Sunday 20 July 2008

Philip K Dick Letters

As an advance taster to what you are likely to find in my next book I would like to discuss the subject of the last chapter ... a gentleman that you all know seems to have some peculiar link with both ITLAD and possibly even myself (viz the Anarch Peak character in "Counter Clock World").

Throughout his life PKD called his Daemon many names but the one that he settled on was the Vast Active Living and Intelligent System, or VALIS. However it was not until 1981 that he was to write a novel by that name. Driven by the fact that his precognitive skills were telling him that he did not have long to live – again a precognition that was to prove correct as he was to die a year later of a stroke – Phil was keen to get his theories down on paper. For years he had been writing a narrative of his philosophy that he was to call Exegesis. However this was virtually unpublishable so Phil decided that he would write a fiction around the facts of his life.

For those of you who have read my first book Is There Life After Death? - The Extraordinary Science of What Happens When You Die, (ITLAD), 'Valis' makes a simply fascinating read. Yet again we have Dick embroidering a state of consciousness that I argue is more real than reality itself into a barely disguised biography.

Right from the start Dick wants it made clear that he is two personalities. The main character is the curiously named Horselover Fat. Curious only if you don’t understand basic Greek and basic German in which case the pun is fairly clear. ‘Horse lover’ in Greek is translated as Philos Hippus and Fat is English for the German word Dick. So there you have it. Clearly Horselover Fat is Phil himself. However we soon discover that the narrator of this tale is a sober science fiction writer by the name of Philip K. Dick. We are already in the land of duality twins and doppelgangers that Dick was so fascinated post March 1974. However writer Phil expands on many of the other themes that had filled his life for seven years.

Horse Fat is convinced that reality is an illusion. He has come to this conclusion after years of reading Gnostic texts. Narrator Phil is not convinced of this belief but agrees to join Fat on a journey to Northern California to find a band called Mother Goose. Whilst there they meet a young girl by the name of Sophia. Clearly the name was picked by Dick to show that this girl is some form of Gnostic deity. Indeed this proves to be the case when she brings about the fusing of Fat and Dick into a single being. This is a clear reference to Dick’s belief that his personal amanuensis fused his Daemon and Eidolon in March 1974.

This fusing of his two personalities allows the narrator to perceive reality as having two versions;
Fat perceives the ‘Matrix’ whereas Phil has always existed within the confines of the ‘Black Iron Prison’ of the Demiurge.

Sophia brings about the joining together of the two aspects of Phil’s personality because she is the embodiment of a ‘VALIS’, as we have already seen this is an acronym for Vast Acting Living Intelligence System. This is a form of metaphysical DNA that can replicate itself inside the brain. Like a virus it can spread through the cortex and in doing so open up that persons consciousness to perceive the reality of the ‘Matrix’. Once this takes place the person becomes a ‘homeoplasmate’ or a unified being that perceives the Matrix as true reality.

In this way the real Philip K Dick explained to his readers what had happened to him in 1974. For Sophia/Valis read my Daemon. I contend that although involved in Dick’s life from a very early age the Daemon could only communicate with its Eidolon in a more directing way when Phil’s brain structures became open to the communication. This may have been brought about by the onset of temporal lobe epilepsy in his later years. It is possible that Phil’s contention that when a young man he was diagnosed with schizophrenia was why the messages were garbled and unclear until 1974.

If my theory is right then Phil Dick’s Daemon, under the pseudonym VALIS, made a concerted attempt to have its famous writer Eidolon set out in fictional format the philosophy of reality that I was later to describe in my book Is There Life After Death? Literally everything is there. However Phil was to misunderstand the message and confuse some of the elements. However a careful reading of his work in the light of mine may bring you to some startling conclusions.

But there is one really fascinating proof of Dick’s Daemon and its precognitive abilities. I believe that I have discovered evidence that his Daemon gave Phil an image of his own final moments.

As you may recall I have discovered a thus far unpublished treasure trove of letters sent by Phil to a pen pal in the early 1970s. As I was looking for a suitable ending to this chapter I came across one written on February 25th 1975. This letter carried the following fascinating postscript:

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 February 18th 1982 Phil’s neighbours become concerned that they had not seen him that day. They knocked on his door then forced their way into the apartment. They found Phil lying unconscious in the living room. This was a place that Phil in 1975 would not have recognised. It is likely that he would have been found in exactly the position and location described so clearly in Phil’s Daemon-evoked hypnogogic almost exactly seven years before. Phil was not dead at this time but clearly in his dream-vision Phil could not have known if the man was actually dead or unconscious. He was to die about a week later without really gaining consciousness.

Now please note that Phil was quite precise in his command to his Daemon – he requested that it show itself. I believe that that is exactly what the Daemon did. It showed a future Phil in the last few moments of his conscious awareness before the stroke severed his links with ‘reality’ as he perceived it. In doing so the Daemon implied that it was Phil himself in the final moments of his life – existing in the half-life described in Ubik and explained in my first book.

