Some Thoughts on P.K. Dick’s VALIS






Dick wrote VALIS, it appears, as a kind of therapy.  He may have done his own exegesis in the process, but it has the feel of a detailed diary–laying bare the anxieties and cracks in personality that appear from thinking too hard while tripping on LSD.

Yet, there is a kind of coherence Dick is trying to put his finger on.  All the pieces of information, all the guesses as to meaning give the darnedest impression that he’s not making this up: he wants badly to understand these experiences–whether “true” or imagined, he cannot dismiss as unreal.  VALIS is an account of one man trying to make sense of his own madness–trying to deinterlace madness from a series of extra-temporal experiences.

How can we explain his determination to have his son examined despite the assurances of the pediatrician that his son was healthy only to find a lethal condition upon closer inspection?  The success in saving his son is but the first in a series of confirmations that the blinding pink light he experienced in March of 1974 not only happened, but was actually an influx of information that Dick’s brain spent many years unraveling.  Could all this be summed up as an internal physiological condition?  Crossed wires?  Yes.  That possibility is never ruled out, even by the strange synchronicities, the xenoglossia Dick experienced, the knowledge of his son’s lethal condition, basically all the public experiences.  However, we can neither rule out the existence of an interstellar machine pumping information in the form of dangerous, radioactive, pink light in an attempt to give us a path out of a maze of our own making.  Nor can we rule out the possibility that early Christian “cults,” especially the Gnostics, had access to knowledge and material “the plasmate,” by which they had found a way to side-step time itself and live on in eternity.  Nor is there reason to rule out the possibility that Dick was contacted by himself as a superterrestrial god–the lamination of all his selves through time simultaneously–that he created his own Buddha which at the appropriate moment in the current time system, contacted himself via a trans-temporal beam of information.  Nor can we even rule out that someone or something in the Dog Star system, something that resembles artificial intelligence on a scale we can’t even imagine, has been trying to steer us clear of harm and show us the way out of our cage of perception.

But I admit, I want these ulterior possibilities to be true.  I want them to be true more than I want to believe Dick just tripped too much on LSD.  There is an even richer story to be told by unraveling this mess of input.  But so many questions remain…  Why the Rosicrucians?  Why did he speak Greek?  What was the point of all the Christian mysticism?  Were there any extra-terrestrials from Sirius?  Why did he think the voice in his head was some kind of artificial intelligence?  How do the three-eyed people with claw hands figure into the bigger picture?  Was the point of their “ability to build” that they had a hand in the pyramids or other great, ancient structures?  Was he feeding into von Daniken’s “Chariots” idea, or was this a genuine experience unrelated to popular culture at the time?


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