Archive for philip k dick

Artifact, Ritual, and the Hypostasis of Time

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 7, 2011 by theclockworm

An edit of material written for Total Cognitive Penetrability #1, available on request.

*

When the Balinese dance, they dance the dance their fathers danced. They wear the masks their fathers wore. They play the parts their fathers played. There is an esoteric meaning which proximity does not confer, which anthropological holism cannot synthesize by gestalt. These rituals are a form of time-travel. Eternal Choreographies, cyclical motions, ever available, which can be accessed. It is literal magic.

Balinese Hinduism is not only a loop but a cycle. Observe the Balinese baby-worship: a baby, newly born, has been in the heavenly realm very recently, and is revered as a result. But her arrival in this, the “lower” earth, is also celebrated. There is no apex of a circle in a void of gravity, in a world without poles.

Time is a wheel, and the dance is a way of spinning it. They smile from behind the hologram of character, from beneath the overlay of myth. They have collapsed time in that moment, distributing themselves amidst all other times, a thread connected by nodes of ritual which form a smooth and unbroken cord. Plucking this cord, they smile, and no material change in the world can pull them back from the All-Time where they have always lived.

*

Where once it was said with some assurance, “Gnosis is the presence of truth,” we can now say, “Gnosis is less untruth, which is not less doubt. It is the intersection of improbabilities into a gestalt of doubt. It is a noise unheard by others that causes us to travel down a darkened corridor. But what will we find? Hearing the sound is not knowing its source, or the intentions thereof. It does not attach itself to this savior or that, to this orthodoxy or that heterodoxy. It is not about god. It is about the world and us in it.

It is not finished speaking.

*

The organization of information that constitutes the universe is misconstrued by the human mind in terms of time. Time is a doldrums dialect of the information-weaving procedure of reality.

Yes, the kipple is entropy. Yes, it is often wetted with blood and packed into castles in that endless annexation of our world by the Black Iron Prison. But it is not death itself, nor likelier to become death than truth. It must be able to wax and wane, to bloom and rot. This is how the universe protects itself.

To wear a name is not enough.To be struck by the light is not enough. To eat one’s own death is not enough. To remove duality is not enough. To send the golem back is not enough.

To wear the face is enough.To respond to the name when it is called, and not be a liar: this is enough. To internalize the tastes and thoughts of the other, to heed its advice, is enough.

The Golden Age of SF is However Old You Are When You Die In An Alien Invasion

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2011 by theclockworm

The columns of light striking the soil informed him of his condition. He was inside a SF story. Obviously.

His room appeared no different than it had before; the bed he woke up in, from which vantage point he witnessed this impossibility of aggression, was comfortable and worn and sagged near the center where he tended to resolve in his nightly rotations. But however familiar the setting seemed, he knew it could not be real, that this was no longer his real life – if indeed he had ever had one. In real life, green shafts of unknown energy did not smash into fields and streams, sending floods of muddy frog-water and whole stalks of corn careening through the morning sky. In the real world, one could not sense the fissuring of the crust below through the foundations of a house, the disconnection of plate from plate as the earth itself buckled. Since these things did not happen in the real world, this must not be the real world.

Assuming he had entered a fictional universe, some very basic questions begged an answer. First, what sort of story was it? SF isn’t without its own inner lines of demarcation, after all. Looking around, he set about trying to determine the parameters of his condition. Maybe if he could guess whose story he was in, he could figure out his role, a way to survive.

He narrowed his view, tried to look beyond the obvious. After all, perhaps this was a pastiche inside a dream or on a television show, itself occupying a less Golden Age-type tale. Maybe he should start small, think creatively. What criteria could he use? He looked away from the window, from the glaring blaze of heat-death; from the walls, blank and simple, devoid of clue or genre marker; past the empty nightstand, the mundane closet, the boring things strewn and hung here and there. Looking down, he saw the bed. Ah ha.

A writer would start here, and so he, being written, started here. Whose bed could this be?

He recalled the massive, luxurious beds featured so prominently in the works of Robert Heinlein. These beds were central to the galaxy-wide Red-Headed League that Lazarus Long had spawned. More action took place between sheets in the typical Heinlein book than ever happened between enemies, who usually dropped after a single shot. Looking left and right, he noticed the absence of even one, let alone two, people there with him. This was not Heinlein’s bed.

