In recent times I have tried to figure out this reality matrix topic. It all started when I watched an old movie called Westworld. That is an old sci-fi movie about an artificial themepark where robots are controlled and people can go there an have a fun in different kind of time eras. Then they released a new TV-serie from this idea last year and that show is just amazing.
So I watched the whole season and started thinking, that if so called Illuminati/Elite or whatever have been showing reality in our faces for years in movies and TV-series, could it be that this serie is too? Last weeks I have tried to figure how it all could work in our reality and most of it makes perfect sense.
I won’t be describing my whole ideas here, because you just have to watch the old movie and the whole serie to catch the idea, but could it be that we are just bionic robots and our “souls” are just little piece of self-learning AI-code inside these bionic robotsuits? Then there are these aliens/gods/shadow people who run this our “flat earth” and some of them are living among us and have just fun in this amusement park? Have you noticed that some of us will always get the “free jail card” like in Monopoly game?
This concept could explain so many weird things, which we are experiencing right now. Paranormal activity when they change the scene like in Dark City movie or glitches/deja-vu’s like in Matrix movie. Or like in almost every work Philip K Dick has released, most obious one is probably The Adjustment Bureau movie. Then they could create natural catastrophes like we are dealing with now like Hurricane Harvey, Irma etc. If you have played an old PC-game called Sim City you catch the idea… it’s just a game for them and they are laughing… and they are laughing out loud.
It also explains why some of us have felt that something is wrong in our life like a splinter in our mind. Maybe some of us didn’t get the latest software/AI update and remember things. This could explain also the so called “Mandela Effect” so many of us are experiencing. In Westwold serie the bionic robots or hosts have program inside them, which can be manipulated and upgraded. It could explain why some of us are so intelligent and superior to others. They also show a flat earth model in the show and there have been a lot of debate about this topic in the Internet.
It just makes so much more sense that any of our religion, except that is there a God above these Westworld controllers? In the show there is this Dr. Ford who could be Satan and controlling this material reality, who knows. There are many good videos about this but absolutely the best one is this one:
Then there are videos which are just kind of solving the Illuminati side of the show like symbolism etc. and those are also interesting, because this whole thing is just a show for them. And they enjoy to rub these truths in our faces and laugh, because we don’t get it.
So are we just bionic pupets with a piece of AI-code inside of us or something more? In any case I think we are living in prison… for our mind if not else.
I have always been fascinated by author Philip K Dick and here’s a set of predictions he made in 1980:
We’re All Living In A Philip K Dick Novel
By Darryl Mason
Philip K Dick was the creator of such novels as ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep’, ‘A Scanner Darkly’, ‘The Man In The High Castle’ and ‘Now Wait For Last Year’. A number of his books and short stories have been turned into films, including ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Minority Report’ and ‘Total Recall’. Through the ’50s, ’60s and ‘70s PKD had powerful visions of a tech-heavy police state future, where robots fight our wars, where designer drugs replace love and people compete in dehumanising television games shows for a shot at a better life.
In 1980 he wrote a list of predictions he thought would become reality over the next thirty years. This list was published in the ‘The Book of Predictions’ in 1981. He got a few things on his list very right, and some vastly wrong. At least they’re wrong in our reality. Maybe he was thinking of another reality, the one he lived in.
I’ve included today’s interpretation of his predictions (in brackets) where appropriate. Feel free to comment on what you think he got curiously right, and very wrong.
“The Soviet Union will develop an operational particle-beam accelerator, making missile attack against that country impossible. At the same time the USSR will deploy this weapon as a satellite killer.”
(Russia has now abandoned the idea of a missile shield, while the US is still very keen. A particle beam has been developed by DAPRA and has been field tested in Iraq. The Pentagon loves the idea of weaponising space, after Ronald Reagan talked up the idea in 1983-84. Satellites orbiting above our heads right now can ‘blind’ other satellites with lasers)
“The United States will perfect a system by which hydrogen….will serve as a fuel source, eliminating the need for oil.”
(Hydrogen is now a fuel source, and GW Bush is talking up its prospect as a replacement for oil because he won’t be getting much out of Iraq)
“By….this date there will be a titanic nuclear accident either in the USSR or in the United States, resulting in a shutting down of all nuclear power plants.”
(Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, he was out by a few years)
“….satellites will uncover vast, unsuspected high-energy phenomena in the universe, indicating that there is sufficient mass to collapse the universe back when it has reached its expansion point.”
(Sonds like something I read recently, but buggered if I know what it means)
“The United States and the Soviet Union will agree to set up one vast metacomputer as a central source for information available to the entire world; this will be essential due to the huge amount of information coming into existence.”
(Top marks for that one. Dick wrote of an information-rich age way back in the mid-1950s, he saw computers in our pockets and information serving as a currency. Seen the Google stock price lately? PKD obviously didn’t foresee the downfall of the Soviet Union, however)
“An artificial life form will be created in a lab…thus reducing our interest in locating life forms on other planets.”
(Scientists have just created an embryo without the need for sperm. Is this artificial life?)
“Computer use by ordinary citizens will transform the public from passive viewers of TV into mentally alert, highly trained, information-processing experts.”
(We might be alert, trained and processing, but passive TV viewing is still a necessity, because we spend so much time being alert whilst processing)
“The first closed-dome colonies will be successfully established on Luna and on Mars. Through DNA modification, quasi-mutant humans will be created who can survive under non-Terran conditions – alien environments.”
(The interplanetary dome colony idea must have made a big impact on science fiction writers in the 1950s, and Dick was no exception. Was it the fear of getting nuked by the Soviets? PKD loved writing about dome life, and was partial to the odd genetically modified quasi-human)
“The Soviet Union will test a propulsion drive that moves a starship at the velocity of light, a pilot ship will set out for Proxima Centaurus, soon to be followed by an American ship.”
(Are the SF writers of the 1950s shocked that we never really got off this rock in a major way?)
“An alien virus, brought back by an interplanetary ship, will decimate the population of Earth but leave the colonies on Luna and Mars intact.”
(SF writers of the 1950s and ‘60s, like Philip K. Dick, hated to imagine we might get back around to nuking ourselves out of existence, particularly after the decades of Cold War fear that shuddered their generation. If it wasn’t nukes, then it had to be insanely communicable interplanetary biological alien hitch-hikers that would do ultimately waste humanity)
“Bereft of a decent idea, Hollywood film producers continue to mine my old books and stories for all the best bits, characters and concepts. Their relentless thieving is shameless and curses their black souls to an eternity of satanic flaying. Some producers will buy the rights to one story and then think this means they can go and five finger discount whatever else they please from my tales. Blade Runner will stand tall as best film made from one of my stories, but I predict good things for an experimental adaptation of ‘A Scanner Darkly’.”
Note : Okay, I made up all of the 2005 prediction about the movies, but all the rest of PKD’s predictions are authentic.
In various old stories and novels PKD also envisaged a great many other realities of our day. Some were long shots, others were extremely prescient.
