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The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick Hardcover – November 7, 2011
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About the Author
Over a writing career that spanned three decades, Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) published 36 science fiction novels and 121 short stories in which he explored the essence of what makes man human and the dangers of centralized power. Toward the end of his life, his work turned toward deeply personal, metaphysical questions concerning the nature of God. Eleven novels and short stories have been adapted to film; notably: Blade Runner (based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. The recipient of critical acclaim and numerous awards throughout his career, Dick was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2007 the Library of America published a selection of his novels in three volumes. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages.
JONATHAN LETHEM is the author of nine novels, including Motherless Brooklyn, The Fortress of Solitude, and Gun, with Occasional Music. Dissident Gardens is his most recent novel.
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Top Customer Reviews
To explain, toward the end of his writing career, Philip Dick had a visionary/religious/mystical experience. Like all such experiences, it was exceptionally difficult to verbalize, rationalize, or explain. If the experience itself didn't drive Dick mad, the task of making sense of it clearly did, at least for a time. Dick entered a period of heightened creativity, struggling to give voice to his religious experience through writing. Dick called this process, and the body of text it produced, his "Exegesis." Traditionally, the word signifies the process of expounding upon and interpreting a work of literature, typically a religious text; here, the object of Dick's literary critique was his own mind.
This book is a relatively narrow selection of pages from that effort. It reads like a philosophical journal, and consists of outlines, correspondence, doodles and rambling essays on science, creativity, ancient history, religion, death, and drugs. This is the raw ore of genius, but it is extremely unrefined. Worse, it has an eerie "tinfoil hat" feel to it; one gets the strong sense that Dick was flirting with mental illness. The casual reader is certain to be alienated, and unnecessarily, since the Exegesis formed the basis for several excellent works of narrative fiction.Read more ›
The physical presentation is commendable, definitely worthy of the price and perhaps even the 29-year gap between PKD's death and the book's publication: the binding is attractive and gold beneath the dust jacket; the pages are light and crisp with 8 glossy photocopied entries from the Exegesis in the center; the type design is pleasantly minimal and unobtrusive. I found the editorial work to be only average; in particular, I was disappointed with several of the footnotes to the text. Although always historically informative, the editors frequently fail to illuminate any deeper meaning, which is what editorial notes traditionally are meant to do. Still, they have done a great service to PKD and the world by bringing together a lucid and presentable collection of the Exegesis material, a task that I'm sure was incredibly complex.
I would not recommend the Exegesis as a starting point for exploring PKD's work. At the very least, you should be familiar with Ubik, as its subject and themes are frequently referred to throughout the Exegesis; and PKD's final trilogy, VALIS.Read more ›
having some deep experiences with meditation and entheogens. Finding Dick's reflections was a great blessing, as the way he ponders on the ultimate nature of reality is extremely original, unique and unparalled.
The exegesis is a raw, unadulterated experience of philosophical genius. It's not a methodical and organized exposition of a system of thought, although there is one here through and through implicit in Dick's discoveries.
The amount of metaphysical insights contained in the Exegesis is simply amazing. The meaning of creation, the nature of evil, the ultimate goal of the universe - all the great themes are explored here.
It's also important not to approach the Exegesis as a work of pure speculation. It is not. Dick is trying to describe a direct realization of reality, and while his metaphysical flights may seem to be completely ungrounded at times, they always ultimately derive from the transformation of consciousness he underwent, and as such, must be treated as serious descriptive attempts of an ineffable state.
In regards to his cosmology, it essentially states that we are living in a Mind. That the universe we experience is an appearance, illusion, fabrication, simulation, hologram that is emanated and generated by this great Mind at the core of reality. What we see, feel and experience is information which is being endlessly rearranged within this living hypercomputer, what he calls Valis.
There are two dimensions of this classic idea in Dick's exposition. The first is gnostic in essence, and states that the world is some sort of forgery and consequently evil.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Reads a bit like Wittgensteins "Philosophical Investigations" but, as to be expected, much weirder. Imagine the mind of a mystical genius revealing itself to itself. Read morePublished 1 month ago by jason lupher
I realized the importance of editors as a result of reading from the Exegesis. Not recommended.Published 2 months ago by don quixote
Many of us who have read PKD's visionary novels had been eagerly awaiting the release of this edited version of his magnum opus, The Exegesis. Read morePublished 8 months ago by John Aaron
It has often been said that there is a fine line between madness and genius. PKD seems to cross back and forth between the two almost at will. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Scribbler
More a compilation of philosophy than a story. At times (on a few pages) it provides for me a 'taste' of Hunter S. Thompson's style of communication; complex and in-the-moment.Published 12 months ago by Terenzu 4 America
Good galaxies, do people write their own exegeses now? Would Dick appreciate his tome as a burden to own? Everything artistically excised from his fiction? Read morePublished 18 months ago by Patricia D. Mcdonald