Could this be Le Guin’s bed? Was this the place where brilliant scientists crashed with manic irregularity, to dream up a fiery addition to some foreign physics? Was it a strange bed on a frozen world, a friendly posh bed or a simple warm bed in the territory of doubtful allies? He checked beneath the sheets, found the familiar things; the beam hadn’t left him genderless. Looking at his arms, he found that they too retained their usual hue. The beam had not rendered him colorless and gray. Alas, this was not Ursula’s bed.

Was it William Gibson’s bed? Was it a lonely rack in a shoddy motel, where a broken and lost relic of the filthy future might be consumed by a figment of someone else’s imagination? Was it a mere cubby hole, the ultimate symbol of minimalism and badass-ness, a claustrophobic cubicle where one might be ridden by a girl with sharp claws? Well, it was a bed; that alone seemed to disqualify it. He checked about for ratty plastic interfaces, or “decks;” none were apparent. Inside the bedside table, a lack of stimulants, weapons, or eyewear of any sort. No go for Gibson.

He tried to remember a bed in the works of Philip K. Dick, but came up empty. Maybe this was reflective of the man’s life. Other than one terrifying scene of domestic paranoia involving a teenage narc, he could remember not one example. Dick seemed to steer as clear of rest in his writing as he did while writing. If this was Dick’s bed, surely it was a mere pretext, a trap-door he would soon fall through into a hell of perceptual doubt or esoteric cosmology. More likely than not, in Phil’s universe, there were no beds at all.

He scrolled through the traitorous royal chambers of Herbert, the Freud-laden psychopathic millionaire mattresses of Bester, the horribly heavy beds of Lem, newly populated by the very old. He considered the lonely corporate-funded suites of Tiptree. He came up blank.

Outside, the beams moved steadily closer to the house, sending ancient trees up into wisps of smoke and ash. Time was running out, and so were ideas. A strange thought struck him from the corner of his mind. There was a new writer, he thought, whose stories had been showing up over the past few months. He liked to play with tropes, to layer allegories, to explore transcendence and iterative identity. He was also quite fond of literalizing, and considered SF to be a dialogue, carried on by SF writers in a constant interpretive cycle. He didn’t mind sacrificing a nameless, faceless character to make a point, either. There was a bed in one of his stories, and it was filled with the copied forms of a whole history of lovers. Maybe this is his bed, he thought, the heat now palpable as the beams moved across the lawn. He couldn’t recall his name.

Interim

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2011 by theclockworm

So I kind of dropped off the face of the internet these past few weeks. What with planning and executing a wedding (it was more marital than martial, despite my military wording), as well as piles of homework and a lot more activity in the fiction-writing arena, I suppose it’s to be expected. I’m going to make an effort, though – I like this forum and I don’t want it to die.

Part of what’s been holding me back is that I’ve come to a bit of a halt with many of the philosophical/cosmological speculations of the past period. It’s a mixture of two factors: one, I’m reading and absorbing, which sometimes means the active output stays quiet. I’ve been working my way through Heraclitus, Thales, Zenon, Plotinus, Anaximander, Empedocles, Parmenides, what’s around about Pythagoras; in addition, my Jewish studies continue as I work through the Talmud, the Zohar, and Philo. Our Friends from Frolix 8 is also kicking around in there – it’s never taken me so long to read a PKD book.

But the second component to my static output is that I got it. I figured a lot of things out in a fairly major way. It’s a gestalt that pulls from the various strains I’ve been involved in lately, but it crystallized into a whole image. There are parts missing – minor aspects, application, etc. But overall, it’s there.

For the time being, this means I have to keep a lot of details to myself.  In the future, when I’m done with my own exegetical efforts, I can pass it on silently into the world. For now, I won’t go in half-assed.

For anyone who’s been reading, who perhaps has similar strains of insight or interest, I can only urge you to consider the ways in which these things can integrate. Phil got it, too, but only for a second – and he was wrong about a lot of it. But it’s there, it can be found, and it solves all problems except the big one – how to live according to what truths we know. That is the part you can never learn from anything but doing.

Next: Back to SF!

Logos, Noosphere, Midrash, Gnosis

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2011 by theclockworm

This analysis was prepared in response to an exchange with Aharon Varady, wherein various connections were pondered. This is all very informal, and very much a work in progress; feedback and criticism is encouraged.

