|From the 1974 Rolling Stones article featuring the author.|
A selection from Philip Kindred Dicks VALIS, 1982.
Late at night, stoned and drunk, glancing at VALIS: it is highly experimental: absolutely unofficial, anti-official junk art (i.e., protest art); made of the garbage of the vernacular, informal in structure... : it speaks for and in the language of, the fashion of, a segment of society normally so disenfranchised that even Binky Brown doesn't act as its voice-- a certain kind of troubled young isolate asking schizophrenic questions like, "Is the universe real? Is God good?" Superstitious and artless and crude? Is that what VALIS is? Or is it very deliberate and careful, carefully fashioned... in order to give voice to these, the final frontier of disenfranchised people-- as my mail shows! Psychotic or nearly so, alone and brillant. No one has ever spoken for them-- and in their own way of expressing themselves. This is an artifact, not a sincere (naive) confession; John Clute is wrong! And it will someday so be recognized. It is a cunningly, professionally contrived artifact, i.e., work of protest art, anti-bourgeois and anti-official, but anything but naive. [...] It is not spontaneous autobiography; it is a forgery, a very artistic forgery; only someone knowing about modern nonobjective protest art... would know what VALIS really is. [...] It is not what it seems to be-- it is not quasi-psychotic confession; it is an artifact. [...] It is of the 30s. It is dada out of antifascist Weimar. It is, in the final analysis, revolutionary... .See here for a selection from Dick's Magnum Opus Exegesis.
Scanner gave voice to the 60s street people. VALIS provides a voice to yet another-- and even more despised-- group-- the adolescent loner intellectual, very much like Jack Isidore! [editors note: the main character in Dick's 1975 novel Confessions of a Crap Artist.] This is a very Christian deed on my part, but its main implications are (1) artistic; and (2) revolutionary. It is true modern art-- that of the refuse stratum of the computer hacker and Dungeons & Dragons era.
-- Dick, Exegesis.
(V.A.L.I.S. Vast Active Living Intelligence System)
I am Horselover Fat, and I am writing this in the third person to gain much-needed objectivity.
I am by profession, a science fiction writer. I deal in fantasies. My life is a fantasy.
Fat... developed a theory that the universe is made out of information. He started keeping a journal-- had been, in fact, secretly doing so for some time: the furtive act of a deranged person.
The term "journal" is mine, not Fat's. His term was "exegesis," a theological term meaning a piece of writing that explains or interprets a portion of scripture. Fat believed that the information fired at him and progressively crammed into his head in successive waves had a holy origin and hence should be regarded as a form of scripture.... .
He stayed up to four A.M. every night scratching away in his journal. I suppose all the secrets of the universe lay in it somewhere amid the rubble.
How do you break the news to someone that his brains are fried?
...the dope he did during the Sixties had pickled his head on into the Seventies. [...] Once, in 1964, when Sandox LSD-25 could still be acquired-- especially in Berkeley-- Fat had dropped one huge hit of it and had abreacted back in time or had shot forward in time or up outside of time; anyhow he had spoken in Latin and believed that the Dies Irae, the Day of Wrath, had come. [...] Well, perhaps the etiology of his later God-madness lay there.
You cannot say that an encounter with God is to mental illness what death is to cancer: the logical outcome of a deteriorating illness process. The technical term... is theophany. A theophany consists of a self-disclosure by the divine. It does not consist of something the percipient does; it consists of something the divine... does. [...] How are we do distinguish a genuine theophany from a mere hallucination on the part of the percipient?
The vividness of the impression which a supposed theophany makes on the percipient is no proof of authenticity. Nor, really, is group perception (as Spinoza supposed, the entire universe may be one theophany, but then, again, the universe may not exist at all, as the Buddhist idealists decided).
That the entire universe-- as we experience it-- could be a forgery is an idea best expressed by Heraclitus.
It is necessary to have understanding (noos) in order to be able to interpret the evidence of eyes and ears. The step from the obvious to the latent truth is like the translation of utterances in a language which is foreign to most men. Heraclitus... in Fragment 56 says that men, in regard to knowledge of perceptible things, 'are the victims of illusion much as Homer was.' To reach the truth from the appearances, it is necessary to interpret, to guess the riddle.... but though this seems to be within the capacity of men, it is something most men never do. Heraclitus is very vehement in his attacks on the foolishness of ordinary men, and of what passes for knowledge among them. They are compared to sleepers in private worlds of their own."
Thus says Edward Hussey.... in his book The Presocratics... . IN all my reading I have-- I mean, Horselover Fat has-- never found anything more significant as an insight into the nature of reality. In Fragment 123, Heraclitus says, "The nature of things is in the habit of concealing itself." And in Fragment 54 he says, "Latent structure is master of obvious structure," to which Edward Hussey adds, "Consequently, he (Heraclitus) necessarily agreed... that reality was to some extent 'hidden.'" So if reality "[is] to some extent 'hidden,'" then what is meant by "theophany"? Because a theophany is an inbreaking of God, an in-breaking which amounts to an invasion of our world; and yet our world is under the mastery of unseen "latent structure." Horselover Fat would like you to consider this above all other things. Because if Heraclitus is correct, there is in fact no reality but that of theophanies; the rest is illusion; in which case Fat alone among us comprehends the truth, and Fat... is insane.
Insane people... are not in touch with reality. Horselover Fat is insane; therefore he is not in touch with reality. Entry no. 30 from his exegesis:
The phenomenal world does not exist; it is a hypostasis of the information processed by the Mind.
35. [...] As Plato discerned, there is a streak of the irrational in the World Soul.
In other words, the universe itself-- and the Mind behind it-- is insane. Therefore someone in touch with reality is, by definition, in touch with the insane: infused by the irrational.
Fat told me another feature of his encounter with God: all of a sudden the landscape of California, USA, 1974 ebbed out and the landscape of Rome of the first century C.E. ebbed in. He experienced a superimposition of the two for a while, like techniques familiar in movies. In photography.
Fat found himself locked up in the Orange Country mental hospital
After one night in the receiving ward... Fat underwent his automatic evaluation. A whole host of well-dressed men and women confronted him; each held a clipboard and all of them scrutinized him intently.
