involved it was/is one of the
greatest minds in human history. Were I to pick one I'd pick Paracelsus, but this is only a

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Philip K. Dick and Alchemy

Here is the talk I delivered for the Association for the Study of Esotericism
Philip K. Dick and Alchemy

notes from Umland, "To Flee from Dionysus"

83 Dionysus manifests himself in Dick's writings in both benevolent and malevolent incarnations... The demonic "Dionysus element" in Dick's fiction emerges again and again and is constantly expressed in various guises, from his earliest work to his last.

88 The universe in which "Upon the Dull Earth" takes place is not a recognizably Christian one but a Gnostic, perhaps Neoplatonic variant.

90 "Dionysian vertigo"

94 approaching him through historiographers of esoteric religion

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ursula K. Le Guin on Lathe of Heaven as PKD homage

Le Guin: Oh yeah, definitely. You know, I couldn’t write a Phil Dick book, but I could steal some of his tricks, in a way. Pulling reality out from under the reader all the time, changing reality on them, the way he does. Well, I did it through dreams. Phil would have done it another way. But yeah, homage to Phil Dick is right.
Geek's Guide to the Galaxy Interview

Ursula K. Le Guin on movie adaptations of her work

Don’t believe what the people in Hollywood say! [laughs] Do not believe these people, these people do not speak truly. They tell you that they admire your work so much, and you’re going to have all the input over it and so on. Forget it. You don’t have artistic control. Nobody but Rowling ever got artistic control over a film made from their work, and she got it because she’s so wealthy. You’re not going to get it. Therefore you have to think: Do you mind if they make a travesty out of your work? Is the money worth it to you? If it is, go for it. Take the money and run, as whoever it was said. If it’s not worth it to you, just run away.
Le Guin Interview at Wired / Geek's Guide to the Galaxy

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Alchemical Theology in Boehme

Böhme's correspondences in "Aurora" of the seven qualities, planets and humoral-elemental associations:
  • 1. Dry - Saturn - melancholy, power of death;
  • 2. Sweet - Jupiter - sanguine, gentle source of life;
  • 3. Bitter - Mars - choleric, destructive source of life;
  • 4. Fire - Sun/Moon - night/day; evil/good; sin/virtue; Moon, later = phlegmatic, watery;
  • 5. Love - Venus - love of life, spiritual rebirth;
  • 6. Sound - Mercury - keen spirit, illumination, expression;
  • 7. Corpus - Earth - totality of forces awaiting rebirth.
In "De Tribus Principiis" or "On the Three Principles of Divine Being" Böhme subsumed the seven principles into the Trinity:
  • 1. The "dark world" of the Father (Qualities 1-2-3);
  • 2. The "light world" of the Holy Spirit (Qualities 5-6-7);
  • 3. "This world" of Satan and Christ (Quality 4).
(via Wikipedia)

One can see “Boehme's alchemical understanding of salvation” where he translates his anthropological theology into alchemical language...

"the true Adamic man whom God made out of the Earth-matrix in whom stands the covenant and gift is similar to a tincture in coarse lead;the tincture consumes in itself, through its own desire, the coarsenessof the lead as the coarse Saturn, kills the saturnine will, leads his own will, understood as the tincture-will and selfhood up into lead and through the lead is transformed into gold."
100 -Mysterium Magnum; oder Erklarun uber das erste Buch Mosis in Theosophia Revelata... (Hamburg 1715) Chapter 51, in Miller, "The Theologies of Luther and Boehme," 2785)


Boehme did however systematise the symbols of the alchemists and it is for this reason that his views deserve mention here. A recent expositor writes: ‘Boehme did more than borrow a large part of his vocabulary from alchemy, he took over the whole alchemistic world-view, which he developed into a philosophic system.’


His best-known treatises include Of the Three Principles of the Nature of God, (1619) and The Way to Christ, (1624), The Signature of all Things, and Mysterium Magnum.

