Philip K Dick’s Dystopian Fiction & How It Foresaw the Emergence of the Corporate Collective Culture of the Valis Novels

Posted: January 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

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By R Andrew Ohge

From “Philip K. Dick: The Other Side” By Paul Rydeen:

To understand Phil, one must grapple with his unique emotional states, and his unique interpretations of same. Most importantly, in February and March of 1974 Phil had a series of “mystic” experiences.

When he died eight years later he was still unsure of their origin or meaning.
Left behind was his so-called Exegesis, an 8,000-page, one-million-word continuing dialogue with himself written late, late at night (6).

Though Phil never did solve the puzzle to his satisfaction, I believe he enjoyed the pursuit of the answer for its own sake much more than he would have enjoyed resolving the problem. In fact, I don’t think any answer would’ve been entirely acceptable to him for very long.

By its very nature this mystery had no rational solution.

Phil had suffered several personal setbacks during the time immediately preceding these experiences. Stress over his wife and new son, a severe case of writer’s block, an unexplained break-in, lingering problems with drugs (mostly prescribed medications), and worries over his political actions all played their part. So did the loss of several close friends.

He even worried over whether he had inadvertently published high-level government secrets in his novels (see KING FELIX discussion below).

The usually self- reflective Phil became much more introspective than normal. His depression turned his thoughts to suicide more than once.

The impetus for this particular experience was the severe pain Phil was suffering as a result of having an impacted wisdom tooth removed. Phil called his oral surgeon, who promptly phoned in a prescription for some codeine to a local pharmacy (or Darvon; accounts vary).

When the delivery girl arrived, Phil took one look at her and became mesmerized by the golden fish dangling between her breasts. When asked, the girl told Phil that this was the primitive Christian ICHTHYS symbol, ICHTHYS being the Greek for “fish”. The fish was chosen in part because ICHTHYS was taken to be an anagram for “Iesous CHristos, THeou Yios, Soter” (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior).

“The girl and I are secret Christians, in hiding because of the Roman persecution. The only way we can identify ourselves to each other is the innocent-looking fish symbol, a harmless pendant in the eyes of most. This secret ally brings not only medicine to heal my sore tooth, but spiritual medicine as well. After all, is not Christ the Great Physician?”

He accepted the package and bade the girl good-bye. Phil found himself transported back to first- century Rome – the time of the founding of the Church amidst much persecution.

The vision of another reality superimposed upon this one lasted weeks. Phil had a hard time deciding which one was true, and which the illusion. During this period of uncertainty, he found himself “trapped” (figuratively, I would imagine) in a Black Iron Prison – a Gnostic symbol of our fall into History.

It is deceptively referred to as the Cave of Treasures. Phil used this concept obliquely in “Strange Memories of Death” (7), wherein he refers to his apartment complex as having been prison-like until the new developers made it appear like a garden. From his further description it is quite obviously still a prison, despite its Edenic appearance.

In Freudian terms, the tooth can be a symbol of libido (not necessarily sexual). Dreaming of the loss of a tooth, for example, can represent a fear that one may lose one’s standing in some way – physically or emotionally – or be a warning from the subconscious that this is threatening to happen.

Note that one of Palmer Eldritch’s three stigmata was his artificial teeth (8). Phil’s impacted wisdom tooth was like his latent Gnosis, awaiting the proper stimulus to trigger his anamnesis.

Another symbol of libido is the phalliform fish, whose sleek shape glides silently through the deep waters of the subconscious. As ICHTHYS, Christ strengthens our libido, our “psychic” energy, and asks nothing in return.

He is UBIK, a negentropic force in a universe that is forever running itself down (9).
The Hebrew for “tooth” is shin, which is also the name of the twenty-first and penultimate letter of the Hebrew alphabet. (The reader familiar with Phil’s novel The Penultimate Truth (10) may do well to ponder the connection.)

The English equivalent to shin is “S” or “Sh”. Perhaps because of its trident shape (literally, “three-toothed”) and sibilant pronunciation, the kabbalists associated this letter with the element fire.

Compare Phil’s trident dream at the end of VALIS, after Fat departs again for the Greek islands. Shin also appears somewhat like a descending dove, so it should come as no surprise that a relationship between it and the Holy Spirit exists.

That the numerical value of both the letter taken by itself and the Hebrew phrase RUACH ALHIM (“the Spirit of God”, usually translated “Elohim”) is 300 serves to solidify the connection.

The Spirit is often represented as a flame, one example being the tongues of fire that came to rest on the apostles’ heads on that first Pentecost. Many spirits and other air elementals have been associated with fire as well.

Later Christian kabbalists (namely, Pico) and the Theosophists attempted to justify their doctrines by showing that the union of God as Yahweh/Jehovah (YHWH) and the Holy Spirit (Sh) was Jesus (YHShWH).

The four letters of the ineffable name represent the four natural elements of the ancients, while the fifth element – spirit – fills out the fifth point of the pentagram, a symbol of man.

The triple-pronged shin was taken to be representative of the Trinity. YHShHW is usually translated “Yeheshuah”, of which the English form is “Joshua”. “Jesus” is from IESOUS, the Greek version of this name.

This formula seems especially valid if one considers the esoteric doctrine of the Holy Spirit as the feminine counterpart of God.

Certain kabbalists have maintained the Hebrew RUACH is of the feminine gender; if so then this has been translated out of most versions of the Bible.
In some Gnostic systems, the consort of God is Sophia, Phil’s Holy Wisdom (see the biblical Book of Proverbs).

The Babylon whom St. John of Patmos tells us is “fallen, fallen” is usually identified with first-century Rome (11).

The Hebrews’ subjugation under the Romans was every bit as resented as it had been under the Babylonians six centuries earlier.

John’s prophecy of Rome’s fall was certainly wishful thinking, penned sometime after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. I identify John’s Babylon with the Gnostic Sophia, a symbol of the world in its fallen state.

The Land of the Dead – Egypt – was a similar symbol for later Gnostic sects. The implication of Phil’s vision is that we still live in Roman times, i.e. a “fallen” state. Gnosis must come from the outside.

Chokmah is the Hebrew for “wisdom”; her position on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life is the second or penultimate one (representing a less than perfect reality) – but here she is given a masculine identity, despite the references to Holy Wisdom in the Scriptures.

The Greek for “wisdom” is Sophia; a cognate term is Gnosis, “knowledge”. Like Sophia, Chokmah is one step removed from the true Godhead.