Fat put on the trappings of sanity, as best he could. He did everything possible to convince them that he had regained his senses. As he spoke he realized that nobody believed him. [...] All he managed to do was abase himself and thereby divest himself of his last remnant of dignity.
Fuck it, Fat said to himself finally, and ceased talking.
"Go outside," one of the psych techs said, "and we'll let you know our decision."
"I really have learned my lesson," Fat said as he rose and started out of the room. "Suicide represents the introjection of hostility which should better be directed outward... I had a lot of time to meditate... and I realized that years of self-abnegation and denial manifested itself in my destructive act. But what amazed me the most was the wisdom of my body, which knew not only to defend itself from my mind but specifically how to defend itself. I realized now that Yeats's statement, 'I am an immortal soul tied to the body of a dying animal' is diametrically opposite to the actual state of affairs vis-a-vis the human condition."
The psych tech said, "We'll talk to you outside after we've made our decision."
Fat said, "I miss my son."
No one looked at him.
Presently, he sat outside in the corridor.... . Fat thought back over his life.
Spiritually, he was dead...
Either he had seen God too soon or he had seen him too late. In any case, it had done him no good at all in terms of survival. Encountering the living God had not helped to equip him for the tasks of ordinary endurance, which ordinary men, not so favored, handle.
But it could also be pointed out-- and Kevin had done so-- that Fat had accomplished something else in addition to seeing God.
"Listen!" Kevin said. "You know what Eliade says about the dream-time of the Australian bushmen? He says that anthropologists are wrong in assuming that the dream-time is time in the past. Eliade says that it's another kind of time going on right now, which the bushmen break through and into... . [...] ...the way they prepare for it is to undergo dreadful pain; it's their ritual of initiation. You were in a lot of pain when you had your experience; you had that impacted wisdom tooth and you were--" ...Kevin lowered his voice; he had been shouting. "You remember. Afraid about the authorities getting you."
"I was nuts," Fat had answered. "they weren't after me."
"But you thought they were and you were so scared you fucking couldn't sleep at night, night after night. [....] You started seeing colours... . [...] Thats described in The Tibetan Book of the Dead; that's the trip across the next world. You were mentally dying! From stress and fear! That's how it's done-- reaching the next reality! The dream-time!"
Right now Fat sat on the plastic and chrome couch mentally dying; in fact he was already mentally dead, and in the room he had left, the experts were deciding his fate, passing sentence and judgement on what remained of him. It is proper that technically qualified non-lunatics should sit in judgement on lunatics. How could things be otherwise?
"If they could just get across to the dream-time!" Kevin shouted. "That's the only real time; all the real events happen in the dream-time! The actions of the gods!"
"You found your way into the upper realm," Kevin declared. "Isn't that how you put it in your journal?"
48. Two realms there are, upper and lower. The upper derived from hyperuniverse I or Yang, form I of Parmenides, is sentient and volitional. The lower realm, or Yin, Form II of Parmenides, is mechanical, driven by blind, efficient cause, deterministic and without intelligence, since it emanates from a dead source. In ancient times it was termed "astral determinism." We are trapped, by and large, in the lower realm, but are, through the sacraments, by means of the plasmate, extricated. Until astral determinism is broken, we are not even aware of it, so occluded are we. "The Empire never ended."
"The Empire never ended," Fat quoted to himself. That one sentence appeared over and over again in his exegesis; it had become his tag line. Originally the sentence had been revealed to him in a great dream.
...during the interval in which he had experienced the two-world superimposition, he had seen not only California, USA, of the year 1974 but also ancient Rome, he had discerned within the superimposition a Gestalt shared by both space-time continua, their common element: a Black Iron Prison. This is what the dream referred to as "the Empire." He knew it because, upon seeing the Black Iron Prison, he had recognized it. Everyone dwelt in it without realizing it. The Black Iron Prison was their world.
Who had built the prison-- and why-- he could not say. But he could discern one good thing: the prison lay under attack. And organization of Christians, nor regular Christians such as those who attended church every Sunday and prayed, but secret early Christians wearing light gray-coloured robes, had started an assault on the prison, and with success. [They] were filled with joy.
Once, in a cheap science fiction novel, Fat had come across a perfect description of the Black Iron Prison but set in the far future. So if you superimposed the past (ancient Rome) over the present (California in the twentieth century) and superimposed the far future world of The Android Cried Me a River over that, you got the Empire, the Black Iron Prison, as the supra- or trans-temporal constant. Everyone who had ever lived was literally surrounded by the iron walls of the prison; they were all inside it and none of them knew it-- except for the gray-robed secret Christians.
That made the early, secret Christians supra-or trans-temporal, too, which is to say present at all times. [...] Why did these antithetical forces emerge into palpability only when the past, present and future somehow-- for whatever reason-- got superimposed?
Maybe in the bushman's dream-time no time existed. [...] ...how, if no time passed in the dream-time, could the prison come to an end? It reminded Fat of the peculiar statement in Parsifal: "You see, my son, here time turns into space." During his realigious experience... Fat had seen an augmentation of space: yards and yards of space, extending all the way to the stars; space opened up around him as if a confining box had been removed. [...] And at night in sleep he had dreamed of a measureless void, yet a void which was alive.
When you are crazy, you learn to keep quiet.
Conversations in mental hospitals resemble conversations in bus stations, because in a Greyhound bus station everyone is waiting, and in a mental hospital... everyone is waiting. They wait to get out.
The distinction between sanity and insanity is narrower than a razor's edge... . It is more elusive than the merest phantom. Perhaps it does not exist; perhaps it is a phantom.
Dr. Stone who had charge of the ward, interviewed him one day.
He could see that Dr. Stone was totally crazy, but in a good way.
"You have much anger in you," Dr. Stone said. "I am lending you a copy of the Tao Te Ching. Have you ever read Lao Tzu?"
"No," Fat admitted.
"Let me read you this part here," Dr. Stone said.
Its upper part is not dazzling;
Its lower part is not obscure.