Here’s a smattering of PKD realities that are becoming our own : Criminals being tracked by satellites, remote control robot machine-gunners, synthetic and cloned pets, swipe cards to enter buildings and malls, laptop computers, reality television, hacker anarchists, mega-global corporations that rule entire continents, android babysitters, a military controlled United States divided into police-state zones (post-Hurricane Katrina, this was New Orleans), whole towns as nostalgia amusement parks, a technology-interconnected global humanity and a president who bankrupts his country and creates fictional wars to distract his people from their dark reality.
Awesome author Philip K Dick and so many modern day sci-fi classic owns to this legendary man.
Philip K. Dick – The Man Who Remembered the Future
This year saw the 30th anniversary of the death of one of the most influential writers of all time, the iconic Philip K. Dick. Although virtually unknown outside of science fiction circles, during his lifetime Dick’s intriguing philosophy on the nature of reality has become a staple of the modern Hollywood movie.
Huge blockbusters such as Total Recall, Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau, Blade Runner, A Scanner Darkly and Paycheck were loosely based directly on his novels or short stories, and movies such as The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Memento, The Matrix, The Truman Show and Inception all owe a huge debt to his vision.
One of the most intriguing themes of Dick’s writing was the concept of the “precog,” a person who could “see” the future before it happened. In 1954 Phil introduced the concept of precognition in his novel The World Jones Made.
In this novel the eponymous anti-hero Floyd Jones can see exactly one year into the future. From then on “precogs” occur regularly in his novels and short stories, most notably in his 1956 short story The Minority Report, his 1964 novel Martian Time-Slip, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and many others.
What was it that made Philip K. Dick interested in precognition? It had not been a particular theme within classical science fiction nor had it been part of the books that the young Philip read during his childhood years and early teens.
The answer may lie in one simple fact: Philip K. Dick himself was a “precog.” He was not writing fiction but heavily disguised autobiography. Let us review the evidence. Like many of his schoolmates, Phil was expected to attend the University of California in his hometown of Berkeley. But in order to do so he needed to reach the entrance grades required.
This possibility started to fade rapidly when, during a crucial physics test, Phil couldn’t remember the key principle behind the displacement of water. As eight of the ten questions involved this principle, he was clearly in trouble.
And then it happened: a voice clearly and precisely explained to the surprised young man the scientific principles he so desperately needed to understand. All Phil had to do was write down the words in his head. Phil received an ‘A’ grade.
Although this “voice” effectively disappeared for many years, Phil continued to sense there was a part of him that was alien in some way. Throughout the 1950s the voice remained silent and then, under somewhat prosaic circumstances, it re-appeared. In an interview with his friend Greg Rickman, recorded in October 1981, Phil described how he had been watching a TV programme about the Galapagos turtles.
The fight for survival of one particular female turtle had really upset him. After laying her eggs she had turned in the wrong direction and instead of going towards the sea she crawled inland. Soon the heat had brought about extreme dehydration. She was dying. As she began to fade her legs were still seen to be moving.
The film had been edited to give the impression that the dying turtle was imagining she was back in the ocean. He went to bed with this tragic image in his mind. He woke up in the night to hear a voice.
In careful and deliberate terms the entity explained to Phil that the turtle actually believed she was in the water:
“I was just terribly amazed and dumbfounded to hear that voice again. It wasn’t my own voice because one of the sentences the voice said was ‘And she shall see the sea’ and I would not use the two words ‘see’ and ‘sea’ in the same sentence. It tends to do that, use word choices I don’t use. One time it used the expression ‘a very poisonous poison’ which I would not use.” 
It is clear Phil recognised the voice as being the same entity that had helped him in his physics exam all those years before. It was back. He was to continue hearing this entity for many years, but only as a faint background whisper. In another 1981 interview he stated:
“I only hear the voice of the spirit when I am falling asleep or waking up. I have to be very receptive to hear it. It’s extremely faint. It sounds as though it is coming from a million miles away.” 
The “Voice” Returns
In February and March 1974 the voice was to reappear and stay with him. It all started quite innocently. Phil had been in considerable pain after having a wisdom tooth pulled out. His wife, Tessa, called the dentist who prescribed painkillers.
As Tessa did not want to leave her husband alone in such a state of agitation she asked if somebody could deliver the prescription to their house in Fullerton. Half an hour later the doorbell rang and Phil dashed to the door. On opening it he saw a young woman clutching the much-needed painkillers.
Phil stood back stunned. Around the young woman’s neck was a necklace with a fish pendant. Phil recognised this as a symbol of something deep within himself. He asked her what it was and she explained it was a sign used by the early Christians as a code to show their secret beliefs to fellow Christians.
Dick later reported this was the first time he experienced the pink light, the same light so central to the Beatles incident (described below).
He said a beam of this light shot out of the pendant and entered his brain. This light opened up a part of his brain that had long been asleep. He described it in this way:
“I suddenly experienced what I later learned is called anamnesis – a Greek word meaning, literally, ‘loss of forgetfulness.’ I remembered who I was and where I was. In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, it all came back to me.” 
As we have already mentioned, up until March 1974 what Dick had called “the voice” manifested itself on rare occasions such as the incident during the school exam. But after Phil’s “anamnesis” his hidden partner was to become very active in his life.
It decided that Phil had become far too slovenly in his personal appearance. He was made to go out and buy a pair of nasal hair-clippers and it suggested he trim his beard. The entity even had Phil go shopping for new trendy clothes.
It was also concerned about the health of the shared body. It had Phil go through his drugs cabinet and forced him to throw out those medications that were proving problematical to his health. It discovered that wine was too acidic for his sensitive stomach and suggested he change to drinking beer.
This being had many skills that Phil sadly lacked, such as business acumen. It realised he had made quite a mess of his tax matters and within weeks the entity sorted this out. It also had Phil sack his agent after it read over his royalty statements and discovered massive irregularities.
All of these were minor interventions compared to its apogee, the saving of Phil’s son’s life. Phil describes how one morning he was lying in a semi-sleep state when he heard the voice announce that his recently born son, Christopher, had a potentially fatal birth defect and that urgent medical attention was needed. Indeed the voice was quite precise when it stated:
“Your son has an undiagnosed right inguinal hernia. The hydrocele has burst, and it has descended into the scrotal sac. He requires immediate attention, or will soon die.”
Phil told various versions of this story, including one involving him listening to the Beatles and the lyrics of “Strawberry Fields” were changed to give the instruction.
Tessa, acting on her husband’s frantic instructions, took Christopher to the family doctor and it was, indeed, confirmed that Christopher had exactly the problem the “voice” had described and surgery was needed.
What was the source of this “voice” and how did it have information unknown to Phil? Phil was to conclude that it was an immortal part of himself, something he called a “plasmate.” He argued this entity had bonded with him and in doing so had taken human form, something Phil termed a “homoplasmate.”
He was later to describe how his mind had been invaded by a “transcendentally rational mind, as if I had been insane all my life and had suddenly become sane.” He explained that:
“…mental anguish was simply removed from me as if by divine fiat… some transcendental divine power which was not evil, but benign intervened to restore my mind and heal my body and give me a sense of the beauty, the joy, the sanity of the world.”
This being, set free from its shackles by Phil’s “anamneses,” was able to use its powers to help Phil precognise the future. Indeed, Phil realised this being had been the source of a series of peculiar precognitive incidents that had taken place throughout his life.
