While reading bits of The Exegesis of Philip K Dick, I realized just how tapped in PKD’s mind was with the coincidental ether, and how this relates with other topics posted recently on this site. Namely Opti and I, by Opticuswrangler, and my article Plant/human symbiosis and the fall of humanity – A talk with Tony Wright, which places a biochemical basis for our disconnected and left-brained state of consciousness, psychedelics, and diet into an evolutionary context.
Phil had extracted gems for years out of the mercurial mists of the minds imagination, and shared them with us all in his novels; some of which have made their way onto the big screen. Something much less known, but just as stacked with gems of insight, was his Exegesis: a document of some 8,000 pages in which he attempted to turn his mind inside out onto paper every night for almost a decade, in an effort to come to grips with the mysteries of existence. Many years ago after a number of peculiar experiences I was struggling to come to grips with I’d begun to do something akin to this and, like PKD, it too led me deep into the synchronistic billows of what Joyce called ‘the mama matrix most mysterious’. But that’s another story.
Much of his writing revolved around trying to understand his encounter with: The Logos, Other, Overmind, valis, right-brain, Plasmate, Opticus, spontaneous shamanic experience (pick your term), that occurred during March of 1974. He was filled with visions, premonitions, expanded perceptions, and odd synchronicities that went on for weeks. At times he fluently spoke in an ancient language he’d never learned, only to later translate and understand what he’d said. At one point he even correctly diagnosed his son’s illness, which was confirmed upon taking him to a doctor. Phil came to regard it as a healing and transformative experience, much like tapping into the mystery ever present behind the veil of mundane experience.
Like McKenna, Wright, Leary, Robert Anton Wilson, and many others, he was convinced that the right brain was the doorway to states of consciousness that are unimaginable to our rational, left brain dominated minds, and that something had gone wrong with our ability to access it. This insight is not new, and in fact its essentially what has been echoed in ancient ‘myths’ all over the globe, albeit in more poetic language, for thousands of years. Shamanic and spiritual techniques are employed everywhere as a means of healing or getting at this side of the brain, regardless of the dogma it has a tendency to devolve into in more recent times.
Phil knew we were left brain dominant, and interestingly he also employed a technique to access the right hemisphere which involved mega-doses of vitamins he’d read would stimulate the hemisphere. Phil got lucky and had a very unique mind to begin with, but it’s interesting that this is something which makes obvious sense in the light of Tony Wright’s work; in particular how we’ve suddenly lost 95% of the biochemistry that was involved in building and fueling the brain for tens of millions of years. Phil knew all of this on some level, and his descriptions are eerily in line with what the science is now telling us. In the Exegesis there is a letter to a woman named Claudia in which Phil wrote:
“…..Calvin is right; we’re (1) missing certain faculties and (2) what we have, the remaining ones, are very much hazed over. When I saw correctly in March it was like when you get a new pair of glasses and can read everything, see everything. Really, his distinction is meaningful between the natural faculties such as reason which are fucked up, and the other ones which we can’t even catch a glimpse of until they return.
The only thing is, how come this happened? How did we (1) lose certain faculties entirely? and (2) have the remaining ones occluded as they are , for all of us, unless somehow, as in the miracle of healing, they’re restored? Surely there must be a scientific explanation for this, having to do with brain function and dormant sections, inhibited firing of whole neural circuits….
This is precisely what I was trying to achieve back in March, to get neural firing roused, to cause circuits to fire which had never fired…..At the very least, they can be somehow made to fire, finally, whether they ever fired before or not. The next step in human evolution or a lost section of our brains…either way the results are outta sight”
With this information in mind, it was interesting then to come across the short piece ‘I understand Philip K Dick’ by Terence McKenna, which lends further insight into this giant sychro-web:
True stories have no beginnings and neither does the tale of PKD’s encounters with the Overmind. But we writers understand narrative economy, and for purposes of narrative economy his story seemed to him to begin with the mysterious break in and riffling of his papers that was made notorious by an article in Rolling Stone, which brought Phil long-delayed and much-deserved fame. The break-in date was 11/17/71. It was a date and a style of referring to time that Phil used frequently.
I turned twenty-five the day before. It was no casual birthday either. I met my natal day by sifting down and sincerely preparing myself for an Apocatastasis, the final Apocalyptic ingression of novelty, the implosion really, of the entire multidimensional continuum of space and time. I imagined the megamacrocosmos was going to go down the drain like water out of a bathtub as the hyperspatial vacuum fluctuation of paired particles that is our universe collided with its own ghost image after billions of years of separation. The Logos assured me that parity would be conserved, all sub-atomic particles except photons would cancel each other, and our entire universe would quietly disappear. The only particles that would remain, according to my fantastic expectation, would be photons, the universe of light would be exposed at last, set free from the iron prison of matter, freed from the awful physics that adhered to less unitary states of being. All mankind would march into the promised garden.
I felt I was well situated for the event as I, quite consciously and deliberately, and to the concern of my friends, had placed myself in the teeming, hallucinogen saturated center of the largest garden I could find, the trackless rain forest of the Upper Amazon Basin of Colombia. My confidence in my vision was unshakable. Had not the Logos itself lead me to this vision, not only by revelation but by painstaking explanation? I had no radio, no way to contact the outside world at all. Who needed that? I knew with perfect clarity that the world of time, the illusion of history was ending. Divine Parousia was entering the world, and the just, the meek and the humble were leaving their fields and factories, pushing back their chairs from their office desks and workbenches and walking out into the light of a living sun that would never set for there could be no setting for the eternal radiance of the Logos. Tears of joy streaming down their cheeks, the illumined billions were turning their eyes at last to the sky and finding there a consolation that they had never dared hope for.
However, Nixon’s weary world ignored the eschatological opportunity I thought my brother’s inspired fiddling with hyperspace had afforded. The world continued grinding forward in its usual less than merry way. There was only one small incident that might subsequently be construed, even within the framework of the schizoid logic that was my bread and butter then, to support my position. Unknown to me, a struggling, overweight SF writer, an idol of mine since my teens, discovered the next day that his house have been broken into, his privacy violated by the Other. How peculiar that on the first day of the new dispensation in my private reformist calendar, he had been burglarized by extraterterrestials the CIA or his own deranged self in an altered state. The torch had been passed, in a weird way the most intense phase of my episode of illumination/delusion ended right where Phil’s began.
This raises some questions…