Saturday, 9 April 2022

Philip K Dick's vision of God - 17 November 1980 (From The Exegesis)

From Exegesis [1:301] - I have slightly edited this for clarity and emphasis:

Strange to say, when I look back to 11-17-80 what seems to me now the most proof that it really was God is not so much the bliss but the distinct individual personality (with its intense love); the distinctness, the uniqueness, the individuality of the personality. 

I could then and still can imagine what he would look like were he physically visible: an old man in a robe, very old, very dignified and wise, but, most of all, loving and kind and gentle (yet firm, very firm) - but not as he is usually pictured, not a patriarch in the usual sense.

More, perhaps, like a magician - in contrast, though, to (say) Gandalf; much darker: gray and brown and black, in shadow, yes: in shadow, like Michelangelo painted him in his creating Eve. Yet not so, but close to it. 

Not heroic, as Michelangelo painted him, and not Hebrew. More supernatural. 

Really sort of physical, not “spiritual.” Yes: physical and supernatural, not a king or patriarch, all dark. Like a druid or humanist: learning. Not classical. Like a tree or a scholar. 

I know: like a book! Hence made of parchment, tree, branches, paper, cloth. 

He was not a type, like “the wise old King,” not an archetype, not like a statue; he was an individual, not man but a given specific man (in contrast to sort of Platonic eidos). It was as if the universe had been created by one given specific individual man. 

Book. Robe. Tree. Gray. Brown. Dark shades and fabric. 

There was nothing generic about him. No so to speak DNA. No latency; all was actualized and distinct. 

As if you had gone from the physical, material realm of specifics to the Platonic archetypal—and then back to the specific man! Like a complete circle. 

Strange. He was like all ontogeny! As if a wise old scholar, a sage, had conjured-up creation. Not God as we normally think of him, but a scholar of love and tenderness, but of vast learning. 

Again I see a book.


For those who do not know PKD's Exegesis; it comprises about eight years worth of the copious notes he made for himself; triggered by several Christian religious experiences that began in February of 1974 - trying to analyze and explain these experience using a wide range of often-contradictory schemata

The work is therefore not cumulative, is incoherent, and has no overall arc or conclusion. 

The Exegesis is, instead, a series of insights of many different types and degrees of quality; but characterized by extreme honesty and earnestness. The best of them I find extremely worthwhile and stimulating; and I am inspired by the actuality of this long-term and deicated 'project' of Dick's. 

Here; Dick describes a visionary experience of God as a person - which has close resemblances to my own (Mormon-esque) understanding of the nature and being of God. 

Note on The Exegesis. A large selection from this (edited by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem and others; none of whom are Christian, which is significant) was published in 2011. 

I own the Exegesis as an e-book, the paper copy; and as an audiobook - which is superbly narrated by Fred Stella, and is 52 hours long (yet only costs one credit to buy...)! 

In passing, we owe the survival of Exegesis mostly to the timely, decisive (and dubiously legal) actions of Tim Powers - then a young student friend of PKD, and now a successful SciFi-Fantasy author (and a lifelong, traditionalist Roman Catholic). 


John Venlet said...

I was not familiar with Dick's religious experiences, nor the fact that he wrote notes about his experiences. When I read this, from within your post,

...what seems to me now the most proof that it really was God is not so much the bliss but the distinct individual personality (with its intense love); the distinctness, the uniqueness, the individuality of the personality.

I thought of a video I stumbled on a few years ago titled "Richard met God," wherein Richard also notes he experienced God's profound love. I found it, and still do after viewing once again, profoundly moving. Here's a link if you are interested. The video runs 11:53.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I’ve downloaded Exegesis and plan to start reading it soon.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - Good luck with that project!

Something to take note of is that it begins with (mostly) a series of letters, that describe his original theophanic experiences to a woman penfriend/ researcher. Because these letters are not PKD privately writing to himself, they lack the burning intensity and honesty of some of the later notations.

There is no compelling reason why you shouldn't jump around reading here and there, in any order, as fancy takes - although there are some sections where night after night he pursued a particular line of thinking - and these benefit from a sequential reading, obviously.