Friday 13 December 2019

The wisdom of PKD - why are all the real Christians Not destroyed in the end times?

From Exegesis - by Philip K Dick (published 2011): [83:76]

The space-time world of this sacred time is found in the Bible as the book of “Acts.” Thus when I wrote [Flow my tears, the policeman said] I discerned this stratum, showing through in a ghostly fashion, as the basis of reality. 

“Acts” describes the power of Rome as expressed in the Procurator Felix. He interrogates his prisoner Paul; Paul is under arrest and in the hands of the Roman authorities. He will eventually be released. [i.e. presumably, from what is stated in Acts.]

This is the supratemporal template: the power and presence of Rome; the Procurator; the prisoner who is interrogated and finally released. The Empire would like to destroy him but in the final phases of the encounter between them fails. 

Thus the life of the prisoner ends not in martyrdom but in freedom, in release. This is in a sense an opposite story from that of the crucifixion where the prisoner is condemned to death and dies. 

Here the prisoner is set free and this means that sacred time has moved forward from the time of the Gospels to a different time. The prisoner slides through the fingers of the Empire. 

This story is found in the life of John Taverner, the 15th century English musician who was arrested on suspicion of possessing heretical books but then released “because he is but a musician,” as Cardinal Woolsey put it: the Empire has lost the ability to state its case; it cannot close the trap. 

The later history of this archetype will be that the Empire will lose even more power; eventually it will not even be able to arrest its victim, let alone crucify him. That time has not yet come. 

At this point the Empire, expressing itself through its police system, is puzzled by its victim; it suspects him of wrongdoing but does not know what that wrongdoing is. The Empire does not know enough; its information is too limited. So for it the victim is an enigma. 

(The evolution from Pilate’s bewilderment in confronting Jesus can be seen; bewilderment was there already.) 

The Procurator Felix interrogates the suspect but cannot determine from what he says what precisely he has done. Time passes. The Empire tries again and again to get information, but fails. 

This is Kafka’s The Castle in reverse. In talking to the suspect, the prisoner, the Procurator begins to suspect that the prisoner himself does not know what he has done; he himself does not know if he is guilty, and if guilty, of what. The prisoner cannot tell the Procurator what he would like to know, even if the prisoner is willing to. This increases the puzzle. 

Perhaps the enemy of the Empire is so large and so vague that the prisoner is not the adversary at all, but only a sort of front for it, an extension of it. This, for the Procurator, is a dreadful thought. 

The archetype of this is Euripides’ The Bacchae, in which the King of Tears arrests the Stranger only to find that he has a priest of the god Dionysus in his prison; the priest as the god bursts the prison and drives the King into insanity such as to cause him to lose his identity even as a man. 

The King—or the Procurator—can release the prisoner but he himself will suffer great harm; instead of Christ crucified Pilate suffers unbearable loss. 

Time, which starts with the Gospels, has moved forward to what is al most a complete reversal of the image. The arrested and tried god does not die; the interrogator suffers spiritual death or physical injury, the prisoner goes free. Everything that the prisoner lost is restored to him. 

This is referred to in the Bible as the end-times day on which everything is restored. It is a sign of the Parousia. The Empire is not glad to know this because it means that God himself is taking the field; God is entering the battle.


This strikes me as just a staggeringly profound line of speculation from PKD; that something-of-the-kind must indeed occur - and all the time.

It is, in a deep sense, evil operating against itself; to thwart its own major objectives. A blindness and impotence afflicts The Empire, about-which it can do nothing; because analysis is thwarted by at first puzzlement then (if persisted-with) insanity, spiritual death and 'great harm'. The unjust prosecutor of innocence destroys himself and the System he serves - but at no point does he attain clarity of understanding, because evil is self-blinded.

I find this vastly (cosmically!) encouraging - that is generating of both courage and motivation.

“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” Sam, in Mordor - in The Lord of the Rings


Cererean said...

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness could not understand it."

Bruce Charlton said...

@C - "And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."...

I should make clear that any version of the Bible other than the Authorised is forbidden here (!)

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

These excerpts you've posted are very impressive. I'm going to have to get the book.