Dimly visible, it cannot be named...
Go up to it and you will not see its head;
Follow behind it and you will never see its rear.
Hearing this, Fat remembered entries 1 and 2 from his journal. He quoted them, from memory, to Dr. Stone.
1. One Mind there is; but under it two principles contend.
2. The Mind lets in the light, then the dark; in interaction; so time is generated. At the end Mind awards victory to the light; time ceases and the Mind is complete.
"But," Dr. Stone said, "If Mind awards victory to thelight, and the dark disappears, then reality will disappear, since reality is a compound of Yang and Yin equally."
"What else can you tell me?" Dr. Stone said.
Fat said, "Time does not exist. [...] The universe is contracting into a unitary entity which is completing itself. Decay and disorder are seen by us in reverse, as increasing. Entry 18 of my exegesis reads: 'Real time ceased in 70 c.e. with the fall of the Temple of Jerusalem. It began again in 1974. The intervening period was a spurious interpolation... .'"
"Interpolated by whom?" Dr. Stone asked.
"The Black Iron Prison, which is an expression of the Empire. [...] What has been most important in my discoveries is this: 'The Empire never ended.'"
Leaning against his desk, Dr. Stone folded his arms, rocked forward and back and studied Fat, waiting to hear more.
"That's all I know," Fat said, becoming belatedly cautious.
"I'm very interested in what you're saying," Dr. Stone said.
Fat realized that one of two possibilities existed and only two; either Dr. Stone was totally insane... or else in an artful, professional fashion he had gotten Fat to talk; he had drawn Fat out and now knew that Fat was totally insane.
He decided to go for broke, to tell Dr. Stone the most fantastic entry in his exegesis.
"Entry number twenty four," Fat said. "'In dormant seed form, as living information, the plasmate slumbered in the buried library of codices at Chenoboskion until-'"
"What is 'Chenoboskion'?" Dr. Stone interrupted.
"Oh, the Gnostic library." Dr. Stone nodded. "Found and read in 1945 but never published. 'Living information'?"
"'Living information,'" he echoed. And then he said, "The Logos."
"Yes," Dr. Stone said. "The Logos would be living information, capable of replicating."
"Homoplasmates. That's a human being to which the plasmate had crossbonded. Interspecies symbiosis [Editors note: see Terence Mckenna on the mushroom]. As living information the plasmate travels up the optic nerve of a human to the pineal body. It uses the human brain as a female host-"
Dr. Stone grunted and squeezed himself violently.
"-in which to replicate itself into its active form," Fat said. "The Hermetic alchemists knew of it in theory from ancient texts but could not duplicate it, since they could not locate the dormant buried plasmate."
"But you're saying the plasmate-- the Logos-- was dug up at Nag Hammadi!"
"Yes, when the codices were read."
"Where did the plasmate originally come from?"
After a pause Fat said, "From another star system." [Editors note: see Dicks 'The Divine Invasion' where this theme is elaborated]
"You wish to identify that star system?"
"Sirius," Fat said.
"Dr. Stone," he said, "there's something I want to ask you. I want your professional opinion."
"Could the universe possibly be irrational?"
"You mean not guided by a mind. I suggest you turn to Xenophanes."
"Sure," Fat said. "Xenophanes of Colophon. 'One god there is, in no way like mortal creatures either in bodily form or in the thought of his mind. The hole of him sees, the whole of him thinks, the whole of him hears. He stays always motionless in the same place; it is not right-'"
"'Fitting,'" Dr. Stone corrected. "'It is not fitting that the should move about now this way, now that.' And the important part, Fragment 25. 'But, effortlessly, he wields all things by the thought of his mind.'"
"But he could be irrational," Fat said.
"How would we know?"
"The whole universe would be irrational."
Dr. Stone said, "Compared with what?"
That, Fat handn't thought of.
"The Logos isn't rational," Fat decided out loud. "What I call the plasmate. Buried as information in the codices at Nag Hammadi. Which is back with us now, creating new homoplasmates. The Romans, the Empire, killed all the original ones."
"But you say real time ceased in 70 A.D. when the Romans destroyed the [second] Temple [in Jerusalem]. Therefore these are still Roman times; the Romans are still here. This is roughly-" Dr. Stone calculated. "About 100 A.D."
Fat realized, then, that this explained his double exposure, the superimposition he had seen of ancient Rome and California 1974. Dr. Stone had solved it for him.
The psychiatrist in charge of treating him for his lunacy had ratified it.
"I think you're ready to leave," Stone said cheerfully.
Fat said, "But let me ask you. I'm not talking about no mind at all directing the universe. I'm talking about a mind like Xenophanes conceived of, but the mind is insane."
"The Gnostics believed that the creator deity was insane," Stone said.
Perhaps Fat had discerned a vast mystery, in calling the Logos living information.
The universe might be irrational, but something rational had broken into it, like a thief in the night breaks into a sleeping household, unexpectedly in terms of place, in terms of time.
Normally it remained camouflaged.
What if a high form of sentient mimicry existed-- such a high form that no human (or few humans) had detected it? What if it could only be detected if it wanted to be detected? [...] The astonished human being would say, I saw God; whereas in fact he saw only a highly evolved ultra-terrestrial life form, a UTI, or an extgra-terrestrial life form (an ETI) which had come here at some time in the past... and perhaps, as Fat conjectured, had slumbered for nearly two thousand years in dormant seed form as living information in the codices at Nag Hammadi.
A "hylozoist" believes that the universe is alive... .
Fat came to the conclusion that it had invaded our universe; and a year later he realized that it was consuming-- that is, devouring-- our universe. Zebra accomplished this by a process much like transubstantiation.
Instead of seeing this in church [i.e., in the Eucharist as the 'body of Christ'], Fat had seen it out in the world; and not in micro-form but in macro-form, which is to say, on a scale so vast that he could not estimate its limits. The entire universe, possibly, is in the invisible process of turning into the Lord. And with this process comes not just sentience but-- sanity.
If Fat was psychotic, you must admit that it is a strange sort of psychosis to believe that you have encountered an inbreaking of the rational into the irrational.
