Valis first edition cover
Valis deals with Dick’s autodidactic Gnostic vision of the cosmos as the manifestation of the Vast Active Living Intelligence System (a.k.a. “the Immortal One,” viz. [God]). Here are the opening sections of the Tractates Cryptica Scriptura, excerpted from the Exegesis and included as an appendix to the British edition, that Dick as “Horselover Fat” reveals in the course of the novel:
- One Mind there is; but under it two principles contend.
- The Mind lets in the light, then the dark, in interaction; so time is generated. At the end Mind awards victory to the light; time ceases and the Mind is complete.
- He causes things to look different so it would appear time has passed.
- Matter is plastic in the face of [M]ind.
- One by one he draws us out of the world.
- The Empire never ended.
- The Head Apollo [an avatar of “the Immortal One” — see below] is about to return. . . .
- The upper realm has plenary powers.
- Apollonius of Tyana, writing as Hermes Trismegistos, said “That which is above is that which is below.” By this he meant to tell us that our universe is a hologram, but he lacked the term.
- The great secret known to Apollonius of Tyana, Paul of Tarsus, Simon Magus, Asklepios, Paracelsus, Boehme and Bruno is that: we are moving backward in time. The universe in fact is contracting into a unitary entity which is completing itself. Decay and disorder are seen by us in reverse, as increasing. These healers learned to move forward in time. . . .
- The Immortal One was known to the Greeks as Dionysos; to the Jews as Elijah; to the Christians as Jesus. He moves on when each human host dies, and thus is never killed or caught. . . .
- [. . .] The universe is information and we are stationary in it, not three-dimensional and not in space or time. The information fed to us we hypostatize into [i.e. body forth as] the phenomenal world. [. . . 22.] I term the Immortal One a plasmate, because it is a form of energy; it is living information. It replicates itself — not through information or in information — but as information.
Etc., etc. . . .
Check Robert Crumb’s graphic short story “The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick” from Weirdo #17 (Summer 1986):
N.B. For a summary and an analysis of the place of the novel in Dick’s oeuvre and of its postmodern form, see Christopher Palmer, “Postmodernism and the Birth of the Author in Valis,” Philip K. Dick: Exhilaration and Terror of the Postmodern (2003).