I equate Sophia with John’s Babylon and the traditional Chokmah, the same yin principle which Phil took to be his anima in the form of his long-dead twin sister Jane (she had died aged five weeks). Her avatar has appeared previously in the form of Simon Magus’ Helen, to cite a Gnostic example.

In Phil’s case, he sought her in each woman with whom he had an adult relationship – a reunion of the divine syzygy, as it were. His yearning for the sister he never knew did more to inspire his world-view than any other single factor; the appearance of twins throughout his work is ample testimony to this state of affairs.

The encysted twin in Dr. Bloodmoney (12) is one of many such examples.
There is a Kabbalistic tradition in which one sees oneself relating events from the future. The kabbalists’ reticence to record autobiographical experiences, especially those of an ecstatic nature, has obscured this fact.

Phil had a hypnogogic experience as a boy in which he saw himself as an adult standing at the foot of his bed.

In later life he relived the experience from the “time traveler’s” standpoint.
The Persian Mani (founder of the gnostic Manichean religion) had the same thing occur to him when he was 12, and once more as an adult. He recognized this doppelganger as his Higher Self – the Divine Adam and called it in Arabic “al-Tawm”, the twin. It guided him and gave him comfort throughout his life, and he was said to be gazing upon it in the cell just before he died.

Despite Phil’s Valentinian Sophian cosmology, I have often felt he was more akin to the Manichean school on a practical level.

In 1975 a two-word cypher was “sent forth”; the phrase KING FELIX appears in the juxtaposition of two adjacent lines in Phil’s novel Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (13).

It was only later that he happened upon its significance.

The fact that Army Intelligence bought multiple copies of that one book perplexed him greatly. In VALIS one of the Lamptons tells him that the phrase has Kabbalistic significance.

I assume they refer to gematria, the practice of assigning numerical values to individual letters within a word and taking their sum. “King” is English, so should it be translated into Latin? “Felix” is the Latin for “happy” (literally, “fruitful”). “Rex” is the Latin for “king” so FELIX REX adds to 256 when transposed into Greek enumeration.

This is the eighth power of two, which perhaps is the Gnostic ogdoad pointing back to a duality – Phil’s Two-Source Cosmogony. “Basileos” is Greek for “king”; I’m not sure what the proper translation of “felix” would be, or even if Greek is the proper language to use.

This practice existed in the Hebrew language before Greek became the common language of the Mediterranean area, and in other Semitic languages before that. The little girl, Sophia, reads from the Sephir Yetzirah when the Rhipidon Society visits her at the Lamptons’ – establishing a Hebrew link – but she also tells them the Lamptons are insane.

This issue remains unresolved.

At one point Phil experimented with a megadose of vitamins he had read about in Psychology Today. This mixture was being used by a certain doctor to stimulate simultaneous neural firing in both hemispheres of the brain.

While the original experiments were strictly designed for split-personality patients, Phil concocted a batch and swallowed it down. He says it worked. The right side of the brain is often identified with the dark, irrational, “feminine” component of our minds; the parallel to the imperfect, premature Sophia is obvious.

Speculation has arisen that the voices heard by prophets and madmen originate in the right-brain (14). Usually drowned out by the day-to-day noise of the more verbally active left-brain, under certain circumstances it may be heard.

At one time in our not-so-distant past, this may have been far more common than it is today. This is one of many possibilities considered by Phil, probably no more right or wrong than any of the others.

Another possibility I’d like to briefly consider is that one possible subconscious influence was the “Roman” episode of the old Star Trek TV series. I’ve long forgotten the show’s title, but it involved a planet similar to twentieth-century Earth with the exception that Roman rule still existed.

Rome never fell – the Empire never ended – and secret followers of “the Son” were preaching peace and brotherhood rather than tyranny. This in no way lessens the import of Phil’s vision, nor does it explain anything away. I merely find it an intriguing idea to ponder.

Who can say what psychic debris forms the foundations of our subconscious?
As the image of first-century Rome persisted, Phil began seeing St. Elmo’s fire almost everywhere he looked.

He had purchased his own ICHTHYS sign to hang in the picture window of his apartment; admittedly his staring at the sunlight had much to do with the earliest manifestations.

However, the pink light was even visible at night, when Phil would sit up in bed unable to sleep, enjoying the show.

In A Scanner Darkly (15) he describes it as a rapid-fire succession of Paul Klee, Kandinsky and other modern artists. He also describes the times the St. Elmo’s fire took on the shape of a doorway proportioned to the Golden Mean (representing perfection).

This was a doorway to the Other World. The character in the book regrets having never thought to step through the doorway after the apparition finally disappeared.
The nightly visions continued, often taking the form of incredibly complex dreams which Phil saw at once were unlike his usual sleeping habits. He called them “tutelary” dreams because of their information-rich content. In many he was actually shown texts, which he was able to read and transcribe their contents upon awakening.

This is another Kabbalistic tradition, the ability to read holy texts on the astral plane. Always for Phil, the pink beam of light was prominent.

Admittedly, the idea one is being shot with a beam of energy is typical to many schizophrenics. So are the discarnate voices which haunted Phil’s unplugged radio at night, telling him how terrible a person he was (his then-wife Tessa heard them too).

The one difference here is that Phil perceived it as a healing light rather than a further descent into madness. He credited it with taking charge of his life, recovering a lot of income due from unpaid book royalties, and even re-margining his typewriter.

He never decided what the beam’s source really was. Guesses included the Rosicrucian Society, Soviet scientists experimenting with “psychotronics”, and an alien satellite orbiting a distant star.

One message came from the “Portuguese States of America”, leading Phil to contemplate the possibility of parallel universes. He also thought it might have been God.

The Roman Sybil in her later Christianized form was a particular favorite of Phil’s; her similarity to Jane as Phil’s “protectress” was the attraction.

VALIS even quotes the Sibylline Oracles. Note also that the much-sought product UBIK in Phil’s novel of the same name is depicted on the dustjacket of the original as spraying a pink substance.


The connection is further made in VALIS when Phil and friends mistake a model of the satellite for a can lying in the gutter (in the movie-within-a- book). Does this refer to a can of UBIK as well?

In some of his dreams, Phil saw Soviet scientists rushing around behind the scenes to keep the alien satellite functioning. Phil originally thought VALIS was from Fomalhaut, which he called “Albemuth” (from the Arab Al Behemoth, “the whale”).

