Greater Feast of Philip K Dick, died March 2, 1982 at Santa Ana, California
Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews VALIS by Philip K Dick.
VALIS is a consummate neo-Gnostic novel, written after the author’s own spontaneous mystical experience. It shows Dick at the height of his writing abilities, introspective powers, and spiritual insight. And it made me laugh out loud! [via]
First review: for those, who (like me) have previously followed Palahniuk’s work with great interest and have read several of his other books. This one is a winner. It does use the anagnoresis formula that he refined in his early novels, but it does so better than ever. It also involves the praeternatural dynamics of stories like Lullaby and Diary, but this time the approach is science-fictional rather than fantasy-occultist. The “oral history” conceit plays to Palahniuk’s strengths of idiosyncratic voices, unreliable narration, and epigrammatic punch. If you’ve read and enjoyed other Palahniuk books, you know you don’t want me to tell you the plot, but the key themes include epidemiology, perception of time, control in urban societies, and messianic mythopoeia.
Second review: for the uninitiated. This book will take you for a wild ride. If you want a nice linear plot development where each piece immediately makes sense by being added to the ones that have come before, don’t bother. In fact, the author exhibits the entire story on page four, in a sort of one-paragraph Shakespearean prologue replying to the question of how the speaker got such a good deal on an airplane ticket. But don’t get too comfortable in the first hundred pages, because when you leave the small-town setting, you won’t be in the world you had likely imagined. And you’ll have no idea what’s really going on until the last 20 pages out of over 300. What you will have is more sardonic humor, gutwrenching pathos, and profound ideas than you can shake a stick at. If you can take that sort of bewilderment, then by all means you should.
Third review: for my brother and sister Magicians. You never thought the Secret Chiefs could be like this! I’ll see your Mahatma and raise him a Phil Dick and two David Cronenbergs. “Sun and moon give time the form of day and night. Sushumna is the eater of time. This is declared to be a secret.” (Hatha Yoga Pradipika 4.17) [via]
The Nag Hammadi Library, edited by James M Robinson, the 1990 paperback from HarperCollins, is part of the collection at the Reading Room. There is a newer revision The Nag Hammadi Scriptures which may be of more current interest.
“This revised, expanded, and updated edition of The Nag Hammadi Library is the only complete, one-volume, modern language version of the renowned library of fourth-century manuscripts discovered in Egypt in 1945.
First published in 1978, The Nag Hammadi Library launched modern Gnostic studies and exposed a movement whose teachings are in many ways as relevant today as they were sixteen centuries ago.
James M. Robinson’s updated introduction reflects ten years of additional researcha nd editorial and critical work. An afterword by Richard Smith discusses the modern relevance of Gnosticism and its influence on such writers as Voltaire, Blake, Melville, Yeats, Kerouac, and Philip K. Dick.
Acclaimed by scholars and general readers alike, The Nag Hammadi Library is a work of major importance to everyone interested in the evolution of Christianity, the Bible, archaeology, and the story of Western civilization.” — back cover
Present Shock Philip K Dick is a video from Imperium Pictures with Douglas Rushkoff speaking about Philip K Dick.
“Philip K Dick got, almost like an Escher painting, you know, this kind of feedback loop between ourselves and our reality and our observation, and this kind of snake-eating-its-tail quality of human experience; and, then, how that would be amplified or realized by technology … to the point where, if you look at him optimistically, it stops mattering.”
“Mixing the invented and the real, The House of Rumour explores WWII spy intrigue (featuring Ian Fleming), occultism (Aleister Crowley), the West Coast science-fiction set (Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and Philip K. Dick all appear), and the new wave music scene of the ’80s. The decades-spanning, labyrinthine plot even weaves in The Jonestown Massacre and Rudolf Hess, UFO sightings and B-movies. Told through multiple narrators, what at first appears to be a constellation of random events begins to cohere as the work of a shadow organization—or is it just coincidence?
Tying the strands together is Larry Zagorski, an early pulp fiction writer turned U.S. fighter pilot turned “American gnostic,” who looks back on his long and eventful life, searching for connections between the seemingly disparate parts. The teeming network of interlaced secrets he uncovers has personal relevance—as it mirrors a book of 22 interconnected stories he once wrote, inspired by the major arcana cards in the tarot.” [via]
There’s also a review with spoilers by Charlie Jane Anders over at “In House of Rumour, Ian Fleming and Aleister Crowley win World War II” if you want to check that out.