For example, in his 1974 novel Flow My Tears the Policeman Said, Phil has a sequence in which one of his characters, Felix Buckman, is distraught at the death of his twin sister, Alys. He finds himself in an all-night gas station and there he meets up with a black stranger.
Buckman and the black man start up a conversation. In the summer of 1978 Phil, uncharacteristically, decided to go out late at night to post a letter. In the darkness he noticed a man loitering by a parked car. Phil posted his letter and on the way back the man was still there. In a second uncharacteristic impulse Phil walked over to the man and asked if anything was the matter.
The man replied that he was out of gas and he had no money with him. Much to his surprise Phil found himself digging into his pocket and giving the man some cash. The man asked for Phil’s address and said that he would return later and pay him back.
As Phil entered his apartment he realised that the money would be of no use to his new friend. There were no gas stations within walking distance. Phil went back out, found the man, and offered to drive him to the nearest all-night gas station. As he stood watching the man fill up his metal gas can he had an alarming sensation of a déjà vu-like recognition:
“Suddenly I realised that this was the scene in my novel – the novel written eight years before. The all-night gas station was exactly as I had envisioned it in my inner eye when I wrote the scene – the glaring white light, the pump jockey – and now I saw something which I had not seen before. The stranger who I was helping was black.” 
Phil drove the black man back to his car, they shook hands and Phil never saw him again. He finishes off his description of this event with a slightly chilling comment:
“I was terribly shaken up by this experience. I had literally lived out a scene completely as it had appeared in my novel…. What could explain all this?” 
In early 1974 Phil started a long-term correspondence with a graduate student called Gloria Bush.
As time went on Phil described to Gloria some of his deepest thoughts, including his fascination regarding his own precognitive abilities. In a letter dated 9 May of that year he described to Gloria a particularly strange recurring dream he experienced in November 1971.
In the dreams he always saw what looked like a Mexican city with “square arrangements of streets and yellow cabs.” The yellow cabs suggested to Phil a location in the USA rather than Mexico or Latin America. At the time of these dreams he was living in Marin County, north of San Francisco.
In 1974 he was living in Fullerton, a southern suburb of Los Angeles. Right next to Fullerton is a place called Placentia which is a strongly Hispanic area. Phil explains to Claudia that he was convinced this was the place he saw in these dreams. 
But Phil’s dreams in 1975 took a turn to the macabre. On 25 February he wrote a letter to Bush that was very different from those he had sent before. In a fascinating postscript to an otherwise standard letter, he mentions “the entity” again.
It had clearly been manifesting itself within his life at that time. How regularly and to what intensity we cannot say as we have no other source other than this letter. However, it is clear Phil wanted to bring things to a head. He told Claudia:
“I was up to 5 a.m. on this last night. I did something I never did before; I commanded the entity to show itself to me – the entity which has been guiding me internally since March. A sort of dream-like period passed, then, of hypnogogic images of underwater cities, very nice, and then a stark single horrifying scene, inert but not still; a man lay dead, on his face, in a living room between the coffee table and the couch.” 
On 9 May 1974 he wrote another typewritten letter to Claudia stating that he felt “scared.” He didn’t elaborate on this comment but at the bottom of the letter is a handwritten note that states the following:
“p.s. What scares me most, Claudia, is that I can often recall the future.”
Almost exactly seven years later Phil had failed to answer a series of phone calls to his condominium. A group of neighbours then found his front door open. One witness, Mary Wilson, entered the condo and described how she initially thought nobody was home, but then she spotted Phil’s feet sticking out from behind a coffee table.
She immediately asked her mother to phone Phil’s close friend, science-fiction writer Tim Powers. Powers jumped on his motorcycle to see what he could do to help. In his introduction to The Selected Letters of Philip K Dick Volume Four Powers describes what happened next:
“As I was putting the key in the ignition of my motorcycle I heard the sirens of the paramedics howl past me down Main Street. When I got to Phil’s place the paramedics and Mary Wilson were already there and the paramedic had lifted him from between the coffee table and the couch and carried him to his bed, and Mary and I answered a few hasty medical questions about him before they got him into a stretcher and carried him downstairs to the ambulance.” 
Phil’s February 1975 dream had come true in stunning detail. He had seen the circumstances of his own death.
Who, or what, was the “entity” that seemed to share Phil’s life and know his future? Surprisingly enough Phil believed this being to be a version of himself that existed outside of time; a being that could observe the whole of Phil’s life from a position of timelessness.
Phil believed that during his dreams, in his semi-waking states and during certain times of heightened awareness, this timeless part of himself could communicate and use its foreknowledge to assist him.
In October 1977 Phil made a very curious statement during a radio interview at the Berkeley radio station KPFA FM. He described an incident that took place in 1951:
“Back at the time I was starting to write science fiction, I was asleep one night and I woke up and there was a figure standing at the edge of the bed, looking down at me. I grunted in amazement and all of a sudden my wife woke up and started screaming because she could see it too.
“She started screaming, but I recognised it and I started reassuring her, saying that it was me that was there and not to be afraid.
“Within the last two years – let’s say that was in 1951 – I’ve dreamed almost every night that I was back in that house, and I have a strong feeling that back then in 1951 or ’52 that I saw my future self, who had somehow, in some way we don’t understand – I wouldn’t call it occult – passed backward during one of my dreams now of that house, going back there and seeing myself again. So there really are some strange things…” 
If the figure at the end of the bed was a future version of Phil then that version would have foreknowledge of all Phil’s life-experiences between 1951 and 1977. Indeed, if Phil’s interpretation can be taken at face value, we have here evidence that in some way his mind from the mid-1970s was manifesting itself back within its own past.
Vertical Vs. “Orthogonal Time”
But Phil was not simply happy with accepting this may be the case, he wanted to create a model to explain such a belief. Immediately after the strange events of February and March 1974, or simply 2-3-74 as he termed them, Phil started to keep a journal.
Initially in hand-written form and later as page after page of typewritten sheets with diagrams and side notes, this became known as his Exegesis. In effect this was Phil’s attempt to understand the source and meaning of the visions and revelations that he continued to receive until his death in March 1983.
We are fortunate that in November 2011 a single volume containing all the main sections of this huge work was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Running to 976 pages this is a fascinating read and in it one can discover Phil’s own understanding of how a part of him could see the future. His solution was a radical re-interpretation of time itself – something Phil called “orthogonal time.”
He proposes there are two variations of time, both of which exist at right angles to each other. We are usually only aware of “Vertical Time,” but there is another which runs at right angles to our space-time. He calls this “Orthogonal Time.”
If we could perceive both times simultaneously it would look cubical, hence his term cubic time. He proposed that events are actually located within this cubic time. As such the idea of cause and effect cannot be applied within this model.
Causality can run in reverse or act simultaneously with an event in the past or the future. In other words within orthogonal time all past and future states exist at this moment.
In the whole of the Exegesis Phil makes one passing reference to a physicist by the name of Herman Minkowski, the teacher of the much more famous Albert Einstein. With reference to his own precognitions, Phil wrote:
“This is a disturbing new view but oddly enough it coincides with my dream experiences, my precognition of events moving this way from the future; I feel them inexorably approaching, not generated from the present, but somehow already there but not yet visible.