As well as alchemical themes his writings contain Kabbalistic concepts.  Boehme describes the absolute nature of God as the abyss, the nothing and the all, the primordial depths from which the creative will struggles forth to find manifestation and self-consciousness.  The Father, who is groundless Will (c.f. Kabbalah - Keter the first principle is identified with Will), issues forth the Son, who is Love.
Boehme held that everything exists and is intelligible only through its opposite. Thus, he believed, evil is a necessary element in goodness, for without evil the will would become inert and progress would be impossible. Evil is a result of the striving of single elements of Deity to become the whole; conflict ensues as man and nature strive to achieve God.  God himself, according to Boehme, contains conflicting elements and antithetical principles within His nature.


Concerning the Three Principles of the Divine Essence
preface 7

the will of God is put into, and written in our minds, so that we very well know what we should do

9. Seeing therefore we are in such horrible
danger in this world, that we are environed with
enemies on every side, and have a very unsafe
pilgrimage or journey to walk ; and above all, we
carry our worst enemy within us, which we our-
selves hide, and desire not to learn to know it,


The fundamental conception of Jacob Boehme's philo-
sophy might be characterized as Pantheo-dualistic ; that
is to say, he attempts to harmonize the undeniable claim
of Pantheism that God is not to be known out of and
apart from Nature, but in it and through it ; with the
equally undeniable fact of dualism, i.e. the evident
opposition in this divine world of good and evil.

ch1 6. Behold, there are especially three things in
the originalness, out of which all things are, both
spirit and life, motion and comprehensibility, viz.
Sulphur, Mercurius, and Sal. But you will say 2 wherein the
that these are in nature, and not in God ; which cousisteth.
indeed is so, but nature hath its ground in God,
according to the first Principle of the Father
7. Now to speak in a creaturely way, Sulphur, 
Mercurius, and Sal, are understood to be thus. 
S U L is the soul or the spirit that is risen up, or 
in a similitude [it is] God : P H U R is the prima 
materia, or first matter out of which the spirit is 
generated, but especially the harshness : Mercurius 
hath a fourfold form in it, viz. harshness, bitterness, 
fire, and water : Sal is the child that is generated 
from these four, and is harsh, eager, and a cause of 
the comprehensibility. 

"The tincture is nothing else but an exulting joyful mighty will, and a house of the soul, and a pleasant paradise of the soul..."


Boehme on the Principle of Fire

"The principle of fire is the root, and it grows in its root. It has in its proprium sour, bitter, fierceness and anguish. And these grow in its proprium in poison and death the anguished stern life, which in itself gives darkness, owing to the drawing in of the harshness. Its properties make sulphur, mercury, and salt; through the fire's property makes not Sul in sulphur, but the will of freedom makes Sul in sulphur, while the principle goes forward."

Linden Emblems and Alchemy p.61 "Boehme split sulphur in the Paracelsian trinity--sul, phur, mercury, and sal--in order to fit the four realms created by the cross. The seven metals of alchemy are also arranged in the diagram. Interestingly, only six are arranged on the wheel, the seventh, Mercury, is missing; it is represented by the wheel itself."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

PKD and Edgar Cayce

(this was originally a Facebook comment on a thread between David Gill and Wa Da Ta)

I agree that there's plenty of interest in comparing the two, since Dick was plugging into a lotta post-Cayce New Age ideas about tapping into the unconscious using "channeling" type techniques. Like for instance the time recounted in the letters when he was high and called Tessa, told her to ask him anything since he had access to his unconscious. Sure he was skeptical, but he was able to suspend that skepticism in a way that skeptics are very uncomfortable about. Unfortunately, much of what is written about Cayce is unreadable, and much of what he himself wrote is pretty hard to swallow. I'd love to read a comparative study that distills out the interesting stuff in Cayce that doesn't require buying into his Atlantean belief system.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

notes on my SF PKD Fest talk (coming in September)

