Based on thousands of pages of typed and handwritten notes, journal entries, letters, and story sketches, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is the magnificent and imaginative final work of an author who dedicated his life to questioning the nature of reality and perception, the malleability of space and time, and the relationship between the human and the divine. Edited and introduced by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem, this is the definitive presentation of Dick’s brilliant, and epic, work.
In the Exegesis, Dick documents his eight-year attempt to fathom what he called “2-3-74”, a postmodern visionary experience of the entire universe “transformed into information”. In entries that sometimes ran to hundreds of pages, in a freewheeling voice that ranges through personal confession, esoteric scholarship, dream accounts, and fictional fugues, Dick tried to write his way into the heart of a cosmic mystery that tested his powers of imagination and invention to the limit.
This volume, the culmination of many years of transcription and archival research, has been annotated by the editors and by a unique group of writers and scholars chosen to offer a range of views into one of the most improbable and mind-altering manuscripts ever brought to light.
©2011 Philip K. Dick, Pamela Jackson (Editor), Jonathan Lethem (Editor) (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
“A great and calamitous sequence of arguments with the universe: poignant, terrifying, ludicrous, and brilliant. The Exegesis is the sort of book associated with legends and madmen, but Dick wasn’t a legend and he wasn’t mad. He lived among us, and was a genius.” (Jonathan Lethem)
What is a garage philosopher? That label comes from one of the editors of the fascinating if quirky musings of Philip K. Dick. Known to readers and movie goers as a science fiction writer, this long and winding tome follows a different road. A dropout from UC Berkeley, Dick pursued his own independent studies in philosophy and religion. His Exegesis begins in the mid-1970s following a mystical experience that refocused the author's life. The journals follow his attempts to not only chronicle that life-changing event but make sense of what appears to be nonsensical. Seeking answers that may not be there to find, he reads the Jerusalem Bible and the philosophical histories of Will Durant. His interests range from the Jesus Freak Christianity of the 1970s to the Buddhist and Vedanta philosophies that were popularized in his native California. Slowly he develops his own theological viewpoint that informs the novels he wrote shortly before his death, which came ironically just months before the movie Blade Runner made him famous. The editors, who distilled stacks and stacks of handwritten journal entries into this book, readily admit that some of Dick's insights are screwy but others are profound and almost every entry is compelling if for no other reason than the passion the writer puts into his work. I have listened to this wonderful reading by Fred Stella over and over for more than a year and am still amazed to find new insights. Philip K. Dick may sometimes seem to be from another planet but he is never boring.
Yes, as someone who has read over thirty of Dick's novels, I can honestly say that this book offers insights into not only The Valis Trilogy, and Radio Free Albemuth, but his earlier works as well.
Some may say that Dick is not only playing at being a prophet, but that he is actively revising the scope and the ideas that made his late work in the 60's - inducing such novels as Ubik, and the Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - so accessible and popular. There was always an element of Judea-Christian guilt present in his earlier novels, and anyone who has read his stories from the 1950's knows that he blended a sort of
Dick himself. In many ways this is a solipsistic journey, something that Dick readily admits to in the Exegesis.
He is able to capture the tone of Dick's thoughts, and reads them with aplomb. He does well in switching from the narrative, to the editors note - here his tone is mostly academic, but at times irreverent.
This is not a biography so much as look into a specific, and ever more increasing single aspect of Dick's life. I think the editors do well to include certain indispensable biographical details, but this really is not the focus of the work.
If you are a true fan, read it.
Digging through the mind of a, paranoid, drug addled mind can be rewarding at times. This, his personal notebooks, was an attempt to understand something extraordinary that happened to him and parts will be very disconcerting but, I can now say I understand PKD more than I ever thought possible.
This is rote, long winded, but if you are a superfan like myself I suggest you take the plunge. Just don't listen to it all in one sitting. I'm not sure that is possible, actually.
The narrator is a trooper. He did the best he could with the subject matter. You can sense he tires out by hour thirty five but, I'm will to ignore semantic details.
This made me look at reality as a very tenuous subject. I highly suggest it to fans of outsider art.
I don't mind Christian doctrine in the hands of madmen. A good soundtrack to this might be Danielson, or Linda Ronstadt (of course).
