Friday, September 28, 2012

Ubik Graffiti in El Cerrito

Thanks to Henri Wintz for the photos.

Kinney on the Exegesis -- comparison to Swedenborg+Artaud

"The Philip K. Dick I've discovered in the Exegesis reminds me of two other unique visionaries: Antonin Artaud and Emmanuel Swedenborg. All three delved into alternate realities with unique results. But Artaud was ultimately deemed mad, institutionalized, and subjected to massive electro-shock therapy. Swedenborg died peacefully, respected (and feared) for his elaborate visions of heaven and hell; and after his death his followers founded a new church centered around his revelations.

"Luckily, Phil didn't have to suffer Artaud's fate, but it remains to be seen whether the Exegesis lends itself to the creation of a new Dickian religion. The possibility is a little grotesque, but stranger things have happened—many of them in PKD's own writings."
PKD Society newsletter #3 (thanks to Frank Hollander for posting this)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Abstract on PKD, Bergson and Paul

I had lunch with James Burton at the conference and talked Exegesis, and enjoyed his talk. His work looks very promising. I couldn't agree more about the emphasis on Bergson and Paul, the political dimension of Dick's religious thought, and the central important of fictionalizing. Look forward to his book on SF and Salvation!


Machines Making Gods

Philip K. Dick, Henri Bergson and Saint Paul

  1. James Burton
    1. Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths (University of London)


This article addresses shared themes in the writing of Saint Paul and the work of the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. Much recent philosophical interest in Saint Paul focuses on his contemporary significance as a radical political thinker, following Jacob Taubes' influential late work, The Political Theology of Paul. Assessments of Paul's writing in this context (e.g. by Agamben, Badiou, Milbank) highlight the various ways in which he uses fictionalizing, for example in setting up the tension between the present world and a messianic future, in the role he assigns to faith, and in the importance he assigns to the counter-factuality of resurrection. Yet the common thread of fictionalizing running through these themes has not been explicitly discussed. Meanwhile, the supposed `religious turn' in Dick's late writing has often been taken to have less political significance than his earlier science fiction. Considering Paul alongside Philip K. Dick, this article will attempt to bring out this central role of fictionalizing in the religious experiences of both. Like Paul, Dick experienced a visionary encounter with a God-like entity that shaped his interests and writing for the remainder of his life, and developed his own soteriology in response to what he perceived as the continued existence of (the Roman) Empire in modernity. Bringing out the mutual complementarity of Dick and Paul is facilitated by a framework derived from Henri Bergson's Two Sources of Religion, which theorizes the relation between mechanization as a human tendency characterizing both imperialism and industrialization, and fabulation as a human faculty for using fiction for the jointly immanent-transcendent purposes of survival/salvation. In this context, the diverse modes of fictionalizing employed by both Dick and Paul, including their unconsciously produced visions, may be understood as part of an ongoing, continually renewed strategy of revolutionary transformation of both self and world.

Lethem on PKD the conversationalist

"there were very few conversationalists who could fully contend with Dick's full obsessional outpouring of scholarship, imaginative leaps, and bullshit gambits"

Lethem on Dick's [ag-]Gnosticism

Library of America: Was Dick any more committed to Gnostic beliefs than he was to Taoism or Buddhism or Hinduism?
Lethem: testimony has every persuaded me that his commitment to a given belief system was ever embracing or permanent

T.S. Eliot quote

"Every experience is a paradox in that it means to be absolute, and yet is relative; in that it somehow always goes beyond itself and yet never escapes itself."

Plotinus: Soul is Nowhere

"...the soul must have been in something if it reascends; and if it does not, it is still somewhere; it is in some other vegetal soul: but all this means merely that it is not crushed into some one spot; if a Soul-power reascends, it is within the Soul-power preceding it; that in turn can be only in the soul-power prior again, the phase reaching upwards to the Intellectual-Principle. Of course nothing here must be understood spatially: Soul never was in space; and the Divine Intellect, again, is distinguished from soul as being still more free.

Soul thus is nowhere but in the Principle which has that characteristic existence at once nowhere and everywhere."

Ennead 5.2.2

Plotinus on mystical experience

It is now time, leaving every object of sense far behind, to contemplate, by a certain ascent, a beauty of a much higher order; a beauty not visible to the corporeal eye, but alone manifest to the brighter eye of the soul, independent of all corporeal aid.
 What measures, then, shall we adopt? What machine employ, or what reason consult by means of which we may contemplate this ineffable beauty; a beauty abiding in the most divine sanctuary without ever proceeding from its sacred retreats lest it should be beheld by the profane and vulgar eye? We must enter deep into ourselves, and, leaving behind the objects of corporeal sight, no longer look back after any of the accustomed spectacles of sense.
The sensitive eye can never be able to survey, the orb of the sun, unless strongly endued with solar fire, and participating largely of the vivid ray. Everyone therefore must become divine, and of godlike beauty, before he can gaze upon a god and the beautiful itself.