 

Fiat Logos

Heraclitus’ use of logos seems to unite concept and representation, a form not uncommon in classical Greek thought. This concept can also be found in Pythagoreanism, which literalizes abstract mathematical concepts, forming them into concrete and real structures; or, from a Pythagorean perspective, simply reveals the role of these concepts in reality. Philo’s “logos endiathetos,” or the word remaining within, paralleled in many ways the Stoic “logos spermatikos,” the generative principle of the universe or the ubiquitous, active reason which animates the universe. The Stoics considered this principle to be literal and observable. Again, the connection presents itself: word/dialogue/linguistic principle as literal/representative of the Monad principle, or the Gnostic notion of Pleroma or First Thought.

Use of the term to refer specifically to the word of god begins during Hellenistic Judaism, in the Septuagint. Philo adopted the term, further complicating matters by assigning it a meaning closer to the principle of the demiurge, but, in the more matter-positive manner of much Judaic thought, also assigned positive importance to this notion, noting that an intermediary would be necessary to traverse between the divine and lower realm. Here we find the genesis of the term’s conscription into Christian theology, as Philo calls the Logos force “the first-born of God.” This context would eventually combine with the generative principle used in the Gospel of John to form the metaphysical conception of Christ as Logos seen at the end of John. This also reflects an effort by early church leaders, such as Justin, to make Christianity palatable to the non-Jewish Hellenistic population by conscripting a terminology they would comprehend.

Plotinus’ use of Logos as the highest form in his trinity uses some Gnostic emanation concepts. For Plotinus, there was a dialectic procedure involved in the three realms; the higher principle fed Logos into the lower, and the lower fed Eros back into the higher. One can see the influence of this notion in Philip K. Dick’s idea of the divine principle being both a sending entity at the beginning of time and a receiving (and course-correcting) entity at the end of time.

One can also see in Dick’s reworking of the Logos idea much of Jung’s own syncretic definitions, which incorporated the complimentary dualism of Eastern thought with the literalized principles of Neoplatonism.

 

Noosphere: Transcendence Without Intent

Teilhard’s concept of the noosphere is decidedly non-representative, in that the literal action of human thought contributes to literal action in the noosphere. It is a parity-based balancing principle, and in this sense is closer to the later Jungian conception of Logos. Again, the Dickian idea of what I think of as “Pitcher/Catcher” Urgrund finds some commonality here. But connections to earlier uses of the Logos concept depart at this point. The causal root of reactions in the noosphere is via human action. In some ways, the noosphere cosmogony is almost an inverted form of Gnostic emanation. It is instead a system whereby increasing complexity refines, compresses, and filters its way into a final form which resembles the Pleroma or Monad. It is time-inverse, and therefore ontologically inverse.

Once more, we can find some commonality in Dick. In Cosmogony and Cosmology, Dick writes of the universe very much in terms of transcendent final action, postulating that the collective actions of humankind contribute to the growth of god. In this estimation, we are both the womb of god and the birth of god, in addition to our eventual role as god after absorption.  This concept differs from the noosphere concept in two major ways; first, the Dickian approach utilizes religious language, though the actual semantic value of his use of “god” is debatably only formally religious. Second, Dick’s vision still involves initial intent and creation by an entity or force, describable as “pre-God,” and presents our actions as contributions to that greater process. Teilhard incorporates no such sense of externally enforced purpose in his noosphere; the “goal” is only the such because it is the inevitable outcome, and we are positioned ahead of it in time. The Omega Point is both the equivalent and opposite of the Monad in that it will be “everything,” but does not exist at present.

The noosphere idea revolves around the idea that “Living systems are dissipative structures that create internal order by expending energy in exchange for a local reduction in entropy.” (via Wikipedia). This strikes me as quite similar to Plotinus’ understanding of the Logos within his exchange-system; here we find, by a circuitous route, Logos and Order filling the same role once more.

 

Midrash: Malleable Mysticism

As an exegetical process, Midrash is distinct from either the Logos or Noosphere concepts. However, in its conception of the literal power of “the word,” as well as how it perceives the interactive potential of idea and reality through “the word,” it does find common ground with both the Logos concept and the noosphere idea.