Fomalhaut is the fish’s mouth; Phil apparently mistook “behemoth” for “leviathan”, two Hebrew words from the Old Testament.

It is the latter which actually refers to the whale, according to most sources. What matters most is Phil’s beliefs on the matter; if his subconscious mind processed “behemoth” as “whale”, then “whale” it is – for him.

At any rate, the fish symbolism is obvious, as is the reference to Jonah. Phil must have read Robert K.G. Temple’s The Sirius Mystery (16) before writing VALIS, because he relocated the satellite to there. This brings in a host of occult references too involved to go into here. Suffice it to say that the dark companion of Sirius represents “occult” or hidden knowledge, as does Sirius’ position as “the sun behind the Sun” (as Kenneth Grant calls it).

Neither Phil nor Temple seem to have known this when they wrote their books. Phil cleverly tied in the dualist Dogon philosophy described by Temple with his own Gnostic beliefs, though as narrator of VALIS he ascribes this revelation to Fat and tells us this is the point at which Fat’s madness became complete.

Madness or not, VALIS stands as a classic on many levels.

The three-eyed aliens had pincers like a crab where hands should be, just like Palmer Eldritch and his artificial hands. These “improved” hands seem to denote an elevated status as cosmic artificer or demiurge, while also indicating an inherent flaw of some sort. The beings were also deaf and mute; they communicated amongst themselves by means of telepathy. One could say their inability to hear or speak reinforces the notion of an imperfect demiurge, as well as it helps conceal his true nature. Then again, their physical handicap may be the results of a personal sacrifice undertaken to enhance their mental faculties.

Phil was consistent in documenting his major influences within the works they influenced. VALIS was no exception.

Curiously, there are two which went uncredited, and to my knowledge no researcher has yet uncovered them both.

The first is Robert K.G. Temple’s aforementioned The Sirius Mystery.

Temple documents the Dogon people of Africa and their precise astronomical data which predate telescopes. Their legends say that this knowledge was given to them by three-eyed crab-clawed beings from Sirius.

Temple goes on to trace the Dogon’s ancestors back to migrating Egyptians who continue a tradition well-documented in the Mysteries of Isis and Osiris.

Certainly Phil read Temple’s book after writing Radio Free Albemuth; why else would he have moved VALIS from Fomalhaut to Sirius?

The other major influence which went uncredited may be more of a surprise. It is not a scholarly influence like Temple’s, but rather a little known facet of popular culture.

The whole idea of an immortal and all-powerful race who build universes out of boredom, fall into them and become trapped because they forget who they are is indeed gnostic in flavor, as many have said.

It should be noted, however, that this is exactly what Scientology teaches about the Thetans. WE ARE THE THETANS and we don’t even know it.

Palmer Eldritch had three stigmata: his artificial eyes, artificial teeth and artificial hands. The cover of the original edition combines these to show the classic eye-in-palm design used by fortune-tellers to indicate occult wisdom.

The all-seeing eye is a common motif in Masonic lore as well; at one point Phil challenged God to show himself and saw the Ark of the Covenant opened to reveal the eye-in-the-triangle.

Esoteric tradition among the Masons identifies this occult eye with the star Sirius – named for Osiris, the dead and risen Egyptian savior who adumbrated Christ by centuries.

It is also the eye of the Cyclops and the third or ajna eye of Shiva, which Phil (as Fat) attributes to Ikhnaton and his followers in the Tractates appended to VALIS. Others have placed a sexual interpretation upon it as well, but that’s beyond the scope of the present work.

While listening to the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” one day, Phil heard the lyrics change into a prophetic warning: “Your son has an undiagnosed right inguinal hernia. The hydrocele has burst, and it has descended into the scrotal sac. He requires immediate attention, or will soon die.”

Phil rushed him to the hospital and found every word to be true. The doctor scheduled the operation for the same day.

Once again, the healing power of Phil’s vision comes to the fore. In a sense the boy was “reborn”, which was to have great consequences for Phil’s subsequent actions.
For a while Phil thought the spirit of Elijah had come upon him, much as the followers of John the Baptist felt about their Master.

He even identified with a certain first-century Christian he called Thomas, whose thoughts Phil heard while falling asleep. There’s someone inside of me, and he’s living in another century.

This Thomas was eventually garroted, which provides the connection to John the Baptist. “Thomas” is a Greek name meaning “twin”; whose twin was he if not Phil’s? (Mani’s twin was also called “Tawm”; extant Greek Manichean texts refer to him as “syzygon”.) Phil saw fit to baptize and confirm his infant son at this time (he was Episcopalian).

Phil then gave his son a secret name which has never been divulged.

In the posthumously-published Radio Free Albemuth (17) – the first version of what finally became VALIS – “Nicholas Brady” christened “Johnny” with the secret name “Paul”.

Since Phil saw himself as Elijah or John the Baptist, my best guess is that Phil told his son he was the Savior incarnate, and named him “Emmanuel”, a Hebrew name meaning “God with us”.

His son’s birth name was in fact Christopher, from the Greek for “Christ-bearer”. Indeed, Radio Free Albemuth ends with the imprisoned Phil taking consolation in the knowledge that the Message has gone out after all – to the children.

The importance of this assertion in light of the child-saviors in VALIS and The Divine Invasion cannot be underestimated. No wonder it hurt so badly when Phil’s wife left with his son.

It would have been interesting to see how Phil’s son would have turned out under his father’s tutelage.

As it is, he may yet surprise us as he comes of age.

Phil’s experiences culminated with a beatific vision of a Palm Tree Garden, which he described in Deus Irae (18) and mentioned several times in The Divine Invasion (19).

Though this was still a part of first-century Rome, Phil felt at peace in the garden – the nostalgic Eden. The palm tree itself is the World Tree, the axis mundi, the pole at the center of the world which leads to heaven.

Palm leaves were strewn before Christ when he returned to Jerusalem to indicate victory over temptation in the wilderness; today they are carried by those who have completed a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Palm Sunday commemorates this event in Christ’s life. Palmer Eldritch’s name is an obvious reference, but “palmer” could also refer to sleight of hand – indicating his position as malevolent demiurge.

Associated with the vision of the Palm Tree Garden was a young girl gathering water at riverside.

On her vase was an interlocking pattern which Phil recognized as a series of ICHTHYS symbols.

He also saw it as the double helix form of DNA. The universe, he understood, is information – just as DNA is the encoded information by which our bodies are created and maintained.

