Friday, August 30, 2013

Pamela Jackson on Frances Yates in the Exegesis

Let's see, Francis Yates. Oh, for a searchable exegesis. I remember that K.W. Jeter lends PKD a copy of The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, which inspires various musings on Hermeticism, Bruno, etc. No detailed discussion of the book, but it joins the mix, probably in 1978.
(from a facebook thread)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cat as Guru

"I guess I am the first person ever to be peed on by my guru."
Philip K. Dick, July 30, 1974 "Dear Claudia" letter

Karma... wake up!

"What we call Karma is not punishment as our courts understand it; it is the pressure on us, felt as pain and fear, to alter us for a good end. It is corrective, not punative. [sic] What a school this is that we're in, Claudia; we are forced to discern correctly sooner or later whether we want to or not. That's why it hurts; it isn't optional, this learning. By degrees we learn, we assimilate the truth and incorporate it permanently into us. Finally we can go back where we were. In a way, the pain is pressure to wake up. Wachet auf! Sleepers awake! Clausia, as in UBIK, we are actually dead now, and lie in graves row and row. Dreaming delusional dreams in our mass graves, these plastic apartments we live in. It is not life; life lies ahead as we recover our senses and wake up. We are doing it, though. God will never abandon us to sleep in our graves, like inert matter, like lumps. But boy, does it ever hurt sometimes. We are perpetually assisted, but we must make the choices on our own, formulate each answer for ourselves, assemble the pieces of the various puzzles correctly, in the final analysis, unaided."

Jan 7/8, 1975 Letter to Claudia Bush

Excerpt from Dick's 1977 Letter to Julian Jaynes

"What I did not expect, however, was to find myself under the jurisdiction of an ancient god who commanded me first this was and then that, extricating me from a highly stressful situation I had found myself in. No theory of my own (and for three years I have studied and labored to come up with a theory) or by anyone else could account for the exquisitely beautiful voice, the inner voice, which I heard off and on for eleven months. At first I told my wife that "The Elohim" were talking to me. Later, during one of my many hypnogogic dialogs between me and this articulating entity (it also communicated, in dreams, in written form), it infomed me that "Jesus" was a name for Zeus-Zagreus. However, in most dreams early on it appeared in the form of the Sibyl of Apollo, but with a third eye in lateral lens-form, by which she could see and hence know everything. She had seen a dreadful conspiracy in America, she said, and she showed me a group of men wearing Eastern Establishment, very expensive business suits; she was showing me, in fact, the gang we now call "The President's Men." These "conspirators," as she called them, would be removed from power and punished for what they had done. By August this had indeed happened and by then I understood who she was talking about...

Another curious aspect was its memory, to which I had access during the intial three or four days when it originally overwhelmed my left hemisphere. It remembered events between roughly three and two thousand years ago--from the high point of Crete to the time of St. Paul--and then it literally had no memories; there was a two thousand year gap, right up to World War One. It was as if it had been asleep, away or dead for those two thousand years. It readily remembered the Egyptian aspects of Crete-I had in hypnogogic states incredible visions of Greece and Rome, but after that--nothing, until about 1916. This evidently was why it initially addressed me in Greek; it was using the language it was accustomed to use in addressing humans.

I never have doubted that it was a god, the gods, or God. Yet it seemed to be female. Within the first hour of its mastery it noetically disclosed to me an entire cosmology--and then had me read up on it in Plate. I found that same cosmology in Timaeus. It even informed me about ananke, which, as you know, is the factor which noos "persuades" in Timaeus...

Let me finish by giving you a couple of ideas which I've developed about this which did not appear in your book. First of all, I think we hear a vastly scaled-down version of this godly command voice in the form of conscience. And second, I am positive that the godly voice informs us in the normal course of dreaming. Subliminally, it clues us in on what to do and what to avoid during our daylight waking hours--without our suspecting...