Midrash connects to esoteric Christianity, Gnosticism, and Pythagoreanism in its understanding of truth as both embedded in reality and difficult to find. In Midrash, the truth is not simply hidden; rather, as Heraclitus says, “The nature of things is in the habit of concealing itself.” Pythagorean cosmology seeks to mine for truth in mathematics and contemplation, Gnostic traditions through the gift of gnosis and the interpretation of it; Midrash sets aside a certain freedom not always available in other areas of Jewish theology, in order that a deeper kind of contemplation can occur – one which does not demand that each step be correct, so long as the process leads to insight. Once more, we see echoes of this approach in Dick’s ever-shifting set of theories.

Aggadic interpretations are particularly linked with the spirit of early Gnostic writing. There is a complex and nuanced approach to literal and figurative realities, which both discourages overt literalism and also potentially equates the literal and the metaphoric. The freedom inherent in this process is reminiscent of the Gnostic tradition of reinterpretation, an element I consider central and essential to Gnostic thought.

In connection to the noosphere concept, Midrash shares a central conceit: that thought, or Logos perhaps, is able to continue producing new information through a sort of feedback system which interacts with human intellect. In Teilhard’s concept, the intellect in the noosphere IS originally and partially reflective of human thought, and yet, through permutation with other facets of human thought, may be able to generate new knowledge, perhaps even in an exponential manner. Midrash posits that further interaction with the word reveals interconnection and multiple levels of meaning; essentially, the act of testing the linguistic and theoretical elasticity of the word, one may extract a fuller concept of the word itself. By delineating the space around an object, the object can be mapped.

 

Blank Sky Philosophy, Part Two

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 28, 2011 by theclockworm

The rich philosophical questions posed by Gnosticism seemingly lie untouched since Phil Dick’s death. The language he invented, or rather updated – a hodgepodge of Christian theology, metaphysics, philosophy (both contemporary and classical), linguistics, etc. – explodes with a kind of possibility that I have seldom seen. It has the potential to transcend the academic, the religious, the literary, and address some major ideas in a new way. At his best – in my opinion, of course – Dick managed to shake away the trappings of religion which often permeated his thinking and focus on the pure information encoded in his experiences. His process – the constantly changing interpretations; letting go of religiousness for a moment, then clinging to it even harder – is beautiful. His uncertainty is beautiful. I wish more of us possessed that capacity. I’ve seen others with a bent toward the Gnostic, who have had or claim to have had some sort of revelatory experience, convince themselves that their work is done, that Gnosis is Knowing, plain and simple. But knowing something of the truth is only a start. Understanding it, contextualizing it, knowing the details, figuring out what to do with it – these all lie ahead of that initial moment. Being Gnostic means being Agnostic – about everything. This uncertainty gives no comfort. And so it is often disposed of entirely.

I think the lack of obvious answer to that question is what makes the slide into religion so easy. If you have a savior, you have salvation. Gnosticism without this can tend to appear horrific – hopeless at best, suicidal at worst. Is the answer the total destruction of everything we know? Is there no answer at all? Is there a way out?

There’s also something frighteningly dull at the core of Gnosis. What if Cold-Pak or the Matrix aren’t literalizations of larger truths? What if they’re more or less accurate? What if our entire universe is just an old SF plot?

One must confront these issues, as unpleasant as they may be, and not simply search for an appealing answer. I don’t know how to deal with these things, but that doesn’t change the standing of those things in reality. If Dick was mad, it was a madness brought on by the veracity of his investigations. He did not back away from the void. And, if in the end the void proved itself to be what was real, he did not disavow it.

In the end, separating Gnostic thought from religious thought is about giving it the freedom to flourish because it is valid, rather than because it is appealing – the way science does, in an ideal world. We don’t wring our hands when physics tells us something odd or uncertain about the universe – or maybe we do. But that doesn’t make anyone stop doing physics.

I’m not talking shit on religion, believe it or not. I don’t even think there’s anything inherently wrong with it – or rather, there is, but there is also much that is inherently good within it as well. And if these things have led anyone to an understanding that is religious, I’m not judging that. I simply feel it is part of my own process to be stringent about these things, to really attempt to understand them outside that context. Perhaps we really are talking about the same thing; perhaps I’m splitting hairs in my differentiations. But to me, that’s responsible philosophy. It’s rigorous skepticism balanced by rigorous openness.