You might be interested in the episode “The Exegesis of Philip K Dick” of Miguel Conner’s Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio with several guests including Erik Davis, Birger Pearson, April DeConick, Robert Price and more.
“March 3 and March 4: Philip K. Dick is undoubtedly one of the greatest Gnostic visionaries and literary giants in all of history. Much of what Dick wrote or accurately predicted was channeled by a series of disturbing mystic events in the early seventies. He received Gnosis by various means from entities beyond reality, and his astral ideas still grip the imagination of the world. Yet what Dick revealed in his books and notes was only a fraction of his visions and theological insights. He actually wrote thousands of pages that were kept away from the general public, even decades after his death. Until now. We discuss the earth-shattering findings with a member of the editorial team. We discover more secrets of the visible and invisible cosmos; and also realize that it will take years to properly decipher what is more than an arcane religious text but living, holy information itself that might free the spirit of humanity once and for all.
Astral Guest — Erik Davis, author of TechGnosis: Myth, Magic & Mysticism in the Age of Information and Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica.”
“I’ve used PKD for years!” — Terry Gilliam
You may be interested in Voices of Gnosticism and The Gnostic: A Magazine of Gnosticism, Western Esotericism and Spirituality put out by Bardic Press. I saw several issues of The Gnostic at the Esoteric Book Conference and thought they were well done. I regret not picking them up at the time, but they are available still.
“For several years, Miguel Conner has engaged the most prominent writers and scholars on Gnosticism and early Christianity on Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio. These interviews with 13 leading scholars represent one of the best ways to get to know ancient Gnosticism, the movement that has inspired Dan Brown, Philip Pullman, Philip K. Dick and The Matrix movies. Read what the best minds have to say about the Gnostic sects, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, Mary Magdalene, heresy, the origins of Gnosticism, and the original teachings of Jesus.
Elaine Pagels · Marvin Meyer · Bart Ehrman · Bruce Chilton · Stevan Davies · David Fideler · Birger Pearson · John Turner · Einar Thomassen · Jason BeDuhn · Karen King · Jane Schaberg · April DeConick”
“The first issue of a tri-annual journal on Gnosticism in all its forms. Featuring interviews with Alan Moore and Sethian Gnostic expert John Turner; a complete translation of the Gospel of Judas; Tim Freke on The Gospel of the Second Coming; articles on William Burroughs, Philip K.Dick, the Alternative Judas, Gnosticism and Magic; columns, book reviews and more.”
“The second issue of The Gnostic: A Journal of Gnosticism, Western Esotericism and Spirituality. Featuring an interview with Colin Wilson and an indepth examination of his ideas on the occult. An interview with Tessa Dick, widow of Philip K Dick, plus an excerpt from her memoir and Anthony Peake’s analysis of Dick’s precognitive abilities. An interview with noted scholar April DeConick on the Gospel of John. The Gnosticism of the TV series The Prisoner. Kimetikos, Jeremy Puma’s Gnostic practice. Tony Blake’s meetings with remarkable people including J.G. Bennett, David Bohm and Idries Shah. Articles on asceticism, the symbolism of the Bible, resurrection, Schrodinger’s Gun, a short story by Andrew Phillip Smith. Extensive book reviews, original art and more.”
“The third issue of The Gnostic: A Journal of Gnosticism, Western Esotericism and Spirituality. Featuring a cover by C.G. Jung, Lance Owens on Jung’s Red Book. Interviews with David Tibet of Current 93, Jacob Needleman and Zohar expert Daniel C. Matt. Articles on Gnostic anime, Robert Graves, Gnostic texts, the Gospel of Luke, William Blake, deja vu, coincidence, a ten page comic, reviews and much more.”
“The fourth issue of The Gnostic: A Journal of Gnosticism, Western Esotericism and Spirituality. Alan Moore’s Fossil Angels, an investigation into the contemporary occult scene. Interviews with Stephan Hoeller and Miguel Conner. Anthony Peake on the Quantum Pleroma. Sean Martin tells a Gnostic sci-fi tale. Robert M.Price on the Gnostic Gospel of John. Bill Darlison on the zodiac in the Gospel of Mark. Gnostic influences on Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. The plight of the Mandaeans. The gematria of Marcus the Magician. The Gospel of Thomas, a translation and Fourth Way interpretation. Gnostic politics. John Cowper Powys. The complete text of the Gnosis of the Light–a book within a magazine! Egyptian cat mummies and more. And we review enough books to fill a whole shelf. Cover and interior illustrations by Laurence Caruana.”