One of the key problems of the Exegesis is Dick's conflict over whether or not he was a Christian. I'd like to discuss the influence of Neoplatonism on this conflict, which has not received enough scholarly attention. Gabriel McKee has notably argued for Dick's being a Christian in the end, and there is certainly a consistent strain of serious Christian thinking in Dick's writing, but doesn't cover the esoteric versions of Christianity that complicated Dick's voyage. McKee gives short shrift to Dick's Gnosticism--which by the way recently seen some interest from philosopher and Hans Jonas professor Simon Critchley--and doesn't cover Dick's interest in many of the  more mystical and esoteric Christian thinkers that influenced Dick. Elsewhere I have discussed the crucial influence of Christian Hermeticists (per PKD) Paracelsus, Boehme, and Bruno, who all play a role in determining the weird ways that Dick thought about Christianity--at least in their legendary form if not in the specific details of their programs. Dick associated Neoplatonism with Hermeticism in a few interesting passages of the Exegesis that we will look at. At times he was worried that he had destroyed Christianity with his Neoplatonic thinking, that he had found an ancient true religion that predated Christianity. At other times he found himself back to orthodoxy, often by the very same Neoplatonic philosophical lines that led him astray.

Dick understood Neoplatonism as providing a legitimate philosophical ground for interpreting his own weird spiritual experiences. Looking at the ways Dick used Neoplatonism to interpret the Christian Hermetic authors can also give us an important window into his religious thinking.

Before I get into the nitty gritty details of Dick's Neoplatonism, Id like to say a few words about the problems facing the interpreter of his esoteric explorations, and thus the scholarly neglect. What is especially lacking is interpreters of Dick's work who have much expertise in the various esoteric religious and philosophical currents that he was involved with. But we don't necessarily need academic experts, as Dick himself was no expert, and often misunderstood the esoteric territories that he traveled through. We don't need an expert on esotericism in itself, but rather an expert in the ways that Dick made creative use of these esoteric materials. This specialist will still require a relatively comprehensive knowledge of the areas that Dick explored, but it will be better to look into Dick's actual sources -- largely the Britannica and the Bible itself, but especially into the many comments that Dick himself made about what he was reading (and
reading into!).

Then I will dive into Dick's treatment of the relationship between Neoplatonism and Christianity. I will attempt to fill in the context necessary for understanding why he was so troubled by the results of his research into esoteric philosophy, and give a prelimary sketch for a theory of Dick's Neoplatonism. Plotinus had a great deal to offer Dick not only in understanding the strange nature of his religious experiences, but also the difficulties of the theology and esoteric knowledge system that he built in order to understand those experiences. But it was in the Christian Neoplatonism of the Hermetic thinkers such as Bruno, Boehme, and Paracelsus, that Dick found a version of Christianity that has barely been mentioned by Dick scholars, and which occupied a great deal of Dick's time. This can best be seen in Dick's novel VALIS, in which the "entity made of information" is said to be a secret known to hermetic alchemists, and especially in the Exegesis.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Joseph Campbell on Star Wars as Modern Myth

"[The modern myth] has to do with machines, airshots, the size of the universe, it's got to do with what we're living with.

"Star Wars deals with the essential problem: Is the machine going to control humanity, or is the machine going to serve humanity? Darth Vader is a man taken over by a machine, he becomes a machine, and the state itself is a machine. There is no humanity in the state. What runs the world is economics and politics, and they have nothing to do with the spiritual life.

"So we are left with this void. It is the job of the artist to create the new myths. Myths come from the artists."

Joseph Campbell, interviewed by Chris Goodrich in Publisher's Weekly (1985)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Philip K. Dick on his discovery of the Torah

“I must admit that when I got into the Torah and discovered the humane elements of this ancient system of beliefs, for me it was probably one of the great moments of my life. And I still read it — I was reading it last night. There is one thing in Deuteronomy where he says, “You must always pay the hired man before sunset. For he is poor and has his heart set on it.” And in the notes Rabbi Hertz has for that, there is: “The workman is so poor that unless he is paid by sunet, he will not be able to buy food for his family.” I just lay there thinking about that, “For he is poor and has his heart set on it.” It is so incredible that we have fallen away from something that was so basic to our civilization, for maybe as many as 2,000 years."
from an interview (his last?)