“If they are somehow ‘there’ already, and we encounter them successively (the Minkowski block universe; events are all already there but we have to encounter them successively), then this view might be a correct view of time and causality.” 
Phil suggested that the basic premise of his short story Adjustment Team – that there exists a way in which the past can be “adjusted” to change the present – may be another of his fictionalised accounts of something that really takes place. 
Phil believed that part of us exists within orthogonal time and this alternate-consciousness can, under certain circumstances, communicate with the every-day self that perceives only linear time. This was the source of “the voice” and VALIS (Vast Active Living Intelligence System, Dick’s gnostic vision of one aspect of God).
This is how, in dreams, Phil found himself back in his own past observing an earlier version of himself. In this way “the voice” was his own voice speaking from his own future.
This entity created his plot-lines using material from his own future. Was this how the meeting with the black man at the gas station ended up in A Scanner Darkly? All information from all parts of our life is readily available to a mind open to receive it.
Phil suggested in a letter to his friend Patricia Warrick, written in September 1981, that:
“The universe is an information retrieval system; which is to say, everything that has ever happened, ever been, each arrangement and detail – all are stored in the present moment as information; what we lack is the access or entry mechanism to this stored information… where the past of each object – all its prior manifestations along the Form axis – this is all stored in the present object and can be retrieved.” 
This is again astounding evidence that Phil seemed to be accessing information from some form of infinite data-field. It is very much in keeping with the work of modern-day researchers such as Ervin Laszlo and Bernard Haisch, both of whom suggest this “library” is, in fact, something known as the Zero-Point Field. 
Is this the answer to the mystery of Phil’s precognitions? It certainly makes sense. The future and the past are simply illusions. Phillip K. Dick and every being that reads this article consist of two independent consciousnesses.
One lives in linear time and the other in orthogonal time. And in this way we may all be immortal. After all, the transition between life and death takes place in linear, not orthogonal, time.
In his novel Ubik Phil created a concept known as “Half Life.” This is a timeless place, hovering between life and death. Tibetan Buddhists call this the “Bardo State.”
Is this from where Phil’s eternal mind communicated with him? To paraphrase the title of one of his most intriguing books, could it be we all exist in a place where “Time is Out of Joint”?
For more on the above, read Anthony Peake’s book The Man Who Remembered the Future: A Life of Philip K. Dick.
Absolutely my favorite author is legend himself Philip K. Dick. His ideas and works twist your mind and makes you think out of the box. Here he talks about reality matrix long before the Matrix movie came out and you notice, that Wachowski brothers ripped pretty much Philip’s ideas.
Philip K. Dick Theorizes The Matrix in 1977, Declares That We Live in “A Computer-Programmed Reality”
In 1963, Philip K. Dick won the coveted Hugo Award for his novel The Man in the High Castle, beating out such sci-fi luminaries as Marion Zimmer Bradley and Arthur C. Clarke. Of the novel, The Guardian writes, “Nothing in the book is as it seems. Most characters are not what they say they are, most objects are fake.” The plot—an alternate history in which the Axis Powers have won World War II—turns on a popular but contraband novel called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. Written by the titular character, the book describes the world of an Allied victory, and—in the vein of his worlds-within-worlds thematic—Dick’s novel suggests that this book-within-a-book may in fact describe the “real” world of the novel, or one glimpsed through the novel’s reality as at least highly possible.
The Man in the High Castle may be Dick’s most straightforwardly compelling illustration of the experience of alternate realties, but it is only one among very many. In an interview Dick gave while at the high profile Metz science fiction conference in France in 1977, he said that like David Hume’s description of the “intuitive type of person,” he lived “in terms of possibilities rather than in terms of actualities.” Dick also tells a parable of an ancient, complicated, and temperamental automated record player called the “Capard,” which reverted to varying states of destructive chaos. “This Capard,” Dick says, “epitomized an inscrutable ultra-sophisticated universe which was in the habit of doing unexpected things.”
In the interview, Dick roams over so many of his personal theories about what these “unexpected things” signify that it’s difficult to keep track. However, at that same conference, he delivered a talk titled “If You Find This World Bad, You Should See Some of the Others” (in edited form above), that settles on one particular theory—that the universe is a highly-advanced computer simulation. (The talk has circulated on the internet as “Did Philip K. Dick disclose the real Matrix in 1977?”).
The subject of this speech is a topic which has been discovered recently, and which may not exist all. I may be talking about something that does not exist. Therefore I’m free to say everything and nothing. I in my stories and novels sometimes write about counterfeit worlds. Semi-real worlds as well as deranged private worlds, inhabited often by just one person…. At no time did I have a theoretical or conscious explanation for my preoccupation with these pluriform pseudo-worlds, but now I think I understand. What I was sensing was the manifold of partially actualized realities lying tangent to what evidently is the most actualized one—the one that the majority of us, by consensus gentium, agree on.
Dick goes on to describe the visionary, mystical experiences he had in 1974 after dental surgery, which he chronicled in his extensive journal entries (published in abridged form as The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick) and in works like VALIS and The Divine Invasion. As a result of his visions, Dick came to believe that “some of my fictional works were in a literal sense true,” citing in particular The Man in the High Castle and Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, a 1974 novel about the U.S. as a police state—both novels written, he says, “based on fragmentary, residual memories of such a horrid slave state world.” He claims to remember not past lives but a “different, very different, present life.”
Finally, Dick makes his Matrix point, and makes it very clearly: “we are living in a computer-programmed reality, and the only clue we have to it is when some variable is changed, and some alteration in our reality occurs.” These alterations feel just like déjà vu, says Dick, a sensation that proves that “a variable has been changed” (by whom—note the passive voice—he does not say) and “an alternative world branched off.”
Dick, who had the capacity for a very oblique kind of humor, assures his audience several times that he is deadly serious. (The looks on many of their faces betray incredulity at the very least.) And yet, maybe Dick’s crazy hypothesis has been validated after all, and not simpy by the success of the PKD-esque The Matrix and ubiquity of Matrix analogies. For several years now, theoretical physicists and philosophers have entertained the theory that we do in fact live in a computer-generated simulation and, what’s more, that “we may even be able to detect it.”
I just have to do some post to these wonderful writers. And these are H. P. Lovecraft and Philip K. Dick. These two have made a tremendous influence to me and I have to post something about them. So here it goes first H. P. Lovecraft:
Lovecraft’s guiding aesthetic and philosophical principle was what he termed “cosmicism” or “cosmic horror”, the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally inimical to the interests of humankind. As such, his stories express a profound indifference to human beliefs and affairs. Lovecraft is the originator of the Cthulhu Mythos story cycle and the Necronomicon, a fictional magical textbook of rites and forbidden lore.
Although Lovecraft’s readership was limited during his lifetime, his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century. According to Joyce Carol Oates, an award-winning author, Lovecraft—as with Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century—has exerted “an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction”. Science fiction and fantasy author Stephen King called Lovecraft “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.” King has made it clear in his semi-autobiographical non-fiction book Danse Macabre that Lovecraft was responsible for King’s own fascination with horror and the macabre, and was the single largest figure to influence his fiction writing. Lovecraft’s stories have been adapted into plays, films and games.