Could this be another Daemonic clue that we do, indeed, Cheat The Ferryman?

*Dick, Philip K Letter to Claudia Krenz - 25th February 1975.


SM Kovalinsky said...

Tony: Thank you for this beautiful post, and I cannot wait to read "The Daemon". After reading ITLAD I researched PK Dick extensively and obssessively, and became enthralled with the mystery of Anarch Peak and the afterlife theory/Anthony Peake and the CTF thesis. I Found Dick to be not a purveyor of sci-fi tales, but a prescient philosopher and gnostic of the highest caliber. From this post, I see you would be his most beautiful biographer, and could write a full length text on him and your dyad, alone. Thank you.

Karl Le Marcs said...

Tony: Fantastic stuff!

I thought this story was a great addition to your lecture from Wednesday night and I agree with Susan Marie that a Biography of PKD is well within your capabilities (although, ironically, I empathise that the opponent of this plan would be Time)

I place a link below to the FORUM topic on PKD as I think it is important to read it together with this post:

FORUM: Philip K Dick - Anarch Peak
[by Tony]

ps, Tony, did you find out from Andrew Crumey if Mobius Dick and the character Harry Dick were PKD influenced, as you and I both know Andrew is fully aware of PKD (being a fellow Thingy-Head)?

Rosh said...

As i read this post im reminded of a beautiful quote....
"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience." - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

johar said...

Amazing Tony, I ordered 8 books from amazon the other day and now they are going to get more of my hard earned cash. It sounds like a fascinating book, I can't wait to read it.

On another note, if you look at what appears to be a 'third eye' on Philip K. Dicks forehead on the picture and turn it sideways it bears a startling resemblance to your logo, Tony.

Or is it just me?

Rosh said...

Dont know how to explain this...but its ITLADic tradition...
as i was reading this post i was thinking ive read about this VALIS somewhere...and now i remembered...i was reading about lebonese writers...(khalil gibran being my favourite)....and i remember looking up another writer Amin Maalouf.... And the connection....Mani has been mentioned in Amin Maalouf's novel The Gardens of Light and science fiction author Philip K. Dick's novel VALIS.
Who is MANI?
Mani(c. 210–276 AD) was the founder of Manichaeism, an ancient gnostic religion that was once widespread but is now extinct.

Anthony Peake said...

JOHAR: I had not noticed my logo on Phil's head. Of course what the artist is trying to show is the ikhthus symbol of the early Christians (When KKD had his "theophany" he believed that he was a first century Gnostic Christian). However I am still amazed at the literal symbolism of how my symbol seems to be turning up in the most unusual (but extremely itladian locations).

KARL:I asked Andrew Crumey about the link with Mobius "Dick" and Philip K "Dick". He said that it was entirely coincidental but he was keen to add that he may have decided upon this title subliminally.

ROSHNI: You will be thrilled/surprised to know that in my next book I have a great deal to say about Mani and his links to itladian philosophy. as you are probably aware Mani believed himself to be two people. We itladians know this to be hsi Daemon-Eidolon Dyad. Mani termed this other being in his head his "sacred twin" - "al-Tawm in Arabic.

The technical term for this mystic twin is "Syzygos" - a term used by both PKD and Mani.

Mani wrote the following witn regard to his twin:

" Who I am and what my body is, and how my arrival at this world occured ... Who is my father on high and what order and comission he gave me before I put on this material body and before I was led astray in this abominable flesh ... Who is my inseparable twin ... He revealed it to me, to the boundless heights and the unfathomable depths"

Of course Manicheanism has always been recognised as profoundly Gnostic in both its underlying philosophy and its teachings.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating post, Tony. Thanks for expanding on your lecture. I'm certain that your interpretation of Philip K Dick's life and works is completely accurate. Your work adds to our appreciation and understanding.

I can't wait for the new book to be published. You have so much to say that is profound and life enhancing.

ra from ca said...


You know I will always be grateful to you for introducing so many interesting and helpful ideas in ITLAD and I look forward to reading The Daemon. Knowing about Dick's premonition and his experience of the daemon and eidolon, makes my similar experience of premonition and duality more palatable and meaningful.

SM Kovalinsky said...

K. L. LeMarcs: I am glad you agree that Tony would be the best biographer of PKD; would that he had the time, that you both did, to do as you both OUGHT to be doing!!! Thank you for placing the forum link as well.
RA: I agree, it confirms our own experiences, and I long for Tony's book. If you accompany me to LP, he will sign copies for us; and one day in the not distant future, a Dark Professorial one will as well!

Karl Le Marcs said...

