- Hardcover: 976 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (November 8, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0547549253
- ISBN-13: 978-0547549255
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 2.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 58 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick Hardcover – November 7, 2011
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From the Inside Flap
Based on thousands of pages of typed and handwritten notes, journal entries, letters, and story sketches, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is the magnificent and imaginative final work of an author who dedicated his life to questioning the nature of reality and perception, the malleability of space and time, and the relationship between the human and the divine. Edited and introduced by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem, this is the definitive presentation of Dicks brilliant, and epic, work.
In the Exegesis, Dick documents his eight-year attempt to fathom what he called 2-3-74, a postmodern visionary experience of the entire universe transformed into information. In entries that sometimes ran to hundreds of pages, in a freewheeling voice that ranges through personal confession, esoteric scholarship, dream accounts, and fictional fugues, Dick tried to write his way into the heart of a cosmic mystery that tested his powers of imagination and invention to the limit.
This volume, the culmination of many years of transcription and archival research, has been annotated by the editors and by a unique group of writers and scholars chosen to offer a range of views into one of the most improbable and mind-altering manuscripts ever brought to light.
From the Back Cover
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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. The second view, which Dick matures as the Exegesis goes along, is that the illusion of the world is not negative, per se, but rather exists as it does for a good and bening purpose. The veil within or minds, the dokos, which affects our memories and makes us believe we actually are the people we believe we are, when in fact we are higher dimensional souls, exists in order for the human drama to be possible. To see through it, to remove the layers of consciousness, as Dick did,
entails and end to the human story, and the development into another kind of reality. The whole process of enlightenment, or attaining gnosis, is one of anamnesis, or remembering. We forgot something fundamental about ourselves. But the memory is within us, somewhere deep down our minds, and if we are capable of retrieving it, everything stands revealed and explained. The reason for why all is as it is will shine in consciousness.
I'd say that in order for a reader to appreciate what he is trying to do, one must have had a least a mystical glimpse of reality. By this a mean an alteration of consciousness to some degree in which the universe isn't seen anymore as a set of disjointed material objects, unconscious, unintelligent and without intention. In fact, this way of seeing the world is not a an immediate given of pure experience, but rather a superimposition that came upon western consciousness through the centuries, starting with atomists - Democritus, Leucippus and Lucretius. Since this is our unconscious mythology, the deep structure within our psyches from which all of our modern condition is derived, transcending it, even for a brief moment, entails seeing the universe in a radically transformed way, as the ancients did. Sentience, intelligence, life - these attributes are mapped into the whole field of experience, and not just to some physical bodies. The universe becomes a living organism, a living entelechy in which we are both part and whole. No longer hostile, alien, uncaring and unfeeling; but not because we wish it to be so, but because it is so.
I have not finished the book, but I am about 100 pages in and taking my time carefully digesting what he has to say. There is certainly a vast amount of food for thought, and I am also very sympathetic to the mental exertions that he obviously was going through, as a longtime seeker (for lack of a better term) most of my life. Wrestling with ineffable is tiresome, indeed, but it is something which those whom have a passion or even just a longing for it, return to again, and again, and again, and most times you will find that 95% percent of the people you may share your life with or meet, are not going to share the same thirst or passion for it as you will.
What I mention above is the very reason I was attracted to this book in the first place, I have not read much of PKD's work, of course the film Blade Runner I had seen and was a fan of, and I had read some of his later works such as VALIS when I was in high school. But quite honestly I just wanted to know what he had to say.
Does he toe the line of sanity at times, sure does, but in these times it is hard to say that he isn't also doing/experiencing the same things all shamans and mystics of old have. and that is an experience of the subnormal beyond human experience and comprehension.
A feel so large, filled with so much information, that all the words of the human language are only usable as sign posts and riddles to give an idea of the true meaning.
Now, don't take any of the above of which I just said, to mean that I somehow think I am PKD's equal or that I even grasp what he has written or had experienced. I don't think that in the slightest. But I do think that he was a rare man which was able to experience that grand mystery beyond what we currently understand, and he did his best to fight through it, and understand it. And at the same time, stem off the maddening nature of it.
If you have the stamina for it, this is a really really interesting book and perspective, and believe me being only a little over 100 pages in, I have had more than a few times set the book down, and wondered if I even do, struggling with myself if I was even going to come back to it anytime soon.
In many ways this book has become like a great aspiration, which I stare at across the room while it furtively stares back at me, finding myself thinking, "Ok you bastard, let’s have another round!". It’s as fun as it is maddening.
But, with all the above said and done, the things which are discovered, and that potentiality of discovery makes this a game of slap/tickle that I come back to again and again. Take that for what you will.
We weren't disappointed.
The Exegesis is like no other work in the world's mystical literature of which I'm aware. A relentless, probing, moving - and often hilarious - attempt to clarify PKD's profound mystical experiences in February and March of 1974, he created an incredible, encyclopedic discussion of the existing mystical literature of the world - while never committing himself to any one position.
That's one of the things that's so incredible about The Exegesis. Phil never gives us answers - or, rather, he gives us every possible answer. He could easily have defined his system in existing terms - but he relentlessly sought his own truth - rather than committing to any one approach.
That took tremendous courage - I know of no other mystic - with the exception of William Blake - who followed his own vision so honestly - despite the challenges and the loneliness of that course.
And PKD's synthesis is profound. Thought provoking. Unique. While much of what he said resonates with earlier traditions, his own vision - especially of the hidden God he calls Zebra - is unique.
And changes the way I've looked at the universe and God.
Most recent customer reviews
Very thought research for the organizers.
A delightful read to PHD fans that shall be consumed slowly