PKD Fan Group regular Aharon Varady comments:

PKD was using the Hertz Ḥumash. Rabbi Hertz was the former Chief rabbi of Britain and his Ḥumash (the five books: Genesis, Exodus...) was pretty much the standard Hebrew-English volume available in synagogues when I was growing up. It's an interesting edition -- it's probably the first Jewish Hebrew-English ḥumash to include the commentary and scholarship of non-Jews that Rabbi Hertz considered valuable for his modern audience.

Oh and the verse in Deuteronomy is 24:15.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Netflix review I wrote for Radio Free Albemuth

Radio Free Albemuth is the most faithful adaptation of a Philip K. Dick movie so far--and Linklater's A Scanner Darkly was pretty faithful! RFA is hand-crafted labor of love. The director and his wife, who co-produces, have bled for this scrappy indie film, which deserves to make it to Netflix!

It is well acted, with serious performances from a few familiar faces. Shea Whigham as Philip K. Dick was a casting coup. He nails the man's deadpan humor with his laconic delivery. This performance can be profitably contrasted with Bill Pullman's portrayal of a Phil Dick-based character in Your Name Here. Whereas Pullman's performance exploited the cheap laughs that can be had from Dick's apparent craziness, Whigham goes deeper and captures the seriousness of Dick's own sense of humor, as well as the rationality that complicates his paranoia. Jonathan Scarfe believably captures the beatific confidence of the ecstatic with his likable Nicholas Brady, and Katheryn Wynnick brilliantly captured the loving harshness of his concerned wife. Hannah Hall was terrifying as the honeytrap "teen" police state agent. Her seduction scene is the most sexy/paranoid PKD love scene on film. Finally, Alanis Morrissette pulled off the mysterious aura required of her character, who is the center of the intrigue powering the plot about a secret rebellion against a dystopian America.

Also worth noting are the special effects, which economically and with great originality present a compelling vision of Philip K. Dick's religious experiences, fictionalized in the novel.

You don't have to take my word for it: RFA just won an award: “In our view, the best adaptation of PKD’s works to screen by far!” — Sci-Fi London Film Festival

Saturday, May 26, 2012

PKD on "The Little Black Box"

"Here, a religion is regarded as a menace to all political systems; therefore it, too, is a kind of political system, perhaps even an ultimate one. The concept of caritas (or agape) shows up in my writing as the key to the authentic human. The android, which is the unauthentic human, the mere reflex machine, is unable to experience empathy. In this story it is never clear whether Mercer is an invader from some other world. But he must be; in a sense all religious leaders are...but not from another planet as such."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Explaining the Inexplicable -Guest Post from Jami Morgan