What it did was step forward out of its state of camouflage; it disclosed itself as set to ground and fired information...; ...whole libraries at him in nanoseconds.
God, in very truth, attacks and injures us in his role as antidote. [...] Heraclitus wrote, "Latent form is the master of obvious form," and, "The nature of things is in the habit of concealing itself."
So the rational, like a seed, lies concealed within the irrational bulk.
At this point in the Meisterwerk he had begun patiently to fabricate his cosmogony, which is the technical term for, "How the cosmos came into existence." Few individuals compose cosmogonies; usually entire cultures, civilizations, people or tribes are required: a cosmogony is a group production, evolving down through the ages. Fat well knew this, and prided himself on having invented his own. He called it:
Two source cosmogony.
In his journal or exegesis it came as entry 47 and was by far the longest single entry.
The one was and was-not, combined, and desired to separate the was-not from the was. So it generated a diploid sac which contained, like an eggshell, a pair of twins... (the Yin and Yang of Taoism, with the one as the Tao). The plan of the One was that both twins would emerge into being (wasness) simultaneously; however, motivated by a desire to be... , the counter-clockwise twin broke through the sac and separated prematurely; i.e., before full term. This was the dark or Yin twin. Therefore it was defective. At full term the wiser twin emerged. Each twin formed a unitary entelechy, a single living organism made of psyche and soma... . The full term twin, called Form I by Parmenides, advanced correctly through its growth stages, but the prematurely born twin, called Form II, languished.
The next step in the One's plan was that the Two would become the Many, through dialectic interaction. From them as hyperuniverse they projected a hologram-like interface, which is the pluriform universe we creatures inhabit. The two sources were to intermingle equally in maintaining our universe, but Form II continued to languish toward illness, madness and disorder. These aspects she projected into our universe.
It was the One's purpose for our hologramatic universe to serve as a teaching instrument by which a variety of new lives advanced until they would be isomorphic with the One.
The psyche of hyperuniverse I sent a micro-form of itself into hyperuniverse II to attempt to heal it. The micro-form was apparent in our hologramatic universe as Jesus Christ. However, hyperuniverse II, being deranged, at once tormented, humiliated, rejected and finally killed the micro-form of the healing psyche of her healthy twin. After that, hyperuniverse II continued to decay into blind, mechanical, purposeless processes. It then became the task of Christ (more properly the Holy Spirit) to either rescue the life forms in the hologramatic universe, or abolish all influences on it emanating from II.
Within time, hyperuniverse II remains alive: "The Empire never ended." But in eternity, where the hyperuniverses exist, she has been killed-- of necessity-- by the healthy twin of hyperuniverse I, who is our champion. The One grieves for this death, since the ONe loved both twins; therefore the information of the Mind consists of a tragic tale of the death of a woman, the undertones of which generate anguish into all the creatures of the hologramatic universe without their knowing why. This grief will depart when the healthy twin undergoes mitosis and the "Kingdom of God" arrives. The machinery for this transformation-- the procession within time from the Age of Iron to the Age of Gold-- is at work now; in eternity it is already accomplished.
At night he did the only act left open to him: work on his exegesis. He had reached an important entry.
Entry 48. ON OUR NATURE. It is proper to say: we appear to be memory coils (DNA carriers capable of experience) in a compluter-like thinking system which, although we have correctly recorded and stored thousands of years of experiential information, and each of us possesses somehwat different deposits from all the other life forms, there is a... failure of memory retrieval. There lies the trouble in our particular subcircuit. "Salvation" through gnosis-- more properly anamnesis (the loss of amnesia)-- although it has individual significance for each of us-- a quantum leap in perception, idenity, cognition, understanding, world-and self-experience, including immortality-- it has greater and further importance for the system as a whole, inasmuch as these memories are data needed by it and valuable to it, to its overall functioning.
Therefore it is in the process of self-repair, which includes: rebuilding our subcircuit via linear and orthogonaltime changes, as well as continual signaling to us to stimulate blocked memory banks within us to fire and hence retrieve what is there.
The external information or gnosis, then, consists of disinhibiting instructions, with the core content actually intrinsic to us-- that is, already there (first observed by Plato; vis: that learning is a form of remembering).
Fat reworked journal entry 29 and added it to his ON OUR NATURE entry:
29. We did not fall because of a moral error; we fell because of an intellectual error: that of taking the phenomenal world as real. Therefore we are morally innocent. It is the Empire in its various disguised polyforms which tells us we have sinned. "The Empire never ended."
30. The phenomenal world does not exist; it is a hypostasis of the information processed by the Mind.
27. If the centuries of spurious time are excised, the true date is not 1979 C.E. but 103 C.E. Therefore the New Testament says that the Kingdom of the Spirit will come before "some now living die." We are living, therefore, in apostolic times.
Fat decided to put down on the tractate all the prophetic statements fired into his head by Zebra. [...] But since he had gone crazy, he also entered absurdities into his tractate.
50. The primordial source of all our religions lies with the ancestors of the Dogon tribe, who got their cosmogony and cosmology directly from the three-eyed invaders who visited long ago. [They were] telepathic, could not breathe our atmosphere, had the elongated misshapen skull of Ikhnaton and emanated from a planet in the star-system Sirus. [...] They covertly influenced our history toward a fruitful end.
By now Fat had finally lost touch with reality.
This mention of three-eyed invaders with claws instead of hands, mute, deaf and telepathic creatures from another star, interested me. Regarding this topic, Fat showed a natural sly reticence; he knew enough not to shoot his mouth off about it. In March 1974 at the time he had encountered God..., he had experienced vivid dreams about the three-eyed people-- he had told me that. They manifested themselves as cyborg entities: wrapped up in glassbubbles staggering under asses of technological gear. ...Solviet technicians could be seen, hurrying to repair malfunctions of the sophisticated technological communications apparatus enclosing the three-eyed people.
"Maybe the Russians beamed microwave psychogenic or psychotronic or whatever-they-call-it signals at you," I said, having read an article on alleged Soviet boosting of telepathic messages by means of microwaves.
