Thursday, April 29, 2010

Philip K. Dick's "Exegesis"

It's been decades. But at long last, the thousands of pages sf visionary Philip K. Dick wrote in the aftermath of his divine visions will see the light of day as a two-volume set edited by novelist/fanboy Jonathan Lethem and Dick scholar Pamela Jackson.

(Dick was of course living in Orange County during those hallucinogenic visions of 1974, in which God supposedly spoke to him, as well as during the long days and nights when he transcribed his experiences. Here for the relevant chapter of my recent story about the author's time in the Southland.)

“The title he gave it, ‘Exegesis,’ alludes to the fact that what it really was, was a personal laboratory for philosophical inquiry,” Lethem told the New York Times, here for full story. “It’s not even a single manuscript, in a sense – it’s an amassing or a compilation of late-night all-night sessions of him taking on the universe, mano-a-mano, with the tools of the English language and his own paranoiac investigations.”
The visions came after a girl delivered some medication to Dick for dental surgery. Not long after he began seeing visions from modern painting and to realize that the Orange County landscape around him was actually First Century Rome.
“It’s something that he talked about and created a kind of amazing aura around,” Lethem said, “so that people have an image of it as if it’s some kind of consummated effort. ‘I’m working on my exegesis.’ But what he really meant was, he was turning his brain inside-out on the page, on a nightly basis, over a period of years of his life.”

David Gill, who runs the Total Dick-Head blog, tells The Misread City: "The fact that Dick's most personal writings are seeing the light of day offers the best evidence yet that it is Dick himself that fascinates readers, and that for many of us his novels are simply a way to get to better know this incredibly iconoclastic thinker. Whether or not these notes will allows us to better know him remains to be seen. In the grandest Dickian sense he is again blurring the lines between art and artifice, mixing the private and the public, as well as the spiritual quest for truth with what might very well be a descent into madness, forcing us to remember Emily DICKinson's declaration that 'Much madness is divinest sense, to a discerning eye.' "

The first of two volumes is expected from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2011.

Photo credit: Philip K. Dick Estate


Rodak said...

Thanks for the heads-up. This is way cool.

Anonymous said...