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.
“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)
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See, It's complicated...
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.
Fascinating Journals of a Garage Philosopher
- Richard Seeley "Rich Seeley"