Let me say in conclusion that your superb book has now made it possible for me to discuss my 3-1974 experiences openly, without being merely called schizophrenic..."


"By the way--our new Britannica defines Neoplatonism as the sum total of all pagan (i.e. non-Christian) Western theological and philosophical thought, rather than a particular doctrine or sect. Wow. It was around the year 500 A.D. that Justinian closed all the schools which taught Neoplatonism; i.e. he forbade its teaching; he outlawed it. Golly; I have brought down Christianity then. I have proved what Ted Sturgeon said in that VENUS PLUS X or whatever he called that Ace book; the Church kicked the asses of those who were right, and sold two thousand years of profitable lies in the place of what I am sure now was not only real and true but what they knew was real and true (vide what became of Erigena). How is the Pope going to take this? As the popes always have; by kicking someone's ass. But in truth, in very truth, this is a shadow universe we see, a reflection in the mirror of another universe behind it, and that other universe can be reached by an individual direct, without the help of any priest or service or communion or even knowing what he is doing (the latter pertains to me, you understand; I was just trying out the massive hits of WS vitamins). God is as close as the wall beside me; is within the wass beside me, concealed by it, as if that wall is a paper mask. Letters Feb. 13, 1975 (p.61)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

Phildickian Esotericism (playing around with Google Charts)

Phildickian Esotericism I haven't figured out how to add text to the intersections. Gnostic and Hermetic is Kabbalah. Neoplatonic and Hermetic is Alchemy. Gnostic and Neoplatonic is Theosophy/Pansophy. In the middle I guess would be Exegesis? Ah the game of correspondence and attribution.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Luhrman on Jaynes

The book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind,is one of those gangly, overwritten academic books that is undoubtedly wrong, but wrong in such an interesting way that readers, on finishing it, find that they think about the world quite differently. The book begins, “O, what a world of unseen visions and heard silences, this insubstantial country of the mind!” Jaynes was a psychology professor at Princeton, back in the days before psychologists had walled themselves off from literature, when he noticed that the gods in the Homeric epics took the place of the human mind. In the Iliad we do not see Achilles fretting over what to do, or even thinking much. Achilles is a man of action, and in general, he acts as the gods instruct him. When Agamemnon steals his mistress and Achilles seethes with anger, Athena shows up, grabs him by the hair, and holds him back. Jaynes argued that Athena popped up in this way because humans in archaic Greece attributed thought to the gods—that when the ancient kings were buried in those strange beehive Mycenaean tombs, when social worlds were small and preliterate, people did not conceptualize themselves as having inner speech. Jaynes did not think that the role of the gods in the Iliad was a literary trope. He thought that people who did not refer to internal states used their brains differently and—the cognitive functions of speaking and obeying split across their unintegrated hemispheres—actually experienced some thoughts audibly. “Who then were these gods that pushed men about like robots and sang epics through their lips?” Jaynes asked. “They were voices whose speech and direction could be as distinctly heard by the Iliadic heroes as voices are heard by certain epileptic and schizophrenic patients, or just as Joan of Arc heard her voices.”

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

David Hyde on Kabbalah in PKD's 1974 letters

 In THE SELECTED LETTERS 1974, PKD mentions kabala/cabala/qabalah/etc. three times (not sure which as I only have my Index handy - I used 'Cabala') : (1). In a letter to Claudia Bush, 7-22-1974, SL 74 page 200ff (also in the EXEGESIS, page 37). (2). In a letter to Louise Zimmerman, 7-25-1974, SL 74 page 214ff. (3). In a letter to the Roiscrucian Supply Bureau, 9-30-1974, SL 74 page 256. Indexes are fun!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Radio Free Albemuth movie on KICKSTARTER

Radio Free Albemuth, the directorial debut of John Alan Simon is based on the bestselling Philip K Dick novel of the same name. The film stars SAG Award Winner Shea Wigham (Silver Linings Playbook, Boardwalk Empire), Grammy Award Winner Alanis Morissette (Weeds, Dogma), Jonathan Scarfe (Perception), Katheryn Winnick (Vikings, Stand Up Guys), Hanna Hall ( The Virgin Suicides, Halloween),  Ashley Greene (The Twilight Films), Golden Globe nominee Scott Wilson (The Ninth Configuration, The Walking Dead), and Oscar nominee Rosemary Harris.  