...in these visions or dreams or hypnagogic states he had heard Russian words spoken and had seen page upon page, hundreds of pages, of what appared to be Russian technical manuals... .
"You overheard a two-way transmission," I suggested. "Between the Russians and an extra-terrestrial entity."
In Fat's opinion his apartment had been saturated with high levels of radiation of some kind. In fact he had seen it: blue light dancing like St. Elmo's Fire.
And, what was more, the aurora that sizzled around the apartment behaved as if it were sentient and alive. [...] ...when it reached Fat's head it transferred-- not just information to him, which it did-- but also a personality. A personality which wasn't Fat's. A person with different memories, customs, tastes and habits.
Well, I'll say this: Fat's encounter may not have been with God, but it certainly was with something.
No wonder Fat started scratching out page after page of his exegesis. ...he was trying to figure out what the fuck had happened to him.
All these events took place in March 1974.
[In Febuary 1974] Fat had an impacted wisdom tooth removed. For this the oral surgeon administered a hit of IV sodium pentathol. Later that afternoon, back at home and in great pain, Fat had gotten Beth [his wife at the time] to phone for some oral pain medication. Being as miserable as he was, Fat himself had answered the door when the pharamacy delivery person knocked. When he opened the door, he found himself facing a lovely darkhaired young woman who held out a small white bag containing the Davron N. But Fat, despite his enormous pain, cared nothing about the pills, because his attention had fastened on the gleaming gold necklace about the girl's neck; he couldn't take his eyes off it.
Touching the golden fish with one slender finger, the girl said, "This is a sign used by the early Christians."
Instantly, Fat experienced a flashback. He remembered-- just for a half-second. Remembered ancient Rome and himself as an early Christian; the entire ancient world and his furtive frightened life as a secret Christian hunted by the Roman authorities burst over his mind... and then he was back in California 1974 accepting the little white bag of pain pills.
Meta-circuits in Fat's brain had been disinhibited by the fish sign and the words spoken by the girl.
It's as simple as that.
A few days later, Fat woke up and saw ancient Rome superimposed on California 1974 and thought in koine Greek, the lingua franca of the Near East part of the Roman world, which was the part he saw.
Horselover Fat is living in two different times and two different places; i.e., in two space-time continua; that is what took place in March 1974 because of the ancient fish-sign presented to him the month before: his two space-time continua ceased to be separate and merged. And his two identities-- personalities-- also merged. Later, he heard a voice think inside his head: "There's someone else living in me and he's not in this century."
The other personality had figured it out. The other personality was thinking. And Fat-- especially just before he fell asleep at night-- could pick up the thoughts of this other personality...; ...the compartmentalization of the two persons broke down.
Fat himself expressed it very well to me in early 1975 when he first began to confide in me. He called the personality in him living in another century and at another place "Thomas."
I said, "You mean once you were Thomas. You're a reincarnation of him and you remembered him and his--"
"No, he's living now. Living in ancient Rome now."
"But your body," I said.
Fat stared at me, nodding. "Right. It means my body is... in two space-time continua simultaneously... ."
Space and time were revealed to Fat-- and to Thomas!-- as mere mechanisms of separation. Fat found himself viewing a double exposure of two realities superimposed, and Thomas probably found himself doing the same. Thomas probably wondered what the hell foreign language was happening in his head.
"There's someone else living in me and he's not in this century." That was Thomas thinking that, not Fat. But it applied to Fat equally.
..Thomas [also] remembered-- if that is the word-- other selves, one in Minoan Crete, which is from 3000 B.C.E. to 1100 B.C.E., a long, long time ago. Thomas even remembered a self before that: one which had come to this planet from the stars.
The promise of eternal life which Christ held out to his little flock was no hoax. Christ had taught them how to do it; it had to do with the immortal plasmate which Fat talked about, the living information slumbering at Nag Hammadi century after century. The Romans had found and murdered all the homoplasmates-- all the early Christians crossbonded to the plasmate; they died, the plasmate escaped to Nag Hammadi and slumbered as information on the codices [note in The Divine Invasion, the Logos fled to another star system, where it waited until the time came for it to return].
Until, in 1945, the library was discovered and dug up-- and read. So Thomas had to wait-- not forty years-- but two thousand; because the golden fish sign wasn't enough. Immortality, the abolition of time and space, comes only through the Logos or plasmate; on it is immortal.
We are talking about Christ. He is an extra-terrestrial life form whcih came to this planet thousands of years ago, and, as living information, passed into the brains of human beings already living here, the native population. We are talking about inerspecies symbiosis.
"You see, my son, here time changes into space."
First you change it into space and then you walk through it, but as Parsifal realized, he was not moving at all; he stood still and the landscape changed; it underwent a metamorphosis. For a while he must have experienced a double exposure, a superimposition, as Fat did. This is the dream-time, which exists now, not in the past... .
If the universe were taken to be rational, not irrational, then something breaking into it might seem irrational, since it would not belong. But Fat, having reversed everything, saw the rational breaking into the irrational. The immortal plasmate had invaded our world and the plasmate was totally rational, whereas our world is not.
For two thousand years the single rational element in our world had slumbered. In 1945 it woke up, came out of its dormant seed state and began to grow. It grew within himself, and presumably within other humans, and it grew outside, in the macro-world. He could not estimate its vastness... . If the devouring entity is evil or insane, the situation... is grim. But Fat viewed the process the other way around. He viewed it exactly as Plato had viewed it in his own cosmology: the rational mind (noos) persuades the irrational (chance, blind determinism, anake), into cosmos.
This process had been interrupted by the Empire.
"The Empire never ended." Until now; until August 1974 when the Empire suffered a crippling, perhaps terminal, blow, at the hands-- so to speak-- of the immortal plasmate, now restored to active form and using humans as its physical agents.
Horselover Fat was one of those agents. He was, so to speak, the hands of the plasmate, reaching out to injure the Empire.
Out of this, Fat deduced that he had a mission, that the plasmate's invasion of him represented its intention to employ him for its benign purposes.