He identified this girl with Aquarius, the water-bearer. To me this symbolizes a pouring out (from the subconscious) and the heralding of a new age.

This scene was used in VALIS to announce the new messiah, the little girl called Sophia. A new age had indeed begun, short-lived as it was.

Though Phil’s vision of Rome faded, his tutelary dream continued for six more years. So too did the AI voice (for “Artificial Intelligence”), a soft feminine voice he heard in times of stress and during hypnogogic reverie.

Naturally he identified this voice with Jane/Sophia, and claims to have first heard it during a high school physics exam (it gave him the answers) 25 years earlier. It all ended November 17, 1980. Phil claimed to have had a theophany that day, though witnesses noticed nothing unusual.

Phil suddenly comprehended God as infinite, by nature incomprehensible. In other words, the Exegesis would never solve anything because there was no answer to be had.

Phil actually stopped writing for a time because of this, but was at it again before too long.

He also wrote The Divine Invasion around this time, which was when the voice finally stopped. Had it not been for the theophany, Phil would have probably cried, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabach thani?”

As it was, he persisted in speculating the remaining year of his life, and managed to produce one more novel before the end – the posthumously-published The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (20).

Phil suffered the first of several strokes in February 1982 and died several days later in the hospital, on March 2.

He was 53.

Philip K. Dick’s Divine Interference

by Erik Davis

It was February of 1974, and the American science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick was in pain.

The man whose darkly comic novels of androids, weird drugs, and false realities stand as some of the most brilliant and visionary in the genre had just had an impacted wisdom tooth removed, and the sodium pentathol was wearing off.

A delivery woman arrived with a package of Darvon, and when the burly, bearded man opened the door, he was struck by the beauty of this dark-haired girl.
He was especially drawn to her golden necklace, and he asked her about its curious fish-shaped design.

“This is a sign used by the early Christians,” she said, and then departed.
Most of us who hit the freeways in the U.S. know this fish well, as it’s Christian and Darwinian mutations wage a war of competing faiths from the rear ends of BMWs and Hondas.

As a Christian logo, the fish predates the cross, and its Piscean connotations of baptism and magical bounty (the miracle of loaves and fishes) reaches back to the time when the harshly persecuted cult secretly gathered in the catacombs of Alexandria.

Ichthus, the Greek word for fish often inscribed within the symbol, is also a code, an acrostic of the phrase “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”

One apocryphal story claims that Christians would secretly test the spiritual allegiance of new acquaintances by casually drawing one curve of the fish on the ground.

If their companion was “in the know,” he or she would complete the fish shape.
For Dick, the ichthus was a secret sign of an altogether different order: it was a trigger for gnosis.

As he wrote later in a personal journal:
The (golden) fish sign causes you to remember. Remember what?…Your celestial origins; this has to do with the DNA because the memory is located in the DNA…You remember your real nature…The Gnostic Gnosis: You are here in this world in a thrown condition, but are not of this world.[1]

Following this event, Dick experienced a remarkable series of visions, hallucinations, and dreams, many of which centered around VALIS, a “Vast Active Living Intelligence System” that he defined in his 1980 novel of the same name as a “spontaneous self-monitoring negentropic vortex…tending to progressively subsume and incorporate its environment into arrangements of information.”
Not a bad definition of the Internet, though Dick experienced this incoming information web far more intensely than today’s online grazers.

Sometimes it struck him as a pink beam of esoteric data, or as a compassionate feminine “AI [Artificial Intelligence] voice” speaking to him from outer space.

Other times, Dick felt he was in telepathic communication with a first-century Christian named Thomas, and once “the landscape of California, U.S.A. 1974 ebbed out and the landscape of Rome of the first century C.E. ebbed in.”[2]
Like many an acid casualty (Dick himself preferred amphetamines), Dick also picked up strange signals from electronic devices, and for a time he received “die messages” from the radio.

This should be no surprise; radios, stereos and TVs feature prominently in a number of his novels, where the war of signal and noise often takes on metaphysical connotations.

But Dick’s paranoia could turn itself inside-out and become divine intervention, and once when listening to the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever,” the strawberry-pink light informed him that his son Christopher was about to die. Rushing the kid to their physician, Dick discovered that the child indeed had a potentially fatal inguinal hernia, and was soon wheeled into the operating room.

Many more fantastic events played themselves across Dick’s nervous system, and he would sometimes refer to the whole barrage simply by its date, “2-3-74.”

As Dick himself recognized, 2-3-74 avails itself equally to the language of religious experience and psychological pathology.

And yet the events seem too fractured for the one, too resonant and rich for the other.

As has often been noted, 2-3-74 reminds one of nothing so much as the ontological paradoxes of a Philip K. Dick novel, where the spurious realities that often surround his characters can collapse like cardboard in the face of disruptive information coming from another order of reality beyond the local simulation.

Even if Dick underwent something like a temporal lobe epilepsy (which Lawrence Sutin argues is the most likely somatic explanation), earlier books like Ubik, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and A Maze of Death provide more than enough evidence that 2-3-74 erupted from his own creative daemon.

Besides, Dick himself could never make up his mind about what happened to him, his broiling considerations of the matter clipped only by the stroke that ended his life in 1982.

Besides weaving elements of 2-3-74 into a number of novels, including the masterful VALIS, Dick cranked out what is known as the “Exegesis”—a couple million mostly handwritten words that restlessly elaborate, analyze, and pull the rug out from under his experiences.

To judge from those portions that have seen the light of day, the Exegesis is an alternately incandescent, boring, and disturbing document, where sparkling metaphysical jewels and inspiring chunks of garage philosophy swim in a turgid and depressing sea of speculative indulgence and self-obsession.

Unlike most religious seers, Dick did not approach his visions with anything like certitude.

Dick distrusted reification of any sort (his novels constantly wage war against the process that turns people and ideas into things), and so he refused to solidify his experiences into a belief system.

Like William Blake, another impoverished autodidact whose bubbling imagination was steeped in the Western visionary tradition, Dick approached his theophany (or “in-breaking of God”) as artistic material, reworking it in his writings with an artist’s commitment to irony, craft, and a political bite.

Even in his private journals, he constantly liquefies his revelations, writing with a modern thinker’s sense of the tentativeness of speculative thought.

“Indeterminacy is the central characteristic of 2-3-74,” writes Sutin in his Dick biography Divine Invasions.