Come for the trailer, stay for the cool rewards.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Critchley on PKD+Giordano Bruno

Here Dick identifies his thinking with the Marxist idea that history is a dialectic that will culminate in communist revolution. In part, Dick is attempting to engage the leftist literary critics whose interest in his work in the 1970s both pleased and unnerved him. At the same time, Dick's thinking already employs dualistic motifs that cast history as a dialectical conflict between the forces of Empire and those who struggle for freedom—what is described elsewhere in the Exegesis as the struggle between God and Satan. We should also note Dick's frequent identification of true Christianity as revolutionary and Christ as a revolutionary figure. In this way, Dick retrieves the historical link that has often bound together rebellious quasi-gnostic movements, like the Cathars or the Heresy of the Free Spirit, with forms of insurgent political populism and indeed communism. Giordano Bruno, one of the other "heretics" to whom Dick is attracted, also professed a charismatic yet hermetic pantheism that has long been linked to forms of radical anti-Church insurgency. That is why, in many small Italian towns, a statue of Bruno, often erected by the local Communist Party, stands facing the principal Catholic church.—SC (Exegesis note)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Is The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick a bunch of crazy talk?

I hadn't noticed the "crazy talk" comment above. Not sure I understand why you'd use that phrase. Most of what we find in the published Exegesis is quite serious and reasonable exploration of his experiences and the research he was doing into theology/mysticism to understand them, although the experiences and ideas he's working with may be a bit strange. It's of great interest to serious students of religious studies and philosophy as well as literary theory and abnormal psychology. Those of us who have had extraordinary experiences, whether mystical or pathological, find a great deal of insight into these conditions. Frankly, I'm skeptical of the motivations of those who would triivialize or pathologize it. Most of the time when an author's notes are available we are grateful for the opportunity, and little ink is spilled attacking the notes for being in note form.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Was Philip K. Dick a great mystic?

I think there's an interesting question as to whether Dick "ranks" with the great mystics of the ages. He sometimes thought that he might on the basis of the extraordinary nature of his experiences, but there's also the nature and value of his writings. Moreover, Dick was a pioneering *theorist* of mysticism (with a nod to David Gill and Erik Davis I'm calling him a "garage theorist of religion" in my book) who is doing a lot of interesting religious studies work in the Exegesis (see the comments of Kripal to understand how he's interesting to a contemporary comparative religion professor), although in his characteristically unsystematic form. However, even the "unsystematic" nature of his work has been greatly exaggerated: as McKee demonstrates there's serious Christianity in there ("a cruel religion... but accurate" -PKD), and as countless modern day occultists can attest there's plenty of insight into Altered States of Consciousness and magical practices of all kinds. That all said, it's also important to understand that he couldn't have pulled off any of this as an academic, being that so many of his insights are actually misunderstandings, however productive. Perhaps rather than trying to fit him into the box of old school mysticism we should see him as designing a new way to be mystical. But isn't that what all great mystics do?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

another rant about Dick and Postmodernism

  • [Lord Running Clam had asked about when postmodernism "started," the Total Dick Head pointed out that you could go back to Shakespeare, then I replied:]