"Essay on the Beautiful" (Thomas Taylor translation)  

Me and Erik Davis at the PKD Fest

Thanks are due to Umberto Rossi who took and posted the photos.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Photos of the PKD Fest panels that I moderated

Thanks to Chris Mays and Frank Hollander for posting these.

Biographical Panel

Exegesis Panel

Sunday, September 2, 2012

PKD on Plotinus in The Exegesis

[4:103] The Other is not any one thing found in any particular place. It is a quality of (or rather visible in) all things, like a specific color. It shines through them at us. We see it and it sees back, as in a dialog.... Like Plotinus' concept of concentric rings of emanation, we encounter our Others in gradually increasing intensity and clarity; they become clearer to us continually.

The article said that it remains speculation, this orthogonal time, not for me is it, nor was it for Plotinus.

(I think what I experienced was the Neoplatonistic anamnesis which Plotinus mentions, but ... well, I hope so.)

The former is the present; the latter is our future, sort of rising up from within, from potent to actual. This can be represented spatially in terms of rings, concentric, of actualization, à la Plotinus.

And then you are rewarded (cf. Plotinus) with a vision of the one behind the multiplicity, from which both realms—and hence the mid-realm too—emanate.

" if the past is within what we see (smaller concentric rings, constricted) perhaps one can reason that the future consists of larger rings than that which makes up our perceptual present; vide Plotinus."

By viewing it as a non- spatial journey, Plotinus made it available to this lifetime. (I mean, if you're alive and in your body, how are you going to travel up past the planets one by one?) I see: Ubik stipulates that they are dead and so—so-to-speak inadvertently—has the divine—Ubik—available in the trash level: close at hand. So I'm not dead (v. supra). It's just that Plotinus is right.

...the other basic error in Western philosophy (held by, e.g., Pythagoras and the Orphics), corrected by Plotinus, was the error that the journey of the soul was spatial: first down from the cylum past the planets and then back up again (an error held, again, by Plato!). In this ontological view of the journey, rather than spatial, Plotinus anticipates Heidegger. The upper realm is spatially here, not there. I should know; I entered it, in 3-74. And if here, it can be entered in this life, not just after death!

I have come to Christian Platonism and am very close (if not congruent to) Plotinus' Neoplatonism and the possibility, expressed by Plotinus, of experiencing the Form world and the Mind of the One, Valis being the One; have I not said that the essence of Valis is unity, that Valis above all is, through structure, unitary? This, then, is Plotinus' One or God. And unity is what I saw that made me realize I had seen Valis (as I call it). I know how the One can be the One; it is via Pythagoras' structure which is to say kosmos in the sense that Pythagoras meant that term to be used: "The harmonious fitting-together of the beautiful." I am, then, identifying Plotinus' One with Pythagoras' kosmos, with a hint of Sankara's doctrine about Brahman and the Atman.

...this did not have to do with Christianity per se but with the abstracting of essentials at the expense of accidents hence of Neoplatonism—which makes Valis Plotinus's One.*

Since creation is a hypostasis of God, as the Sufis say, one should look for beauty in it, as manifestations of the divine. There is no sharp disjunction between God and creation, because of the intermediary Word and the Forms. Plotinus' concept of "concentric rings of emanation" sums it up.

My 5-D realm is precisely what Plotinus was speaking of: concentric rings, not a fall in space and time. It is the realm of the sacred, of Act III of Parsifal; hence, "Here, my son, time turns into space." It is the realm of Kosmos Noetos, hence logos, hence the realm of Christ.

[53:E-8] Will Durant points out that the ascent in Dante's Commedia resembles Plotinus' ascent through the successive concentric rings. Absolutely; and I say, the passage over from the 4-D world to the 5-D—which are concentric or coaxial—is the crucial one—this line of thought leading back to my durable conviction that we (in our normal 4-D realm) are in Purgatorio; in which case passage to the 5-D realm is a fortiori a pas sage—truly and literally—from Purgatorio to Paradiso (not als ob but literally); this is what Dante is talking about, what happened to me.

also, here is what PKD said late in life about Plotinus in an interview with Frank Bertrand

FCB: Once your interest in Philosophy was sparked, how did you then pursue this interest? What books did you at first read? What courses if any did you take in philosophy?
PKD: I dropped out of college very early and began to write, pursuing my interest in philosophy on my own. My main sources were poets, not philosophers: Yeats and Wordsworth and the seventeenth century English metaphysical poets, Goethe, and then overt philosophers such as Spinoza and Leibnitz and Plotinus -- the last influencing me greatly.