Life and career
Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890 in his family home at 194 (later 454) Angell Street in Providence, Rhode Island. (The house was demolished in 1961.) He was the only child of Winfield Scott Lovecraft, a traveling salesman of jewelry and precious metals, and Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft, who could trace her ancestry to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1631. His parents married when they were in their thirties, unusually late in life for the time period. In 1893, when Lovecraft was three, his father became acutely psychotic in a Chicago hotel room while on a business trip. The elder Lovecraft was taken back to Providence and placed in Butler Hospital, where he remained until his death in 1898. Lovecraft maintained throughout his life that his father had died in a condition of paralysis brought on by “nervous exhaustion” due to over work, but it is now almost certain that the actual cause was paresis due to syphilis. It is unknown whether the younger Lovecraft was ever aware of the actual nature of his father’s illness or its cause, although his mother likely was.
After his father’s hospitalization, Lovecraft was raised by his mother, his two aunts (Lillian Delora Phillips and Annie Emeline Phillips), and his maternal grandfather, Whipple Van Buren Phillips, an American businessman. All five resided together in the family home. Lovecraft was a prodigy, reciting poetry at the age of three, and writing complete poems by six. His grandfather encouraged his reading, providing him with classics such as The Arabian Nights, Bulfinch’s Age of Fable, and children’s versions of the Iliad and the Odyssey. His grandfather also stirred the boy’s interest in the weird by telling him his own original tales of Gothic horror.
Lovecraft was frequently ill as a child. Because of his sickly condition, he barely attended school until he was eight years old, and then was withdrawn after a year. He read voraciously during this period and became especially enamored of chemistry and astronomy. He produced several hectographed publications with a limited circulation, beginning in 1899 with The Scientific Gazette. Four years later, he returned to public school at Hope High School (Rhode Island). Beginning in his early life, Lovecraft is believed to have suffered from night terrors, a rare parasomnia; he believed himself to be assaulted at night by horrific “night gaunts”. Much of his later work is thought to have been directly inspired by these terrors. (Indeed, “Night Gaunts” became the subject of a poem he wrote of the same name, in which they were personified as devil-like creatures without faces.)
His grandfather’s death in 1904 greatly affected Lovecraft’s life. Mismanagement of his grandfather’s estate left his family in a poor financial situation, and they were forced to move into much smaller accommodations at 598 (now a duplex at 598-600) Angell Street. In 1908, prior to his high school graduation, he claimed to have suffered what he later described as a “nervous breakdown”, and consequently never received his high school diploma (although he maintained for most of his life that he did graduate). S. T. Joshi suggests in his biography of Lovecraft that a primary cause for this breakdown was his difficulty in higher mathematics, a subject he needed to master to become a professional astronomer.
Lovecraft wrote some fiction as a youth, but from 1908 until 1913, his output was primarily poetry. During that time, he lived a hermit’s existence, having almost no contact with anyone but his mother. This changed when he wrote a letter to The Argosy, a pulp magazine, complaining about the insipidness of the love stories of one of the publication’s writers, Fred Jackson. The ensuing debate in the magazine’s letters column caught the eye of Edward F. Daas, president of the United Amateur Press Association (UAPA), who invited Lovecraft to join the organization in 1914. The UAPA reinvigorated Lovecraft and incited him to contribute many poems and essays. In 1917, at the prodding of correspondents, he returned to fiction with more polished stories, such as “The Tomb” and “Dagon“. The latter was his first commercially published work, appearing in W. Paul Cook‘s The Vagrant (November 1919) and Weird Tales in 1923. Around that time, he began to build a huge network of correspondents. His lengthy and frequent missives would make him one of the great letter writers of the century. Among his correspondents were Robert Bloch (Psycho), Clark Ashton Smith, and Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian series).
In 1919, after suffering from hysteria and depression for a long period of time, Lovecraft’s mother was committed to Butler Hospital just as her husband had been. Nevertheless, she wrote frequent letters to Lovecraft, and they remained close until her death on May 24, 1921, the result of complications from gall bladder surgery.
Forbidden knowledge is a central theme in many of Lovecraft’s works. Many of his characters are driven by curiosity or scientific endeavor, and in many of his stories the knowledge they uncover proves Promethean in nature, either filling the seeker with regret for what they have learned, destroying them psychically, or completely destroying the person who holds the knowledge.
Some critics argue that this theme is a reflection of Lovecraft’s contempt of the world around him, causing him to search inwardly for knowledge and inspiration.
Non-human influences on humanity
The beings of Lovecraft’s mythos often have human (or mostly human) servants; Cthulhu, for instance, is worshiped under various names by cults amongst both the Eskimos of Greenland and voodoo circles of Louisiana, and in many other parts of the world.
These worshipers served a useful narrative purpose for Lovecraft. Many beings of the Mythos were too powerful to be defeated by human opponents, and so horrific that direct knowledge of them meant insanity for the victim. When dealing with such beings, Lovecraft needed a way to provide exposition and build tension without bringing the story to a premature end. Human followers gave him a way to reveal information about their “gods” in a diluted form, and also made it possible for his protagonists to win paltry victories. Lovecraft, like his contemporaries, envisioned “savages” as closer to supernatural knowledge unknown to civilized man.
Often in Lovecraft’s works the protagonist is not in control of his own actions, or finds it impossible to change course. Many of his characters would be free from danger if they simply managed to run away; however, this possibility either never arises or is somehow curtailed by some outside force, such as in “The Colour Out of Space” and “The Dreams in the Witch House“. Often his characters are subject to a compulsive influence from powerful malevolent or indifferent beings. As with the inevitability of one’s ancestry, eventually even running away, or death itself, provides no safety (“The Thing on the Doorstep“, “The Outsider“, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, etc.). In some cases, this doom is manifest in the entirety of humanity, and no escape is possible (“The Shadow Out of Time“).
Civilization under threat
Lovecraft was familiar with the work of the German conservative-revolutionary theorist Oswald Spengler, whose pessimistic thesis of the decadence of the modern West formed a crucial element in Lovecraft’s overall anti-modern worldview. Spenglerian imagery of cyclical decay is present in particular in At the Mountains of Madness. S. T. Joshi, in H. P. Lovecraft: The Decline of the West, places Spengler at the center of his discussion of Lovecraft’s political and philosophical ideas.
Lovecraft wrote to Clark Ashton Smith in 1927: “It is my belief, and was so long before Spengler put his seal of scholarly proof on it, that our mechanical and industrial age is one of frank decadence“. Lovecraft was also acquainted with the writings of another German philosopher of decadence: Friedrich Nietzsche.
Lovecraft frequently dealt with the idea of civilization struggling against dark, primitive barbarism. In some stories this struggle is at an individual level; many of his protagonists are cultured, highly-educated men who are gradually corrupted by some obscure and feared influence.
In such stories, the “curse” is often a hereditary one, either because of interbreeding with non-humans (e.g., “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family” (1920), “The Shadow over Innsmouth” (1931) or through direct magical influence (The Case of Charles Dexter Ward). Physical and mental degradation often come together; this theme of ‘tainted blood’ may represent concerns relating to Lovecraft’s own family history, particularly the death of his father due to what Lovecraft must have suspected to be a syphilitic disorder.
