Philip K. Dick's spiritual epiphany

#1
https://blog.oup.com/2016/07/philip-k-di...-epiphany/

"In February of 1974, Philip K. Dick’s life changed. While he was recovering from dental surgery, he claims, he had a spiritual epiphany. It started with a delivery from the local pharmacy. Three days after Dick’s surgery, an order of medications arrived in the hands of a stunning delivery woman. She wore a gold fish pendant that she said was a symbol of early Christianity. After taking the package, Dick saw a mysterious flash of pink light and collapsed onto his bed. A mystical contemplative, Dick supposed the pink light was a spiritual force activated by the fish pendant. As he lay in bed, visions of abstract paintings appeared, followed by philosophical ideas and engineering blueprints.

Over the next few months, the visions continued to develop. Dick saw streams of “shiny fire” moving through his environment and entering his body. He caught glimpses of a strange, humanoid being that appeared to blend in with his surroundings. He named it Zebra, and decided it was a benign deity that could “enter anything, animate or inanimate” and “take volitional control of causal processes- mimesis, mimicry, camouflage.” He saw a portal of pink light open, and out of it stepped a team of tiny three-eyed extraterrestrials who warned there was a cosmic conspiracy behind the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King Jr. The aliens said the ancient Roman Empire, stealthily hidden over the centuries but still active, was responsible. Rome “had come forward, by insidious and sly degrees, under new names, hidden by the flak talk and phony obscurations, at last into our world again.” Nixon was a modern Caesar. Frightening scenes of ancient Rome showed up, superimposed over Dick’s suburban California neighborhood. Dick felt guided by helpful spirits, especially one known as “Thomas,” who he believed to be an ancient Christian revolutionary.

Eventually, the visions disappeared. But Dick’s fascination with what he called his “divine madness” remained. He was so obsessed that, over the next eight years of his life (Dick died in 1982), he produced an 8,000 page interpretation of the visions he titled his Exegesis. The bulk of it remains unpublished. Each page of the Exegesis proposes fresh ideas about the meaning of Dick’s divine madness. He suggests it may have been the work of KGB telepaths, an extraterrestrial satellite, a first century Christian named Thomas with whom he was in telepathic communication, a version of himself from an alternate dimension, or the spirit of his deceased twin sister contacting him from the spirit world. Another hypothesis Dick considered was that it was all a product of mental illness. While Dick was paranoid—likely because he used amphetamines to enhance his productivity—he knew his divine madness had a lot in common with mystical experiences that were considered bona fide, especially those of of the early Christian mystics known as Gnostics.

After 1974, most of Dick’s writing centered on these matters. While spirituality shows up in his earlier works, after 1974 his focus on it is laser-like. Dick’s 1978 novel VALIS combines science fiction with an autobiographical account of his divine madness. So does Radio Free Albemuth, an early draft of VALIS later reworked into a separate novel and published posthumously. The Divine Invasion, also written in the 1970s, is based on the notion of a God who, like Zebra, redeems the world by entering and mimicking it. The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, published posthumously, explores related aspects of Dick’s spiritual views in narrative form. Every novel Dick wrote after his visions was either about them or related themes.

It’s hard to say whether the impact of Dick’s divine madness on his writing career was beneficial or stultifying. In some respects it was limiting, insofar as he lost interest in writing about much else. On the other hand, VALIS is one of his best books. Furthermore, eight thousand pages of Exegesis in eight years is an impressive amount of work, despite the fact that it consists mostly of esoteric philosophical contemplation not intended for public consumption.

One change in Dick’s writing is that his post-1974 pieces are arguably more optimistic. Prior to Dick’s religious experience, his tales usually ended on a paranoid or ambiguous note—often punctuated by what I’ve called equivocal rescue. In some stories, Dick’s protagonist is saved by a deity or other powerful figure, only to discover it was an illusion. In others, an apparent rescue turns out to be a cruel trap. The world is not only cruel and untrustworthy, these stories seem to say, but also may be essentially meaningless. After 1974, Dick’s stories suggest the possibility of finding meaning. Dick wrote that one aspect of his divine madness was “paranoia turned inside out.” Where he had formerly perceived malign conspiracies, Dick now often saw divine conspiracies. As the end of his life approached, Philip K. Dick increasingly considered that the universe might be on our side."
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#2
(Feb 8, 2020 05:48 PM)Magical Realist Wrote: https://blog.oup.com/2016/07/philip-k-di...-epiphany/

[...] The aliens said the ancient Roman Empire, stealthily hidden over the centuries but still active, was responsible. Rome “had come forward, by insidious and sly degrees, under new names, hidden by the flak talk and phony obscurations, at last into our world again.” Nixon was a modern Caesar. Frightening scenes of ancient Rome showed up, superimposed over Dick’s suburban California neighborhood. Dick felt guided by helpful spirits, especially one known as “Thomas,” who he believed to be an ancient Christian revolutionary. [...]


Creationists ... Is that who I'm specifically considering here or is it really a broader population group? Anyway, the times I've thrown it out there, they don't seem to get the usefulness or value of the general idea of systematic deception to their cause. Whether it's PKD or Kant or simulation hypothesis or whatever. They actually seem more locked into materialism (as an inflexible manner of substantive existence rather than an abstract mapping of mechanistic relationships) than maybe their scientism rivals.
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#3
Quote:While Dick was paranoid—likely because he used amphetamines to enhance his productivity—he knew his divine madness had a lot in common with mystical experiences that were considered bona fide, especially those of of the early Christian mystics known as Gnostics.

The theme of being imprisoned in a deity-made illusion from which we are trying to escape is what Gnoticism teaches. The creator deity in this case is an evil tyrant or Demiurge enslaving our souls in the darkness of materia prima, or physical matter. Our task is to free the scintilla of light inside of matter that is our true identity, fragments of the truly divine essence, from this fallen state and become spiritual entities once again:

"Human nature mirrors the duality found in the world: in part it was made by the false creator God and in part it consists of the light of the True God. Humankind contains a perishable physical and psychic component, as well as a spiritual component which is a fragment of the divine essence. This latter part is often symbolically referred to as the “divine spark”. The recognition of this dual nature of the world and of the human being has earned the Gnostic tradition the epithet of “dualist”.

Humans are generally ignorant of the divine spark resident within them. This ignorance is fostered in human nature by the influence of the false creator and his Archons, who together are intent upon keeping men and women ignorant of their true nature and destiny. Anything that causes us to remain attached to earthly things serves to keep us in enslavement to these lower cosmic rulers. Death releases the divine spark from its lowly prison, but if there has not been a substantial work of Gnosis undertaken by the soul prior to death, it becomes likely that the divine spark will be hurled back into, and then re-embodied within, the pangs and slavery of the physical world.

Not all humans are spiritual (pneumatics) and thus ready for Gnosis and liberation. Some are earthbound and materialistic beings (hyletics), who recognize only the physical reality. Others live largely in their psyche (psychics). Such people usually mistake the Demiurge for the True God and have little or no awareness of the spiritual world beyond matter and mind.

In the course of history, humans progress from materialistic sensate slavery, by way of ethical religiosity, to spiritual freedom and liberating Gnosis. As the scholar G. Quispel wrote: “The world-spirit in exile must go through the Inferno of matter and the Purgatory of morals to arrive at the spiritual Paradise.” This kind of evolution of consciousness was envisioned by the Gnostics, long before the concept of evolution was known."--- http://gnosis.org/gnintro.htm


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