HOWEVER, in another late interview with Gregg Rickman (book 2) he says this

"But I just went to the library and tracked these things down. Where I met my downfall was when I tried to read Plotinus. And I couldn't fathom what he was saying at all. Plotinus was not in print. There were no books then of his actual writing. There was a syllabus published by the University of Chicago--or Columbia, some goddamned university--and I couldn't make any sense of it. So I dropped philosophy at that point, and got interested in Jung, psychology, and veered off into that. So philosophy doesn't show up as much in my early writing as psychology does. Then philosophy starts coming back later on."

Letters February 13, 1975

"The basic scientific discovery of my vast metaphysic, which I had written you about, was my postulation of two times ar right angles to each other, which I called vertical (which we normally perceive) and horizontal, which is the axis along which the objects in Ubik regress. Now I have the new Britannica, and in looking up the article on time, I find that, yes indeed, it is speculated now that besides the regular time there may be a hypertime which would be orthoginal, a word I didn't know; I looked it up and sure enough, it means at right angles. Also, someone (Kurt Godel, I think the Britannica article said) speculated that the orthoginal time might be curved, since time and space are regarded now as intergral, and space does curve; this hypertime would curve back onto itself...and hello, Gracie Slick and "Hyperdrive." The world of trash (e.g. s-f and rock) have done did it. The article said that it remains speculation, this orthoginal time; not for me, nor was it for Plotinus. So although I have discovered and invented nothing (which is "wu" in Chinese, and considered priceless) I have at least found something. The trash (to fuse Lem and Jesus as coiners of metaphor) of great price, for which a man sells all he has that he may acquire it."

Faith of Our Fathers - Afterward

This text provides an interestingly boiled down version of Dick's approach to religious studies. The part about Erigena at the end is one of the fullest treatments we have of that Erigena quote, which he usually only mentions briefly in The Exegesis.

"I don’t advocate any of the ideas in "Faith Of Our Fathers"; I don’t, for example, claim that the Iron Curtain countries will win the cold war – or morally ought to. One theme in the story, however, seems compelling to me, in view of recent experiments with hallucinogenic drugs: the theological experience, which so many who have taken LSD have reported. This appears to me to be a true new frontier; to a certain extent the religious experience can now be scientifically studied … and, what is more, may be viewed as part hallucination but containing other, real components. God, as a topic in science fiction, when it appeared at all, used to be treated polemically, as in "Out Of The Silent Planet." But I prefer to treat it as intellectually exciting. What if, through psychedelic drugs, the religious experience becomes commonplace in the life of intellectuals? The old atheism, which seemed to many of us – including me – valid in terms of our experiences, or rather lack of experiences, would have to step momentarily aside. Science fiction, always probing what is about to be thought, become, must eventually tackle without preconceptions a future neo-mystical society in which theology constitutes a major force as in the medieval period. This is not necessarily a backward step, because now these beliefs can be tested – forced to put up or shut up. I, myself, have no real beliefs about God; only my experience that He is present … subjectively, of course; but the inner realm is real too. And in a science fiction story one projects what has been a personal inner experience into a milieu; it becomes socially shared, hence discussible. The last word, however, on the subject of God may have already been said: in AD 840 by John Scotus Erigena at the court of the Frankish king Charles the Bald. "We do not know what God is. God himself does not know what He is because He is not anything. Literally God is not, because He transcends being." Such a penetrating – and Zen – mystical view, arrived at so long ago, will be hard to top; in my own experiences with psychedelic drugs I have had precious tiny illumination compared with Erigena." 

Robert Anton Wilson on meeting PKD / Phil Dick on RAW?

Phil Dick and I had a long conversation one afternoon at Santa Rosa, and it was only a year later that I found out that he and I had exactly similar experiences at approximately the same time, which left both of us wondering if we'd been contacted by god, by the devil, by an extra-terrestrial from Sirius or by some evil parapsychologist working for either the CIA or the KGB, or if we had just gone temporarily crazy. Then I realized this whole long conversation was Phil's attempt to find out how crazy I was. If I was sane, there was a chance that he was sane too. But if I was crazy, that increased the probability that he was crazy. He apparently decided that I was sane enough that he could trust that he was possibly sane too, so he started publishing some of his experiences, which now are in several books: Valis, The Divine Invasion, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, Radio Free Albemuth and the Exegesis. My accounts of similar experiences are in Cosmic Trigger Vol. 1." "Memories of Phil" 
Source: PKD Otaku #11

Here is a post about the meeting between RAW and PKD that Tom Jackson shared, which includes n amusing quote from SF author David Hartwell:

It got down to Robert Anton Wilson and Philip K. Dick talking. And at a certain point, I could not follow what they were saying, and so I just left and went out and got a beer and came back later. They were still talking.