In other tales, an entire society is threatened by barbarism. Sometimes the barbarism comes as an external threat, with a civilized race destroyed in war (e.g., “Polaris“). Sometimes, an isolated pocket of humanity falls into decadence and atavism of its own accord (e.g., “The Lurking Fear“). But most often, such stories involve a civilized culture being gradually undermined by a malevolent underclass influenced by inhuman forces.
There is a lack of analysis as to whether England’s gradual loss of prominence and related conflicts (Boer War, India, World War I) had an influence on Lovecraft’s worldview. It is likely that the “roaring twenties” left Lovecraft disillusioned as he was still obscure and struggling with the basic necessities of daily life, combined with seeing non-Western European immigrants in New York City.
Race, ethnicity, and class
Racism is the most controversial aspect of Lovecraft’s works which “does not endear Lovecraft to the modern reader,” and it comes across through many disparaging remarks against the various non-Anglo-Saxon races and cultures within his work. Lovecraft did not seem to hold all white people in high regard, but rather he held English people, and persons of English descent, above all others. While his racist perspective is undeniable, many critics argue this does not detract from his ability to create compelling philosophical worlds which have inspired many artists and readers. In his published essays, private letters and personal utterances, he argued for a strong color line, for the purpose of preserving race and culture. These arguments occurred through direct statements against different races in his journalistic work and personal correspondence, or perhaps allegorically in his work using non-human races. Reading Lovecraft’s work, his racial attitude was seen as more cultural than biological, showing sympathy to others who assimilated into the western culture and even marrying a Jewish woman whom he viewed as “well assimilated.” While Lovecraft’s racial attitude has been seen as directly influenced by the time, a reflection of the New England society he grew up in, this racism appeared stronger than the popular viewpoints held at that time. Some researchers note that his views failed to change in the face of increased social change of that time.
Risks of a scientific era
At the turn of the 20th century, man’s increased reliance upon science was both opening new worlds and solidifying the manners by which he could understand them. Lovecraft portrays this potential for a growing gap of man’s understanding of the universe as a potential for horror. Most notably in “The Colour Out of Space”, the inability of science to comprehend a contaminated meteorite leads to horror.
In a letter to James F. Morton in 1923, Lovecraft specifically points to Einstein‘s theory on relativity as throwing the world into chaos and making the cosmos a jest. And in a 1929 letter to Woodburn Harris, he speculates that technological comforts risk the collapse of science. Indeed, at a time when men viewed science as limitless and powerful, Lovecraft imagined alternative potential and fearful outcomes. In “The Call of Cthulhu”, Lovecraft’s characters encounter architecture which is “abnormal, non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours”.Non-Euclidean geometry is the mathematical language and background of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and Lovecraft references it repeatedly in exploring alien archaeology.
Lovecraft’s works are ruled by several distinct pantheons of deities (actually aliens who are worshiped by humans as deities) who are either indifferent or actively hostile to humanity. Lovecraft’s actual philosophy has been termed “cosmic indifferentism” and this is expressed in his fiction. Several of Lovecraft’s stories of the Old Ones (alien beings of the Cthulhu Mythos), propose alternate mythic human origins in contrast to those found in the creation stories of existing religions, expanding on a natural world view. For instance, in Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness” it is proposed that humankind was actually created as a slave race by the Old Ones. Protagonist characters in Lovecraft are usually educated men, citing scientific and rationalist evidence to support their non-faith. Herbert West–Reanimator reflects on the atheism common within academic circles. In “The Silver Key“, the character Randolph Carter loses the ability to dream and seeks solace in religion, specifically Congregationalism, but does not find it and ultimately loses faith.
Lovecraft himself adopted the stance of atheism early in his life. In 1932 he wrote in a letter to Robert E. Howard: “All I say is that I think it is damned unlikely that anything like a central cosmic will, a spirit world, or an eternal survival of personality exist. They are the most preposterous and unjustified of all the guesses which can be made about the universe, and I am not enough of a hairsplitter to pretend that I don’t regard them as arrant and negligible moonshine. In theory I am an agnostic, but pending the appearance of radical evidence I must be classed, practically and provisionally, as an atheist.”
Philip Kindred Dick and his twin sister, Jane Charlotte Dick, were born six weeks prematurely on December 16, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois, to Dorothy Kindred Dick and Joseph Edgar Dick, who worked for the United States Department of Agriculture. The death of Jane, six weeks later on January 26, 1929, profoundly affected Philip’s life, leading to the recurrent motif of the “phantom twin” in his books.
The family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. When Philip turned five, his father was transferred to Reno, Nevada. When Dorothy refused to move, she and Joseph divorced. Both parents fought for custody of Philip, which was awarded to the mother. Dorothy, determined to raise Philip alone, took a job in Washington, D.C., and moved there with her son. Philip was enrolled at John Eaton Elementary School (1936–38), completing the second through fourth grades. His lowest grade was a “C” in Written Composition, although a teacher remarked that he “shows interest and ability in story telling.” He was educated in Quaker schools. In June 1938, Dorothy and Philip returned to California, and it was around this time that he became interested in science fiction. Dick states that, in 1940, at the age of twelve, he read his first science fiction magazine, “Stirring Science Stories”.
Dick attended Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California. He and fellow science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin were members of the same graduating class (1947) but were unknown to each other at the time. After graduation, he briefly attended the University of California, Berkeley, (September 1949 to November 11, 1949) with an honorary dismissal granted January 1, 1950. Dick was an undeclared major and took classes in History, Psychology, Philosophy, and Zoology. Through his studies in Philosophy, he believed that existence is based on the internal-based perception of a human, which does not necessarily correspond to external reality; he described himself as an “a cosmic panentheist,” believing in the universe only as an extension of God. After reading the works of Plato and pondering the possibilities of metaphysical realms, Dick came to the conclusion that, in a certain sense, the world is not entirely real and there is no way to confirm whether it is truly there. This question from his early studies persisted as a theme in many of his novels. Dick dropped out, according to his third wife Anne in her memoir, because of his ongoing anxiety problems. Anne states that he did not like the mandatory ROTC training. At Berkeley, Dick befriended poet Robert Duncan and poet and linguistJack Spicer, who gave Dick ideas for a Martian language. Dick claimed to have been host of a classical music program on KSMO Radio in 1947.
From 1948 to 1952, Dick worked at Art Music Company, a record store on Telegraph Avenue. In 1955, he and his second wife, Kleo Apostolides, received a visit from the FBI, which they believed to be the result of Kleo’s socialist views and left-wing activities. The couple briefly befriended one of the FBI agents.
Dick was married five times: Jeanette Marlin (May to November 1948), Kleo Apostolides (June 14, 1950 to 1959), Anne Williams Rubinstein (April 1, 1959 to October 1965), Nancy Hackett (July 6, 1966 to 1972), and Leslie (Tessa) Busby (April 18, 1973 to 1977). Dick had three children, Laura Archer (February 25, 1960), Isolde Freya (now Isa Dick Hackett) (March 15, 1967), and Christopher Kenneth (July 25, 1973).
Dick tried to stay off the political scene because of the high societal turmoil from the Vietnam War; however, he did show some anti-Vietnam War and anti-governmental sentiments. In 1968, he joined the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest”, an anti-war pledge to pay no U.S. federal income tax, which resulted in the confiscation of his car by the IRS.
