Sitting under my laptop right now lies a brand new copy of the daunting Philip K. Dick manuscript “Exegesis”. Comprised of piles upon piles of both handwritten and typed notes, journals, philosophical wanderings, and the plain weird… the collection was an attempt by Dick to pull some sort of context or meaning out of a bizarre series of events he refers to as “2-3-74″ (or: February and March of the year 1974). The introduction alone is fascinating.
Now, the precursor to these events — arguably — was the break in he encountered a few years prior. Dick came home one day to a front door that had been bashed in, and an exploded safe with valuable — and personal — papers stolen. He apparently ran through a whole slew of suspects in his head, never finding out who broke in… or why. Like many of the significant events that came to shape Dick’s life (the infant death of his twin sister one of the best and most glaring examples), the break in somehow led to the next series of events, the next chapter, of Dick’s life with remarkable and strange significance.
That next chapter — the “2-3-74″ chapter — was very strange indeed. It started with a delivery woman, of all things. She had knocked on his front door to give him his prescribed medication after getting his wisdom teeth removed. During the interaction a pendent she was wearing around her neck jumped out at him: the Ichthus symbol, the “Jesus fish”. In that instant Dick had some sort of revelation that I still cannot wrap my head around. No matter how much I read about it or imagine it I still can’t wrap my head around it. I’m assuming my moments of clairvoyance — the few I’ve had… Ha — cannot match such a brain as Dick’s moments, but that’s as close as I’ll get to understanding it.
In the ballpark of a week later Dick saw what he describes as a pink beam of light, which he would apparently see again. And again. The light communicated with him. This would influence his later works like VALIS, The Divine Invasion, and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. There were other episodes of revelation for Dick in these months, a whole slew of coincidence or divine intervention or a bit of both. At one point a panic attack stuck him about his son, he begged and pleaded with his wife that they take him to the hospital, his wife thought he was hysterical. As it turned out, his son was diagnosed after they brought him in with some form of rare (blood, I believe?) disease.
There were many more happenings I’m failing to mention here, there may have even been some he didn’t write down for all we know. Reading through the first few pages last night, it’s really hard not to get a few things out of it: Dick was — pure and simple — an unadulterated genius, and… several, if not many, of these pages and experiences point towards a whole slew of mental disorders. The editors of the Exegesis mention this also, that Dick shows signs of bipolar disorder, among other conditions. But good God, the man’s letters to friends alone are the stuff of brilliance. They’re these beautifully elegant, patient, yet humble letters where he’s writing to close friends about the things he’s going through in his life, essentially. Except he’s applying a philosophical context to everything, everything, that happens to him.
It really makes one think that everyone should be doing this with their lives. Writing down their experiences and analyzing them… both for their own sakes and the sake of the rest of the world. If such notes and journals can be so illuminating — on the nature of reality, God, culture, and more — from one person (albeit a brilliant person), then I’ve got to imagine a billion would only be that much more illuminating.
I think I’ll start soon.