Seven years steady work in the writing. Three foot stack of closely scribbled paper. Visions in which he saw Christ and experienced the Holy Spirit as a fiery being. This mammoth work blends authentic Christian theology with visionary science fiction. Valis, the Cosmic Christ, generates Information which the Empire suppresses or distorts. We must be on the lookout for hidden messages imprinted on the world. Only these are the keys to power. Extremely deep learning in mythological and theological lore. This fifty-two hour blockbuster is PK Dick's exegesis, or theological analysis, of the scripture that was revealed to him by Valis in a hallucinatory vision, namely, the content of six of his most important works of science fiction.
Let me start by telling you that I consider Philip K Dick the most talented science fiction writers ever, maybe one of the the most original writers of all categories. I have read all Dick's works (novels and short stories) and several of them are on my top 100 list of the best books ever. I have also read some of the biographies on Dick to try to understand him and his fiction better.
I read my first Dick book in 1974 (We Can Build You) and as I said, I never really stopped - they are great for re-reading even twenty or thirty years later. His best fiction are from the 1960's, but takes a turn for the worst somewhere in the mid 1970's. I've always thought his novels and stories become increasingly "strange" and the religious (or semi-religious) content becomes too much in his last novels (as in Valis). I have wondered why and have attributed the turn for the worse to an ever increasing drug use (every biographer notes Dick's life-long experimenting with drugs). But it turned out I have never really understood why the fiction deteriorated so steeply in the mid-1970's, until I listened to the Exegesis.
Thus, it was with great interest I downloaded this book. What a disappointment I was in for! I was not even able to complete the listening to the entire book, and this despite that I am a really great Dick fan. This book in simply unreadable; very little in it really makes sense.
The explanation for the increased "strangeness" of his fiction lies in "2-3-74", i.e. some experiences of a religious (or semi-religious) nature Dick underwent in February and March of 1974. Another way of explaining it is that he turned more or less crazy around that time. The Exegesis supports that view, in that Dick himself explains he was "chosen" to undergo the "experiences". To a normal mind, this is the description of someone slowly going nuts.
So, in conclusion, if you are a big Dick fan, in Exegesis you will find the explanation why Dick's fiction turned increasingly unreadable if written after 1975 (mercifully enough there are only four novels written after that date). But if you are not a really nerdy Dick fan don't bother reading this kipple. You will not be able to make any sense of it. But the book is well narrated.
This is not for everyone. Even fans may struggle with it. PDK is an unconventional genius bordering (or surpassing) insanity. However, it does give excelent insight about one of the greatest SF writers ever. But there are a lot of complex ideas and it will lose you many times over on your first listen. Very fasinating.
If you can get through this beast, I congratulate you. But you won't need any congratulations, your mind will be blown. It's unlike any other book, fiction it non-fiction ever published.
Absolutely. Philip K Dick is one of my favorite all-time authors, and Fred Stella's voice work is... stellar. ;)
It would have been more enjoyable if the author wasn't having an obvious mental breakdown.
The sincerity, tonality and diction were all top-notch!
Honestly, I felt guilty listening to the book. I love PKD's fiction, but this is an unfortunate case of a deep thinker and creative master going through a tumultuous mental trial. Drug addiction? A series of strokes? Whatever the case may be, PKD's psychosis is on display for everyone to point and say "look at the freak." He is obviously unable to separate fact from fiction and it's painful to see him falling further and further down into a seemingly unrecoverable spiral of self-conflicting delusion. Perhaps I will return to this at some point and finish it, but it's SO ponderous, repetitive and completely nonsensical that I just couldn't do it right now. But again, the production work and performance were fantastic. Kudos to every editor who worked on this project, but it's perhaps a slice of PKD best left forgotten.
this is a goldmine for someone writing a thesis on the motives of PKD.
severe editing. as a posthumous work this seems more like PKD's "concept exploration" phase as opposed to his "writing a novel" phase.
narrator was ok.
moments of brilliance buried in hours of rambling.
Read the novels, including and especially the Valis trilogy before you attempt this psychedelic marathon.
"Self indulgent drivel"
I am really sorry but after forcing myself to listen through sixteen hours of this self indulgent drivel I am forced to admit defeat and can stomach no more. If Dick's answer to life the universe and everything provided pointers for other human beings then maybe it might be worthy of completion.But these ramblings do nothing to enlighten the reader. In fact they simply provoke the response "for God sake haven't you figured it out yet!" Dick goes around in circles never realising the real importance of the event was that it wasn't important. The real significance of the event happening to him was, he isn't individually important. I can think of better uses for the RAM in my iPod! DELETE...
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