Sutin points out that mystics traditionally interpret their experiences within the faiths they are raised in. “Phil adhered to no single faith.

The one tradition indubitably his was SF—which exalts ‘What IF?’ above all. In 2-3-74, all the ‘What IFs?’ were rolled up into one.”[3]

In the excepts of the Exegesis reworked into the “Tractates Crytptica Scriptura” that close the novel VALIS, Dick expresses the MIT computer scientist Edward Fredkin’s view that the universe is composed of information.

The world we experience is a hologram, “a hypostasis of information” that we, as nodes in the true Mind, process. “We hypostasize information into objects. Rearrangement of objects is change in the content of information. This is the language we have lost the ability to read.”[4]

With this Adamic code scrambled, both ourselves and the world as we know it are “occluded,” cut off from the brimming “Matrix” of cosmic information.
Instead, we are under the sway of the “Black Iron Prison,” Dick’s terms for the demiurgic worldly forces of political tyranny and oppressive social control.

Rome is the eternal paragon of this “Empire,” whose archetypal lineaments the feverish Dick recognized in the Nixon administration.

Just as William Blake condensed the coming horrors of industrialism into his image of “Satanic mills,” Dick’s Black Iron Prison imaginatively captured the “disciplinary apparatus” of power analyzed by historian Michel Foucault.

Demonstrating that prisons, mental institutions, schools, and military establishments all share similar organizations of space and time, Foucault argued that a “technology of power” was distributed throughout social space, enmeshing human subjects at every turn.

Foucault argued that liberal social reforms are only cosmetic brush-ups of an underlying mechanism of control.

As Dick put it, “The Empire never ended.”

VALIS invades this spurious world of control in order to liberate us.

For Dick, this “living information…replicates itself—not through information or in information—but as information.”[5]

VALIS is a virus, a kind of metaphysical DNA that encodes the Logos or “Word” that opens the Gospel of St. John.

Birth from the spirit occurs when the information plasmate “penetrate(s) the world, replicating in human brains, crossbanding with them and assisting them…”[6] Dick calls these hybrid humans “homeoplasmates”.

At one point Dick believed that when the last of the homeoplasmates were killed off with the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E., “real time ceased.”

The plasmate reentered human history in 1945, when jars stuffed with ancient gnostic codices were discovered in Nag Hammadi, Egypt.

In order to snake its way into the Black Iron Prison, “the true God” must mimic “sticks and trees and beer cans in gutters.”

Dick’s God “presumes to be trash discarded, debris no longer needed,” so that “lurking, the true God literally ambushes reality and us as well.”[7]

Here Dick suggests a kind of liberation info-theology, a set of guerrilla tactics for our saturated data age: stick to the fringes of the spectacle, pay attention to marginal or discarded information, and never let your beliefs get in the way of surprise.

Dick knew well that the political and metaphysical search for secret orders of power invites the black iron prison of paranoia, but he also recognized that “Surprise is an antidote to paranoia.”[8]

Dick was well aware of the nuttiness of 2-3-74, and when he turned to the problem of narrating the event in VALIS, he split himself into two characters: the narrator, a sober science-fiction writer named Phil Dick, and a mad visionary named Horselover Fat.

The book itself is a hybrid, a melange of autobiography and fantasy that’s laced with an encyclopedic range of philosophical and religious information: citations from the I Ching, Henry Vaughan, Heraclitus, Wagner, Xenophanes, the Bible, Pascal, and, of course, the science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick.

The first half of the narrative is a loosely autobiographical account of Dick’s/Fat’s own “pink light” experiences of 2-3-74.

Then Fat and his friends go to see a trashy B-movie called Valis.

Like Kabbalistic scholars or acidheads who see meaning everywhere they turn, Fat and his friends uncover a host of subtle symbols and puns in the flick, all of which seem to refer to Fat’s half-baked theophany.

Here Dick the author implies that the divine virus can infect you through the process of reading and decoding the cultural hieroglyphs scattered about the world.

And since the film Valis clearly emerges from the same pulp ghetto that Dick himself wrote for throughout his mostly marginal career, he sly hints that careful readers of his own trashy paperbacks, with their lurid covers and cheesy titles, may pick up far more than they bargained for.

Once the novel VALIS is infected with the viral messages of the film Valis, autobiography gives way to fantasy.

Half-convinced they’ve struck metaphysical gold, Fat and his friends head to Northern California to track down Mother Goose, the rock band responsible for the movie.

There Fat and Phil meet the divine child Sophia (a gnostic Wisdom figure who, like VALIS, is also a sentient AI).

As the SF writer Kim Stanley Robinson points out, Sophia’s message to the group is not more of the hermetic esoterica we’ve come to expect from the novel, but a simple, humanist revision of Jesus’ beautiful Sermon on the Mount.

In her sane and calming presence, Fat and Phil become one person again, the split between vision and reality momentarily healed.

But this is a Dick novel, and such resolutions never last long. Sophia is killed, and Horselover Fat divides once again from Phil Dick and flies to Micronesia looking for the Messiah.

At the novel’s end, Dick is left alone in front of his TV, looking for secret messages from VALIS, strange symbols in ads or subliminal match-cut montages. “I sat; I waited; I watched…As we had been told, originally, long ago, to do; I kept my commission.”[9]

The pathos of this image is remarkable, expressing at once a postmodern ennui and a quiet hope for the reinvestment of oracular meaning in the flickering hieroglyphs of the monitor screen.

While Dick’s erudite vision of living information trumps anything you’ll find in New Age bookshops, the strength of VALIS and many of his other novels lies ultimately in his compassionate portrait of human suffering and the pragmatic, fragmentary, and creative measures that humans resort to when metaphysical solutions collapse before us.

Though sharing some gnostic SF notions with L. Ron Hubbard’s cosmology, Dick’s characters are the absolute opposite of the superheros of Scientology; they are ordinary schlemiels, bumbling Joes struggling with moral ambiguity, poverty, politics, and psychological wounds.

They live in worlds where faceless forces of control are dodged only through entropy and communication breakdown, where commodities have supplanted community, and where God lurks in a spraycan.

In such a world, the most divine communications aren’t transmitted in a pink blast of gnostic data, but in that most telepathic of human emotions: empathy.
Dick spent his last years in Orange County, living only a few miles from Disneyland. For a writer obsessed with the metaphysical tango between the authentic and the artificial, the environment was almost too perfect.