Are there two persons in my brain, as there are in Fat's? Partitioned off, but, in my case no disinhibiting symbol accidentally triggered the "other" one into bursting through the partition into my personality and my world?
Are we all like Horselover Fat, but don't know it?
How many worlds do we exist in simultaneously?
"Phylogeny is recapitulated in ontogeny," as it is put. The individual contains the history of his entire race, back to its origins. Back to ancient Rome, to Minos at Crete, back to the stars. [...] This is gene pool memory, the memory of the DNA. That explains Horselover Fat's crucial experience, in which the symbol of the Christian fish disinhibited a personality from two thousand years in the past... because the symbol originated two thousand years in the past. Had he been shown an even older symbol he would have abreacted farther; after all, the conditions were perfect for it: he was coming off sodium pentathol, the "truth drug."
Fat has another theory. He thinks that the date is really 103 C.E. We're actually in apostolic times, but a layer of maya or what the Greeks called "dokos" obscures the landscape.
Where are we and when are we and who are we? How many people in how many places at how many times?
Horselover Fat is able to travel through time, travel back thousands of years. The three-eyed people probably live in the far future; they are our descendents, highly evolved. ANd it is probably their technology which permitted Fat to do his time-traveling. In point of fact, Fat's master personality may not lie in the past but ahead of us-- but it expressed itself outside of him in the form of Zebra. I am saying that the St. Elmo's Fire which Fat recognized as alive and sentient probably abreacted back to this time-period and is one of our own children.
I did not think it should tell Fat that I thought his encounter with God was in fact an encounter with himself from the far future. [...] Fat had remembered back to the stars, and had encountered a being ready to return to the stars, and several selves along the way, several points along the line. All of them the same person.
Entry 13 in the tractate: Pascal said [in the preface to his treatise on the Vacuum], "All history is one immortal man who continually learns." This is Immortal One whom we worship without knowing his name.
On some level Fat guessed the truth; he had encountered his past selves and his future selves... .
Time somehow got abolished for him, and the recapitulation of selves along the linear time-axis caused the multitude of selves to laminate together into a common entity.
Out of the lamination of selves, Zebra, which is supra-- or trans-- temporal, came into existence: pure energy, pure living information. Immortal, benign, intelligent and helpful. [...] The in-breaking deity that Fat encountered in 1974 was himself. [...] [The abolition of time] has to do with the loss of amnesia; when forgetfulness is lost, true memory spreads out backward and forward, into the past and into the future, and also, oddly, into alternate universes; it is orthogonal as well as linear.
The three-eyed people who Fat saw represented himself at an enlightened stage of his evolving development through his various lifetimes. In Buddhism it's called the "super-human divine eye" (dibba-cakkhu), the power to see the passing away and rebirth of beings.
Fat had become totally bogged down in his enormous exegesis, trying futilely to determine what had happened to him. He resembled more a hit-and-run accident victim than a Buddha.
Fat's obsessive idea these days... was that the Savior would soon be reborn-- or had been already. Somewhere in the world he walked or soon would walk the ground once more.
Wagner says in his text that only those who the Grail itself calls find their way there. The blood Christ on the cross had been caught in the same cup from which he had drunk at the Last Supper; so literally it had wound up containing his blood. IN essence the blood, not the Grail, summoned the knights; the blood never died. Like Zebra, the contents of the Grail were a plasma or, as Fat termed it, plasmate. Probably Fat had it down somewhere in his exegesis that Zebra equaled plasmate equaled the sacred blood of the crucified Christ.
The spilled blood of the girl broken and drying on the pavement outside the Oakland Synanon Building called to Fat, who, like Parisfal, was a complete fool. That's what the word "parsifal" is supposed to mean in Arabic; it's supposed to have been derived from "Falparsi," an Arabic word meaning "pure fool." [...] ...the Grail is identified with the pre-Christian "lapis exilix," which is a magical stone. This stone shows up in later Hermetic alchemy as the agent by which human metamorphosis is achived. On the basis of Fat's concept of interspecies symbiosis, the human being cross-bonded with Zebra or the Logos or plasmate to become a homoplasmate, I can see a certain continuity in all this. Fat believed himself to have crossbonded with Zebra; therefore he had already become that which the Hermetic alchemists sought.
"Phil," Fat said, "if I don't find him [the savior], I'm going to die."
"Well, then I'll die, too," I said. "If you do."
"That's right," Fat said. He nodded. "You got it. You can't exist without me and I can't exist without you. We're in this together. .. ."
The leader of the Grail knights, Amfortas, has a wound which will not heal. Klingsor has wounded him with the spear which pierced Christ's side. Later, when Klingsor hurls the spear at Parsifal, the pure fool catches the spear... and holds it up, making the sign of the Cross with it, at which Klingsor and his entire castle vanish.
At the end of the opera, Parsifal touches the spear to Amfortas's wound, the wound heals.
...the pure fool... abolishes the delusion of the magician Klingsor and his castle, and heals Amfortas's wound.
...in our case, the pure fool, Horselover Fat, himself had the wound which would not heal, and the pain that goes with it. All right; the wound is caused by the spear which pierced the Savior's side, and only that same spear can heal it. In the opera, after Amfortas is healed, the shrine is at last opened (it has been closed for a long time) and the Grail is revealed, at which point heavenly voices say:
"The Redeemer redeemed!"
In other words, Christ has saved himself. There's a technical term for this: Salvator salvandus. The "saved savior."
"The fact that in the discharge of his task the eternal messenger must himself assume the lot of incarnation and cosmic exile, and the further fact that, at least in the Iranian variety of the myth, he is in a sense identical with those he calls-- the once lost parts of the divine self-- give rise to the moving idea of the 'saved savior' (salvator salvandus)." (article on 'Gnosticism' in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1967)
Maybe Fat was searching for himself when he set out in search of the Savior. [...] But what in our modern world is the analog for Klingsor's huge stone castle?
That which Fat calls the Empire? The BLack Iron Prison?
Is the Empire "which never ended" an illusion?
The words whcih Parisfal speaks whcih cause the huge stone castle-- and Klingsor himself-- to disappear are:
"With this sign I abolish your magic."