It’s starting to look like the basic conceits of Gnostic cosmology might not be so far-fetched. Science certainly hasn’t proven that a Gnostic view of reality is correct, but perhaps it will one day. This Oxford philosopher thinks the odds of our reality being computer-simulated are pretty high.  There’s some science that reveals, ahem, the crack in space; there’s also some that points out that our resolution could be better.

I’m not saying any of these things are certain. I’m just saying. There are crazier ideas to have.

Blank Sky Philosophy, Part One

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 28, 2011 by theclockworm

The words the ancient Gnostics used were, generally speaking, philosophical words, ontological words, and mythological words. They belie the vertex of Judaic academia and Hellenistic philosophy. This tradition of linguistic and philosophical inventiveness, this arsenal of descriptors, is the only real mainstay, the only thing that has survived all the iterations and permutations of Gnostic thought in the world.

The “Aeons” of the ancients were concepts, qualities, periods of time, and, to some degree, entities. But they were not deities. Above all, this multiplicity of forms was a way of demonstrating that the concepts they spoke of transcended the limitations of current ideas.  At the core of these things was not god, not an entity with will and a creative drive. Rather, it was a high concept, beyond limitation, the Apeiron, the Pleroma. It didn’t care about us; it was simply a meta-formation of the ultimate reality which interacted with itself to produce predictable reactions. It was, essentially, a substance, or force, despite the metaphysical trappings, which underwent chemical reactions – like any star or nebula.  The emanationist system of description was largely about breaking down those hard lines between things; it was a manner of conveying ontological complexity.

The thing that seems to be missing from most scholarship on the ancient Gnostics is how remarkably modern they were. This isn’t because of academic laziness – it’s because historians make assumptions about intent, about the level of complexity available to a particular people at a particular time. They assume the Gnostics meant it literally, even when a reading of pertinent materials without such tethers reveals as obvious a set of approaches and principles that put any such limited interpretation to bed.

The Gnostics also understood myth. It’s passé now, in the age of Joseph Campbell, to point out that mythology and religion serve purposes in culture; that their language, their ritual behavior, their communities, all fill roles in our world. It’s equally tired to paraphrase Jacob Grimm and point out that folklore and stories have similar roles to fill. But the ancient Gnostics didn’t live in our world. They lived in a time where these ideas were not widely known – indeed, according to historians, they weren’t known at all. But, while they may not have been expressed in a way we would recognize today as academic, it’s right there to see in the texts themselves.

The process of constant re-appraisal – rewriting the old myths, “remixing” prominent religious writings of the day– this was not an invention of Philip K. Dick. He was following the patterns laid down by the ancient Gnostics when he approached his Exegesis as a constantly morphing work which was about the search for truth more than any definable answer. Intrinsic to this process is irreverence – there were no “sacred” scriptures. That Gnostic culture not only allowed, but invited, its members to rework the texts which lay at the core of their beliefs is a testament to just how little they held those texts as perfect or permanent. The ideas in them were open to debate, to reinterpretation, to reinvention. This is what allowed this strikingly modern philosophy to thrive for as long as it did. It’s also what led to its downfall. That openness and freedom from doctrine and dogma meant an internal weakness that could be used to gradually lead away from those core ideas and into simple religion.

Over time, to make a very long story very short, the inevitable draw of religiosity pulled this utterly modern philosophical movement into merely another cult of Christ, who had been initially recognized as a great Gnostic teacher, but who was certainly not worshiped as divine – such a notion would have been explicitly un-Gnostic. Now, one seldom hears about Gnosticism in any form unless it is routed through Jesus.

One can strip out everything divine, everything “supernatural,” certainly everything Christian, and be left with a startling cosmology. I am aware that there is debate about the meaning of the word “religion;” I understand that, in some respects, a system of thought that includes a cosmology can be considered a religion. I am referring to systems which involve belief in or worship of one or more deities, specific moral codes, and public/group expression. We are so indoctrinated by religion that the notion of a system of belief or thought that is purely cosmological is simply a null concept, at least in the west. At best, the religious language is a semantic cushion, to lead into the difficult philosophical implications that Gnosticism imparts.

In Response to ‘Expansive Reality…’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2011 by theclockworm

So I began reading Josh Lind’s thesis on PKD quite some time ago, and have happily returned to finish the task. I rank Josh’s paper amongst the more enjoyable and edifying PKD studies, and recommend it highly. I apologize for the lack of structure, but really, who wants to read a formal review of a formal thesis? My feedback mostly focuses on the main thesis and the chapter on Martian Time Slip, largely due to space, time (mine, not in the absolute sense), and the fact that I haven’t read Three Stigmata.