SM Kovalinsky: Oh, AP would be a wonderful Biographer of PKD, I'm sure from talking to him that he would love to do this once Time is a possibility.
And you are welcome re the FORUM: Link as you placed some interesting replies to it, that would make a great contribution to the overall reading.

And SMK and Ruth, Tony will sign your books with plesure and if you want me to sign a small corner I am sure AP would allow me to do that for your two wonderful ITLADists.

I must try for sleep now as I need to be out the house in less than 6 hours.

Thank You.

Anthony Peake said...

Unfortunately there have been at least three biographies of PKD, all of which are excellent. The Lawrence Sutin's "Divine Invasions" and the very recent (2006) "I Am Alive And You Are Dead - A Journey Inside The Mind of Philip K Dick" by Emmanuel Carrere I have read and feel all I could really add would be the Daemonic aspects.

As I may have mentione in an earlier posting I am in touch with a close friend of PKD, the science writer Brad Steiger. Brad knows of my angle on Phil. I asked Brad what he thought PKD would have made of what I have to say. Brad's response was that "Phil would have loved it". This just makes me sad that I have been denied the chance to contact him and maybe even have met him. He certainly would have been of great help in getting ITLAD and CTF better known.

SM Kovalinsky said...

TONY: But, here is still a very close connection between you and PKD, and the Anarch Peak is yours, and yours alone. You and he hold together inwardly; and the mention of your works and the connection to his, must surely help. Perhaps it is better and more daemonic, that the connection is an inward one? That is the way I view it.

Karl Le Marcs said...

Tony: I'm just grabbing an hour's break during another of my 'Manic Mondays'
*drops bangle*
*cough, cough*

A truly great Biography blends not only the story of the life of the Subject but also the knowledge, interpretation and psychology of the Author.

Don't allow previous attempts by other writers to prevent you from writing this; just look how many Biographies there are of characters such as Crowley, Dostoyevsky etc (I own 6 and 7 respectively).

I agree that within this phaneron (whether mine or yours), it is indeed a shame that you and PKD have not met; of course, within another set of conditions you probably have done!

It was through meeting you and witnessing your enthusiasm for PKD that made me want to read UBIK and VALIS and COUNTER-CLOCK WORLD, which were not the kind of books I would normally have read, so your passion for Dick, erm, your passion for PKD imbued itself into my psyche so I know you would be able to produce a wonderful Biography (and of course, by then, ITLAD and CTF (and perhaps CtCw) will be huge anyway)

SM Kovalinsky said...

TONY: Now that KLLM mentions this, I can add that I have read dozens of biographies on Tennessee Williams, and one of the most beautiful was the last I found, a recent one, published long after scores of others. The unique psychology of the writer is indeed the deciding factor in whether or not a biography will be a profound and lasting achievement; its key in the most essential sense. Your daemonic theory and the entire dialectic with the eidolon within your dyadic theory of binary mind is a singular contribution to the latter, and distinguishes you. It is truly unparalleled within biographical literary criticism, a fact of which you ought to be proud. I think in my post on that topic, I was trying to drive that point home to you above all. I even saw PKD's influence lighting on certain passages of your two short stories; taken together with the Anarch Peak name, which you can lay claim to in a way no other can, you could say with no exaggeration that you are called to such a task [of a PKD bio].

Karl Le Marcs said...

*nods frantically*

Ed said...


I know that this post is a couple of months old, but time has no meaning in this blog!

This is a strange tale that I thought needs to be told. You will gather in due course why it belongs in this post.

Through my daughter's links to rock music (through her drumming), I met someone at a 'jam' session she was playing at. He used to be in a Liverpool band a few years back. So, just for fun, i decided tonight to look UP his old band on the internet. For some unknown reason, I chanced a really unlikely, long string into Google. It came back with just one hit.

The hit was ""

Yes, THIS BLOG! I couldn't believe it. I double checked and sure enough, the SINGLE hit was this blog!

So I followed it and I found the matching string in this post. The string I used was..."a band called Mother Goose". And you will find that string half way down this Philip K Dick posting. Yes, the person I met, whose name is Guy, was none other than the lead guitarits in a Liverpool band called Mother Goose.

Now someone tell me that it was not some destiny that I met him!

So now I just have to discover why.... and what the connection is with Tony, this blog, and Northern California.


Anthony Peake said...


Very weird!!! As you will probably know "Mother Goose" was a 1971track by Jethro Tull (off the "Stand Up" album as I recall).

But this does get stranger. When your posting notification appeared in my in-box the email received seconds afterwards was from Brent Raynes in the USA. Brent know quite a few people who knew PKD. However the reason for his email was that he was flagging up to me the fact that KKD's widow has just written an article about her life with the Great Man. He sent me a hyperlink to check this out (which I will do today).

Can I also make a request? - it would be great if you could place this fascinating posting onto the FORUM. It is too good to be lost on an old section of the blogsite don't you think?

Ed said...

will do,