    Ted Hand  Another way to look at it is that there are no "postmodern" writers -- writers are just writers/don't fit into reductive categories etc-- only critics who use the term. And the term "postmodern" is certainly a 20th c. invention, usually employed by critics who have an agenda--and these critics are often not unjustly accused of obscurantism which explains why it's hard to find a simple answer (or hacks who are trying to get an academic job!). "Postmodern" is a term of art, and it's much easier to trace the use of the term rather than try to identify a trend in specific authors. I could argue all day that medieval authors like Chretien de Troyes, Chaucer, Pseudo-Dionysius, Cusa, Bruno etc already displayed many traits of the so-called postmodern.
  • Ted Hand But I digress. Perhaps the best way to understand it in the context of PKD's thought is that Heidegger was the "postmodern philosopher" that started it all. But then again, since Dick's often better situated in early modern philosophy, perhaps Hume was the "postmodern philosopher" that started it all. Then Again, Socrates was the original hipster ironist, and Heraclitus even more radically postmodern (explicitly cited by Heidegger as foundational in the continental giant's thought) so perhaps the greeks were the first postmoderns. That Dick was down with Heidegger, at least later in life as evidenced by Letters/Exegesis, is not controversial--although guys like Critchley can explain better than I can where Dick misunderstands Heidegger. Nobody ever said you have to be a GOOD postmodernist! Disobedience is the bread and butter of the postmodernist, and Dick was doing that before postmodernism.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Terence McKenna on his encounter with PKD's Exegesis experiences

True stories have no beginnings and neither does the tale of PKD’s encounters with the Overmind.
 Had not the Logos itself lead me to this vision, not only by revelation but by painstaking explanation?...I knew with perfect clarity that the world of time, the illusion of history was ending. Divine Parousia was entering the world

Phil wasn’t nuts. Phil was a vortex victim.* Schizophrenia is not a psychological disorder peculiar to human beings. Schizophrenia is not a disease at all but rather a localized traveling discontinuity of the space time matrix itself. It is like a travelling whirl-wind of radical understanding that haunts time. It haunts time in the same way that Alfred North Whitehead said that the color dove grey "haunts time like a ghost."
There is an idea that wants to be born, it has wanted to be born for a very long time.** And sometimes that longing to be born seffles on a person. For no damn good reason. Then you’re "it," you become the cheese, and the cheese stands alone. You are illuminated and maddened and lifted up by something great beyond all telling. It wants to be told. It’s just that this idea is so damn big that it can’t be told, or rather the whole of history is the telling of this idea, the stuttering rambling effort of the sons and daughters of poor old Noah to tell this blinding, reality-shattering, bowel-loosening truth. And Phil had a piece of the action, a major piece of the action.

I Understand Philip K. Dick

"Postmodernist" underplays the scale

"His novels have most frequently been type-cast as exemplary of the postmodern – saturated as they are with paranoia, indeterminacy and failed quest-narratives – but this seriously underplays the scale of Pynchon’s writing."

The same might easily be said for Dick, and I think I have.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

PKD and Drugs

"The first time I took LSD I saw the whole landscape freeze over; nothing but snow and rocks, and it lasted for thousands of years." -PKD, Letters 1977-1979


"The recreational intake of the author of A Scanner Darkly was a key factor in the visions and delusions he brought to his work" -Philip Purser-Hallard, The drugs did work


  "Yes, well, we touched on another topic in the interview I had with those people and that was my attitude toward drugs. They said, isn't there an affinity between you and Timothy Leary's attitude toward drugs? And I said, well, actually a scrupulous reading of my novels that deal with drugs such as 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, NOW WAIT FOR LAST YEAR, "Faith Of Our Fathers", and A MAZE OF DEATH show the possibility -- again we get into the area of possibility, not certitude -- that there are really just a whole number of things happening in 3 STIGMATA and in NOW WAIT FOR LAST YEAR, The drug is destructive, it's addictive, it's used as a government weapon as a matter of fact."



