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)


  1. I'd just like to chime in that I enjoy reading everything in this blog; you are so well-versed in something that I try to keep up with. You help me to think better about these amazing ideas PKD had, and how they relate to other ideas. KUDOS! This is very valuable.

    My notes are scattered, but did PKD ever mention Jacques Ellul, hero of McLuhan and Ted Kaczynski? Ellul fought for the French Resistance and was a Catholic anarchist. He wrote a slim volume called Anarchism and Christiantity (or vice-versa), and he argued that Jesus and his disciples were very much like the anarchists of the 2nd half of the 20th c. Ellul is mentioned in Shea and RAW's Illuminatus! too. The very left-wing "emergent church" seems infl. by Ellul's ideas about propaganda, media, corporations and technology.

    I don't think we can categorize Ellul as "gnostic," but there are some parallels. Thanks. I'll take my answer off the air.

    1. Hey Michael. Always happy to hear from ya, and thanks for the kind feedback. Still working on the crazy project from the days. (or was it something other than .fan?) I'm trying to find time to write this all up as a little book. I'll ask on the PKD community about Ellul, that's an interesting connection in light of all Dick's "religious anarchism" talk.