Philip K. Dick – The Man Who Remembered the Future

PKD bookDid sci-fi author Philip K. Dick see the future? Could he literally have been precognitive? This is one of the conclusions of a new biography by the consciousness theorist Anthony Peake.

It’s over thirty years since the writer’s death, but fascination for the work of Philip K. Dick continues to grow with more than ten major Hollywood movies based on his novels and short stories, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report and The Adjustment Bureau. Peake’s new biography shines further light on the man himself, attempting to both sift the details of his complex personal life and penetrate the unique inner life that fuelled his work with something that may have been more than merely imagination.

“What I wanted to do was get into the man’s head,” said Peake. “His psychology is as interesting as his novels, [as is] his life itself.” A Life of Philip K. Dick: The Man Who Remembered the Future is the first biography to emerge following the publication of Dick’s Exegesis, the fabled million word late-night diary that was his attempt to fathom the bizarre visionary experiences of 1974, which he termed “2-3-74” and described as “an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind, as if I had been insane all my life and suddenly I had become sane.”

Anthony Peake seems an ideal investigator of Dick’s inner landscape with a back catalogue that includes such titles as The Infinite Mindfield: The Quest to Find the Gateway to Higher Consciousness and The Labyrinth of Time: The Illusion of Past, Present and Future, books unafraid to weave neuroscience, quantum physics and esoteric lore in an effort to engender insights into matter and mind.

“A part of [Dick] had always been aware of the future things he was going to encounter,” Peake told The Eternities podcast. “Phil stated many times that his earlier novels were based upon events that happened later in his life. He believes that he was drawing up his inspiration from future memory.”

According to Peake, Dick had a sense of another consciousness accompanying him from an early age, and he speculates that this was something like a higher self – called by Peake “the daemon” – which afforded Dick his intuitions and premonitions. And, yet, Dick’s own complex personality seems at times to confound these accounts,  as if his prolific fictional output and drug use provoked an intermingling of the real and imagined.

Nevertheless, Peake says, “There is no doubt in my mind that Phil did see his own future. The most powerful evidence of this is the letter he wrote to a lady called Claudia Krenz-Bush [where] he describes how he had had hypnogogic images [in which] he saw in absolute detail the body of a portly middle aged man lying faced down between a coffee table and a settee. Handwritten underneath, it says, ‘Claudia, I think I’m becoming precognitive.'” According to the friend who discovered Dick after he had collapsed from the stroke which took his life, this was exactly the position in which he lay.

In both Dick’s life and works, it seems, there may be much for us all to learn about both our minds and the realities they create.

Listen to The Eternities podcast with Anthony Peake.

Martin Higgins

Martin Higgins is a journalist, podcaster and novelist. In 2012 he published Human+, described by as "a science-fiction page-turner inspired by futures studies, psychic spy research, and the transhumanist movement". In 2017 he became a co-Founder and Media Director of Ankorus. He is based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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27 Comments on "Philip K. Dick – The Man Who Remembered the Future"

  1. Teri Westerby | Oct 21, 2013 at 11:24 am |

    I don’t doubt it. Most people are aware that they are aware when they become aware.

  2. Thanks. Looks like an interesting read.

  3. Philip K. Dick is a good candidate for canonization. In fact, he advocated personal Independent Sacraments, believing any believer is as capable and authorized to perform the sacraments as a priest. Therefore, in this Spirit, I declare that PKD is a saint in the hidden church of god.
    As for precognition, this is whats called in the church as the gift of prophecy, and anyone with the faith the size of a mustard seed is capable of such should they ask for it. I intuit this gift can be cultivated, too. To do so, one should plow the ground of their mind, by observing the unconscious, also known as meditation. Then ask God to plant the seed and continue feeding it and watering it and pulling up he cares of the world up by the roots. At least, this has been my experience. When examining the unconscious, through meditation, partaking of plant sacraments and practicing such techniques as Jung mentions, like active imagination, such experiences like synchronicity occur more naturally and pre-cog/telepathy become more common.
    PKD was definitely an individual who examined his “unconscious” intensively

  4. BuzzCoastin | Oct 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm |

    artists are the only humans deeply in touch with the present
    which looks like “the future” to non-artists
    most humans live in a “rear-view mirror” reality
    for them the past is the present

    Orwell & PKD & lots of other artists
    all wrote about the reality of the present
    which was perceived by the mass man as
    art, science fiction & drug induced fantasy

    • as an artist,i’d say the key is an inherent,instinctual tendency to be more observant and then reporting/recording such observations via a creative outlet.
      that said,i know many fellow artists that have their heads up their ass,regarding present or possible future events…their observations often tainted with political party loyalty baggage.

      a persons reality is so malleable.

