For Phillip K. Dick, there was the paranoia, his prodigious appetite for amphetamines, his obsession with Linda Ronstadt and his fear that either the Black Panthers or FBI had raided his house – enough eccentricity for any lifetime, you might think. But that was all eclipsed by what happened on 20 February 1974, when a pink laser beam filled his mind with arcane and beneficial knowledge. Recovering from dental surgery, something profound and inexplicable happened to author Philip K Dick that changed his life forever. Was it an illness, a psychotic reaction, or something truly mystical? This is the exegesis of Philip K Dick…
Dick started the journal after his visionary experiences in February and March 1974, which he called “2-3-74.” These visions began shortly after Dick had two impacted wisdom teeth removed. When a delivery person from the pharmacy brought his pain medication, he noticed the ichthys necklace she wore and asked her what it meant. She responded that it was a symbol used by the early Christians, and in that moment Dick’s religious experiences began:
“In that instant, as I stared at the gleaming fish sign and heard her words, I suddenly experienced what I later learned is called anamnesis—a Greek word meaning, literally, “loss of forgetfulness.” I remembered who I was and where I was. In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, it all came back to me. And not only could I remember it but I could see it. The girl was a secret Christian and so was I. We lived in fear of detection by the Romans. We had to communicate with cryptic signs. She had just told me all this, and it was true.
For a short time, as hard as this is to believe or explain, I saw fading into view the black, prison-like contours of hateful Rome. But, of much more importance, I remembered Jesus, who had just recently been with us, and had gone temporarily away, and would very soon return. My emotion was one of joy. We were secretly preparing to welcome Him back. It would not be long. And the Romans did not know. They thought He was dead, forever dead. That was our great secret, our joyous knowledge. Despite all appearances, Christ was going to return, and our delight and anticipation were boundless.”
Dick’s approach to 2-3-74 was not dogmatic but critical, and he was the first to suggest that it might have been a neurological event. But then again, the light had diagnosed a potentially critical illness in his son which doctors had missed, and he had received information in dream states in dead languages he could not speak. “It” knew things he did not. So what was it?
“The beautiful and imperishable comes into existence due to the suffering of individual perishable creatures who themselves are not beautiful, and must be reshaped to form a template from which the beautiful is printed (forged, extracted, converted). This is the terrible law of the universe. This is the basic law; it is a fact… Absolute suffering leads to — is the means to — absolute beauty.”
The ‘iron mountain prison’ and the ‘empire that never ended’ perceived by Dick were none other than our interlocking systems of technology, media, and technocratic control that guide our lives. When Dick says, “The Empire never ended,” he means that the systems of control seen in the Roman Empire persists to this day. We are still soldiers, aristocrats, slaves, and priests. It is only through spiritual redemption, maintains Dick, that we can escape these games of power and control.