Dick sold his first story in 1951 and wrote full-time from that point. During 1952 his first speculative fiction publications appeared in July and September numbers of Planet Stories, edited by Jack O’Sullivan, and in If and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction that fall. His debut novel was Solar Lottery, published in 1955 as half of Ace Double #D-103 alongside The Big Jump by Leigh Brackett. The 1950s were a difficult and impoverished time for Dick. He once said “We couldn’t even pay the late fees on a library book.” He published almost exclusively within the science fiction genre, but dreamed of a career in the mainstream of American literature. During the 1950s he produced a series of non-genre, relatively conventional novels. In 1960 he wrote that he was willing to “take twenty to thirty years to succeed as a literary writer.” The dream of mainstream success formally died in January 1963 when the Scott Meredith Literary Agency returned all of his unsold mainstream novels. Only one of these works, Confessions of a Crap Artist, was published during Dick’s lifetime.
In 1963, Dick won the Hugo Award for The Man in the High Castle. Although he was hailed as a genius in the science fiction world, the mainstream literary world was unappreciative, and he could publish books only through low-paying science fiction publishers such as Ace. Even in his later years, he continued to have financial troubles. In the introduction to the 1980 short story collection The Golden Man, Dick wrote:
“Several years ago, when I was ill, Heinlein offered his help, anything he could do, and we had never met; he would phone me to cheer me up and see how I was doing. He wanted to buy me an electric typewriter, God bless him—one of the few true gentlemen in this world. I don’t agree with any ideas he puts forth in his writing, but that is neither here nor there. One time when I owed the IRS a lot of money and couldn’t raise it, Heinlein loaned the money to me. I think a great deal of him and his wife; I dedicated a book to them in appreciation. Robert Heinlein is a fine-looking man, very impressive and very military in stance; you can tell he has a military background, even to the haircut. He knows I’m a flipped-out freak and still he helped me and my wife when we were in trouble. That is the best in humanity, there; that is who and what I love.”
On February 20, 1974, while recovering from the effects of sodium pentothal administered for the extraction of an impacted wisdom tooth, Dick received a home delivery of Darvon from a young woman. When he opened the door, he was struck by the beauty of the dark-haired girl and was especially drawn to her golden necklace. He asked her about its curious fish-shaped design. “This is a sign used by the early Christians,” she said, and then left. Dick called the symbol the “vesicle pisces”. This name seems to have been based on his conflation of two related symbols, the Christian ichthys symbol (two intersecting arcs delineating a fish in profile) which the woman was wearing, and the vesica piscis.
Dick recounted that as the sun glinted off the gold pendant, the reflection caused the generation of a “pink beam” that mesmerized him. Dick came to believe the beam imparted wisdom and clairvoyance; he also believed it to be intelligent. On one occasion, Dick was startled by a seperate recurrence of the pink beam. It imparted the information to him that his infant son was ill. The Dicks rushed the child to the hospital where Dick’s suspicion and his diagnosis were confirmed.
After the woman’s departure, Dick began experiencing strange hallucinations. Although initially attributing them to his medication, after weeks of hallucinations he considered this explanation implausible. “I experienced an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind, as if I had been insane all my life and suddenly I had become sane,” Dick told Charles Platt.
Throughout February and March 1974, Dick experienced a series of hallucinations, which he referred to as “2-3-74”, shorthand for February–March 1974. Aside from the “pink beam”, Dick described the initial hallucinations as geometric patterns, and, occasionally, brief pictures of Jesus and ancient Rome. As the hallucinations increased in length and frequency, Dick claimed he began to live two parallel lives, one as himself, “Philip K. Dick”, and one as “Thomas”, a Christian persecuted by Romans in the 1st century AD. He referred to the “transcendentally rational mind” as “Zebra”, “God” and “VALIS“. Dick wrote about the experiences, first in the semi-autobiographical novel Radio Free Albemuth and then in VALIS, The Divine Invasion and the unfinished The Owl in Daylight (the VALIS trilogy).
Dick had two professional stories published under the pen namesRichard Phillipps and Jack Dowland. “Some Kinds Of Life” in Fantastic Universe, October 1953 was published as by Richard Phillipps apparently because “Planet For Transients” was published in the same issue under his own name.
The short story “Orpheus with Clay Feet” was published under the pen name “Jack Dowland”. The protagonist desires to be the muse for fictional author Jack Dowland, considered the greatest science fiction author of the 20th century. In the story, Dowland publishes a short story titled “Orpheus with Clay Feet”, under the pen name “Philip K. Dick”.
The surname Dowland refers to Renaissance composer John Dowland, who is featured in several works. The title Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said directly refers to Dowland’s best-known composition, “Flow My Tears”. In the novel The Divine Invasion, the ‘Linda Fox’ character, created specifically with Linda Ronstadt in mind, is an intergalactically famous singer whose entire body of work consists of recordings of John Dowland compositions. Also, some protagonists in Dick’s short fiction are named ‘Dowland’.
Style and works
“Dick’s third major theme is his fascination with war and his fear and hatred of it. One hardly sees critical mention of it, yet it is as integral to his body of work as oxygen is to water.”
—Steven Owen Godersky
Dick’s stories typically focus on the fragile nature of what is “real” and the construction of personal identity. His stories often become surreal fantasies as the main characters slowly discover that their everyday world is actually an illusion constructed by powerful external entities (such as in Ubik), vast political conspiracies, or simply from the vicissitudes of an unreliable narrator. “All of his work starts with the basic assumption that there cannot be one, single, objective reality”, writes science fiction author Charles Platt. “Everything is a matter of perception. The ground is liable to shift under your feet. A protagonist may find himself living out another person’s dream, or he may enter a drug-induced state that actually makes better sense than the real world, or he may cross into a different universe completely.”
Alternate universes and simulacra were common plot devices, with fictional worlds inhabited by common, working people, rather than galactic elites. “There are no heroes in Dick’s books”, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote, “but there are heroics. One is reminded of Dickens: what counts is the honesty, constancy, kindness and patience of ordinary people.” Dick made no secret that much of his thinking and work was heavily influenced by the writings of Carl Jung. The Jungian constructs and models that most concerned Dick seem to be the archetypes of the collective unconscious, group projection/hallucination, synchronicities, and personality theory. Many of Dick’s protagonists overtly analyze reality and their perceptions in Jungian terms (see Lies Inc.), while other times, the themes are so obviously in reference to Jung their usage needs no explanation. Dick’s self-named Exegesis also contained many notes on Jung in relation to theology and mysticism.
Dick identified one major theme of his work as the question, “What constitutes the authentic human being?” In works such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? beings can appear totally human in every respect while lacking soul or compassion, while completely alien beings such as Glimmung in Galactic Pot-Healer may be more humane and complex than Dick’s human characters.
Mental illness was a constant interest of Dick’s, and themes of mental illness permeate his work. The character Jack Bohlen in the 1964 novel Martian Time-Slip is an “ex-schizophrenic”. The novel Clans of the Alphane Moon centers on an entire society made up of descendants of lunatic asylum inmates. In 1965 he wrote the essay titled Schizophrenia and the Book of Changes.