The sign, of course, is the sign of the Cross. Fat's Savior is Fat himself, as I already figured out; Zebra is all the selves along the linear time-axis, laminated into one supra--or trans-- temporal self which cannot die, and which has come back to save Fat. But I don't dare tell Fat that he is searching for himself.
Did some magic scene lie in the future where Fat would come to his senses, recognize that he was the Savior, and thereby automatically be healed? Don't bet on it. I wouldn't.
Fat conceives of the universe as a living organism into which a toxic particle has come. The toxic particle, made of heavy metal, has embedded itself in the universe-organism and is poisoning it. The universe-organism dispatches a phagocyte. The phagocyte is Christ. It surrounds the toxic metal particle-- the Black Iron Prison-- and begins to destroy it.
41. The Empire is the institution, the codification, of derangement; it is insane and imposes its insanity on us by violence... .
42. To fight the Empire is to be infected by its derangement. This is a paradox; whoever defeats a segment of the Empire becomes the Empire; it proliferates like a virus, imposing its form on its enemies. Thereby it becomes its enemies.
43. Against the Empire is posed the living information, the plasmate or physician, which we know as the Holy Spirit or Christ discorporate. These are the two principles, the dark (the Empire) and the light (the plasmate). In the end, Mind will give victory to the latter. Each of us will die or survive according to which he aligns himself and his efforts. Each of us contains a component of each. Eventually one or the other component will triumph in each human. Zoroaster knew this.... . He was the first savior.
Fat sees a cosmic phagocytosis in progress, one in which in micro-form we are each involved. A toxic metal particle is lodged in each of us: "That which is above (the macrocosm) is that which is below (the microcosm or man)." We are all wounded and we all need a physician... born with a heavy metal splinter in us, a wound like Amfortas's wound. And when we are healed we will be immortal; this is how it was supposed to be, but the toxic metal splinter entered the macrocosm and simultaneously entered each of its microcosmic pluriforms: ourselves.
"You don't think it really is an information satellite, do you?"
I said, "That fired a beam at Fat?"
"No; that's a sci-fi film device, a sci-fi way of explaining it."
...the original apostolic Christians.... had acquired immortality through the plasmate which Fat had discussed in his tractate. Although the original apostolic Christians had been murdered, the plasmate had gone into hiding at Nag Hammadi and was again loose in our world, and as angry as a motherfucker, if you'll excuse the expression. It thirsted for vengence. And apparently it had begun to score that vengence, against the modern-day manifestation of the Empire, the imperial United States Presidency.
"Where do we hide," Kevin said, "when an immortal plasmate which knows everything and is consuming the world by transubstantiation is looking for you?"
"You're not on drugs now?" Lampton laughted. "I'll withdraw that question. we know you're squared up now. All right, Philip; I'll be glad to meet you and your friends personally. Was it you who got-- well, let's see. Got told things."
"The information was fired at Horselover Fat."
"But that's you. 'Philip' means 'Horselover' in Greek, lover of horses. 'Fat' is the German translation of 'Dick'. So you've translated your name."
I said nothing.
"The Friends of God formed originally in Basel. Finally we entered Germany and the Netherlands. You know of Meister Eckehart, then."
Kevin said, "He was the first person to conceive of the Godhead in distinction to God. The greatest of the Christian mystics. He taught that a person can attain union with the Godhead-- he held a concept that God exists within the human soul! [...] The soul can actually know God as he is! Nobody today teaches that. And [...] Sankara in India, in the ninth century; he taught the same things Eckehart taught. It's a trans-Christian mysticism in which man... merges with God, as or with a spark of some kind that isn't created. Brahman; that's why Zebra--"
"VALIS," Eric Lampton said.
[...] "Sankara and Eckehart, the same person; living in two places at two times."
Half to himself, Fat said, "'He causes things to look different so it would appear time has passed.'"
"Time and space both," Linda said.
"What is VALIS?" I asked.
"Vast Active Living Intelligence System," Eric said.
"Does it come from the stars?" I said.
"This place where we are," Eric said, "is one of the stars; our sun is a star."
"You have a voice inside your head now?" Mini said. "The AI voice?"
After a long pause... Fat said, "It's a neutral voice. Neither male nor female. Yes, it does sound as if it's an artificial intelligence."
"That's the inter-system communications network," Mini said. "It stretches between stars, connecting all the star systems with Albemuth."
Staring at him, Fat said, "'Albemuth'? It's a star?"
"What is VALIS?" Kevin said to Mini.
"VALIS is a construct," Mini said. "An artifact. It's anchored here on Earth, literally anchored. But since space and time don't exist for it, VALIS can be anywhere and any time it wishes to. It's something they built to program us at birth; normally it fires extremely short bursts of information at babies, engraming instructions to them which will bleed across from their right hemispheres at clock-time intervals during their full life-times, at the appropriate situational contexts."
"Does it have an antagonist?" Kevin said.
"Only the pathology of this planet," Eric said.
"We're all from Albemuth. This atmosphere poisons us and makes us deranged. So they-- the ones who stayed behind in the Albemuth System-- built VALIS and sent it here to fire rational instructions at us, to override the pathology caused by the toxicity of the atmosphere."
"Then VALIS is rational," I said.
"The only rationality we have," Linda said.
"And when we act rationally we're under its jurisdiction," Mini said.
"Then in essence," I said, "VALIS detoxifies people."
That's exactly it," Mini said. "It's an informational antitoxin."
The Eye of Shiva was of course the way the ancients represented VALIS firing information. [...] Mini told us that VALIS is not actually close when it fires; it may be literally millions of miles away. Hence, in the film VALIS, they represent it by a satellite, a very old satellite, not put into orbit by humans.
"So we're not dealing with religion then," I said, "but with a very advanced technology."