    … The Palmer Eldritch novel came out of an actual mystical experience, lasting almost a month, in which I saw the face of evil hovering over the landscape, and the three stigmata were aspects of him that I saw – I mean, objectively, literally – in particular the slotted, empty eyes. It was a true trip before I had seen any LSD, much less taken any. In an effort to help myself I became a convert to the Anglo-Catholic church, but their teachings do not include that of a real, active, evil power who has control – or near control – of the earth we live on. I even took the rite of unction, but it didn’t help, and I wandered away from the church. The point is this: if a person’s idios kosmos begins to break down, he is exposed to the archetypal or transcendental forces of the koinos kosmos, and if the time comes that he lives only in the koinos kosmos he is exposed to powers too great for him to handle (this part of the theory isopposite to Jung’s theory that each of us needs subjective constructs – such as space and time – as a framework structuring "reality"). In other words, we must have our idios kosmos to stay sane; reality has to filter through, carefully controlled by the mechanisms by which our brains operate. We can’t handle it directly, and I think that this was what was occurring when I saw Palmer Eldritch lingering, day after day, over the horizon. Something should have stood between me and it – and the Anglo-Catholic Church wasn’t enough (neither was psychiatry, needless to say). My first LSD experience, by the way, confirmed my vision of Palmer Eldritch; I found myself in the hell-world, and it took almost two thousand (subjective) years for me to crawl up out of it.

   (Vertex): You are known as one of the first authors to experiment with LSD. What effect has it had on your writing?
    (PKD): I don't know of any. It's always possible that it's had an effect I don't know about. Take my novel THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, which deals with a tremendous bad acid trip, so to speak. I wrote that before I had ever seen LSD. I wrote that from just reading a description of the discovery of it and the kind of effect it had. So if that, which is my major novel of a hallucinogenic kind, came without my ever having taken LSD, then I would say even my work following LSD which had hallucinations in it could easily have been written without taking acid.
    (Vertex): In the light of your own experiences with acid, how accurate do you think THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH is as far as drugs are concerned?
    (PKD): You remember what happened when they got on that drug? It was bad, wasn't it? It was so bad it taxed my ability to imagine bad. And it didn't do them any good to stop taking the drug because they had flashbacks. And nobody at the time knew LSD was going to produce flashbacks. I had it in mind that the ultimate horror would be to get an addictive, hallucinogenic drug out of your system and you would say, "Well, I'm back in the real world now." And suddenly a monstrous object from the hallucinogenic world would cross the floor and you would realize that you were not back. And this is what has happened to many people who have dropped acid. It was just an accidental prophecy on my part.
    And again:
    … My drug experiences have not manifested themselves in my work. Many critics have said that THE 3 STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH was the first "LSD novel." I wrote that after reading a magazine article on hallucinogenics by Aldous Huxley.
    Drugs have taken the lives of some very, very dear friends of mine.
    And once more:
    (PKD:) I took amphetamines for years in order to get energy to write. I had to write so much in order to make a living because our pay rates were so low. In five years I wrote sixteen novels, which is incredible. I mean, nobody, I don't think anybody's ever done it before. And without amphetamines I couldn't have written that much. But as soon as I began to earn enough money so I didn't have to write so many books, I stopped taking amphetamines. So now I don't take anything like that. And I never wrote anything under the influence of psychedelics. For instance, PALMER ELDRITCH I wrote without ever having even seen psychedelic drugs.


Drug misuse is not a disease, it is a decision, like the decision to step out in front of a moving car. You would call that not a disease but an error in judgment. When a bunch of people begin to do it, it is a social error, a life-style. In this particular life-style the motto is "Be happy now because tomorrow you are dying," but the dying begins almost at once, and the happiness is a memory. It is, then, only a speeding up, an intensifying, of the ordinary human existence. It is not different from your life-style, it is only faster. It all takes place in days or weeks or months instead of years. "Take the cash and let the credit go," as Villon said in 1460. But that is a mistake if the cash is a penny and the credit a whole lifetime.

from the Afterword to A SCANNER DARKLY


From two different letters around August 1970

"I have just finished the rough draft of a new, long, s-f novel, FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID. {...} I've reworked it and reworked it; I rewrote the final section seven times, plus holographic changes. At one point in the writing I wrote 140 pages in 48 hours. I have high hopes for this. It is the first really new thing I've done since EYE IN THE SKY. The change is due to a change that overtook me from having taken mescalin, a very large dose that completely unhinged me. I had enormous insights behind the drug, all having to do with those whom I loved. Love. Will love.