Drug use (including religious, recreational, and abuse) was also a theme in many of Dick’s works, such as A Scanner Darkly and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Dick was a drug user for much of his life. According to a 1975 interview in Rolling Stone, Dick wrote all of his books published before 1970 while on amphetamines. “A Scanner Darkly (1977) was the first complete novel I had written without speed”, said Dick in the interview. He also experimented briefly with psychedelics, but wrote The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, which Rolling Stone dubs “the classic LSD novel of all time”, before he had ever tried them. Despite his heavy amphetamine use, however, Dick later said that doctors had told him that the amphetamines never actually affected him, that his liver had processed them before they reached his brain.
Summing up all these themes in Understanding Philip K. Dick, Eric Carl Link discussed eight themes or ‘ideas and motifs’: Epistemology and the Nature of Reality, Know Thyself, The Android and the Human, Entropy and Pot Healing, The Theodicy Problem, Warfare and Power Politics, The Evolved Human, and ‘Technology, Media, Drugs and Madness’.
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965) utilizes an array of science fiction concepts and features several layers of reality and unreality. It is also one of Dick’s first works to explore religious themes. The novel takes place in the 21st century, when, under UN authority, mankind has colonized the Solar System‘s every habitableplanet and moon. Life is physically daunting and psychologically monotonous for most colonists, so the UN must draft people to go to the colonies. Most entertain themselves using “Perky Pat” dolls and accessories manufactured by Earth-based “P.P. Layouts”. The company also secretly creates “Can-D”, an illegal but widely available hallucinogenic drug allowing the user to “translate” into Perky Pat (if the drug user is a woman) or Pat’s boyfriend, Walt (if the drug user is a man). This recreational use of Can-D allows colonists to experience a few minutes of an idealized life on Earth by participating in a collective hallucination.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) is the story of a bounty hunter policing the local android population. It occurs on a dying, poisoned Earth de-populated of all “successful” humans; the only remaining inhabitants of the planet are people with no prospects off-world. The 1968 story is the literary source of the film Blade Runner (1982). It is both a conflation and an intensification of the pivotally Dickian question, What is real, what is fake? What crucial factor defines humanity as distinctly ‘alive’, versus those merely alive only in their outward appearance?
Ubik (1969) uses extensive networks of psychics and a suspended state after death in creating a state of eroding reality. A group of psychics is sent to investigate a group of rival psychics, but several of them are apparently killed by a saboteur’s bomb. Much of the novel flicks between a number of equally plausible realities; the “real” reality, a state of half-life and psychically manipulated realities. In 2005, Time magazine listed it among the “All-TIME 100 Greatest Novels” published since 1923.
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974) concerns Jason Taverner, a television star living in a dystopian near-future police state. After being attacked by an angry ex-girlfriend, Taverner awakens in a dingy Los Angeles hotel room. He still has his money in his wallet, but his identification cards are missing. This is no minor inconvenience, as security checkpoints (manned by “pols” and “nats”, the police and National Guard) are set up throughout the city to stop and arrest anyone without valid ID. Jason at first thinks that he was robbed, but soon discovers that his entire identity has been erased. There is no record of him in any official database, and even his closest associates do not recognize or remember him. For the first time in many years, Jason has no fame or reputation to rely on. He has only his innate charisma to help him as he tries to find out what happened to his past and avoid the attention of the pols. The novel was Dick’s first published novel after years of silence, during which time his critical reputation had grown, and this novel was awarded the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. It is the only Philip K. Dick novel nominated for both a Hugo and for a Nebula Award.
In an essay written two years before dying, Dick described how he learned from his Episcopalian priest that an important scene in Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said – involving its other main character, Police General Felix Buckman, the policeman of the title – was very similar to a scene in Acts of the Apostles, a book of the Christian New Testament. Film director Richard Linklater discusses this novel in his film Waking Life, which begins with a scene reminiscent of another Dick novel, Time Out of Joint.
A Scanner Darkly (1977) is a bleak mixture of science fiction and police procedural novels; in its story, an undercover narcotics police detective begins to lose touch with reality after falling victim to the same permanently mind altering drug, Substance D, he was enlisted to help fight. Substance D is instantly addictive, beginning with a pleasant euphoria which is quickly replaced with increasing confusion, hallucinations and eventually total psychosis. In this novel, as with all Dick novels, there is an underlying thread of paranoia and dissociation with multiple realities perceived simultaneously. It was adapted to film by Richard Linklater.
VALIS (1980) is perhaps Dick’s most postmodern and autobiographical novel, examining his own unexplained experiences. It may also be his most academically studied work, and was adapted as an opera by Tod Machover. Later works like the VALIS trilogy were heavily autobiographical, many with “two-three-seventy-four” (2-3-74) references and influences. The word VALIS is the acronym for Vast Active Living Intelligence System. Later, Dick theorized that VALIS was both a “reality generator” and a means of extraterrestrial communication. A fourth VALIS manuscript, Radio Free Albemuth, although composed in 1976, was posthumously published in 1985. This work is described by the publisher (Arbor House) as “an introduction and key to his magnificent VALIS trilogy.”
Regardless of the feeling that he was somehow experiencing a divine communication, Dick was never fully able to rationalize the events. For the rest of his life, he struggled to comprehend what was occurring, questioning his own sanity and perception of reality. He transcribed what thoughts he could into an eight-thousand-page, one-million-word journal dubbed the Exegesis. From 1974 until his death in 1982, Dick spent many nights writing in this journal. A recurring theme in Exegesis is Dick’s hypothesis that history had been stopped in the 1st century AD., and that “the Empire never ended”. He saw Rome as the pinnacle of materialism and despotism, which, after forcing the Gnostics underground, had kept the population of Earth enslaved to worldly possessions. Dick believed that VALIS had communicated with him, and anonymous others, to induce the impeachment of U.S. President Richard Nixon, whom Dick believed to be the current Emperor of Rome incarnate.
A number of Dick’s stories have been made into films. Dick himself wrote a screenplay for an intended film adaptation of Ubik in 1974, but the film was never made. Many film adaptations have not used Dick’s original titles. When asked why this was, Dick’s ex-wife Tessa said, “Actually, the books rarely carry Phil’s original titles, as the editors usually wrote new titles after reading his manuscripts. Phil often commented that he couldn’t write good titles. If he could, he would have been an advertising writer instead of a novelist.” Films based on Dick’s writing have accumulated a total revenue of over US $1 billion as of 2009.
Blade Runner (1982), based on Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford. A screenplay had been in the works for years before Scott took the helm, with Dick being extremely critical of all versions. Dick was still apprehensive about how his story would be adapted for the film when the project was finally put into motion. Among other things, he refused to do a novelization of the film. But contrary to his initial reactions, when he was given an opportunity to see some of the special effects sequences of Los Angeles 2019, Dick was amazed that the environment was “exactly as how I’d imagined it!”, though Ridley Scott has mentioned he had never even read the source material. Following the screening, Dick and Scott had a frank but cordial discussion of Blade Runner’s themes and characters, and although they had wildly differing views, Dick fully backed the film from then on, stating that his “life and creative work are justified and completed by Blade Runner.” Dick died from a stroke less than four months before the release of the film.