Ambiguously characterizing the theme park as an “evolving organism,” Dick tied its synthetic realities to both the global developments of postindustrial culture and to the ersatz constructs of his own books.

As he pointed out in his late essay “How to Build a Universe that Doesn’t Fall Apart in Two Days.”…today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups…unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power.[10]

As Jean Baudrillard has argued into the ground, simulation rather than representation has become the defining characteristic of cultural signs and artifacts in our time.

For Baudrillard, the objects of simulation transcends the binary opposition of “authentic” and “fake,” “original” and “copy.” The technological simulacrum creates its own reality, which Baudrillard calls the “hyperreal,” a kind of ersatz parody of Plato’s ideal world of forms.

For example, when you download a printer driver from the Internet or record a CD onto digital tape, you do not “copy” the information so much as replicate a hyperreal object.

For Baudrillard, the power of simulation only further extends the reach of what Guy Debord castigated in the 1960s as “the society of the spectacle.”

The media have become a kind of orbiting genetic code that “mutates” the real into the hyperreal, thereby producing “social control by anticipation, simulation and programming.”[11]

Like Dick, Baudrillard saw Disneyland as the archetypal hyperreal environment, though perhaps the technophilic “Gulf War” we watched through the dark glass of CNN, with its smart bombs and virtual-reality pilot runs, should stand as the most delirious thrill ride yet offered by the new world order of simulation.

As an exhausted rationalist, Baudrillard simply abandoned himself to a morbid celebration of the pixel apocalypse, giving up any notion of resistance or transformation while ignoring the messy realities that gum up the works of all such grand intellectual scenarios.

But Dick never gave up his commitment to the “authentically human,” the “viable, elastic organism which can bounce back, absorb, and deal with the new.”

He also recognized that simulacra lie deep in our souls, and that we are not so far from the spiritual paradigms of the ancient world, with their camouflage spirits, talking images, and automata gods.

And so Dick redeployed the gnostic struggle for authenticity and freedom within the hard-sell universe of simulation.

The world is a prison not because of its materiality—which was the opinion of the ancient Gnostics—but because of the hidden orders of power and control it houses: the various corporate, political, and ideological archons herding us into increasingly compelling synthetic worlds.

Dick’s greatest novel of demiurgic media control is 1964’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

In order to escape the dismal toil of their lives, the colonists on Mars resort to Perky Pat Layouts, miniature doll-houses complete with Pat and Walt, svelte figurines resembling those postwar archetypes Barbie and Ken.

After gathering together in their hovels, the colonists swallow an illegal drug, Can-D, which “translates” them into Pat and Walt’s Baywatch-like lives for a painfully brief spell.

Some colonists view their virtual trip as escapism, others as a religious experience in which they lose the flesh and “put on imperishable bodies” instead.

A satellite owned by Perky Pat Layouts orbits Mars, emitting a stream of ads for new Perky Pat accessories, while the DJs deal Can-D on the side.

Even psychic powers are exploited for commercial gain, as “pre-cogs” working for PPL use their gifts to predict which new accessories will be hits with the colonists.

As Peter Fitting points out, Three Stigmata paints a world where “the liberatory potential of the media and new technologies has been completely debased.”

We are not so far from this world. Increasingly Hollywood churns out, not films, but events: virtual constructs that envelope us like theme park rides and which seep into ordinary life through spin-offs and a tsunami of merchandise.

Much of children’s television fuses toys and imaginative experience; kids (and their parents) must buy their way into these worlds in order to “play.”

Though distributed media like the Internet hold out the possibility of democratizing the imagination, high-tech simulation is expensive, and crude corporate-run virtual realities have started popping up on the World Wide Web like the mushrooms of Wonderland.

But things get much worse for the hapless characters in Three Stigmata.
The industrialist Palmer Eldritch returns from the Proximal system with Chew-Z, a new and stronger drug that competes against Can-D with the slogan “GOD PROMISES ETERNAL LIFE. WE CAN DELIVER IT.”

Chew-Z needs no Layouts to work, but it also possesses the distinctly negative indication of putting the user into a universe which Eldritch controls, a universe that is difficult, if not impossible, to escape from.

Dick paints Eldritch as a nefarious and possibly alien figure, his “three stigmata” (a prosthetic arm, eyes, and teeth) symbolizing what Dick saw as the “negative trinity of alienation, blurred reality, and despair” we all risk by losing our capacity for empathy and by giving into the technology of control.

Like the Gnostics of old, Dick flip-flopped between viewing the demiurge and his archons as evil, or as aberrant and selfish products of their own ignorance and power.

The difference is crucial: the Manichaean notion that good and evil are absolute principles sucks you into a harsh and rather paranoid dualism, while the other, more “Valentinian” mode of gnosis opens into a continual transformation, an awakening that’s always on the fly.

For the Valentinians of Alexandria, the moment of transcendence is not an E-ticket out of here but a signal fed back into the maze of the churning world.

As Leo Bulero, the hero of Three Stigmata, writes with quiet hope, “I mean, after all; you have to consider we’re only made out of dust…So I personally have faith that even in this lousy situation we’re faced with we can make it.”

In Dick’s A Maze of Death, the gnostic quest for self-knowledge leads beyond the paranoid web of the archons into a theological meta-fiction out of Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author.

The 1970 novel opens with a group of colonists congregating on the lush, leafy planet Delmak-O. When they arrive, their taped instructions are “accidentally” erased.

Much of the remaining plot resembles Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, as one by one the colonists are murdered or mysteriously die.

It’s tough to tell exactly what’s happening, since each colonist also sinks deeper and deeper into his or her own subjective reality, becoming increasingly incapable of communicating with the others.

The one consensus reality widely accepted among the colonists is the theology of A.J. Specktowsky’s How I Rose From the Dead in My Spare Time and So Can You.

Specktowsky’s book posits four deities: the Mentufacturer (the creator), the Form-Destroyer (death, entropy), the Walker-on-Earth (an Elijah-like prophet), and the Intercessor (the Christ figure or Redeemer).

As Dick writes in a note that precedes the narrative, this theology resulted from his attempt to “develop an abstract, logical system of religious thought, based on the arbitrary postulate that God exists.”

The cybernetic underpinnings of this theology is symbolized by the colonist’s mode of prayer, in which a transmitter and a “relay network” contact believers to the god-worlds.

Of course, this system almost immediately breaks down.