Hello friends of Philip K. Dick & Religion! Teddy asked if I would like to guest blog about incorporating “religion” into fiction. YES!, she answered immediately, because honestly this is how I discovered PKD. (Who is this she? ZenWoman? aka ej Morgan, PKD Otaku contributor and author of the novel, A Kindred Spirit.)
At the end, I’ll link to a piece I wrote about my own PKD “Big Bang” for those who are interested, but let me cut straight to the chase. When I read VALIS, my mind was blown. I guess because that was my first encounter with transrealistic writing. I didn’t know of that genre or concept when I read VALIS (or as I wrote AKS), but Philip K. Dick’s style completely resonated with me.
Fiction which incorporated so many weird, yet personal, and “religious”—philosophical, I would say—concepts, yet presented in such a straightforward factual way… well, it just drove me wild. I was literally up in the middle of the night, before I had even finished reading VALIS, pacing around. I knew I would write a sequel to it. This was really a far-fetched thought, considering I had never written a novel, or even any fiction, really. I was a journalist and had dabbled in what I called “rant writing” (pre-blogging essays.) I might have written one or two short stories, but a novel? Didn’t matter. I knew I had to. (I’ll explain the italics soon.)
For one thing, I wasn’t a life-long Phil fan (Dickhead) like many of you reading this blog. VALIS was my first exposure to Philip K. Dick, and that was 1996. Honestly, I knew nothing about the “break-in” (the actually one in 1971, where Phil’s house was ransacked and the cause of at least one suicide attempt.) And, only by reading VALIS, then D.I. and especially, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, did I get the big picture, about the pink beams, the Exegesis, and perhaps most importantly, Phil’s own struggle with the impulses that had taken over the latter part of his life.
Those impulses (motivations or compulsions), his hypergraphical style [defined as: communicating through the union of various forms, as an "ensemble of signs capable of transmitting the reality served by the consciousness, more exactly than the former fragmentary and partial practices…”] combined with his hypergraphia (fanatical, frenzied, non-stop writing), that was the mind-blower. I understood all that after reading In Pursuit of VALIS.
Clearly, I’m not alone in my reaction to the final Phil-phase, or there wouldn’t be a blog like this, or readers of Phil’s Exegesis. But to answer your question about why incorporate “religion” in fiction, neither Phil nor I could help ourselves. And, once Patrick Clark (Otaku Editor) introduced me to Rudy Rucker’s Transrealist Manifesto, I knew why. “The Transrealist novel grows organically, like life itself,” Rucker says. “Although reading is linear, the writing is not.” Like a maze, he says. Absolutely! (I used the maze on the cover of my novel, because Phil also frequently used that metaphor.)
I didn’t know what all was going to emerge in my novel, I just knew I had to start writing it. I think if Phil were here, he would say the same about VALIS, or at least about Radio Free Albemuth (his original Vali-system draft.) Why? Because once you’ve had inexplicable experiences, as a writer you think you can explain them. That, my friends, is the conundrum in a nutshell! Both mine and Phil’s, and why we simply could not escape writing about our synchronicities, anomalies, and insights.
So, while reading VALIS, and seeing that Phil knew some of the same things I knew, well, it wasn’t a choice to write about A Kindred Spirit, it was an obsession.
I don’t think I have to explain what I mean by KNEW to this audience, but in case I do, then perhaps you will want to read my PKD “Big Bang” (especially the last few Phildickian paragraphs.)
The final point I want to make about my novel is that it consists of two parts: my story (HerStory, as I call it) told in an embellished, transrealist way and the “rest of the story” about Phil, my fictionalized account of his afterlife. That was the concept that came to me that first night, while reading VALIS. Along the way, in writing AKS, I sort of riffed, if you will, on several of the weird topics Phil used in the VALIS “trilogy.” The anokhi was one of these. Phil mentioned it fifty times in TToTA. I spent most of yesterday analyzing this subject again, since these days I often forget what I “knew” when I knew it ;)

Per the previous posts on anokhi, Phil first refers to it as “pure Self-Awareness” in Chapter Five. But, in Chapter Six he actually refers to what John Allegro wrote in (and actually mentions Allegro) The Sacred Mushroom and The Cross: A study of the nature and origins of Christianity within the fertility cults of the ancient Near East. I did not re-read Allegro’s book this week, but essentially this is the source material for the exchange between Kirsten and Angel Archer, “You mean Jesus was a dope dealer?” And Tim Archer’s (aka Bishop Pike) ideas that the Zadokite’s were “a mushroom cult” and the Eucharist a left over sacrament from eating the bread, or the anokhi mushroom. Phil’s fifth and final wife, Tessa, confirmed Phil’s intrigue with Allegro in an interview I did with her. Bishop Archer was quick to remind Angel the mushroom would not have been used as dope, “they would have considered it medicine.” (You can search TToTA for every reference of anokhi, as I did, with a Kindle or online using Google books.)
I can’t go on about this any further without writing a book, which I already did ;)
ej “jami” Morgan

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"Anokhi Mushroom" -- did Dick know that Anokhi means "I"?