"We are in a maze, here," Mini said, "which we built and then fell into and can't get out. In essence, VALIS selectively fires information to us which aids us in escaping from the maze, in finding the way out. It started back about two thousand years before Christ, in Mycenaean times or perhaps early Helladic. That's why the myths place the maze at Minos, on Crete. That's why you saw ancient Crete through the... doorway. [...] We did it voluntarily; were we such good builders that we could build a maze with a way out but whcih constantly changed so that, despite the way out, in effect there was no way out for us because the maze-- this world-- was alive? To make the game into something real, into something more than an intellectual exercise, we elected to lose our exceptional faculties, to reduce us an entire level. This, unfortunately, included loss of memory-- loss of knowledge of our true origins. But worse than that-- and here is where we in a sense managed to defeat ourselves, to turn victory over to our servant, over to the maze we had built-- we relinquished the third eye, our prime evolutionary attribute. It is the third eye which VALIS reopens."
"Then it's the third eye that gets us back out of the maze," Fat said.
"The third eye had to be re-opened if we were to get out of the maze," Mini said, "but since we no longer remembered that we had that ajna faculty, the eye of discernment, we could not go about seeking techniques for re-opening it. Something outside had to enter, something which we ourselves would be unable to build."
"So we didn't all fall into the maze," Fat said.
"No," Mini said. "And those that stayed outside, in other star systems, reported back to Albemuth that we had done this thing to ourselves... thus VALIS was constructed to rescue us. This is an irreal world. You realize that, I'm sure. VALIS made you realize that. We are in a living maze and not in a world at all."
"And what happens when we get outside the maze?" Kevin said.
"We're freed from space and time," Mini said. "Space and time are the binding, controlling conditions of the maze-- its power."
"'Salvation,'" Mini said, "is a word denoting 'Being led out of the space-time maze... ."
"There is only one [savior], over and over again, at different times, in different places, with different names. The Savior is VALIS incarnated as a human being."
He is born, however, from a human woman. He doesn't just generate a phantasm-body."
"And he's been born?" I asked.
"Yes," Mini said.
"My daughter," Linda Lampton said. "Not Eric's, however. Just mine and VALIS's."
"This time," Mini said, "for the first time, the Savior takes female form."
"[Sophia] was born in 1976."
"And we can talk with her?" I said.
...the child, upon seeing us, rose to her feet... lifted her right hand and pointed at me.
"Your suicide attempt was a violent cruelty against yourself," she said in a clear voice. And yet she was, as Linda had said, no more than two years old: a baby, really, and yet with the eyes of an infinitely old person.
"It was Horselover Fat," I said.
Turning to speak to Fat-- I saw no one. [...] Fat was gone. Nothing remained of him.
Horselover Fat was gone forever. As if he had never existed.
"I don't understand," I said. "You destroyed him."
"Yes," the child said.
I said, "Why?"
"To make you whole."
"He was me all the time," I said.
"That is right," Sophia said.
I said, "Then Horselover Fat was part of me projected outward so I wouldn't have to face Gloria's death."
"You are VALIS?" I said.
David said, "You are eternal, aren't you?"
"Yes," Sophia said.
"And you know everything?" David said.
"Yes," Sophia said.
I said, "Were you Siddhartha?"
"Yes," Sophia said.
As we walked away from the child, I said, "Her voice is the neutral AI voice that I've heard in my head since 1974."
Kevin said hoarsely, "It's a computer."
"An AI system," Eric said. "An artificial intelligence."
"A terminal of VALIS," Kevin said. "An input, output terminal of the master system VALIS."
Smiling, Linda said, "An artificial intelligence in a human body. [...] She is sentient; she knows everything. But her mind is not alive in the sense that we are alive."
"She didn't say she was Christ," David said.
"She is St. Sophia," I said, "and St. Sophia is a hypostasis of Christ."
We obediently seated ourselves in front of her.
"A time of trial and delusion and wailing lies ahead because the grim king, the king of tears, will not surrender his power.
"Those who obey power will succumb as power succumbs."
"Those who love Wisdom and follow her will thrive under the sun. Remember, I will be with you. I will be in each of you... . I will accompany you down into the prison if necessary; I will speak in the courts of law to defend you, my voice will be heard in the land, whatever the oppression."
"Formerly you were alone within yourselves; formerly you were solitary men. Now you have a companion who never sickens or fails or dies; you are bonded to the eternal and will shine like the healing sun itself."
"...There is no place where I am not. [...] ...I am mindful of you continually."
"You did not choose me; I chose you. I called you here. I sent for you four years ago."
"Okay," I said. That placed her call at 1974.
"Sophia will protect us," David said.
"A two-year-old child?" Kevin said.
We both gazed at him.
"Okay, two-thousand-year-old child," Kevin said.
"Already I had heard the AI voice in my head, and others would hear that voice, more and more people. VALIS, as living information, would penetrate the world, replicating in human brains, crossbonding with them and assisting them, guiding them, at a subliminal level, which is to say invisibly. No given human could be certain if he were crossbonded until the symbiosis reached flashpoint. In his concourse with other humans a given person would not know when he was dealing with another homoplasmate and when he would not.
Perhaps the ancient signs of secret identification would return, more likely they already had.
Most people understand that in the miracle of transubstantiation the wine... becomes the Sacred Blood, and the wafer... becomes the Sacred Body, but few people even within the churches realize that the figure who stands before them holding the cup is their Lord, living now. Time has been overcome. We are back almost two thousand years; we are not in Santa Ana, California, USA, but in Jerusalem, about 35 C.E.
What I had seen in March 1974 when I saw the superimposition of ancient Rome and modern California consisted of an actual witnessing of what is normally seen by the inner eyes of faith only.
My double-exposure experience had confirmed the literal-- not merely figurative-- truth of the miracle of the Mass.
As I have said, the technical term for this is anamnesis: the loss of forgetfulness.
For some time I had held the opinion that Zebra-- as I had called the entity which manifested itself to me in March 1974-- was in fact the laminated totality of all my selves along the linear time-axis; Zebra-- or VALIS-- was the supra-temporal expresssion of a given human being and not a god.... not unless the supra-temporal expression of a given human being is what we actually mean by the term "god," is what we worship, without realizing it, when we worship "god."
When I woke up the next morning I could still see her lovely face, the dark, glowing eyes: such large eyes, so filled with light, a strange kind of black light, like the light of stars.