The colonists then discover that only some aspects of the natural environment are organic, while others, particularly the insects, are artificial constructs.

There are camera-bees, flies with speakers and musical tapes, fleas that endlessly reprint books.

Examining a miniature building under a microscope, Seth Morley discovers amidst its circuitry the phrase “Made at Terra 35082R.”

Soon, Morley’s growing doubts about Delmak-0 produce a paranoid breakthrough:
[it is] as if, he thought, those hills in the background, and that great plateau to the right, are a painted backdrop.

As if all this, and ourselves, and the settlement—all are contained in a geodesic dome. And research men, like entirely deformed scientists of pulp fiction, are peering down on us…

The colonists come to believe that they are part of an experiment and that the initial malfunction of their instruction tape was deliberate.

They conclude that they are actually on Earth, inmates of an insane asylum who have had their memories suppressed for some military experiment.

Their suspicions are then confirmed when they spot uniformed guards and flying helicopters charging around the landscape of Delmak-0.

The glimpse of these military-scientific “archons” satisfies Morley’s paranoid scenario, which includes many elements common to pulp fiction and to actual conspiracy theories (men in black, blocked memories, pervasive surveillance devices).

But the colonists can’t figure out why each of them is tattooed with the phrase “Persus 9.”

So they approach the tench, a strange animal who earlier offered oracular answers to their questions.

After being asked the meaning of Persus 9, the creature explodes in a mass of gelatin and computer circuitry, initiating a chain reaction which results in the apocalyptic destruction of the planet.

In the following chapter, we discover that Persus 9 is the name of a disabled spaceship hopelessly circling a dead star.

In order to maintain sanity as they drift to their doom, the crew was programming their T.E.N.C.H. 889B computer to generate synthetic worlds based on few basic parameters initially established by the crew — including the same postulate that Dick used to create Specktowsky’s book: that God exists.

The crew then entered these virtual realities through “polyencephalic fusion.”
As postmodern allegories go, A Maze of Death cuts to the bone. Incapable of altering the destructive course of our dysfunctional technological society, we resort to what Neil Postman called “amusing ourselves to death.”

The gnostic quest for true identity rends these artificial environments, but it offers no ascent, only an awareness of our slow, decaying drift toward oblivion.

Though the T.E.N.C.H. is another one of Dick’s demiurges, a figure for a culture-industry based on “mentufactured” (or, as Disney puts it, “imagineered”) distractions, the machine’s programmed illusions are not the product of some conspiracy of evil archons but of our own alienated desires.

For obvious reasons, Morley feels depressed to the point of suicide.

As the rest of the crew prepare to enter another simulation, he wanders into a corridor where he encounters a figure calling himself the Intercessor. Morley says, “But we invented you! We and T.E.N.C.H. 889B.”

The Intercessor does not explain himself, and leads Morley “into the stars,” while the rest of the crew find themselves once again on Delmak-O.

Like most interventions by a deus ex machina, this conclusion is not particularly satisfying on a narrative level.

But the Intercessor does create a gap in Dick’s otherwise bleak scenario, a liminal space suddenly charged with the ambiguous power of the simulacrum.

It also suggests that the arbitrary postulates of our cultural software can still invade and transform the world.

As the British SF author Ian Watson notes, “one rule of Dick’s false realities is the paradox that once in, there’s no way out, yet for this very reason transcendence of a sort can be achieved.”[12]

The distant alien god of the Gnostics may be nothing more than a metaphysical rumor lurking in the back of metaphysical bookstores, but the false god they called the demiurge is alive and well and living in technoculture.

Networked computer games, Hollywood special effects, and virtual theme park rides all seek, not only to just distract or entertain, but to immerse us into new, concocted realities.

In Out of Control, Kevin Kelly discusses “God games” like Populus and SimEarth, which allow players to play demiurge, tweaking creation by altering levels of carbon dioxide or the rate of urban development.

Kelly points out that these games parallel the science of artificial life, where researchers “grow” synthetic life-like forms by introducing basic rules of behavior and then letting whole worlds of code evolve inside the computer.
“I can’t imagine anything more addictive than being a god,” he writes.

“A hundred years from now nothing will keep us away from artificial cosmos cartridges we can purchase and [then] pop…into a world machine [in order] to watch creatures come alive and interact on their own accord.”[13]

Of course, novelists have been creating spurious worlds for centuries, and before them bards and shamans.

Much SF writing—especially that “hard” SF that aspires to the rigor of “hard” sciences—works by establishing a set of axiomatic “What If?” assumptions, and then “running” an internally-consistent narrative based on those parameters.

As Dick writes in his “How to Build a Universe” essay, “it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.”[14]

But Dick yanked the rug out from under the technocultural mania for producing ever more vivid and life-like simulations.

“I will reveal a secret to you,” he writes in the same essay. “I like to build universes that do fall apart. I like to see them come unglued, and I like to see how the characters in the novels cope with this problem.”[15]

As a creator of worlds, Dick was not a proud and all-controlling demiurge but an ironic Trickster, a Shiva with a “secret love of chaos.”

But how does chaos and disorder fit into Dick’s various information cosmologies?

Like Thomas Pynchon, Dick was obsessed with the second law of thermodynamics, and he coined words like kipple and gubble to denote the corrosive power of entropy and its ability to render form into formlessness.

Along with Norbert Wiener, Dick viewed entropy metaphysically, casting it in some tales as evil incarnate or as the sign of some cosmic Fall.

In contrast to this, Dick later came to laud the positive and “negentropic” (or anti-entropic) power of VALIS’s restorative information.

This makes good human sense: as finite, far-from-equilibrium organisms, we are whirlpools of order and information whipped together for a time against the steady downstream drift of entropy.

However, the pseudo-realities forged by the archons play havoc with this Manichean scheme.

In a world of manufactured illusions, the gremlins of entropy—malfunctions, interference, decay—can paradoxically liberate us by gouging holes in the smooth surface of simulation; these corrosive gaps create the space for breakthroughs and insights, imaginative or real.

In a number of Dick’s works, it is only the anomalous decay of objects that alerts the characters that the false world around them is not what it seems.

Even the disguised God of VALIS appears as “trash discarded, debris no longer needed.” In a sense, entropy is what kills all our illusions, and this dark liberation becomes even more important in a world of potentially insidious, or at least overbearing, technological constructs.

As public spaces devolve into theme parks or malls, where the creative force of organic life is managed down to every blade of grass, entropy—mildew, rot, decay—even becomes the final sign of nature and its spontaneous freedom.

