I Understand Philip K. Dick
Excerpts from “Afterword” by Terence Mckenna, In Pursuit of Valis: Selections from the Exegesis, Philip K. Dick, edited by Lawrence Sutin, pages 253 – 261.
I UNDERSTAND PHILIP K. DICK
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. [ . . . ]
[page 256] Phil wasn’t nuts. Phil was a vortex victim.* Schizophrenia is not a psychological disorder peculiar to human beings. Schizophrenia is not a disease at all but rather a localized traveling discontinuity of the space time matrix itself. It is like a travelling whirl-wind of radical understanding that haunts time. It haunts time in the same way that Alfred North Whitehead said that the color dove grey "haunts time like a ghost."
There is an idea that wants to be born, it has wanted to be born for a very long time.** And sometimes that longing to be born settles on a person. For no damn good reason. Then you’re "it," you become the cheese, and the cheese stands alone. You are illuminated and maddened and lifted up by something great beyond all telling. It wants to be told. It’s just that this idea is so damn big that it can’t be told, or rather the whole of history is the telling of this idea, the stuttering rambling effort of the sons and daughters of poor old Noah to tell this blinding, reality-shattering, bowel-loosening truth. And Phil had a piece of the action, a major piece of the action.
But I anticipate myself. Those who grasp a piece of the action end up with two things on their plate; the experience and their own idiosyncratic explanation of the experience based on what they have read, seen and been told. [ . . . ]
* "ZEBRA (VALIS): ‘a vortex of intelligence extending as a supra-temporal field, involving humans but not limited to them, drawing objects & processes into a coherency which it arranges into information. A FLUX of purposeful arrangement of living information, both human & extra-human, tending to grow & incorporate its environment as a unitary complex of subsumations.’" (pg. 72)
** "Okay, fertilization is what takes place: it isn’t a seed such as a plant has, but an egg such as a human woman ovulates, and cosmic spermatika fertilizes it; a zygote is produced." (pg. 22.)