Robert Antone Wilson wrote a few articles about PKD.
The Return of Philip K. Dick - A Review of Philip K. Dick:The Dream Connection
"The Black Iron Prison" in his Cosmic Trigger III: My Life After Death
Scattered mentions of PKD theories in Everything Is Under Control: Cults, Cover-Ups and Conspiracies

Here is what RAW says about PKD in a 1986 preface to Cosmic Trigger 1: The Final Secret of the Illuminati

"In this connection, I am often asked about two books by other authors which are strangely resonant with Cosmic Trigger -- namely VALIS by Philip K. Dick and The Sirian Experiment by Doris Lessing. VALIS is a novel which broadly hints that it is more than a novel -- that it is an actual account of Phil Dick's own experience with some form of "Higher Intelligence." In fact, VALIS is only slightly fictionalized; the actual events on which it is based are recounted in a long interview Phil gave shortly before his death (see Philip K. Dick: The Last Testament, by Gregg Rickman.) The parallels with my own experience are numerous -- but so are the differences. If the same source was beaming ideas to both Phil and me, the messages got our individual flavors mixed into them as we decoded the signals.

I met Phil Dick on two or three occasions and corresponded with him a bit. My impression was that he was worried that his experience was a temporary insanity and was trying to figure out if I was nutty, too. I'm not sure if he ever decided."

Dick read Wilson's Cosmic Trigger and mentions it in the Exegesis. He wrote a well known blurb about it:

"Wilson managed to reverse every mental polarity in me, as if I had been pulled through infinity. I was astonished and delighted." 

But I haven't been able to find much information about PKD on RAW. If anybody knows anything I don't know, please do chime in.

 a commenter on a post about RAW/PKD posted this:

"In _Philip K. Dick: In His Own Words_,ed. Greg Rickman, p.55, PKD talks about a little about his acquaintance with RAW and that both of them agreed on their fascination with conspiracy theories, that they tink about CTs in similar ways, including the "absurd" idea that there's something benevolent "behind it all."

In the book _To The High Castle_ by Rickman, on page X of the Foreword, Tim Powers wrote that some "critics" put forth the rumor that PKD's correspondence with RAW caused PKD to go over the edge. Something like that. I don't have that book on hand. Anyway, I've never gotten a good answer: WHO? What "critic" put forth that idea?"

here are a few mentions of RAW in PKD's Exegesis

[30:15] ... Leary's work suggests that every atom contains the "brain" of the whole universe."... This is also the basic axiom of magic ... stated in the tale of Hermes in the famous sentence, "That which is above is in that which is below." ("The macrocosm is within the microcosm.")But the McKenna theory goes far beyond this....We are riding not one but 64 evolutionary waves all mounting toward a cosmic awakening something like the Omega point suggested by paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin.* [Editor's note: from Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger, 1977]  ...Thus I lived out this process the McKennas described, somehow cut loose from objective time.... All I had to do was turn to my grand theme (e.g., in Maze, in Stigmata and Eye, etc.) and perceive our composite (mixed universe) as irreal (i.e., hologrammatic). Tessa saw this at once.

 [1:121]  So if you push essence far enough in terms of ascending levels, you find you have gone a full circle, and you wind up encountering ultimate deity cooking and writing pop tunes on the radio and popular novels, and a breath of wind in the weeds in the alley. It's as if the ultimate mystery is that there is no mystery—it's like what Robert Anton Wilson says in the Cosmic Trigger about being outside the Castle when you think you're in, and inside when you think you're out. And in a way what is most paradoxical is that I said it all in Ubik years ago! So in a way my exegesis of 2-3-74 says only, "Ubik is true."

[30:11] The real conspiracy goes much deeper than conspiracy buffs (such as Bob Wilson) suspect, although he almost had it in the theory that our universe is a hologram created by the intersection of two hyperuniverses.

And in VALIS: "I've read The Cosmic Trigger and Robert Anton Wilson says--" [Kevin gets cut off by Mini] (p. 204)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

PKD Cutups

Confessions of a Counter-Crap World Artist

A Scanner Time-Slip

The Wub Who Japed

Upon the Dull Mars

The Shifting Realities Whose
Teeth Were All Exactly Alike

The Dark-Haired Glimmung

Galactic Puppet Healer

Puttering About in a Small Eye in the Sky

We Can Build Simulacra You

Flow My Three Stigmata, The Eldritch Policeman Said

We Can Kipple It For You Wholesale

Humpty Dumpty in The Broken Bubble

The King of the Indefatigable Frog

Expendable Unchance

I Hope I Shall Arrive Not By Its Cover

The Short Happy Life of the Crystal Crypt

The Eye of the Meddler

A World of Fair Game

Psi-Man Heal My Clay Feet

Foster, You're Human.
A Maze of Ubik

Beyond Lies The Little Black Box

The Man In The High Darkly

Vulcan's Hammer Japed

Radio Free Crack In Space

Bloodmoney Lottery