      • BuzzCoastin | Oct 21, 2013 at 3:58 pm |

        the way I’ using the word “artist”
        is as a title of recognition by consensus
        and not as a self denoted appellation

        those artists recognized for their perspicacity
        like Orwell, PDK, Joyce, DuChamp et al
        all described the hidden
        and brought the background to the foreground
        which proved incomprehensible to most

        • yes i understand,but at the same time, do you think their works could’ve also left an indelible impression on many who’d read such science fiction and walked away with a totally different outlook and inspiration,who now have the means and capacity to work towards manifesting that dystopian vision to make it science factual?…like a control blueprint.

          this is a decent example of what i mean actually:

        • alanborky | Oct 22, 2013 at 11:54 am |

          Buzz real artists [as opposed to artisans] an’ consensus’re mutually antithetic if not internecine.

          Picasso’s Les Demoiselles was initially not well received ditto Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake and the literary merits of Ulysses were blurred by its pirate editions’ success as pornography.

          In the end though it’s the fate of all artists to been adjudged as good bad or indifferent by a variety of consensuses sometimes with the passage of time sometimes all at the same time.

    • I would say PKD was in a class of his own when compared to other artists. he was more of a mystic who had experiences which revealed to him a certain bizarre truth(s) about the nature of time.

      • BuzzCoastin | Oct 21, 2013 at 6:27 pm |

        at one time or another
        almost every artist gets a mystic tag
        but I can assure you
        his perspicacity was firmly rooted in the present
        Android Dreams began before his time

  5. any type of science fiction disseminated for public consumption always runs the adverse risk of unintentionally influencing and inspiring future generations of destined establishment control freak psychopaths.
    and while most people can see the overt warnings within such dystopian fiction,i’d imagine..those who were born sociopaths took away something totally different from the same fiction they’d read.

    they then became elite philanthropists with specific agendas to manifest…especially the visions of what had initially inspired them,when they’d read about it growing up.
    so i’d say,it’s moreso self fulfilling prophecy,funded by inspired sociopaths w/ their profit$.

    • that may be so. but it may also be true that PKD was in tune to the strangeness of Time. there may be certain similarities b/w his novels and other dystopian novels but there is something quite unique about his writings. as I said above, he is more of a mystic than an author or artist.

      • alanborky | Oct 22, 2013 at 12:23 pm |

        Agreed when I was a kid me mother used to endlessly walk us past this grammar school called the Liverpool Institute each time repeating this same litany “That’s where Paul McCartney & George Harrison used to go…who knows some day you might go there.”

        One day though when I was about four or five I heard it one time too many and I snapped why’d we keep pretending when we ALL knew I WAS goin’ there as were me younger brother an’ sister [which didn’t make any sense at the time because it was a boy’s school].

        But as I looked at her her head seemed to take on this insane distorted C Moon shape with this huge hideous grin slashed across it and her eyes became these huge demented mad melting El Greco things simultaneously gazin’ down at me and starin’ in almost opposite directions.

        Aghast I turned to me Dad pointing at what’d happened to me Mum but to me horror his features’d if anything become even more distorted and as I gaped at him open mouthed I heard him seem to say in very strangely spoken words which seemed to just hang there for an eternity in the air th’t that was just how it was in this world or level of things son we all have t’pretend we don’t know what’s go’n’o happen [or it can’t work].

        On many occasions I’ve met people for the first time an’ I’ve known exactly how everything was go’n’o pan out includin’ meetin’ the woman who after a vision I knew I’d end up havin’ two kids to an’ I’m pretty certain Dick’s childhood and adult life was exactly the same hence my happiness in proclaiming to the world I too am a Dick!