Aharon Varady, on the Facebook group, pointed out that "Anokhi" means "I" in Biblical Hebrew. Here's the bit in Transmigration of Timothy Archer

"Apparently the anokhi mushroom was toxic but the Zadokites found a way to detoxify it, at least somewhat, enough so it didn't kill them. It made them hallucinate."
page 83

I don't know if Dick was aware that Anokhi means "I" in Hebrew. He got deep into the Bible in English, but I haven't seen much to indicate that he was much interested in learning biblical languages. "Anokhi" seems to have become one of the many special jargon terms PKD adopted based on a superficial acquaintance with the (already kinda weird) research. I haven't looked closely enough at Dick's sources like the Allegro book, or the evidence about James Pike's beliefs. But those would be good places to look to understand this problem better.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Best Review of the Exegesis So Far

"Dick’s choice of the name Eldritch to (anti)christen his villainous cyborg signals, I think, a purposeful wedding of the textures and tones of SF with those of Gothic horror. A term redolent of Lovecraftian slime, “eldritch” designates the uncanny quality of even the most advanced technologies, their apocalyptic infestation of the soul. Yet for Dick the decay of human identity under the lurid gaze of dark gods is not a primordial regression, as Lovecraft would have depicted it, but rather the outcome of technological progress itself; the notion of the perceptual world as a manipulable construct, amenable to technoscientific control, unites Gnostic theology with psychedelic experience in a particularly science-fictional way."
Rob Latham in the LA Review of Books

Friday, January 13, 2012

Boehme on Magic

"Magic is the mother of eternity, of the being of all beings; for it creates itself, and is understood in desire. It is in itself nothing but a will and this will is the great mystery of all wonders and secrets, but brings itself into imagination or figuration itself by the imagination of the desireful hunger into being. It is the original state of Nature. Its desire makes an imagination, and imagination or figuration is only the will of desire. But desire makes in the will such a being as the will in itself is."
-- Jacob Boehme (1575-1624)
(thanks to Phil Norfleet for the quote)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

PKD Panel Needs Papers!

I'll be submitting a paper proposal on Philip K. Dick and Alchemy to
the Association for the Study of Esotericism conference this summer.
There is room on the panel (with me and Erik Davis) for more papers
about PKD. Any serious reader of the Exegesis who has an academic
lens to bring to the study would be perfect for this. Drop me a line
if you're interested and would like help workshopping a paper proposal.
Here is the link.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Philip K. Dick on the Religious Theme in Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back

From "Universe Makers ... and Breakers" 1981: "I'm getting a little tired of people turning out to be robots, harmless-looking life forms evolving into stupendous but predictable space squids, and, most of all, World War Two's Battle of Midway refought in outer space. But I must admit that the eerie, mystical, almost religious subtheme in Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back enchanted me."

thanks to Frank Hollander for posting this quote. Nice to know that the Joseph Campbell thing can make an exception for bad space opera.

and from Selected Letter vol 5 (p.120):

While I was there in Metz we saw the French premiere of STAR WARS and I was amazed at the theological implications of what, in the film, is called "the force". Have you seen the film? I then bought the novel. Beyond doubt there is a profound theological theme to it, and the audience is reacting to it. Also (and I tell you this witha certain hesitation) the description of "the force" in STAR WARS for unaccountable reasons resembles the entity or force which took me over during my religious experiences in March of 1974. That which I saw then, which I call VALIS or Zebra was a plasmatic energy

more from PKD on Star Wars in this post

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Magic equals Science

“I was twelve [in 1940] when I read my first sf magazine…it was called Stirring Science Stories and ran, I think, four issues….I came across the magazine quite by accident; I was actually looking for Popular Science. I was most amazed. Stories about science? At once I recognized the magic which I had found, in earlier times, in the Oz books – this magic now coupled not with magic wands but with science…In any case my view became magic equals science… and science (of the future) equals magic.”
-Philip K. Dick, Self Portrait (1968)