As the original information theorist Claude Shannon discovered, there is a curiously perfect match between the thermodynamic equation for entropy in physical systems and the one describing the noise that crops up in information channels.

Similarly, Dick’s fascination with real-world rot and rust translated into a fascination with noise and interference in the communication networks that often link his characters.

In The Divine Invasion, a late Dick novel that carries on many of VALIS’ metaphysical themes, electromagnetic noise play a liberating role.
From his private dome on the off-world colony CY30-CY30B, Herb Asher transmits information and music to the other colonist domes.

His high-tech entertainment system continually plays videos and tapes of his favorite pop singer Linda Fox, whose holographic posters cover the wall.
But he keeps picking up a soupy muzak version of Fiddler on the Roof.

Asher later discovers that he is actually in cryonic suspension, where his inert body picks up signals from a nearby radio station broadcasting the Broadway musical.
Like the spirits in Swedenborg’s afterworld, whose first order of business is to convince incoming souls that they are actually dead, the radio interference acts as an Intercessor, calling Asher to wake up to his actual condition.

By insisting on the liberating truths concealed in crossed-wires and mixed messages, Dick serves as a kind of spiritual godfather for media tricksters everywhere, from graffiti artists to video activists to hackers to hoaxers.

In his prescient 1972 speech “The Android and the Human,” Dick spoke glowingly about young phone phreaks like Captain Crunch, who built a blue-box that allowed him to make long distance calls for free.

Anticipating the more frazzled edge of online libertarianism and the ethical ambiguities of hacker pranks and poachings, Dick went on to claim that in “a totalitarian society in which the state apparatus is all-powerful, the ethics most important for the survival of the true, human individual would be: Cheat, lie, evade, fake it, be elsewhere, forge documents, build improved electronic gadgets in your garage that’ll outwit the gadgets used by the authorities.”[16]

Dick was no futurist; his value as an SF writer lies not in any predictions about the specific technological course of human civilization (there are few computers in his work), but in his extraordinary intuition for the subjective conditions of the mutating human self.

So if Dick’s counter-cultural battle-cry sounds somewhat dated in an era when criminal cartels, fascist militiamen, and transnational corporations wage similar tactics against the state, his spiritual commitment to freedom does not.

We cannot know whether the virtual webwork now girding the earth will become a holistic society of mind or a playground for the archons, a “vast active living intelligence system” or an infinite nest of Perky Pat Layouts—and the likelihood that it will fuse all of these possibilities, while producing enough novelties and shocks to surprise all but the most committed paranoids, only begs the question.

Which is simply this: What are the ethical “postulates” that guide the self through such a world?

For Dick, one of these fundamental values was simply compassion, the caritas of St. Paul, or the empathy of Lord Running Clam, the telepathic Ganymedean slime-mold in his Clans of the Alphane Moon.

We feel compassion for and in his characters, ordinary flawed people struggling with impossible emotional and ethical contradictions; we recognize these people and their slapstick dystopias; they are us.

And yet Dick’s point of view was extremely alienated and critical; questioning authority (even the authority of the author), he shifted like an ontological nomad between subjects and truths and positions of power, constantly testing for the trap doors in the theater of the world.

His was not a gnosis that knows, but one that seeks to know, or rather dissolves its own convictions into the anxious mysterium.

Dick loved the seventeenth century English religious poet Henry Vaughan, and I think he may have seen himself in the final lines of Vaughan’s “Man”:

Man is the shuttle, to whose winding quest
And passage through these looms
God ordered motion, but ordained no rest.

[1]Cited in Lawrence Sutin, Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick, (Harmony Books, NY, 1989), 210.
[2]Philip K. Dick, VALIS, (Bantam, NY, 1981), 33.
[3]Sutin 233.
[4]Dick, 219.
[5]Ibid, 217.
[6] Ibid, 192.
[7]Ibid, 63.
[8]Cited in Paul Williams, Only Apparently Real: The World of Philip K. Dick, (Arbor House, NY, 1986), 164.
[9]Ibid, 223.
[10]Phil K. Dick, “How to Build a Universe that Doesn’t Fall Apart in Two Days” in I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon, ed. Mark Hurst, Paul Williams (St. Martin’s, NY, 1985), 4.
[11]Ibid, 105.
[12]Ian Watson, “The False Reality as Mediator,” in On Philip K. Dick: 40 Articles from Science-Fiction Studies, (SF-TH Inc., Greencastle, IN, 1992), 67.
[13]Kevin Kelly, Out of Control, (Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass, 1994), 233.
[14]”How to Build”, 5.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Philip K. Dick, “The Android and the Human,” in The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick, ed. Lawrence Sutin, (Pantheon, NY, 1995), 195.

Philip’s life ran from the fall of the Kennedys, the landing on the moon, the advent of the Star Trek Saga through the Nixon Watergate debacle into the advent of the Reagan years.

Unlike populist Science Fiction of the mainstream, he di not see humankind reaching for the brighter future, but rather the emergence of a culture of paranoia, a police state, bent on control with whatever mechanism it could employ.

While never exactly portraying it/hi/her as “God”, he saw the concept that the Universe was itself an over-arching intelligence at war with one, Matrix-like, in control of the masses of our world.

His death at 53, spawned more questions than answer, as none of his voluminous personal writings or journals were recovered.

From “Happy Birthday To Arthur C. Clarke And Philip K. Dick: Today In Science & Science Fiction”


Born on December 16, 1928, Philip K. Dick has had more impact on Hollywood than perhaps any other science fiction writer.

His works have been adapted constantly since Ridley Scott and screenwriters Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples turned Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? into the film Blade Runner in 1982.

The adaptations of his works have never achieved the same level of brilliance as Blade Runner, but his creativity and mind-bending plots have been the basis of dozens of films over the years, ranging from the cult classic Total Recall (based on Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”), to Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, to 2011’s The Adjustment Bureau-and the 2014 Independent Production Radio Free Albemuth.

Sadly, Dick didn’t get to live to see how lasting his legacy would be.

However, his work re-surges because he SAW the world we now struggle with.

Like a Prophet of ancient times, he warned us of the world we have allowed to come into being.

His works are revelations of the very societies we are being enslaved by.

Thankfully, Dick lives in the prolific writings he left behind, and in the countless other writers and artists his work inspired.

Dick would have turned 85 today.


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