    With acid I never had any genuine insights, but on mescalin I was overwhelmed by terribly powerful feelings – emotions, I guess. I felt an overpowering love for other people, and this is what I put into the novel: it studies different kinds of love and at last ends with the appearance of an ultimate kind of love which I had never known of. I am saying, "In answer to the question, ‘What is real?’ the answer is: this kind of overpowering love.["]"



That events can take place outside of time is a discovery that strikes me as dismal. My first reaction was, "Good God, I was right; when you're at the dentist it does last forever." I'll let the mystics dilate on more favorable possibilities, such as eternal bliss. Anyhow, LSD has made this discovery available to everyone, and hence subject to consensual validation, hence within the realm of knowledge, hence a scientific fact (or just plain fact, if you prefer). Anybody can get into this state now, not just the schizophrenic. Yes, friends, you, too, can suffer forever; simply take 150 mg of LSD--and enjoy! If not satisfied, simply mail in--but enough. Because after two thousand years under LSD, participating in the Day of Judgement, one probably will be rather apathetic to asking for one's five dollars back.

But at least one has now learned what life is like during the catatonic schizophrenic state, and one does return from LSD within a short time period as computed within the koinos kosmos (roughly ten hours), however much longer it is in the idios kosmos (to rather understate the matter). For the catatonic schizophrenic the duration of this state is not only forever idios kosmoswise but also, unless lucky, koinoskosmoswise. To put it in zen terms, under LSD you experience eternity for only a short period (or, as Planet Stories used to phrase it, "Such-and-such," he screamed under his breath). So, within a nontime interval, all manner of elaborate and peculiar events can take place; whole epics can unfold in the fashion of the recent movie Ben Hur. (If you'd prefer to undergo the experience of LSD without taking it, imagine sitting through Ben Hur twenty times without the midpoint intermission. Got it? Keep it.)

from Schizophrenia and the Book of Changes


VERTEX: Isn't "Faith of Our Father's," from Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions, supposed to have been inspired by or written under the influence of acid?

DICK: That really is not true. First of all, you can't write anything when you're on acid. I did one page once while on an acid trip, but it was in Latin. Whole damn thing was in Latin and a little tiny bit in Sanskrit, and there's not much market for that. The page does not fall in with my published work. The other book which suggests it might have been written with acid is Martian Time-slip. That too was written before I had taken any acid.

VERTEX: How much acid did you take anyway?

DICK: Not that much. I wan't getting up in the morning and dropping acid. I'm amazed when I read the things I used to say about it on the blurbs of my books. I wrote this myself: "He has been experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs to find the unchanging reality beneath our delusions." And now I say, "Good Christ!" All I ever found out about acid was that I was where I wanted to get out of fast. It didn't seem more real than anything else; it just seemed more awful.

VERTEX: In the light of your own experiences with acid, how accurate do you think The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is as far as drugs are concerned?

DICK: You remember what happened when they got on that drug? It was bad, wasn't it? It was so bad it taxed my ability to imagine bad. And it didn't do them any good to stop taking the drug because they had flashbacks. And nobody at the time knew LSD was going to produce flashbacks. I had it in mind that the ultimate horror would be to get an addictive, hallucinogenic drug out of your system and you would say, "Well, I'm back in the real world now." And suddenly a monstrous object from the hallucinogenic world would cross the floor and you would realize that you were not back. And this is what has happened to many people who have dropped acid. It was just an accidental prophecy on my part.