        • awesome anecdote.
          I have a theory PKD may have partook in Salvia Divinorum. One reason is the title of the book Valis, which is a name of a satellite he sometimes calls Valis-A which is an anagram of Salvia. Salvia produces strange experiences of time. In fact, my experiences with it sound eerily familiar to yer above anecdote. Some people think time may be cyclical, our lives eternally recurring and some people may realize this and “remember the future”. To many individuals this realization can be quite shattering, so we all pretend we don’t know.
          That’s why they will claim yer insane when you tell them such things. It is too much for the ego to bear.
          Of course, I don’t think it ends there with the realization. But I don’t think Nietzsche’s answer to this is correct. I think the ancient Gnostics knew of this, hence the Ourobouros. And they knew of the means of escape. Through accepting Fate(Jesus dying on the cross), one may transcend Fate. Allow yerself to be eaten by the snake, and burst his innards asunder from the inside.

    • BuzzCoastin | Oct 21, 2013 at 6:31 pm |

      PDK didn’t inspire the future
      the future he refered to was already the present
      Orwell didn’t invent Big Brother
      he reported the fact before anyone saw him
      PDK didn’t inspire Replicants
      he saw them as already existing
      by inference with their prototype
      the modern human wired-up cyborg

      • the big brother surveillance tech worshiping/panopticon society that we now find ourselves living in today is simply a more entertained, streamlined hybrid version of orwell’s/huxley/pkd visions of the future.

        so do you think it’s just an ironic coincidence that the company which showcased the 1984 ‘ibm as big brother’ theme in their 1st ads via blade runner’s ridley happens to be the leading provider of the most universally used & sought after personal tracking/telescreen big brother devices on the planet?

        personally, i think its a disservice to refuse to recognize not only the sheer power and magnitude that these specific visions of science fiction had in both warning so many today..while at the same time considering how it also inspired a powerful minority w/ equally nefarious intentions.

        one could say many have been conditioned to expect this as the result,making it less jarring and acceptable for some.

        • BuzzCoastin | Oct 21, 2013 at 9:35 pm |

          technology created 1984
          people became the servants to & slaves of technology
          Jobs was no more a master manipulator
          than he was concomitantly manipulated by his “inventions”

          1984 began with Western Union
          the telegraph (1840) evolved into the internet (1969)
          an artist like Poe saw this & the effects too
          A Descent Into the Maelstrom (1841)
          is his advice for dealing with the coming technological storm

  6. Jonas Planck | Oct 21, 2013 at 6:42 pm |

    I sure am glad I don’t have precognitive visions of my own death… that would really take all the fun out of living.

  7. One of the most interesting facts that altered my reading of Philip K Dick was learning about his early childhood. I had read a handful of his books by the time I learned about his biographical life. He was apparently born as a twin only to have his twin die around age 5 or 6, I believe it was. From my understand, this is the reason he questions so deeply what it means to be alive, intelligent and sentient. As a twin you’re part of a larger unit, sort of akin to how you are with your family. Except it’s a step halfway in between siblings and yourself. The only step closer would be siamese twins. You have a bond or connection that is typically closer than any other humans have. As a result he was both dead and alive at a VERY early age. He had to question mortality as well as what it truly meant to be alive. I don’t know why, but this detail of his biography has stuck out in my head the most. It has illuminated my reading of his works the most.

    • PKD has an affinity to gnostic thought. a common theme among the ancient gnostics is that the gnostic has a divine twin in the pleroma who awakens the gnostic from “sleep”. to be united with yer twin in the “bridal chamber” is one of their goals. also, the divine twin is often the opposite gender.

      • Ted Heistman | Oct 22, 2013 at 11:33 am |

        He had a twin sister before he read Nag Hamudi

        • yeah, but after reading the gnostics, he saw his twin sister in a new light. PKD had a strong reverence for Sophia who is often seen as our sister/mother/bride.

    • Calypso_1 | Oct 22, 2013 at 11:48 am |

      I know of a case of twins where one developed schizophrenia. At that point she was unable to differentiate her self from her sister. She had auditory hallucinations of her sister’s/her voice, at times conversing w/ herself as if she was her sister, often berating her self for existing. She would argue back and forth and switch roles. All of the sister’s life events she thought were her own. When actually encountering her twin she would become enraged, believing her to be a false representation of herself.


      They were born December 16, 1928 and she died January 26, 1929.

      Sorry for the Misinformation! I guess this is Disinfo after all 😉

  8. Spasmodius | Oct 22, 2013 at 4:16 am |

    I read Anthony Peakes “The Labyrinth of Time” – it is an enjoyable read, though by the end both myself and the author were as wise as we were at the start; after a few hundred pages of non-linear investigation it pretty much ends with “So what is time? I don’t know.”
    He seems like a nice chap though and I would read another of his books.

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