EDIT: In light of how crappy it was of me to turn the productive discussion of Dick and Postmodernism into a seeming “sports competition,” I have redacted much of the paragraph that used to be here. Instead, let me just say this: Lind’s thesis helps tackle the question of Dick in terms of Postmodernism and Humanism, delineating the way in which his context and approach were PoMo and his conclusions largely Humanist. In one brief statement, Lind sums up the synthesis of these two approaches beautifully: “ The implications of these techniques will lead to the positive aspects of humanism — such as connectivity, empathy, and karma — that survive problematized reality.”

There it is, folks. It’s a conservation-of-value situation. Dick, ever rigorous in his critiques, puts everything through the gauntlet, and what survives are the things of highest value. Dick did have more concrete ideas, he did have certainties – they were, however, limited to those things which could stand up to scrutiny. Reality fails where humanity sometimes sneaks in a win. There’s another good summation in the closing: “Dick insists that there are human consequences involved in indeterminacy.”

Lind takes us through various critical responses, and seems to resolve with Lem’s balanced understanding – one which doesn’t throw away the tenuous and tentative spiritual introspections of the later works for the dynamic mythologizing and social commentary of earlier material. It’s refreshing to see this balance reinforced in the present; I think it’s the appropriate response to a complex man with a complex body of work.

One connection which seemed to be plain but which was not articulated is the way the former Dick gave way to the latter. Dick believes, according to Lind, that “reality is constructed through social processes. Clearly, however, he does not trust the way it has been defined.” However, the movement of this uncertainty – portrayed several places as it relates to ontology and cultural reference – toward the deeper, more fundamental uncertainty about self, is only implied. I suppose that’s better fit for another work, but I would like to see someone further trace the drastic shift in his writing from this sort of metaphorical, notional fictionalizing to the very human, humane, and personal approach of his latter novels. I’ve always loved the Dick who wrote Valis; it’s only more recently that the Dick who wrote the ‘puzzle-box’ stories of the fifties has gained my understanding.

I really like that Lind gives so much attention to Martian Time-Slip. This was the first Dick book I loved, the one that led me to my present state of obsession. I’ve re-read it many times, and though it has some flaws, it has far more of value than is usually recognized. If most of Dickhead-dom can look past the obvious failings of Ubik to see the underlying value, I think MTS should be an easy fix.

Lind pursues the implications of socioeconomics astutely in this chapter, without a corrupting stance in any particular camp. He also gives us a truly perfect statement: “Waiting in the check-out line is the one great ceremony of consumer society, a ritual in which one’s faith in the consumerist system is most severely tested, where the desire for the fetishized product triumphs over the androidization of standing in line.”

Though I like and agree with the metaphorical reading of Jack’s perception that his boss is a machine, I’d also like to see someone tackle these negative revelations and in terms of an early dualist orientation toward reality, predicting the eventual strains of Gnosticism in which he found some rooting (though later, he seemed to move past the radical dualism of Gnosticism’s more immature iterations). Occurring before much of Dick’s important spiritual experiences and realizations, there are, as he himself admits, strains of this position that stretch through his oldest works. It strikes me that much of the “pessimism” in pre-Pink Beam works is essentially a negative/dualist shade of cosmological insight, having not yet become mediated by study and personal integration.

“…crucial to Martian is the idea that time is something that one can shut out or disregard in the face of social alienation only if one can face indeterminacy of a completely subjective existence.”

Another connection that was all laid out but not assembled was the way this conclusion related back to the ways in which Dick was and was not a Postmodernist and a Humanist. I’m also curious about how this might play into Dick’s own sense of literal unreality; it could act as a precursor to the self-doubt he expresses so eloquently when grappling with the cosmological issues of Valis.

I realize that most of my feedback here is just riffing on an idea, riding it over to the areas of study most important to me personally. This is just the way my brain works. However, the fact that Lind didn’t do these things is proof of the strength of his thesis. I commend him for a well-constructed piece that actually manages to confer insight. Well done. And anyone who’d like to look at some of the PoMo discussion without spending the dough for Umberto’s book (I wish I had it!), this is a great place to start.