from VERTEX interiew

[updated 7-29-13]

1) I have taken amphetamines, LSD, mescalin and phenothiazines
2) I have used amphetamines for energy in order to write, since I was paid very little for each novel and story, and so had to write a lot; whether the amphetamines influenced the content of what I wrote I do not know.
3) I used amphetamines for about 18 years. They were prescribed for me due to depression.
4) No drug trip has ever inspired me to write anything except a small passage in my novel A MAZE OF DEATH that part being based on my first LSD experience (I tood LSD only twice
5) I take no drugs now at all. Keep in mind that during the time I took amphetamines their harmful effects were not known. The same can be said for LSD.
6) Yes, I certainly have used stimulants to make a deadline; i.e. the amphetamines.
7) I do NOT recommend that other writers--or other people in general--take drugs; it is not worth it. Soon I will have a novel out dealing with this, called, A SCANNER DARKLY
8) My drug experiences have allowed me to write more, but probably not better. A SCANNER DARKLY, written without the use of drugs, is certainly my best novel.
9) Further comment: drug use is a major mistake and I regret ever having become involved in it. I have seen too many people die or become permanently psychotic because of drugs.
September 9, 1976 Letter

[updated 8/18/13]

Letter to Claudia Bush, February 26, 1975 [4:233] Hey Claudia— Identity—continuity—recognition—selfsameness. I got so loaded last night you wouldn't believe it.* It was my daughter's birthday and I phoned her 6 or 8 times and never got her. So I went to a friend and he gave me something to get me ripped.47 I was so fucking ripped. In chemo veritas, though (for your purposes). Listen, Baby. I am still ripped and it is tomorrow (that was today, when he gave it to me); we talked, and I said, man I can't take it anymore. Later as I was still taking it (the garbage out) he stopped me and handed me the good message. I squirreled it away for like until later and then I did it. I did it. Claudia, it hit me like a 1100 of brick fists. So I called in Tessa and said, "Honey, I am so stoned you would not believe it. I love you." "Then you must be." "Ask me questions. My unconscious is accessible." "Why did you have the experiences last March?" My answer: "I had nothing else to do." "What deity or force or presence took you over?" My answer: "Erasmus." "'Erasmus.' Who the hell—" (I had the most incredible shower of chuckling all over me, in the form of math symbols and Greek letters. I'd guessed who it was: he had played the most—to him—fun game. Ir leg, the two Sanskrit words. Not the meaning ["angry legion"] but a pun. Always puns, a million pun clues. "Ear leg." In the old days my brother-in-law and I made up this Swift: "I feel earassabiele, Tom said," or how-ever. "I feel as if my ear hurts and I need to see a proctologist," Tom said irascibly. There it is. Now, "ir leg" is to ear leg as Irascibly is to that Swifty. And "irascible" is a quasi-phononym for Erasmus. Ear-ass-mus. See? These were the first words which came to me in March and wow, last night. A shower of laughter, since finally I'd guessed. He hadn't counted on chemical aids.) "Who or what is/was Christ?" Tessa asked me. "The style we are drawn in," I said. "There is a person seated for artists to draw him; they have a 1.50 minute time limit on their work. All draw him a little differently, all must finish fast and turn it in. Their work is crude, and each has a bit of the subject in it. Our world is that composite work of many artists, and we are those crude drawings with the minute and a half time limit. We do as well as we can, but it's like Disneyland where they do that, various portrait artists with one subject—or if they all had the same subject. It is like Disneyland—fast and not very expert, and still the subject sits and we approximate him. Someone else does the approximating; we are not the artists but the drawings. Hence Plato's concept of the cave and of the idea archetypes."

Ubik as a "novel of pataphysics"

"You don't just write whatever comes into your head while you're sitting there in front of the typewriter. When I wrote UBIK, I got about twelve pages done and couldn't think of anything else, so l just wrote whatever came into my mind. I wrote it from my unconscious: I let the right hemisphere of my brain do all the thinking, and I was as surprised as anybody as to what came out. In France, of course, it's considered a great novel because it doesn't make any sense; in France, it's a roman de pataphysique. Ever since Alfred Jarry hit town, they've loved stuff that doesn't make any sense. Maybe it does make sense when you translate it into French. Maybe I'm a great writer in France because I've got good translators."

from an interview with Mike Hodel excerpted here

Divine Invasion as "the dialectic that is the inner life of God"

   I just now looked over DIVINE INVASION. As I recently realised about VALIS, the dialectic that is the inner life of God -- as revealed to Boehme & explicated later by Schelling -- & commented on by e.g. Tillich -- is presented as the very bases of the book. In VALIS it is expressed dramatically as world-order in which the irrational confronts the "bright" or rational, designated (properly) Logos. In DI this same dialectic reappears & this time is stated to be the two sides of God (rather than world order; that is, in DI it is now correctly seen to be within God himself!): it is now (in DI) between Emmanuel who is the terrible, destroying "solar heat" warring side -- & Zina who is loving, playful, tender, associated with bells & flowers; & what unifies the two at last (by the way; it is she who takes the lead in restoring memory & hence unification: Emmanuel is the side that has forgotten -- i.e., is impaired; she has not & is not impaired) is play. She plays, & Emmanuel has a secret desire to play.
    So both novels basically deal with the dialectic that I experienced as the nature of Valis & which I construe to be the dynamic inner life of God.
    Really, then DI simply continues the fundamental theme of VALIS -- but does not seem to do so -- not unless one perceives this theme & what it is (the dialectic that is the dynamic inner life of God). DI is not so loose a sequel to VALIS as it might seem (by in the shift from Gnosticism, the present, realism, to Kabbala, the future, that which would not and could not come with POT...


Dick on "the precognitive element" in his novels

That precognitive thing in my novels has really spooked me. It's really there. You can see how I would become aware of it in direct proportion to the number of books I wrote: if there was such a factor, the more I wrote, the more I'd begin to notice this.

from an interview in The Dream Connection p.87

PKD on mescalin insights behind "Flow"

From two different letters around August 1970

"I have just finished the rough draft of a new, long, s-f novel, FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID. {...} I've reworked it and reworked it; I rewrote the final section seven times, plus holographic changes. At one point in the writing I wrote 140 pages in 48 hours. I have high hopes for this. It is the first really new thing I've done since EYE IN THE SKY. The change is due to a change that overtook me from having taken mescalin, a very large dose that completely unhinged me. I had enormous insights behind the drug, all having to do with those whom I loved. Love. Will love.

    With acid I never had any genuine insights, but on mescalin I was overwhelmed by terribly powerful feelings – emotions, I guess. I felt an overpowering love for other people, and this is what I put into the novel: it studies different kinds of love and at last ends with the appearance of an ultimate kind of love which I had never known of. I am saying, "In answer to the question, ‘What is real?’ the answer is: this kind of overpowering love.["]"


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"SF beginning to be accepted as... serious literature" in a 1967 Heinlein letter

Did I tell you that [Dr.] Jack Williamson is using Stranger as a study text in his class in SF at U of E. New Mexico? Quote: "I'm launching new courses in linguistics and modern grammar and another in the factual literature of science...(in my SF class) and we are now reading Stranger in a Strange Land. I was a little afraid lhat some of my students might not be sufficiently sophisticated for it, but the response so far is good-some class members feel that it is more successful than Huxley's Brave New World, which we have just finished."
Did I mention in some other letter that Stanford now offers a course in SF? Apparently SF is beginning to be accepted as a respectable genre of serious literature. It is a pleasant feeling-but I have to keep reminding myself that seeing my name in print is nothing; it is seeing it on a check that counts. It is still the clown business; the object is to entertain the cash customer-I shall simply have to try harder than ever.